• If we're going to be in your city and you want to get together for a cup of coffee, leave a message at our hotel, or send me an email ahead of time at shakos@sympatico.ca - we'll try to rendezvous with you. That would be great fun!
  • Sat. Oct. 20 - Arrive in Christchurch, New Zealand and stay at the Copthorne Central Hotel, phone 03 379 5880.
  • Mon. Oct. 22 - TranzAlpine Train ride to Franz Josef, staying at the Franz Josef Glacier Hotel, phone 03 752 0729.
  • Tues. Oct. 23 - Queenstown, staying at the Novotel Gardens, phone 03 442 7750.
  • Thurs. Oct. 25 - Te Anau, staying at the Village Inn, phone 03-249 7911.
  • Fri. Oct. 26 - Dunedin, staying at the Dunedin City Hotel, phone 03 470 1470. Hope to meet Chris Davies for coffee while we're there.
  • Sat. Oct. 27 - Mount Cook National Park, staying at The Hermitage Hotel, phone 03 435 1809.
  • Sun. Oct. 28 - Back at the Copthorne Central Hotel in Christchurch, phone 03 379 5580 till Oct. 30th. We'll then take the ferry to the North Island and stay with Beulah from Oct. 30th, till November 5th.
  • Mon. Nov. 5 - Pick up a car for a self-drive tour to Auckland. (Biting my nails as you guys drive on the wrong side of the road - giggle). Stay at the Lakeland Resort, Taupo, phone 07 378 3893 on the 5th, and at the Heritage Rotorua on the 6th and 7th, phone 07 348 1189.
  • Thurs. Nov. 8 - Arrive in Auckland and stay with Lizzie and her husband John. I've promised to teach an ink and oil rouging design for Lizzie while I'm there.
  • Mon. Nov. 12 - It's all over but the curtain calls. Fly from Auckland back to Los Angeles, where we will stay a week with my aunt. A good chance to shake off some of the jet lag.
  • Sun. Nov. 18 - Back in Canada. All good things have to come to an end. The memories, however, will last a lifetime.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Oct. 26th - Sorry Folks

Everything has been conspiring to prevent me from keeping our blog up to date. We're having a fantastic time, and I'm sorry not to have been able to share more of it with you.

First, we did't bring along our ethernet cable, and some hotels didn't provide one - so no internet hookup for us. Then we left our power converter 110/220 behind in one of the hotel rooms and had to wait for about 10 days for it to be mailed to us - again no internet hookup. Some nights I was just too dad-blamed tired to turn on the computer. We had hoped to be able to use a friend's computer and access the internet using our flash memory stick, but it wasn't compatible with her computer - starting to see a pattern here? One night I was able to get on the internet at the hotel and was able to add a little narrative to the blog - but blogger was having trouble and I couldn't upload pictures. Then the next hotel didn't have in-room internet. I tried again tonight - figured I'd start by answering some emails - they all got lost in outspace some place and couldn't be retrieved and it doesn't look like they've been sent - so if you expected a reply from me - it's out there circling overhead in cyberspace.

Can you tell I'm a little frustrated with the whole process at the moment?

I'll try again when we get to Christchurch in a couple of days. Otherwise it will have to wait until I get home. Then I will at least post some of the pictures of this amazing trip. In the meantime thanks for having checked what blog I was able to publish.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Thursday, October 11th - Bronte and Palapah

Another long day of driving for Barb - but she seems to be used to it. We loaded up on groceries and hit the road. Once again we stopped along the way at a bakery for lunch - Barb seems to be able to find a bakery wherever she goes!

Most of the trip was on paved roads. Alongside the roads are "agistment" lands. These are areas where one can take animals to graze if your property doesn't have enough feed. The government has dug ground tanks every so often so that there is water for the animals. It was strange to see animals wandering alongside the highway - no fences to keep them off the roads - between the sheep, cattle and kangaroos, drivers have to be alert.

As we drove along, we had a chance to get a good look at the countryside. It's very flat, very few houses seen from the highway, very dry - but it wasn't as bare as I thought it might be. There are a fair amount of trees and bushes - and the type and amount of vegetation changes frequently, so it isn't boring - just kind of lonely.

We stopped at Barb and David's new place - Bronte - which is just a short drive along a dirt road off the highway. Barb showed us through the house - which has definite potential - but loads of hard work ahead of them to get it fixed up the way they want it. The house is surprisingly roomy - good sized rooms - and I think about 5 bedrooms - one of which will end up being Barb's studio. It's a good sized room and she has already set up a bookshelf for her folk art books, etc. Some of the rooms are going to be gutted and completely redone, others basically just need painting and new carpeting. She has planted a couple of small trees inside the fenceline for the homestead, and they seem to be doing okay - one is a maple! She gave them all a watering while we were there. There are a fair amount of trees in the area of the homestead, and Barb told us about her plans for gardens, etc. Like I said, there's a lot of hard work ahead of them, but it doesn't all need to be done at once. First priority is to install the new poly water tanks for the house and for the stock. Apparently there is good underground water on Bronte - and they have plans to put down a new bore - then they will not need to rely on the ground tanks and be able to pump water to the poly tanks as needed.

