The AFL Grand Final is tomorrow afternoon (Saturday). This is the Australian equivalent to the NFL Super Bowl, always played at the venerable Melbourne Cricket Ground.  Clearly the two best Aussie rules footy sides from the season have made it through the finals to verse each other - Colingwood Magpies v. Geelong Cats.  The Collingwood club is comparable to the New York Yankees in history, arrogance and influence - so unless you are a Collingwood member, you barrack for whomever their opponent is.

We'll share in the festivities with friends from church in a big shed with a big screen.  Last year the Grand Final ended in a tie (no overtime allowed for in the rulebook), so both teams came back to play a new game the following week.  Collingwood won and so are back to get a double this year.  Meat Loaf is performing at halftime.  Last year they had to scramble to find entertainment for the replay of the Grand Final - and found Lionel Richie.

A feature story in the Sydney Morning Herald explained the growing presence of Aussie rules footy in the States, and highlighted the Minnesota Freeze club showing them training in the snow.  I'm sure Dane and Karl would love to have a chance to play back in the States.  Click here to see the video that accompanied the SMH story.



Finally getting around to posting this item...

With the end of winter in Australia comes the end of the AFL Aussie rules football ("footy") season.  The Geelong Cats defeated the Collingwood Magpies last weekend in the Grand Final. That means I have a bit of a void to fill now with no more tipping (picking the winning teams) or Dreamteam (fantasy league) competitions each week at work. (My Dreamteam lost in the Grand Final, but I consider the season a huge success as I did better than quite a few serious natives who know their game well!)

Back at the end of July, the whole family was gifted free tickets to a Fremantle Dockers AFL game at Perth's Subiaco Stadium.  I had attended an AFL game a couple of years ago in Melbourne, but for everyone else this was their first live AFL game.  The Dockers got blown away by the Hawthorne Hawks in this game - pretty typical of the Dockers' disappointing, injury-riddled season that was quite similar to the Minnesota Twins year.

The game was played mostly in a major rainstorm - nothing much stops a footy game.  We were fortunate to stay dry the entire evening including our walks to and from the train station to the stadium, and thankfully had seats under a roof.

Photos and videos below by Peter.

Dockers AFL game at SubiacoDockers AFL game at Subiaco


When viewing the videos below, click on the fullscreen button button below the video to show it full screen.

The tradition in footy is for teams to enter the game through a very large banner with a motivational message on it or a note commemorating a player's milestone games.  Here's the Dockers entrance:


This next clip begins with a boundary official (in red) doing a "throw-in".  Throw-ins happen when the ball goes over the boundary line any way other than "on the full" or between the goal posts.  Unlike most other sports, it doesn't matter who last touched the ball or forced it over the line as the throw-in puts the ball up for grabs.  This video ends with a player kicking a 55-metre goal whilst on the run (through the centre posts for 6 points).  55 metres is like 60 yards, which is why some of the Aussies could make a career kicking in the NFL.


Sheets of rain coming down during much of the game:


In the last clip, the action begins with another throw-in, then leads to a "bounce".  A "bounce" happens when play is stopped because the ball is tied up.  Normally the umpire bounces the ball between two "ruckmen" but when in rain like this, they toss the ball instead of trying to bounce it.  You'll also see in this clip how much footy is really just a big free-for-all keep away game, especially in the rain.


Family at Warnbro beachWith summer approaching and school term holidays here, we're more in the mood to head to our beach again.  Peter, Dane, Lanette and I went out for the sunset a couple of nights ago (right) - something Peter and I still have difficulties leaving the cameras behind for.  So there's more sunset photos here to view.

Dane especially has been itching to get in the water for a swim.  He couldn't convince anyone to get in today.  We're really at least a month away from most sane people jumping in, though Dane and I will probably go sometime in the next week. (There are locals who do their early morning swim year around.)

Yesterday Karl and Dane saw a metre-long dugite snake on the beach path while riding their bikes.  Today the two of them saw a blue-tongue ("bobtail") lizard near the beach, and Karl road his bike over a foot-long snake.  All the signs of summer arriving soon.

We're enjoying seeing the signs of spring in our yard these days.  Today Lanette took photos in our front yard of the red bottlebrush blossoms and the kangaroo paw.  Bottlebrush can be easily found in most of Australia.  The bright red variety is most common.  This time of year there are bottlebrush shrubs that seem to be more red with blossoms than green with leaves.  They'll flower well into the summer.

Bottlebrush bushbottlebrush blossomkangaroo paw


View more of Lanette's front yard photos in our gallery here


WA coat of arms (Wikipedia)Our kanagaroo paw is a deep red.  There are many other coloured varieties including pink, yellow, black, and even apricot.  The "red and green" kangaroo paw is the floral emblem of Western Australia and is shown at the top of the WA coat of arms.  Kangaroo paws are native only to southwestern Western Australia.  I'm wondering if we'll be able to grow our own kangaroo paws in a garden back in the States.



