A sheepish story on the news…Shocking photo…Three days and counting…

An overgrown sheep found by the RSPCA outside of Canberra on September 2 2015
This is a photo (not ours) of previously long lost sheep, now named Chris, who was lost for years to be found in this dreadful condition. With the help of professional shearers, Chris has been relieved of his mass of wool and is doing well. Stories such as this are newsworthy in Australia. See a portion of the story below and a link to the full story.

With a population of over 23 million throughout the entirety of the massive continent of Australia (as large as the US), there if often news broadcast via TV that is horrific and heartbreaking. Sadly, we watch this news along with the lighter versions presented on the many news broadcasting TV stations.

The passion of its people for “footy,” Australia’s version of football and other sports news occupies a portion of each day’s broadcasts as does local and political news.

An important element in the news in this country is surrounding the indigenous people’s lives, programs including both government and volunteer involvement in the betterment of the Aboriginals who occupy 3% of the entire population. 

Aboriginal selected statistics

“3%  Percentage of Aboriginal people in Australia’s population
93,200  Approximate Aboriginal population in 1900
670,000  Number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in 2011
721,000  Estimated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population in Australia in 2021
2.2%  Annual growth rate of the Aboriginal population. Same rate for non-Aboriginal population: 1.2 to 1.7%

Aboriginal population figures

Experts estimate the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders at 700,000 at the time of the invasion in 1788 [3]. It fell to its low of around 93,000 people in 1900, a decrease of almost 87%.

At present, 3% of Australia’s population identify as Aboriginal.

It will take until 2021 for population figures to recover. If the current annual growth rate of 2.2% remains stable Aboriginal people can be as many as 721,000 by 2021 and more than 900,000 by 2026.

The faster growth in the Aboriginal population (compared to 1.6% for the general Australian population) is the result of higher levels of fertility and better life expectancy. More Aboriginal people move into peak child-bearing age between now and 2026.

The median age for Aboriginal people, currently 22, is projected to reach 25 by 2026. But this remains much younger than the median age in the general population, which is currently 37 and is expected to rise above 40 by 2026.

A problem is though how many people identify themselves as Aboriginal. “There are a large number of people who don’t answer the Indigenous question in the Census,” explains Patrick Corr, Director of Demography with the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

“We have approximately 1.1 million people whose Indigenous status, we don’t know, so we have made some assumptions.” This uncertainty lets the ABS tag some figures as experimental estimates.”

Along with the above ongoing news, updates on local, national, and international affairs, crime stories, accidents, injuries, shark encounters, including any natural disasters, a substantial portion of Australian news centers around human interest stories. 

Tongue-in-cheek, Australians share many newsworthy stories with a sense of humor that is unstoppable. The news commentators spend little time hiding their perceptions and holding back comments they feel appropriate to express. In doing so, many human interest stories precipitate fits of laughter by them and by those watching, often including ourselves

We’ve loved their news. Knowing we won’t be able to watch the news in Fiji for four months without a TV, we’ll be reliant upon online news with apps we’ve already been using made into tiles on our Windows 8  laptops. A single click and we’re updated.

With Australia’s extensive animal population, we often watch stories regarding farm animals, wild animals, and domesticated animals, all of which appear to hold a special place in the hearts of most Aussies.

Yesterday, a story caught our attention, repeated again this morning that found us smiling from ear to ear from a great outcome about a stray Merino sheep lost in the wild near Canberra for years who suddenly appeared desperately needing to be shorn.

(Click here for full story)

Very woolly sheep before and after shearing
Chris, before and after his shearing (not our photo). The pink stain is not blood. It’s an antiseptic. He’s doing well now.

See a portion of the story here:

“Wool shorn off an overgrown sheep found near Canberra on Wednesday has set an “unofficial” world record for the heaviest fleece removed in one shearing, the RSPCA says.  The sheep, dubbed Chris, underwent a risky shearing operation to remove 40.45 kilograms of wool.

It smashed the previous world record held by a sheep in New Zealand called Shrek, whose fleece weighed 27 kilograms. ”  Click here for the balance of the story.

It is these types of stories that we’ve found clearly illustrate the compassion and love for animals so typical in Australia. That’s not to say that other country’s people are less compassionate. However, in Australia, we’ve found a greater focus on the love of animals frequently expressed in detail on the news.

We’ll miss these types of stories. From time to time, we’ll check on Australian news and those human interest stories will surely bring a smile to our faces. Most likely, while living in Fiji, we’ll seek and discover heartwarming stories as once again we embrace our surroundings.

This morning we headed to the Trinity Beach post office sending two packages; one to our mailing service with my boots, medical paperwork, and receipts which won’t arrive for up to three months (lowest rate), and two, a 16 kilo (35 pound) box of food and supplies to Fiji, which should arrive within 10 days. Total cost for both packages: AUD $269.70, USD $188.97.

With the flight to Sydney at 5:30 pm on Monday, we’ll wrap up the final packing during the day, heading to the airport by around 3:30 pm. It’s a domestic flight and all we’ll have to do is pay for the extra bag and check-in. 

As we wind down over the next few days, we’ll be preparing and posting the final expenses for the time we spent in Australia, almost 90 days. You just may be surprised!

Photo from one year ago today, September 4, 2014:
Tom at Stonehenge.  Story and photos here.


Me, at Stonehenge.  We were both wearing headsets for listening to the history of this renowned site.  For details and more photos, please click here.

