The Stuff We Miss Most

Hi folks. Past time for another post. As mentioned in the previous couple of postings, we’re wrapping up here, so weekends have been spent socializing and organizing. My days are now spent cleaning and packing.

For this post, we’ll focus on the stuff we’ve missed the most while here in Oz. And up at the top of the list is family and friends.


This week Mum & Dad celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary. We obviously knew when we left that this would occur – but that doesn’t make it any easier.

It was posted very kindly by Joanne/Mark and Robin/John in the Hamilton Spectator. Above is a copy of what went in – and at right is a photo similar to the one on November of our family calendar. It’s been very nice to have a different combo of the Wotherspoon family greet us as we turn each month.

And of course we’ve missed a year of birthday celebrations with family and friends (except for the couple we were able to share with George & Marucia). That includes Joanne’s birthday which just passed!

And we’ll also miss two weddings – one on each end. Daren and Alison will wed in Mexico over the Christmas break, and Anne Maree and James hook up in January down here. Unfortunately we’ll be nomads for both events – but best wishes to both couples – married life has been good to us – hope it’s the same for you!

And there are babies that have been conceived and born in our absence!!! In addition to a few more which will arrive just after we return – so looking forward to seeing those brand new bundles.

And on a more basic daily level, here are some of the other things we’ve missed – in no particular order:

cruise control on the car, bacon, maraschino cherries, graham crackers (for cheese cake crust and Nanaimo bars), bacon, being able to go more than 3 km over the speed limit without getting a speeding ticket, our hot tub, shopping after 6pm or on a Sunday, bacon, coffee cream, Canadian butter, and did I mention bacon?

Next time we’ll summarize some of the stuff we’ll miss from here – and I’ll try not to shed any tears as I post that one, but it’ll be hard! After all, we’ll return to the Canadian stuff we’ve missed, but no telling if we’ll ever revisit down here (sigh).

Cricket & Surf Rescue & Moustaches

Yeah, the moustache is now gone! But before he shaved it off, we made sure we took a photo for posterity. At left is a group shot of the Movember gang. They received donations from students towards prostate cancer as well as raising awareness. All for a good cause, but I’m still glad to have it shaved off πŸ™‚

Sorry for the reduced postings – but we’re spending more time at home with wrap up activities and local socializing, so not so many photos.

However, as part of our wrap up activities, there were a couple of photo venues Mike still wanted to capture – and we managed to fit them in this past weekend.

With ‘footie’ finished for the season, cricket has now taken over the sporting world here in WA. On the tellie this past Saturday afternoon, the only shows on were a choice of either cricket or the world championship of Women’s Netball. Neither sport would even appear in Canada – so it was quite a unique experience. If you aren’t familiar with netball, it’s kind of like basketball, but no dribbling, no jumping, free access to shoot the ball and no backboard. For us basketball fans, it’s not very enticing I have to admit.

On Saturday, Mike attended a cricket match of one of the teachers – actually not the whole match as it does go on for an awfully long time – but part of the match at least. From the photos you would almost think it was a game full of action!

We had attended a performance of the school play a couple weekends ago, and this past weekend we had more social dates.

Friday evening Kyle was bowling with friends, and Saturday evening Mike & I had dinner at Richard & Phillipa’s (fantastic lamb roast dinner).

And we even managed to rise early enough on Sunday to head up to Fremantle to catch their hosting of the Surf Lifesaving Competition. This was the other local activity Mike was hoping to catch before we head out, and this visit was much more successful than our failed attempt a few weekends ago!

Many local Surf Lifesaving teams competed in a whole range of age groups. The events included individual and team competitions. There were running races on the beach (individual and relay both photoed here), swimming races, board races, boat races, and even tug of war for the younger crowd!

Kids start at a very young age and it’s a very impressive program. The members are all extremely fit, and it’s obviously a very popular activity with kids and adults of all ages. I can’t really say we have anything like this in Canada, although ski patrol programs would be the closest thing.

And one final photo to finish with – a shot of a bobtail skink from the local surrounds. Mike comes across them every now and then, and finally had a camera handy on this occasion!

The Melbourne Cup

Tuesday was the running of the Melbourne Cup. This is a monumental event here in Aus – running since 1861. It is the most famous Tuesday in Australia, and an actual public holiday in Melbourne. The whole country stops at 3pm AEST to watch/listen to the event – Kyle even got to watch the horses run during his sport class today. In a country of 18 million people, they expect 160 Million to be bet on the race. That’s almost $10 for every single Aussie!!!! They do love their ‘punting’ (betting) down here!

The Melbourne Cup is also an ‘urban fashion show’, especially known for the women’s hats. And they are not only worn to the actual race, but on the day where ever you may be. This years event was jeopardized by the equine flu which has been widespread and devastating to the racing industry/horses down here. But despite the ongoing lock down in the stables, the race was run – although there were no horses in the parade for the first time ever.
A few of the teachers are Pinjarra are photoed here in their race day get ups (either their own or borrowed – you guess which of the 3 is wearing an outfit on loan!). And not to miss out, Anthony Pittman (host of the last party we attended) has created the Official Pinjarra Cup including Race Book – in which he states “If anything written offends it was totally unintended but those people should dry their eyes and toughen up”. The Pinny Cup consists of 2 races ‘run’ by a group of fictitious horses from Pinjarra HS. ‘Maple Syrup’ (Monty’s horse as you may have guessed) was listed as:
“Out of Dud Exchange and by Walshy’s Pad. A long horse
who doesn’t like carrying weight on his long frame. This overseas invader
hasn’t had success on Australian tracks and will be a long shot, may just screech past them on the home run.”