In September, I went to my first quilting weekend and now I am hooked on the experience. I plan to do it again when I get the chance.

I went with 2 ladies from our church that regularly go to this quilting weekend. It was held near the small town of Pinjarra about an hour and a half south of Perth. There were 150-200 women there. We stayed in primitive houses, so got to know the 10-12 ladies staying in our house (Glasgow House). But, we would go to the conference center to quilt together. Quilt stores had set up displays in that building, selling beautiful fabrics and patterns. I fell in love with the quilts that incorporated stitchery in the blocks. I also bought a kit for a hand pieced Christmas ornament using hexagons, which I have finished.

Clown quiltThe weekend is set up to be very affordable. To offset the benefits we get from the weekend, each house donates a quilt each year to this organisation- Fairbridge Village. It used to function as Fairbridge Farm, a home for orphans, many from England, who would be taught farming and gardening skills in addition to their education. Our house decided on a clown theme for the quilt next year and I have finished my block. I will send it to the house mother and someone will piece it together by next September.

Now I understand a bit of the excitement my mom and Aunt Delores have talked about concerning Quilting Weekends.

Peter and I woke up at 4am to drive up to Kings Park to watch the sun rise over the Perth CBD on a beautiful, warm spring morning.  It's a great view that we've said we want to get back to with our cameras for a sunrise.  We've been there on many occasions, but most memorably for the Australia Day fireworks in 2010 and the ANZAC Day sunrise service in April 2011.  We brought our bikes along and rode around the park and down along the bank of the Swan River to capture some other early morning sites.

I captured this panoramic photo below in a rather interesting way.  I used an iPad to video record a sweeping view (press record and then turn slowly from left to right and then stop the recording).  Then I used an app on the iPad that grabs frames from the video and stitches them together to make the panoramic photo in just a matter of several seconds.

Perth sunrise panorama


See more photos from the morning in the photo galleries here.

I also video recorded the rising of the sun with the iPad.  I'm posting it here below not so much for the video content but for the audio that I caught of the early morning birds.


We had sad news again today of a deadly shark attack here in our WA waters. An American living in Perth on a work visa was diving off Rottnest Island (just offshore from the city of Perth) when he was killed. News coverage here in WA and also reported online at the Minneapolis StarTribune website here.  My Shed Men mates were just chatting last night about how, relative to the last several decades that they can remember, the frequency of shark sightings and shark attacks in these waters is increasing significantly.

Warnbro beach sunset - January 2011Any shark attack is shocking, but what's remarkable is that this is the 4th shark fatality in southwest Western Australia in the past 14 months.  Two have been in the Perth area, and two in the Margaret River region about 4 hours south of here.  All four in popularly visited areas - definitely not remote.

Today's attack was of a diver who was 1km off the coast.  The attack two weeks ago was of a daily morning swimmer who was swimming at one of our favourite beaches - Cottlesloe - heading to a buoy 350 metres out.  Nothing of him has been found except his bathers with damage from shark teeth.  The other two attacks were surfers if I remember correctly.

This all brings to mind the fatal shark attack on our Warnbro beach on Boxing Day 2008.  For several hours we watched the hopeless air and see search and rescue response right in the waters we regularly swim in.  Old posts about that here and here.

And, it was just this last New Years Eve when we spotted a shark 40 metres off our beach while Karl, Dane and I had been playing in the water at dusk.

Last Sunday, Karl, Dane and I went swimming, body boarding and playing in the sand on our beach on a beautiful 36°C day (upper 90s°F).  The beaches and waters here are so inviting, but the news of the shark attacks definitely makes you more alert and cautious.

Addendum: In re-reading what I posted, I foget that my Aussie vocabulary may need some translation for the American readers.  The "bathers" that I mentioned being found would be a "swimsuit" in the US.  1km would be 2/3 of a mile, though the news reports are now saying today's attack may have been just half that distance from shore.  40 metres off our beach would be 130 feet. And "mates" are good friends.

Peter receives diplomaThis week Peter officially graduated from high school, completing nearly 4 years of schooling in Australia.  He finished his classes on Monday.  Tuesday was basically just an assembly in the morning for sharing awards.  Wednesday morning was a breakfast for students and family.  Then Wednesday evening was the Valedictory Service held at the Mandurah Performing Arts Centre.

Now Peter will finish his studying for exams at home. He has 5 different subject exams over the next 2 weeks.  We're very proud of Peter and the way he adjusted to the Australian way the last four years, and we look forward to the path he now wants to take toward becoming an architect.

See more photos from graduation here

Dugite snakeWe're getting to know the Snake Whisperer.  In March earlier this year, I was startled by a 3 foot dugite snake in our garage.  We called on The Snake Whisperer, Paul Kenyon, who promptly arrived and captured it. (flashback here)

Today, Karl was heading into the garage to get his bike out when he saw a dugite peek out the door.  Karl didn't actually back off, but sort of followed it into the garage to watch it scramble into a corner.  So, The Snake Whisperer got a call from us and was over in about 15 minutes.  Within just a few minutes he was holding by the tail this 4 foot long dugite - probably a foot longer than the dugite caught in March.

