Not quite the king of the jungle

Not quite the king of the jungle

Whilst in Melbourne on holiday with Phil and Rhiannon from the UK, we took the opportunity to go and see King Kong the musical.

This is new and is only on in Melbourne. The organisers have guaranteed they won’t put it on anywhere else in Australia because it too big and complicated to move. And if they do we get a refund of the ticket price, the flights from Sydney and a nights accommodation!

The show was in the Regent Theatre, a 1920s style building which was super ornate, both in the theatre itself and the other rooms.

The plot follows the standard King Kong tale where aspiring Director Carl Denham and young actress Ann Darrow travel to the mysterious Skull Island to film the ‘beast’ for his new film.

The show was truly awesome – in the sense of actual awe, where you go ‘wow’! The show features a cast of over 50 and the most high tech effects I’ve ever seen in a show. Before you even get to the 30 foot King Kong there were all sorts of set changes, a lot of excellent projection including with infrared sensors to pick out people’s outlines and project directly onto them, and a floor that rocked about like the ship. The ship has a mad Scottish captain who was entertaining.

King Kong himself was amazing. The first scene he appears in when he picks Ann from the vines was done very well and actually pretty scary! He was 30 foot tall, weighs 1.1 tonnes and is mainly moved by a series of men moving and jumping to pull on wires or lifting his legs. He moved really like a real gorilla which was impressive. His head is robotic and the facial features were all very realistic and made you actually feel very sad for him. Zips or panel on his body opened up to show red lights underneath when he got hurt. His noises were really loud and he came nice and close out to the audience quite a few times. There was also a surprise other giant animal which was very cool.

The show itself was a good spectacle with lots of singing and dancing with big choreography, cool outfits (including ladies in furry grey kong leotards!) and good music. Some of the singing was a bit variable, but I often find that with musicals. There was some artistic licence going on, but it was within reason I thought. The ending was quite abrupt and sad, so if they do re-run it I think that could definitely be improved.

I managed to resist the $35 cuddly Kong at the end!

I would totally recommend the show to anyone who has the opportunity to go and see it. For me it definitely raised the bar in terms of projection and effects. I’d give it a 9.5/10 as it only lost points because of the sad ending and a bit of dodgy singing.

Happy Christmas everyone!

We decided we should have a Christmas Special blog post, so have finally finished preparing the adventure video from our New Zealand honeymoon. There will be a more scenic video at some point too.

You can read more about our awesome honeymoon here. This time last year we celebrated our first hot Christmas with the Millis family in Wanaka, including a picnic and spot of kayaking in Lake Wanaka. Also featured in the video are sky-diving, bungee jumping, Queenstown luge, caving, sea kayaking, lake kayaking, canyoning, jet boating, cycling and of course some rock climbing!

Warning: This video contains footage of what may be considered ‘extreme’ activities. Sensitive parents may find some scenes distressing. No Shorts were harmed in the  making of this film. 

Strange beasties

Strange beasties

Here we go again:

Liking: Having friends Rhainnon and Phil from the UK to stay and holidaying with them down to Melbourne and the Great Ocean Road.

Disliking: Postal charges to the UK! You think they’re bad your end, here its crazy. After the first couple I started weighing things at home first to make sure I worked the system – although then the scale battery died so then I went back to guessing.

Watching: We’ve been too busy to watch much really. We saw Despicable Me 2 on DVD which I enjoyed a lot (I’m a kid inside really) and are off to see Hunger Games 2 at the cinema tonight.

Consuming: Messina gelato (again!) and the comic Gaytime ice cream too – that wasn’t worth it! Matt’s been having coffee from the new machine. I’ve also been eating a lot of passion fruits. They are so yummy and 10 for $2 so cheap too. I don’t know why I didn’t buy them before. Are they super expensive in the UK or maybe they seemed too exotic!

Buying: Not a lot apart from Christmas presents. Matt has set up Spotify on my phone (although we pay for it already) so once I learn how that works I can have music I want in the car on our road trip. Update: I also caved in and bought an iPad so I can stop stealing Matts tablet. Shiny!

Working on: Bits and pieces mainly. Outside of work Matt has become the Sydney Rock Climbing Club librarian, so we now have 14 boxes of climbing books, minutes and DVDs to look after. I’ve been working on our UK friends to come out so we can have some more visitors (who can bring me Marmite!)

Thinking about: Our Christmas holiday to Tasmania and my road trip after including Philip Island (Penguin central!) I’ve also been thinking about how weird it is having a warm festive period. It was a warm December and Christmas for us last year in New Zealand, but because we were driving round on holiday we weren’t quite as exposed to it.

