Australian War Memorial

Just before we left Canberra, we made our way to the Australian War Memorial, which was recently named as the top landmark in Australia by TripAdvisor. As its name implies, the Australian War Memorial was built to honour the members of its armed forces and supporting parties who have perished or contributed to the wars of the Commonwealth of Australia. I was surprised that it was open even during public holidays (Easter weekend) and parking was a breeze in the undercover car park.

P1100984

Australian War Memorial, Canberra

P1100980

Australian flags in front of the memorial

My first impression of the memorial was that it was gigantic! I initially expected a museum-like experience that would be boring (no offense) but it was actually pretty interesting. There were areas encompassing World War I and another on World War II. There were pictures of soldiers all along the walkways and real-life fighter jets within the building too. I was just sorry I didn’t allocate more time for us to visit the memorial. We only reached there around noon and were planning to drive home around 2.30pm so we would reach home before dark. That left us with slightly more than an hour to roam around, leaving less than an hour for lunch.

P1100983

View from the top near the entrance of the memorial

P1100985

The huge war memorial

P1100986

Making our way in

P1100987

Pictures of soldiers

P1100989

Little J didn’t seem very interested :P

P1100990

More pictures of soldiers

P1100991

Badges of honour

We spotted something that looked like a metal cage during our visit and eventually realized it was flight trainer. It was from an Avro Anson plane that used to be a bomber and later salvaged as a training plane. It certainly did not look very comfortable in there and there was no screen whatsoever to display any information. It looks like we have really come a long way in the aviation industry.

P1100992

Inside of the Avro Anson training plane

P1100993

The olden days cockpit

P1100994

The Avro Anson trainer information board

There were also a few life-size fighter jets and bomber displayed in the memorial. One of those was the Kittyhawk “Polly”, which I took a picture of because the Lieutenant who flew this plane actually named it after his girlfriend. So romantic! :)

P1100996

Kittyhawk “Polly”

P1100998

ANZAC Hall entrance

P1100999

Another air craft

P1110001

Avro Lancaster Mk I Bomber ‘G for George’

Just before we left, we took a stroll along the Memorial Courtyard. The weather was gorgeous and sunny, perfect for photography. I guess you can tell our visit wasn’t very comprehensive based on the sporadic pictures and short description on my post. Hopefully when Little J is a bit older, we would return to the memorial and allocate more time to fully appreciate the wealth of information it has to offer.

P1110007

Memorial Courtyard

P1110006

Some familiar countries on the wall

P1110005

Our little family

Visiting Parliament House and Brodburger, Canberra

Right after we submitted our application for Little J’s registration of birth, we took some time to visit the Australian Parliament House since we were in the vicinity. It was close to lunch time though, so we thought we’d just make a quick stop, take some photos, and go for lunch. The weather was amazing that day. Gorgeous blue sky, clear and sunny with cool temperature. I was worried that Canberra would be cooler than Sydney but I guess we were lucky because we didn’t even need to wear our jumpers when we were out.

P1100947

 Parliament House in Canberra

The Parliament House was apparently the most expensive building at the time of its construction, costing over AUD$1 billion! It’s also interestingly shaped as a boomerang, reflecting Australia’s culture. The Parliament House is actually open to the public, but because we were in a rush that day, we only managed to scour the grounds outside the building. Interestingly we parked at this spot just between the old and new parliament houses, and got ourselves confused at first when we saw the 2 buildings and wondered which one should we head to? LOL.

P1100937

Old Parliament House

P1100939

Heading towards the new Parliament House

P1100941

With koala bear Little J in front of the Parliament House

P1100942

Saucer, Little J and his fat tummy :P

The Parliament House was just massive! Even from a distance, my camera (which has a wide angle feature, by the way) still failed to capture the building in its entirety. It’ll be interesting to know how it looks like inside now that we’ve seen the outside of it. Perhaps a good excuse for a return trip next time? I’m sure there will be plenty of those whenever our passports are due for renewals. :)

P1100944

Trying to capture the wide building but failed

P1100945

One end of the Parliament House

P1100949

Flag poles

After the brief visit to the Parliament House, we made our way to lunch. We had not been to Canberra before so we weren’t sure where to head to. After asking a friend who’s from there, she suggested for us to try the burgers at Brodburger, which was apparently the burger joint to go to in Canberra. After a search on Google and the GPS, we were finally there in Kingston.

