Bali Bound

Time for another adventure! We leave Saturday afternoon for Bali. I have had my wrists slapped since that is the exact time when the Footie Grand Final is on. I guess a real Aussie would have known to check. Oh well, Mike’s team is not in the final, so it’s not too bad I hope.

For our stay in Bali, the plan at this point is to sit by the pool and relax – nothing that takes too much effort allowed I’m told. To let us at least see some of the island without much effort, I have booked us into 3 separate places. You can click the hotel names that follow if you want to check out where we will be staying. We spend 5 nights in Legian (mid-bottom left of the island) at Jayakarta Hotel. Then we head to Amed on the east coast for 5 nights to Anda Amed Resort where we may even do some snorkelling – but I’m not sure I’ll be able to pull myself away from the ‘infinity edge’ pool! Finally we head to the cultural centre of Bali in Ubud for the last 4 nights. We stay at Tegal Sari Resort here, which seems to have excellent reviews, so I hope it lives up to them.

During the two weeks we hope to indulge in a few spa treats which are supposed to be quite affordable (cheap even) in Bali, and to check out the temples also when we’re feeling adventurous. Once again, I’ll post photos and stories on our return, so catch you in a couple of weeks!

And in the meantime HAPPY THANKSGIVING to everyone in Canada. That is a holiday which does not seem to have an equal down here. Although Oct 1 is the Queens Birthday celebration this coming Monday in Western Australia (the rest of the country celebrated back in June I think).

Party Hearty Monty Style

This past weekend we hosted a party for the Pinjarra staff as a thanks for all they have done for us. My co-workers will be happy to know that my project management skills continue to get a work out between planning parties and our trips! So I spent the week cooking and baking and cleaning and shopping to prep for the party – a week where I actually was kept busy!!!

After everyone had eaten their share of chili with the fixings, we set them to work. The theme of the evening was Canada naturally. In keeping with the Aussie tradition of Quiz Nights, we had created a Canadiana trivia quiz. Expecting some real history, sports and trivia geeks in the crowd, Mike had created some challenging questions. But the ‘ringers’ didn’t make it and as a result many of the questions were a tad difficult – which made for some creative answers!

As expected, many Aussies are up on Canadian music and movie stars, but they are perhaps a little less knowledged in the French and Inuit Canadiana. There were some interesting definitions for Metis, tuque, mukluks. Metis is neither a wine nor a venereal disease, poutine is not a pillow nor a toilet and mukluks are not a moose. I certainly had fun marking the score sheets though!
In the end, they all got to learn a little more about Canada – perhaps more than they wanted to!

In the end the ‘Double Up Ya Bums’ won the contest. The ‘Strip Club’ team managed to sink to a convincing last place – so they got to wear their Aussie tattoos to advertise their true Aussie colours.

In keeping with the theme, everyone had to bring something Canadian. There was a wide variety of content. We had several Canadian music CDs as well as comedy routines. There were several Canadian clothing items including hats, ski goggles, t-shirts and sweaters. On the consumable theme we had maple syrup and Canadian Club. We even had a custom Canadian Power Point presentation! And finally, we had a live rendition of ‘The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald’ which we all joined in with having been supplied with the lyrics. Even Gordon Lightfoot would have been impressed.

People also brought appetizers and the makings for B52s – both which were a big success and much appreciated. And in keeping with the Australian tradition of consuming substantial volumes of beer and wine per capita, we managed to overload our recycle bin (which is substantially larger than the Canadian version I might add) with empty bottles (they don’t return them for refund down here).

Kyle also had his social activities this weekend – out most of Saturday (to avoid the party of course) and Sunday with friends. And so another week passes!

We are now in the last week of the 3rd term. Once again, we’ll be off on a two week break starting this weekend. We are off to Bali on Saturday. Mike & Kyle are very much ready for some real R&R having been at school for 13 straight months at this point (every time they get a 2 week break I keep them very busy). I’ll try to do a post before we head off with some details.

Wildflowers au Natural

Sunday was overcast (as was the whole past week!). Despite rumours of spring, the weather continues to be wet and cool. But for photoing flowers overcast is fine and the rain did not interfere with our weekend plans, so we can’t complain really.

Once again we lucked out and found a wonderful tea house for breakfast in Toodyay. They also happened to have a photo exhibit of orchids, and the photographer popped in when we were there. We were not sure where to head to best see the flowers – although I had been hoping to see fields of everlastings, we discovered that you need to drive pretty far north to see that. We had a few recommendations of good areas, but kismet intervened. The photographer turned out to be part owner of a vineyard where they have discovered several varieties of orchids. They are in the process of developing both the vineyard and the botanical park. They were just up the road, and open today for tours of the wild orchids. So our day was set!