Visiting: Melbourne, the Great Ocean Road and the Grampains mountains. They have weird creatures there (see pic). More about our adventure there in future posts! We also took a sailing trip on the Harbour with Captain Andrew and are heading to the beach for a Christmas Party and barbie soon – santa suits optional!

 

Looking forward to: Tasmania and Philip Island.

Every year around Bondi Beach for about two weeks they have the FREE ‘Sculptures by the Sea’ festival, which does what you could expect. It’s been going 17 years, so it must be good!

According to the guidebook its the largest annual sculpture exhibition in the world, and the largest free cultural event in Australia! There were over 100 sculptures (107). Knowing it would be busy, we went one weekday evening after work. It was popular, but not stupidly busy. The area between Bondi and Tamarama beach is very scenic already, so with added sculptures there were some pretty cool views.

I’m not particularly arty, but sculpture is probably my favorite kind of visual art. I really enjoyed it, especially with the sculptures out in the natural landscape rather than in a gallery. Admittedly some of them were pretty weird, and I didn’t really ‘get’ them. Here are some of the highlights for me.  I added some artistic commentary from the brochure in places.

Like a flower swaying in the wind – One of two moving sculptures.

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Multiverse – Cool stacked discs which reminded me a bit of a mountain cairn. Apparently this actually ‘expresses conundrums of time and space and refers to the idea of multiple universes’. So there.

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Ocean cathedral – Archway made of bamboo which framed the landscape…’transient and ephemeral, swaying in the wind.’

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The Great Bondi Sharehouse – This was fabric anemones and sea creatures attached to a big rock. They were really bright and colorful so looked really cool against the rock.

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Diminish and ascend – Very cool staircase pointing off into the air. ‘A compelling perspective illusion that requires the viewer to literally diminish to ascend’.

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Nomadic city – Mini tents filled with plants on the cliffs and powered by solar lights. This one was cool in a weird way and reminded me of some crazy spot Matt would think its a good idea to camp in! Really its a commemorative work to nomadic communities displaced from their homelands.

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Plastic world – A globe of the Earth made of plastic rubbish left in the sea.

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East of the Mulberry tree – the legend of the ten red crows – Crocheted polypropylene crows

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Passage secret – Big metal oval you can look through out to see which ‘pushes the boundaries of reality to open portals into another dimension’! Maybe we should have walked through it, but I went with the ‘don’t touch the art’ approach.

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Horizon – My favorite. A ball filled with water on the cliff which reflects the landscape and sea back, upside down. It acts as ‘a monument to the coastal landscape and the constant line of the horizon.’ Yours for a mere $80,000!

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Which do you like best?

Parliament House

Parliament House

We went to the nations’ capital Canberra recently for a weekend.

When we mentioned this trip to any Australian the normal reply was “Why?!”. Most of them had been there though, so we figured we should to. There is actually a fair bit to do in Canberra and we could probably have stayed another day, maybe even two. I don’t think its worth adding on to a holiday to Australia unless you have a couple of months to spare, but as we’re living only about 3 hours drive away (5 if you try and leave after work on a Friday!) it was worth a visit.

We drove down on Friday night. On the way you pass Goulburn which is famous for merino sheep and wool. In Australian tradition of giant things – they have a giant Merino. Unfortunately it was dark when we got there, but I still got the obligatory photo. Funnily the sheep used to be in the town center, but when they built the bypass visitors dropped off so they relocated it. Its now just by the main road, next to McDonalds and Subway!

Saturday morning there was a Farmers Market on our campsite. We checked that out with an awesome sausage sandwich for breakfast, and picked up some yummy bread, cheese and muffins for lunch.

After that we headed to the main attraction – Questicon – a science museum. Its mainly aimed at kids, but we still managed to spend 3.5 hours there! It was very interactive. We went to a show on perception in the theater and went in an earthquake simulator. My favorite bit was the 360 degree swing. Using mainly your own momentum you get strapped in the swing and see if you can do a 360 turn! Matt managed it, I wasn’t quite strong, heavy or co-ordinated enough, but it was great fun.

Awesome 360 degree swing at Questiocon

Awesome 360 degree swing at Questiocon

Next stop was Parliament House with the giant 4 legged flag pole and various official rooms which you can wander round. They were setting up for a big awards event and played BeeGees Staying Alive as we left which amused me enough to do a little dance! We went back to the campsite and dinner via the War Memorial and Mount Ainslie lookout.

