Thursday, February 16, 2006

Week Two

We've been here almost two weeks now and we are feeling mostly settled in. We've found the grocery stores that we like and are learning our way around quite well. Starting to feel like home.

I went to my first Rotary meeting here at the Canberra Sunrise club, my host club, and gave a short presentation on my background and why I chose to come to Australia. It went well and I presented the club with two banners from Ohio clubs and an Arch Klumph medallion. They all knew who he was already. In case you're wondering, Mr. Klumph was a Cleveland Rotarian who started the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International, also a president of the Cleveland club and Rotary International.

We are still delighted with our apartment and have met the neighbors. There are eight apartments in the building and only two don't have children. That's us and our next door neighbors, a young couple from Singapore. Our other neighbors are from Australia, Japan, Taiwan, Brazil, and Korea, I believe. All the little kids play together every evening and though they're a little loud sometimes, I always think how wonderful that they have each other for a little multicultural event every evening. So cool....

Oh, and the other night as I was making dinner there was some crazy pounding at my door and I look over to see four little faces peering in the window. I go to the door and some of the kids were delivering me fresh garden tomatoes! They went right into my pasta and were delicious.

Classes start next week and I have decided on three of the four that I'll be enrolled in. I plan on sitting in on a few others to make the final decision then. And I've met with several professors who could be possible supervisors for a research project I'll be starting. Don't ask me the topic yet; I'll be sure to let you know when I figure that out.

In the morning I'm joining a Sustainable Learning Communities project on campus and we'll be planting trees near one of the residence halls. Apparently they'll be doing of number of environmental projects on campus so I'm looking forward to working with them.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Crimson Rosella

Here's a photo I took of a parrot perching on our clothes line in the back yard. It's a juvenile Crimson Rosella.


Here's a photo of our 99 cent mountain bike lovingly named Buck.

Bike Friday Tandem

And here's a photo of our Bike Friday tandem that we brought with us to Australia. It comes completely apart and fits into a suitcase which then turns into a trailer. Neat eh?


This is our second "junk" bike acquired from a second hand shop. It cost more than a dollar but we named it penny.

Wildlife Encounters

I saw my first kangaroos in the wild!!!
You can imagine that I could hardly contain my excitement but I did manage to stifle my squeals and not scare the marsupials away. The best part is that they are only a ten minute walk from our apartment. We live just down the road from a nature park called Black Mountain and after dinner last night we went out for walk. Apparently dusk is a good time for kangaroo spotting and we managed to see six. We figure we saw two males, two females and two babies. It was so exciting. The biggest one was probably a good five feet tall and not 20 feet away. I think the variety that we'll see around here is the eastern grey kangaroo. Here's a photo...

Eastern Grey Kangaroo

To continue the theme of wildlife encounters...
On the day our friend Chris left to return to Melbourne, we were driving around doing some errands in the morning. Chris very calmly says, "Brian, do you have that bottle that you were using to catch flys?" and as we look over at him in the drivers seat, a giant hairy spider crawls out from the visor over his head and scurries across the ceiling over my head in the backseat. Now, I'm not one to be afraid of creepy crawlies but here spiders and ants sure make me jump. Needless to say, we all freaked out a little and pulled over, opened all the windows and the hatch and let the little guy find his own way out. Here's what we've determined it to be...

Huntsman (Holconia immanis) 1.8 inches average body length (not including legs!)

And I have to mention the birds. We have so many different and unusual kinds right in our yard. That's one great thing about it's surrounded by bush, we get some pretty cool critters as neighbors.

All in all a delightful week! Cheers...

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Exploring Canberra

Brian's friend Chris from Melbourne has been visiting us for the past several days and we've been busy. We biked around Lake Burley Griffin in the center of the city, an artificial lake named for Walter Burley Griffin, an American architect who designed the city of Canberra. It was a great ride on the tandem, mostly green space all around the lake and a pass through the heart of the city. Very nice.

And thanks to Chris and his car we've got groceries in our fridge, some goods from the Salvation Army, and two beater bikes. We have our Bike Friday packable tandem with us but we only want to use it for serious rides, not to leave outside the grocery store down the street. For more info on our super cool bike that fits into a suitcase for travel, see So we acquired two fairly decent mountain bikes. That's a funny story. Apparently good used bikes are fairly hard to come by here in Canberra according to the local bike shops, so we started looking on ebay. There were only two bikes up for auction in Canberra and one was a mountain bike with a starting price of 99 cents. So we placed a bid on it and went out for dinner. Got home and strangely enough found that we won the bike for 99 cents! The auction had a little note below the price saying "approximately US 74 cents." How's that for a great deal! It rides quite nicely but I'm not worried about it getting stolen.

