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November 12 - November 18, 2001

It's Freemantle!

--- and then on to Perth.   But wait, here's a jump shift!  I have had several requests to identify the type bird that mugged me in Mackay (Mc Kuy -- remember?) - the notorious Magpie!   These are really good looking birds, and very common all over Australia.   They just get a little aggressive when they think their young may be in jeopardy.   Don't we all ?!

He doesn't look that tough, does he?

I head for Peppermint Grove in Perth, home of that great Barton family, and the folks who have really made this whole trip of mine such a breeze.   Between Brett's counsel and help in the preparation for the trip, his entire family giving me so much tender loving care while in Perth, and then introducing me to their family along the way --- Joe & Eleanor Fisher in Darwin, Lew Fisher and his gang in Morwell, and all those other pals !   This time I'm greeted by Brett's sister, Bronwyn, who's visiting from Melbourne with her 15 month old son, Thomas.   What a special gal she is, and Thomas is a dynamite little guy!

One of the old Peppermint trees in Peppermint Grove!

One of my regrets is that I didn't take any pictures this trip of downtown Perth.   It is , I believe, the cleanest city of its size (about 1 million) that I've ever seen.   King's Park, which honors it's casualties during wartime, and the jogging/walking paths and parks along the Swan River, just give this city a wonderful tone.   The absolutely clean streets, sidewalks and parks are a reflection, I believe, of the pride that Perth's residents have in their city.   Peppermint Grove is certainly one of the most attractive residential areas of this special city.   Only a few blocks away from the Barton home is The Swan River and beach, and Bronwyn, Thomas and I decide to go check it out!

Note how smart these Aussies are about head covers!!

Brett - thought you'd like to see Kent & Tania's little gal, Alexandra, as she plants one on her Aunt Bronwyn!

Also had a great visit with Tony and Corrinne and their three great gals, but unfortunately they moved too fast for me to catch 'em on film!!   I am kicking myself about that!   I am out of Perth late Tuesday night, arrive Sydney 6:30 AM Wednesday, out of Sydney early Wednesday afternoon, and after about 14 hours, I'm able to barely catch the sunrise through a porthole just prior to our landing in Los Angeles, at  7 AM on Wednesday (remember -- we pick up a day crossing the international dateline.)

LA to Savannah, via Dallas, and I'm home by 9:30 PM Wednesday.  It is great to see Patty, although the heightened security  means that she has to circle the airport a couple of times before I get to scratch her up with my well bearded face!   It has been such a great trip, and I don't stop talking until she finally fades at 1 AM!  (Surprised?)



I have a million thoughts in my memory of this trip, and I will probably revise and add to these comments and reflections over the next several days as my mind sorts them out, and as the jet lag clears a bit, but the following are just a few things that immediately come to mind:


  1.  There is no other country, and there are no other people quite like Australia, and her people.   The timing of my visit, in view of the current world situation, gave me the opportunity, firsthand, to appreciate how blessed we are to have these people as such strong allies.   One event typifies the reaction of Australians to the horror of 9/11.   One morning I stopped at a roadhouse well out in the bush in The Northern Territory, and asked the young (19ish?) waitress for a bacon & egg (of course) sandwich.   She said "You're from the States, aren't you?"   When I said I was, she literally had tears in her eyes when she went on to say something like "we are all so sorry for your suffering, and we are all behind the US".   This kind of sentiment was expressed everywhere I went.

  2. The physical beauty, and the sometimes awesome makeup of the more rugged areas, yields memories that will probably always be with me.   I have been asked by many Australians toward the end of the loop what areas were my favorites.   Up until the last week or two I really didn't have any favorite.   There were just so many special places.   However, I have to say that I think Western Australia is the biggest sleeper in Australia!   The coastal beauty along both the Southern Ocean in the south, and the Indian Ocean in the west is really something that can't be captured on film totally, because it's also a feeling!   The colors and the purity of the water, air and sand has to be due to the total lack of any type of pollution.   The closest place is Antarctica -- and there ain't much industry down there!!   A really special place that many Australians have yet to discover!

  3. The Aussie sense of humor (they'd spell it humour!).    It's expressed in so many different ways, but it always comes out the same.   These are people who don't get into themselves as much as many.    They can, and do, laugh at themselves.    My friend Bill Bachman, the photographer from Melbourne, has done a great take on many of the humorous mailboxes, signs, and other "things" that one sees when driving across and through this great country, called "Special Delivery".    I told Bill that a similar book could be done on the names of businesses/commercial enterprises that I saw in my travels, such as "Good on ya Hardware", and a lawn equipment outlet called "Mowers Arc".   There are a million of 'em -- just a reflection of the great  folks they are!

  4. Service.   This is no commercial, -- but maybe I should tell them about my comments, since I'll use their services again, -- but a great example is Britz, the folks from whom I rented Tony, my trusty Toyota Land Cruiser "BushCamper".    In just under 18,000 kilometers, I had one problem -- a dead battery.   (We're talking permanently deceased!).    I called at 8AM, when they opened, after I discovered it , they were there at 8:15, and 5 minutes later I was sporting a new battery.   I mentioned to their rep who had put in the battery, that I thought it might have been a result of a faulty cut-off switch on the refrigerator.    He asked me if I had time to stop in their shop.  I did.   One half hour later, I was on the road again, not only with a new switch, but with an entire new refrigerator!   This is really VERY typical of the kind of service I enjoyed at all levels in all kinds of situations.   Special people!

  5. I stopped in a flight charter operation in Darwin, interested in flying over Kakadu National Park.   The owner of the service said his son could fly me now, but was I planning to come back to Darwin?   When he found out that I do plan to come back , he suggested waiting until "the wet" when the entire area would be greener, the waterfalls more active, and the fishing for barramundi "out of sight".    Now, he could have picked up a fast $700-$800 that day, but he was more interested in my having a great experience!   Are you starting to see a pattern here?   Great people!

  6. Ever seen a rainbow at night?   I hadn't either, nor had my friend Quickie, from Mt. Gambier.   It was a little like seeing Martians.   It was at 4:30 in the morning, and still totally dark, but with a moonlit sky, when we were driving to Port MacDonnell for our Cray fishing trip, and I asked Quickie if he'd seen it, and he said he had, but didn't say anything because he thought maybe his eyes were playing tricks on him -- and he's a young guy, with young eyes!!   Really beautiful!

  7. Lots of opportunity for reflection while driving long distances in some pretty remote areas -- in fact at one point I thought that if I did write a book on this adventure, I might title one chapter "Happiness is something in the rear view mirror" -- only Country/Western fans will identify with that!   Or how about "Crime Pays"?   The thesis here is that were it not for whatever alleged crimes got people banished to that land down under, we would almost certainly not have the Australia that we have today!

I know there will be more things that strike me as I continue to replay, to myself, and to others, the things I experienced, and so I'll be adding to this list of early reflections.   Suffice it to say, it has clearly been one of the most memorable things I've done in my young life!!   Working on my next caper!!    Cheers!!


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