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I think we’re getting used to this hot Christmas concept! Well, that’s in the context of having air conditioning in the house and car, of course 🙂

(The image with the title of this week’s blog came from my friend Leigh – I just love it!)

The week before Christmas, we went with our friends Leigh and Darren to an amazing light show at the Rockhampton Botanical Gardens called Radiance. The images you see on that website are not exaggerated – it was amazing! If this comes to Rocky every year, we will go see it every year, we were that impressed (and only $13 to get in). Here are some photos and videos of the light/laser/hologram displays:


My favourite was definitely the last one, the lasers with dry ice. I could have stood in that forever, it was mesmerizing.

They even had a snow-making machine!


Oh, when we first arrived and were parking, there were piles of Flying Foxes (a large variety of bat) going overhead! I previously told you about these because we see thousands of them at sunset flying from north to south just west of our house. But the night we were at Radiance, it was still light out and I was able to get a video of them for you:


We kept our fingers crossed that they didn’t poop on our car because apparently their guano will pretty much instantly eat through paint. Fortunately, all was good.

The next night we went out to another Music Bingo at Yepp Brewery with Leigh and Darren and Rob and Barb:

We were thinking back on how lucky we’ve been to make such amazing friends here! Fellow Canadians Rob Z and Barbra we met through work; Leigh and Darren we randomly sat next to at a music bingo; Geoff and Sharyn we happened to play pickleball with in our first night out; Kevin and Jo (and Rod) needed a 4th for golf on Hugh’s first day at the golf course; and Rob P and Lyn were another random lucky golf match-up. We find ourselves amongst a truly wonderful group of friends! It really has been a lucky year.

In other Aussie news, our lime tree has started producing its first lime!

Very much looking forward to making G&Ts and vodka/sodas with our own limes! The lemon tree has lots of new buds on it too. I think we’re supposed to cut the buds/fruit off the first year to encourage more growth next year, but it’s just so darned exciting having lemons and limes growing in the yard that I don’t think we’ll be able to make ourselves do this!

I’ve previously shared food items with slightly different names compared to North America (e.g., Weetabix is Weet-bix here, TJ Maxx is TK Maxx here). Here’s another one:

And it seems quite popular here! I remember liking it as a kid but I don’t think I’ve tried it as an adult.

We started our Christmas Eve off with a 7am game of pickleball! Yes, you read that right – Justine was out of the house before 7am.

We played with our friends Kevin and Jo, Rob and Barb, and Matt and Sarah. Rob and I are NOT morning people, so it took awhile to wake up. But with the heat, you really do want to be out playing by 7am because by 9am it’s pretty toasty in the sun. This past Friday we met up with Geoff and Sharyn, Rob and Barb, and Anthony to play at the somewhat less horrible hour of 8am and I was dying for shade by 10am. But I can definitely see pickleball becoming a Christmas Eve tradition!

Hugh had planned on making his traditional turkey dinner for the 2 of us on Christmas Day, but on Christmas Eve our neighbour Graham stopped by and invited us to join their family for their Christmas Day lunch. So Hugh and I had our turkey dinner on Christmas Eve instead:

Turkey is probably the least common Christmas meal here – it tends to be ham, lamb, or seafood. We had ham, prawns, and oysters with our neighbours on Christmas Day and we ate outside on the patio – how cool (or hot :)) is that, having Christmas dinner outside! You can see Graham and Bev and the plethora of food in this photo:

They, their kids, and their grandkids were so welcoming – they really made the day special for us! One of their grandkids was working at McDonald’s (commonly called “Macca’s” here) and this got them onto the topic of eating hot chips with ice cream. What??? They couldn’t believe we hadn’t yet experienced this Aussie delight, so when a couple of the other grandkids went to pick Lily up after her shift, they were instructed to bring back a small fries and vanilla soft serve for us to try. This is definitely one of the more bizarre food combinations I’ve ever had:

You dip the French fries into the ice cream. French fries are up there as one of my favourite foods and I’m not sure adding ice cream improved them. But it was interesting to try!

Seeing my shirt in this photo reminds me, with it being in the 30’s at Christmas time now, our old Christmas sweatshirts would be just that – sweat-shirts. So we went out to buy new Christmas gear:

Later on Christmas Day, we started another new tradition – going to the beach! It was about 6:30pm when we got there and that struck me as good shark-feeding time, so I elected to stay on the sand. But Hugh wanted to go for a swim (he lived to tell the story :)):

It was almost a full moon that night and we stopped on the way home to get this photo:

Boxing Day we spent with a bunch of friends at Geoff and Sharyn’s place and of course, lots of laughs ensued! Somehow, I don’t seem to have any photos from that. But Boxing Day was also the day when Hugh started painting our kitchen cabinets and I do have a photo from when he started removing cupboard doors:

Should be done later this week so will post before and after photos for you when ready.

