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January 26 is Australia Day. There is a lot of angst about this date because it represents the day in 1788 when Great Britain’s flag was raised in Sydney Harbour, thereby paying no respect to the Indigenous people who had lived here for millennia. As a newcomer to this country, who loves it here so much, I am torn – I want an opportunity to celebrate all the great things about this country, but I also don’t want to celebrate the atrocities Indigenous peoples have had to endure since Great Britain claimed the land as their own. This article was written by a professor at CQU and it makes me wonder if March 3 would be a better day to celebrate all the good things about Australia and all its peoples. If you’d like to know the meaning behind the design of the Australian flag, click here.

Australia Day at the Capricornia Cruising Yacht Club is when they do the annual Blessing of the Fleet. 2024 is an extra special year for the club as it is their 50th anniversary. Our friends Kevin and Jo invited us to join their mob on their boat to partake in the festivities. The boats all lined up to go past the CCYC for the blessing. Not that we’re competitive, but… we’re quite sure our boat and crew were absolutely the best decorated! Not only did we have Aussie flags everywhere, we also temporarily renamed the boat Australia II and hoisted the Boxing Kangaroo flag, to commemorate Australia’s America’s Cup win in 1983:

Kevin and Jo supplied us all with the Australian colours gold and green (no idea how those colours came about when the flag is red, white, and blue) and their 10-year-old granddaughter Maddi expertly choreographed a dance for us all to do to the song Down Under. I still howl when I think back to when she suddenly yelled out, “C’mon fellas, we need more hips!”

Needless to say, we made a lot of people at the marina smile on Friday 🙂

The yellow and green rugby jerseys were way too hot to keep on after we got off the boat, so Hugh and I changed into the Aussie T-shirts my sister Andrea sent us for Christmas. They were a hit!

Maddi also painted the Aussie flag on my face for me 🙂

Have I mentioned that it’s hot here in summer??? Geez, we go through clothing like crazy these days, we get so sweaty so quickly. And the “cold water” tap actually produces warm water. The humidity somehow feels different here. When we look at the percentage humidity, it looks the same as it would be on July days in southern Ontario (80% or so). But we sweat so much more. Maybe it’s different due to the sea air? In Canada, Hugh never used to sweat, even on the hottest most humid days, but here he is drenched. The upside to the humid, salty air is that my skin has improved dramatically. I no longer have dry skin (used to use hand and body lotion on a daily basis in Canada and no longer need to). I still get eczema intermittently and still have some rosacea, but both are significantly improved. I have, however, developed a rash on my forearms and neck in the last 6 weeks – doesn’t itch, it’s just red blotches. Apparently it could be due to post-hysterectomy hormonal changes, or heat rash, or a rash from accidentally swimming in coral spawning in Bargara in early December (the rash started right after that, so that’s the current guess – have started antihistamines today, will see if that helps).

We have found that we can watch a lot of curling on YouTube, so we’re trying to watch some of the provincials going on right now. It’s certainly weird watching people dressed in winter gear on ice when it’s over 30C here!

We finally found a classic Australian spider in our front garden this week!

This is the Golden Orb spider. Same type of spider as I posted a photo of back in May when we were up in Byfield closer to the rain forest – that one was much bigger than this one, so I assume this one will continue to grow. He’s out of the way so we shouldn’t accidentally run into him. But they don’t tend to bite humans anyway. I blame Hugh for the spider’s appearance because when he kills/stuns flies with the bug zapper, he takes them out to this garden and jokes that he’s feeding “Boris the spider” (Who song) – apparently he was :). It would be nice if the spider were to eat Australian tree frogs as we now seem to have one living in each of our 4 down spouts. $&*#!@ tree frogs.

I forgot to post this photo from Melbourne last week:

This is Hugh standing with a monument of his relative. No, not the seagull, the bronze statue of Matthew Flinders. We’ve been waiting for some sort of special treatment here, given that Flinders is Hugh’s great, great (not sure how many great’s) grandfather, but so far no one seems to care :).