By the way, dugites are highly venomous - like most Australian snakes.

thesnakewhispererSome locals suggest that having blue-tongue lizards around means you won't have snakes around.  We've proven that wrong twice now as our snakes have shown up within days of having a blue-tongue in our yard both times.  Peter had watched a blue tongue cross our front yard just on the weekend (see video below).

It's no surprise really to have the snakes and blue-tongues around right now as summer is approaching and they're on the move with warmer weather.

Paul Kenyon has a link on his Snake Whisperer website to our dugite story and video from last March.



Nov 2011 Dugite Blue-Tongue in Frontyard on Weekend




Yeperenye caterpillarKarl discovered this amazing giant caterpillar by our back door this morning.  A bit scary looking, but intriguing at the same time.  I've never seen a caterpillar this large.  I took it to school to ask around about it.  No one knew much more about it than to say that it's a giant caterpillar and it eats your plants.  Someone did point out that what looks like eyes and ears are really just markings on its tail-end that deceive predators.  What I later observed leaving its "mouth" proved their point.

But of course, I couldn't leave it at that. I tried a Google image search on "western australia giant caterpillar" and mostly just got photos of those huge, yellow dump trucks used in WA mines.  However, when I added "fake eyes" to my search, I found a series of websites that revealed how this particular caterpillar represents a significant Aboriginal Dreaming spirit.

Yeperenye caterpillarIt's the Yeperenye or Ayepe-arenye, and it eventually transforms into a hawkmoth.  According to the Aboriginal Arrernte people of central Australia (near Alice Springs), the Yeperenye carved part of the landscape during its travels.  You'll see it featured in Dreaming artwork like here and here.

The Yeperenye was also eaten by Aboriginals. Wikipedia says after roasting they had a "pleasant, savoury taste and could be stored for a long time."  Another website explained how they cooked them:

People before used to gather them while the caterpillars were eating the plant.

They would put the ayepe-arenye on the ground and squeeze the guts out into a little hole, and then cook the caterpillars in hot soil.

Then they would get them out and leave them in the sun for two or three days to dry.

Then they’d share them around and eat them.

And, "No" - I didn't not try to roast and eat this caterpillar. (unlike the boys' hero, Bear Grylls)

There is an annual Yeperenye Festival in Alice Springs that brings together indigenous people from all over Australia and features an enactment of the Caterpillar Dreaming of the Arrernte people.  You can listen to a Caterpillar Dreaming recording from the festival at this website.

As I write this, I'm reminding myself that I've been wanting to post something for a long time about the Lutheran connection to Aboriginal art in central Australia.  Some say the most famous Aboriginal painter was Albert Namatjira, an Arrernte man and a Lutheran.  If you can't wait for me to write the post, check out his Wikipedia article.

photos by Lanette

GnarabupWe're a bit glued to the news on TV, radio and the Internet tonight as we watch for news about the major bushfire in one of our favourite holiday spots 4 hours south of us. Margaret River is an iconic tourist area with it's surf beaches, vineyards and caves.

The photo at right is one I took from the Prevelly Beach surf lookout in April 2009, looking south toward Gnarabup.  The jetty in this view on the beach below the rainbow has been captured in a news photo today with fire evacuees taking refuge beneath it.

Peter is set to leave for Gnarabup on Sunday (in 3 days) for Leavers Week with 6 school mates to celebrate graduation and the completion of their final high school exams. "Leavers" are what we call students in their last year of high school, and Leavers Week would be similar to the Spring Break trips American students are known for taking. Peter's group was planning on staying at Margarets Beach Resort in Gnarabup right near the jetty in the photo. Today he and one of the guys did a lot of their grocery shopping, but now we're not sure of the chances of going.

The current bushfire is still raging just within a kilometre or so of Gnarabup. It's destroyed at least 30 homes in Prevelly, the next town up the beach. Prevelly is the classic surf beach town where we've stopped several times to watch the surfers and windsurfers. The only road into Prevelly and Gnarabup is closed by the fires and utility poles are down, so even if the fire gets under control, the area may not be open for awhile.


View Larger Map

Warnbro sunsetHappy Thanksgiving to everyone back in the States!  Can't say it felt like Thanksgiving here as it was a normal school day and a hot one at that (35°C, 95°F).  Peter and I rode our bikes up to the beach for another glorious Indian Ocean sunset.  We'll share a Thanksgiving dinner with American friends and former Minnesotans on Saturday night.

Warnbro sunset

We had a perfectly clear sky for the full lunar eclipse last night that started at 8:45pm, peaked at about 10:00pm and was done 12:00am.  The moon took on a rather red appearance as it went behind the earth's shadow (see still shots below centre and right).  I did a time lapse by taking a shot about every 5 minutes (click on photo below left and then watch the time lapse move along).  There won't be another full lunar eclipse here in Western Australia until some time in 2014.

Moon Moon Moon