“Return to Nim’s Island” World Premiere Movie Event!

Recently my youngest child, aged ten, decided to create a list of things she wants to do before she’s twenty. At the top of the list was a desire to meet Bindi Irwin, of Australia Zoo fame. Molly is an enthusiastic advocate for animal health and well-being, as is Bindi, they are both home schooled, and neither of them are “girly-girls”, so there are many reasons why Molly has chosen Bindi as one of her heroes.

When we found out that Bindi is starring in the upcoming “Return to Nim’s Island” movie, we were stoked. We had loved the books and the first movie so much, both the setting, the story, the characters, and the fact that Nim doesn’t go to school, so the thought of Bindi playing Nim in the sequel to the movie made it even more exciting! When I discovered that Australia Zoo would be hosting the world premiere of the movie, and Bindi would be there to present the screening, I decided to surprise Molly with tickets! She was totally stoked, and we prepared to go.

We had to travel on the same day as the “No 4th Coal Terminal Rally“, so it was a very exhausting day with a rally, an interstate plane trip, a car journey, and all that excitement, but it was SO worth it. We arrived to our motel quite late at night, spent the following day and evening at the zoo, and then flew home the next morning, so Molly didn’t even get the thrill of enjoying the rooftop pool, but nonetheless it was a trip to remember! And what made it extra special was it being a “mum and daughter” weekend. Special times!

We spent the day discovering the zoo, which was a big thing for me with my snake phobia! Molly and one of her brothers went to Australia Zoo on a family holiday one time, but I was too chicken to go to the zoo filled with reptiles, so I made my husband take them. But this trip was something I really wanted to bless my daughter with, and so I decided to face my fears and just go for it! I even – wait for it – stepped foot INSIDE (I kid you not – INside) the snake exhibit! Molly had wanted to go in (of course), and I was standing outside doing some deep breathing when an Australia Zoo worker noticed me. I think she spotted my fear from a mile away, and was, I must admit, so incredibly lovely about it that I took her up on her challenge to just walk inside the first little bit and see the Rainbow Serpent (from Aboriginal Dreamtime stories). I actually did it! Truly! I didn’t love it, but I did do it. I even got a photo of the snake to prove it.

And then, whilst walking through the next exhibit (which wasn’t snakes, thankfully), I discovered that the memory card in the camera wasn’t storing photos properly so we had to reformat it, and the photographic evidence of my snake experience was lost forever. I’m not lying – promise! The other thing you need to know about our day at Australia Zoo was that it was bloody hot! Or maybe I should say sweatingly hot!? I really don’t love the heat, especially when it leaves you dripping in sweat from all the humidity but it was worth it to see the look of delight on my daughter’s face. Here are about a thousand photographs from our day at the zoo, and our night at the movie premiere.