P1100970

Brodburger, Canberra

And lo and behold, the waiting time for our burgers was a whopping 50 minutes! To be fair, they did inform us when we placed our order at the counter, and we had the option to walk away then. But we did not, since we were already there. Plus, we did not know where else to go. #losers So we said we’d wait, and were given the UFO thingy that would beep when our orders were ready. I actually noted the time that we placed our order, which was circa 12.30pm. Armed with that UFO beeper, we wandered around the area on the nice sunny day, while our tummies rumbled away. LOL.

P1100963

Saucer and the pram with Little J

P1100964

Walking around Kingston

P1100965

Benches facing the water

P1100966

Mini pier

P1100967

Nice apartments by the waters

It was quite a nice walk around Kingston, except that most of the shops were closed since it was a Good Friday. The only shops opened were countable with one hand, and most of them were packed. About 10 minutes before our order was due, we made our way back to Brodburger just in case our beeper might not work if we’re too far away. By then, the crowd had eased a little bit and we managed to find some seats available so there we waited. At right about 1.20pm, the beeper vibrated and beeped! Oh my, 50 minutes on the dot indeed! I wish I had more pictures of the burgers and fries that we ordered that day.  Alas, my hands were full … Not with food, but with Mr J here. :)

IMG_4804

Little J playing with the beeper

Applying for Malaysian Passport from Australia

As mentioned in my previous post, we went to Canberra just before the Easter break to register for Little J’s birth and to apply for his Malaysian passport. There were a lot of planning involved in that trip, not only logistics (Little J’s food, clothes, nappies, timing the trip with his nap/sleep time, etc) but also preparation in terms of the documents we needed. The last thing we wanted was to drive all the way there after making an appointment a month in advance, to find that we forgot to bring an important document needed to register his birth! That would really be a disaster and a waste of all the effort we (I) had put in.

IMG_4792

Nothing like a sleeping child on a road trip :)

Anyway, as with everyone else in Sydney, our nearest option to register for our child(ren)’s birth with the Malaysian Consulate would be in Canberra. All the information you need really is in their website. One key point to note is that to register for your child’s birth, it is highly recommended to do so before he turns 1 year old, because after that period, you would need more documents and have to wait for a longer application time (more than 6 months according to the website).

IMG_4801

We’re there!

For the list of documents required for the registration, you could check out this link. For passport application, check out this link. Other important key points to take note:

  • Make an appointment as soon as possible. Note that appointment times available are only from 9am to 10am, Monday to Thursday. So if you are making a day trip there, it means starting your journey from Sydney at 5.30am the latest. Or if you are planning to stay the weekend there, you might want to book a Monday morning appointment. For us, we managed to get the appointment on the Thursday before Good Friday, so we got to stay a night there after our official business.
  • Take passport photos of your child beforehand (if you want to save money). If you are like me, trying to save the AUD$15 for photos, you could take the photos of your child beforehand at home. It’s actually not too hard especially for babies who are not that mobile yet. Just lay them on a piece of white cloth and snap the picture with his/her eyes looking at the camera, mouth closed and head straight (not tilted). We did this and the officer accepted our photos! Printing the photos ourselves at the photo shop only cost us AUD$0.15 by the way. :)
  • Double and triple check all the documents required for the application. Most importantly, make sure all the original documents are with you. If you don’t/forget to make enough copies, as long as you have the originals, you could still make the copies there. But without the originals, your application might have to be put on hold.
  • Parking off-street in front of the consulate. Since it was our first time there, we were not sure where to park and tried to enter via the gates which were closed. After several attempts at the intercom, we then found out that public cars were not allowed inside the building. We had to park outside by the road or across the building. Entering the building was via a side gate which was unlocked.
  • Child registration and passport application are two different processes. Read more about this in my experience below.

