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Before getting into this week’s Aussie experiences, I wanted to follow up on a couple of last week’s. First, our friend Ray sent this interesting article about vegemite in the NY Times last week (definitely worth reading – right click on the photo to open in new tab, can’t figure out how to get the link to show instead of the photo):

And second, learning to read music on a page and also keys on the piano is hard! I decided to cheat for awhile:

My piano teacher is allowing me to get away with this for a little bit, but she made it clear that she will make me take the cheating labels off soon :). I think I’ve got the keys on the piano figured out but still have to really think when reading notes on the page. It would be a lot easier if the treble and bass clef notes were the same :).

OK, onto this week’s events. Heat and humidity figured prominently on Thu and Fri! We had been trying to not turn the air on until Dec 1 (just like we used to try to not turn the heat on until Nov 1 in Canada), but we gave up this week. We turned the air on to sleep on Thu night and then Friday got even hotter. Check out the humidity on Fri at 6:30am (outdoor readings on the left, indoor on the right):

And then this was at 2pm on Fri afternoon:

While the humidity dropped during the day, the temperature really increased and at 2pm, when our indoor temp hit 31C, we couldn’t take it anymore (especially with the addition of hot flashes :)) and had to turn the air on! Our neighbours told us that the temp on Friday was as hot as they ever see it in Yeppoon (different story for Rockhampton – gets much hotter there, 30 min away from the sea breezes). It sounds like El Nino may have us in for more of these high temps this summer:

The heat disappeared by Sat morning and was replaced by rain. We have had rain almost all weekend. Very much needed, but we are completely out of practice of managing grey skies! It’s so dark and dreary when we’ve had 6 months of sun. We stopped at Wreck Point yesterday and took this video because it reminded me of Lake Ontario in November:


You can hear the wind on the video. This was the 2nd windiest I’ve ever experienced, only surpassed by a visit to Niagara Falls a few years ago when we could barely hold our position standing. At Wreck Point yesterday, I had to hold onto the railing a couple times. We were supposed to go sailing with Kevin and Joanne on Saturday but not with that wind! They came over for a coffee on our covered patio instead :).

I’m not sure if they measure temperature differently here or if we’ve acclimatised (note the Aussie spelling) really quickly, but I find it chilly when it’s below 25C now. I actually got goosebumps when we were sitting on the patio yesterday morning and it was 24. I had to resist going in to get a jumper (Aussie for sweater)! And when it was 35, it felt more like 30-32 to me. Throw in a hot flash, though, and no more shivering :).

In November in Canada, I would wait for a warm day to put Christmas decorations out. Even if we weren’t turning the lights on until Dec 1, we would take advantage of a warm day to put them out so our fingers wouldn’t freeze off. Here it’s the opposite – we took advantage of the cool temperatures yesterday to hang our Christmas lights:

I’m guessing some of you are picking yourselves up off the floor right now, thinking this photo must be doctored, there is no way Hugh Widdup would be involved in hanging Christmas lights. Well, I’m not sure what happened to him. Hugh has refused involvement in exterior Christmas illumination for the past 20 years and yet here he is hanging Christmas lights. And simply hanging them wasn’t enough, when it got dark, he went outside and turned them on! On Nov 18! My plan was to wait until Dec 1, but no, this alien version of Hugh wanted them on right away. I think his heart grew 3 sizes when our neighbour’s little girls were so excited to see the lights – their faces just lit up and Hugh could not not resist those big eyes and smiles!

Hard to believe 60 metres of lights fit into this little container:

The string is SUPER thin, like nothing I’ve seen in Canada. I guess no wire insulation required with the warm temps here?

While we were out hanging the lights, we saw a family of Masked Lapwings wandering down the street. One parent was up front and the other was bringing up the rear as they tried to herd the 3 babies in the right direction:


So cute!

Earlier in the week, during our usual sunny days, the water colour was so turquoise:

This photo was taken from Wreck Point on Tue – same place as the grey skies and gale-force winds on Sat. According to my barometer, we should have sunny skies again on Tue. Will be glad to see the last of the grey skies, but at least our 6 rain tanks will be good and full now so we can go back to watering our gardens with rainwater.

