The Russell's Down Under

A diary of our adventures in Oz

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Christmas 2012

I thought it was about time we updated on our first Christmas down under!

Everybody asked us if it was strange to have Christmas in the Summer.  It was certainly different, but not in a bad way.  We were able to spend a lot of the day outside and the best part – we were able to spend Boxing Day on the beach  🙂

The kids got everything they asked for and where very happy.  We had a BBQ including prawns, sausages and kangaroo steaks!  And then the whole of Boxing Day was spent enjoying the sun.  What more can you ask for?  We’re looking forward to many more!











Mandy xxx


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Summer Fun

What better when the weather is extraordinary hot, than to go to Water World.

Daddy and kids took a 30 minute drive and had a dip in the pool. Run through a ‘Rainbow’ archway spitting water out, slide down a choice of three water slides and a long swim in the Olympic size swimming pool.








October Update

Well, the weather has finally brightened up and seems to be at a constant 28 degrees.  Every fellow Pom we come across (who’ve been out here longer than we have) say:

“The weather is just easing you into it…”

Although a comment like that annoys me and makes me want to punch the person in the face.  I think 10 years is a long time since we were last here, and possibly our memories of the boiling hot temperatures could be distorted.

Connor has been unwell a lot recently, with stomach bugs.  Mandy came down with a bout herself and we are starting to think it’s the water.  The water mains over here tastes like it’s treated with a lot of chemicals to purify it.  So, we have bought a filter jug for the fridge and so far, fingers crossed, it seems to have rectified that issue.

Maisy has become very popular at school and has received several birthday party invites.  Me thinks I’ll be doing a lot of ferrying about over the next few weeks…  Joys of fatherhood.

We bought the kids a small pool  for the garden to cool down in:

We took the kids to the beach, the positives of the better weather.  Plenty of football (soccer to the locals) on the beach and swimming fun in the sea.  Only very minor sun burn – great day all round!

Mandy has been working on her new performing arts school.  SA Performing Arts (  New classes have now been added and the school seems to be thriving.   Also, Mandy has another job for a company based in NSW.  Teaching dance and gymnastics in mainstream schools.  This term she drives 4 hours, once a week (to and from), being compensated for the commute and enjoying the travelling through the state.

As a sum-up – we’re doing great!

Until our next update peeps…


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Busy busy busy

Sorry it’s been so long! Life has just taken over.

We are all well and enjoying Spring in Oz! The weather was lovely last week and is supposed to be nice again next week (though the weekend has typically been a bit chilly!) The car thermometer hit 34 degrees on my way home from work the other week! Sign of things to come, maybe?!

Unfortunately, the warm weather has brought all the bugs out of hiding. We’ve had a couple of white tail spiders in the house this week, so we’re going to have to ‘bug bomb’ again. But we last bombed in March so haven’t done too badly for it to last this long. I do spray the surfaces/windows/doors regularly which helps keep things under control. To be honest, most of them don’t bother me and we probably get less bugs in the house here than we did in the UK, with all the bug-proofing we have! But the white tails do worry me as they have a nasty bite, so need to stop that little problem, before it becomes a bigger problem!

We had the Gawler Show a couple of weeks ago – a local agricultural show which is a bit of a big deal. It was a lovely day out with rides and fireworks, but cost us a small fortune!! Next year, I must learn to say “no” to the kids 🙂

Connor was incredibly excited when he won a giant green alien on one of the sideshows!!

The kids were also very excited to be able to ride on a camel!

Joe ran the City to Bay 12km Run a couple of weeks ago. It starts in the city and finishes at Glenelg Beach. He made really good time for his first attempt and is planning to run again next year and try and get under 60 minutes. It would have been a lovely day, but as Joe arrived in Glenelg, the heavens opened and it poured with rain! So that put an end to our day on the beach!

