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Entry 26C - Fourth week - Wildlife Hospital

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26C - Australia Diary – Hospital #4 May 9 – July 13 – Fourteenth Week

PHOTOS COMING

Saturday, Aug 12 – Rainy all day

VIBES Card – Share a breath – Give Michelle a chance and help her feel comfortable with the jobs, was what I got from this draw.

Ruth’s last day and she accompanied us to the joey pen for bottle-feeding before she left for Cairns. I will see her in December and know that she will be someone that I will recall fondly when I think of my time in Ravenshoe.

With Ruth leaving, she had decided to lighten her baggage and leave some stuff behind. I am now the owner of two new sets of beige trousers (that will replace one of my trousers that is soiled and I am not able to clean it adequately) and a danskin jacket that will be good for Europe. I am already beginning to plan what I will leave in Ravenshoe (the sleeping bag that I bought for Marlborough and several items that I bought at the local thrift shop for working at the hospital) and what I will ship home just as I leave Australia. I am also trying to decide if it is time to send one piece of luggage home or wait until after Spain. No idea at this point, but I am still pondering. I know I will do a major purge after South Africa as I will not longer need clothes for working around animals and will most likely send my boots and sandals home as well.

Michelle and I began the entire round of pens to have her see the entire scoop of duties. It began to spit rain that lasted all day. As I was filling water buckets, I began to weed a flowerbed that was a wonderful break from netting and wire. Michelle and I continued weeding until lunch, when the rain increased and looked like it was here to stay. Harry said to take a break today, as the weather was awful, so Michelle and I went into Ravenshoe for internetting. 37 birthday emails awaited me. It was a lovely afternoon. David Maurek got back to me with patron saints for gardeners (including Adam and Mr. Christopher), but I selected a lesser-known saint, as I figured he wouldn’t be very busy. So I asked Phocas the gardener, to assist with the pumpkins. I heard from Annie who was still in Scotland due to the terrorist plot in England. She says she will be able to fly home in 5 days.

When we returned, we were met my Harry who said he had spent 90 minutes retrieving 14 rabbits that had escaped from one of the lower outside pens. Ooops! Michelle learned the lesson of closing a pen completely as you leave the area. I remember learning that lesson when I let an entire pasture of cows out when I was leading trail rides one summer. Harry was very kind about it.

The rest of the afternoon found me reading, a quick dinner and then off to the caravan for the night. Slow days will be in short supply once I get to South Africa, so I plan to savor them while I can.

Sunday, Aug 13 – Market at Jacobs Bridge

Rained all night and another grey, snizzly day.

We all jumped to and fed quickly and Harry, Michelle and I went off to the market. It was sort of a flea market/produce market along the side of the highway, not far from the hospital. Harry bought veggies and some plants, Michelle and I bought hot donuts and I found three books. I know the weight, the weight, but I may be able to read them and leave them in Ravenshoe or in Sydney at least.

As it was still piddling when we returned, I decided to take advantage of the two days of rain to fork up the last bed in the garden and try and get some mulch mixed in. Michelle helped, but even with two days of rain, the bed was not what I would call workable. By the time we were finishing, the bus with the girls from St. Bernard’s College arrived to help. Harry had then tackle the still-cyclone-ravaged veggie garden with the downed papaya tree. At the end of the day, they had so much fun, they want to return every Sunday and finish the veggie garden and then continue with other tasks as assigned by Harry.

Phocas the gardener is already working 10 PUMPKINS SPROUTS IN VIEW TODAY! I nearly did a handspring!

With the colder, rainy weather, we have several new faces in the kangaroo pen this morning. A large agile wallaby Pepper, who was so stressed after the cyclone, she arrived back in the pen, demanded bottles and stuffed herself into a pouch meant for someone considerably smaller than she. This afternoon, we also have a little rock wallaby with baby in pouch that Karin recognized. Hopefully, the return of these little guys does not signal an approaching storm. We will see.

I spent a lovely afternoon reading and lounging and listening to Australia outside my caravan. What will I remember most? The dingo howling, the kookaburra’s laugh and their cute little faces as they arrive for handouts, Curleeta, the curlew without toes that arrives nightly for her minced meat, and the lovely magpies with their tuneful songs. What I will remember specifically from Ravenshoe is the sound of the rock wallabys landing on my caravan in the dead of night and the little hopping feet outside under the awning. I will also remember little Seddy’s call in the am as I go to the dunny reminding me that his bottle is late, and how Skippy, the pretty face wallaby, closes his eyes when he drinks his bottle.

PHOTO –Skippy and bottle

At dinner I received my two sponsorship certificates for Ashes and Princess Julie. Ashes is doing so much better, she is feeding her self when presented with mice and rats. My goal is to have her aviary completed before I leave so that she can really spread her wings and fly around. I also had the chance to review the revised brochure that Ruth and I worked on for the hospital. It looks good and they are pleased is it ready to go to the printer. It feels wonderful to see that your input has made a difference.

Monday, Aug 14 – Wiring and Netting Ashes aviary

Another rainy night but we awoke to the most marvelously bright and from what I could see, complete rainbow. We will have fine days this week I feel and it will feel good to get a lot done in the short time that I have left.

Michelle and I worked on the wiring of the owl aviary with Michelle working on her twisting wire technique. After 5 posts, she had it! We had all the wiring done today and we felt very proud of ourselves and very tired after two days off.

During out day, Harry had a call about an owl caught in barbed wire. She came in and she is a beautiful barn owl, with the feathers around her face making a perfect heart. She only appears to have damage to one wing and as we approached her cage, she did her I AM BIG routine and was very impressive. She is lovely.

PHOTO – Barn Owl

12 little pumpkins, all in a row!

Tuesday, Aug 15

13 little pumpkins, all in a row! Yippee!

Today, we worked on the netting of the owl aviary and it was not going as smoothly as I would have liked. We were expecting the arrival of two wwoofer’s from Germany but they did not appear to make the bus. Harry has asked me to show Michelle and the two girls all the different things that need to happen with the netting and wiring, so that they can continue when I leave.

At one point, Harry came by and said that the netting was almost too tight, more like wire. I guess I was in “keeping the charging rhino in his pen” mode again. Oh well, we eased up a little. Tomorrow we tackle the corners and the doorframe that I did not want to attempt in the wind today. I will ask the universe for sunny, cool and mild to no wind tomorrow as I might be up a ladder a lot tomorrow.

Tomorrow, we also bottom the rabbits, which will be a little tiring and hard on the back, but it is wonderful when they all have clean cages. It will also be my last time to totally clean the guineas. There are several that appear to be large with child, but no one has presented yet. Harry said they have looked this way for months and are only supposed to gestate for 28 days. We either have false pregnancies, very fat tummies or something very wrong with several of the guineas. I have asked Francis for his assistance on this matter.

Today, I also took video of Carlotta, the sulfur cockatoo, who has had a damaged wing for over 10 years, but had previous lived in a school classroom. She has a lovely trick of bowing to you if you say that she is pretty or bow to her.

PHOTO – Carlotta

Wednesday, Aug 16

15 little pumpkins smiling at the sun!

Today was going to be the day that Michelle and I finished the aviary. Nice thought but didn’t quite make it.

Before lunch, we bottomed the rabbits, which was quite a job, especially the outer cages that are now full of 6-14 medium size rabbits, all trying to get out as you are trying to clean. It is definitely not a one-person job, and I was concerned how Michelle would manage without assistance. I know, not mine to worry about. As we finished the last cage, which is now in the chicken house, a chicken introduced herself to the mix. I was crouched and trying to juggle my flake of straw, four rabbits and one chicken when I twisted my left wrist. It is not badly hurt, but painful when I flatten my hand and push with it.

We took a well-deserved rest and then I puttered around in the garden, counting little pumpkins sprouts, watering and weeding the three beds, two sweet potatoes and one of soon-to-be pumpkins. Next Michelle and I went to the aviary and tied the netting to the support poles. We figured we would get back to the corners after lunch.

After lunch, Harry, whose back is hurting a lot today and who took a morphine at lunch without any improvement, decided it was time to put up the moveable pen that has been laying in pieces in the cage yard. He said it would take 10 minutes. We began to assemble the pieces and he found that the wire was on the wrong side of the panels. Then, most of the panels had been pre-drilled and numbered, but when they painted over them, the numbers were covered up and forgotten. Add to that, the panels have been laying out in the elements and wind and are not quite square anymore, and you begin to get picture of the puzzle we were trying to reconstruct. With Harry on the drill, me with my wrist on holding the two pieces together and Michelle on panel support and nut and bolt fetcher, off we went. We had 5 pieces set after about 45 minutes and when were about to add the last piece, when we found that it was two-inches shorter than the rest. Then Harry remembered that he had used one section over at the eagle enclosure, so off we trooped with the short piece to replace the one that we were removing from the eagles. We got it back and it fit, with a little finagling. Now it was time to find the roof pieces – two were needed. The first one we tried looked like it was going to be okay, until when we just about had it in position, we realized it was too short and it fell inward, nearly missing Harry and gouged a large rip in the wire near the corner. Luckily the second one fit and with more huffing and puffing and Michelle and I holding our breath, Harry managed to get it bolted together. Harry remembered that they final piece is covered with shade cloth and it the panel we have to keep picking up and readjusting at the other end of the yard every time the wind blows. What is left after our adventure is 5 pieces of a cage, 2 with doors and we aren’t even sure that all 5 pieces are the same size. Luckily, I won’t be around for that puzzle construction.

Tomorrow is my last full day of work at the hospital. Harry keeps telling me that I get the day off. I keep telling him that when I am on a placement, I want to work as I vacation between placements. Plus, he gives us two days off every week and I don’t feel comfortable lounging while the rest of the group is working. My goal tomorrow, is to get the four corners finished on the aviary. We will see.