On Sunday we went to the Australia Museum. This had lots of cool exhibits including Aboriginal History and a replica skeleton of a giant wombat type dinosaur! There was also info on the rabbit proof fence they put up across the whole length of Australia in WA, a cart that came from Scotland to Oz, back to Scotland and then back here again and a Citroen C7 that had driven all the way round the country! (IT might have been the first car to do that, I can’t quite remember).

One of Rolf Harris' wobble boards

One of Rolf Harris’ wobble boards

Sunday afternoon we went to the Telstra Tower on Black Mountain reserve where you can look out over the city from the tower which had some good views. After that we went for lunch and a walk around the Botanic Gardens before heading home again.

Canberra was a bit of a strange place. It was designed and built as the capital, so has some textbook town planning and street layouts going on. It was really quite quiet really, so I guess a lot of people only come int he week for work and then live somewhere else.

Flower in the Red Soil Garden

Flower in the Red Soil Garden

 

drag1

My inner motorsport enthusiast was super keen to go and see some Drag Racing recently at Sydney Dragway. It was the Sydney finals.

We went on a scorchingly hot Sunday when it hit 35 degrees with not too much shade. The day opened with a marching band playing the Rocky theme tune – awesome! 🙂

Basically two cars go head to head to see who can cover a 1/4 mile track the quickest. They record the top speeds as well. There were a whole host of different categories, and I didn’t really understand what the difference between them all . They had Nitro cars, alcohol powered cars, door slammers (?!), outlaw (?!) retro cars, drag bikes, full on dragster cars (Top Fuel) with parachutes and some others which I can’t remember.

The word of the day was definitely noisy. We took ear plugs and certainly needed them. Everything was really loud, especially the custom dragsters – they got to over 400kph and the ground literally shook when they raced.

It was a pretty entertaining day, and you could walk around the pits and see the repairs and work being done on all the cars. I have to say though 7 hours was a tad too long to watch two cars going in a straight line, so we might not go for the whole day next time!

It was also a total bargain. We paid $40 each online and when we got there, because was female, I got the laydee price of $20, so got $20 back. We also got free Top Gear magazine and another motoring magazine too. There weren’t any men in dresses and heels though which was a slight disappointment.

Brooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooom!

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Apprentice Restaurant, Sydney

Apprentice Restaurant, Sydney

We went for a meal out recently at the Sydney TAFE Apprentice Restaurant. This is nothing to do with The Apprentice TV show or Lord Sugar. Rather, its part of the collge where they train chefs and front of house staff.

For $30 you can book in which includes a welcome drink and a 4 course meal – bargain! I People at work did make some food poisoning jokes, but I’d heard good reviews and figured they wouldn’t let anyone loose on the paying public if they couldn’t cook things that were edible!

The restaurant was on the 7th (top) floor of the college building, and set out like a proper restaurant. It was half used as it was a slow week night – with a table of 10 celebrating a birthday and 4 tables of 2. Our welcome drink was our own choice (woo), so we went for a different wine each. I had a NSW Semillion Sauvignon Blanc. They were very generous and filled our huge wine glasses very full, so we probably had about 1/3 of a bottle each in one glass! They were very drinkable too. By the end of the second course we decided to go for another glass each and pay for that on top.

For each of the four courses there were two things on the menu. We weren’t too sure if we got a choice or not. Turns out we got one of each dish and it worked out well as we probably would have ordered different things anyway. We ate:

Appetiser:

King fish ceviche with tomatoes and avocado wrapped in a courgette slice (E)

Sushi rolls with wasabi soy sauce (M)

Entrée:

Warm salad of duck breast with roasted beetroot and cider dressing (E)

Cream of pumpkin and ginger soup (M)

Main:

Stuffed roasted leg of lamb with mint jus, garlic potatos and baby vegetables (E)

Green chicken curry with green beans and jasmine rice (M)

Dessert:

Vanillla panna cotta with strawberries and almond biscotti (Shared)

Bannana pudding with toffee sauce and pistachio ice cream (Shared)

The duck salad was my favourite thing. It was presented really well on a long rectangular plate  (shame I didn’t take a photo) and had loads of tasty bits and pieces in it. The duck was medium so still pink with crispy fat. In the salad was also roasted beetroot, salad, tomatoes, grapefruit segments for sourness and honey roasted macademia nuts for sweetness and crunch.

Laura our waitress was helpful and friendly. Apparently they are assessed a every service. At the endof the night we got the bill for the extra drinks, and it turns out the extra wine was $3.50 per glass. Considering getting wine anywhere in Sydney for $7.50 is a total bargain, this was amazing!

Overall I’d give it a definate 8.5/10 ad would be keen to go back. There was very nice food, good service and overall a total bargain!