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Urimbirra Wildlife Park

6 Sep

We got ourselves out of the house on Sunday and drove to Victor Harbor. It was a lovely sunny day and after a titchy kind of morning at home it was so good to get out and about.

We bought pasties for lunch from a bakery and after talking to a knowledgeable lady at the information centre, who helped us decide on what to do out of so many choices, ended up heading to Urimbirra Wildlife Park, just a few minutes from Victor Harbour.

Urimbirra is a privately run park with a great number of native animals. We stayed for a few hours but still didn’t see everything there was to see. Emma carried the camera. She loves taking heaps of photos, and tries to capture every single thing we see. Most of these shots are by Emma.

This one taken by Doug…Lorikeet eating porridge

This one by Emma

Old Man Emu. I spent the rest of the day with the old John Williamson song stuck in my head. “He can’t fly but I’m telling you, he can run the pants off a kangaroo”  to which my Ryan says: “Wait, what? Do kangaroos have pants!?”

A highlight was getting up close to the koalas. There was a male and a female which we were able to wander right up to and touch then as they fed. This was their 20 minutes of activity for the day before they went back to doing what they do best – sleeping. A special treat was that the female had a 7 month old joey with her clinging to her as she fed.

A bit special for Ryan because he’s wanted to see Koalas since we first told him we’d be moving to Australia about a year ago.

Benjamin made friends with the kangaroos, including a mother and her joey. They wander freely around the park and don’t seem to mind the attention they get from visitors. It was lovely to just sit down next to one and just hang out while they ate out of our hands.

Me hanging out with a couple of joeys of my own.

Lots of reptiles to look at, it was good to show the kids some of the more dangerous snakes found in Australia. It’s always good to know these things I suppose. Australia has it’s fair share of spiders too although I haven’t seen one at all since we got back.

Eastern Tiger Snake

I have a childhood memory of finding a Carpet Python (don’t seem to have a pic) in the house when we lived in Brisbane.  My Mum called the police (of all the inappropriate people to call – what are they going to do? Arrest it?). An officer came and wandered through the house and couldn’t find it. We all just had to go back in and hope it was gone. I don’t remember how I came to know (or think) it was a Carpet Python….even back then, it struck me as funny that there was a Carpet snake on our carpet.

All in all a lovely day out.

The Beach and the Long Way Home

8 Jul

So we’ve been in Australia nearly a month now. I am full of good intentions, and had hoped to blog a little more, but this is going to have to do for now.

We are in our house which is bigger than the one we’ve left behind. It’s nice to have some extra space and we’re enjoying settling in and buying the stuff we need bit by bit. We didn’t bring any appliances or furniture with us, so there’s been a lot to get sorted with the 6 of us. We are doing some serious bargain hunting and it’s been such fun shopping second-hand. Also heaps of stuff has been given to us, we’re so grateful and it’s made such a difference.

Today though we just needed to get out and enjoy the sun. It’s been cloudy and showery all week and the extended family have all been sick as well as our Samuel who has a nasty cold and most likely an ear infection. So we jumped in the car with no particular destination in mind and ended up at Moana Beach. All of these photos taken by the hubby.

The kids threw stones together

while poor sick little Sam clutched his medicine and wouldn’t let go.

Later we wandered up to a little playground and the kids pretended these were horses and I was the crazy commentator. Ryan loved it so much and said later that ‘winning the races’ was his favourite part of the day.

This involved a fair amount of leaping off if you felt like you were getting behind.

Token pic as evidence I was actually there. I kept busy by carrying the coffee. While growing a baby.

We bought hot chips for lunch and shared a few with this beady-eyed character.

We took the long way home via McLaren Vale although we didn’t stop to taste wines. We passed through Kangarilla, and Clarendon and stopped to buy flowers from the side of the road. Apart from the usual sheep and cows, we also saw donkeys, alpacas, a flock of cockatoos, several camels, and a dead kangaroo. Despite our best efforts craning our necks up gum trees we didn’t see a single koala. Ryan has made me promise to show him ‘all the animals except snakes’. I told him I’d do my best. The dead kangaroo didn’t count.

Another Special Tree Planting

12 Jun


With our last days in New Zealand approaching, we all wanted to visit the trees we’d planted back in September last year. The children wanted to see if they’d grown big enough to carve their initials in. Of course being very very slow growing trees, none of them had gained more than a few milimetres at a guess. Nevertheless, they are still there and doing well.

We had another reason to visit though, that is we are expecting our 5th child and it didn’t seem right that he/she would be the only one without a special New Zealand tree to honour their roots. Being conceived in NZ (but will be born in Australia) this little one needed a tree too. Tom and Mahrukh were very kind to arrange a visit just for us and at late notice. Here are a few pics from the day. These were taken by Mahrukh…we have some too which I might post at a later date.

In the back of Tom’s truck for a short ride up the track.

Tom and Doug digging the hole.

We chose a Miro this time.