Some random images from this week. A couple dogs in the back of a ute:

Dogs in the back of utes and pick ups is standard here, even on 100 kph highways! I get nervous watching but the dogs seem to quite enjoy it :).

Saw this posted on Facebook this week:

This very much matches what I’ve experienced here! Aussies have a very different mental set for distance. Hugh and I have booked a few days in Bargara and Bundaberg for early Dec. That’s about 4 hours from here. People don’t think twice about driving 4 hours, even just for a couple days. There is a really strong caravan (Aussie for RV) culture here – so many people own caravans and those who don’t, rent them. It is commonplace to take driving trips to places 15-30 hours away, traveling vast distances through the outback with only intermittent petrol stations and cell service (I can see why Starlink’s roaming service is popular here). We decided to start with a 4-hour one way trip. In April when I have to go back to Brisbane for a cancer follow-up, we’re going to drive instead of fly and that will be a meagre 8 hours each way. Baby steps :).

This week we got a renovation started in our back bathroom. Will post before and after photos when it’s done (guests visiting us will love their bathroom!) but for today, just wanted to share some differences in the approach to renovations here. First, all rooms seem to have crown moulding (called “cornice”) here. But it’s not an “extra” – they don’t actually finish the seam between the wall and ceiling here, they just throw the moulding on top to cover it!

Another difference is that “tradies” (Aussie short form for trades people) really specialise (note Aussie spelling again :)) here. So instead of having one person who can do the drywall, tiling, and simple plumbing and electrical, there is a different person for each part. This really causes a bottleneck in getting anything done. We were able to get the tear-down done and drywall panels up with our builder, but now we have to wait until the plasterer is free so he can do the mudding, and then the electrician to cut through the drywall and reconnect the outlets and switches, and then the builder can come back to finish the trim. We were supposed to have our ensuite bathroom renovated before Christmas but the tiler had something come up, so the entire project is postponed until March now. Seems highly inefficient to me! But I do love the apprenticing system here. Our builder had 2 young fellows with him doing the simpler work and it was just great to see young people eagerly learning a useful trade!

Alright, let’s end with frogs. You’ll remember from an earlier blog post that I shared the bizarre sound made by what I thought at the time was the white-lipped tree frog. I now think it’s the Australian Green Tree Frog. I’ve discovered that the white-lipped one doesn’t live this far south. And we figured out yesterday why our frog’s call sounded like a dog barking in a tin shed – because he seems to be living in our gutters! We were in the front yard when the sound started and so we could better localize it, and then Hugh banged on the gutter where it was coming from and the sound stopped. So take the sound they make and add the reverb of metal to it, and that’s what accounts for the sound we’ve been hearing for a few months. Yesterday, we heard 2 distinct frogs. I’m wondering if it’s mating season. Apparently it is common for the Australian Green Tree Frog to live in gutters because there tends to be water there and therefore a good place to lay eggs (except I’m not sure what happens with heavy rain like today – wouldn’t they get washed down like the proverbial spider??). On the surface, that seems fine, I don’t mind frogs and while the sound they make can be rather loud and annoying, it’s sort of fun knowing it’s coming from a small frog. However, there is a significant problem with having frogs in gutters, as we learned from our friends Rob and Barb a few months ago. They had tree frogs in their gutters. One night, Rob heard a loud thump on his roof. Before going out to investigate in the dead of night, he decided to check the security cameras on his phone and what does he see where the tree frogs were – a python staring directly into the camera! The video he sent still gives me nightmares so I won’t subject you to the same torture. But this has me concerned that the frogs in the gutters may attract the attention of a python. Now as our friend Rob says, pythons are “huggers, not biters”, so we shouldn’t really be too concerned about pythons. But I still don’t want to encounter one unexpectedly. We need to check our gutters soon to ensure there isn’t debris in them as we’re in bushfire season, so we’ll have to be very very careful (insert Elmer Fudd here :)).

Hope you all have a good, python-free week!

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