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I know what everyone is waiting for is our first snake sighting and I’m sorry to disappoint but, happily, still no snake sightings. However, I am pleased to report on our first spider – drumroll please…

By “first spider” I mean first one we just happened across. You will remember from one of the first blogs in May that we visited a cool pottery place up in Byfield in a more rainforest-y area and the owner took us over to a spot to show us a Golden Orb Spider. And then a month ago, a contractor told us there was a dead/dying Huntsman Spider, aka tarantula, on the road in front of our house. I don’t count either of these because someone had to take us somewhere to show them to us. But yesterday, I happened across a spider on the wall above the washing machine in our garage:

I have zoomed WAY in for you to see this little fella. He is a Northern Green Jumping Spider. He is described as the largest of the jumping spiders, which means most of them must be really tiny because this guy was only 1cm long! But there you have it, folks, my first natural Australian spider encounter 🙂

Onto more fearsome creatures.


Hugh has continued his work on the front pond and we decided it was at a point where we could introduce some goldfish. So we released them into their new home and, I’m not exaggerating, within about a minute, a Kookaburra landed on the fence by the pond while we were both standing there only a couple metres away. You will recall that I posted a video awhile back of a Kookaburra whacking a gecko against the fence several times before swallowing him whole so this wasn’t a good sign. The Kookaburra took up his post on the bird bath and was quite obviously looking down to the new pond:

When Hugh built the pond, he used cinder blocks to support the bird bath and filter boxes because they provide the fishies with lots of hiding places. After we released them, they pretty much went straight to the bottom and hid in the cinder blocks (called besser blocks here) under the bird bath. The Kookaburra seemed to know exactly where to focus his attention. He then jumped down to stand on one of the filter boxes that you can just see the edge of at the lower right of the photo above. Again, he kept his eyes focused on the area under the bird bath. All of a sudden, he swooped into the pond and right back out again. As I watched in horror, he opened and closed his beak a few times, but – I didn’t see a fish going down his gullet. He was in and out so quickly and only went an inch or two below the surface, so I can’t believe one could have come up to the surface and have been caught that quickly. We then kept an eye out anytime we could to see if we could do a head count of fish in the pond. But the damn fish really seem to enjoy hiding in the besser blocks! Finally a couple days later, 3 of the fish went zooming around the pond for a minute before retreating to their blocks. We haven’t seen the white fish since we put them in the water, and we haven’t seen any of them in the last few days, so I’m not sure this was a good use of $24. I’ll keep you posted.

We needed pond plants and picked up a couple from the pet store where we got the fish until we had time to go look at better options at the local nurseries. Geez, pond plants are EXPENSIVE here – a lily (you know, the kind Kermit likes) costs $27! If we’re going to go through fish at 6 bucks a pop, we can’t be spending that kind of money on lily pads. Well, as luck would have it, there is a drainage ditch outside of the Bunnings in town where lilies grow freely. So Hugh parked on the far side of the parking lot and very nonchalantly walked over with a rake to scrape a couple lilies out. I’m sure anyone watching would just assume he was a city employee tasked with cleaning up drainage ditches :). He brought them home, soaked them for awhile to get the dirt off, and they are now happy members of our pond:

They seem to like their new home as they have each had 2 flowers open up since we put them in (the flowers open first thing in the morning and close up around noon). We put a couple canna lilies in, they were only $7 each, but they can only be partially submerged, so we’ll have to keep our eyes peeled for other drainage ditch thieving opportunities.

I finally have a photo of the Pied Butcherbird for you – this is the one with the most beautiful song you can imagine, who often serenades me in the mornings. It took me a long time to figure out how to distinguish between a Magpie, a Magpie-Lark, and a Pied Butcherbird (they’re all black and white), but have got it nailed now. Here is a Pied Butcherbird having a drink from our bird bath:

We also saw this one, which I think is a juvenile Pied Butcherbird (more brown than black):

And then a brand new bird sighting in our back yard yesterday! This is the Olive-Backed Sunbird (a female so doesn’t have the iridescent blue on her throat):

She was flying around our flowering shrubs with her long, curved beak – very finch-like in their movements.