More about daily life at the hospital - Michelle, as the last one to arrive, is on dish duty. The kitchen has a gas range and stove and counters and shelves for supplies. There is one fridge that is cold, and another that is for storage of things in bags and packages. There are two microwaves, one that works and one that is used as a breadbox. We found that you cannot use the microwave and the toaster oven at the same time or you blow a fuse. When that happens, we unplug the cold fridge, wait three minutes, reset the power strip and plug the fridge back in. An insurance adjuster would gasp in horror if they saw the nest of wires at most of the power strips.

Outside the kitchen and around the corner of the building is a stainless steel sink. Under the drainpipe is a bucket to collect the water. The sink is stoppered and filled with water pumped up from the river. Next to the sink is a baby bathtub, filled with the water for rinsing. Next to that is a basin for hand washing and four small buckets of water to add to the system when needed. The procedure is to empty the bucket under the sink before you begin, stopper and fill the sink with water and soap. Clean the dishes and rinse them in the baby bathtub and then let them air dry. When the water gets nasty, drain the sink into the bucket, restopper and start again. As with all dirty water on the grounds, as you dispose of it, you water the closest plant. The liquid soap that they use is from Vietnam, but it is really Sunlight and it is fabulous at cutting grease with cold water. After the dishes are dry, they are put back into the kitchen and the four buckets are kept loaded with water for the next set of dishes.

Basically, anywhere there is a water tank, you tend to leave buckets loaded ready for the next person or the next day. There is nothing more frustrating that getting ready to work and have to spend time filling buckets before you can properly begin. This reminds me what Mom made me do when I was learning to sew. If I made a mistake, I had to pick it out before I left it, so when I returned, it was clean and ready to begin again. Thanks Mom. I hated the lesson then, but the wisdom of it is finally clear.

Next to the sink is the rainwater tank with tap where we fill the bottles of water that we use to drink and cook with. About every four days, a collection of empty bottles is put by the tank and we fill them up and take them back into the kitchen. As I watch these systems work, I realized how much I take for granted the availability of reliable electricity, abundant clean water and the ease of my life in the US. The systems I have seen in use in Australia at all four of my placements are not really that hard, but they take forethought, consistency and diligence so that nothing is wasted or thrown out when it can be reused.

I am leaving Australia in 4 days and I feel complete on this placement and with Australia for this trip and I am ready for my next adventures. It has been wonderful to be in two countries back to back where language was not an issue and where I pretty much understood the culture. It has been fun to work with animals and to be in longer placements with fewer people. I have felt more like a productive member of the work team and it has been nice to have the chance to develop routines. I find that when I was on the two-week placements, I would finally get in the groove and it was time to go.

Thursday, Aug 17 – My last full day of work

Vibes Card – check your vibes.

16 little pumpkins waving at me! I will do one last check first thing tomorrow and see if we can make it to 17!

Wrist is much better and I have been using Traumeel – a natural anti-inflammatory. I have it both pill and lotion form and it does the trick. It has lots of Arnica and Echinacea in it.

This was to be the day that I would finish Ashes aviary. Michelle and I began to work on one of the back corners. Midway during the morning Harry asked if he could use Michelle because the backhoe was coming today. It took me a while to understand backhoe in his Austrian accent, but that is what it was. He asked me to finish the netting around the door so that he could put the door on properly. I began to work around the door and it began obvious that I would need to finish the corner before I could finish around the door. I tried to do it by myself, but I found I could not load the clipper tool and hold the netting with enough tension to make it work. I found that Michelle was weeding so I went to ask Harry if I could borrow Michelle to finish the door.
He said that he needed her to finish the weeding because the backhoe was coming to move the crushed rock and he wanted the weeds out first. He said I should sit down and have a coffee and that I was a work-a-holic. I was not at my most balanced when I told him I would help her before the backhoe came so that she could help me with the door. I harrumphed off to find a spade and help Michelle. (They say that you take yourself with you wherever you go, and I have taken the agenda driven part of me on this trip. I had hoped to leave her home, but she does show up every so often. I was not feeling pleased with myself and how I handled that interaction. NOTE TO SELF – It is not your project, it is their project, and you are only assisting. YOU ARE NOT IN CONTROL AND YOU REALLY DON’T WANT TO BE IN CONTROL!)

As soon as I got back to Michelle, Harry arrived with another spade and showed us how to do the work efficiently. We were being too timid and would never have finished the job by the time the backhoe arrived at 3pm. I apologized to Karen and she said, not to worry, it will all get done. She was very generous. I also apologized to Harry for snapping at him and he asked when had I snapped. I showed him my harrumph movement with my arms and he laughed and said if everyone snapped at him like that, he would be in good shape. Again, he was very generous. For the rest of the afternoon, everything was lighter and with a firmer understanding of what the backhoe was going to do, Harry, Karen, Michelle and I, weeded a bigger area, moved the mound of potting soil into as many pots as they had and then relocated the pile to an area where the backhoe would not go. Harry did my harrumph arms movement several times. At least I caused some comic relief this afternoon. Michelle said that he had thought weeding would be easy. Not on this scale it isn’t. I got a great workout today with the spade

(I had just had this conversation with myself yesterday about needing to be a drama queen and build up tension so that I can harrumph and feel better. At 47, you would think I would have figured out that this does not work as I would like it. Maybe by the time I am 48.)

When all the spading and weeding was done and we were still waiting for the backhoe to arrive, Michelle and I finished the netting around the door and the corner. There are only two more corners to go on that aviary and once it is landscaped, it will be ready for Ashes. I will not see it, but I know that it will be finished without me.

Friday, Aug 18 – Off to Cairns and then Sydney

I was up earlier than usual to get packed, check the pumpkins and otherwise say goodbye.
I was hoping for 17 little pumpkins and I found 18 plus a little stem with the leaf off. I will only claim 18 LITTLE PUMPKINS! YAAH!

I know you will find it hard to believe, but Harry was having difficulty reading my writing! He had asked me for a brief synopsis of me for the newsletter and for an entry in their volunteer visitors book. So I read them to him and it looked like he was really touched. I had a chance to say goodbye to Raja, the cat, my favorite cage of rabbits, Ashes the owl and the new barn owl.

Now that I was leaving, Dusty, the mature eastern grey kangaroo, who will never leave the property, was finally treating me like one of his mob and kept coming up for treats, scratches and attempting to box with me. I think it was because I gave him a chocolate biscuit to get him out of the kitchen one morning. He is only allowed one, and he expects it thank you very much.

I said goodbye to Karin, Michelle and Harry and I went off in the car for the bus. No tears, but many heartfelt thanks and him telling me that I was one of their best volunteers. He said it was not common to be able to ask a volunteer to help direct the other volunteers. It was a lovely compliment.

The bus was the local commuter between Ravenshoe and Atherton (one hour away) and we picked up and dropped off many school-aged kids. In Atherton I had the chance to grab a quick coffee before loading on to the larger bus for Cairns (another 2 hours away). Total cost A$33, or about $25 US.

The first stop in Cairns was the airport, so I got off and was able to check my luggage in for my 7:15 flight to Sydney. YAAAH! I love Virgin Blue. This is the second time they have taken my luggage many hours prior to my flight. I then cabbed into Cairns and spent most of the day internetting and checking emails.

I did go down to the mall for a wonderful carrot/ginger smoothie and went to the department store in search of gifts. What I found was the recently released DVD of an Australian miniseries about Irish convicts sent to Australia in the 1800’s. It was called Against the Wind and it was shown on US PBS in the early 70’s. I had been researching the available of video or DVD of this before I left the US, but at the time, all they had was a pirated copy from one of the actors. I had an email once I was here that it might be available and I FOUND IT. Not only that, it was not restricted to region 4 (which is Australia’s region for DVD’s. The US is region 1) Rumor has it that they will be doing away with the regions soon as there is so much pirating going on, they cannot control it any way. I haven’t played it yet, and I haven’t decided if I will try and load it, or just carry the 4 DVD’s with me.
I cabbed back to the airport for my wait for the plane. We were 30 minutes delayed getting off, but my luggage was the first off the plane and I was at my hotel before midnight. I had left what I thought were two pieces of luggage at my hotel in Sydney. They only had one, which I took upstairs, and they promised to look for the other one and let me know. As I began to unpack, I found that I had managed to pack everything into my duffle, so I went back downstairs to tell them all was well.

I have had that happen several times on this trip. I remembered something a certain way, when I get back to it, it appears lost, but what has happened is that I have been even more prepared and together than I thought. Thank you angels for keeping me on track.

Stayed up until 1pm reorganizing things and trying to figure out what to take, what to mail, and what to leave behind for someone else.

END OF ANOTHER PLACEMENT. Only 5 more to go and I am home.

Posted by ladyjanes 22:12 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Entry 26B - Third Week - Wildlife Hospital

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26B - Australia Diary – Hospital #3 May 9 – July 13 – Thirteenth Week

PHOTOS COMING

Saturday, Aug 5 – Weird energy, frustrations with the door

This am found 6 of the 7 of us all working in the same area, with Harry moving in between about 4 different projects. We were finishing doors for the cages, attaching doors to frames, moving dirt and landscaping into other pens, and mulching newly planted trees. Energy was frantic and invaded my space, even though it had nothing to do with me. While I have my ipod with me for times like this, I have up until now, preferred to listen to nature and all the wonderful bird calls that I am beginning to be able to identify. Looking back, I would have better with Secret Garden on my ipod. NOTE TO SELF!

A huge day of lessons for me including patience with myself and letting go of perfectionism. Wiring cage doors is not my strongest suit and I found after I was ¼ of the way around the one I was working on, that I had the wire positioned on the inside of the door instead of the outside. I didn’t curse, but I made a loud angry sound and then undid it all. Ruth was very patient with me. I re-positioned and secured it temporarily into place so that I could get back to in after my break. I then announced that my tantrum was over and we went off for a tea break.

