Saturday, April 25, 2009


A Very Special Place

Here I am at one of the most special places in the whole of Australia. It is the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. Nobody can visit this place and not leave with a deep feeling of just how stupid and terrible war is. The central part of the building, under the big copper dome, is called the Shrine of Remembrance and it contains the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. This is a place where even small bears feel humbled by the sacrifice of the millions of soldiers, sailors and airmen who died to make Australia the free country it is today. The walls of the galleries leading to the Shrine are covered with the names of our fallen servicemen, including lots of Mum and Dad's relatives. It is really a place that makes you think. The rest of the building is a big museum where you can see all sorts of military stuff and special exhibitions. I love visiting because there are real planes and tanks and things. Outside there are even a Centurion tank and a gun turret from HMAS Brisbane that small bears can climb on (can you see me in the pictures without cheating by looking at the enlargements first?). I really hate wars but I am fascinated by the vehicles and science that it produces, and I guess I am not the only one to feel that way.
Today, April 25, is Anzac Day. This is a day when Australia remembers our servicemen and servicewomen. There are special marches and services in every city and town in the country. There is no doubt that for all of us, even small bears, "At the going down of the Sun, and in the morning, We Will Remember Them".


Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Flower Cow-er

These plastic cows seem to be cropping up everywhere. The great thing about them is that they are painted in all sorts of crazy and interesting ways. I like the way this one has done her lipstick, that's something you seldom see on real cows. Also, plastic cows don't get stroppy and chase small bears like some real alive cows do. This one was at last year's Floriade and she sure was into the spirit of the flower festival. There was a fence around her to stop kids climbing on her, but that presented no problem to a determined small bear. I liked the funny fish on the fence too. They don't look much like the fish I see from subs or in aquariums, but I guess they don't have to breathe water either so maybe they are happy about that and that's why they have dumb grins on their faces.

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Taveuni Landing

This is where we came ashore for our first bus trip on Taveuni in Fiji. You can see my boat, Captain Cook's "Reef Escape" anchored offshore. Some of our fellow-passengers are coming across the beach from the landing boat to the bus. I am sitting in the bus window keeping out of the way while Mum videos things. I love these island beaches with big palm trees an flowering bushes. The local kids like the trees too. You can see where they have put a swing rope on one of these palms. Dad wouldn't let me try it because it swung out over the water and Mum won't let me take any chance of getting wet. I really enjoyed my trips to Fiji and maybe when the troubles there have settled down I will go back again someday.

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Submarine Bear

Guess what, I went in a submarine. Or a sort of a half-submarine. At least the part where I was was down under the water and I could look out the window at fish and things. The boat behind me in the picture is the semi-sub, tied up at the Rottnest Island jetty and waiting for passengers. I am sitting on a post waiting for the sub crew to let us on board. When you get onto one of these boats you go down a ladder to the seats, which are about 3 m below water level. The day we went it was a bit gloomy because the wind had stirred up the shallow water and put lots of sand into it, but we could see things OK. We went out to some reefs where there were lots of fish. The fish have gotten used to the boat and know that when it visits them there is food tossed overboard so they all come to get some. That means that small bears and people get a good look at them. There are also some shipwrecks on the reef. You can just see some of the iron frames of ships called "Macedon" and "Denton Holme" in the bottom pictures. The ships were wrecked in 1883 and 1890 so there is a lot of seaweeds growing on the wrecks now. I like these semi-subs. It gives me a chance to see some of the stuff that the Oldies see when they go snorkelling. And I do like fish but shipwrecks make me feel awfully sad when I think of the sailors and cargo that were lost.

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Friday, April 17, 2009


My Beading Buddies

Meet two of my best beading buddies. These are Julie and George and they run a shop called the Bead Barn. You can find just about any sort of bead in their shop, so Mum and I spend a lot of time out there getting our vital supplies. We take Dad along to carry the shopping basket. If we can't find the particular beads we want Julie or George go straight to where the critters are hiding and get them for us. Mum learns a lot about beading techniques from these two, and then she teaches me. I love to climb about among the strings of beads on the wall. You can get right up to the top if you are careful. Of course you have to watch out for the camera because the Oldies think it is funny to get pictures like this one where they claim that the label means that I am like the beads I am hanging on to, just semi-precious.

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Monday, April 13, 2009


This is Watson?

One of the places our Indian-Pacific train went through is this one in the Nullarbor called Watson. Like most of the old railway towns it has almost completely disappeared. There is only nameplate, a siding, a level crossing and a few roads left to show that there was once a town here. Life in those towns must have been hard for families as there is nothing much to do or see on the Nullarbor unless you are into semi-desert critters and plants. You would have to go holiday just to see a tree or a hill. Now I live in Watson in Canberra and it doesn't look much like this Watson. We have trees and hills and shops and everything a small bear needs. The old towns on the trans-Australia line were named after Australian Prime Ministers and so are the Canberra suburbs, so that's why there are two places (at least) called Watson.

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Moving Trent

We had a job to do over Easter. Big Bro Trent is moving houses and that means all of us have to pitch in and help. Mum's car isn't very big but it sure holds a lot when the back seats are folded down. We filled three cars with his junk (oops, make that valuable possessions) and got everything moved except for the big stuff that needs a small truck to move it. My job was to back small stuff into the gaps between bigger stuff, remember where it all was, and then fish it out again when we got to the new place. The unflattering photo of me hard at work is yet another example of why we should never trust Mum with a camera.



