[Sunset over Glenelg Beach]

Sunset over Glenelg Beach (Glenelg, South Australia)

Australian Journal - January 2002

January 1-5, 2002 - Happy New Year!: There were just a few firecrackers going off locally to celebrate; some places had massive demonstrations to ring in the new year (Sydney, for instance). One of the big ongoing dramas, however, that has been clouding the horizon (literally and figuratively) for the eastern regions of Australia, is the onset of massive bushfires. Bushfires are an annual occurance, given the normal lack of rain, and the extreme temperatures. However, this year has been particularly bad in the Sydney / New South Wales area, reminiscent of Montana in 2000. Unlike Montana, the fires are not confined to remote areas, but are actually invading the outlying suburbs of Sydney. These fires are being compared to the fires of 1994, which were apparently very bad. So far, there has thankfully been no loss of life that we are aware of; however, there has been an increasing loss of houses, which will probably continue. We are fortunate in that this has been the coolest (and, probably, the wettest) Christmas / summer in Adelaide in over 30 years. Except for a day here and there in the 80s (about 30 C), it has been relatively cool, and reminiscent of a Seattle late spring / early fall. However, the temperatures are predicted to start rising on Saturday, so we may see the start of true Adelaide summer (with temperatures occasionally over 100) starting soon.

On Wednesday, Sandy took Clara to the doctor, since her foot was still bothering her. However, it was more a case of we would ice and compress and elevate Clara's foot for a while, and possibly give her some ibuprofen - then it would feel better and it would be nigh unto impossible for Clara NOT to go running, skipping, and jumping around, as normal - thereby stressing the foot more. Fortunately, the doctor confirmed what we thought, that it was just a simple sprain, and just needed time (along with ice, ibuprofen, etc.) to fully heal. So, we haven't been making as many trips, or doing as many activities as we had intended, in order to try and keep from tempting Clara beyond her limit to run and jump and make the foot worse!

Clara was doing much better on Thursday and Friday am, so on Friday afternoon we headed off to Cleland Wildlife Park, about 15 minutes from our house, where Clara and Lucy got to feed and pat kangaroos (Eastern/Western Grey, Red) and Wallabies, and pat a koala which was busy feeding itself. At Cleland, there are few real cages, and the visitors get to walk amongst the animals in their natural settings (with nothing to separate the animals from the people). We also saw lots of other wildlife, including pelicans, cockatoos, ducks, bush rats, etc. The high point for Tim was when two kookaburras swooped into a tree right over our heads, and let loose with a tremendous cacaphony of laughter, slightly out of key and phase with each other! Afterwards, we went up to the summit of Mt Lofty (727 meters), which gave a wonderful overview of the Adelaide area. Mt. Lofty was sighted and named by Mathew Flinders (one of the notable explorers of South Australia; the Flinders Range is named for him) in March 1802 - so its 200th anniversary is fast approaching.

Friday night, Tim went off to another scotch tasting; both he and Craig knew they wanted to have a tasting before vacation ended, but neither one of them wanted to assist in the necessary housework to prepare their respective houses for a tasting. However, they were saved when their fellow malt fanatic Graham from the local Bailey's & Bailey's liquor store volunteered to host it on their premises. It was a very enjoyable evening for Tim, especially since the Bailey's store is only a few blocks away and an easy walk.

We got a few more pictures developed on Saturday, featuring some shots from Victor Harbor, Cape Jervis, and Cleland Wildlife Park. They are on the Aussie pictures page.

January 6-11, 2002 - Back to Work: Sunday was our last day of vacation before Tim returned to work, so we just lounged around home. Tim cooked a reprise of his New Year's morning Scottish-Australian breakfast (kippers, sausages, scrambled eggs, grilled tomatoes, toast, strawberries, and cheese rice for Lucy - who proceeded to not eat any!) for lunch.

Since Clara had enjoyed trying to play tennis so much during SpinOff at Wilderness, and since both Clara and Lucy enjoyed their attempts at the Christmas in the Park picnic, we got them youth tennis rackets, and took them to our nearby park for some play. They had a good time trying to hit the tennis balls - in any direction - and then chasing after them. They were really excited if they managed to hit the ball over the net!

Monday it was back to work for Tim. Tuesday, the other Seattle expat girls and their mom came for a visit, and had a good time. On Wednesday, the weather starting warming up. It was supposed to be 35 C (95 F) on Wednesday, although it never seemed that hot. On Thursday, the forecast high was 38 C (101 F) - and it actually passed 40 (104 F) - but with a relative humidity of only 7%. Thus, this was quite a change from the equivalent heat in, say, Florida, or North Carolina, or Kansas/Iowa - instead of walking out and immediately becoming drenched from the humidity, this heat is dry - you notice that it is hot, but it is not nearly as oppressive as even 85 F in the Midwest or Northeast could be. Thursday evening, the wind shifted from the northwest (off the interior desert / outback / Nullabor) to the southwest (off the water), and the temperature dropped 20 degrees C (36 degrees F). (To track the temperatures, as we did on our first hot day, check out the near-real-time observations from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, updated every 10 minutes here.)