I am like a clamshell at times and hold on to a thought until it outweighs other options. My goal was to make sure that no rat could possibly get through this wire. Toward that end, I was securing this wire to the door within an inch of its life. Thorough I am! I now have two doors to my credit, to Ruth’s 6 and within the next two days, I should be able to finish one more and then they are done as far as we can go.

PHOTO of Jane with Door!

Tomorrow, Harry and Karin have a committee meeting and I think some of the movement today was about getting some of these items to a stage where you could see what Harry intends to do with some of these cages.

As Harry arrived back from town with the buckets of food from the stores, he also brought in a very tiny sugar glider who had been handled by a cat all night. We could not see any punctures and Harry gave her rescue remedy. She was only 5 inches long, very tiny, and she also had two pouch young in her. Harry and Karin got one of the new cages ready for her and we kept our fingers crossed.

Ruth told Harry and Karin that she would like to leave a little earlier than expected and spend a little time in Cairns. I will miss her so as she has become a good friend and is nice and calm when I am plugged in. Ruth will leave on Saturday and Melody leaves on Thursday.

In the middle of the day, we got word that the volunteer, Michelle, who we were supposed to pick up on Friday, was still stuck in Hong Kong and her delay had been caused by a typhoon earlier that week. She is supposed to arrive on Sunday, but that is exactly the time that they are having their committee meeting. The plan it now to ask her to get a room for the night in Cairns and Karin will pick both Michelle and the eagle up from the vet on Monday.

The no-name eagle had a check up from the previous surgery and in three weeks can have the pins removed and then should be able to recover. Karin said that while her feathers are currently broken and won’t allow her to fly, when she molts in the summer, if the flight feather return, then she might still be releasable. Harry says that he has had several animals that were not expected to be releasable, and yet three years of good treatment and not too much human contact, they were released. Time will tell.

Just before dinner, Karin announced that the sugar glider had not made it. When they inspected the pouch, one of the pouch young was still alive. Harry and Karin will try and keep it alive during the night, but it is so tiny and young, I don’t hold out much hope.

Ruth and I take turns assisting Harry feed Ashes, as I named her, the Little Sooty Owl that has to be forced fed. She is getting stronger and stronger daily and as we approach her now, she goes into “I AM BIG MODE”, spreads her wings, hunches her shoulders and snaps her beak at us. When we put her back, she does the same thing. She is beautiful and Harry watched her fly a short space in her pen. As soon as she begins feeding herself and Harry can get a bigger owl enclosure going, she will be put there to increase her flying strength. I plan to sponsor her.

Ruth and I also trade off feeding and pottying Julie, the bettong and Monty, the wallaroo. Both are over the diarrhea, but usually prefer to be fed and pottied by Karin. They are eating more and more and taking less of the bottle. When it is nice, they are in a little corral over grass where they can hop around and get some sun.

PHOTO – Monty and Julie outside.

Second cold night in a row. Lots of trips to the dunny and two layers of clothes.

Sunday, Aug 6 – Short day – I HAVE A PUMPKIN!

The little glider joined its mother and sibling during the night. Good-bye little one and thanks for letting us see you. Not unexpected, but always a little hard to see.

Harry said the after normal am duties, that we should have a rest day. The wwoofers were taking the day, so we could too.

Before we finished all of our work, Harry had been watering the garden. He said that I had a pumpkin. I had seen what I thought was pumpkin yesterday, but as I could not tell for sure, I left it and thought I would ask Harry about it later. It is not in the location that I planted it, but sure enough, it is a pumpkin! YAAAH!

PHOTO of pumpkin

Ruth and I went into town and did a little internetting, shopping and picked up some buckets of food scraps from the local grocery stores for the animals.

Ruth and I took a walk to the swimming hole today and she took a dip. Last night was frigid and the wind was up today. So I enjoyed the sun.

I had my typical day of finishing the book that I started last night. At this rate, I should have at least 14 books read by the time I leave.

We have champagne chilling for tomorrow’s dinner to celebrate my birthday and I was told that I could sleep-in if I wanted. A nice thought, but as soon as I hear everyone else up, I can’t stay down for too long. Plus, I asked to do the rabbits tomorrow with Ruth’s help and we get to change some of them around into more appropriate sized cages. I also want to work with the guinea pigs and have Ruth take photos, or possibly a video of me with them.

I am looking forward to a wonderful day. It should be especially wonderful now that I know how to turn on my little heater in my caravan, so I should only have to wear two layers under my four blankets. It was 2 degrees this am when we met for breakfast. Fresh as they call it in Australian. COLD is what we call it in the US.

I SLEPT VERY WELL THANKS TO MY LOVELY NEW HEATER!

Monday, Aug 7 – 47 today!

Awake as usual and exited the shower room where Ruth met me with tea and a granola bar, present and card. I have my favorite Cadbury Roses and a double chocolate bar. YAAH! How quickly people pick up on my favorites. I knew it would be a good day and I was looking forward to getting on with it.

I had lots of best wishes from everyone at breakfast.

I had not bottle fed the babies lately and I especially wanted to feed Seddy. Ruth and I went to feed them with our cameras and took pictures of each other. I erased all of mine, as I did not look as fabulous as I would wish and we will try again later.

The next thing I really wanted to do was the rabbits. They are my favorite, after all the bottle feeders, and they take some time. I must admit, I look forward to a time when I can do them by myself and spend time with them.

TODAY WE FINISHED WITH THE DOORS! I am very pleased to see that task over with as I find them fiddly and anxiety provoking, as they must be very tight, but not interfere with the closing of the door. YAAH! Check off the list! I did a total of 3 Ruth did a total of 7

PHOTO OF DOORS

The rest of the team ran around like chickens loading dirt and plants into cages and landscaping rocks around. Today, we say goodbye to Adam and Janet, the wwoof’ers. They are off to the north of the country and will be back in Sydney by December to celebrate with their two daughters. Melody also helped Harry and shifted stuff around. Melody informed Harry that she would like to leave tomorrow, in order to spend some time in Cairns. Ruth has started an exodus.

Karin was off to pick up Michelle, new ItoI volunteer who had been in transit for 4 days due to typhoon in Hong Kong. They arrived just after lunch and she looks pretty good considering the lack of sleep for 4 days. We are pleased she is here safe.

After we stopped work for the day, Ruth decided to make shortbread for my birthday. She was not accustomed to measuring cups, so I did all the measuring, but she did the spreading and backing. It tasted wonderful.

PHOTO – DINNER GROUP

Dinner made especially at my request was Harry’s wonderful garlic chicken, his special Italian potatoes and champagne. After dinner, Harry lit a huge bonfire and sat and enjoyed the night and conversation. At one point, we decided to sing camp songs, but none of us knew the same ones. So, I taught the group Echidna Scat and Goanna Burrows that I learned at Kangaroo Island. Harry was a very enthusiastic singer and really chimed in when it came to the refrain of “We Found One, We Found One!” I will demonstrate when I see you next. It was a hoot! Also around the bonfire, I was presented with a photo that Harry took earlier today of me with Ashes, the Little Sooty Owl. Not the best shot of me, but Ashes looks good.

I was supposed to be in Sri Lanka with the elephants today, but I am really very pleased it turned out this way. I am always amazed when the universe presents me with exactly what I want. As much as I wanted to see and work with elephants, my heart was in seeing and working with African Elephants, not the Asian Elephants they have in Sri Lanka. While both are amazing and exotic, I have never seen an African Elephant.

I spent my 12th birthday in Australia and now my 47th. On that schedule, I am due back in OZ for the 82nd birthday. I probably won’t have it in Ravenshoe, but I don’t see why I can’t put Australia on my calendar for another 35 years from now.

Happy Birthday guys! I could feel your good wishes and hopes and dreams for me surrounding me all day! I love you!

Tuesday, Aug 8 – tons of wind and overcast skies

Lots of wind last night and at one point I woke to hear a piece of my caravan flapping in the breeze. I finally got up and found it was an old awning support, so I wrapped it in a rag and went back to bed.

Today we say goodbye to Melody. It was pretty obvious that this was not the experience that she signed up for. Ruth shared with me after the fact that she had thought that there were be a lot more young men around doing all the construction stuff, without their shirts on. Yes, I can see how she was disappointed. Only Harry went topless a couple of days and he is already spoken for.

Today, Ruth and I began training Michelle on all the duties around the hospital. While I was helping with the bottoming of the rabbits, one bit me on my knuckle through my gloves. OUCH! It still hurts as I type this at the end of the day.

With Ruth only with us for another three days, we are trying to get through as much as possible. We placed all the lower wire on the last aviary and will leave the sewing for later in the week, if we have time.

I helped Harry re-roof the rabbit shed by holding up parts of the roof while he pushed and positioned other portions in place to be screwed down together.

Dinner was pizza and brownies with another man who continued some of the welding needed on the last set of cages. Tomorrow we plan to begin to wire those cages and try to get all the wire in place before Ruth goes. If we can get the wire in place, then Michelle and I and sew the rest down next week.

Australia is doing a census as of 8/8/06 and we all had to fill in our bits and then went off to bed early. I am pooped!

Wednesday, Aug 9

We took a short break after feeding to go into Ravenshoe for thrift store shopping and looking for postcards. I found a few pairs of dark colored shorts, which I hope will work for Africa. While light colored clothing is a great idea in the heat, it is also hard to keep it looking clean. We also bought more gloves to clean the cages, as it is not unusual to have holes in the gloves after a few days. This am when I checked all the gloves, every one had at least three pin size holes.

