Best of both worlds

We were so happy to have my parents here for a few weeks in November and December. We met their plane in Sydney and stayed there for a few days. They handled the long plane ride here--and the inevitable jetlag--like champs.  

  Botanical Gardens

Botanical Gardens

  Mrs. McQuarrie's seat, which looks out over the Opera House and Harbour Bridge. 

Mrs. McQuarrie's seat, which looks out over the Opera House and Harbour Bridge. 

After that weekend in Sydney we drove down to Canberra and showed them around our adopted hometown (and did all of those end-of-the-school-year events, too, from those previous posts). 

  Australian National War Memorial

Australian National War Memorial

  We found some soldiers with our family's name (Bentley) and left poppies by their names

We found some soldiers with our family's name (Bentley) and left poppies by their names

  National Arboretum (it burned in a bushfire a few years ago so they're in the process of replanting all the trees). Spot the parents?

National Arboretum (it burned in a bushfire a few years ago so they're in the process of replanting all the trees). Spot the parents?

For the last portion of the trip, we loaded in the car and drove the 8 hours to Victoria for some time by the sea. One of G's co-worker's invited us to use his beach house on the Mornington Peninsula outside of Melbourne. We were bowled over by the gorgeousness (and generosity!). We spent the first few days close to the house--playing games, reading, and sightseeing around the peninsula

  A local maze garden

A local maze garden

  Doing one of the garden's big puzzles

Doing one of the garden's big puzzles

and then we took a ferry across the bay to drive the gorgeous Great Ocean Road

It's a long drive for one day so we booked the old lightkeeper's cottage at Cape Otway Lighthouse Station. During the day it's kind of a state park visited by the public but they have a couple of bare-bones cottages where the lighthouse workers used to live that they now rent out. After the state park closed, we had the place pretty much to ourselves! It was surreal--isolated, beautiful (that late afternoon light!), unforgettable. Such a unique experience. (We also spotted our first and only koala bear in the wild there but sadly weren't quick enough to catch a picture. Imagine the cutest furry little ball of teddy bear scampering along the road and into the bushes.)

The next morning we headed to the Twelve Apostles rock formations. It's hard to capture their stunning majesty but here are a few attempts:

G had a business trip during the Great Ocean Road outing but joined us back at the beach house for the last couple of days. We said our goodbyes to my parents in Melbourne, where they stayed a few extra days and took a couple days' trip to Tasmania before heading home.

It was a dreamy few weeks. I think I'm still living off of the boost it gave me to spend that uninterrupted time with my beloved people in such beautiful settings. We do love our adventure here in Australia (and, really, what other choice is there but to embrace it?) but by far the most difficult thing about it is being so very far away from many of our family and friends. Having them come visit us here is the best of both worlds. 

Hint, hint.