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.

Happy Australia Day to our Australian/Tasmanian friends and readers…Saving more of $$$$…

Our friend Terry (and past landlord in Penguin) sent us this beautiful photo of another seal on Sisters Beach, Tasmania where he and his wife Fran are spending time at their cabin. Thanks, Terry!  This is quite a gem!

Today is Australia Day, a national day of celebration. This morning while researching online for information Australia Day to share with our readers, I stumbled across this interesting article as shown below at this link (edited to fit our page):

“Australia Day 2017: What does the average Aussie really look like?

Matt Wade
by Matt Wade                                        

Numbers can paint a vivid picture of how a nation has changed.  A century ago the average Aussie was a 24-year-old male farmer. Fifty years ago, it was a 29-year-old male office clerk. But today, it’s a 38-year-old female sales assistant.

Australia reaches population milestone

Earlier this year, statistics confirmed what we already knew, Australia’s population is rapidly growing; but you might be surprised to learn which city will be our biggest by 2050.

Let’s call our typical Aussie Rebecca – that was the most popular name for girls born in 1979 (it was Michael for boys). She is married and lives with her husband and two children, a boy and a girl aged nine and six, in a stand-alone house with three bedrooms in a suburb of one of Australia’s capital cities. They have a pet.

Rebecca completed year 12, has a Certificate in Business and Management and is employed as a sales assistant – the nation’s most common occupation for women and men these days. She does 32 hours of paid work each week (the average is 41 hours for men) and another five hours or more unpaid work around the house. The household’s annual disposable income is $88,500 (after tax). Rebecca takes five days of sick/carers leave each year and 16 days of annual leave.

Demographer Mark McCrindle estimates that Rebecca’s family has lived in the house for five years and is paying off a mortgage. They have $427,847 equity in the property, which is the bulk of the family’s wealth. They have another $65,880 worth of household possessions such as furniture and equipment.

Rebecca was born in Australia – despite our cultural diversity the average Australian was born here, as were both of their parents. But it’s a very different story in some parts of our big cities. In Sydney’s Haymarket for instance, 88 per cent of the population were born overseas.
Rebecca’s household has two cars which each travel an average of 14,000 kilometers (8699 miles) a year. Over the past 40 years the share of households with two or more motor vehicles has doubled, from 26 per cent to around 54 per cent. Like 69 percent of all commuters, Rebecca drives to work.

Despite the growing proportion of Australians with no religion, or a non-Christian religious affiliation, Rebecca is a Catholic and speaks only English at home. She has “English, Australian, Irish, or Scottish ancestry” according to the Bureau of Statistics. Rebecca is 164cm tall (5’4″) and weighs 68kg  (150 pounds). The average man is 178cm (5’8″) and weighs 85kg (187)pounds. She exercises three times a week and gets 7.2 hours of sleep per night.

Rebecca can expect to live until 85.3 years – about four years more than her male counterparts. Mr. McCrindle said demographic averages shed light on Australia’s collective “personality”.

“These statistics show we are working hard, we are saving hard and we are juggling multiple roles,” he said.

“It points to a pretty conscientious, busy nation that is just getting on with it.”

View from the highway as we head back from Huonville.

This above article defines life for the average Australian, although the lives of many may vary substantially based on income and lifestyle. In the next few days Australia’s population will reach 24,000,000.

The significance of Australia Day, is described as follows from this site:

“On Australia Day we come together as a nation to celebrate what’s great about Australia and being Australian. It’s the day to reflect on what we have achieved and what we can be proud of in our great nation. It’s the day for us to re-commit to making Australia an even better place for the future.
Australia Day, 26 January, is the anniversary of the arrival of the First Fleet of 11 convict ships from Great Britain, and the raising of the Union Jack at Sydney Cove by its commander, Captain Arthur Phillip, in 1788 (you can read a comprehensive history of the evolution of Australia Day here).

Though 26 January marks this specific event, today Australia Day celebrations reflect contemporary Australia: our diverse society and landscape, our remarkable achievements and our bright future. It also is an opportunity to reflect on our nation’s history, and to consider how we can make Australia an even better place in the future.

On Australia Day, half of the nation’s population of 24 million attend either an organized community event, or get together with family and friends with the intention of celebrating our national day. Many more, spend the public holiday relaxing with family and friends.

Yet Australia Day is much more than barbeques and fireworks. It is more than another public holiday. It is more than the pride and excitement of new citizens who call themselves Australian for the first time on 26 January after being conferred citizenship.

At its core, Australia Day is a day driven by communities, and the celebrations held in each town, suburb or city – unified by the celebration of what’s great about Australia and being Australian – are the foundation of its ongoing success.”

The Huon River is very wide in this area.

We’re honored and excited to be here in Australia on this special day in history. Today, we’re off to the celebrations in the town of Franklin, returning tomorrow with photos. 

As to the mention in today’s heading regarding our “Saving more $$$$” we’re pleased that Tom’s diligence in checking daily for price reductions on our already booked cruises have benefited us to such a degree.

Over this past month, the cruise from Santiago, Chile to Buenos Aires, Argentina we’ve saved a total of AU 2,641, US $2,000.  We’d booked the cruise while aboard ship which provides an added opportunity for perks and yet, still allows our rep at Vacations to Go to receive full credit for the transaction.

The dock on the property here in Castle Bay Forbes on the Huon River.

To reap the benefits of these price drops, which in this case was a total of three price reductions, we contact Brooklyn/Shanon, our rep at Vacations to Go who immediately gets to work to confirm the price drop with the cruise line (Celebrity in this case) and then issue new documents at the lowest price which are promptly sent to us via email. 

During this particular price drop we were able to maintain the perks we received at the time of booking which included free Wi-Fi, paid gratuities and AU 396, US $300 cabin credit. We’re thrilled to say the least.

Our vacation/holiday home on the Huon River, as shown from the river side. We live on the top floor with a second bedroom and en suite bath in our lower level while the owners, Anne and Rob, live on the lower level.

The skies are cloudy now, but we expect it to clear by the time we head out for Franklin. However, rain or shine, we won’t miss this special event.

Have a sunny day wherever you may be both in your heart and in your skies!

Photo from one year ago today, January 26, 2016:

Although a little tough to see with the long lashes, Mont Blanc had blue eyes.  (We fell in love with him, but sadly, he eventually died).He was the “cria’ that had escaped the paddock leaving us in a quandary with the owners at work. For the rest of this story as to how he was returned to his mother, please click here.