Friday, August 20, 2010


A Family Tree

On our last trip to Sydney we visited the places where Mum's family used to live. When she was a little girl she lived at Manly, on the southern side of the entrance to Sydney Harbour. The fun way to get to Manly is to take a ferry from Circular Quay. Sometimes it gets real rough as you cross the entrance, and I like it when boat trips get bouncy. Anyhow, the family use to live off to the left of the top photo. Mum's favourite Aunt lived in the block of flats. When Mum was visiting her Aunt, or when she wanted to go play near the water and see the boats, she used to climb about in this big old fig tree. Over 45 years later it is still there and still a great tree for small people or small bears to play in. It is also far enough away from the water that you don't have to worry about crabs. I think that if both Mum and I have played in this tree that makes it a family tree, don't you?

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A Country of Contrasts

Australia is certainly a country of huge contrasts. I love travelling around it. It is so big that things change fairly slowly as you go so you have time to soak up the different scenery and the feel of the places. Here's a couple of pictures of two very different places. The top one was taken out of the window of the Indian-Pacific train on out cross-continent trip. It is somewhere on the western edge of the Nullarbor Plain in Western Australia. The country is very flat, very dry, and there are no trees, just some low bushes. The only thing that rises above the plain are the mullock heaps of a gypsum mine in the distance. The bottom photo shows a very different scene. It was taken at Red Point near Eden in New South Wales. Plenty of trees and water here, and spectacular views of ocean and ancient volcanic rocks. I like both sorts of scenery, but have to admit that when it comes to walking I prefer the trees to the open plain because there are more logs for small bears to rest on and shade to cool off in if the Sun gets too hot.

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Sunday, August 15, 2010


Guard Your Tucker!!

On Hamilton Island you have to be on your guard all the time when you are eating outside. The local birds are expert tucker-snatchers. If you lose concentration for a micro-second some cockatoo, currawong, lorrikeet or seagull will zip past and you will be missing some of your food. For example, the cockie is holding a bit of Dad's toast in his left claw, and I can tell you from experience that you have to be really quick to snitch fodder from him. All of the cafes have signs on the tables warning about this. They say "Keep Wildlife Wild" and tell you that people-type food will make the critters really sick. The only problem is that the critters can't read, so they keep trying, the waiters keep chasing them away, and some tourists get scared by swooping birds, or learn the hard way just how hard cockies can bite. How do I solve the problem? I just lure them in and clobber them with the cutlery.

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Frustration for Flyers

For most of our recent trip to Hamilton Island the weather was bad, but it started to clear up for the last few days. On one of these days I saw a freak of weather that must have really upset lots of pilots and passengers. In the top photo you can see a long, low cloud just above the water. You can see the top of a hill on Dent Island (the next island across) and if you have really good eyes you can see a small helicopter in the top of the fog. Well, the bottom photo shows you what it looks like there in clear weather. That's right, the airport runway was under the low cloud. What happened was that after the rain the combination of very wet ground and a warm wind that came over the highest part of the island caused this very low cloud in a long strip at the foot of the hills, just where the airport is. It stayed there for most of the day. I have seen cloud like this hugging the tops of hills, but never a long strip at sea-level. The rest of the island was in sunshine, just a bit of high cloud. For hours we saw aircraft circling the island, trying to get a clear patch big enough to land safely in. We sat at the end of the runway for a while and saw two big jets having to cancel their try at the last moment and roar back up, just over our heads. Exciting stuff for small bears but it must have been really frustrating for the pilots who could see the whole island except for the bit they really needed to see, and for the passengers who lost most of the first day of their holiday.

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Brekky With Rellies

You might have noticed another week with no post from me. I have been busy helping Mum and the nurses look after Dad. Dad has been having problems walking for a long while and it finally hit the stage where his hip was almost completely worn away. So they put him into hospital, hacked off the top of his leg bone, cleaned up the mess he'd made of his hip socket, and replaced it all with an artificial hip. Now he is at home with Mum and I looking after him and I suspect he would rather be back having breakfast with my relatives on Hamilton Island. Hammo has a small zoo where you can see lots of Australian native animals. At breakfast time they bring koalas out and you take photos and cuddle them. We go there for breakkie a couple of times whenever we are on Hamilton. Despite the fact that Dad lost the paperwork that said just what sort of small bear I am, these photos leave no doubt that there are lots of koala genes in my makeup. I am really happy about that.

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Wednesday, August 04, 2010


Yellow Submarine

This is the Yellow Submarine that takes you for an underwater ride around the reef at Bali Hai. To be really accurate, it is a semi-submersible vessel. The passengers sit in a room with glass walls a couple of metres below the surface where they can see what's happening underwater. Jason, the captain, drives from up the top of the tower. He wears polaroid glasses and from up there he can see deeper into the water than the boat needs, so he can steer right up close to the reef and give the people and small bears great views of the corals and fish. Dave sits down with the passengers and tells them about the things they are seeing. One problem with photos of things underwater is that they always look pale and blue. That's because water soaks up the red colour and to get photos that show the real colours you have to take strong lights with you. Dad has some good coral pix, you may have seen some of them earlier on my blog, so I will put more of them up sometime.
If you want to know more about this great trip, check out the web page at and if you go on the trip tell them Bart sent you.

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Bali Hai Boat Bear

Here's Bali Hai, the little island that Jason and Dave took us to on their jet boat. Not the big island in the background, the little one with the beach in the foreground. The beach is great for small kids and critters. The sand is soft, the water is warm, and there is enough space to see creepy crabs in time to whack them. There is a reef close in to the beach and most people go snorkelling there. Of course with Mum around there was absolutely no way that I was able to try that. Some day I will manage to get into fins and mask and see what all the excitement is about. You get from the boat to the beach in a little Zodiac boat and Jason hoons it along if you ask him nicely. When you have had some time on the beach and in the water you climb on board that strange looking boat anchored just off the beach. What is it? Read the next post and learn all about it.

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Tuesday, August 03, 2010


Jet Boat Bear

The boat that Milkshake and I are looking at is the nicest and fastest boat that we have ever been on. It takes you from Hamilton Island up the Whitsunday Passage to a small island that the tour operators call Bali Hai, but which this small bear knows is really named Black Island. There is a good little beach there and a semi-submarine to see the reef from. I will tell you more about them later. The boat is fitted with a 1000 horse-power water jet engine and it really hoots along. Instead of hard old bench seats, it has really comfy lounge-type seats so that some of the bumps from waves don't feel so hard on your bottom. Actually, I like bumpy boat trips, but the one we did was pretty smooth. The boat crew are my new friends, Dave and Jason. Jason drives the boat and the semi-sub and Dave does just about everything else. Milky and I had a go at the controls just before we left the wharf at Hamilton. I think we could have managed to drive for the whole afternoon, but Jason took over for the rest of the trip and we just sat back and enjoyed the high-speed cruise.

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We Took a Break

Yes, I have been away again, trying to get warm. It is freezing here in Canberra and Queensland sounded like the place to be. Almost a month ago our heating system at home broke down and the guys are still trying to fix it. There is only so much cold that Oldies and small bears can take so we decided Hamilton Island looked good. However, we picked the wrong place at the wrong time. The weather over most of Queensland was lousy almost the whole week, we only had two days of sunshine, and it was actually cold. Fortunately, the heater there worked. Hamilton is changing and not necessarily for the better. Things have zoomed up in price since we were last there and a lot of the boat trips we enjoyed don't run anymore. Still, it was fun hooning around on the golf buggy and we had fun.

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