Today, we finally had Harry direct us on how to install the netting over the aviary cages. These are three times as tall as the other cages in order to give the raptors room to fly. We are using the same netting that farmer would us to cover their fruit trees and as it has three way directional stretch, it took four of us holding and pulling at alternate times to get it even and covering the cages. Then, we clipped the lowest edges to the wire mess at the bottom of the cages and will eventually have to sew the corners of the net to the frame to keep it taunt. Needless to say, my hands are very tired from this and my perfectionist heart races when I think I might not have it quite tight enough. (When I am sane about it, I tell myself, it is a raptor I am trying to house, not a charging rhino. Sometimes, I am wise and remember, sometimes, I am plugged in and forget.)
We were not able to finish the job today, and will go back to it tomorrow. My hands are very excited!

The evenings are not quite so cold now, but the extra cover still feel good.

Thursday, Aug 10

No Harry this am as he was taking a friend into Atherton for day surgery. Almost as soon as he left, we found that Bindi, the cow had escaped from her pen. She was happily munching the bush just outside her pen and was not at all enticed to go back into her pen with grain. She is a small breed of cow, is really an overgrown pet, is not halter broken and does not lead. After 20 minutes of the three of us being ineffective in capturing her (am me getting more plugged in by the minute) Karin arrived and had her favorite treat of all, banana leaves. Poor Karin got stepped on as the cow was running faster than Karin. Finally, we got her in the pen. We determined where she came over the fence and will ask Harry to fix it when he arrives back home. I cannot read cows. I don’t think they are smarter than me, but they do know that they are stronger than me, and I have a healthy respect for their hind feet. In my book, cows taste great and make lovely leather. That is all I have to say about cows.

The finger is much better, but I still have the bandage and try and work in good gloves when I can. Today, I bottomed the guinea pig cage and Ruth took photos and a video. Cheap admission to the viewing for the first 99 people who request a peak.

PHOTO – me and guineas

Aviary exterior netting work is completed, as far as we can go. The doors have not been made for the three enclosures, so we can’t quite finish the front edge. We have to hang two side panels to cut the cage into three enclosures. I am not sure if we will do that tomorrow or complete the sewing of the wire around the bottom of the other aviary we began working on. Either way, my hands are looking towards another challenging day.

PHOTO + RUTH ON LADDER

I find if I can alternate jobs, my hands and stamina is pretty good. Unfortunately, this is the work that really needs to get done and Ruth leaves the day after tomorrow. Michelle is learning, but does not have Ruth’s strength and grasp of the technique yet. Heck, it took me most of the first week to feel confident with the tools and even now, I depend on Ruth for how best to finish the job. I told her today, that I will miss her dreadfully, not just for her strong hands and ability to wire cages, but because she is a lovely spirit and has become a wonderful friend and companion. I may end up staying in England longer than I had planned, because now I have 4 friends I would love to visit at the end of the year.

COOKING IN AUSTRALIA – in the rural or outback.

Coming from a culture where every kitchen gadget imaginable is motorized and completes the job in second, I am wowed and amazed at the quality of cooking that come out of what we would call a very simple kitchen. Most of them do have electricity, but with limited electrical capacity to use multiple machines at once, they usually only have one plugged in device going. All of the ranges that I have seen have been gas, and I am now adept at lighting pilots in ovens, burners and the little toaster areas on most stoves.

Peggy on Kangaroo Island had one of those veggie slicers, where you put a different blade on the cutting surface and then run the veggie across it. We had julienne, crinkles and thick and thin cut slices and wedges. I am sure that we have them in the US, but I can’t imagine where I would look for them.

I have had the most glorious meals in Australia, not always fancy, but good quality food and well seasoned. It helps that Harry used to be a chef. Tonight, Karin has made homemade spatzel (egg noodles) and it believe we will have a citrus tart for dessert. It is just as well that they don’t have a scale, because I don’t what to know where my weight it! The clothes still fit and I can eat rice cakes and carrot sticks when I get back home, if I decide to.

Friday, Aug 11 – Ruth’s last Day!

Harry began his day by making a temporary fix to the fence where the cow escaped yesterday. I will keep my fingers crossed.

Slow start to the day. This is Ruth’s last day and according to my internal watch, everyone seemed to be going in slow motion. Needless to say, my mood was not 100% sparkling this am, and I realized I was part of the problem, not part of the solution and changed my mind.

As we began to water and clean, I took the chickens. Their water is usually yucky and today I decided to clean the water containers completely. As I stooped to pour out the water and scrub the insides of the containers, I had numerous sets of eyes on me watching my every move. They were all hoping that I had something interesting to eat. The cutest ones are the little bantam hens that have long leg and feet feathers. They are smaller than the others and look like feathered bowling balls as they walk around. Harry showed me three new chicks that had just hatched, two little yellow peeps and then one little bantam chick that was orange.

PHOTO – Bantam bowling ball chickens

As I was watering the guinea pigs, all the chickens are on the other side of the fence again watching and hoping for something fun to eat. I am suddenly very popular, even if it is only with the feathered community around here!

Once the team finally got moving this morning, we began to sew the wire on the aviary that we began three days ago. Harry also wanted us to put up the netting, which we did, but it kept getting caught on the wires that were still poking out from our soon-to-be-completed wiring job. He was a bit frustrated with us. I told him that I did not think that Michele and I would be able to finish the job without Ruth, because it does take one fairly strong person pulling and holding as the other one clips it into position. I am not casting aspersions on Michelle’s strength, but my own. I know that my hands are not strong enough to hold the netting. We will see what we can accomplish today and then let tomorrow handle itself. As we finished the bit of wiring around the doorframe, Ruth and I tested the door that I finished for this cage. With a little bit of banging, it just fits.

After getting in the wash (I love laundry day around here and the smell of the clothes after they come off the clothes line!) I took a shower. As I was finishing, Harry arrived outside and said that his shower gets the hot water last and therefore, as I turned on the water, I either froze or fried him. I only learned today that they use a different shower. I guess I was not paying attention during the last three weeks.

Ruth made a cake during the afternoon and Harry and Ruth made three types of shortbread for dessert. Considering that we still have 6 pieces of the wonderful citrus tart from last night, we are set for desserts for some time to come.

Dinner was great tonight with fish and prawns for the carnivores and veggie burgers for Ruth. Harry also made Kifpleur potatoes, which are originally from Germany – a small, yellowish oblong potato that holds its firmness and has a lovely taste. I must remember to look for these as home.

I will miss Ruth a lot. We are a good working team together and we have wonderful conversations on many topics. Tonight’s topic was blood donations and test results for university placement. She promises to keep in touch and I hope to see her in England in December. Today we heard on the radio that all the airports in England are closed due to the terrorist plot against 8 aircraft between Britain and the US. Melody was in Cairns and was supposed to be going home today. I suspect she is still in Cairns and maybe Ruth will run into her tomorrow.

This ends week three of this placement, and 8 more days to go. I should be an interesting last week.

Posted by ladyjanes 20:45 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Entry 26 - First week - Wildlife Hospital

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26 - Australia Diary – Hospital #1 May 9 – July 13 – Eleventh Week

PHOTOS COMING

Saturday, July 22

Up at 6:30 and at breaky by 7:00. Cereal and yoghurt and tea. Looks like drizzle and the threat of clearing all day.

Our first task was to bottle feed the babies. I love doing this! I got to feed a pretty-face wallaby that was very sweet and also a grey kangaroo, name Seddy or Mr. Greedy. Poor Seddy is also having some skin problems, which the vet feels may be a fungus due to the rain after the hurricane. As soon as we have a nice day, he is in line for bath in betadine.

Melody had confessed to Ruth that she had expected more of an eco resort placement. Poor Harry and Karen are trying to figure out where the breakdown in communication happened. This is my second time with I to I and also the second time that this topic has come up with different volunteers.

Next, Ruth took Melody and I on feeding and watering rounds. It became apparent that there would be multiple water buckets in my future for the next four weeks. Great! Because my arms have become a bit flabby!

We began in the rabbit/rat/mouse house. Lots of water dishes to clean and refill. Then the guinea pig pen, chicken house, pigeon cage, eagles aviary, kangaroo pens and the misc bird pens on the far side. Right next to the water tank was a large grey roo that had been hit by a car and had been euthanized by Harry. Today, Harry will process the meat and put it in the freezer for the carnivores.

Lunch was grilled cheese sandwiches. Our first afternoon task was to add on and pull wire over the cage frames and them affix it to the frame. Not as hard as it sounds with two pairs of us working on it. It kept spitting rain, but a soon as we would go under cover, it would pass. When we would go back out, it would begin again. So, we were a little damp for most of the afternoon.

We were joined by Erin, a former local volunteer from Cairns. She is a young Aussie who is currently studying herbal medicine and wants to be a healer. She is attending a Dorene Virtue seminar soon and has a lovely spirit about her. She will only be with us for one night. I realized that when I told about how my trip was developed, it made it sound like a chore. I know that my trip is a gift from my parents and from now on, I will give them their fair share of the credit for my marvelous adventure.

Harry asked for my help on two raptor treatments. A car had hit a Little Sooty Owl, and as they are seriously endangered, he is trying everything he can to keep it alive. She needed to be force fed, so I held her feet as Harry stuffed a newly dead mouse down her throat. We managed to get one down her, but she resisted the second one. Her talons were incredible, very sharp like cats, but about 3 times the length. I have new respect for owls.

Then, from one of the smaller pens, Harry caught a wounded wedge tail, which had been housed in such a small cage, he had damaged his feet and broken most of his flight feathers. Again, I was on leg holding and I got to see at close quarters those amazing talons. They did not look as sharp at the owls, but the power is in their ability to lock closed. Recently Harry had one latch on to his hand and it took three men to pry the eagles’ talons open enough to retrieve Harry’s hand. Ruth assisted to hold the towel over his head and when the feet were unwrapped, she said that they were 100% better than two weeks ago. Hopefully, I will also be able to see that type of improvement over the next four weeks. According to Harry, we will change the bandages every three days.