On the drive out we did manage to find everlastings mixed in with the forest on the hillside (at right above) and other wildflowers (sample left above) – still very pretty.

Since the Mt. Vernon Estate & Botanical Park is just in formation, we were one of only a handful of visitors. And it was just as well that we had a guide, since we would have missed most of the orchids. The two more obvious ones are the cowslip orchid (yellow at left) and the blue china orchid (at right).

The owners are hoping to have the area zoned as protected due to the variety of orchids on the property. At least 2 of the species are rare orchids. A botanist from Kings Park is due to visit the property to identify some of the species. Even as we were hiking around we managed to spot an orchid or two which they had not yet mapped. They are very hard to spot to the untrained eye – they are mostly very small and blend in very well with the surrounding vegetation.

While many of the orchids look similar, on closer inspection you see that they are in fact different. The spider orchids come in several flavours. There are bearded and smooth varieties as well as colour variations. At the very left is a bearded and beside it is a smooth. The grouping of 5 above are dark tipped spider orchids. At right below is an antelope orchid.

The kangaroos are a mixed blessing. The orchids mostly occur close to the kangaroo paths. It is believed the roos carry the seeds and necessary fungus for the orchid to grow on their fur which then gets rubbed off into the nearby vegetation. But the roos also trod on and eat the orchids. Given the amount of damage they do, the owners hope to erect a fence around the property to keep the roos out and to protect the orchids.

The other two photos here are spider orchids also I believe, but not sure of the specific species. The red one was especially interesting. And despite not investing in a ‘macro’ lens, I think Mike did a respectable job of capturing the flowers.

And so having had our fill of fine food, monastic relics, raging bonfires, good company, orchids and wild scenery, we headed back home. And as Kyle put it on the drive home “That was a good weekend guys – thanks”.

North to New Norcia

Ok, enough bribery….. I need something to do after all.

After a couple of slower weekends, we ramped up again this past weekend and were quite busy. Friday evening Mike got together with school mates to watch the footie playoffs again. Now both Freo Dockers (Mike’s team) and the West Coast Eagles (last year grand champions) are gone. Looks like it won’t stay in the west this year.

I helped raise funds for the school chaplaincy again by heading to a Bingo night with Phillipa, Richard and some others from the school. Wow, you actually have to concentrate – I have a new found respect for all those Bingo fanatics! Our table – including me – did quite well in the winnings. It was a fun evening and another Aussie experience since the bingo here is quite a different variation from ours.

Saturday we rose semi-early and headed north to check out wildflowers and New Norcia. The countryside in this area is beautiful with rolling hills and meandering rivers. We started in New Norcia just after noon. New Norcia (click to check it out) is the only monastic town in Australia. The entire town and the surrounds is owned by the monks. They are of the Benedictine order.

When we first arrived, we popped into the museum barn where the tools and farming implements were exhibited. This magpie followed me in and proceeded to tour the building along side us. He found many bugs and crumbs on his journey, so was rewarded for his bravery at being in such a confined space with us.

After a nice lunch at the hotel (fruit flies in the vinegar aside), we took the guided tour of the town which is the only way to gain access to the buildings. The first missionaries arrived from Spain in 1846. They started with 30 acres of land and at their peak had 200,000 acres and control of close to a million acres. Today they own 20,000 acres and despite the Catholic church’s pressure to turn it over to the church, it is in fact owned by the 20 or so full fledged monks of the monastery.

The first missionaries here fully integrated with the aboriginals. The diaries of Bishop Salvado are extensive and he recorded them in many languages. Today they are being translated and are likely the most comprehensive notes on aboriginal life.

For the first 50 years of the monastery, Salvado concentrated on creating an agricultural village. After his death the next 50 years saw it become a more European type monastery. Craftsmen were brought over to produce the paintings, carvings and buildings in the European tradition. As you can see from the photos, they spared no cost in hiring skilled artists and craftsmen. During its history, the monastery also included a boarding schools for boys and girls – aboriginal and white. Today it still has an education centre where schools can come for a few days, but the boarding schools are closed.

Recently many of the paintings were stolen. They were quickly recovered, but not after substantial damage. One painting was totally destroyed. The others have been restored and are again on display in the buildings and art gallery. Today the monastery is still renowned for its bread – and we were lucky to manage to buy a loaf even late in the afternoon.