Easter Friends

It's that time of year again when strange critters come to visit and then disappear after a time in the fridge. This year there were a couple of dumb-looking bunnies and a chick like the one that visited last year. They bought lots of strange eggs with them. The eggs are all different colours and crinkly and shiny on the outside but when you peel the outsides off they are chocolate inside. That means that unless I hide them very carefully the Oldies will eat them all. Oldies really can't resist chocolate, and small bears have sometimes been known to nibble some as well. A horrible thought has just struck me. The bunnies and chick are crinkly and shiny on the outside as well. Are they chocolate on the inside too, and is this why they disappear so soon after Easter? I'm off to the fridge to check.


Thursday, April 09, 2009


A Sensational Sundial

This thing that looks a like sail on a post in a concrete circle is actually a special sort of clock called a sundial. We found it in the park by the wharf where cruise boats are in Perf. The sail is what Dad calls a Gnomon (astronomers have a lot of these funny words). The shadow of the gnomon moves around the concrete circle as the Sun moves across the sky and the circle has marks on it that tell what time it is when the shadow is on the mark. Sundials are one of the oldest type of clocks and they are not completely accurate. This is because the Sun is higher in the sky in summer than it is in winter and is only due north at midday four times a year (due to things about the Earth's orbit that the Oldies understand but small bears don't yet). That means the shadow can be running fast or late when it reaches the mark. You can tell the correct time if your sundial has a diagram on it that shows how fast or slow your sundial is during the year. On this one it is a graph on a bronze plaque near the mast. Scruffy and I found it and figured out the time and it even agreed with what Dad's watch said. Sundials are clever things but watches are easier to wear and they work even when the Sun is behind clouds and at night.

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A Huge Hole

This is the biggest hole in the ground that I have ever seen. In fact it is the biggest open cut gold mine in Australia. It is at Kalgoorlie in Western Australia and we went to see it while our train was being topped up with water and fuel. This is one huge hole, over 3.5 km long and 1.5 km wide and 350 m deep. There used to be lots of small underground gold mines here but they were having trouble finding enough gold to pay for the tunnelling they had to do. A company owned by Alan Bond (the guy who won the America's Cup back in 1983, Yay!!!!) started to buy up all these small mines but Bondy hit troubles and went to gaol. In 1989 Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mines started digging the hole and today it produces over 28 tonnes of gold every year. They have to move many tonnes of rock and crush it to get every few ounces of gold and this rock is carried to the crusher in gianormous trucks. The wheels of the trucks are higher than Dad can stretch up to. You can see the lights of some of the trucks down the pit. They are so far away that the trucks look like Matchbox toys. We got to the pit just on dusk so the photos are a bit dark, but that just means that we will have to go back in daylight sometime. We will, because Mum likes these historical Aussie towns and she has a strong attraction to gold.

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Thursday, April 02, 2009


A Quizzical Quokka

This cute little guy is a quokka. Quokkas are small wallabies that are only found in isolated parts of Western Australia near Perf. There are some small families of them on the mainland but most of them live on Rottnest Island in the Indian Ocean out from Fremantle. There are no cats or dogs out there so the quokkas are safe. In fact, the island is named after these critters. When the first European explorer landed on the island there were hordes of quokkas there and he thought they were giant rats so he called the island "Rottnest" which is Dutch for "rats' nest". Rottnest is a beautiful island and we went across for a day while we were in Perf. I wanted to see some quokkas, but they mostly only come out at night to feed and they sleep in the shade during the day. Scruffy and I went exploring in the shady places under the bushes and we found this fellow asleep. He woke up and seemed as curious about us as we were about him. After a chat we left him to his afternoon nap and caught up with the Oldies who had wandered off, as usually happens when we don't watch them closely.

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This is Why They Call it the Nullarbor

The most interesting part of our trip on the Indian-Pacific was the section where we went across the Nullarbor Plain. "Nullarbor" means "no trees" in Latin, and that's exactly what it looks like. Its a huge ancient sea bottom, absolutely flat and almost no trees to be seen. Most of the trees you do see are where people planted them back in the last century when there were a lot of small railway towns along the trans-Australia line. The Nullarbor is huge, 270,000 square kilometers in area. It runs almost 2000 km from Ceduna in South Australia to Norseman in Western Australia, and from the Great Australian Bight for hundreds of kilometers inland to the deserts in the centre of Australia. I never saw anything like it before and was at the window for the whole day.

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Miles and Music

This is the way I like to travel in trains when I am going over track I have been on before. The scenery outside is not new, so apart from the occasional glance to see if there is anything interesting like cows or kangaroos I can just relax and let the miles go by. The best way to do this is to get a comfortable seat and get the iPod back from Mum (she has this strange idea that it's hers). This is me on the way to Sydney at the start of our trans-Australia trip. I have been over this bit of track lots of times. So, fold out the tray table, just the right height for a small bear to see out of the window and with a good little leg hole for comfort and balance. Get my iPod back, select boppy music and chill out. The only interruption is when the Oldies think it's feeding time, but I usually convince them that they can share Dad's table for that.

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