Select Page

Well I promised you another flying creature, so here you go – fruit bats, also known as flying foxes. We happened to be outside on the west side of our house at sunset one evening and we noticed literally THOUSANDS of what we thought were birds flying from north to south. That time of night is when we typically hear the lorikeets – they fly in large groups and make a massive racket. However these flying creatures seemed larger than the lorikeets, they were dead silent, and they were flying in a straight north-south direction (the lorikeets seem to fly like starlings at home, swooping together with no clear direction). I tried to get a picture, but my camera doesn’t work well in this light:

You can see some black specks in the sky – triple or quadruple the number you can see for how many were actually there. And it was a non-stop flow from north to south. I posted in a Yeppoon Facebook group to see who might know what these birds are, and we also asked a neighbour. That’s when we learned they’re not birds at all but bats! They fly so differently from the bats at home, which tend to zig zag around. Apparently during the day, they hang out (literally – upside down, as you do when you’re a bat) in the mangroves in Ross Creek, which is just to the north of us. At night, they fly back to somewhere else south of us. And there are indeed tens if not hundreds of thousands of them. One of these days we’ll wander down to the mangroves to see if we can catch a glimpse of them. On Friday morning Hugh woke up around 5:30am and the super moon was shining right into our bedroom window. What made it even cooler was that the flying foxes were heading back to the mangroves, so there were thousands of bats flying in front of the full moon – what a cool photo that would have been!

Here is another pretty sunset photo taken from our front yard:

The last few days we’ve had some controlled burns happening in the area. They are worried about a particularly bad bushfire season here, paradoxically because last summer was very rainy. Rain causes more grasses to grow and grasses catch and spread fire very easily. So they do controlled burns in advance to help prevent out of control burns. I took this photo on Thursday night and you can see some beautiful smoke patterns over the mountains:

Not so beautiful overnight as the smoke wafted into town and it smelled like we were living in the middle of a camp fire!

Hugh has been loving having his bikes! He found a local guy who could re-assemble them for us and give them a tune-up. The problem with living at the top of the hill is that the ride home ends with a climb, no matter which way you go! And, adding insult to injury, our driveway is steep too. But Hugh has been doing really well – he’s even fitting into shorts that he hasn’t fit into in awhile! Here he is coming home on Saturday morning after biking down to the farmer’s market to pick up some fruit, veg, and our favourite danishes and croissants:

Hugh has also been continuing to work on building our rainwater irrigation system. It’s really quite impressive!

You can see one of our bottlebrush trees just behind Hugh in the 3rd photo above. We often get Little Friarbirds in this tree and I finally caught one’s song on camera:


Moving indoors, I have another photo of a room that is done in our house. Our friend Rob came over on Friday to help Hugh hang the super heavy mirror we used to have in our front hall in Stoney Creek. This is where being under a “don’t lift anything heavy” rule comes in very handy for me :). So here is our dining room:

You can see two skinny windows with the fern photo in between. One of them we have had cracked open at the bottom with the screen pushed out since we moved here on June 23 so that we could temporarily run the cable from the Starlink dish (which we just had on the ground in our front yard) into our house. Our friends Rob and Geoff had both consulted and had come up with a good plan of where and how to put the dish on our roof so that we could bring the cable down right into my office, which is in the middle of the house and so a nice spot for the wifi router. We just hadn’t gotten around to doing it. Well, we decided to prioritize getting it done this week as we learned that we are heading into snake season (Sep to Apr) and it suddenly dawned on us that the cracked open window was perfect for a smaller snake to slither into our house. I had never really thought about snakes getting into the house but I decided to join an Australian Facebook group dedicated to learning about snakes. The idea was that with more education, my comfort level around legless slithering creatures would improve and I would know how best to respond when I happen across one. I should probably have reminded myself that prior attempts at education did not have the desired result. When I was around 10, I went to a snake show at the local library where I petted a snake (and discovered that they were indeed not slimy) – nope, no change in fear level. And then 22 years ago when I was in Australia at a wildlife refuge, I volunteered to have a python wrapped around me. Nope, no change in fear level – he twitched or burped and I felt a slight tightening and panic gripped me (more so than the python) as I thought what a terrible idea this was and how this story about the hapless tourist getting squished would read in the papers the next day. But, not learning from my lessons, I joined this snake Facebook group. I have to say, some of the education is indeed helpful and I think my fear may have reduced by a solid 1%. However, over the course of a single day, two damn members of the group posted photos of pythons in their house – one slithering in through an open window and one that had gotten into the kitchen and was casually wrapped multiple times around a kitchen utensil holder on the bench top (“bench” is Aussie for counter). Holy crap. Needless to say, that window needed to be closed asap! So our friend Geoff came over to help Hugh yesterday and we now have our Starlink dish perched nicely on top of our roof with the cable entering the house from up there instead of through a snake opening in a window:

Adding to the alarm of the impending snake season was this email I received at work:

And then while we were in Brisbane this week, this video taken in Brisbane went viral (be sure to turn the volume on – listening to the family’s commentary is hilarious).

