Thursday, July 15, 2010

Kangaroo bones & animatronic bushrangers: Our Odyssey in the Odyssey, Part 2

(Continued from Monday...)

With the arrival of the kids back from their bush walk, much fun was had by all as they spread out their finds (3 cockatoo feathers, an owl pellet, some seed pods, a few interesting rocks and the partial kangaroo skeleton) for examination. My husband and his friend helped them lay out the bones in their approximate positions (our friend is a zoologist by training so that came in handy!) A, my 7 year old, was delighted to find that she had three vertebrae, a skull, a hip, and two long leg bones in her collection. Our friend explained why the bones looked different to the beef bones she's seen before (dog's treats) and the plastic human skeleton that another friend, the physiotherapist, has in her clinic. A and 5-year-old E were fascinated.

The late-coming rain had set in by this stage and the girls settled down to learn table tennis with our friend, while G took over chasing-the-baby-up-and-down-the-steps duty and I had a cup of tea and read food magazines. Pure luxury!

By 5pm the kids were starting to get a little scratchy. A long, busy, active day, and the challenge of learning a new game, was leading to moodiness for some.

It's not always easy being younger and shorter than your adored older sister! Rather than courting disaster further, we decided to repair to the Thoona Pub for dinner.

Matt Preston (yes, *that* Matt, for Masterchef followers) reviewed the Thoona Pub for The Age in March 2009 and talked, albeit slightly ironically as is his wont, about the friendliness of the place and its owners. He's right - the Thoona Pub is a very welcoming place, especially for families with children. And Matt might have been taking the p when he wrote "As well as offering ice-cream with sprinkles and chocolate sauce (which is always a big plus as far as I'm concerned), their handy wipe-clean laminated menu also uses such words as "scrumptious", which, quite frankly, is not seen enough on the leather-bound cartes of Australia's three-hat gastro-temples", but let me tell you, ice-cream with chocolate sauce and sprinkles is a MAJOR plus when dining with children, and so is a simple, familiar and cheery menu.

Aside from the tasty food, chatty owners and warm fire, the Thoona Pub offered our kids another cherished experience - an outdoor jukebox, in the covered beer garden. To the adults, the weather was far too cold to favour being outside, but as soon as the kids became aware that dancing was an option, the cold wasn't a relevant consideration anymore. When a family of five children, aged 10, 8, 6 and 2-year-old twins, joined them on the dance floor, the lives of my 7, 5 and 17 month olds were made complete. The eight kids boogied energetically and long to ABBA, the Black Eyed Peas, Cyndi Lauper, Pink, Smashmouth and a bunch of other stuff. The 6 adults (us & our friends, and the other family's parents) took it in turns to stand outside as Dance Floor Police, changing guard when we got too frozen. By the time we left the pub to head for the motel at 8:30, the kids were absolutely beat (the toddler was asleep on my shoulder) but they were glowing with happiness. As I strapped her into her car seat, located in the boot of the Odyssey, the 5-year-old sighed and said, "What an absolutely perfectamundo day."

Part 3, in which we decide to go home via Glenrowan, coming soon.

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