During Dinner, Ruth and I exchanged book titles and Harry joined in with more. We ended the evening visiting Harry’s ex-wife’s cat that is on the grounds for a holiday while her mom is in Austria. Raja is a beautiful Siamese cross, maybe a Birman, but would not come out to see us. Maybe tomorrow.

Last night I took a sleeping pill and probably missed most of this. I had heard rustling within the caravan, but could not really discern where it was coming from, but tonight I found out. I have a rat. A large, brown rat, which enters my caravan from the window near the old kitchen and then skitters across the counter top. I decided that was not for me, so I got up and tried to make sure what I saw and assist him with his exit. We went back and forth for a while and finally, I knew that he would have to exit on his own. I went off to the dunny, turned the light back on and read for another hour until his noise let me know that he had exited the building. I kept reading and finally turned off the light.

Sunday, July 23 – The sun does shine in Ravenshoe!

The 6:30 alarm found me very tired and trying to decide if I wanted to change caravans this am. Ruth had said that she used to be in my caravan but changed. I think I know why. Karen asked how I had slept and I said okay except for the rat. I heard from Karen later that earlier inhabitants had food in the caravan which I am sure is what drew him. After my experience on Kangaroo Island where we were given sealing tins to kept yummies protected, I knew better than to have any food in my sleeping quarters.

Breakfast and then off to start the day. Looks to be a lovely sunny day.

Our schedule has evolved into the following pattern more of less:
Up at 6:30
Breakfast at 7:00
Bottle-feed the babies between 7:15-7-30
The team waters all the animals and birds and does any other special animal project necessary.
Today, Erin, would be totally cleaning the rabbit cages and doing their feeding and water change. I am sure I will get to do that at one point.
After all the animals are cared for, then other projects can be handled.
This morning we continued to wire the set of three pens that we began yesterday. We broke for a cuppa at 10:45 and went back at 11:15.
Lunch is usually at noon, but today, Erin was making her wonderful pumpkin/carrot soup.
Lunch was at 1:00 pm and we were hungry.
After lunch, we normally work until 3-4:00 depending on what is going on and the weather.
Harry had us stop at around 3:20 and then we peeled potatoes for dinner.
Showers for most of us, which felt great.
Tea, or dinner is at 6:00 pm.
We usually are in our caravans at about 6:30 for reading and sleep. I will shut my eyes much earlier tonight to catch up on last night.

I came back to my caravan before lunch and found Karen on the outside putting wire between the gaps in my kitchen windows to discourage Mr. Rat. Thank you Karen.

Before tea was ready, Ruth and I took our cameras and went to the eagle enclosure for some photos. We thought the one that we helped to bandage yesterday was really showing improvement, but we found the one we were looking at was one of the healthier ones from the other half of the pen. He was trying to poach the rabbit that had been placed in the smaller pen for the two injured eagles.

Photo - eagles

After dinner, I heard Raja the kitty calling and tried to go see her. She was reluctant the first time, but when I went back, she finally came out to see me. She is very beautiful, Siamese/Persian cross with lovely markings, slightly flat face and medium, very dense hair which she keeps very neat. She is lovely and I could hear her purring before I opened the door to see her. I promised I would come and visit her every day that I was at the compound.

During a little break today, Harry asked if I could drive a car. I said I could, but I didn’t have an international drivers license. He said no problem. He said that we could borrow the car next Saturday and maybe take in some of the local sights. It is a lovely offer and I know that they do not feel that they can take time away from the compound to take us to do tourist things. I know that each of us will most likely want to get to the internet as well. Well, it will be the first time that I will drive on the other side of the road. With a good map and Ruth as navigator, I am sure that we will do fine.

One of the bonuses of being this far out from a major city, it that the night sky is absolutely amazing. The Milky Way seems so close that you could touch it, and without hardly any surface lights, there are at least double the numbers of stars that I have seen in the US, even on the best of nights.

Monday, July 24

Not a lot of sleep last night, but at least, no Mr. Rat. We woke to what would be our second sunny day.

You who know about my black thumb are going to laugh out loud when you hear what I did today.

After the bottles to the babies, Melody and I joined Ruth to finish the watering and then we began to pull weeds in the garden. Harry had promised to take us it to town today for a brief Internet session and work clothes shopping at St. Vincent de Paul, the patron saint of volunteers as well!

I told Harry that I did not know a good plant from a bad one, so he gave us the task where I could not fail. We had to remove everything from the bed. Hurricane Larry that swept through in March 2006 destroyed his lovely garden that at one point had supplied all the fruits veggies for the compound. We will clean out beds and begin replanting pumpkins and sweet potatoes, and gradually, they will have a full compliment of produce. Ruth and I worked together and had made it a third of the way down the bed, when Harry said we were going to town.

In we piled for 10 minutes into town. First stop for me was the hardware store for hopefully, a wind up torch, and much needed gardening gloves. No torch, but with gardening gloves in hand, I was off to the thrift store. 6 months on the road have taken a toll on my clothes and some of them I cannot get clean, no matter what I try. I will be okay until Africa, but then, I will need to buy some decent clothes for my last 6 weeks on the road. I bought two pairs of sweat pants for use at the hospital, one sweatshirt, and two pair of beige pants that I hope will work in Africa. (Later report, the two pairs of pants don’t fit. Maybe one of the other girls or Karen can use them.)

Next stop was the grocery store for a few treats. The agencies always supply our meals, but treats and special items are always on your own. Back home we hung up the laundry that Karen had done for us and we went back to gardening.

Harry’s friend, Warrick, arrived to discuss grant applications for the hospital. I told them that I would be happy to help with proofing before it is submitted. Lunch was quiche and cookies that I had bought for the group.

The afternoon we continued weeding and my hands are tired. The three of us agreed to go back to wiring tomorrow, unless Harry needs us to do something else. We also agreed that the next time it rains, we would try and weed that day, as the ground would be softer. This part of the Australian soil is red, clay and VERY COMPACT!

We had a few hours off before dinner for showers and relaxing. The shower was nice, but before hand, I spent some time watching the wildlife. Any time I begin to feel blasé about my day, I just have to remind myself that I am in Australia, 18 hours away from home. It seems like a miracle at times, and I thank Mom and Dad every time I think about it.

Today, I got to see the female quoll who is brighter colored and slight larger than the male. She is very shy, but I managed to come up her during her sunbath. A quoll is a marsupial carnivore, about the size of a large rat, with white spots on their sides. If I sat quietly, she would come out again. Today, I also had a wonderful viewing of the blue-tongued lizard, although I did not get to see his famous tongue. Stubby rather than slender as a goanna, this guy has a diamond shaped head and very beefy tail. Very handsome.

Tomorrow, we will have to treat the eagle and the owl again. I hope they both continue to do well. We heard from the vet that the eagle that I met when I was picked up did not make it. He turned out to have a spinal injury that would not heal. So, the hospital inventory is only 6 eagles at present.

Dinner was pork roast, rice and beets, and Harry’s favorite dessert, blocks of cookie dough from the local bakery. I had chocolate chip and Ruth had a rum raisin. Pretty tasty, but I definitely only wanted one.

After dinner, I got to do my favorite thing, I got to feed the little bettong, Julie. She is very sweet. I have found out that bettongs are really little tiny kangaroos, but don’t get any larger than a small cat. As soon as she had drunk and been pottied, she climbed into her pouch and was asleep within 30 second in my lap. I was in heaven.

Photo – Julie

I also made my second visit to Raja, who was a little shy tonight, probably because Ruth was in the cage at the same time. Still sweet, I will visit her daily until I leave.

It sounds like in addition to a part day off on Saturday, we will be asked to help man booths at fairs in the area on Sunday. It should be fun and another opportunity to see a different part of the country.

Tuesday, July 25 – I am not allowed to see the Quolls today!

I slept really well last night.

This morning, I traded with Ruth, so that she could feed the bottles to the babies.

I began my rounds after breakfast with water patrol. This involves going to all the outside pens and dumping, cleaning and refilling all the containers with fresh water. As I approached the pigeon cage, I found there was a dead pigeon at the door. I got Harry, as I did not know if he wanted to feed it to one of the raptors. He had said he had fed this pen not 30 minutes earlier and the birds were fine. This one was still warm and had obviously just died. He took it away and I went on with my rounds.

I walked out to the eagle enclosure without buckets, as I did not want to make the walk with buckets if they weren’t needed. As I approached the pen, I saw a dark lump in the corner. To my surprise, it was the injured eagle that I had held two days ago. So back to the house I went to give Harry the bad news. Just as with the pigeon, he had just died and was still warm. Harry will never really know what caused the death. The poor animal had been injured and had gone to a carer who really did not have the knowledge or facilities for him. He had been housed in a parrot cage without a perch and had spent his time on his feet (which is not appropriate for raptors). In addition, because the cage was way to small for an eagle, he had bashed himself against the cage and broke all of his flight feathers. His wings were full of infection and even if he had survived, he would have been at the hospital for at least a year in hopes that his flight feather would re-grow.

By the time I was back from the eagle, Ruth had joined me and had begun to feed and water the rabbits. I helped her and Harry came by and said that I was not allowed to go close to the quolls today, as everything I approached had died. (He was just joking). Harry says that he tends to loose animals in threes, so yesterdays eagle at the vet and today’s eagle, that makes it two.

Ruth and I continued our morning sharing stories about our favorite musicals, British tv and film stars while we wired the new enclosures. At one point we thought we might have cut a huge piece of wire a little too short, but with lots of pulling and grunting, we managed to get it to fit. Sigh!

Our supervisor, Seddy was hard at work all morning as you can tell by his photo.

PHOTO – the Supervisor

Lunch was homemade veggie soup and cheese, and then I got to feed the baby bettong. Harry indicated that he had spoken to the vet about a possum that is at the hospital that is blind and will have to be euthanized. A blind possum cannot be released and life in a cage is no life for a possum. That brings the number of deaths up to three and hopefully, the end of this phase of loss.

