Australian Digest Volume 06

Since arriving in Australia I've been conscious to continue eating healthily, here I've expanded my appetite to include sushi, avocado, pumpkin, couscous, smoked salmon, kangaroo, passion fruit and quinoa all of which I consider to be reasonably healthy choices. In the same casual manner I've pretty much completely cut out Coca-Cola and other similar fizzy drinks, crisps, takeaways and trying to stay away from chocolate and cakes which is proven the most difficult. A strict healthy diet and regular workout sessions, is helping me feel great ensuring that I cherish each moment of every day. I'm by no means and expert and have a long way to go, but my weight is heading in the right direction and I feel great for it.

On Saturday 19th January I got out and about visiting some tourist attractions, starting with the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia. Here I had the opportunity to discover work by numerous artists, reflecting the strength and breadth of Australian contemporary art since 1990. I explored issues of taboo through artworks, performances, talks and films and seen the first major exhibition in Australia by celebrated artist Anish Kapoor. From here I took a walk over to the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and paid a visit to the Pylon Lookout. Stepping back into the history of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, I learned its beginnings, its planning and construction, its vision. Relived the magic of the opening celebration, and enjoyed panoramic views from the original Sydney lookout. Finally finishing off a nice day at Luna Park, I picked up an unlimited rides pass for $99 and enjoyed the rides as I relived my childhood. The atmosphere was great with lots of clown and pirate themed shows going, couple that with the magnificent views of Sydney Harbour it made for a very pleasant afternoon.

One of the things I love about Sydney is the free shows, it adds character and atmosphere to the city. Regularly I'll be walking through Darling Harbour and I'll catch a great thirty minute performance from a talented street artist. The display is complimentary but they expect a small gratuity usually around $20, which still offers exceptional value. These as far as I know aren't advertised, but if your in Sydney and exploring the sights you will almost certainly see some acts. I highly recommended you stop and take a look at these guys, you'll be suitably impressed. Most recently, I seen world champion unicyclist Jamey Mossengren perform a brilliant show at Circular Quay for free.

Jamey Mossengren

Friday 25th January I continued to bang out the tourist stuff, as I booked up with ATTKings to head two hours west of Sydney visiting Blue Mountains National Park. Upon arrival we first visited Echo Point Katoomba, which is home to the iconic Three Sisters. Here I watched a Waradah aboriginal live show which educated me about their history, and then took a look around the small art gallery. I then had a small window to admire the magnificent views, and take plenty of photo's to capture the moment. From here we were back on the bus and took a short drive to Scenic World, this is where we had the opportunity to ride the SKYWAY, WALKWAY, CABLEWAY, and RAILWAY. Unfortunately the RAILWAY attraction was closed for essential maintenance, but I did the other three and the views you get are absolutely mind blowing. Back on the bus and a 20 minute drive to Leura, where we were to stop and enjoy lunch whilst exploring the town. It was an interesting place, and really felt like being in the 1960's with the cars, dresses, stores, and everything else going on. I'm sure most of the residents have never even heard of an iPhone or an iPad. On route back east to Sydney we stopped off at Featherdale Wildlife Park, where I got the opportunity to meet and feed a variety of animals including Koalas, Dingos, Grey-headed Flying Fox (in short, a bat), Long Nosed Potoroo (posh for rat) and Kangaroo's amongst others. Then closing off a fantastic fun packed day with a leisurely cruise back to Darling Harbour, where I headed to meet friends for evening dinner.

I remember not too long ago when I considered visiting these heritage sites a chore rather than a pleasure, well I'm pleased to say as I'm getting older that view has now well and truly transformed. I look forward to and embrace the opportunities I have to see these world iconic sites, I know how fortunate I am and I'm not taking any of it for granted. It's excursions like this that allow you to appreciate the Earth has a vast range of landscapes, ranging from icy landscapes of polar regions, mountainous landscapes, vast arid desert landscapes, islands and coastal landscapes, densely forested or wooded landscapes including past boreal forests and tropical rainforests, and agricultural landscapes of temperate and tropical regions. I've had the pleasure of visiting both Zion National Park in Utah and Lake Mead in Nevada, both in close proximity to Las Vegas. These too were both unforgettable experiences, it'll be an ambition of mine to visit as many of the World Heritage List as possible during my future travels.

Three Sisters

I've been on several man dates with my boys too, getting to the cinema to watch Parental Guidance, Hitchcock and Flight. The highlight of the three was for sure Flight, I really enjoyed this from start to finish and thought Denzel Washington was brilliant. I have not yet began to watch another TV series, I've just been a little busy with various other things going on for the minute. I plan too though, and Entourage is still top of my to watch list.

As far as poker goes I've been playing once or twice a week, I've stopped going to the NPL and APL tournaments at the bars and clubs. There was a number of reasons behind my decision, but ultimately and most importantly I just wasn't enjoying them. I play either Monday's $200 or Wednesday's $300 over at The Star. Sometimes both depending on what other arrangements I have, and as yet I've had zero success and usually bust in short order. I made a deep run in the Australia Day $500 tournament on Monday 28th January, until I got coolered for 320,000 chip leader pot just after the bubble burst. I defended 44 out of the big blind, and got it all in vs. KK on a KK4 flop. There was 16 left and the chip average was 80,000, so if I'm on the other side of that spot I would have been confident to make a real push for the $16,500 up top. That was disappointing but I'm delighted with how I'm playing, and really enjoying my poker.

Looking forward and next weekend I'm again off on an excursion to Port Stephens and Nelson Bay, which is a two and a half hour drive north of Sydney. Here I'll have the opportunity to go dolphin watching, visit Australian Reptile Park and also Stockton Bight 4WD Adventure all in with the cost. I'm well excited for this and it's a great way to start what I'm sure will be a great February. I'm really making a big push to ensure I leave no stone unturned in Sydney, when I leave either for home or another city in Australia. I don't want look back in weeks, months or years and say "You know what, I wish I'd did that while I was in Sydney". Perhaps the most frustrating thing which I didn't expect is my friend Steesh isn't interested at all in the tourist stuff, which is fair enough and each to there own. So with the exception of when Alison visited, I've been forced to do all the tourist attractions alone which kinda sucks but I'm okay with it. On a side note my good friend Marc Foggin is in Australia, he's living in Brisbane with his brother but has spent the last couple of weeks grinding out the Aussie Millions side events in Melbourne. He's had some moderate success with a final table in yesterday $1,000, finishing fifth for $8,000. Keep up the good work boss. I was speaking to him earlier today and he mentioned he'll be heading to Sydney in the next couple of weeks, so that's got messy night out written all over it. It'll be great to catch up with another friendly Geordie face, and I'll be sure to take lots of photo's to show how that night turns out. See below photo's of my last night out with Marc;

The Palms Casino Resort Las Vegas

Away from Australia and just before I sign out, I want to pass on my congratulations to the NPF and particularly Dave Stephenson who were all down in Luton at the weekend. Taking part in the APAT Team Championships, unfortunately they fell short finishing fourth but I'm sure they all had a fantastic weekend. It was great on the virtual rail, sweating Dave play perfectly on the final table. I will for sure look to be down supporting the NPF the next time this event is on whilst I'm in the UK, so yeah nice work and well done boys.

The pleasure is all mine folks.

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