The kids are currently on a 2-week break from school. It’s been nice to have a break from the school run every day, but they are driving me crazy being under my feet all the time! Typically, Joe’s been working all this week. But he’s got a couple of days off now so hopefully we can all get out and do something.

School holidays also mean that I don’t have any work – though I’ve had plenty of admin to catch up on! I’m looking forward to next term, though. My new Performing Arts school is introducing some new classes next term and we’ve had lots of interest. I’ve also got a couple of contracts with the Sports company I worked for last term. I’ve got a contract locally coaching gymnastics again, and another contract teaching Hip Hop in a school near Port Pirie, which is over 2 hours north of Adelaide! It will be interesting to work in a rural school. And hopefully I can make the most of the peaceful drive there and back! So I will be busy next term, but I’d rather that than be sitting around twiddling my thumbs 🙂

I have some more photos to share so will post again soon.

Mandy x

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Koala Cuddles

Joe had the weekend off so we decided to make the most of it.  On Saturday, we went back to the Aquadome in Elizabeth.  This time I took the camera and, without the distraction of the birthday party, we were able to spend lots of quality time together in the pool.  Maisy went on the slide last time as it was included in her entry for the party she attended.  So we decided to pay for us all to go on the slide this time.  I was really unsure as to whether Connor would do it as last time we went, he wasn’t keen to even consider the idea of trying it out!  But he surprised us all!  I think maybe seeing his little sister do it had something to do with it.  But he overcame his nerves and went down the slide (with a gentle push from me!)  I followed him down and as the tunnel plunged into darkness, I wondered if I’d done the right thing making him do it!!  But it was only dark for a few seconds and then it opened up.  It was great fun and when I got to the bottom I was very relieved to find Connor grinning and asking to go on again!  He and Maisy went on it several times more, often rushing up the steps without us.  Which gave Joe and I time to enjoy some lap swimming in the lovely, warm Olympic size pool.  We also bought a water frisbee and had some fun in the kids pool with that.




After 2 hours in the pool, we were all nicely shrivelled and decided to go and get some dinner.  We stopped at the shopping mall in Munno Parra on the way home and had a meal in Red Rooster (a really nice chicken restaurant that I fell in love with last time we were here!)  We then treated ourselves to a cheesecake from The Cheesecake Shop and took it home to enjoy while watching a film together.

On Sunday we got up early and drove to Cudlee Creek to try out the Gorge Wildlife Park.  Not the cheapest park we’ve been to ($42 for a family) but it was well worth the money!  Despite it being quite a wet and windy day, we had a fantastic time.  It’s not as big as Adelaide Zoo but much bigger than the wildlife park at the Toy Factory in Gumeracha.  Definitely the best one we’ve been to.  We loved it so much that we topped up our entry fee to buy Annual Passes!

We started with the Koala Experience where we all got to have a turn cuddling a koala.  Definitely the highlight of the day!!




Then we walked through the Enclosure where you could feed and stroke the kangaroos and wallabies.  As we walked through, the heavens opened and it started to pour down with rain!  We ran to some trees for cover but where quite shocked when a large branch came crashing down right in front of us!!  So we ducked inside one of the wallaby sheds!  Poor things didn’t like sharing their home with us and ran off to take cover somewhere else.  Sorry wallabies!






Within 10 minutes, the rain had stopped and the sun came back out to greet us.  We moved on to look at the camels, monkeys, birds, bats, alligators, lizards, snakes and wombats.  Then we stopped for a picnic before going back through the Enclosure to see the kangaroos again.  Maisy became quite attached to one kangaroo and didn’t want to leave it!







We also saw several joeys all warm and cosy in their pouches – a few popping out to say hello and eat some food!



And best of all, the gift shop was really affordable.  I’m so used to these places having overpriced gift shops where you can’t get anything under 10 bucks.  I’d already told the kids they could have $5 each (I know, I’m a cheapskate!  But I’d just spent enough money on the annual passes!) but they managed to get 3 things each with that money and still had 30c change!  I was very impressed.

