The Newest Footie Fans

Kyle and Mike enjoyed their first game of Aussie Rules Football last night. Tickets include transportation to the game – very smart. As you can see, Kyle tried to catch a few winks on the way to the game. The tickets were courtesy of a teacher at the school – a Fremantle Dockers fan and season ticket holder.
Appropriately, Fremantle won the match.

Day in Perth – Kings Park

Yesterday Mike & I spent the day in Perth. Kyle decided to stay back. He had other priorities – namely to acquire a copy of World of Warcraft (online computer game) so that he is able to play with the local kids from school. Since our priorities were different, we dropped him at the centro (mall) to make his purchase and the 1-1/2 hour walk home, and off we went to Perth.

We planned on spending most of the day in Kings Park, which we did. Started with a leisurely walk to the park through the neighbourhood and a stop at a local cafe for our morning fix. Learned that this area is big with the fitness training crowd due to the park, the hills and Jacob’s Ladder (photo to left).

Kings Park is about 1,000 acres of botanical gardens and natural bushland. My feet are quite sure that we saw most of it! Entering the park where we did, we were greeted by an enormous fig tree (they all seem to be enormous – none are ever just average) and yes, that’s the roots I’m sitting on.

After picking up a guide map at the shop, we wound our way through the gardens – you even get to see Michael on the journey as I was able to control the camera for a minute πŸ™‚

There are some breath taking views over Perth and the Swan River and the Darling Range.

There are several war monuments through the park, and trees have been dedicated to many of those who have fought in the wars. Interspersed there are aboriginal meeting places and other places of significance to the natives. Mount Eliza is a major component of the park which provides the views and bluffs with many unique species. We also witnessed several wedding parties along with an actual marriage ceremony. The entire area has much history and is of importance to all groups of Australians.

The botanical gardens has many specimens of native Australian flowers and trees. The flower here on the left is a Scarlet Feather Flower. As with most of the local flowers, they have either no or very small petals in an effort to preserve moisture. Most of the flower consists of the pistil and stamen which can be very ornate.

As through our trip so far, the trees were also very interesting (at least for us tree type folks). This tree stood out with its pale foilage against the blue sky and darker trees surrounding.

The park also had many birds – this kookabora sat patiently as Michael took his photo. There were all the ‘typical’ birds – pink & grey gallahs, crows (VERY vocal), magpies, cockatoos and varieties of ducks.

Following the gardens, we headed to the DNA tower – a double helix staircase which provides a nice view of the surrounds. From the top Mike got this nice panorama, and a view down to a young boy.

We headed down to the childrens park (about a mile or so), by which point I was famished – we each had a nice foccacia sandwich with salad and smoothie and felt much better!

We journeyed back through the bush trail despite casual warnings of possible reptiles (we carried a big stick). However, we saw little life – in the heat of the day all other living beings were much smarter than we and stayed less active!
It was a very hot walk – there isn’t much forest shade when the sun is at its apex. The most shade we saw was the start of the walk where we had pavement (photo) – when we reached the real bush, it was more barren. All the bush managed to do was to block the breeze – the only saving grace during the heat. It’s ironic that we have been complaining of the constant winds here on the west coast – but yesterday we would have really appreciated it! This is probably the most heat we have felt (guessing about 35)- even though not as hot as the day in Fremantle (over 40), it felt much hotter given the conditions.
As always however, more interesting trees and burnt out remnants of them.
Upon returning to our entrance spot of the park, we collapsed under a tree for a bit of a rest before heading off to explore a bit of downtown Perth. Skyscapers to the left reflect the old along side the new.
Despite constantly replenishing our bodily fluids with water (a gallon or so), we headed to find the Brass Monkey (photo) for a pint – and we weren’t disappointed. We had their ‘own brewed’ stout – and it sure tasted good!

Since we were nearby, we checked out the location of a recommended Indian restaurant for next time. We had thought of staying for dinner, but we were both spent for the day. As the stores were closing for the day, we decided to rest our weary bodies and headed back to the car and surprised Kyle with pizza for dinner.

Besides – Kyle & Mike had to save their energy for the Aussie rules football match they are going to see tonight!!

Date Night 3 – The Hairy Slug

This past Tuesday we spent a very entertaining evening with the locals (and some not so locals) at The Slug and Hare (aka the Hairy Slug) in Mandurah. It was Quiz night – similar to our trivia nights, but no technology involved and more interactive. You could arrive in teams of 4 or 5, or get put with a group. We ended up with two guys from Melbourne who are out here on business (mining of course). Great way to meet people.

