Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Workshops Rail Museum in Ipswich

Wow, what a fabulous day!

We spent Tuesday at the Workshops Rail Museum in Ipswich ( where they were holding a Thomas the Tank Engine special. Thomas and some of his mates were visiting from the UK -- where they were freezing their buffers off, according to the Fat Controller. The kids had such a great time, there was so much to do, and we didn't even get all the way around the museum.

We upgraded our tickets to an annual pass before the day came to an end -- it was the same price as two visits (and this visit was included as one) and it means that we get free entry for a year. Slade and Kai were so keen on the place that they really want to go back in the next few weeks before they go back to school and while Thomas is still there. And there are a whole lot of exciting events during the year -- there's the Bunny Eggventures over Easter, and then the Toyland Express during the April school holidays, the June/July holiday event is the Circus Train, Santa visits at the end of November, and then there's a special Christmas theme in December. So I'm sure we'll use the pass well.

So what did we get up to? We met the Fat Controller (Sir Topham Hatt), who was very entertaining; there were play train sets in the Thomas play pit that entertained the kids for ages (and the room was air conditioned which was great for all of us!); there was a place to do drawings and a bouncy train (or jumping castle) and a wonderful model railway set that showed different areas of Queensland including the outback, the mountainous, forest scenery on the Cairns to Kuranga route, sugar cane plantations, and the city of Brisbane. We also went on a mini train.

We didn't get time to go behind the scenes and see the working workshops -- the oldest continually operating workshops in Australia -- where they actually restore trains. The Workshops are really an historic spot -- the first train to run in Queensland steamed from there over 140 years ago. Over 200 steam locomotives were constructed there.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas in Brisbane

I had intended to start this blog by telling about some of the things that we've done since we've arrived in Brisbane, but time is running away with me. I'll hopefully catch up later, but in the meantime, we've celebrated our first Christmas in Australia.

It was strange to be so far away from South Africa, and especially from family. We went to church in the morning, and then had a special lunch at home with just the four of us. Talking to family on Christmas Day was a special time, but also a sad reminder of what we were away from. It did help to know that next Christmas my Mom is planning to be with us so we'll have at least one extra family member with us the next time around.

The kids really enjoyed themselves and were happy with their presents. Kai loved her baby that talks, and Slade has become quite addicted to Lego so he was really pleased with his huge ship set!

We spent an evening a few days before Christmas driving around to find some Christmas lights. I was a little surprised that Christmas lights almost seemed quite hard to find, but there are a couple of competitions that are held every year and it's quite easy to find addresses of the entrants and winners on the internet. So we chose a few houses and streets fairly near to our house and had a wonderful time looking at some wonderful creations.

Another highlight of our first Christmas in Brisbane was a trip into the city to see the Christmas festivities there. There was a theatrical group doing a fun performance in the pedestrian mall in Queen Street. The kids loved watching the juggling, trapeze performance and other circus tricks. Myers Centre, which is in Queen Street, is known for it's wonderful themed Christmas window.

We also got to see the huge Christmas tree which is put up in the mall by the council.

And Kai so enjoyed riding the Christmas train which was an attraction INSIDE the Myers shop!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Getting Started

Well, this is the beginning of a journey. Not really literally as I arrived in Brisbane 3 weeks ago. But a personal journey adapting to life in Australia. It's also the beginning of a blogging journey -- a first for me!