After lunch, Ruth and I assisted Karen with the i-to-i Foundation grant. Our afternoon flew by at my computer as we revised the application and wrote a 1000 word proposal.

After dinner of lovely spaghetti bolognaise and berry pie, Ruth and I continued our computing by writing letters of recommendation in support of the application.

Not much sleep again. Imaginary animals in my caravan kept me up! Sigh!

Wednesday, July 26

Woke to lovely weather again and after breakfast, off to water. Nothing dead in the pens today!

Spent the morning and in fact all of the afternoon in the garden area and planted 96 pumpkins with Melody and (ready to laugh?) harvested two buckets of sweet potatoes with Ruth and Melody. I reworked the beds and pulled out all the vines, cut off runners and replanted them.

Ruth took us on the walk to the local swimming hole that is down the road. Lovely spot, not sure if I will swim, but it would be a nice place to take a book and enjoy nature.

I had a good visit with Raja and she came out almost immediately and covered me with torti/Siamese cat hair. She is very sweet and has a lovely purr, almost as nice as Soni.

I had a chance to spend more time with Melody today and got to know her a little better. She is very quiet, this is her first time out of Britain and I think she is very brave to come this far by herself. She seems to be over jet lag and comes forward a little more, but generally only speaks when asked a direct question.

I am very much enjoying getting to know Ruth and we have a lot in common – animals, musical theatre and general theatre, British sitcoms. She has a wonderful energy, is immensely kind and has lots of great ideas. Tonight we worked on chronicling the work that we do daily as a resource for future volunteers who need a map of what and when to do things. We also spent some time writing out the fund-raising ideas the entire group had brain stormed the other day that we will print out and then add to during the next few weeks.

Melody and Ruth will go to two different fairs on Sunday to help hand out pamphlets and try and get donations for the hospital. I am not sure if I will go, but it would be nice to get away if I am needed to help.

Thursday, July 27 – an overcast day and we were grateful!

Today began with Melody and I feeding the Joey’s and a refresher course in the various species of wallabys in the pen. There are two varieties that I had never seen before, the Pretty Face which are very refined looking, are more grey in color with brighter white stripes and very long tails and the swamp wallabys, that are smaller and more squat with copper accents that almost exactly match the red clay dirt of Australia. Hmmmm? I wonder if it would make a good henna substitute for my hair?

Our focus, goal and accomplishment today was completing the wiring the set of three enclosures. YAAH. Completion at last, and boy are my hands tired using the tools. The overcast skies made the work a lot easier as we would have been in complete sun the entire day.

I checked in with my cuttings that I planted yesterday and everybody seems to be holding on. Tomorrow we get out the hose and give them all a good drink

Tomorrow is Harry’s birthday and he says he will take the day off and the completion of my first week here. We will see if Harry takes the day off because I have a feeling he is not one to sit idle for long.

Friday, July 28 – Harry’s 59th Birthday

Today was a short day for us as it was Harry’s birthday and he said that we should just feed this am and then do what we wanted for the rest of the day.

As we finished up for the morning, (which was at 8am), the blue tongued lizard came out. Sure enough, he does have a blue tongue. I told Harry and Karen that now that I had seen that, I could go home.

Poor baby bettong Julie has diarrhea from eating too much wet grass. Poor baby, her little butt is so red and she is not interested in eating.

The rest of the day was a doodle day with a long shower and then I finished the mystery that I started last night. I knew tomorrow, that I would be driving for my first time around Australia and on the other side of the road, so I felt I needed a down day without any requests for my attention.

Dinner tonight was made by Karen and included turkey, rice, salad and a lovely homemade apple strudel. Yummy. Also, for the birthday, a bottle of champagne. We all stayed up late (8pm) and drank the bubbles to candle light and watched the sky change and the stars come out. The night sky is really incredible here.

Tomorrow we are off for an adventure.

Posted by ladyjanes 20:45 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Entry 25 - Cairns to Ravenshoe

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Australia Diary – Cairns - May 9 – July 13 – Tenth Week

PHOTOS COMING

Monday, July 17

I spent the entire day in Sydney and left for the airport at 4pm. Nothing unusual about this airport time or the flights, except that I had one of the only rows without a middle person. I had finished my book, so I bought two magazines and then spent the rest of the time doing the puzzles in the back of the flight magazine. I am becoming addicted to Suduku and am getting much faster at it.

As we arrived in Cairns, about an hour late, almost everyone needed a taxi. The line had at least 30 people, and the cabs arrived one at a time about 3 minutes apart. The thing that amazed me was that lots of single people got in and drove away without offering to share a ride with anyone. By the time I was at the head of the queue, a taxi van appeared. I asked and the driver had already decided to see if he could assist several groups of people at once. Another couple and a single man joined me. I arrived safe, the second stop of three and only $5. Not bad.

My room was very basis, had a bit of a smell of mildew, but considering it is a beach resort town, not to be unexpected. I turned on the air to help eliminate the smell and to drown out any noise, enjoyed some interesting movies on tv and turned out the light late. I love being on vacation!

Tuesday, July 18 – Thursday, July 20

Lovely weather, though a fleece felt good on your arms, but I was back in my sandals.

Nothing really remarkable to report. I am not sure if I am jaded about beach resort towns at this point, or just needing to focus on the time ahead. My days were spent walking into town, eating interesting food at different places, searching in vain for a bookstore and spending lots of time on the Internet and phone. I did not take in any museums, art galleries, or spend any time at the beach. Every time I went near the water, the tide was way out and there weren’t many places to sit right on the beach. I did see The Da Vinci Code and thought it was pretty good.

I have been trying to make flight and hotel reservations for South Africa and later portions of my trip. It is hard to believe that I only have 5 more places to go before I land back in the US. I have found ticketing with South African airlines to be a little confusing so far and never seem to be able to call when their offices are open. I can only get cheap flights on the web, but I need to make sure that they will hold the reservation for me, as they tend to want cash payment. Needless to say, I am still attempting to call to get clarification. I could book all the flights in Aust, but I would pay twice what I can on the web. I also was not eligible for a great coupon offer they have because they are in the UA network and I am flying AA. Sigh!

I made contact with Karin, from Eagles Nest, my next placement at the wildlife hospital. I will be picked up at 11am at the hotel on Friday, July 21. Yaah! I will be back at work and feeling in the grove again.

Friday, July 21

I woke to rain and continued to try and call SAfrica, but no luck again. Hopefully, I can call from my placement in Ravenshoe. (Ravens – hoe).

Karin picked me up with a wedge tail eagle in a carrier in the back of the car. The vet was closed due to a public holiday because the agriculture show was in town. (This is an interesting concept that I have seen in several cities/towns in OZ). Karin had not been informed about the closure of the office, but was still attempting to make the appointment today. As we drove to the airport to pick up another ItoI volunteer who was arriving with almost as little notice as they had for me, and I was in charge of the cell phone in case the vet called.

Karin phoned home once we made it to the airport, and then had to speed out to the airport as the vet would only be there for another 10 minutes. This left me with the cell phone, that did not work, and the sign for Melody, the arriving I to I volunteer. It was sort of fun and I got very good at deciding who might be a likely candidate as people exited with their luggage. Finally, I found Melody who had been 24 hours in transit from London through Singapore and Sydney. Karin returned, sans eagle, and off we went for a 2-hour drive to Ravenshoe.

After a short stop for a little bite, on we went through the Atherton Tablelands. It was lovely, even with the rain, but a little disappointing to see all the rain forest denuded of trees for agriculture. We finally arrived at Eagles Nest and from the road you could see one of the aviary enclosures with 4 huge wedge tail eagles roosting.

The facility is a long narrow rectangle of land with the huge aviary for the eagles, about 10 completed aviary cages and zoo like cages for the smaller animals and birds, and the frames for another 15 cages that need to be finished. Around the entire compound are wonderful plants that have been landscaped and two huge garden areas that were 95 % destroyed by the hurricane that came through in March. Up until the devastation, the facility raised almost all the fruits and veggies needed for both the animals and the volunteers. Now, they are slowing getting the garden back, but it is a lesser priority than completing the cages at this point. This also means that they have to purchase more of the foodstuffs, but they also have some help by the local grocers and restaurants with appropriate consumable scrapes and produce.

At the bottom of the grounds are the caravans (trailers that we would pull behind cars in the US) where the volunteers and Karin and Harry sleep. Behind us is one of the dunny’s (pit toilets) and the kangaroo pen. There is another port-a-john on the site and a warm water shower house and sink area close to the caravans. The kitchen is much like the one in Marlborough, but the eating area is outside under an overhang.

Harry (60 and originally from Austria) developed this facility in 1988. He was joined two years ago by Karin (late 40’s from Germany) who had been a travel agent for over 20 years. 2 years ago she vacationed for 6 months in Oz, returned home, quit her job, sold up and moved out here.

Karin said that there were only about 45 animals currently in residence, but it can grow up to 70 during the busy season. The current list include two kinds of owls, falcons, wedge tail eagles, kookaburras, quolls (carnivorous spotted little rat/weasel type animals), swamp, pretty face, agile and rock wallabys, grey kangaroos, wallaroos, bettongs, sulfur crested cockatoos, cockatiels, lorikeets, butcher birds, rainforest and open land possums and dingos.

I had forgotten or had not to thought about, but there are also lots of cages of food animals for the carnivores. Rats, mice, guinea pigs, pigeons, chooks, roosters, rabbits and the ever present road kill help to keep the recuperating wild animals and birds alive until they can be released.

Several of the eagles and other species will never be able to be released due to their injury or their ability to fend for themselves. Housed in cages meant for smaller animals, malnourished by well meaning, but unenlightened carers, and/or held too long before treatment was sought, some animals just would not be able to make it alone again.