A little Miro tree for Baby Johnson

When Emma’s Puriri tree is about 150 years old it will look a bit like this one.

Many thanks to Tom & Mahrukh from Cue Haven. They have such an inspirational vision to restore a 59 acre farm back to native forest. I think I’ve caught a tree planting bug. I definitely want to do this again.


Just some things.

5 Jun

I have tired eyes, but am so awake on the inside…my mind feels alert with the anticipation of the things that have to happen over the next 7 days. Today was busy. Packed another suitcase, washed clothes, cooked dinner and pudding, drank tea with a friend, visited the lawyer, compiled documents for a rental application, sent emails, and sold stuff.  I really like my lawyer. There are two large tail-wagging dogs that greet clients at the door. One is black (a Retriever I think) and the other is golden and curly. Both stand about knee high. You don’t really expect two large dogs when you go to see a lawyer.

I made chocolate pudding for the kids for dessert. I accidentally added 2 eggs instead of 1, and cooked it in the microwave instead of the oven because I was running out of time. But steamy hot pudding however stodgy, with creamy vanilla ice cream still filled happy bellies and so wasn’t a complete fail. The reason I messed up the recipe is because I’m the worst ever cooking-with-kids kind of person. It drives me to distraction (literally) and I make a mistake nearly every time. I can cook and talk on the phone, I can cook and chat with friends, but I can’t cook while making sure the two year old doesn’t pour out the milk, or tip flour on the floor. He’s inclined to do things like that. The other day he stood on a chair while I was making pumpkin soup. We were finished and the phone rang. When I came back I found he had poured and entire 2 litre bottle of milk into the soup and turned it into pumpkin flavoured milk. It was completely wasted. A disaster.

I’m reading again. It’s been a while. A friend lent me The Help a few weeks ago, and one weekend while sick I read the whole thing in two days. It was such a lovely lovely relaxing feeling to read an entire book. (A good read by the way. I saw the movie first, and enjoyed both equally.) When I read and get lost in a good book I can actually feel my brain relax. It’s like a brain-sigh. Anyway, now I’m finally reading Life of Pi by Yann Martel. I bought it ages ago, and finally in desperation of having nothing to read, I unpacked a box of books that has been packed up for three months and dug it out. So far so good. I’m needing a read at the end of the day to stop my brain going over To Do lists all night.  Last night I dreamed I was driving along Seacliff Beach (my local beach in Adelaide) watching sharks circling around in the shallows. (What does this mean??)

This bearded dragon has absolutely nothing to do with anything. I just like him.

Counting in Days

4 Jun

I’ve been awake since before 5am, and got up at 5:30am because I couldn’t go back to sleep. For some,  this is a perfectly normal and acceptable time to start the day but for me it’s considered the middle of the night.

With so much going on at the moment, if I wake, my mind starts going over all the things that need to be done and there is only one thing for it, and that is to get up and make lists. Today list involved allocating last minute tasks to each of the 9 days remaining. That’s when we fly to Australia.

It’s a surreal kind of feeling wrapping up more than a decade of life here and starting over. For my husband and kids is a brand new life. For me, it’s a little different. It’s going back, going home. Revisiting. I still feel in a kind of limbo. I don’t feel like I really belong in either place. 12 years is a long time. I don’t really know what to expect.

These last days are busy with packing boxes and suitcases, and all the little administrative tasks that comes with leaving the country. I’m trying to savour precious memories and enjoy the little things I love about life here. And all that without becoming emotionally unstable. One thing I have learned is that I can’t get things done when I’m emotional. I have so much to do I simply don’t have time to be sad.

We have a probably deal on our house which has come at the perfect time. We’re still in the uncertain days before it becomes unconditional which I am trying not to think about too much. And among the chaos of packing, I’m trying to remember and capture the little everyday things which will become precious memories of life here.


Little Yellow Wand – Matt Stillert

24 May

Little Yellow Wand – Matt Stillert

This is my talented cousin. He’s making waves in the Adelaide roots music scene. This is his first video, and the launch of his debut EP Don’t Fear the Beard is coming up on June 22nd. One of the lovely things about moving back to Australia is going to be being able to enjoy these kinds of events. We arrive in Adelaide on the 13th June, and I’m so glad we’ll be in Adelaide for the launch. Matt and his mates have organised a massive event with ten original bands playing.

I can’t count the number of family milestones I have missed over the years. I’ve made it back for three weddings and a funeral (not kidding) but have missed the births of my brothers children and they have missed the births of mine. I haven’t been around when 2 close family members have battled cancer. I have been absent when family members could have done with help and support, meals and babysitters. And we’ve been far away from that same support when we’ve needed it too.

Anyway…as the days get closer to our departure, it’s such a nice feeling to know that we’ll actually be able to be around for things like this, and to celebrate the success of our own. It really is something to look forward to. And I need those things to anticipate to buoy me through the emotions of saying goodbye to this part of my life.

Check out the video. He’s pretty good.