Even the kangaroos needed shelter from the relentless heat
Even the kangaroos needed shelter from the relentless heat
It was SO hot and humid that at one stage I bought us both a bottle of cold water, a frozen drink AND an ice cream to help us cool down!
It was SO hot and humid that at one stage I bought both of us a bottle of cold water, a frozen drink AND an ice cream to help us cool down!
Getting up close and personal with a koala
Getting up close and personal with a koala
One of the things that stood out at the Australia Zoo was the very strong message about animal welfare, which they seem to take very seriously themselves, too.
One of the things that stood out at the Australia Zoo was the very strong message about animal welfare, which they seem to take very seriously themselves, too. These are items that were confiscated at customs.
The newest exhibit is "Africa" and it was really lovely (although a LONG walk in the heat). I know this photo only shows the sign but, well, I really like the photo so I'm putting it here. :)
The newest exhibit is “Africa” and it was really lovely (although a LONG walk in the heat). I know this photo only shows the sign but, well, I really like the photo so I’m putting it here. 🙂
Seeing this cheetah was a HUGE thrill. It is Molly's favourite big cat. The zoo doesn't yet have a cheetah enclosure, but they have a huge amount of land beyond the zoo exhibition areas, so the cheetahs are kept there for now, and taken on long walks, too. We were privileged to spot this one on our long walk back from "Africa". The keepers were feeding it a sardine ice block, as you do.
Seeing this cheetah was a HUGE thrill. It is Molly’s favourite big cat. The zoo doesn’t yet have a cheetah enclosure, but they have a huge amount of land beyond the zoo exhibition areas, so the cheetahs are kept there for now, and taken on long walks, too. We were privileged to spot this one on our way back from “Africa”. The keepers were feeding it a sardine ice block. Yum!
Another dream Molly has is to be a participant on the TV show, "Bindi's Boot Camp", so it was fun to see a display from the show.
Another dream Molly has is to be a participant on the TV show, “Bindi’s Boot Camp”, so it was fun to see the entrance to it.
We loved the tiger show! (The photos are terrible because of the reflection on the glass, sorry.) They feed them milk out of a little carton, and it's one of the tricks they use when they need vets to examine their mouth or teeth.
We loved the tiger show! (The photos are terrible because of the reflection on the glass.) One of the things they did was show us how they feed them milk out of little cartons, which is one of the tricks they use when they need vets to examine their mouth or teeth (from the other side of the safety glass!)
Well that's one way to get a tiger cuddle! We were really impressed with the respectful way the zoo keepers interacted with the tigers before, during and after the show. They spend a lot of time just hanging out with them to build relationship. We were challenged, too, by the plight of the tiger in the wild, so we donated money to obtain an enlarged photo of one of the zoo's tigers. I had an ulterior motive in doing so, thinking it would be the perfect medium for an autograph by Bindi, if we should prove to be so lucky!
Well that’s one way to get a tiger cuddle! We were really impressed with the respectful way the zoo keepers interacted with the tigers before, during and after the show. They spend a lot of time just hanging out with them to build relationship. We were challenged, too, by the plight of the tiger in the wild, so we donated money to obtain an enlarged photo of one of the zoo’s tigers. I had an ulterior motive in doing so, thinking it would be the perfect medium for obtaining an autograph by Bindi, if we should prove to be so lucky!
Getting up close and personal for a photographic opportunity with some of the UNcaged wildlife.
Getting up close and personal for a photographic opportunity with some of the UNcaged wildlife.

And finally, after a long, HOT day at Australia Zoo, the moment we’d been waiting for…. The gates to the public were closed, and only guests for the World Premiere were allowed to stay. We watched enthralled as security officers prepared for the red carpet event, and we waited excitedly for it all to begin. We’d never been to anything like this before! Finally, the first of the distinguished guests began to arrive, and in true Australia Zoo style it was…… two cheetas!