Then a lovely drive home through the hills.  What a beautiful and amazing country this is.

Mandy x

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Spring is in the air …

Wow, it’s been a while since we updated!  It’s not that we haven’t done anything.  We’ve just been so busy with life in general!

We are really starting to feel at home here now.  Sometimes it feels like we’ve been been here forever!  We’re just coming into Spring and are looking forward to the warmer weather!

The kids have just had their Winter Break from school.  Only two weeks off, but it was long enough!!  Maisy had a friend sleep over one night which was fun but exhausting!  Then in the second week, Maisy attended a Prep Modelling course in the city.  She absolutely loved it.  The course included enrolment onto the agency’s books until she’s 16, plus a photo shoot for her portfolio.  She also performed in a ‘Graduation’ show at a function centre in the city, which of course, she thoroughly enjoyed!!  Obviously there’s no guarantee of work from the agency, but she enjoyed it which was the main thing.







We also visited Plaster Fun House with a friend and her daughter.  That was great fun, but very messy!

Now the kids are back at school and I am getting busier by the day.  Our new venture, SA Performing Arts, launched last week with our first classes on Monday and Thursday.  We’re only running three classes a week at the moment but we already have a great bunch of kids.  I’m looking into teaching the Melody Movement syllabus here in Australia next term which will be fun and I will also be able to work towards my Teaching Certificate with them.  I have also enrolled to study for a Dance Teaching Diploma with Trinity College London.  So lots of hard work and studying for me!

And typically for me, I also got offered a ‘proper’ job starting last week!  I say ‘proper’ job, but it is contract work so I’m not sure if it counts!  But someone else is paying me which is always a nice change from working for myself.  It’s a company called Activated Group who offer sports programmes in schools.  I originally applied to coach Dance Fitness for them, but after attending the training, they asked if I’d be interested in coaching Gymnastics and Mega Sports as well.  This term I’ve been offered two contracts coaching Gymnastics in two lovely Primary Schools.  One in the heart of the city on Tuesdays and one in the rural Barossa Valley on Fridays.  It’s great fun, but very tiring!  At least I’ll be very fit by the end of term!!

Last weekend, Maisy was invited to her first birthday party here.  It was a swimming part at the Aquadome in Elizabeth.  She had a great time and even went on the huge water slide by herself!  Joe and I took Connor swimming so that he didn’t feel left out, then took him for lunch at Red Rooster (a chicken restaurant) while Maisy had party food with her friends.

Then on Sunday we had several of our lovely new friends come round to help Joe test out the Pizza oven in our garden!  It was a great night and the pizza came out okay … perhaps a little slow but we got there in the end!

Will try not to leave it so long before I update next time.

Mandy x

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Don’t call ‘000’

This week the kids are off for end of term. So, how long until something goes bad. Just two days…

Even though the kids have been told on numerous occasions to stop climbing on the furniture. Maisy simply does not listen, surprising I know! Whilst balancing on the back of the sofa attempting to hang a homemade lantern made by the kids, Maisy slipped and fell onto the tiled floor banging her head from about a 1 metre drop.

No Ambulance cover, we decided not to call ‘000’ and fork-out a bill of over $800. I rushed back home a soccer match after 13 missed calls from Mandy to drive the family to Gawler Accident and Emergency department.

The Doctor was reassuring and said all seemed fine and to Maisy’s delight called a lady in from home to conduct an X-Ray of her head. No permanent damage, only a large swelling to the back of her head. As you can probably notice, Maisy was smiling in the second X-Ray.



After a couple of hours in the Hospital we came home with a rather energetic Maisy and no signs of any change to her normal boisterous personality. Running around and singing into a toy microphone!

“Oh my God, Oh my God… it’s You” (inside joke)

The following day, back down to the school for some cycling – and yet another crash, this time with both kids…


No injuries this time though!