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I told you last week that I would have fun stuff to report on this week and I will not disappoint! Not sure where to start, so let’s start with the biggest event in Rockhampton, which only happens every 3 years, Beef Week! If you click on that link, you’ll see that they’re already counting down the days to the next one in 2027. Approximately 115,000 people attend Beef Week. For reference, the population of Rockhampton is about 85,000. People fly in from all over Australia and even from outside of Australia. CQUniversity had a booth at Beef Week and they asked for people to volunteer to spend an hour so they could advertise “Ask an Expert” for people attending Beef Week to stop by and inquire about areas of interest or attending CQU. I agreed to do it:

Not a very good use of marketing time, but at least I can say I’ve been to Beef Week! If you remember my blogs from last June, I reported on what’s called “The Show” here, which is equivalent to our fall fairs back in Canada. Beef Week struck me as a massive version of The Show. Lots of cows. Lots of denim, checked shirts, big belt buckles, and cowboy hats.

Another fun item this week – our neighbour Graham has a blood orange tree in his yard and he brought some oranges over for us (as in Hugh) to make juice:

So delicious!! Scott and Christine – this reminded us of Malaga when Hugh and Scott would make fresh orange juice for us in the morning 🙂

Now an obligatory bird photo – I’ve previously posted that there is a Nankeen Kestrel on our street and occasionally he would land on our fence. Well this week he came down to the pond! He even jumped into the main pond and swam for a really brief moment:

But then he decided that he preferred to have a bath in the bog filter (apologies for the audio in the background, we had the F1 race replay on):


And an obligatory spider photo:

I’ve previously posted about the St Andrew’s Cross spider who groups his legs together so he takes the form of an X and then also builds an X in his web. This one was much smaller than the others we’ve seen and his stripes were white instead of yellow. Between Google and our knower-of-all-things friend Leigh, we discovered that this is the male St Andrew’s Cross spider – the larger, yellow ones are female.

A pretty sunset one night this week:


I’ve been hearing about the amazing Northern Lights back in Canada, showing their gorgeous colours much further south than usual. We were getting the “Southern Lights” in Australia and New Zealand too. If you’re on Facebook, look up “Higgins Storm Chasing” and also “Glenn Adamus Photographer” to see some of the colours captured here. The ones on the Higgins site were 8 hours north of us or else way down in NSW or Tasmania. But Glenn Adamus is a local photographer and the ones he took were right outside of Yeppoon! One of Glenn’s photos even caught a meteor in the sky, incredible. We don’t have a good view south from our yard and we were otherwise occupied last night (see celebrations #5 and #6 below) but if the geomagnetic storm is still on tonight, we’ll head out somewhere to see if we can see any of the Aurora Australis (I’ve never even seen the Aurora Borealis!).

OK, onto the 6 celebrations in 1 weekend. First, my wonderful brother-in-law Gary celebrated his birthday yesterday. Second, my brainiac niece Reese graduated from uni on Friday:

Reese graduated at the top of her class and is off to law school this fall! And there is her beaming proud mom, my sister Andrea – no wonder when mom, Andrea, and I get together, everyone thinks there are 3 generations with me being Andrea’s mother, sheesh, how does she look so good?!? And what is extra special about this photo is that my mom is there. You will recall that my mom spent 2 months in acute and intensive care in hospital Jan-Feb with some unknown infection attacking every organ. Well, mom decided there were too many fun adventures ahead and she somehow beat the mystery infection and here she is walking, driving, and simply looking fabulous. That’s celebration #3, an especially Happy Mother’s Day and I can’t wait for mom and Andrea to visit later this year!