The thing that I have learned from my time in OZ is the effectiveness of simple remedies with these wild animals. Tina, Peggy and Harry all use simple ordinary cures such as chamomile tea to cleanse wounds and organic honey to pack a wound before bandaging. While they also use the vet when they need to (x-rays, surgery when necessary, antibiotics when called for) I have seen first hand the healing and restorative power of mother nature at her best. If these were more widely used, there would be a lot of pharmaceutical companies out of business.

The caravans are clean and I am fortunate to have one to myself. I have two single beds that are comfortable and soft, a table, built-in seating and a counter for my stuff. No water in the caravan, but the shower/sink is near by and the dunny just around the corner. The other great thing about the caravans is that most of them have a collection of books to read. YAAH! I can add to my list and there will be no tv for four weeks.

Water is more important than gold here, so we have rainwater collected to the humans and river water pumped for the animals.

After a tour which also included the Bindi – the miniature cow, and the wild pig named Oscar, Karin showed us all those that would be in our care for the next 4 weeks. We also met Sarah, an Australian girl who came for a week between 8:30-3 for work experience and Ruth, ItoI volunteer from Leeds England. Ruth has been here for two weeks and will show us the ropes.

Harry is a chef and king of the kitchen and tonight was steak and chips. Very nice.

As we are expected at breakfast at 7, the alarm is set for 6:30.

Posted by ladyjanes 20:45 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Entry 24 - Sydney

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Australia Diary – May 9 – July 13 – Ninth Week – Sydney.

PHOTOS COMING

Saturday, July 8

Again at the Adelaide airport for my last time. I do love it.

As I may have mentioned, I love being met at airports. This goes way back to the 60’s when we lived in Florida and Thailand. We spent a lot of time at airports as it was during the war and Dad was in Vietnam for a year. Annie and I would be standing at the gate (remember when you could actually met people at the gate?) and would cry as we watched people saw hello and good-bye to each other. We didn’t even have to know them, but we would cry along.

I was at my gate #24 waiting for my plane to unload and there was a mom and dad with Welcome Home balloons waiting for someone. Suddenly she became very agitated and ran to the front to greet her adult son and his wife. They were so cute and so happy to see each other that I began to cry. As I had finally gotten myself under control, the dad of the group asked if I would take their photos. Of course and I also took one for myself with their permission. Mom was Glenda, Dad was Adam, Son was Phil and daughter-in-law was Katrina. Very cute.

PHOTO of group

Immediately following that as we were beginning to board, there was a family of a mom and dad, older sister and younger son. Daughter and son were boarding the plane and when it was time to say good-bye, the son lost it when he said good-bye to mum. I was off again. It turns out that the daughter and son were flying to Sydney, him to visit the grand parents and her to take her examination for the Air Force. Very crowded plane, my first really full plane for at least 3 months.

I bought tickets for the round trip shuttle at the airport and we made at least 6 stops before mine. The driver was new to the job and kept calling base for instructions that really irritated a family riding in the van that began to loudly discuss their displeasure. As he was trying to find my street, he kept running into road closures. They were doing a commercial shoot at the intersection of my street, so I told him that I would walk. It wasn’t that hard, only three blocks and luckily, all down hill.

My hotel, the Grand Hotel, was not what I had expected. It was a the typical Australian Hotel that I have seen in every town and city I have visited, with rooms above a bar that can also serve as a bottle store in some locations. This one had three levels of meeting rooms, a freight elevator with very heavy double doors. They did offer continental breakfast and some meal service, but mainly bar food. I told them I might only be there one night, as I was concerned about the noise. I ended up on the 5th floor in the back and there was no noise from the bar at night. The room also was not made up when I arrived at 4pm, which was surprising and the light by the bed did not work. I told myself, it only needed to be for one night and I went out for a walk and to get my bearings. I found that I was an easy 4-block walk to the Sydney harbor and the Opera House. The weather was great, the walk was easy, and the hotel and the room looked okay by the time I went back.

I found an art house movie theatre that was playing a movie that I had hoped to see in Adelaide,
Tristam Shandy. It is one of my most favorite formats for a movie, a movie about making a movie. Very arty and cute and full of period costumes and British actors.

Sunday, July 9

I told the hotel I would only stay one more night, as I was confident that I could find different lodgings during the day. I had a long list of thing I wanted to see in Sydney, so with my map and list, off I went.

The one thing that I think is brilliant about Sydney, which I did not find in other cities, is that all the City Convenience Stores have internet connections. There was one right across the street from my hotel. This was fortunate, as I still needed to connect twice a day to determine where I would spend my volunteer time in the next few weeks.

I walked to the YHA’s and found that they were both booked solid, and even if they had an opening, would have been the same price of my room at the hotel. I had cancelled my hotel, thinking foolishly that I would find lodging at the YHA, so I needed to go back and get my room back again. I had not checked my vibes this morning. Hmmmmm?

On the way back to the hotel, I went to the Barracks Museum that had been a men’s prison and finally an immigration holding area of women in the early years of New South Wales, NSW. I went into the Cathedral that was nice, but you could tell it was very new with not much atmosphere.

Sydney can look like so many other cities when you aren’t next to the major landmarks, but it quickly tells you that you are not in Kansas as you see a pied ibis foraging in the plants at the park. I kept trying to get a good photo, but just as I would push the shutter, he would move or hide.

Next, I went to the Museum of Australia, a Natural History Museum. I love free museums; you don’t feel guilty when you leave after only 30 minutes.

The hotel had no problem giving me my room back and I celebrated by buying a hard cider from the bar and taking it to my room.

I was determined to find wireless network and I had spied a Starbucks near the quay and with my computer in hand, off I went. My visits to the Starbucks now have the tradition, a decaf flat white with skim milk and gluten free date and orange cookie and blogging. I also connected with Bette and had a free internet phone conversation with her on Skype. If you have not heard of this, look into it. It is a free service, even international calls. All you need is a headset with a mic, internet connection on your computer, and another person on Skype near their computer to hear your ring.

Monday, July 10

Now that I had decided to stay, it was time to try the shower down the hall. No dramas until I tried to exit the room. The door was locked, but no matter what I did, the door would not open. Finally, after I had dropped everything that I had gathered in my arms, I finally managed to get the door open.

The first thing that I needed to handle was an extension of my Visa. I had done an electronic Visa that cost $20 and was good for 3 months. As I would end up being in OZ for about two weeks past three months, I needed an extension. I found the office and filled out the forms and was told it would be $200. I was a little shocked, especially as the first one was only $20. Well, I needed it, so I went upstairs to have my application reviewed. No dramas and $205 later, I have a VISA in my passport. (HINT FOR NEXT TIME – Even if you don’t think you will need one, if you think you might possibly be somewhere longer than 1 month, go for the longer visa!)

I walked and found I am doing at least 40 blocks a day in Sydney. No worries and the streets are full of people, so I don’t feel a need to be home before dark.

I came across a wonderful meat pie shop called Jester’s. I had my first of their pies, Thai Chicken that was fantastic.

I went back to the arts cinema because they had a documentary about the Ballet Russe. I know, I am in a foreign city and watching movies. Sometimes, you just need something that you know. The movie was fabulous and showed clips and photos of the former Russian ballet stars, some of who are still teaching today at 90. Very well done. The funniest coincidence was one of the men from the 7 Brides movie (he played Dan) had been a Ballet Russe Dancer.

I made an appointment to meet Kaye tomorrow. Kaye was the lady that I met on the street in Mackay, my first full day in Australia and with whom I had felt an immediate connection. She had said I should look her up when I was in Sydney.

I also had an appointment to meet Kate for drinks on Wednesday night. Kate was my diving buddy from the Great Barrier Reef and she works just minutes from my hotel.

I am still waiting to hear from ItoI on what placements might be open until I leave Australia.

Tuesday, July 11

I was feeling a little out of sorts from not knowing what I would be doing in OZ for volunteer work and picked a vibes card. You’re the Boss card, it said. It is up to me to ask the questions and check the vibes. No one can do it for me, nor should they. I emailed I to I and told them I was leaning towards Melbourne, but would be open to either and I left for the train.

I walked to the train to see Kaye. I had been the day before the look over the station and get the lay of the land. It is huge station with several levels of tracks. They have wonderful ticket machines that you can order your own ticket, which I did. It had all the information that I needed except what track to go to. I went into one area, but was directed to another set of tracks.

I had bought some cut up fruit and ate it on the platform, but I could not find a trashcan. I asked the conductor and he said that due to the terrorists, no trash cans in the stations. I took it with me and found one when I alighted from the train.

The ride was only 1.5 hours to the Northern side of Sydney across the bridge, I spotted Kaye right away and she was shocked that I did not have a suitcase with me. She had told me her schedule and it sounded like she was so busy, that I had assumed only a day trip. With limited time before her evening meeting, off we went in her car.

Kaye is delightful, a new grandmother, former pony club leader and riding school owner and avid creative memories scrap booker. She is also a Neways Distributor, which was a company that I was unfamiliar with. It is out of Utah and promotes, skin, teeth, beauty, supplements and cleaners that are free of anything that could cause cancer. I must research this a little more, because I like the concept.

During our day together, she drove me all over her little hamlet and we visited many beaches and overlooks. We spotted migrating whales and had lunch next to a pod of playful bottlenose dolphins, the best viewing I have had in Australia. We also went to her former house and riding facility and there were lessons going on. There were adorable little girls in jodhpurs on very fuzzy white ponies. Thelwel if I ever saw them.

We stopped by her friend’s house that is in love with everything Santa Fe. There house could have been airlifted from New Mexico it is so perfect. They had it built from pictures and have never even been to the US.