For Christmas, Lucy gave Tim a set of tapes from the Australian public broadcasting corporation (known as ABC down here, not PBS - another bit of confusion for us) which had copies of an Australian TV series called "A River Somewhere." The premise is that these two Aussie blokes wander around the world, looking for interesting places to fly fish, then try to catch some fish and cook them in gourmet camp style, and generally comment on the world and their current location from an Aussie perspective. We watched the first two episodes last night, one of which covered the Howqua River in Victoria (the next state east of South Australia) which looked like a wonderful place to put on our "places to go" list. The other episode covered northern Scotland, including the town of Tain and the Glenmorangie distillery, which Tim visited three years ago.

One passing comment they made, upon discovering some blackberry bushes along the Howqua, was that this (the importation, and subsequent wide spreading of blackberries as a weed throughout Australia) was one of two atrocities the Germans were accountable for in Australia - the other being Adelaide! This is fine with us, as we love Adelaide, and, just as with Seattle, where the "Lesser Seattle" organization works tirelessly to promote the widespread belief that it ALWAYS rains in Seattle, perhaps this general attitude towards Adelaide will keep it a great place to live for years to come!

January 12-19, 2002 - BBQ Time: Saturday, we finally bought a BBQ. It is an Australian-made unit - and it turns out we bought it from a large Aussie chain which has even more stores in the US than here - so we can get spare parts easily in the US. Thus, we can take it back with us as a souvenir representing one of the core icons of Australian culture. Afterwards, Sandy took her car to the car wash on the suggestion of her driving instructor prior to her test tomorrow. The car wash turned out to be quite a place - you drive in, hand over your keys to the staff, and they tackle the car - washing, drying, vacuuming - while you select a table (either inside or out), accept a complementary cappucino (shades of Seattle!) and browse the newspaper or your choice of various new magazines. And all for 1/6 what it would cost in Seattle.

Sunday, Sandy took her on-the-road driving test, and passed with no problems, so she can get her actual South Australian license tomorrow. Tim had taken the test and gotten his license a week or so ago. Passing this last bureaucratic hurdle, in combination with the acquisition of a "barbie", has us starting to feel like we are really settling in to Australian life.

Tim and the girls also returned to the Dunstan Adventure Park again, where the girls went down the big slide countless times, along with other variations such as rolling down the hill, or sliding down on cardboard. Tim took some pictures. We got some of them developed and scanned, and they are one the bottom of the Oz pictures page. The slide picture only shows the top third of the big slide; hopefully we'll have a picture of the whole thing on the next roll of film. The picture of Clara reading in bed, also features her current favorite animal, Spunky the Golden Retriever, a gift from Grammie Arlene during our last visit to NH. There are also some pictures from our trip last week to the Cleland Wildlife park, featuring Teddy, one of the big male koalas at the park.

In the evening we celebrated with a lovely dinner at a waterfront restaurant in Glenelg. Clara and Lucy put on summer dresses for the evening out, and we realized just how fast they are growing up.

Tuesday, the Premiere of South Australia declared an election for the state government to be held in on February 9. This will be the last election to be "called" - a law was passed so that in the future, the elections will be regularly scheduled every four years, for a specific day.

Wednesday, it was off to the beach - Sandy, Clara and Lucy went to visit with Jacquie, Alana, and Jessica - the ladies of the other Boeing family down here; Alana and Jessica's dad works with Tim. The house that they found to rent just happens to be right on the beach. The girls had a great time - swimming, boogie-boarding (essentially miniature surfboards that you ride on laying down), and snorkeling.

Saturday came, and with it, more errands. Late afternoon, the gasfitter arrived to hook up our new grill - unfortunately, he was missing a part he needed, so he'll be back Monday afternoon to finish - and then we can cook our first true Aussie meal!

We've also started gearing up for the first of two torturous events for the year - taxes! Since we are living and working in Australia, not only do we have to do US taxes, but Australian taxes as well. We aren't sure whether it is a good or bad thing that the US and Australian tax years are exactly 6 months out of sync - the Aussie tax year runs July 1 to June 30, rather than Jan 1 to Dec 31.

January 20-27, 2002 - Swimming, Monarto and Australia Day: We forgot to mention that on Friday, Clara, Sandy, and Lucy went to see Monsters at a local theater - this was Lucy's first movie at an actual theater, so it was quite an adventure for her. Saturday and Sunday were pretty warm days, up in the mid-to-upper 30s (80s and 90s), but a change came through with some rain Sunday night, bringing cooler weather. Monday, the girls started their swimming lessons at the local Burnside pool. The Aussies take their swimming quite seriously (witness the swimming results from the last Olympics), and the girls got a good workout. The pool is outdoors, surrounded by a large beautiful park, and partially shaded by a huge awning. One day when walking from the car to the pool, we heard a kookaburra in a tree right above our heads.

Tuesday, the gasfitter arrived, and got our barbie hooked up - hopefully we'll get to test it soon. As the week progressed, and the weather warmed up (by Friday it hit the high 90s), the crowds at the swimming pool increased dramatically. Friday, people started clearing out of work early, and the roads started filling up, as people headed off for the first three day weekend of the year - Australia Day. This celebrates the founding of Australia - when the first Governor took charge of what was then the colony of New South Wales on January 26, 1788. While the Aborigines had been present for thousands of years, and European visitors had been coming to Australia and its islands for many years prior - this is the day that has been celebrated through the years.