The news follows us…We can run but can’t hide…

The surrounding mountains remind us of Kauai, although it’s very different here than in Hawaii.

We watch the news almost every day now that we have a TV. Once we arrive in Fiji in early September for four months on two different islands, we won’t have a TV. The only news we’ll be able to access is online from that point forward. Unsure as to the quality of the wifi, it’s questionable.

We walked out onto a very short pier for a slightly better view of the beach.

We haven’t had a TV in a number of past locations and we’ve managed fine without it. After all, it’s only news and documentaries we care to watch, aside from at the moment Australia’s version of Dancing with the Stars that started last Sunday and in a few days, Australia’s version of The Bachelor.

A long stretch of uninhabited beach in Cairns.

We’re not too proud to admit we do enjoy these types of mindless drivel from time to time.  Seven days a week, we spend the entire morning researching and preparing for our daily posts. A bit of mindless drivel in the evening is a welcome break from our lives of travel, including writing, researching, and photo and the accompanying challenges and level of planning and concentration required to live such a life.

Oh, we love our lives and particularly enjoy the diversity of our lives. Learning new information about the world around us, visiting venues in our current place of residence, meeting new people with perhaps a different manner of speaking and communicating their hopes, dreams, and views and, the constant search for anything of interest that may appear in the lens of our camera and into our hearts.

A huge tree along the Cairns Esplanade.  Looking online, I couldn’t find the name of this tree, but soon we’ll visit the Cairns Botanic Garden (yes, botanic, not botanical) and I’ll update this photo with the correct name. Any suggestions out there?

We spend a period of time some days doing nothing of significance. I’ve gone as far as downloading a few mindless drivel jelly-type games on my phone. I can easily wile away an entire hour of news or a documentary on the TV in the background while playing either of these silly games, paying total attention to both.

Cloudy day at the beach in Cairns at low tide.

Recently, Tom and I have begun playing the card game Gin again after a long respite when I was winning so often he got bored and even angry at times, once throwing his cards across the room. I laughed. We quit playing. Now, when back home, we play each afternoon around 4:00 pm, my preferred tea time.

It’s always interesting to visit beaches at low tide when as more birds wander about the sand in search of tasty morsels.

Actually, now the winning seems to be more evenly distributed and the challenge has improved for both of us resulting in the playing being more fun. No card throwing. No swearing. Plenty of laughing.

We walked along the Cairns Esplanade encountering an occasional jogger or bicyclist.

After we busied ourselves with sightseeing, planned or unplanned, we hunker down to the now-familiar “home” for the time being and do what most people do when not out and about…a bunch of nothing…a series of repetitive, familiar comforting tasks and forms of entertainment which we gravitate toward during idle time.

We hadn’t seen this species prior to the visit to the Cairns Esplanade. After considerable research, we found they are Silver Gulls.

As we watch the news trying to figure out what’s happening in the world, we discover little. Once in awhile the US Today Show pops up on the guide which we’ll watch with curiosity as to what is going on in the US and are often disappointed to see that so much of the news revolves around the rampant sensationalism of Hollywood and its celebrities.

It appears these birds are Silver Gulls, common near the sea in Australia with their pink feet and beaks.

Also, we’re amazed by the constant bashing and criticism of other well-known individuals throughout the world for their human-like flaws and foibles. When did any of us become so perfect that we so easily bash others?

The park at the Cairns Esplanade was quiet with few visitors on a cloudy day.

I particularly cringe over the constant promotion of ways of eating and foods that continue to make the world unhealthy and unfit including the ongoing promotion (by the food industry) of a low fat, high carb diet. Ah, I won’t get out the soapbox that I continue to haul all over the world with us.

Are we missing something wrapped up in our own little world? Based on what we’ve seen lately on a smattering of US news, we aren’t. We both have news apps on our phones and laptops that we reference daily. Our intent was never to be totally isolated from that which is transpiring in the world around us.

We’ve certainly seen our share of palm and coconut trees this past year.

Today and yesterday on Australian news we continue to hear about the disharmony between Taylor Swift and Nicki Minaj and now, enters Katy Perry and her opinions. Surprisingly or perhaps not, the Australian news, so far away from Hollywood and the US entertainment industry is also caught up in reporting the scuttlebutt.

This unexplained orange sculpture is along the path on the Cairns Esplanade.  Any comments from our Aussie readers as to the story of this sculpture?

Yesterday, at the market, I noticed the magazines at checkout; Kim’s baby bump, Tom Cruise’s new movie, and Bar Raphael’s wedding plans. Oh, good grief. Give me a break. I want to hear about Stephen Hawking’s plan to discover life on another planet, the newly discovered Earth 2.0 or, what is really happening in the world and how the current horrors are being addressed.

It boils down to this simple fact: One can run but can’t hide. No matter how far away we travel, it’s still there.  Although, I must admit that when we lived in Kenya without a TV, we didn’t have a clue what was going on and we didn’t miss a thing. 

Cute name for a restaurant in Cairns.

Instead, our news for the day in Kenya centered around when the power was going out again, were we really safe at the grocery store surrounded by armed guards and 24-hour security at our home, or how many venomous centipedes inside the house can Tom squash under his shoe in one day?  It’s all relative.

                                               Photo from one year ago today, July 24, 2014:

As we ventured out on a road trip with only seven days until departure from Madeira we continued to revel in the beautiful scenery. For details from that date, please click here.