Kaye and I stopped at the local health food store and I found henna so my roots can be covered again. We then went to pick up several of her friends to go to a presentation this evening from a Cardiologists discussion on the benefits of the Neways products. I had a quick drink with them before I caught the training back to Sydney.

It was a lovely evening and I felt very blessed to have time with Kaye. I hope I get to see her again at the end of the trip.

I was pooped and turned off the light by 9:30 pm. YAAAH!

Wednesday, July 12

Let go – Vibes card – should be a daily pull for me recently

Slept late and took the circulating bus all over Sydney. This is an excellent way to get your bearings and to find out about places you want to go back to visit. After my first circuit, I got off at the stop for the Art Museum of NSW – Can you believe it – they don’t have any NORMAN LINDSAY ON THE WALLS! Who is Norman Lindsay? More later.

I heard back from ItoI and Melbourne did not need volunteers currently, so I will go north to Cairns in a week and do 4 weeks at a wildlife hospital near Ravenshoe. As soon as the decision was made, I was much lighter and happier. I start on Friday, July 21. 4 more nights in Sydney and then, off to Cairns for 4 days.

I will go to YHA travel agent tomorrow and plan the rest of my time before Cairns. I will also check into my time in H Kong briefly before SAfrica. I will check with South African Consulate to see about a visa for over 90 days just in case

As I was waiting for Kate to meet me at my hotel, I noticed that the street cleaners check in with their mates on cell phones to determine which streets have been done and which still need to be done. Amazing!

I had dinner with Kate at the Opera Bar over looking the harbor. It was lovely to spend some time with her. She is at an exciting time of her life, taking on a new position with more responsibility and finishing up her degree. Then, she will be able to go anywhere. I will definitely keep in touch with her and see where she ends.

I love my life!

Thursday, July 13

The YHA Travel agency had answers to some of my questions, but it sound like I will be making most of my own reservations on-line for all future flights and hotel needs through December.

I was walking back to the Rocks district, where the early settlement of Sydney began, and stopped into the Queen Victoria Building that is supposed to be the most beautiful building in Sydney. I am not sure what it was originally, but now it is an upscale shopping center on 4 floors with a central opening looking down all the levels. It has lots of memorabilia about Victoria and paintings and the most amazing clock and calendar. On the hour, the trumpets sound, and to the music of Trumpet Voluntaire, the clock has scenes from British history appearing with moving figures in each tableaux. Some of the scenes include the signing of the Magna Carta, the beheading of King Charles, and Henry VIII with the 6. The calendar part of the clock is in a different location and resembles a large suspended egg that shows the month, date and day of the week. They just don’t make clocks like that any more.

I had an appointment to check in the Terri about the cats and they are doing well, waiting mostly patiently for me to come home and generally treating Brett and Betty pretty well. Good news!

On my way back to the Quay, I had Jester’s Pie #2 – Thai Chicken – I couldn’t help it, the other varieties just didn’t look that nice!

While I was in Adelaide in Tandanya, the native Australian art center, they had a costume exhibit from an aboriginal movie - 10 Canoes. If I remember correctly, this is the first movie that tells a totally aboriginal story and done in the native tongue with English narration and subtitles. I saw the movie at the art house cinema I had been to before. It was good, a little slow moving by Western standards, but very dear. At one point, there was a line of warriors walking in a straight line out into the bush. Suddenly, the one at the end shouts and they all spread out to take on an intruder. The last guy says that he no longer wants to walk in the back because somebody keeps farting. After much finger pointing and laughing, one guy confesses and then he gets to walk at the tail of the line.

I also treated myself to a night of theatre at the Sydney Opera House. It was a one-man original show called A Large Attendance in the Antechamber. The play was about the cousin of Charles Darwin who was also a scientist and the actor did most of the performance encased in a 3-sided, 5 foot square box on stage, which he hardly ever left during the show. During his narration, he conducted science experiments, projected images on to a cloth screen in the front of the box and made tea on stage. I was in the front row in the last seat on house right and saw it all. I have packed away my literature or I could tell you the names of the man. It was wonderful. The Opera House is also doing a new version of Pirates of Penzance, which I hope to fit in during my last night in Sydney.

Friday, July 14

Today I decided to walk closer to Kings Cross and visit the Sydney Jewish Museum. I came out of my hotel to find rain, so I went back for my big jacket. The walk wasn’t that far, but it was going into a somewhat seedier part of the city, which I felt was safe enough during the day. The Museum was pretty good and several displays were very interesting, especially one on the archeological excavations of a mass grave at Sernika. The evidence from this grave helped to bring two WWII criminals to trial. Another interesting thing I saw was the information on the names and number of Jewish people who were sent to Australia from England when it was a penal colony. One man, Ikey Solomon, was a thief whose family had already been sent to Australia. He was the man that Charles Dickens used as the model for Fagin in Oliver Twist. Ikey ended up a pauper and dying in Australia, abandoned by his family.

I made plans to take another train trip tomorrow out of the city to the Blue Mountains to visit the home and gallery of Norman Lindsay.

The rest of the day was errands such as booking my flights to Cairns, Jester’s pie #3 – Tandori Chicken, and my blogging at Starbucks ritual of decaf skinny flat white with gluten free cookie. Then home to the hotel to henna my hair and watch tv.

Doodle days are good!

Saturday, July 15

I was up early for my Blue Mountains Trip and it was raining in earnest so I bundled up and headed out. (This is the first time since I mailed it home that I wished I had my umbrella). I figured I would find a cheap umbrella along the way.

I knew that Norman lived at a house called Springwood, (also a train station) but the address in the guidebook said Falcounbridge, so that is where I got off the train. It had bombed rain the entire trip. I asked an elderly gentleman how best to get to the gallery. He said that the buses don’t go there, there were no taxis, he would drive me but he does not have a car, but he did point me in the right direction. It was a 4.5 km walk to the gallery. Luckily I had my big coat, it wasn’t too cold and it turned out to be down hill the entire way. I stopped at every open place along the way, but no umbrellas.

As I was approaching an area, all the street signs had names like Watkin Wombat and somebody O’Possum. I had an awful thought and wondered if the place would even be open. Luckily, when I arrived it was. I entered the gift shop, dripping wet and asked the ladies if they sold Norman Lindsay umbrellas? What a good idea, they thought. I asked if it would be possible to have a cab called when I wanted to leave, which they said they could, and they waved me off to the café for a cup of tea and a dry off before the tour.

Why did I want to see Norman Lindsay’s house? When Annie was at University in Canberra in the 70’s, she arrived in Bangkok with a book called, the Magic Pudding, or the adventures of Bunyip Bluegum. It became a staple in my house and it was written and illustrated by Mr. Lindsay in the 1920s. It was about a magical (steak and kidney pie) pudding owned by Mr. Bluegum. What was magical about it is that you could cut it and eat part of it, but it would repair itself and there would always be more. As you can imagine, it was the source of great envy and many mean people wanted to steal it, therefore the adventures.

As I went on my tour, I learned that Mr. Lindsay (1870’s – 1969) came from a very talented artistic family and he was a cartoon illustrator for the Herald (?), a liberal and counter culture newspaper until 1950. He also did many etchings, cartoons, several books (which were banned), garden sculpture and oils. He adored the female nude and his women were usually Rubenesque. There was a film called Sirens, a somewhat fictitious story from his life, and an animated movie done of the Magic Pudding with notables as Geoffrey Rush, Sam Neill and Toni Collette.

In his painting studio, he left two pictures incomplete and only partially painted to show the coming generations how he did it. He was not classically trained and was ridiculed by the art critics of his time, but considering all that, I found his oils to be magnificent. He lived on the edge, called his house Olympus and the residents Olympians and most of his early works were of fantastical groupings of people in Greek or Roman attire. He was a rebel with a notorious reputation, which was mostly unfounded. True, there were wild parties at his place, but they were held by his second wife, Rose, while he hid in the painting studio and kept working. He was very contemptuous of the WOWSER”s of his time. WOWSER – We only want social evils remedied.

I had a great meal in the Lindsay café next to a replica of the magic pudding.

PHOTO

As I was waiting for my cab, I finally saw a Kookaburra. They, for once, are much larger than I would have expected. The cab back to the Springwood station was wonderful, and as I saw the length (much longer) and terrain (all up hill) for that leg of the trip, I was very glad that I got off at Falcounbridge.

Sunday, July 16

My last day in Sydney before I go to Cairns and I had lots of phone calls and intenetting to do. I am still a little flummoxed at times with the phone system in Australia. Even with a phone card, you usually have to put in a coin. Even though you have a card, in some cities you have to call a special number and in addition to the international access code for your country, you also have to dial additional numbers. I should have it down just before I leave the country!

As I was walking past a street mall, I had a flash of movement from the corner of my eye. As I looked closer, there was a crowd of people and the entire plaza was fenced off. Within the fence were probably 100 white rabbits. I stopped for a minute at this point and wondered if it was Chinese New Year and if it was the Year of the Rabbit. No, Chinese New Year is earlier in the year and I think we are in the Year of the Horse.

It turned out to be a film company doing an advertisement for something and they had a very slender oriental woman in a black dress running around behind the rabbits. As I stood a watched, the rabbits were doing rabbit things like leaving little rabbit nuggets, sniffing the air, trying to escape and one young male, trying to make more rabbits.

PHOTO – rabbits

I had seen a flyer for a free opera concert in the Queen Victoria building at noon and two, so I made sure that I was there in time. I ate my croissant and drank my coffee and watched. It was a soprano and tenor doing love duets including Le Boehm and the drinking song from Traviata. I enjoyed it so much, I window-shopped and caught the second show where I also managed to get a seat. Next to me sat, Olga, a Russian woman from London who was visiting Australia.

It was a lovely day.

Additional Australian Vocabulary

Cheesed off – furious

Whoop Whoop – Outback

Oz - Australia

Posted by ladyjanes 20:45 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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