Here’s a fun photo – this is the waiting room of our acupuncturist here, I just love that we live somewhere where a waiting room can be outdoors 🙂

Now here’s something for my entomologist friend Marvin. We have house flies here that look just like house flies in Canada. But their behaviour is very different – they have no concept of appropriate social distances! They have no fear of humans and just land on you, near you, on the drink in your hand, on the food on your plate, with no sign of trepidation whatsoever. Apparently this is even worse in the Outback. We didn’t really see any until summer approached, but man, are they ever annoying! Our friend Rob Z suggested getting these spinning things to keep them away from food and they actually work!

The “blade” part is soft, you can stick your hand in and not feel a thing. But flies don’t like trying to get by them. Normally we wouldn’t need them inside but our ensuite bathroom renovation started this week so the doors were open a lot and in came all the flies. So we are now the proud owners of 4 of these fly spinner things as well as 6 mesh covers – when it’s not so hot outside, we hope to be able to eat on our patio in peace again!

We were fortunate to miss another cyclone this week (Cyclone Kirrily). It came closer than the one at Christmas, but was still 8 hours away and fortunately, it wasn’t nearly as devastating as Cyclone Jasper. Cyclones and hurricanes are the same thing, they’re just called cyclones in the south and hurricanes in the north. Here’s an interesting fact: cyclones in the south spin in a clockwise direction while hurricanes in the north spin in a counter-clockwise direction (“anti-clockwise” in Aussie). This is due to the Coriolis Effect. You will see in the linked site that water spinning down sinks/toilets the opposite direction south of the equator vs north is an urban legend and people who set up sinks a few metres north and south of the equator and get tourists to pay to witness the effect are just charlatans :). While technically the Coriolis Effect would impact any directionally moving wind/water, it really needs to be a large amount for the effect to occur – it would not be observed by water in a sink or tub going down a drain.

Speaking of toilets (it’s been awhile since I included toilets in a blog post, thought I’d better include something this week :))… In Canada, if you haven’t cleaned the toilet in awhile, you’re going to get a pink mold growing in the bowl around the water line. Here what we notice is that you get a slimy brown substance in the very bottom of the toilet bowl. No idea what the difference is, obviously some mineral or other in the water. The tap water here is fabulous for drinking though, so not sure what’s up with the brown slimy stuff. As long as Hugh stays on top of cleaning each week, it’s all good :).

Moving from toilets to work, I have an exciting (I think…) update – I took over as Head of Course for Speech Pathology at the beginning of January. Our truly amazing leader Barbra was asked to apply her knowledge and skill to another course at CQU this year – so now I am trying to fill her shoes, which is no easy “feet” (ha ha!). Fortunately, we have a small but mighty team and Barbra has laid a solid foundation on which to build. Oh, more Aussie terminology, at least at CQU – they say “course” to mean what we in Canada would call “program.” So I find myself still in the initial learning curve of how all the teaching-related things work here while simultaneously jumping into another really steep learning curve for the management side of things. Barbra is a fabulous mentor so hopefully I learn quickly!

Thank you to everyone who has asked about mom! Unfortunately, she continues to stymy the medical profession. They have done an insane number of tests and all have come back negative. She develops one set of symptoms, then they seem to go away but she then develops another set, and so on. It seems like mom may have combatted whatever the original mystery infection was (she hasn’t had a fever in over a week) but is still fighting to recover from the after effects. After sleeping for a few days solid, she woke up on Tuesday and was almost like her normal self! My sister called me and the 3 of us had a terrific conversation, just like normal – I make fun of my sister, she makes fun of me, and mom tolerates us :). But then she gradually drifted back into non-stop sleep. We continue to be optimistic and we are grateful that she was so healthy and active before all this started because her physical and mental fitness is certainly what is helping her through this most frustrating of times. My sister is by mom’s side almost every day and is her biggest cheerleader – a huge shout out to Andrea!

So this is the last blog that you will see coming from my gmail address. The Yahoo and Gmail rules come into effect on Feb 1 so I won’t be allowed to use my gmail address to send out the blog anymore. My wonderful web person Marie is working on figuring this out before next Sunday. I will be sending the blog from a new email address but I don’t yet know what it will be – it might go into your spam filter, so if you haven’t seen anything from me next Sunday, please check your Junk mail and whitelist whatever email address I’ll be using. You can also navigate directly to the blog site at to check if you’ve missed any posts. Have a terrific week as we roll into February!

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