Barossa Valley, South Australia, with Tanunda in the center, 23 May 2009

World famous wine region settled by German Lutherans beginning in 1838.


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Barossa Valley


Adelaide, South Australia, from Mt. Lofty in the Adelaide Hills, 23 May 2009

Looking west toward the sunset over St. Vincent's Gulf.


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Adelaide, South Australia, 24 May 2009

Looking from North Adelaide over the Oval (cricket stadium) toward the CBD.


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Map of Perth to AdelaideCelebrating our 20th wedding anniversary (actually on 25th March 1989), Lanette and I were able to get away for 3 nights on a cheap flight to Adelaide, South Australia.  The kids were taken care of here at home in Perth by our pastor's wife (what a blessing!).

See panoramic views here and a map of our travels here.

Many of our Lutheran friends here are originally from South Australia as that's where the German Lutherans first settled in the 1830s.  They came here in the same era as those German Lutherans that settled in the area of Michigan where I spent my grade school years (Frankenlust, Frankenmuth, etc).  So, this was a great chance to see the place many of our friends call "home". (read about the history of the German Lutherans in South Australia here and here)

The flight to Adelaide was about 2 1/2 hours.  We landed in the late afternoon, rented a car, and made a quick run to see the beach and jetty at Glenelg on the west edge of the city (where many of the original settlers landed).  Then we drove up to our first night's accomodations - an 1850s German settler's cottage in Tanunda in the Barossa Valley.

Norma's Place B&B Cottage - TanundaThe cottage was just right for us.  We had it all to ourselves - that is, the one living room, bedroom, kitchen and bath.  It was decorated with Victorian furnishings and German wall hangings.  The kitchen had an old stove.  Out the back door there was an old bakehouse built into the ground surrounded by lovely gardens.

We had beautiful autumn weather for the first two days with a high of about 23°C (73°F) and blue skies.  We walked amidst the old churches, cemeteries, houses and shops of Tanunda.  This was where the first German Lutherans settled in the valley - and their presence is still predominant here with many Lutheran churches and schools.  We were guessing that in our one day of driving around the small towns of the valley (Tanunda has 3,700 people), we must have just happened upon at least 15 Lutheran churches.  This is one place in Australia where we don't have to explain what a "Lutheran" is or what makes a school "Lutheran".

Barossa Valley vineyardsTanunda and the Barossa Valley are word famous for their wide variety of wines, still growing some of the grapes on vines first planted in the 1850s.  We took took a walk through the vineyards between two wineries with a stop for some sampling at each end.  The fields of vineyards in the valley were endless, with leaves all showing the colours of autumn.  (We don't get much of an autumn feeling in Perth.)







First read Part 1 of this bit about our trip to Adelaide and the Barossa Valley

Adelaide from Mt. LoftyAfter an afternoon drive looping around the valley we headed south toward the Adelaide Hills and Mt. Lofty.  We stood atop Mt. Lofty as dusk become night and watched the lights of the whole city of Adelaide below. (See the panorama of the view here.)

Shark Pizza at Australia's Pizza HouseIn North Adelaide we found a pizza place serving "The White Pointer".  That would be a pizza with shark meat, veggies and white sauce. (Heaps good, but couldn't top the kangaroo I had the night before in Tanunda!).

I better explain "Heaps Good".  That's a common phrase in Australia. Heaps GoodThere's a South Australian tourism campaign that greets you at that airport with a sign that reads, "Heaps Good. Like good. But better."

Saturday was our only day to explore Adelaide.  We had given up the rental car, so we walked all over the north end of the CBD from the centre of state government to the State Libraries - Museums - Art Galleries, Rundle St shops, the botanical gardens, and (one of my highlights) seeing the Sir Donald Bradman statue outside the Adelaide cricket oval.

Autumn in May in Adelaide's botanical gardensIn the evening we took a ride on the O-bahn bus to a suburban area up in the hills.   The O-bahn is an interesting hybrid of city bus and tram as it's a normal city bus with an adaptation to ride a guided rail path at 100 km/h for a quick shot from the city to the suburbs.

We returned to the city for an supper of pancakes at The Original Pancake Kitchen.  We awoke to a rainy morning, but that was no worries as we had an early morning flight... and South Australia really needs the rain.