IMG_4798

Posing in front of the Malaysian Consulate

We reached there right at 10am on the dot. We were worried about being late but there was actually another family in front of us still in the process of renewing their passports so we sat down and waited. There were 3 counters but only one with an officer. There was no numbering system so we thought we just had to wait until the family was done to get to our turn. That family actually took more than 30 minutes (3 adults and 2 kids) to renew all their passports and by the time the officer was available, it was about 10.45am. So we quickly went over to the counter, ready with documents. When the officer asked for Little J’s Malaysian birth cert/Borang W, I said I didn’t have it and that I was supposed to apply for it then. Little did we know that the officer that we were waiting for was actually in charge of passports ONLY, while registration of birth was handled by another officer who was freely roaming around in the office behind the counters. :( When he came out, he said “Oh I saw you waiting earlier. Why didn’t you call me?” I felt so stupid for waiting for 45 minutes with a hungry Little J for no reason. Stupid for assuming that everyone was supposed to wait for that one operating counter. Anyway, to cut the story short, we had all our documents ready, Little J did some thumb prints, we paid the fees and proceeded to the next counter for passport application. Thankfully, the officers were quite nice and fast, so we managed to submit everything within half an hour.

IMG_4799

Malaysian Consulate in Canberra

On another note, we kept hearing about the famous nasi lemak that was sold at the Malaysian Consulate before and I asked the officer about it. Unfortunately, since the processing of passports moved from Canberra to Melbourne, there were less applicants at the Canberra office, which resulted in declined market for the nasi lemak. Apparently, the nasi lemak was made by one of the staff in the office to sell to people who had to endure long waits for the passport processing back in the time where you could collect them within the same day. Now that passport processing is done in Melbourne (or Perth), we could only submit our application in Canberra and wait for a month for the passport to be ready.

IMG_4803

Are we done yet?

By 3pm on the same day, we were able to collect the Borang W (Malaysian birth registration certificate) from the office. For the passport, we had the option of providing an Express self-addressed envelope to the officer to mail it to us when it’s ready, or to go back to the office and collect by hand. We opted for the postage and within a month or so, Little J’s passport arrived in the mail! I have to say I’m quite impressed with the efficiency of the Malaysian Consulate.

photo(1)

Little J’s Malaysian passport!

Canberra Ibis Styles

During the Easter long weekend, we brought Little J to Canberra to register his birth with the Malaysian Consulate before he turned 1 year old. I purposely chose the day before the Easter break to go so that we could stay an extra day there and still had a few days of holidays after that to recover in case the trip turned out to be a disaster. *paranoid* I will write more about our trip to the consulate in the next post, because I would like to write about our experience staying at Ibis Styles Canberra, for the night. It was actually quite a last minute decision deciding to stay overnight, simply because Little J had never slept overnight anywhere else so I was worried that he might not sleep well and keep us awake, which then defeated the purpose of staying a night there. But it would also be too tiring for us (Saucer actually) to be driving 3.5 to 4 hours each way, which meant a total of 8 hours, if we did a day trip! As if fated, there happened to be a Groupon deal for a night’s stay at Ibis Styles just a few days before we were due to leave, and I called up the hotel to check for availability before making a purchase. There were still rooms available and the deal was quite reasonable at $109 for 1 or 2 Queen beds Superior room including breakfast for 2, so I decided to go for it.

Canberra

Double Queen Superior room

Given a choice of either 1 Queen beds or 2, of course we opted for the latter to have more room and for Little J to crawl on. We managed to check in a little earlier at 12pm (as opposed to hotel’s policy of 3pm) after we were done at the consulate. I had actually requested for a cot the day before, but was disappointed to see that it wasn’t there when we arrived. No matter, I informed the staff at the front desk and she said it would be set up in no time. We left for lunch and returned about 2 hours later, only to find no cot in the room still! So I went to the front desk again and upon investigation, we found out that the cot was actually set up in the wrong room! There was clearly some miscommunication regarding the room number. So we had to wait patiently for the cot to be set up again while Little J was fussing for his nap. Luckily, we managed to get him to nap quite soundly in the cot after a tiring morning for all of us.