The night ran for a couple hours with 5 rounds of 10 questions each, plus a set of photos of people to identify. We were doing quite well by 1/2 time (when they supplied pizza for all) to which point the questions were quite generic. At one point, I thought I had scored our table a free pitcher of beer with my answer to “a 4 under par golf shot” – unfortunately for my team mates, it’s not a double albatross, but rather a condor (which I may now remember should there ever be a need to know that again). By the last half however, the questions turned Aussie (along with the photos), and then VERY local – questions on local Mandurah trivia. Our team fell apart at that point!

The evening ended with an open round of joke telling – of course there are no repeatable ones that either Michael or I can remember!

So we left the pub having to forfeit the dinner gift certificate to another group. Guess we’ll have to study next time.

And since we have to have at least one “Monty photo” on each post, here’s a peaceful shot from an evening visit to the beach this week.

Weekend with Nature Down Under Style

Another great event kindly organized by the exchange group here – special thanks to Ted & Lindsay. We were able to experience a very intimate weekend with Australia.

Picked up Kyle and Mike from school on Friday and headed up to a camp near Gingin – 3 hour drive or so north. There was a group of about 13 of us all together – less this year than in the past, but still enough for a good time.

We stayed at Eshcol Springs which is run by a nice couple Barry and Alison (with help from the adoring grandchildren) – mostly used by school camp retreats and the like. Had a relaxed evening with the group having dinner, some wine & beer and some guitar playing (thanks to Lindsay and Wendy and Alison who teaches music lessons). Met Brian and Vicky – a couple from Freemantle who were on exchange to Vancouver last year. Nice to see folks returning the exchange experience from this end also – it’s nice to compare notes on experiences and get tips and tricks.

The camp is in a large area of natural bushland adjoining the lands of the Gravity Centre. Lots of interesting sites around the property. Michael had a hayday taking artistic shots around the place, especially during the twilight and early morning hours with the ideal lighting conditions.
The family had raised a female kangaroo who now lives partly as family pet, but also runs wild. She returns regularly with her joey for food. Having been raised around humans she is quite comfortable letting you scratch and pat her. Her offspring so far have all been males, which is problematic since they get aggressive (and big). She currently has a one year old male (in photo) and another joey in her pouch, hopefully this one will be a female. The older joey has recently stopped entering her pouch and rarely suckles now – hence the growth of the new one.

We were in walking distance to the Gravity Discovery Centre which was our destination on Saturday.

The walk to the GDC followed a scale representation of our solar system. We started at Pluto (although not truly a planet any longer), and worked our way back to the sun, which landed us at the centre. The GDC is not only a visitor centre, but also a working research centre where they are researching gravity waves. A group of scientists and students live here and do studies (need to investigate if this could be a summer (or down under winter) job for Pat….right up his alley!!). This includes an observatory and a component of an International Gravitational Study – this being the only presence in the southern hemisphere, so key in the three dimensional input to the study. You can check out their research at, or just check out the centre at The inscription on the photo at right explains this equation of Einstein – “Matter tells space how to curve, space tells matter how to move”.

Unfortunately, during the tour they announced that the evening visit to the observatory was cancelled due to the expected cloud cover. The clouds also changed our afternoon plans from beach visit to wine touring – not a bad fall back!!

We went into Gingin for very pleasant lunch at Eliza’s then headed out to Riseborough winery late in the afternoon. Picked up a couple more bottles of wine (managing to share a discount with the group purchase), and then headed back for more kangaroo visits and a quiet evening of dinner and cards. Learned a great new game called spoons and retaught Wendy hearts, and we swamped Lindsay (a non-card player) with more card rules than anyone should have to suffer – sorry Lindsay :-).
Finally on Sunday morning we headed for home, but with some fun stops on the way – checked out a local apiary – West Coast Honey and sampled an impressive variety of honey. Picked up a healthy bucket of Jarrah honey along with a most tasty bucket of Whitegum honey(Kyle of course insisted on the yummy one!).

And one last stop before we headed home for the guys to do their homework and lesson plans (school still is the main reason for being here after all !). Visited the Maze – with several varieties of mazes and challenges – lots of fun getting lost. Kyle was able to set record times running around the wooden maze visiting each of the ‘poles’. Also had a round of ‘disk golf’ (aka frisbee golf) which was quite entertaining for anyone watching I’m sure! Not sure why we don’t have more courses like this in Canada – quite fun.
Given the missed Cosmos Centre visit, missed olive grove and beach at Dunsborough and lots of other local sites, another place we’ll hopefully return to before we leave….the list gets longer as our time moves on!!

2nd Date Night – Going to the Dogs (literally)

Off to the grey hound races this week. Perhaps Ranger (the Ilderspoons dog) will appreciate these photos more – just dogs running as fast as they can, no water involved – more his taste perhaps πŸ™‚

Only placed one bet on the night – on Pretty Nina. Her stats weren’t great, but given her name I had to place a bet!
But alas she came in 4th place (I needed her to place in the first 3 for $$).