On Friday, I attended the first-ever Western Australia Conference on Lutheran Education (WACLE - or "wackle") near Bunbury WA. When we were living in Colorado and in Minnesota, I was used to attending district teacher conferences involving 70 or more Lutheran schools. This conference last week brought together all of the Lutheran schools in the western half of the Australian continent - exactly two! Yet, I'm guessing we had more teachers in attendance at WACLE than we ever had at the Iowa District East conferences I attended in the early 90s.

DalyellupLiving Waters Lutheran College was the first Lutheran school here on the western frontier when it started in 1997. After 12 years, we now have over 1200 K-12 students and 150 staff on two campuses (Warnbro and about 30km south at Halls Head). Ocean Forest Lutheran College began in 2004 based on a model refined from the experiences (good and bad) from the fast growth of Living Waters. Ocean Forest is carefully managing a more moderately paced growth plan and yet is already at 575 K-12 students and about 65 staff, having graduated their first Year 12 class last year. They have a growing campus on a large piece of land in the new coastal suburb of Dalyellup just outside Bunbury and just less than a 2 hour drive from here.

Despite only bringing together two schools, the one-day conference was quite impressive. Being the first of its kind out here for these newer Lutheran schools who are staffed with a majority of teachers who have no previous experience in Lutheran education, it was a clear intent of the planners to connect the attendees to the rest of the 120 or so Lutheran schools in Australia. Much was said about the history and tradition of Lutheran education in Australia going back to 1838. Presenters from the church's school headquarters in Adelaide, South Australia, gave presentations about the traits of Lutheran schools. We had video greetings from several other Australian Lutheran schools including the aboriginal Yirara Lutheran school.

BunburyThe minority of us on the staff who are Lutherans weren't sure how the rest of the staff would respond to being required to attend a conference on Lutheran education. But the day's programme was so well designed that the reaction was incredibly positive. Most of the workshop presenters were from either of our two schools, and a reminder of how much talent can be pooled together from two large schools like these. I presented on two different topics, re-working presentations I've done at conferences in the US (see what I did this time at

The most popular presentation may have been by one of our science teachers on the topic of "Changing Wine Into Water." Basically, he brought in several bottles of wine and some cheese. The attendees then relaxed for the 50-minute session while they let their kidneys changed the wine into water.



As Wikipedia says, the name of the drink "root beer" is almost unknown outside of the United States and Canada.  It's a rare item here in Australia.  If we look hard, we might find it at some import specialty shops for more than we'd care to pay for it.

However, tonight we celebrated the discovery of root beer's Down Under cousin with "sarsaparilla floats" (or sasparilla as it's also pronounced).  We had our first taste of sasparilla at our pastor's house last Saturday, and they sent a four-pack of bottles home with us.  (They're also frequent drinkers of ginger beer which we see a lot of down here.)

Sasparilla tastes much like, but not quite like, root beer.  It definitely has the aroma of root beer.  The big sasparilla maker in Australia is Bundaberg in Queensland.  From what I've read, the drink "sasparilla" gets some of its flavouring from the root of the sarsaparilla vine.  Root beer also has sasparilla root as one of its ingredients, but apparently today the main flavour in root beer comes from an artificial sassafras flavour (originally from the bark of the root of a sassafras tree).

Bundaberg exports their sarsaparilla to the US and other places as "Australian root beer" and their export logo includes a kangaroo (see below right).

While the sasparilla isn't too bad, I have to say that high on our priority list when we return to the US is a meal at Culver's with a root beer (and seeing a baseball game at the new Twin's stadium).

sarsaparilla02 sarsaparilla03 rb_4pack_340


Perth... Not a bad place to be right now.  The recent economic reports are suggesting Australia will avoid going into a recession as their economy showed a small level of growth in the last quarter.

Now a British survey ranked Perth as tied for 5th in the world in "liveability".  Five Australian cities were in the top 20 of the 140 included in the list.  The other top five according to the Economist Intelligence Unit's 2009 Liveability survey: 1) Vancouver, 2) Vienna, 3) Melbourne, 4) Toronto, and 5) Calgary (tied with Perth).

The survey assessed 140 cities based on stability, health care, education, infrastructure and culture and environment.

I learnt today that I will be chaperoning a 10-day student trip to the eastern states (where they sort of have a real winter)... leaving just 2 weeks from today!  One of our teachers is unable to go, and I've been asked to fill in on short notice.  I had one night to consider whether to go or not. How do you say no to an opportunity like this?

