Sunday, October 25, 2009


Shocking Stuff

There is a funny story behind this picture, provided you aren't Dad. In one of the paddocks near Shaw winery there is this rough old shed. There are a couple of sheep in the same paddock. Dad says that the shed is the sort of thing that is called a "sheep fold" in Europe. Maybe he is right because the sheep in the paddock were certainly folded down in the tall grass. You can just see a bit of one to the left of the shed. Anyhow, Dad decided that the photo needed a foreground object and that a small bear on a post would be ideal. Now, if you look carefully at the fence wires you will see that one of them has a glass insulator thingie on it. That should have been enough to warn Dad, and for sure the electric fence charger near the base of the post was a dead giveaway. But no, Dad is in a hurry as usual so it's lean across the small gutter, one hand out to put the bear on the post and the other reaching out for something to hang onto for balance. You guessed it. He grabbed the electramic wire and got a solid zap. So if the photo is a bit fuzzy it is because his eyes were still rolling when he pressed the shutter button. Travel with these Oldies of mine is full of fun.

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Friday, October 23, 2009


Bart, 7

Guess what? Yesterday was my birthday. It is seven years since Mum bought me home. I had a great day. First off, there was a bear-sized cake at breakfast, and Dad even let me have some of his special Port. Then I went up to the observatory with Dad for the morning. I like it there because there are lots of birds and kangaroos right outside Dad's office window. Then we collected Mum when she finished work at lunchtime and went to a special place for lunch. The Oldies took me to Shaw winery at Murrumbateman. This is mostly a place where they grow grapes and turn them into wine, but they have a really good resserturornt as well (I still can't spell restaurant). The food is great and there are some really dangerous wines there as well. The Oldies found one that they liked a lot, they say it tastes spectacularly good and has the kick of a donkey, so of course we came back with a bagful. You can buy really pretty plates and things as well. I tried to get a better look at them by climbing up onto the shelves but Mum hauled me down pretty quickly. Dad mumbled something about bulls in china shops, but that had nothing to do with anything because bears are nowhere as destructive as big bovines (I think).

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Bear, Boat, Buoy, Before & After

The thing I am sitting in is called a lifebuoy, buoyancy ring or lifesaver. Actually I thought lifesavers were a kind of lolly but Dad has explained that the lollies were named after the buoy because they look the same shape. Well, after taking a lick at this thing I can tell you that they sure don't taste the same. You can find lifebuoys on just about any boat. They are hooked up on walls and rails where you can get to them quickly and toss them at anybody who has fallen off the boat. I waited on this one all the way back from Whitehaven Beach to Hamilton Island, hoping that somebody would fall in so I could toss the thing in and see how it worked, but no luck. Mum thought I looked cute sitting there waiting, so she took a picture. While she was off taking other pictures around the boat I had a go at untying the knots that held the ring in place. No luck, but the ventilation grille on the wall was interesting. I could hear the crew talking on the other side of the wall and figured that if I could get the screws loose I could jump in and scare them. No luck again. Mum came back and caught me. She says these two pictures are a great example of the two aspects of the nature of small bears; cute one side, pure mischief the other.

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Rottnest's Big Lighthouse

This is the main lighthouse on Rottnest Island, near Fremantle in Western Australia. It is called Wadjemup Light after the local Aboriginal name for Rottnest Island. There has been a lighthouse here since 1851. The first one was built by aboriginal convicts, using local stone, and it was the first stone lighthouse in Western Australia. This one, also built of local limestone and twice the size of the old one, was built in 1896. All that remains of the first lighthouse is a small shed next to the new one. It must have been a hard place to live back when the lighthouse was new, because the first three lighthouse keepers all committed suicide.
We saw the Wadjemup lighthouse on a bus trip around Rottnest during our visit to Perf back in March. The bus didn't stop, it just drove past slowly, so Mum didn't have time to take the gazillions of pictures she normally takes of every light we visit. However, she did manage to get something different in one of the pix; if you click on the picture to make it bigger you can see an aeroplane flying over to the left of the lighthouse. Our lighthouse count is now at 82, nearly 100 if you count the ones that the Oldies saw overseas, but I won't let them include them as there were no small bears present to confirm the sightings.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Sand and Salt Water

Milkshake and I had great fun the day we went to Whitehaven Beach from Hamilton Island. We built a couple of sandcastles, played pirates, tossed rocks at crabs and spelled words in the sand with sticks. Naturally we ended up getting sand in our fur. This is one thing that normally gets Mum cranky, but she must have been enjoying the beach as much as we were because this time she thought it was funny. Mind you, she still shook us hard and brushed us to get the sand off. Milky's fur is very short so she cleaned up pretty easily, but my fur is a much tougher proposition. How to get the sand out from way in? Normally it means trouble, involving a stiff brush and (horror of horrors), even a bath. Not this time. Guess what? The one who normally will not let me anywhere near water in its natural habitat actually took me down to the ocean and dipped me into the little waves. There is hope yet. Maybe someday I will even be allowed to go surfing and snorkelling!!

