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I don’t even know where to start for this week’s blog! So we’ll start with the birds. I’ve been trying to get a photo of the Masked Lapwing for you pretty much since we arrived. I see them everywhere but I either don’t have my camera ready or they fly away. I finally managed to get a photo on Saturday:

On the link I’ve provided above, you can click to hear their call – sort of sounds like they’re scolding you!

And just one other bird photo this week, the Pied Cormorant that we saw at the Crocodile Farm (more on this in a minute):

So this makes 3 birds I’ve seen with “pied” in the name – Pied Butcherbird, Pied Currawong, Pied Cormorant. I had no idea what “pied” meant, so I figured I’d better look it up – it means having two or more colours. So this makes me wonder – what colours was the Pied Piper wearing? There is a rabbit hole you can go down if you decide to look into the history of the Pied Piper.

OK, back to the theme of this week’s title. Many of you may have watched the 1967 movie Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, which deals with racism. One of the reasons I chose this for the title of this week’s blog is because Australia had a referendum yesterday to decide if the constitution should have a clause added to create an Indigenous advisory group to the government. This was to be one of the stages in addressing the Uluru Statement from the Heart. Being new here, I don’t claim to understand all the subtleties and implications, so my take on this may be simplistic. At the university, I am really impressed with how kind and supportive our Indigenous colleagues are in helping us better understand their history and small steps we can each take to be wiser and more inclusive in our approach. Every single interaction I’ve had has felt positive and compassionate rather than punitive. I think we have a lot to learn from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander approach to helping us understand. So I think the Yes side for the referendum correctly identified that having an official voice at the table is one way to help us all come together. There are of course other ways of doing this and getting more Indigenous people elected would be one. And the advisory council would simply be that, advisory, so it could result in spending piles of money with nothing actually changing – to me, that was the main argument against the constitutional change. Some vocal elements on the No side went a bit crazy in suggesting that this would result in the UN taking ownership of private property across Australia – I think that was quite a stretch, but it played well on social media. The result was No – on average about 60% voting no and 40% voting yes. There is worry about the division this referendum has caused. I remain the eternal optimist and I look forward to learning more about Indigenous history here and ensuring my teaching and my behaviour in general reflect the compassion that my Indigenous colleagues have shown me.

The referendum did let me learn some interesting things about elections in Australia. First, it is mandatory to vote – how cool is that! Every single citizen has to either mail a ballot in or show up to an early voting station or a day-of voting station. Many things in Australia are far more technologically advanced than what we have in Canada (the Australian Tax Office, equivalent of CRA, sends text messages and there’s an app to do all your tax filing on, as one example). But strangely, there is no online voting option. The other difference is that you can campaign for your side on the day of the election – and in fact, people can volunteer to stand out front of voting stations on voting days to try to get their message across to people arriving to vote. Yikes! So I totally love the mandatory voting idea and I totally hate that people are allowed to try to influence you on your way in to vote.

The other meaning of this week’s blog title is more literal – people coming to dinner! One of the best things about getting our house all together is having people over. We were so excited that Rob and Barb were our first dinner guests a few weeks ago. And little did we know – they are euchre players! So multiple rounds of euchre followed dinner and we had an absolute blast. Reminded me of when Rob and Val and Hugh and I would have our dinner and euchre nights. And I continue to be a horrible player – apparently only ever playing while drunk does not allow the brain to learn or retain strategy terribly well. My Canadian partner Rob and my Aussie partner Rob both deserve awards for tolerating my many missteps. One of these days, I will look up strategy while sober and actually learn to play. I’ve been saying that for many years now and still haven’t gotten around to it, so Mr Zoop, be forewarned :).

This week we had our first overseas visitor! “Overseas” as in over the sea between here and New Zealand – Hugh’s longtime curling friend Dan came to visit for a few days. On Friday we had lunch at the marina:

On Friday night we met our friends Leigh, Darren, and Doug for another music bingo night:

Check out the fun quote at Yepp Brewery where the bingo was held:

Another fun sign that Dan posed in front of yesterday in downtown Yeppoon:

We took Dan out to Emu Park where the beautiful war memorial is. The first time Hugh and I went there, we somehow missed the Singing Ship, so we made sure we saw, and heard, it this time:


If you turn your volume up, hopefully you can hear a bit of the song the wind plays – haunting and beautiful. And the Galahs were happily flying about.

We had dinner at the Japanese restaurant at the Capricorn Resort on Saturday night – I’ll have to tell you about this no-longer-in-operation resort in a future blog!

Today we went to the Koorana Crocodile Farm. What a great way to spend a couple hours!! We learned a lot and had a pile of fun. Here are a couple croc videos:



Fortunately, we were not the dinner for any of the crocs.

