Culture in Australia…Australian diversity…Continuation of Australia Day photos…

This fish mascot wandered about the celebration for photo ops.

In June, 2015 we posted a brief history of diversity in Australia at this link while we were living in Trinity Beach during our first foray into life on the continent.  Australia has a rich indigenous history some of which may be found at this link. 

“Smallest Pancakes in Town”

Unfortunately, we’ve had little opportunity to get up close and personal with the indigenous citizens of Australia as we have in some other parts of the world.  However, we’ve had more readily available contact with the non-indigenous citizens, comprising over 90% of the population, easily encountered in day to day life.

Homemade jellies, jams and condiments.

Now in Tasmania for three months with only 3% of the population as indigenous citizens, interacting with their traditions is equally unlikely as it was when we lived in the mainland with 6% of the general population whom identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

During our many months living amongst the Aussies we’ve found a unique culture that emerged over the centuries as people from many lands migrated to the continent seeking a new and better way of life.  All these cultures are revered and held in high regard. 

Clever and pleasing-to-the-senses soaps.

This morning,  Prime Minister Malcomb Turnbull made an eloquent speech honoring the Chinese New Year, Year of the Rooster, and the Chinese people’s influence and value to Australia.

Not unlike many western civilization, the melding of nationalities contributes to a distinct persona that may be clearly defined over the centuries.  That culture in itself is different in many ways from our experiences in our old lives in the US and in many countries in which we’ve lived over these past 51 months.

Food or soaps?  Soaps!

After living in Trinity Beach, close to Cairns, Australia for three months, spending a few months on cruises with mostly Australian passengers, we’ve come to the point of having somewhat of a grasp on Australian culture.

Whether its their easygoing style of living, ways in which they’ve embraced their love of their homeland, their penchant for humor and lightheartedness, their seriousness and determination in dealing with important issues, and their commitment to integrity and ethics, the Aussies embody a special demeanor we’ve found to be enchanting.

Tom checked out the baked goods but resisted.

From this university site, we gleaned the following description of the Australian culture which we found clear and concise:

“Australians are generally laid-back, open and direct. They say what they mean and are generally more individual and outgoing than many other cultures.  You may think that most Australians live in the ‘outback’ out in the country. In fact, more than three quarters of Australians live in cities and in urban centres, mainly along the coast.
Some key values that reflect the Australian way of life include:

  • Freedom of speech
  • Freedom of religion
  • Democracy
  • Equality regardless of sex, marital status, religion, nationality, disability or sexual preference
  • Peacefulness
  • A ‘fair go’ (equal opportunity) for all and support for the underdog.

In most practical ways, Australia is an egalitarian society in that there are no formal class distinctions. There is no segregation between people of different incomes or backgrounds and everyone is free to live where they like, attend university and follow whichever religion and occupation they choose. (Continued below).

There was a long queue at the ice cream booth.

What are Australians like?

In the workplace and among friends, Australians generally call each other by their first names. When meeting someone for the first time, it is usual to shake the person’s right hand with your right hand. People who do not know each other generally do not kiss or hug when meeting. Australians show respect by looking people in the eye, however they don’t stand as close or have as much physical contact (such as hugs and kisses) as other cultures.

You may find that your Australian friends have difficulty pronouncing your name, at first. Be patient and prepared that you may need to repeat your name or say it slowly at the beginning. As friendships develop, you may find that your friends give you a nickname, which is very common in Australia and is a form of endearment.

Sport Culture

Australians love their sport and most people watch the finals of major sporting events, even if they don’t normally have an interest in the sport. Popular events include the State of Origin and Melbourne Cup.

Men and Women

 Men and women are treated equally in Australia. Women make up nearly 50% of the workforce and most women remain in the workplace after they marry, and many after they’ve had children. Women are also free to breastfeed in public.

There are no social rules regarding friendships or dating in Australia. Friendships with members of the opposite sex, and social events with both sexes are common. It is also common for couples to live together before they are married, or for men and women to live in a share-house together.

People in Australia generally don’t have servants, and men and women equally share the cooking and domestic duties in the home. (Continued below).

