Sunday, January 31, 2016

Brim - 36° 04' 52" S 142° 25' 14" E

The talk of the Yarriambiak Shire is the new art installation in the tiny town of Brim. Through funding from Regional Arts Victoria and the local shire with donated paint and free accommodation and meals at the pub, Brisbane artist Guido van Helten, painted the most amazing mural on the Brim silos.
It has become quite the tourist attraction so naturally, we had to check out what all the fuss is about.  Well worth swinging by if you are in the neighbourhood - and lunch at the Creekside Inn in Warracknabeal tops the outing off nicely!

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Coonawarra Wine Region - 37° 17' 26" S 140° 49' 31" E

A great day for a drive to the South Australian wine region of The Coonawarra just a couple of hours from Horsham.  Sean clocked up his sixth Aussie State/Territory. Only two to go!

Traveling with Rob and the Tickner family, we popped into the Border Inn at Aspley for a quick beer en route.  This pub has a great tale.  The little town of Aspley saw many of its businesses closing but when its only pub closed in 2011 - it devastated the town.  In true country spirit, farmers banded together, bought the pub, renovated and reopened it to great fanfare in 2014.   Apsley once again has its watering hole and the doors are open for weary travelers like us to refresh on the way to The Coonawarra!
We headed straight to the Glenroy Shearing Shed near the township of Coonawarra for some wine tasting at Bellwether Wines.   Sue Bell, the winemaker, is a friend.  We sampled her amazing wines (Sean and I favoured the Heathcote Vermentino and the Wrattonbully Shiraz/Malbec - and yes, a few bottles have come home with us.) then headed to a wonderful lunch.

On the drive home, we crossed emus of the "Australian critters to see" list for the Canadians!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Hisense Arena - 37° 49' 31" S 144° 58' 45" E

Siegemund def Jankovic
No trip to Melbourne in the summer would be complete without spending a day at the tennis so onto the tram we hopped.  Along with thousands of other tennis fans, we marched along the river bound for Melbourne Park.  We found seats in the Hisense Arena and there began our 10 hour tennis marathon. 

Unwilling to vacate our fabulous seats on the baseline, we watched second round men's singles, second round women's singles, first round men's doubles then another second round of men's singles.

Fabulous tennis!  The soundtrack of our walk back to the tram was the cheers of the crowd watching Lleyton Hewitt's final singles match.  The Australian Open is a Melbourne institution that is certainly worthy of its Grand Slam status!

Wawrinka def Stepanek
Isner def Granoliers
Rob, Kate and Sean ... ten hours of tennis!

Bopanna/Mergea def Jasika/Kyrgios

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Bushrangers Bay - 38° 29' 16" S 144° 55' 00" E

Many of the long, hot summer days of my childhood were spent at Bushrangers Bay. We called it Clondrisse after the property that has the fortune to run down to the Bay. We were able to drive down through the property and park just a hundred metres from the beach. This enable all sorts of childhood beach paraphernalia, eskies filled with food and drinks and even surfboards and diving gear.

These days, the drive-through benefit is long gone so we join in on the 2.5km hike through the bush, down the cliff and along the beach to the rock pools. Fabulous rock pools, larger than most backyard swimming pools, are filled with marine life that kept us entertained for hours as children.

And today, the hike is well worth it. Lazing in the big rock pool, surrounded by the towering basalt outcrops, the water is warmer than the pounding surf of Bass Strait just beyond the rocks. Small fish dart around and the seaweed waves as we splash by. Whilst no longer a 'secret', as they now have signs marking the path down, Bushrangers Bay is a stunning little piece of Victoria's magnificent coastline.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Eastlink Freeway - 38° 12' 22" S 145° 8' 1" E

Street art at Hosier Lane
I have always loved public art, and Melbourne is a place where they have a lot of it.  Melbourne has a self-invented reputation as the cultural capital of Australia - a reputation I do not disagree with.  The central business district (or CBD) has art scattered all around it.  Where bleak concrete edifices were erected around town, street artists take it upon themselves to liven up with stencils, stickers and spray paint.  The architecture of buildings themselves range from Victorian to downright whimsical.  The thing that I really like and that caught my attention was the highway art.

A road that I often find myself driving is the freeway between Melbourne and Flinders, Kate's hometown to the southeast.  To the northwest of Melbourne is the main airport.  To the far west of Melbourne is Horsham, where Kate's youngest sister and her family live.  As a result, two- and three-hour drives are a normal part of staying in Flinders.  The area around Flinders, the Mornington Peninsula, is a multi-lane, well-marked road that can be quite routine to drive.  Unless there's ALL KINDS of crazy artwork to look at along the way.  Here's a sample of what you see on the two hour drive.
Cubidst cow in a tree in Docklands

A 7 metre tall chrome gnome
A narrow little hotel with no parking lot or
entrance.  It lights up at night, too.
Crazy-cool sound walls that keep the sound from
going into the farmer's fields
Willy Wonka-like toys
Rusting steel sheep's skull
Cubist-style blackbird eating a cubist worm
Open air tunnel/sound tube

Yellow and red spikes that serve no purpose
This galvanized, 8 meter tall thing

Even the overpass supports can be cool!

This really helps to liven up the drive.  What a cool thing to incorporate into public works projects!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Calgary - 51°03’15” N 114° 05’ 32” W

Leaving Sean to enjoy the charms of the Mornington Peninsula in the Summer, I embarked on a fleeting solo trip back to cold and snow of Calgary.  The purpose – Notice to Appear to take my citizenship oath and become a Canadian Citizen!

Typically Canadian in the administration volume and with lengthy line-ups, 91 new Canadians from 31 countries raised their right hand and swore the Oath of Citizenship, in both French and English.  

It was fabulous that Nicola, James, Elizabeth, Anne-Marie and Rob were able to witness the historic event - and thanks to Anne-Marie it was real time on social media!

Naturally, every great event needs to be celebrated so the Toutant Family threw me a wonderful Canadian-themed party!

It is nine years since first arriving in Calgary on a six week assignment. I never imagined that I would be staying, and even further from my thoughts was that I would be married to a Canadian and surrounded by large network of the most wonderful Canadian friends. It certainly has been one of life's greatest adventures.

I am Canadian!


Meanwhile, in Flinders ...

Not only has Kate abandoned Flinders - so have Graham and Gabby!  I've been left in charge of the horses, cows, a 5-month-old baby calf that is being bucket fed and (most alarmingly) the houseplants.  Apparently, I'm expected to keep everything alive.

I'm still able to get out on my bike for some cycling on the never-been-sanded roads around the peninsula; I've been able to get Kate's 1965 MGB running and back on the road; I've made my way into Melbourne to visit friends, volunteer with the St. Kilda's Triathlon AND take our cute-as-a-button amost-two-year-old friend for a splash at the local pool.

Even though everyone has left, I'm rarely lonely.  When I get  back from my outings, there's usually someone around, waiting for some attention.

I missed you.  Did you bring me anything?