Two Yanks Downunder

A blog about the experiences of two Americans on their first visit to the fabulous continent of Australia

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Celebrating Fremantle

November 26

Well it was time to get ready to go home. This meant many goodbye dinners including a lovely one at the local Indain Restaurant with Betty Apps.

It was also time to say goodbye to our little shopping mall:

It seemed like Freo was even saying a personal goodbye as there was a big Town festival parade that went by right outside the domicile on Pakenham:

There was this lovely lady walking around amongst the crowd:

...and the Waldorf school participated with a lovely dragon of colored paper.

There were Chinese style dragons...

..and denizens of unknown alternative universes...

The colors and imagination were genuinely awesome.

And I also learned that the Hare Krishnas are still around.

Their float was beautifully colored...

...and as it rounded the corner I even caught a glimpse of the holy man within.

I was sad that the students were no longer around to enjoy this, but it made this a marvelous personal experience that warmed me inwardly for days.

Monday, January 01, 2007

An Evening Out With John

October 30,

Well, I am now more than two months behind on my blogging!! I thought I'd post some pictures from a lovely evening out with our landlord. I've got the system bugs worked out, I think, so I'll tell a bit about our evening out.

John picked us up and showed us his apoartment/condominium that he is upgrading. he has done an amazing job and it is a lovely place. We arrived in time to watch the sunset on his balcony and enjoy a nice glass of wine.

His apartment is in a bit of disarray since there are builders tromping in and out and working on various parts of the dwelling (so I tried not to take images of the messier areas). This is a shot taken from the living room area of the dining nook.

There are many objets d'art and John has a very good eye for art. He is quite eclectic in his interests. He is well read (particularly in the field of history and supports the arts (as do many Australians - in fact I am quite impressed by the way that art takes a major place in Australian culture - rendering the idea of the nexus art and class debatable - although John is quite patrician in his schooling and interests despite his farming roots.) There is a sculpture by the person who did the aboriginal woman sculpture on the hearth shelf in our apartment -

This piece is more primitive - called the drover's wife - quite exhaustive and sad in a way - but another lovely piece of art which is visible on a shelf against the side wall(on the left side of the picture - you might want to click on the photo to enlarge it - but I fear there will not be much detail.).

The above picture shows the other side of the living room area. One can see that he has collected many interesting pices of historical and artistic memorabilia. There are also photos of his children and family including (in the study area) a fenian document granting honor to his father.

Cottesloe is a lovely, sleepy little palce and we went to a restaurant around the corner (full of original paintings and red decor, (looking a bit washed out in my phto here)..

where we dined on delicious fare and had a nice bottle of wine.

Unfortunately I did not drink my fair share of the wine and this became a problem, as we got stopped by the police on the way home. This turned out to be one of the more nerve-wracking incidents of our stay abroad. Long story short, Mom and I ended up driving John's car back to our apartment and he met us there by taxi. After some good conversation and checking in on the students, John was able to drive back home safely. The Australians are very serious about DUI (what they call drink driving and licenses get lost for years for a first offense and revoked for a second one. (I don't know the exact details, but they are severe in comparison with American standards.) We were all quite rattled.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Margaret's Beach House

Around the 27th of October:

Sometime around October 27th we were invited by Margaret to visit her beach house south of Mandurah. Mom and I packed up our art supplies and said Hi to Mick on our way out. Here he is in his flower pot so he can look out the window.

We joined Margaret and a friend down South. Margaret's house is in the settlement called Florida Beach. What follows are a few photos from our visit. This is her dining area in the beach house where we had a lovely lunch of bread and salad with a preprepared chook.

The beach house is a wonderful space for art.

Outside was sunny and clear. One can see part of her wall which she hired a mason to emulate on a different section of the property.

After lunch I took a walk out to the beach while Mom and Margaret and Mom chatted. This was an opportunity to take a few pictures...

... and gave me a chance to indulge my artist's eye without betraying my lack of physical dexterity (drawing-wise).

The sand had these interesting formations.

On teh way back to Margaret's house, I saw this bumper sticker, which in some ways epitomizes the masculine culture of West Australia (to me).

The snails were evidently a bit of a problem and quite large. (That is what those white things are on the aloe.)

There is opuntia in the gardens, and I had to admire the red fruits on this one.

This is a wonderful gate out to some trees that are actually in the neighbor's yard. Margaret was very sad about those trees, because the neighbors asked if they could take them down and she was too nice to say no.

So she painted her beloved trees when we got together for a little art time.

Mom and I chose other subjects.

(You've already seen my results earlier on the blog.)

All too soon it was time to return home, so we packed up and headed back. We watched the sun set over the ocean as we drove back to downtown Freo.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Penguin Island

October 22 (Happy Anniversary Don back home!)

Although I have already written about this field trip in the blog, I thought I could add a few more photos on our personal blog as it was a pretty interesting experience for me. Of course seeing the little penguin nesting under the steps was the highpoint, but I was also thrilled to see the seals and some of the other native bird life. The Australian Pelican is the largest in the world and so although we were ostensibly off to seal island to see the seals (and see them we did) was the pelicans that were more fascinating. As you can see there are hundreds of them here on this island.

(Here an enlarged detail from the above photo.)

Here you can see some of them flying in for a landing.

On our walk back from the boat to Penguin Island we passed by multitudes of nesting seagulls. The baby seagulls were adorable.

Of course the parents weren't too happy about all these human beings walking so close to their young and their nests, so they raised a hue and cry as we walked by.

The eggs were a dark dull green as you can see and located more or less openly in the scrub near the beach.

This area was also full of skinks that lurked nearby to prey upon the eggs and helpless young birds.

The penguin center itself rehabilitates injured penguins and keeps the ones who could not successfully readapt to the wild.

We attended an informative session about the penguins and had the opportunity to see them fed.

Fairy penguins are the smallest of the penguins.

They are also sometimes called blue penguins because their coats have a bluish cast to them.

They fed the penguins and we also got a chance to see them swim around their pool.

They swim amazingly fast and it was quite difficult to catch them on film.

After the demonstration we headed out for a walk around the island. This is an injured seal that has a large wound on the back side. He stays by himself but seems to be surviving despite his horrible injury.

More seagull eggs we saw along the walk.

The tramp around the island was a bit challenging, but Mom made it with a little help from the students in the group. (We had to walk over some pretty rocky places. We did get to see various seabirds including these terns that were nesting on a platform.

At this point I think I will close. I'll include some plant pictures of our trip to Serpentine Falls in the next section of the blog.