The batter fried mushrooms smelled delicious.


Australians often use humour and are considered to be quite sarcastic. The Australian sense of irony may be difficult for you to grasp at first but you’ll get used to it. The Australian accent and use of ‘slang’ may also be confusing, but if there is ever anything you don’t understand, just ask.

Aussie Slang

  • Arvo – afternoon
  • Aussie – Australian
  • Barbie – BBQ/barbeque
  • Bloke – man/guy
  • Boardies – board shorts
  • Brekkie – breakfast
  • Brizzie – Brisbane
  • G’day – good day/hello
  • Goldy – Gold Coast
  • Mozzie – mosquito
  • No worries – no problem/that’s OK
  • Roo – kangaroo
  • Snags – sausages
  • Sunnies – sunglasses
  • Telly – TV
  • Togs – swimsuit/bikini

Of course, there are countless Aussie expressions that are far removed from our familiar use of the language.  Its never a matter of what’s correct use of the language.  Instead, it revolves around cultural language differences from one country/continent to another.

Homemade pillows and casual furnishings.

We’ve enjoyed the Aussie’s use of the English language as unique and entertaining from our own experience such as:

  • When moving from one home to another, they say “move house.”  Whereby in the US its referred to as “moving.”  That simple difference makes us chuckle over their easy use of the language.
  • They don’t say “sports” in reference to sporting type activities.  Instead, the say “sport” in reference to any such activities. 
  • Comparable to the UK, when referring to a  person “in the hospital,” they say “in hospital” a simple dropping of the word “the” in the sentence.

Scented handmade soaps are popular in Tasmania as personal and gift items.

Its these little nuances that make us smile.  There are endless examples of these types of language differences which ultimately are easily understood by unfamiliar visitors.

Pretty bouquets.

We’ve found that Australian news, although serious when appropriate, is often hilarious over the more lighthearted storylines.  At times, they may use a swear word or slang expression we’d never heard from newscasters in our old lives. 

Handcrafter products made with wood.

On each occasion, we find ourselves laughing out loud, loving the ease and humor they include in telling a story. Even their locally produced TV drama series illicit a sense of humor and lightness.

Although we’re a bit isolated in this remote area of Castle Bay Forbes in southern Tasmania, with little interaction with locals on a day to day basis, we can’t help but grasp every moment possible to spend with these special people.

Enjoy the upcoming weekend!


Photo from one year ago today, January 28, 2016:

The grapes were robust and ripe for the picking at the Okurukuru Taranaki Winery near New Plymouth, New Zealand.  For more details, please click here.

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.

Shocking to us…Natural for those of another culture…Not for the squeamish…

This morning, kids playing in the river.

“Sightings on the Beach in Bali” (All of today’s photos were taken during “Sightings on the Beach”)

If we never left the villa other than for our daily walks, we’ll never run out of photos and topics for our posts. With 47 days until we depart the villa to head to Denpasar for another stay in the Kuta hotel while we await our upcoming red-eye flight on October 30th, we’re surprised by the experiences that just keep coming and coming.

No doubt, getting out will also be worthwhile when tomorrow after uploading the post, we’re renting Egon’s van for a half day outing to Negara, the closest good sized city on the highway.

When we watched this activity on the river, we had no idea what was transpiring especially with the large cart used to haul the cow’s carcass which appeared to be cut into huge pieces.

Our intent is to do some sightseeing, take photos ending at the largest supermarket in the area to pick up some cheese and a few other items we’ll need during the remainder of the stay. 

Also, we’ll stop at an ATM once again. Our supply of Indonesian Rupiah quickly dwindle when each day we’re providing the two Ketuts with enough cash to pay for the meals. We only pay for the actual cost of the food and a small sum for fuel for their motorbikes. Daily, they provide us with a neat hand printed receipt with the change. Its at the end of our stay that we happily give them generous tips in appreciation for their hard work and fine efforts.

Yesterday was quite a day. With numerous “Sightings on the Beach” that both shocked and astounded us, we were picking up the camera time after times for yet another round of photos.