Canberra

 The 2 Queen Beds

Now that the cot drama is settled, I shall proceed to talk about our experience at the hotel. Generally, the hotel staff were helpful and nice (despite the miscommunication earlier), and the room looked neat and tidy. However, Saucer mentioned that he thought the sheets felt a little dusty when he slept on the bed, giving him the impression that they were not slept on for a while. Not really sure how true that is, but he could be a little picky when it comes to tidiness. *LOL*

Canberra

40 inch LCD TV, table and chairs for our takeaway food

Canberra

Sorry mommy has to take pictures before you can crawl around :P

I loved that there’s a dining table and 2 chairs in the room, which was very useful come dinner time. You see, ever since Little J was born, we never have the chance to dine out anymore, because his bedtime is around 7.30pm. So we usually eat at home, or in this case, ordered delivery. The bathroom came with a bath tub, which was essential for me to bathe Little J. He enjoyed the bubble bath tremendously although he did appear amused with those bubbles (we usually use bath oil at home with no bubbles).

Canberra

Toilet and bathroom

Canberra

Bath tub and shower

Canberra

Toiletries

As with most hotels/inns here, tooth brush and tooth paste are not provided, so make sure you bring your own. We had had enough experience of these to remember bringing our own toiletries to avoid making last minute, overpriced purchases. :) There was an ironing board and an iron in the closet, which were useful if you had business meetings to attend to, or if you’re like me, for emergency workaround to dry up clothes. (cue baby clothes wet from drool)

Canberra

Ironing board and iron

Canberra

Coffee and tea making facilities

The standard coffee and tea making facilities were available, although we did not use any of them. The kettle looked a bit too old and suspicious, so I was glad that I brought boiled water from home for Little J.

I put Little J to bed around 7.30pm as usual, and only then I realized how thin the walls were! The occupants next door must have just returned from their day out for I could hear each of them taking a shower one after another, and the sound of the shower was quite loud. It was as if the shower was just next to us! I was so worried about it waking Little J up but thankfully he managed to sleep through the noise. Still, I could hear them using the water tap every time, as well as their chatter (although I couldn’t make out what they were saying). But this really annoyed me because if the occupants next door were taking their shower or going to the bathroom late at night, we would be able to hear it as well. It was too late to do anything about it, plus if the hotel structure was built as such, there was no point changing to other rooms anyway. So we just had to live with it praying that Little J didn’t wake up every time someone used the shower or toilet next door.

Canberra

Yes, now you can have the bed! :)

The next morning, we woke up early (thanks to Little J) and had buffet breakfast at the restaurant downstairs. The variety was quite standard for an Australian hotel – toasts, croissant, bacon, egg, beans, tomatoes, sausages, pancakes, cereal, yogurt, fruits, and the like. I thought the hash browns were gorgeous! They were crispy and fluffy even though they’re left on the serving platter in a huge volume. Usually, most hash browns would have been soggy.

Canberra

Where’s my breakfast?

Canberra

 My plate

After the filling breakfast, we took a walk outside the hotel. It was cold and misty, as you can probably tell from the pictures below.

Canberra

A walk in the morning

Canberra

With Little J who’s not so little anymore

Overall, our stay at Ibis Styles Canberra was just decent. It served the purpose of being close enough to the Malaysian Consulate (about 10 minutes drive) and allowed us to rest overnight after the long drive. However, its a little away from the city centre, which limited our dining options tremendously. The closest option was at Kingston but most of the shops there were closed on Good Friday. And, as you can probably tell, I was most annoyed by those thin walls that disrupted our sleep at night. On the other hand, the hotel did have pretty good breakfast and the staff was polite and nice. And it did help that we got the room at a discounted price!

Canberra

Ibis Styles Canberra

Ibis Styles Canberra
203 Goyder St,
Narrabundah
ACT 2604 Australia
Tel No.:(02) 6295 2944
Website: www.ibisstylescanberra.com.au

Tea Gardens Boatshed

Just before leaving Tea Gardens, we thought we should have our lunch prior to the long drive back. After talking to a few locals, we found out that one of the must-try places in Tea Gardens is Tea Gardens Boatshed restaurant/cafe. Situated along the beautiful Marine Drive, this restaurant offers spectacular views of the sea during the day, and is romantically lit during the night. It is also right above the waters, making one feel as if one is in a floating restaurant. Since it was a last minute decision, we just walked in without any reservations. And boy, was it packed! There were no more empty tables, and the ones by the waters were fully reserved as well. The waitress told us that we had to wait for at least 45 minutes to get a table by the water. Since we were already set on dining there, we decided to wait by taking a walk along the pier.