Oy vey. But here are some helpful hints from the Aussie Snakebook group:

And all this just when I was finally being brave and reaching into our mailbox with my bare hands! One of our neighbours says he only sees about one snake a year in our area, so fingers crossed that continues.

For a quick medical update – I continue to have a remarkable recovery. Friday was a bit so-so, experienced some notable sympathetic nervous system responses, but that sorted itself out by Friday night and it’s been back to clear sailing since. Leigh and Darren picked us up from the airport on Thursday and lovely Leigh brought a pillow so that I could put it between the seatbelt and my belly and she also brought me these amazing lavender roses from her garden:

I’ve been doing walks around the mall no problem – a bit slower than usual and I get tired out much more easily, but really very pleased with how much I can do. Dusted the house this morning, hung a bunch of laundry (but Hugh carried the basket for me each time), and all while only taking 4-5 Panadols (equivalent of Tylenol) a day. I’ll probably reduce that further tomorrow. I speak with Dr Morton on Tuesday to hear the lab results and I’m anticipating good news there. Today Hugh and I went out to Wreck Point to get my fill of ocean. This really is such a beautiful place to live!

And I did enjoy a real gin and tonic last night:

So the remaining challenge is dealing with the piles of paperwork my health insurer is requesting to help them ascertain if this was a pre-existing condition or not. Given that the first symptoms appeared in late May and there is no sign of any spread anywhere, it really seems that we caught this super early and I can’t believe they would have any reason to consider this pre-existing (there’s no way I could have gotten on a plane in the condition I was in). But I do understand that they probably don’t like the idea of forking out thousands of dollars for a client who’s only been paying premiums since May. Right now, I’m in for over $30,000 so am hopefully going to get most of that back once they complete their analysis.

In random unrelated news, my health insurer informed me that our premiums are increasing by 20% on October 1.

I had actually been surprised that Hugh’s and my premium together was only $470/month, given our ages, so going up to almost $565/month for the two of us isn’t awful as it’s a really good plan. Once we become permanent residents, then we’ll be eligible for Medicare and won’t need as comprehensive a private plan.

Speaking of financial stuff, we had to file our Aussie taxes this month. One very helpful thing right now is because I’m not eligible for Medicare while on a work visa, I get that full premium back (it gets deducted at payroll), so that’s a nice windfall that will help with the Mastercard bills while awaiting our health insurer’s determination. What is super interesting (and simple) about the Aussie income tax system is it is purely related to income. So we arrived at the tax office with all these questions about can we deduct this or that, etc. and the guy looked at us like we had three heads. The only deductions are items specifically related to earning income – so I bought a computer monitor and printer, some text books, etc. and those are all deductions. But they don’t use the income tax system here for anything else, no credits for this and deductions for that – just pay your tax and move along. Ridiculously simple!

Today is Father’s Day in Australia! Hugh has messaged his daughter to indicate that he now expects to be recognized on both the Canadian and Aussie Father’s Days :). A couple weeks ago was Speech Pathology week in Australia – in North America, we have the whole month of May, but here it’s just one week in August. Funny the little differences. Here is Lammermoor Beach mid-afternoon on Father’s Day – completely over-run with at least 6-8 beachgoers:

You may remember way back in one of my early posts, I shared a photo of the terrifying Travelator that people use to get up and down between floors in a mall. I was sure these were accidents waiting to happen, especially at the particularly steep bends in the path near the top and bottom. And watching people going down them with their grocery carts, aacckk! Well, we have now used these several times and witnessed hundreds of others using them successfully, with no ambulance calls required. We also learned that the wheels on the grocery carts lock into the Travelator to hold it in place (that would explain why the 90 year old ladies didn’t seem to have any problem preventing runaway carts down the ski slope ramps). We finally brought a cart down ourselves this week so we could get photos for you:

While we were at the grocery store today, we noticed this very cool idea:

Last item for this week as this post is getting rather long. In order to continue my transformation to being a proper Aussie (actually, I’m not sure if this is country-wide or just in Queensland – will have to ask), I finally bought the critical element of any real Aussie’s wardrobe – a pair of thongs!

Now I blend in :).

Have a terrific week and I’ll send another report next Sunday!

Share This