It was hard to tell what was going on, especially with the large white bags.

Today’s story and photos are not for the squeamish. We apologize if this upsets or offends any of our readers. That’s not our intention. Nor is today’s post based on a possible shock factor.

Our goal in sharing this story and photos is purely predicated by our desire to share cultural differences we strive to embrace, rather than criticize, to graciously accept, rather than turn away.

We’ve discovered over time that many of the local’s perception of the ocean and other bodies of waters is very different from many of our own. Many of us may perceive the ocean and rivers for their beautiful eye catching scenery. Many of us take a hard stance and commitment on making every effort to preserve the cleanliness of our world’s oceans, each in our own small way.

We wondered, “What was a long white stringy stuff? Were they cleaning squid?  Nope.

The Balinese people see the ocean as a source of revenue and work hard using its resources to earn a living by fishing, providing tourist activities and as a personal resource in their daily lives.

Early on, when we first arrived in Bali we delighted in watching children playing in the nearby river.  At times, the children were naked joyfully running to and fro often for hours at a time. The river consists of fresh water, as most rivers, flowing from the mountains, rivers and streams inland to the sea. 

When the high tide occurs twice each 24 hour period, the fresh water is mixed with ocean water, creating a number of pools in which children and adults play, wash clothes and bathe. There’s more.

Under no circumstances is that water clean. Why not? We’ve observed both humans and buffalo defecate in that water. Can we even imagine the volume of poop coming from a 1,500 to 2,650 lbs, 700 to 1,200 kg, buffalo when standing in that river for an hour each day?

The mysterious activity transpired over a period of a few hours.

The fact that we’ve spotted many humans using the pools as toilets, there’s no doubt these waters are contaminated with toxic bacteria. Perhaps the locals immune systems have adapted to the bacteria and don’t become ill when swimming in the river. We can only surmise this. 

Last time we were in Bali, beginning April 30th, leaving the villa on June 27th, I became ill from eating squid I requested for a meal. The taste was fresh and appealing, but hours later and for several following day, I had an outrageous case of “diari” for which Gede took me to the pharmacy for meds. 

I should have known better than to eat squid caught close to the shore. How many times have I mentioned that we must exercise extreme caution in avoiding seafood caught near the shore? I’ve finally learned my lesson. Now we only eat fresh tuna caught out to sea in deeper waters.

Dogs crowded around giving is the impression they were dealing with some type of animal.

For us foreigners aware of the situation, swimming in that toxic water would never be a consideration. We haven’t ventured into the ocean in front of our villa for this very same reason when we’ve seen endless piles of garbage resting on the sand after the tide wans. 

The sea undoubtedly is beautiful to observe mesmerized by its sounds and tide. Is it safe for swimming? Perhaps not so much in this area and others.

After taking this photo I asked Tom what was the longest section they were handling. Later we knew.

Yesterday proved to be a day adding to our knowledge of cultural difference as to the use of the water in the nearby river and pools which most likely is prevalent in many parts of the world including Bali. We always knew this, but hadn’t actually witnessed vastness of these differences until yesterday’s experiences.

Today’s post and photos is all about “Sightings on the Beach” in its truest form. Nothing we’ve seen to date has surprised us quite as much while also further educating us in the ways of life in other cultures. 

Once they were gone and the two Katuks arrived to make dinner, I showed them the photos and they explained the kids/adults were cleaning and eviscerating a cow. Although this may be gross to many throughout the world, it’s a part of life for others.

Details of our discovery are contained in the photo captions as local Muslims cleaned the carcass of a slaughtered cow in that same river, while dogs gathered around waited for the pieces of the cow entrails, later running down the beach with white matter hanging from their mouths.

Today, again, another peaceful day. The weather has been considerably less humid and cooler than during our last visit, at times, feeling cool when we’ve exited the pool soaking wet. It’s ideal now as we’re appreciating every moment.

We hope your day brings you opportunities to appreciate your surroundings.

Photo from one year ago today, September 13, 2015:

These colorful flowers were growing close to the house in Fiji. For more details as we adapted to a simple life in Savusavu, please click here.