Saturday was again quite warm. During the day, Clara went off with her schoolmate Katerina and Katerina's mom to paint some ceramics at a shop in Unley, then to Katerina's house to play. Tim, Sandy and Lucy stayed home and got things ready for the evening, when we had friends Craig and Rosemary over for dinner. We had an enjoyable evening, and Tim & Craig sampled some of their recent scotch auction winnings and watched Australia get routed by New Zealand in cricket.

Sunday, we headed over the Adelaide Hills to the Monarto Zoological Park, which is a wildlife park affiliated with the Adelaide Zoo. They specialize in providing the animals larger, more natural enclosures (similiar to some of the efforts of the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle - but Monarto has the advantage of a larger area to work with, since they are well removed from any urban areas). The highlight of our visit was the bus tour through the various habitats, safari style. It's a lot of fun driving through the actual areas, getting within feet of emus, giraffes, bison (one of which seemed as big as a car) and so on. They have a good selection of animals including over a dozen giraffes ranging from a new born youngster to full grown animals, eight cheetas, herds of Zebras, several species of deer, antelope, orix and related animals, etc.

Some of the interesting tidbits we gleaned included learning that emu young are raised by their dads, and, in the bush, sometimes two emu families will come together (i.e., two males, each with their children), and one male will take over responsibility for both broods, leaving the other male free to leave and go about other business. They also had a white rhinocerous (white, in this case, is derived from the Afrikaans word for wide, which refers to their wide mouths.) The keepers say that that while the black rhinos are pretty fierce characters to deal with, the white rhinos are comparable in disposition to Jersey cows. They will be receiving 7 more white rhinos shortly (at US$50,000 each) - they'll keep two and pass on the other 5 to other Australian zoos. They are also building a lion enclosure and expect to be acquiring a pride of lions soon. They already have a fancy elephant enclosure, which was built to house four elephants they had arranged to be bred for them in Singapore - unfortunately, there was a change of governmental heart in Singapore, which held up the transfer until the elephants were too big to fly in a plane! So Monarto is searching for more elephants at the moment.

After visiting Monarto, we continued on to Murray Bridge, a town of about 13,000 located south east of Adelaide on the Murray River, Australia's longest river, which meets the sea on the South Australian coast south of Adelaide. While the river is fast and healthy in the early parts of its journey, by the time it reaches Murray Bridge, much of its water has been removed for irrigation, and it is very high in salinity.

We also put a few more (old) pictures from December on the current Oz pictures page. The hallway picture shows the view down our ninety-four-foot-long hall from our front door. The backyard picture shows most of our small backyard - and no, those aren't weeds in the garden area - they are lavender, dwarf African lilies, roses - and even a lemon tree, with 5 lemons on it!

January 28-31, 2002 - Odds and Ends: Sunday evening, about 9pm, the doorbell rang. It turned out to be Hermann, our German next door neighbor. He had brought over a Queen of the Night flower (also known as an Orchid Cactus - see excellent pictures here.) from his garden. These flowers only bloom at night, and are dead / collapsed by morning. We watched the flower over the next couple hours as it opened wide and spread its petals, sending out a strong scent - quite amazing that this beautiful flower never sees the light of day! And it was, indeed, gone by when we got up the next morning. Clara and Lucy were quite offended that we didn't wake them to watch!! We did take some pictures, which we'll put up on the web if they come out.

Monday night, Sandy inaugurated our new barbie by cooking Scotch fillet steaks on the grill, and garlic mushrooms on the wok burner. It worked fine, but required a little extra care since the lid had still not arrived, making the cooking a little uneven. Tuesday, however, the lid arrived, so we're ready to tackle a bigger grilling experiment now. It is quite common for the Aussies to do most of their cooking on their grills in the summer, to avoid overheating the house - this includes roasting turkeys!

Thursday, Tim took off from work, so that he could take the girls on one more outing. They chose the Adelaide Zoo, and had a good morning - almost nobody else was there, since it was the first week back to school for most kids - the keepers were quite surprised to see school-aged children about. One the way home, Tim, Clara & Lucy picked up Clara's books for the coming school year, and also picked up the pictures from another roll of film - which means there are new pictures on the Oz pictures page. Included is a picture of Lucy and Clara going down the big Dunstan slide together. There is also a picture of Clara hard at work writing a story long after bedtime (during summer school break, she has been allowed to stay up and read in bed past her normal bedtime; of late, she has asked to be allowed to write stories instead; the night this picture was taken, she was still busy scribbling away 1 1/2 hours after her normal bedtime!) In the afternoon, we all went on a few errands - which included picking up the ceramics Clara, her friend Katerina, and Katerina's mom did last week - as well as acquiring an Akubra "Territory" hat for Tim, since he didn't have a hat well-suited to the environment down here. Akubras are the locally-made equivalent of Stetsons, and are very practical in the hot sun, given the broad brim.

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