Here are photos of each of us holding a small crocodile. This little fellow is 3 years old and normally a saltwater croc that age would be over 1.5 m long. But he is a runt and they have 3 little ones like this at the farm. Saltwater crocodiles are very temperature sensitive. They are unable to eat when their body temperature is below 25 C and they don’t do well when their body temperature is above 35 C. This little croc almost died due to high body temp either before or during hatching and they nursed him back to health. They have to carefully control his climate to ensure he continues to survive. It was neat holding him – he’s quite soft and squishy underneath!

The man in the picture is John, the founder of the farm 40 years ago. He had been living and working with a tribe in Papua New Guinea where the crocodile is revered. When he came back to Australia, he started the first privately owned crocodile farm. Check out the size of this crocodile skin (and it’s actually not that big):

So much more to say about this fabulous place but I’ll save it – when you come to visit, we’ll take you here :).

Now, we saw LOTS of crocodiles today. But what freaked me out the most was not a crocodile, but a frog. Before the tour started, I decided to use the toilets. As I entered the women’s toilets, there were 2 women and a man taking a photo of the toilet bowl. I didn’t know what to make of this and so I nervously joked, “There isn’t a crocodile in there, is there?” And they responded, “No, there’s a frog in each toilet.” WTF?? Sure enough, there is indeed a frog living in each toilet, and they alert you to this with a sign on the inside of the stall door:

So I was trying to decide just how badly I had to pee (“wee” in Aussie). I was about to decide that I could easily hold it for a few hours but then I thought Justine, put your big girl pants on (or take them off in this case :)) and you can do this! So I checked out both toilets (didn’t I talk about toilets last week too? Yikes, need a new hobby) and I could see the feet of a frog in one of them and nothing in the other, so I chose the other. Sure enough, no big deal peeing but when you flush and the water rushes down, the frog’s feet do indeed slide into the visible part of the toilet bowl:

He’s a little bigger than I was anticipating!! The one in the other toilet had much smaller feet. So that’s just a heads’ up for when you come to visit and we take you to the crocodile farm – make sure you pee before you leave the house.

While on the subject of frogs, we have heard but not seen the white-lipped tree frog. When we first heard this sound, we thought it was a dog barking inside a metal shed – it is incredibly loud. Here is a recording:

I think he’s in our shade garden – will have to get a flashlight out one night to look for him.

Still on the topic of critters, we saw a tiny gecko in our house last week. He just comes out in the evening. To give you an idea of how tiny he is, here is one photo showing him as a speck on the floor in front of the window and one photo zoomed in:

Cute and harmless, so we just left him be and hoped we wouldn’t step on him accidentally. Then one night we saw a second one (dead this time – they’re so tiny, I’m pretty sure whatever spray is left behind to kill termites and cockroaches in the walls is probably not kind to geckos) so Hugh got the gecko onto a piece of paper and carried him outside.

We saw him the first time on Thanksgiving Monday when Hugh surprised me with a Thanksgiving dinner:

This brings us back to our dinner theme. It’s been interesting comparing the prices of things here compared to Canada. Fresh fruit and veg are way cheaper – not surprising when you have a year-round growing season. And the sales they have on food here are amazing – check out some of these prices:

Yes, that’s Chicken Kyiv on the right – $1.50 a piece! And $1 for 1 kg of absolutely delicious carrots, wow!

In contrast, prepared foods can be quite pricey. We wanted to make the creamy cheesecake with cherry pie filling on top. Nope, that’s not happening, check out the price of cherry pie filling here:

A 175 g bag of chips is $6 (but fortunately they go on sale for half price reasonably often). Eating out at restaurants tends to be pricey – you’ll easily pay $20-30 for an entree at a regular restaurant, $40-60 at a fancier restaurant. Now that includes tax, which is 10%, and there is no tipping here, so a $30 entree here is equivalent to a $23 entree in Canada. But still. Oh – that reminds me of another difference. An “entree” here is an appetizer, the main meal is called a main.

Wood is also incredibly expensive here. There is very little hardwood over here, much to Hugh’s chagrin, and so it costs a small fortune. As an example, here is a used stair riser with a chunk out of it. The size is 2″ x 10″ x 36″.

Hugh was shocked when a guy at a garage sale was selling it for $20 – until he learned that new, they cost $120 a piece!!

OK, some random photos and I’ll call it a day. Sunday October 8 was World Pickleball Day so we had a celebration at our local club and everyone wore yellow and brought yellow food to the potluck:

Hugh is another step closer to the front pond being complete, just need to add plants:

The pond is directly outside my favourite room in the house, so it is fabulous sitting there looking at and listening to the pond!

Funny photo to finish the week off – this just appeared in my Facebook feed this week:

Obviously we’ll have to visit this winery one of these days :). Have a terrific week, everyone!


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