Australia Day celebrations…Many photos to share…Serendipitous meeting of a talented and creative alpaca farmer…

Tom standing next to the Australian flag at the entrance to the Australia Day festivities in the town of Franklin, Tasmania.

Australia Day as explained in yesterday’s post is celebrated with a similar enthusiasm and fervor we’d experienced on the 4th of July in the US in our old lives.  Upcoming in our visit to the US, we’ll celebrate this next 4th of July in Minnesota for the first time in five years.

It was sprinkling off and on but it didn’t keep us from checking out the activities.

As we’ve traveled throughout the world we’ve found many countries honor such a day(s) of independence and freedom or as a result of release from some form of tyrannical rule or another.

Aussies, undoubtedly, take this day very seriously in their hearts.  However, typical with their warm demeanor and outgoing nature many of the festivities are often lighthearted and humorous.

A long ago skill is utilized by Grace Hunter, a local alpaca farmer who changes the fluffy alpaca fleece into a fine yarn she uses to make many items.  We were thrilled to spend time chatting with Grace over our mutual love of alpacas and our admiration of her products.

We couldn’t resist watching Australia Day news while I prepared yesterday’s post. There were serious and inspirational talks by leaders and politicians along with recognition for “Australians of the Year” including several special individuals who are recognized each year for their accomplishments in many areas. 

We couldn’t stop smiling over these adorable “gothic” dolls, all handmade by alpaca farm owner, Grace Hunter.

This annual event of the recognition of Australians has been a part of this annual celebration over the past 35 years.  It particularly appealed to us.  In our own country a few individuals may be recognized who receive a small number of awards with little hoopla presented to the masses. 

In the US, a few biased magazines designate their favorite “person of the year,” who may or may not be of major significance to the general population.  We’d love to see such a valuable adjunct to the US’s annual 4th of July celebration.

Tom held this adorable alpaca fleece monkey Grace designed and made, as is the case for all of her items.
Australians embrace these annual awards with the highest of regard as they’ve become an integral part of Australia Day.  This year’s first place winner, Emeritus Professor Alan Mackay-Sim was recognized, among other recipients, for his discoveries in stem cell research as described below from this site:

“Australian of the Year 2017

Emeritus Professor Alan Mackay-Sim

Biomedical scientist treating spinal cord injuries…

An inspirational scientist and international leader in stem cell research, Professor Alan Mackay-Sim has given hope to thousands of Australians with spinal cord injuries.

A global authority on the human sense of smell and the biology of nasal cells, Alan led the world’s first clinical trial using these cells in spinal cord injury. In 2014, Alan’s research helped play a central role in the world’s first successful restoration of mobility in a quadriplegic man.

As the director of the National Centre for Adult Stem Cell Research for a decade, Alan’s research has championed the use of stem cells to understand the biological bases of brain disorders and diseases such as schizophrenia, Parkinson’s disease and Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia.

Alan’s pioneering work has led to collaborations with teams of health professionals who are translating his research into clinical practice. He has laid the foundation for the next generation of researchers and demonstrated the value of inquiry, persistence and empathy.”

An alpaca fleece short cape with a poncho to the left.

After watching the news and uploading the post, we headed out to the small town of Franklin, a pleasant 15 minute drive from our vacation home.  We had no idea what to expect but were determined to partake of the festivities on Australia’s special day, rain or shine.

In many countries in which we’ve traveled, cultural differences are more pronounced than they appear in Australia.  As we traveled to many areas of the vast continent, its become clear to us the wide array of cultural difference we’ve experienced. 

Here again, Grace‘s skills came into play in making this alpaca fleece sweater. 

We’ll discuss our limited perspective of cultural differences after spending seven and a half months in Australia (and so far, spending 19 months in this general area of the South Pacific) in more detail in tomorrow’s post as we continue to share more Australia Day photos.

Upon arriving at the venue, and after finding a convenient spot in a grassy designated carpark (Aussie speak. Its called a parking lot in the US), we walked a distance to the entry to the park being used for the dozens of displays and booths highlighting various businesses throughout the area.

Grace utilized the extra soft fleece from a special breed of alpaca on her farm with hair too fine too weave.  She made every part of all of these shown items.  Very talented.

There was a variety of vendors with handmade crafts including soaps, skincare products, embroidery, jewelry and unique household furnishings.  Of course, there were numerous food booths with mouth watering treats, all of which we avoided; fried mushrooms, fried fish, cakes, pies, pastries and breads. 

Our taste buds were sent into a frenzy as we passed each food booth.  Tom, has been cutting back on food in preparation for the next cruise upcoming in 34 days.  And of course, I diligently maintain my way of eating with nary a taste of anything not included.

Closer view of the Grace‘s adorable designed and handmade gothic dolls. 

As we wandered through the stalls stopping to take photos and chat with vendors, we were delighted when we encountered alpaca farmer, Grace Hunter, with whom we engaged in lively conversation. 

Ironically, we’ve been posting “one year ago photos” at the end of each day’s post which have all been about alpacas since the middle of January, 2016 when we arrived in New Plymouth, New Zealand.

Free bouncy houses for kids.

Grace couldn’t have been more engaging.  (Click her name for her email address if interested in any of her products).  We couldn’t stop talking about the sweet nuances of the gentle animals, the birth of cria and her ability to use the shorn “fleece” to make a variety of artfully designed and handmade items, some of which we’ve shown here today.

Grace, it was a pleasure meeting you and seeing your dedication to your alpacas and the beautiful way you use their fleece to make so many adorable and enchanting products. 

Games and activities for kids.

The magic of alpacas along with sheep and other such animals, is the fact that don’t have to be slaughtered to benefit from their seasonal offerings of their fluffy fur. 

The charming animals can live long and enjoyable lives, happily humming at their leisure with owners such as Grace and the wonderful couple, Trish and Neal, with whom we shared that glorious alpaca experience one year ago. Click here for Trish and Neal’s fabulous holiday home on their farm.

I was particularly attracted to the chocolate flavored soap for sale at a stand, made by a local vendor.  There’s little room in our lives for such frivolities. 

After the event, we drove down a few country road until more rain and clouds rolled in, a common occurrence on this island of Tasmania. Back at “home” before dinner time, we were reeling over our meaningful experience on Australia Day and look forward to each and every day as meaningful over these next three months while we remain on this continent.

Happy healthy day to all!


Photo from one year ago today, January 27, 2016:

The first “cria” (alpaca) birth we witnessed on the farm in New Zealand, one year ago.  Its imperative the little alpaca stand within 20 to 30 minutes after birth to fire neurons in the brain.  If they don’t stand, they need a little help from humans as was the case with this baby.  Click here for more photos.

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