And now, you’ll want to be sitting down for this bird photo. I’ve been trying for a couple months to get a photo of this elusive creature but they are very skittish and don’t tend to sit still long enough for me to get my camera on. Finally nabbed one this week – not the best photo as he was far away and the background doesn’t make him terribly visible:

Yes, ladies and gentleman – the House Sparrow is almost as common here as at home :).

Couldn’t resist taking yet another video of some lorikeets having a bath, they just make me smile:


And here is a bin chicken (aka Ibis) standing on our antenna (did I tell you Australia has free TV?):

In other natural occurrences in the area, turtles start laying their eggs on the Yeppoon beaches this month (October to January each year). The local turtle group kicks off the season with a “lights out” event to remind people living on the beaches to turn their lights off to prevent confusing the turtles:

The turtles need to head toward the water and if lights are on the other direction, they can get confused and head toward the light instead. Apparently only 1 in 1000 turtles survive past adolescence so this time of year, everyone is encouraged to pay close attention to their behaviour around the beaches – lights off when possible, avoid 4x4s making big ruts on the beaches that turtles can’t climb over, clean up plastic, etc. Hopefully we’ll get to see some turtles one of these days!

We had a surprisingly emotional moment this week – we went to the Livingstone Shire Library to get library cards. For some reason, getting library cards choked us both up a bit – it felt like a kind welcome to our adopted home, a signal that we are part of this community. My workload here is much more manageable and I’ve been enjoying reading for pleasure again. I decided to start with Australian authors – it’s really fun reading stories that take place in our new backyard, recognizing town names and smiling at words and customs that wouldn’t have made any sense to us 6 months ago.

One of the neat phenomena we’ve noticed here is the prevalence of shirts embroidered with the company name and worker’s first name. So many people wear these, whether self-employed, employed in a small business, or employed in a large business. I really like it! I was excited to buy my first CQU shirt a month or so ago:

(Scott and Chris – you’ll recognize the picture in the background 🙂 )

I think some time ago I mentioned the light switches here and how they go the wrong way (you press them down to turn them on – this messes me up to this day and we’ve been here almost 6 months!). Another electrical difference is that you have switches to turn outlets (called power points) on:

I REALLY like this! I always hated if the vacuum or an appliance had been left on when it was last used and then you plug it in and see sparks. None of that here – you plug the item in and then turn the outlet on. Much more to my electricity-fearing liking! We lucked out and found an excellent electrician here and it’s been interesting seeing some of the differences. For example, there are no junction boxes – the wires just come through the wall and into the outlet.

Speaking of different building codes, the slopes and angles on driveways and roads are just wild here. As much as I really miss Ruby (my Model S), I don’t think she would have done very well here – too low to the ground to manage slopes and angles like this:

And it’s not just driveways. Some of the roads here are so steep you can just hear the transmission wearing out on the way up and the brakes on the way down. And strangely, when people park on those slopes, we never see them turn their wheels to prevent a runaway car. I’m hoping everyone is using and carefully maintaining their parking brakes… But it does make you think how much simpler infrastructure building is when you don’t have to plan for snow and ice!

On Friday night we had a work dinner at a restaurant along the foreshore in Yeppoon. Rob and Hugh decided to head a few doors down to a new brewery that just opened that day and shortly thereafter all the other guys went down to join them. When all us gals were done chatting, we thought we would go down and meet them – but they were on their way back. So this is a prime example of the emphasis on work-life balance here – on opening day, a Friday, with 50 people on the patio, the brewery decided to close at 8pm. They’d been open since noon and it had been a really busy day, so 8pm was when they shut the bar down and people had to leave when they finished their drinks. Can you imagine that happening in Canada?? Hugh reported that the beer was very good so I’m sure we’ll be back and we’ll just be sure to arrive early 🙂

OK, I’ll finish up this week’s episode with photos of the backyard pond that Hugh’s been building:


This video is from yesterday and Hugh’s done even more work today, but I’ll save those photos for next week 🙂

As you’re settling into the cooler days of fall, things are starting to warm up here as we’re now halfway through spring. In Yeppoon, the daytime highs are 28-30 and in Rockhampton, they’re 30-35. Yeppoon has a lovely breeze off the ocean so we still haven’t had to turn the air conditioning on, but we do have ceiling fans on from time to time.

Have a great week, everyone!

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