This is an every other year trip east taken by Year 11 and 12 students who choose to go.  This year it will only be 16 students and 3 other teachers.  We'll have 3 nights in Canberra, Australia's national capital, with the typical touring activities of a national capital. Then we're off for 3 nights to ski at Mt. Baw Baw in the Australian Alps in the state of Victoria (closer to Melbourne).  Finally, we'll have 3 more nights in Melbourne with a couple of day trips out from the city.  One of the highlight just might be the Aussie rules football game we'll be going to at Etihad Stadium in Melbourne on the last night.

We leave on Thursday, 2 July and return on Saturday a week later.  That means being gone the last two days of Term 2 and the first whole week of our two-week July school holidays.

I'll be borrowing some winter clothing from friends here as we left all of that gear in Minnesota.  Yep, winter in July... snow... fresh, cold air... can't wait!

Stay tuned as I learn more about this upcoming adventure.

Interact with the map below or click to view Canberra Trip July 2009 in a larger map


Yesterday was the winter solstice - the shortest day of the year with 10 hours of sunlight. The swing in daylight hours from winter to summer is not as great here as we're used to back in Minnesota. Perth has from about 10 hours of daylight in winter to 14 hours in summer, while Minneapolis swings from less than 9 hours to almost 16 hours. 

  Perth Minneapolis
21st June sunrise 7:18am 5:26am
21st June sunset 5:20pm 9:03pm
21st June hours of daylight 9 h 58 min 15 h 37 min
21st December sunrise 5:07am 7:48am
21st December sunset 7:22pm 4:34pm
21st December hours of daylight 14 h 14 m 8 h 45 min


Our low temps are now in the 40s F, sometimes dropping to the 30s F. The lowest temp ever recorded in Perth was 32°F (0°C). The days are topping out in the 60s F.

Houses here are more likely to not have central heating, and definitely don't have the insulation and double-pane windows like in MInnesota. So while it doesn't get as cold outside here, it does get quite cool inside the houses. We were fortunate that someone offered us a portable gas heater that does a pretty good job of heating the main living room and the kitchen/dining area, but we don't have eat to the bedrooms or bathrooms.

So, check out the photos below and guess who's tolerating the cold the best?


winter on the couch winter on the couch

On Canberra's Parliament HouseI'm on Day 7 of our ten day trip to the the eastern Australian states.  We're in Melbourne tonight staying at a youth hostel and it's the first chance I've had to get Internet access ($1 for 15 minutes) - so I'll post something quick here.

Actually, as I think about it, my first access to Internet was at dinner tonight at a McDonald's ("Mackers" as we call it here) using my iPod Touch.  For the record, my priorities were: 1) check baseball scores and standings for the first time in 7 days, 2) check my AFL footy tipping results for the last weekend's games for our staff pool (I had 6 of 8 correct), and 3) shoot off a quick email to Lanette and the boys.

Parliament House in CanberraWe've got 34 Year 10-12 students on the trip.  Our first stop was in Canberra.  For Americans, think Washington, DC, as Canberra is the national capital city built just for that purpose in the last century in a territory (Australian Capital Territory) set aside for the purpose from land that had been part of the state of New South Wales.  We did plenty of tours of government places and national museums.

Then, a 12 1/2 hour drive took us toward Melbourne but up into the Australian Alps for 3 days of skiing at Mt. Baw Baw.  Day one was foggy with freezing rain and sleet all day.  We never saw the mountain and had no idea what we were skiing on.  However the last two days were absolutely gorgeous with perfect blue skies and temps right around 0°C or just above.  Kids took lessons in the mornings of the first two days.  All of them were newbies as Western Australians have no chance of seeing snow unless they come over here.

We're in Melbourne for the next 3 nights before flying home Saturday night.  I'm very much looking forward to attending my first AFL foot match Friday night.

More news to come soon.


Skiing on Mt. Baw Baw - Victoria Looking down on the Gippsland region of Victoria from Mt. Baw Baw

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, 3 July 2009

From atop Parliament House looking over Old Parliament House and Lake Burley Griffin toward ANZAC Parade, War Memorial and Mt. Ainslie


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Canberra Panorama


Mt. Baw Baw, Victoria, 7 July 2009

From Mt. Baw Baw looking southwest over the Gippsland region of Victoria


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Mt. Baw Baw panorama