Tea Gardens

What a pretty assembly

Tea Gardens

Walk along the pier

Tea Gardens

Coffee and chips while waiting for our table

With so much time to kill and 2 growling stomachs, we decided to get some takeaway chips and coffee to snack on. The chips were surprisingly good! Thick, crispy and dense, from the nearby fish and chips store on the same street. Pretty soon, it was time and sure enough, we were given our table as promised, just by the waters. The good thing about sitting there was the gorgeous view, but the downside was the super bright and hot sun shining down on us the whole time! Thankfully we had our sunnies with us, so it wasn’t too bad.

Tea Gardens

Cabernet Merlot AUD$6.60

Saucer placed an order for the Boatshed Caesar Salad, deciding to be healthy on that afternoon. :) It was a wholesome salad consisting of slices of smoked salmon, succulent king prawns, streaky bacon, soft yolk egg, baby cos lettuce, white anchovy, crostini and crispy shaved parmesan. Even though it was just a salad, it was fulfilling and very yummy. The combination of seafood and greens was a nice change to the typical chicken salad that most other restaurants offer. Also, since it was a warm afternoon, the cold seafood and crunchy greens provided a refreshing touch!

Tea Gardens

Boatshed Caesar Salad AUD$20.80

Tea Gardens

Saucer and his salad

As for me, I opted for the Market Fish Fillet which came with roasted kipfler potatoes, baby spinach, black olive tapenade, truffled baby caper and drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette. It was definitely an interesting dish with a unique presentation, somewhat like a mini tower. It was my first time tasting the tapenade and I really liked it! It had a strong savory and slightly sour taste, much like concentrated olives in a puree form, and it went really well with the fish. What a smart way to pair it with! Even though the size of the dish didn’t look too big, it was surprisingly very filling. The fish was flaky and fresh, while the potatoes were roasted perfectly. It was indeed a well-balanced and delicious lunch.

Tea Gardens

Market Fish Fillet AUD$27.90

Tea Gardens

Table by the waters

Tea Gardens

Enjoying the view

Throughout our lunch, we were accompanied with pelicans swimming in the water next to us. Apparently, they were really just waiting for us to throw crumbs to them. Such a funny sight. We were glad that we waited the 45 minutes to get a table here, because it was well worth the wait. We ended up leaving the restaurant satiated and happy, fueled for our 3-hour drive home. :)

Tea Gardens

The hungry pelican

Tea Gardens

Lunching at the Boatshed

Tea Gardens Boatshed
110 Marine Dr
Tea Gardens NSW 2324
Australia
Tel No.: (02) 4997 0307
Business Hours: Daily 8.30am – 4pm, 6pm – 8pm
Website: www.teagardensboatshed.com.au

Romantic Walk by the Beach

On our last day at Tea Gardens, we drove to Jimmys Beach located at Hawks Nest, for our final stroll before leaving for Sydney. Much to our delight, the beach was clean, peaceful and deserted! We must have chosen the right time to visit. The weather that day was a blissful change from the day before, warm and sunny with a cool and gentle breeze caressing our faces. It was the perfect weather for that romantic stroll on our baby moon.

Tea Gardens

Clean and peaceful at Jimmys Beach

Tea Gardens

Taking a dip :P

Look at the gorgeous clear blue sky. It was the photographer’s dream indeed. We took the opportunity to capture several pictures of me with my baby bump. :) That was several months ago, of course. Can’t believe how time flies! Instead of a baby bump, I now have a baby!

Tea Gardens

Baby bump at 30 weeks

Tea Gardens

Another picture of the bump

Tea Gardens

Saucer enjoying the beautiful view of the sea

We wanted badly to take pictures of both of us together, but there was just no one around to help us do so! So, we resorted to taking pictures of our shadows instead. LOL!

Tea Gardens

Us taking a stroll :)

Tea Gardens

Saucer hugging the baby bump :)

Tea Gardens

Seconds before these shoes were almost washed away by the waves

It was the perfect ending to our short baby moon trip. :)

Tea Gardens

Gorgeous day at Jimmys Beach