On December 27, we went down to Causeway Lake to have fish and chips for lunch. I hadn’t been there before, it’s about 15 min from our house:

This will be where we go to do our first kayaking in Australia – nice lake to paddle around and only very rare sightings of a crocodile 🙂

We haven’t seen all that many seagulls here (compared to what we’d get at home) but we definitely saw them at Causeway Lake while having our fish and chips! Apparently Australian seagulls have adapted well to living off French fries, just like Canadian ones. This was the variety begging for food at Causeway Lake:

Not that I would ever want to call a gull pretty, but this one sort of was. It’s a Silver Gull. Not aggressive, just waiting for a chip to land his way. Per the link I’ve provided, it sounds like these gulls are over-breeding and making life difficult for other sea birds, but we have honestly rarely seen many around here. Maybe they’re more plentiful in the bigger cities.

On Thursday we went to Kevin and Jo’s out at the marina for dinner and and a game of cornhole broke out! Kevin and I took on Hugh and Joanne and I don’t know what happened, it must have been the wine, but I had the best game of my life! Those of you who know me know that throwing things with any degree of accuracy isn’t one of my strong points. And we were playing indoors so the noise of the bags hitting the board didn’t bother the neighbours, so I very carefully scanned the environment way to the left and right of the playing area to see what might get broken with one of my errant throws – yet somehow, the red wine aiming fluid took over and I played well! Kevin and Jo had a neat twist on the game that I thought I would pass along. The scoring is just 3 if the bag lands in the hole and 1 if it lands on the board – there is no 2 for bags hanging precariously onto the edge of the hole. The first team to 21 wins – BUT, you have to get 21 exactly. So if you’re at 20 and end up scoring 2 or more points, you get bumped back to 13. Hugh and I both really liked this version of the rules and it will be how we play going forward!

We’ve had unsettled weather this past week. We’ve been fortunate because 10 hours to the north and 10 hours to the south have both had horrible storms. Cairns of course was hit by Cyclone Jasper and then worse than that, it was immediately followed by additional massive rainfall. Some areas had 2 metres (yes, 6 feet) of rain over a few days. The flooding has been awful. We would freak out in Canada with 6 ft of snow, I can’t even imagine that amount of rain. And then Brisbane and south have had crazy thunderstorms with deluges – 10 people died because of these storms and flash floods. On Friday evening, we saw storm clouds building in the distance:

But we didn’t get much in Yeppoon. Last night we did get a wild storm – the first thunderstorm we’ve experienced here! This was the sight of the storm starting to draw close:

Lots of rain and wind but other than a couple plant pots (“pot plants” in Australia, still cracks me up :)) getting knocked over, no damage to the house or yard. And the storm knocked the heat back a bit. This afternoon it’s just 32C, whereas this was the temp yesterday afternoon when we were driving back from Rocky (Boxing Day sale at Anaconda – getting ourselves all sorted for days at the beach :)):

But we weren’t going to be beaten by the heat! We decided to sit on a shaded patio at the beach to have lunch and enjoy a WhatsApp catch-up with our friends back home, Kevin and Cathy, Cheri, and Laurie. But boy, was I ever hot after that – home to the air con we went!

Hugh has been working on his golf game a lot lately and he’s been really pleased with the improvements he’s made with his driver and iron shots – but then his putting suffered. He asked me to come with him to his golf course so I could video his putting so he could figure out what he needed to tweak. The best part of this is that the golf course is one of the best places to see kangaroos! And lo and behold, a mama and her little kangaroo were eating some grass nearby. Just how cute are they:

Well, it’s New Year’s Eve and we’re off to Rob and Barb’s for dinner and swimming in the pool and watching the Sydney NYE show – and of course playing euchre (Rob and I need to defend our interstellar championship from the last time we played, and this time, I’ve actually looked up some tips on strategy, so look out Hugh and Barb!). Queensland doesn’t change to daylight savings time but New South Wales does, so right now Sydney is an hour ahead of us. But Rob assured us they do a tape-delay on TV so we can pretend we’re celebrating New Year’s at the same time as they do in Sydney 🙂

One quick favour to ask of all of you. My mom hasn’t been feeling well, she’s had a fever of unknown origin for a few weeks and has been in and out of hospital each time it gets really bad. My mom is incredibly strong and always bounces back from anything sent her way, so this is pretty unusual for her. They’ve run a million tests and can’t seem to figure out what’s wrong. The good news is that her fever is finally down today and they’ve moved her to a hospital with a better chance of figuring things out. I tend to believe that positive vibes have a way of helping people, so I thought maybe if all of us from around the globe could send some get well vibes to my mom in North Carolina, that would help her roll into 2024 feeling more like her usual spry self!

Sending you warm wishes for a 2024 that makes you smile 🙂

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