The two cheetahs were born at the zoo two years earlier, so are still very young as far as cheetahs go. It was lovely to see the gentle way the handlers treated them, totally respecting the fact that this one much preferred sardine ice blocks to red carpet!
The two cheetahs were born at the zoo, and are still very young as far as cheetahs go. It was lovely to see the gentle way the handlers treated them, totally respecting the fact that this one much preferred sardine ice blocks to red carpet!
Although she was eventually enticed to tentatively have a little walk along the red carpet, even though it chose not to go up onto the stage.
The shy cheetah was eventually enticed to tentatively walk along the red carpet, although chose not to go up onto the stage.
The second cheetah, on the other hand, couldn't wait to strut her stuff on the red carpet!
The second cheetah, on the other hand, couldn’t wait to strut her stuff on the red carpet!
Such a show off! :)
Such a show off! 🙂 (Not that we minded!)
Next up was a dingo who, whilst never having met a cheetah in his life, was VERY interested in the scent they'd left behind!
Next up was a dingo who, whilst never having met a cheetah in his life, was VERY interested in the scent they’d left behind!
There was such a lovely menagerie of animals treated to the red carpet experience, from wombats, to koalas, to cockatoos, to snakes.....
There was such a menagerie of animals treated to the red carpet experience, from wombats, to koalas, to cockatoos, to camels (well, they didn’t make it up onto the carpet), to snakes…..
It's hard to see them clearly in the photo (other than the big creepy snake - yes, I'm biased), but these three animals actually star in the movie!
It’s hard to see them clearly in the photo (other than the big creepy snake – yes, I’m biased), but these three animals actually star in the movie!
OK I know this is like WAY too many photos, but I just wanted to add this one because if you look closely enough you'll see the sweat coming through their shirts. Just to prove I wasn't lying about how hot it was. Gross, huh? ;)
OK I know this is like WAY too many photos, but I just wanted to add this one because if you look closely enough you’ll see the sweat coming through their shirts. Just to prove I wasn’t lying about how hot it was. Gross, huh? 😉
And finally, cool cars started arriving......
And finally, cool cars & “distinguished” guests of the human variety started arriving……
Like the author of the very wonderful "Nim" books upon which the movie is based.
One of the first was the author of the very wonderful “Nim” books upon which the movie is based.
Of course we were treated to an encounter with Terri and Robert Irwin (complete with snakes, of course - and by the way, how brave am I including a snake photo on my blog!)
Of course we were treated to an encounter with Terri and Robert Irwin (complete with snakes, of course – and by the way, how brave am I including a snake photo on my blog!)
And FINALLY, the person Molly had been most waiting for arrived, not in a stretch limo and a fancy dress, but in an old jeep, wearing jeans, and accompanied by two elephants. PERFECT!
And FINALLY, the person Molly had been most waiting for arrived, not in a stretch limo and a fancy dress (thank goodness), but in an old jeep, wearing jeans, and accompanied by two elephants. PERFECT!
Bindi was definite the star of the moment, but the sun had different ideas, deciding to put the spotlight on her co-star (for this photo at least)
Bindi was definitely the star of the moment, but the setting sun had different ideas, deciding to put the spotlight on her co-star (for this photo at least)
We somehow managed to get Molly's tiger photo under Robert's nose, and he signed it. I must say, he is SO sweet. He's like, "Is it ok if I just write Robert?" Awwww.....
We somehow managed to get Molly’s tiger photo under Robert’s nose, and he signed it. I must say, he is SO sweet. He’s like, “Is it ok if I just write Robert?” Awwww…..
Here is where we begin using my strategy of buying a tiger photo from the zoo (money goes towards saving the tigers) partly for the purposes of trying to get a Bindi autograph. Here we go, in for the kill (surrounded by other people's flimsy bits of paper they're putting in her face). Do you think we have a chance of getting her attention??
Here is where we begin using my strategy of having bought a tiger photo from the zoo (money goes towards saving the tigers) partly for the purposes of trying to get a Bindi autograph. Here we go, in for the kill (surrounded by other people’s flimsy bits of paper they’re putting in her face). Do you think we have a chance of getting her attention??
So she's surrounded by many bits of paper, and swamped by lots and lots of people, when suddenly, out of the corner of her eye, she spots it: "Oh cool! A tiger!" she says (knowing, I guess, that it would have meant a donation to the zoo's save the tiger efforts), and then....
So here she is, surrounded by many bits of paper, and swamped by lots and lots of people, when suddenly, out of the corner of her eye, she spots it: “Oh cool! A tiger!” she says (knowing, I guess, that it would have meant a donation to the zoo’s save the tiger efforts), and then….
The AUTOGRAPH!
The AUTOGRAPH!
And one very, VERY happy girl (I must admit, I shed a tear - it was a beautiful moment, seeing her joy, and feeling the thrill of a successful mission lol)
And one very, VERY happy girl (I must admit, I shed a tear – it was a beautiful moment, seeing her joy, and feeling the thrill of a successful mission lol)
And finally, after a HUGE day (and a very long blog post), the first screening of Return to Nim's Island, on a giant screen at The Crocoseum.
And finally, after a HUGE day (and a very long blog post), we got to sit back and enjoy the first screening of Return to Nim’s Island, on a giant screen at The Crocoseum.
Starring you-know-who
Starring you-know-who
Our verdict of the movie is: GO SEE IT! It's AWESOME! (Better than the first one, even.)
Our verdict of the movie is: GO SEE IT! It’s AWESOME! (Better than the first one, even.)