Celebration #4 is that the damn ensuite bathroom renovation was finally finished on Thursday. What an ordeal. I miss Aaron and Hope. Hopefully we don’t have any more renovations at this point, but if we do, I think we’re just going to have to fly Aaron and Hope down here to do the work because I do not ever want to go through the hassle of how things work here. The bad news is, the attention to detail in the workmanship isn’t the best and I’ve just had to let go of my usual quality expectations. The good news is, the bathroom is done and I’m really happy with all the design choices Hugh and I made. Here is a photo from the listing when we first looked at the house a year ago:

And then after Hugh painted it my favourite lavender colour:

If you look at the second photo above, you can see this strange opening above the right half of the vanity. We have not been able to figure out what its purpose was – if you closed the bathroom door, someone could still poke their head in to chat with you?!? And it meant there was only a partial mirror above the sink. Very weird. But we got used to having the shelf on the bedroom side of the opening, so we decided to not drywall it over on the bedroom side (thank goodness, seeing as finding a decent plasterer here seems more difficult than finding a unicorn) and instead put a mirror backing onto the new mirror in the bathroom so we could still make use of the shelf while getting rid of the weird hole in the wall:

We loved the acrylic shower walls we put into our homes in Dundas and Stoney Creek, but nothing remotely like them exists here. So we did the next best thing, Wet Wall Panels. We debated between something normal (white, grey) or bold. Well, you know me and colour on walls – we went with bold! And I love it!

Celebration #5 is our first “Aussie-versary” (thank you to Sharyn for the great word). We landed Down Under on May 5 a year ago so we decided to have a party to celebrate. Hugh found cutlery and serviettes to represent our 2 countries’ colours and I put out the tablecloth I just had made last month with an Australian Aboriginal design:

I made a few dishes that contained red and green to add to the CanAussie festivities. Yes, you read that right, Justine was in the kitchen. I even learned how to use our induction cooktop for the first time – miracles never cease 🙂

You’ll remember that Hugh won a massive meat tray in a raffle at the golf club and also a leg of lamb in a raffle at the RSL (equivalent of the Legion in Canada), so this was our opportunity to BBQ it all up. And Young Rob Z brought over his smoker and did his usual out-of-this-world job smoking beef and lamb. In Canada we use the word “potluck” but here it’s “bring a plate” (which I interpreted too literally the first time I heard it and thought that we should bring our own plates and cutlery :)) and wow, did we have food galore. Barb Z made butter tarts and introduced all our Aussie friends to this Canadian delicacy. Those of you who know us know that Hugh and I very much enjoy sampling butter tarts and even hosted a “butter tart off” at our house in Dundas a number of years ago. Well, if Barb had entered her butter tarts in this contest, she would have won – they are the best butter tarts we’ve ever had! Perfect pastry and perfect filling. And were they ever a hit with the Aussies!

It was such an incredible night. We had joked when we arrived a year ago that my job was to have a job and Hugh’s job was to find friends. Well, did Hugh ever excel at his job! We had 44 people over and there were 15 others who couldn’t make it. How lucky are we! Our amazing neighbours, pickleball friends, golf friends, sailing friends, and trivia/music bingo friends all joined us to celebrate. It was impossible to get everyone caught on photo or video, but I got a bunch of the gang anyway:


What made the celebration extra special is that our friends Kevin and Sarah brought their guitars and entertained us throughout the night:




This last song is called Riptide by Aussie singer Vance Joy. I hadn’t heard it prior to moving here but it’s quickly become one of my favourite songs (and it’s from 2013 – something from outside of the 80’s that I like!) and I just loved hearing Sarah sing it. Kevin hadn’t played in over a year and Sarah is fairly new to the guitar and this was only her 3rd time playing while singing – pretty darned impressive duo! I was too busy listening and howling along that I forgot to video Kevin doing his signature Little Red Riding Hood by Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs – will definitely have to get that on video to share with you one of these days, he does a fabulous job!

Unbeknownst to us, Kevin and Sarah had a little surprise planned, and this relates to Celebration #6 for the weekend – Hugh’s and my 15th anniversary! I’m not sure what the over-under was on this at the curling club, but I’m feeling quite confident that no one expected 15 years 🙂 Kevin and Sarah made a little dance floor for us and they had us dance to You Look Wonderful Tonight:


I have to say, I got a little teary. Kevin and Sarah didn’t know it, but they happened to choose the song that was the first one Hugh and I ever danced to. I’m getting teary again now as I type this. What an amazing night with amazing friends.

To all our new Aussie friends – if you ever question the impact you have on the world, don’t. You make a difference. You welcomed us into your lives and have made this huge transition so easy for us. From the bottom of our hearts – thank you.

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