Each race has 6 horses and they included ‘Algebra Sinner’, ‘Dancing Queen’, ‘Bookman Magpie’, ‘Gun Pouch’ and ‘Office Chicks’. There even was official commentary of the running of the races.

In the first race Bookman Magpie came from the rear of the pack to take the lead towards the end of the race. Then right near the finish, jockey Guillam fell off the horse. And in the end, this allowed Canada’s Maple Syrup to win the race (yeah!) followed by Pickers of the Bunch and Dancing Queen.

In the second race, Office Chicks appeared to have won the race but were later disqualified for whipping their horse leaving the win to Algebra Sinner. Two very exciting races!

And a couple of other random notes….

You will now notice that Daylight Savings has come in to effect down here and it has finished in the North – so we are now 14 hours ahead of Southern Ontario. And if you want to start a heated debate down here just ask someone what they think of DST. It is in it’s second year of a 3 year trial right now. The pressure is on to put it to a vote tomorrow with the strong expectation that it would be voted out overwhelmingly. They really don’t get the concept very well…. people constantly refer to the ‘real’ time and have to clarify they mean daylight savings time when making appointments. Our hike even started an hour later since we were in DST – quite funny really. No matter what they say, I like the extended daylight in the evening myself.

On a final note, November is ‘Mo’vember down here. It is a fundraising month for Prostate Cancer. Men grow their mo’ustache’ for the month to raise cash. Mike had hoped to do the full beard since he really does not look that good in a mo, but that was voted down. So he’s going for the Frank Zappa look with a minor goatee as well as a moustache. It was quite by chance that Mike decided to copy Frank Zappa. In looking for a photo of him on the internet, Mike discovered that Frank actually passed away due to prostate cancer at age 52. So it was quite an appropriate choice. We’ll include photos once the facial growth is worthy.

Our little piece of the Cape to Cape

We were back down to Margaret River this past weekend. Sally was our fine organizer who had the exchange group stay at a place near Prevelly, close to where we would be hiking. We arrived Friday evening allowing us to rise and set off early on Saturday. Our weekend consisted of hiking the ‘3rd’ section as per this map (click here).

The first day we did about 28km of the trail from Gracetown back down to Prevelly. The terrain was varied, with long stretches along the coast, but also traversing interior for some parts. Don (Sally’s husband) was the ‘designated driver’ simplifying the logistics of one-way hiking. This also allowed us to be free of carrying our food for lunch as he met us at our lunch stop!

We were clearly further south here, as the flowers were still very much in bloom this late in the season. The entire walk we were surrounded with a variety of colours. One of my favourites was the vibrant pink ‘pig snout’ (sorry no photo!) Calla lilies, although a pest here since they are non-native, cover the forest floor in damper areas and are beautiful.

We stopped for lunch at the Ellensbrook homestead – the earliest European settlement on the west coast dating to 1850. Nearby was a pretty waterfall in a lush valley (photo of valley at left, waterfall / cascade below).

One of the reasons the walk is so interesting, is due to the underlying rock. There is a ridge which runs all the way down the coast from cape to cape. There is an underlying ancient granite bed, over which the limestone ‘young’ rock has been laid. So the exposed rock types alternate along the sandy beach and dunes which line the coast. It makes for interesting and varied terrain.

Most of us (except for Sally and our guide who walked back to the accommodations!) ended the day by crossing the Margaret River. In peak flow time, it can be a challenge, but on this day it came up to our knees and was not a problem – despite the many warnings we had received! Saturday evening we took our weary bones out for a nice dinner to a pasta restaurant in Margaret River – we deserved a meal full of carbohydrates!

The Ashwells – who are exchanged near Margaret River – joined us for the hike on Saturday only. That was nice since they have 2 sons aged 15 & 17, so Kyle was not the only teen for once! Also, we did not have our volunteer guide with us on Sunday, and one of the girls decided her back and legs had had enough! And so we were a smaller group for hiking on Sunday.

This time we headed south from Prevelly for about 10km. Again the walk was varied, this time I think even more enjoyable. We started on a tough uphill followed by a nice long flattish walk with wonderful views all around. That’s us at left – Kyle way out in front, us three girls and Mike in the back taking photos – as was often the case.

After a steep descent of 344 steps into a beautiful valley, the walk continued along the valley then out into the sand dunes and finished along the beach. The final beach stretch of about 3 km was idyllic. It consisted of just our group hiking along white sand with blue water as far as you could see – the sun shining, a gentle breeze. The only other living souls we saw were dolphins playing in the water. It’s hard to imagine a more peaceful place.

After a quick shower to freshen up, we visited a local winery for a nice lunch before heading our separate ways. Yet another successful exchange event with much thanks to Sally & Don for all their efforts.

Happy Hallowe’en

Hope you all had a few treats in honour of the day, and got into the festivities in your own way. You can’t blink down under, or you’ll miss Hallowe’en! We actually did get kids to the door for ‘lollies’ (aka candy) last night – a grand total of 8 kids in 3 groups. And we live in a neighbourhood with kids! So I did miss the annual fun of dressing up – it’s the first time in many years that I haven’t done so. It will make next year that much more fun!

As you can presume, last weekend did not involve any photo taking. Mike & I attended a party on Friday night (too much food and drink AGAIN), and Kyle was at a birthday party on Saturday. I’ve been spending endless hours on the internet planning our final trip, and also starting to plan our Aussie wrapping up (selling cars, shipping stuff etc.). It’s already November, and we leave here in just over 6 weeks – and we’ll travel almost that long again before returning to Canada!

This weekend we are off with the Exchange group once again. Back to the Margaret River area in the south to do some hiking along the ‘cape to cape’ trail. So next week will hopefully have a little more for you to look at!