Then we were off to Toodyay. Toodyay turned out to be a great little town with lots of character – and we found a wonderful dinner spot. We had booked a room in town, but our destination was to check out a bi-annual tradition. One of Mike’s school friends invited us to their “Mother of all bonfires….. BONFIRE by Blackwell”. Her parents live out in the country near Toodyay, and her parents host this unique event.

This is the wet time of year, so having gathered all the debris from his property for the past couple of years, it is time to burn it off. We arrived in time to see the unlit mountain of wood which was several metres high. To give you a sense of scale, the large top log in the photo on the left is about 20 feet high.

So a crowd of 40 or so sat around and drank beer, ate and watched the fire burn. Again another Aussie experience thanks to friends at Pinjarra HS. Then back to our beds in Toodyay to head out flower hunting on Sunday.

We Know You Are Out There

ZERO comments none ziltch …. really? We know you are reading this – we can see the hits… We miss you folks and just a little comment would let us know who you are. Come on…. just leave a short comment….. please 🙂

We went up north of Perth this past weekend and had a great time – and I’ll post shortly but first we want to hear from you. Bribery at it’s fullest.

Reversal

Hi folks.

Well no real post this week as I had a cold most of the weekend so I stuck close to home. Mike & Kyle spent the time socializing with their friends. Mike had footie get togethers as the playoffs are under way, and Kyle was back to gaming with his crowd. I read and snoozed and drank lots of liquids.

So we think it’s time for a reversal. Perhaps those reading this blog could post a comment to entertain us! So go ahead, click the comment and leave us a note to help us get over the transition into spring hump. Hope to hear from you!

Spring has Sprung for Fathers Day

Friday night had us once again sharing time with friends from Pinjarra High School. The annual fund raiser for the chaplaincy was lots of fun. They held a trivia night at the local church in Pinjarra. So Mike & I headed out with Richard and Phillipa for dinner at the hotel in Pinnie and then spent a mentally stimulating evening where we managed to beat out the other teams from the school. However we still failed to score high enough to place in the top 3! But the real highlight of the evening was the many treats brought for sharing – we had a very fattening evening of chips, candies – including the best licorice I have ever tasted, nuts, chocolates, wings, trifle and more. We hardly had to eat for the rest of the weekend!
With September 1st, we are now officially experiencing Spring in WA. Anyone who has done research on Western Australia is probably aware that the area is renowned for its wildflowers. I’ll leave it the wildflower website to give you all the details, but we’ll try to include some visual display here thanks to Michael. We will likely make a trip into the country to experience them in the wild, but to start with we decided to check out the full variety at King’s Park.

The Red and Green Kangaroo’s Paw is the official flower emblem of Western Australia, so naturally I need to include them. Also at right above is the Black Kangaroo’s Paw. It is a bit rarer and less ‘flash’ but still delicate and unique.

One of the most spectacular displays of mass colour comes from the everlastings. These are the ones I want to see in their natural state! They are a carpet of colour in a range of shades from whites, pinks and mauves and also yellows. The bees are everywhere and seem to be quite content in their garden of Eden!

And not only the bees enjoy the wildflower season, but the birds are also thrilled with the new selection of treats. The Red Wattle Bird (at right) is very aggressive in claiming it’s territory and can be quite vocal in keeping other birds away. This however is one of my favourite birds for another reason. We have a few around the house in Mandurah since Theresa has several bushes that attract them. But these birds also like the occasional insect to eat. They routinely make the rounds of the house snatching up all the insects in the corners – primarily spiders. They are amazing to watch as they hover deep in the corners to snatch their prey. The best pest control going!

There were many more native WA wildflowers, but also in bloom at this time are the South African flowers. Since we won’t see them in the wild, we’ve included them here also. The wattle bird above is resting on an Aloe Vera plant. One of the most familiar is the Bird of Paradise. It is impressive to see the large displays which grow year round here. This flower at left is also from South Africa, and unfortunately I cannot remember the name – any one who knows please comment!

And once again, although we have now been to King’s Park several times, we found a new trail to follow and this is one of the path side plants in the bush we encountered. I believe this one is one of the many orchids which are found native here, although I am not positive.

Sunday brought Father’s Day (finally!), and the weather this weekend was much nicer. Kyle and Mike were able to visit the local field to kick around the footie, and we were able to take a nice stroll along the beach. And even though he had Father’s Day last weekend, we tried to make the day relaxing for Mike and didn’t make him do anything too strenuous.