On Siblings

27 Feb

I listened to a great TED talk this morning called: The Hidden Power of Siblings by Jeffrey Kluger, who is a Science and Technology reporter for Time magazine. He has written a book called The Sibling Effect in which he draws upon his own family experiences to analyse sibling relationships and discusses how the sibling relationship is one of the most meaningful we may experience. I’d really like to read it.

My brother & I – approximately 1980 

“Our parents leave us too soon, and our spouses and children come too late, but only our siblings are with us for the entire ride.”

I have often thought how lucky I am to have a brother, and glad that we have become closer over the years. We used to fight something shocking as kids. (In his talk Kluger cites a study that showed that children aged 2-4 years will have a fight every 6.3 seconds). But as we’ve gotten older we have become friends and the shared experiences of our childhood means we have a knowing of each other and a bond that is unique.

And since becoming a mother, I’ve so enjoyed watching each of my children develop their own individual sibling relationships. Kluger speaks of these individual bond in families as dyads, each individual having a unique relationship with each other family member. This is why as families grow, the relational bonds get more complicated and dynamic. For example in our family, Doug and I have our own relationship (1), Doug has relationships with each of the four children (4 more) as do I (4 more). Now we’re up to 9. Then each of the children have a unique relationship with each other. That’s 6 more. So a total of 15 dyads in our family.

My children engage in their own fair share of fights, but I can see that they are also great mates. I spot them sticking up for each other, conspiring against Mum & Dad when they think things are unjust (and I reckon that’s entirely healthy even if they may be wrong), and laughing at their own inside jokes. This makes me very happy.

“Having siblings, and not making the most of those bonds is I believe, folly of the first order. If relationships are broken and fixable, fix them. If they work, make them even better. Failing to do so is a little like having a thousand acres of fertile farmland and never planting it. Yes, you can always get your food at the supermarket, but think what you’re allowing to lie fallow. Life is short, and it’s finite, and it plays for keeps. Siblings may be the among the richest harvests of the time we have here.”

Library Days

24 Feb

I love our library visits. I love the way the children all disappear into their own book worlds as soon as we arrive. (Except Sam. He sat still with a book for a nanosecond and spent the rest of the visit tearing around and playing on the little kiddy slide thingy) The older three all take out armfuls of books which they read in the car on the way home, and the rest of the afternoon at home is usually very quiet.




I haven’t been reading much lately…too much else going on with getting the house painted and getting rid of stuff, and packing boxes ready for our move. It’s still looking like a few months away, and has taken longer than we initially thought, but there is no particular hurry…apart from my own impatience.

Warning: Malfunction

24 Feb

I had one of those moments this morning where one small event leads to another and then another and then another.

It all started to unravel while I was in the shower when Samuel (2) hit Ryan (nearly 5) on the head with a broom handle. There was a loud protest but no tears so it wasn’t very hard.  I think it was an accident but I can’t be sure. Emma (9) came to the rescue with a bag of frozen peas to ice the sore head. I was receiving regular updates through the bathroom door, and I was dutifully shouting instructions back at them like this “LEAVE EACH OTHER ALONE! For goodness SAKE!”

So when I was informed that “Sam is stealing the peas!” I shouted back “EMMA! PUT THE PEAS BACK IN THE FREEZER!”

Apparently he got them back out because after my shower I found a kilogram of peas now defrosted and tipped all over the lounge floor, quite evenly spread from one room to the next. They were too soggy to vacuum, so I swept them into a pile. This is some of them:

While this was happening I asked Ryan to get the vacuum cleaner, and he had trouble plugging it in. Ben (7) came to his aid but not before accidentally leaning on the book shelf and tipping it resulting in this:

So when I heard a glass smash on the drive way  just a few moments later, I kind of flipped out.

Because there was a barefoot two year old to consider, I stopped cleaning up the peas to get to the glass, all the while letting rip with sighs, and groans, and the ranting began. “You’ve got to be joking, this is Ridiculous! Just stop it! Stop making messes! All of you! How can you make so much mess in such a short time? I’m sick of cleaning up disasters around here. I just can’t believe you guys!”

Glass done and onto the peas: “I can’t believe this…why didn’t you guys stop him and take the peas away!What the heck is going on around here?” I was quite focussed on my little rant and cleaning up as fast as possible in case something else happened…but I gradually became aware than Emma had placed something down on the carpet and was slowly, with head down leaving the room. Backwards. Strange. Then I saw this:

 I was completely undone and the rant dissolved away into unbridled laughter. I love these kids who are so wise and funny and light hearted. They don’t take life too seriously. Who cares really about peas on the carpet!?

The pages came from this book called M.O.M.  – Mom Operating Manual by Doreen Cronin, that Emma has taken out from the library this week.


28 Oct

I know I’ve been AWOL, but maybe it’s because I’ve been trying to find partners for all these. Argh! Do they have any idea how infuriating this is for a person who likes things to match up?  You’ll notice that there are single socks for every member of the family except me. I honestly don’t know how this happens. What are they doing with their socks??????


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