I've also finally met the American Rotary scholar who was studying here last year and had dinner with him last night. It's been very nice to fall into a community where we know a number of people already. And my host Rotarian continues to be helpful in getting us settled and answering our questions as well.

Lake Burley Griffin in the center of Canberra Posted by Picasa

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Canberra Apartment

Canberra Apartment

tn_DSCF0312.JPG (200x150; 6214 bytes) Main bedroom upstairs with study nook to the left

tn_DSCF0317.JPG (200x150; 3847 bytes) Bed and one of many large closets

tn_DSCF0313.JPG (200x150; 6559 bytes) Study nook

tn_DSCF0315.JPG (200x150; 4617 bytes)
Second bedroom upstairs

tn_DSCF0316.JPG (150x200; 6260 bytes) Bathroom upstairs

tn_DSCF0318.JPG (200x150; 4768 bytes) Kitchen

tn_DSCF0319.JPG (200x150; 5818 bytes) Laundry off of kitchen

tn_DSCF0322.JPG (200x150; 5879 bytes) Living room and front entryway

tn_DSCF0326.JPG (200x150; 6555 bytes) Living area and kitchen

tn_DSCF0329.JPG (200x150; 6079 bytes) Living and dining

tn_DSCF0331.JPG (200x150; 10478 bytes) Eucalyptus in the front yard

tn_DSCF0333.JPG (200x150; 8450 bytes) Front of building

tn_DSCF0335.JPG (200x150; 6695 bytes) Jenn in front entryway

tn_DSCF0346.JPG (200x150; 10062 bytes) Front yard

tn_DSCF0347.JPG (200x150; 9287 bytes) Back yard

tn_DSCF0348.JPG (200x150; 8738 bytes) Back yard other direction

tn_DSCF0349.JPG (200x150; 2699 bytes) Outlets, don't forget to flip the switch...

tn_DSCF0350.JPG (200x150; 3204 bytes) Flushing choices

We've Arrived!

Well January 2006 has no doubt been the fastest month of my life. In December things started gearing up for this big move but January just flew past between arranging housing, packing and spending time with family and friends.
We had a lovely going away party the Sunday before departure and it was so wonderful to see everyone. Thanks to all who came to show their support!

And the big news is, we're finally here! The trip was only mild torture in the many, many, many hours on the plane. The connections were all very smooth and there was almost no waiting in airport layovers. Our flight to Sydney was an hour early (imagine that) so we were through customs earlier than expected and were able to get on the 9:15 bus to Canberra instead of the 1:15. And all of our bags arrived...
So we got in before anyone expected us....I tried to call my host counselor Stephen from a friendly strangers cell phone on the bus but he was golfing. So once we arrived, I called again and talked to his wife and they came right away to get us. With two cars for all our bags :) He had our keys to the apartment and we went right there...its so great! We are living in a two bedroom university owned apartment, much like a townhouse with two floors. Its very nice - spacious and clean. Nice furnishings and Stephen says its three hundred times better than the other place we considered. No A/C but it cools off nicely in the evening so we'll survive for the month or two of summer that's left.
Since we got in so early we were able to get our bank account set up, get some groceries, and retrieved the modem from the post office to get our DSL service set up, so as you can imagine Brian is now happy too.
We had a lovely dinner with my host Rotarian, Stephen, and his wife, Jan, and son, Joshua last night. Grilled barbecued salmon and local wine to go along with good company. They are wonderful people and have truly gone out of their way to help us get settled and get acquainted with our new city. Had a new "mixed drink" called a Shandy, a light beer with lemonade in it...quite refreshing.
We live in a suburb called O'Connor on a tree lined residential street. Just a block or two down the street are the local O'Connor shops with a pub and a couple cafes, a grocery store, a bike shop, a post office and Vietnamese restaurant. Each of the suburbs here has its own little block of shops so it makes for a nice gathering place. We are very close to both the university and the city center so we couldn't be happier with the location. Ate at the pub today and I'm rather happy that I can get a falafel burger right down the street :)
I'll be posting photos of the apartment just as soon as some of the bags get put away.
Thanks for reading...