Thursday, January 6, 2011

Adventures Down Under

After 24 hours on planes, endless movies, 2 books, some late night noodles in Hong Kong, and the trial run of the neck pillow/eye mask motif, it was an absolute pleasure to see Joel, smiling with a new Aussie summertime tan at the gate in Melbourne. He whisked us off in the car through the golden rolling hills, scattered eucalyptus trees, and wildlife that surrounds Melbourne to arrive at his mom and step-father’s  place outside of town. Ray and Ruth pulled out the stops, welcoming us with scones, jam, and a much needed kick of caffeine so we could make it through the afternoon and evening before finally crashing. 

We’ve spent a bit of time exploring Ray and Ruth’s beautiful property and the surrounding area – we thought we’d share some of the images.

The view of the back acres of the property. We saw a few kangaroos hanging out in the shade of the trees in the long dry grass.

Ruth and Ray have put an extraordinary amount of effort into the property over the last 12 years and have created a picturesque ranch style home surrounded by blooming gardens and vibrantly coloured trees.

There are no native cats in Australia, which has led to a huge number of colourful native birds. These are a pair of Galah Parrots that hung around the property and squawked at us from time to time. A side note – galah is also an Aussie slang term that means a goofy person who laughs a lot. We ended up running into lots of wildlife in a short span.
Including the chickens (or chooks as the Aussies call them).

Sulphur-crested cockatoo.

And the king of the parrots we saw – the Crimson Rosella. Red breasted, deep blue wings, with orange piping across the black of its back.

There were also strikingly colored magpies.

Mr. Humbug, the resident cat.

Down the road a bit, there is an alpaca farm! They were freshly shorn and so perhaps a little embarrassed to have their picture taken.
And last but not least – kangaroos! Apparently a group of kangaroos (or roos as the Aussies call them) are called a mob of roos, which seems pretty fitting. There was a group of about ten on the back of the property one night. They are absolutely massive, the largest standing nearly as tall as a person, and two of them even had a little boxing match. As you can see, they cover a lot of ground with each stride.

Sarah and I took a long walk around the “block,” which turned out to be a lovely 6km (3.5 miles for the Statesiders out there) walk into the rolling hills to see some of the other local properties.

The deep green of the trees and fields of golden grass, smell of eucalyptus and dry grass, and even the feel of the heat, brought me right back to summers in California, spending long days wandering through the open spaces on my bike. Amazing to find the same feel all the way across the world and to see the differences as well.

And then of course there’s been the wonderful time spent with Tanja, Joel, Ruth, Ray, and Otto! The little man now has three words – mama, dada, and otto – the third of which he uses liberally and loudly. Love the teeth. 

We feel so lucky to have been able to start this journey here with Joel’s lovely family, in the company of good friends who have let us get our feet under us, taught us a few Aussie words, and showed us how they do things Down Under.

Next stop, downtown Melbourne!


  1. Quite exciting! Asia is a fascinating place. It has changed my professional and personal life in ways that are only now becoming apparent. Soak it up and enjoy. Tom and are are spending 3 weeks in Turkey in June (my first Asian experience).

  2. Looks like you are off to a good start! But when is Sarah going to have a Vegemite sandwich?