Here endeth what is possibly my longest blog post ever.

Zoo Keeper for a Day

One of Molly’s dreams came true recently, and she was able to participate in a program at Taronga Zoo, for eight to twelve year olds, called “Zoo Keeper for a Day”.

She had the BEST time, although it was hard at first not knowing anyone else in the group. She had wanted me to hang around for the day, but it wasn’t “allowed”, which really irked me. And her. But she was very brave. The way our culture separates the children from their parents for so much of their childhood seems so…. unnecessary!

So I ended up paying too much money to wander around the zoo for the day, hoping for a glimpse of my daughter. I never saw her once!

But I did have a lovely lunch!
And I enjoyed a lovely view!
And I discovered that low flying aircraft get a lovely view of the toilet cubicles!
And I said hello to some lovely giraffes. Aren’t they gorgeous?
And at the end of the day, I was reunited with my lovely, dirty, hot, happy, exhausted girl! She had been able to go behind-the-scenes in the Roo Yard for food preparation and feeding followed by “poo” raking. She had made an enrichment toy for an animal and conducted a health check on a lizard. She had been able to go behind the glass of an animal enclosure and experience what it was like to have people stare at you! And all up, she just had an awesome time. And she got to keep the shirt. 🙂

RSPCA Cupcake Day

One of the things that really matters to me is social justice, and making a the world a better place for all to enjoy! I used to be part of a local TEAR group and enjoyed learning about & raising awareness of various issues, but ended up deciding that my time would be better spent doing it with my kids rather than off on my own. I really want to share my passion for this with them, and hope that they’ll also choose a life of compassion and advocacy for the poor and disadvantaged.

I figured they’d enjoy it more and have a bigger impact (and more fun!) if they banded with some other kids to do stuff, so our “World Changers” group was formed! It’s a small group of home educating families, with parents whose christian faith inspires their passion to help the poor. Our aim is to get together once a month or so to learn about an issue, maybe do some simulation games, and partner with the kids as they brainstorm ideas about what we can do to make a difference!

The first thing we did was my daughter Molly’s idea (she’s an avid animal lover!!) and it’s more about helping animals than people, but they’re part of this world too! We did a fundraiser for the RSPCA called “RSPCA Cupcake Day”. All the kids made cupcakes and promotional posters, then we got together to run a stall at a local park after a home ed excursion to a worm farm (definitely no connection between worms and cupcakes!!). We had a lot of fun and raised $130 for the RSPCA! The first step was for each family to make and decorate their cupcakes at home, and make some signs for the stall.

Molly enjoyed using LOTS of lollies to decorate her capcakes!
Molly enjoyed using LOTS of lollies to decorate her capcakes!
These are some of Declan’s creations. Every face tells a story.
These are some of Declan’s creations. Every face tells a story.
Hard at work
Hard at work
Things got a bit silly after awhile! :)
Things got a bit silly after awhile! 🙂
I’m VEEEERRRRRYYYY happy! :)
I’m VEEEERRRRRYYYY happy! 🙂
Cupcakes ready to go!
Cupcakes ready to go!

Then it was time to meet up at the local park. We had invited some other homeschooling families to come along (cash in hand!) and we also knew there would be other families at the park who might be interested in purchasing such delicious looking cakes for a great cause.

The kids had a lot of fun running their stall and everyone was very supportive and encouraging of their efforts. For the younger kids it was like playing shops! Some of the more outgoing kids enjoyed going around to people they didn’t know and trying to get them to come and “buy” a cupcake for a donation to the RSPCA. Everyone went home with fuller tummies, and the knowledge that together we’d made a difference.

Two very excited “shopkeepers” holding the fort, waiting for customers
Two very excited “shopkeepers” holding the fort, waiting for customers
YES! Customers!
YES! Customers!
A team effort
A team effort

Donations to the RSPCA Cupcake Day can be made until 3rd October 2010, so if you’d like to make a donation, go to