Monday, January 15, 2018

McLaren Vale - 35° 14' 52" S 138° 32' 33" E

Different parts of our world are woven together in strange ways.

Oppy, Kate and Sean - Women's Tour Down Under

A few years ago, during our marshalling gig with the Tour of Alberta we met Kimberly, the Chief Marshal, who also is the Technical Director for the Women's Tour Down Under (WTDU) in Australia.  We asked Kimberly if she needed marshals for the WTDU to which she responded, "Yes, if you are around, I would love to have you help out."  This year, we were around, so off to Adelaide we went.

From our Raja Muda sailing experience, we had met Matt and Kate, who live in Adelaide.  They had invited us to visit them if we were ever in the neighbourhood, so we bunked with them while taking part in officiating.

Locals make the best tour guides

Highly underrated, the WTDU is a chance to watch and actually talk with the competitors.  Post-race, the teams are available and willing to hobnob with spectators, officials and fans.  The courses are challenging and have lovely scenery.  The men's Tour seems to get all the attention and press coverage, though.

Decked out

As part of the race preparations, the small towns that are start or finish points compete with one another for the "Best-Decorated Town" designation.  Dispaly bikes are set out, hay bales are assembled into artwork and locals come out in big numbers with banners, flags and noise-makers.  It's quite festive ... even in the rain!

noice bikes, drizzly conditions

As marshals, we endured 40c heat (Day 1), drizzly, cold rain (Day 2) and 25+ knot winds (Day 3) at our stations.  No crashes or incidents took place on our posts, although Kate had some sheep shenanigans and Sean had curious cows come to visit.

very remote locations

sheep shenanigans
Sean and friends
hay bale decorations

Spending some time with Matt and Kate was a nice balance to our "working" side of the trip.  We had some lovely evening visits that didn't involve trimming sails or jibing.

Matt took us up to Mt. Lofty, the premiere viewpoint overlooking Adelaide.  The climb to Mt. Lofty is a top destination for cyclists and there were dozens enjoying a well-earned Sunday morning coffee while we were there.

 The view from Mt. Lofty

Flinders Column

We did a day with the whole Buchanan family, visiting D'Arenberg Winery and their favorite local beach.  The winery was become quite the tourist attraction, as a visit is billed as an "experience."  Before a tasting you are led through rooms at their main building that are meant to stimulate you with sights, sounds and smells (lost on Sean) before you get to experience their wines.  You make your way through their very distinctive building to the top floor to enjoy the fabulous views and their fabulous wines.  Matt was designated driver, which meant that we could all have a good guzzle of a  number of their offerings.

D'Arenberg Winery - inspired by a Rubik's Cube

funky furniture

Kate and Grace have a seat

At Port Willunga Beach, Matt shared memories of a childhood spent along the shore, thinking nothing special of days exploring the old sandstone caves, swimming around the jetty pilings and digging in the sand.  The beach has always been well-used.  Early settlers dug storage caves into the soft sandstone, abandoning them when the wharf fell into disrepair and eventually remained only as a few pilings.  A gorgeous swimming beach has remained and still draws many of the locals.

Willunga Beach

Matt, Kate and a little clown

shady hidey-holes

making sand art

Kate and Grace

Hooray - more sand for our collection!

On our way home, we had all time to stop at local attractions, like Land Rover on a Pole (Keith, SA) and Pink Lake (Dimboola, VIC).  Who says an eight-hour drive has to be boring?

They come from the four corners
of the earth to see ...

Pink Lake - lots of pink, not much lake

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Newport - 37° 50' 46" S 144° 52' 37" E

Home ... for a little while

We currently have a residence in Australia - the home Kate left just before she came to Canada in 2007 for a "six month assignment."  The property has been rented for almost a decade and we have decided, for a number of reasons, to sell it.  The house needs some attention and TLC, so we have started to fix/paint/repair/replace all the little things that need to be done.

Traveling to the house every day from either of Kate's family homes in Flinders (a 2 hour drive at the best of times) wasn't really a viable option, so we decided to borrow an air mattress from a friend and camp there while we did the work. 

3.5 tonnes ... that should hold everything!

During the preparation period (the tenants had been given notice and quickly found another place to rent a few blocks away, and it was available immediately), we were sharing our plans with everyone and heard that some friends were staging their house for sale and had stored most of their furniture in a garage, and would allow us to use just about anything there!  We suddenly had a free furniture store to help ourselves to.  A moving van was quickly rented and we plundered their storage, nicely setting up the house with a lounge suite, three beds, a dining room table, lots of artwork and some assorted kitchen and house nic-nacs.  Other friends came forward with plates, bowls, linens and towels and suddenly, we had a complete house.

We assembled a home just in time, because we had a guest on the way from Calgary.  Karen, our musical neighbor, had come to Australia to join us for a Findlay Family Christmas, and whatever other adventures we could dream up.  We were able to host her here on Woods Street, take her along to Horsham for a family gathering, visit Sue Bell's winery in South Australia, drive the Great Ocean Road, send her off to Hobart to see the finish of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race, then come back for some Flinders time with the family.

Although the house is livable, there are many repairs and improvements that we have planned.  Karen heads back to Canada tomorrow and then we start house upgrades in earnest. Let's see how many we can get done before the property goes on the market!

Under the clocks at the Flinders Street Station
- the traditional place to meet in Melbourne
The Victoria State Library
Ned Kelly's armour ... with bullet dents
on the Yarra River
cruising the inner city bike paths
so much public artwork!
house(farm)-sitting for Buffy and Graham in Horsham
guaranteed fresh eggs for breakfast
she visited three Aussie states - Victoria, Tasmania and ...
stopped for pies for lunch - an AUS road trip staple
tourist at work - first marsupial sighting
Bellweather winery
hanging with the fam at Susan and Simon's
koalas cause the same reaction as
bears in the Canadian Rockies
meanwhile at Woods Street,
renos in progress
one project done!