Australia 2006


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Also visit my Australia blog at “luba down under.”

From the 2006 Christmas letter:

In the autumn I took my biennial trip to Australia.  It had been two years since I had seen any of my friends there. I was looking forward to seeing Tom and Christobel again, and to visiting with Jane and her new baby. The trip out was hellacious, and evidence of the abysmal state of the airline industry.  I'll leave it at that.

WEST AUSTRALIA was first on my itinerary.  Tom was on his school holidays, so we spent a good bit of time together, visiting the quokkas on Rottnest Island, going to the Perth Show, birding at Herdsman's Lake, and sampling the gelato offerings of Fremantle. I got to know Rene, Christobel's new partner, quite well, as he is on sabbatical from UWA, where he teaches architecture, and met Max, his daughter, who is quite a sweetheart.  There were two other new additions to the family–Honey, a dog (possibly a dingo) and Sunny, a native viper.

Max, Tom and Honey

My old friend Siobean had moved to Australia last year; I got to see her again, and meet her husband, Alistair, and their daughters, Flora and Sadie. I drove out to Bridgetown for a few days, where I got to spend time rambling with Chris and David Johnston, although we never did find the kangaroo paws.  I managed to catch Ken and Jenny Grinter just before they moved up to Shark Bay, and had a nice morning's birding and barbecue with them.


Flora and Sadie Malcomsen (with friend Jonathan)


Christobel arranged several interesting excursions for us. We spent one weekend the Wheatfields of WA. One night was spent camping out at the Kulin racetrack near Jilakin Rock (we watched a few races as well), and another at a yabbie farm near Kukerin (where we attended a formal charity dinner dance in a sheep shearing shed).  Both nights were quite cold and windy. We got to see (and climb) Wave Rock and to walk along the Rabbitproof Fence, as well as view the giant ram of Wagin and many flooded salt lakes (due to typhoons last winter).


Rene, Christobel and Tom on Wave Rock

Christobel and Rene had recently bought a hundred acre block of bush near Gingin, an hour and a half's drive north of Freo.  We camped out there as well–the bush was pretty, with kangaroos, wildflowers, and, sadly, kangaroo ticks.  It was good fun, camp fire and all, lovely breakfast, but those tick bites sure itch. Still. A bit.  

Next I was off to QUEENSLAND and the east coast, where I stayed with my old friend Jane Brazier in Brisbane.  Jane'd had a baby in August, and little Jonathan was three months old and quite cute by the time I came to visit.  He had learned to smile, was great at cuddling, and loved to be rocked.  Not much of a conversationalist, but very adorable.


Jean-Michelle, Jane and baby Jonathan


Jean Michelle, Jane's partner, now works for the Queensland government performing arts center, and got us free tickets (and quite nice ones) to see Noel Coward's Private Lives and Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor. Ian, Jane's brother, was a bit of a challenge to track down (his cell phone had gone wonky), but we had a few chances to meet and catch up. And I had a nice dinner with Christine and David Galbraith, saw their gorgeous new house (right on a creek) and then went birding.

Jane and I traveled around a bit locally, with baby in tow.  We visited the botanical gardens, the arboretum, the university museums, Brisbane Forest Park and Tamborine Mountain.  It was quite dry–there's been drought for a few years now, and the reservoirs are almost empty–and there were bush fires about.  We also drove up to visit Greg in Noosa, taking baby on his first overnight outing.  We had a nice weekend with Greg, a few nice drives, but mostly talking, drinks and snacks. And a lovely dinner, of course.  

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