The ‘rabbit’ they chased around was actually covered with a koala looking thing – although I’m sure the dogs would be quite disappointed if they ever managed to capture it.
Interesting seeing the dogs as they ‘psych’ up for the race – some are very calm (like the one in the photo here), while others are bouncing around and the trainers can barely keep them off the track.

At any rate, next time we’ll have to book a dinner reservation in advance to make sure we get a spot in the air conditioned section – sitting in the baking sun to eat dinner was not ideal (but I’m not complaining…..!)

One last photo to end with – a remnant from Hong Kong – lights of the city as we took the ferry back across to catch the train to the airport.

Weekend in SouthWestern Australia (the first one)

Made our first trip down to South Western Australia. We’ll definitely be going back for more! Lots to see & do. We drove down early Saturday morning and started in Bussleton. The day was a bit overcast and as we’ve come to expect, very WINDY.

Started the day with a visit to Bussleton Jetty. Almost 2 km long, it is the longest wooden jetty in the southern hemisphere. If you open the photo on the top right, you still cannot make out the end of the pier! It was used until 1972, and has had sections destroyed by cyclones and fires – restoration is ongoing. At the end of the pier is an 8 metre deep underwater observatory. Schools of yellow tails and herring along with several reef fish are common around the pier – the photos cannot capture the colours or subtlety of the fish and corals. Along the pier, people were swimming, fishing and even a couple of divers off of nearby boats. Kyle could not resist jumping in on the walk back. Also visited a local candy shop and a wine outlet.

And on Saturday evening we finally spotted our first wild roos!! (we have seen several dead on the road side, but they don’t really count).

Took a walk along the beach in EagleBay for the evening. Beautiful white sand and granite rock. Lots of crabs in those rocks – Kyle is anxious to catch and gobble some up!

Had a great dinner at a local Thai restaurant where our waiter ‘borrowed’ some of the appetizers from a party group for us – well, they were letting them go to waste, so he figured we may as well put them to good use! Fun time…
Stayed at a very nice B&B in Dunsborough on Saturday night where our hostess was a bit of an animal lover – chickens and dogs in the back, and she nurses ringtail possums back to health also! Had a nice breakfast on the deck with fresh figs from the garden.
Decided to visit a cave, taste some local delicacies (venison, chocolate, cheese and of course wine!)

The trees are noticibly different here – airy, smooth bark and often with burns around them due to the common fires.

We visited Mammoth cave – named for the size. Incredible stalactites and stalagmites (cave decorations as they were refered to). There were calcite deposits on the decorations at one end of the cave – which glisten in the light. The cave was 10 stories high – lots of sections collapsed also (although we were assured that no sections were about to cave in on us…..).

All in all a great weekend – and still lots to see (and taste!) in the area.


Tuesday Date Night in Mandurah

First date night in Oz. Nice walk along the waterfront in Mandurah and stopped for a coffee and sweetie. Bird scenery was a bit different. This fellow followed me around – should say waddled around after me – as a gull would in Ontario. And did you know,

The funny thing about the Pelican

is that his mouth can hold more than his belly can?

Very nice artwork along the waterfront including this mosaic.

It is now Wednesday evening and Mike & I are planning our April break activities. Had originally planned on doing Bali, but all booked up. So we will do our drive up the Western Coast in April, and hopefully pick up Bali in October. As we do our planning, Kyle is busy with his math homework. In Year 11 here he is taking 2 math courses – Calculus and Geometry & Discrete. Kyle has requested a photo of his homework tasks – save that for tomorrow πŸ™‚

Mike is going golfing tomorrow with some of the teachers from school – time to buy some golf balls! Perhaps he’ll even get to see some ‘roos’ on the course.

So you are having a snow day in Barrie…

(note that you can click on any photo to see it enlarged – at least the ones I posted correctly πŸ™‚

The lands of extremes eh?



As you folks in Barrie / Canada dig out from the snow and defrost from the frigid temperatures, we are trying to stay cool.
Sunset walks on the beach do the trick nicely.
And this one is for Ranger

Sun Burnt Country! – Feb 4th 2007

We returned from the beach today to discover that our power was out. It was due to a power transformer which was engulfed in flames from a fire north of Mandurah. There have been many local fires the past two weeks. Many have been started by vandals. A young teacher was killed as a result of the fires last night in her car as she tried to flee from her home (ironically her home escaped unscathed).
The photograph to the left I took this afternoon in a spot 3kms from home. The town of Dwellingup, some 45 kms from here, lost 6 homes last night. The high winds of WA help in spreading these fires. Power was restored here around 7:00pm, just in time for dinner. We have been having lots of lamb, since its about the cheapest meat around, and luckily we all enjoy it (we’ll see if that lasts)!