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The Castle at Caernarfon

It is now two years since the Oldies were off over the other side of the world on their big trip, and there are still lots of pictures to show you from that trip. This one is the entry into Caernarfon (which the English call Carnarvon castle). The castle was built by the English King, Edward 1 around 1282. It was one of a series of castles built to keep the Welsh under control. Dad says that the Welsh are fiercely independent people and have never been under control. Anyhow, lots of you have seen Caernarfon on the TV, because it is here that the Princes of Wales are invested in their office. The last one was Prince Charles in 1969, too long ago for lots of you to have seen, but the castle is used as the site for lots of TV movies. The castle is sort of a semi-ruin. The walls are mostly OK but almost all of the wooden bits have gone, the only bits left are in rooms that have been restored. The stone stairs are still there and you can go up onto the battlements. You have to be careful up there as some of the walls have big gaps in them and, as you can see from the small photo, there are scary things moving around up there.

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Wednesday, October 07, 2009


Flight To Hamilton Island

The quickest way to get to Hamilton Island from Canberra is to fly. Because there are no direct Canberra-Hamilton flights we usually change planes in Brisbane. Now, the aeroplane in the top photo is not the one that we flew on. It is bear-size, but although Dad started it up for me, all it did was rumble, whistle and bounce around. A fun ride but no real use to go anywhere. Actually, it is outside one of the shops on Hamilton Island so I guess it figures it is already there and has no reason to fly anywhere. The 'plane we actually flew on from Brisbane is the one in the bottom photo. It is an Airbus A320 of Jetstar airlines. Scruffy, Milkshake and I were able to watch as the airline workers got it ready for us. We saw them topping up the fuel, loading food, and putting the luggage on board. This trip was Milky's first flight so we had to explain everything to her, particularly why we had to ride inside Dad's backpack up in the overhead luggage lockers. She was a bit worried at first by the noise and acceleration, but by the end of the trip she was enjoying it as much as Scruff and I always do.

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Hamilton's Pretty Pests

You have to be careful about one thing when you visit Hamilton Island. Some of the birds are thieves and very quick and sneaky thieves at that. You can't leave anything lying about in the open or the birds grab it. They even come inside to snitch things if you forget to close doors when you go out. We had a couple of regular hopefuls whenever we spent time on our balcony. As soon as the door opened these guys would appear and try to look absolutely starved. The kookaburra would get the message as soon as Dad shooed him away, but the cockatoo was much more cunning. He would pretend to fly off, but only go as far as the first branch that was out of sight. Then he would wait until he heard something interesting, like a chip packet being opened, and he was back. Of course they are not starving. Hamilton Island has lots of rainforest areas full of natural food for critters and it is really bad for the birds to eat much people-type food. But they are probably like me (and the Oldies, although they would never admit it) and much prefer "naughty" food like chips, peanuts, ice-cream and hamburgers to "healthy" stuff.

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Thursday, October 01, 2009


The Bear is a Hoon

Guess what? I am a registered Hamilton Hoon. I have now driven a golf buggy around all of the roads on Hamilton Is, even some of the ones that visitors aren't supposed to go on (I just claim to be lost if anybody asks why I am there). Golf buggies are easy for a small bear to drive, provided they have at least one Oldie on board to turn the engine on and put it into gear. Then I just put a brick on the accellerator and go. I steer by throwing my weight from side to side. Some of the hills on Hamilton are really steep but the engine speed thingy stops the buggy from running away. Mind you the oldies always jump on the brake just as things are getting exciting. In fact Dad's hair, what's left of it, is a bit whiter since we got back. I don't think it has anything at all to do with my driving.

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Desert or Sea????

This year we have been to two very different places, as you can see from these photos. Back in March we travelled through the desert on the Indian-Pacific train and we are just back from Hamilton Is where we spent a lot of time going places on boats. The desert part of the train trip was the Nullarbor Plain, not a sandy desert like the Oldies saw in Egypt and Dubai, but an area where not enough rain falls to grow much in the way of plants. Its just loads of sand and saltbush and not much else. But it is a fascinating place and I hope we go back into the Australian desert sometime and roam around in it for a while. I really want to see what the animals that live there are like, even though Dad says lots of them are dangerous. The sea is very different of course. It changes all the time and is full of critters and islands and has nice sandy beaches along lots of the edge. I know a fair bit now about the things that live in and near the sea. I am not sure what is the most impressive, the desert or the sea. Some people absolutely love the one and hate the other, but this small bear just loves both of them and want to see and learn more about them.

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