Off we went again - to the thriving metropolis of Ivanhoe - I don't know what the population is - but it's a very small town, but the closes town to Palapah approximately 45 kms away. Quite a way to drive if you need a loaf of bread! After Ivanhoe we turned off the paved road onto a dirt road which we followed for 35+ kms until we came to the laneway into Palapah - about 5 kms. Everything in this area is measured in kms. not feet or inches (grin). All the properties are very large.

David fired up the bbq, Barb tossed together some potatoes, onions and mushrooms, and David cooked them on the bbq along with some lamb chops and sausages. David does his own butchering and makes his own sausages. It was a yummy meal, put together in a minimum of time.

Wednesday, October 10th - Echuca to Deniliquin

We started the day with a delightful cruise on the Murray River - in steam paddle boat. While we were waiting we browsed through a little pioneer village they have set up there, and looked at all the artifacts. They had a steam powered tracter (huge thing) running back and forth along the street and were giving kids a ride.

The Murray river is very low, but the paddle steamer can operate in abut 4 feet of water so we were okay. It was a beautiful morning, and it was lovely to sit outside in the sun and watch the river go by.

Off we went again, heading for Deniliquin where we were staying the night at Barb's father-in-law's (Jack Butcher)house. He's about 87 and lives on his own, and he made us very welcome. We ran a few errands in Deniquin - a town of 8200 - one of the largest towns in the area - and went back to enjoy dinner cooked by Jack. I finally understood what "crumbled chicken" was. It was "crumbed" or "breaded" - I had seen this term on menus - and figured it was little pieces (crumbled) like popcorn chicken or popcorn shrimp at home. Funny how we use different terms for things.

Tuesday, October 9th - On our Way to Ivanhoe

Managed to make our way to he airport so that we could meet up with Barb Butcher. She spotted me right away because of the blue sick scarf tied around my Aussie hat - thanks again for the scarf Gwen - it sure came in handy. I wouldn't have been able to pick Barb out of a crowd, because she has changed her hairstyle since the last saw a picture of her.

Barb had already drive about 4 hours that morning to meet us, so we decided that we would overnight along the way to her father-in-law's house at Deniliquin. We stopped for lunch at a small bakery in Heathcote and continued on to Echuca - we had first heard of Echuca the day before when we were watching the movie on the bus. We checked into a nice small hotel and then wandered the streets of Echuca, browsing all the little shops, and picking up some sweets in a lolly shop.

Barb took us to supper at a club in Moama - which is apparently across the state border, just a few kilometers from Echuca - Moama also is where the True Blue folk art convention is held. There seems to be a number of these clubs in Australia - you just have to sign in - Gwen and Bob took us to one in Sydney, and we went to an RSL club in Cairns. They have good food at reasonable prices.

Monday, October 8th - Great Ocean Road

The Great Ocean Road is a very hilly, winding road along the ocean from Melbourne to Adelaide. Of course we were not able to travel the whole distance today.

The road was dug by hand by Anzac "diggers" who had returned from WWI. For some of them it was the only work to be had. It's an amazing stretch of roadway, and is now paved, but still tricky to drive.

Along the way we stopped at a beach and watched some surfers. It was fascinating to watch them catch a wave, stand up, and ride the curl of the wave till it broke. It wasn't a very warm day, so all the surfers were geared up with wetsuits.

Next stop was Loch Ard Gorge and London Bridge - which used to have two arches, but one has collapsed. Apparently two people were stranded on the remaining part of the bridge when it collapsed and had to be rescued by helicopter.

We also stopped at Port Campbell National Park where we visited a very old cemetery from a ship that crashed on the rocks. Only two people survived - a woman and the cabin boy. The shipwreck is featured in the moving The River Aways Runs, which we watched on the bus on the way back to Melbourne. We took a different, more direct route back as it was about 1-1/2 hours faster, and also because the bus has difficulty negotiating the bends in the Great Ocean Road in the opposite direction.

Sunday, October 7th - Melbourne

Up early, and Mike and Beth took us to the airport for our fight to Melbourne - our itinerary looked like it was a 10 minute fight (grin) but that was because Tasmania had gone onto Daylight Savings Time and Victoria had not.

After some hassle finding our shuttle driver - who then kept us waiting till another flight came in, we got driven all over Melbourne, circling the same streets time and again till he finally dropped us at our hotel - 1/2 hour before we were to catch our tour bus to Phillip Island - no lunch for us today.

Our tour was to see the little penguins - also called fairy penguins - which are only about 13 inches high - I believe the smallest in the world. They come out of the ocean at dark - sometimes diving back into the surf before they decide it's time to cross the beach and climb the hills back to their nests to feed their young. It's amazing to see these little creatures climb such steep hills on their little tiny legs - and they do so quite quickly. The young know they're coming and kick up quite a clamour!

Saturday, October 6th - Hobart

Beth's husband Mike went golfing this morning, so Beth, George and I headed for the Salamanca Market. It's a huge street fair with hundreds of booths selling everything under the sun. Very colourful and very busy. After leaving the requisite number of tourist dollsars behind, we headed back to the house. In the afternoon, Beth and I dabbled in a bit of paint in her studio, and had a nice relaxing afternoon. Around suppertime we noticed that Eastern Rosellas had come to her feeder, so we watched them and tried to get some pictures. Australia has gorgeous birds! Beth made us a lovely curry dinner, and we dawdled over a nice glass of Tassie wine and chatted away the evening. Our visit with Beth was was too short, but it was so nice to be able to meet her.