Saturday, December 31, 2005

Sydney Harbour: NYE

New Year's Eve in Sydney was pretty cool. They had two sets of fireworks, one shortly after sunset and then a bigger better set at midnight.

This was a shot from the smaller first set of fireworks. To give you an idea of how big the explosions were. Look at the bridge. The biggest ship you have ever seen will easily sail underneath of it, and it is bigger from the roadway up than the roadway down.

It was easily the most spectacular organized fireworks show that I have ever seen. It was worth coming to Sydney for.

In other news, I'm going back to Perth a little early to get to work on the fruit shop and Tracie will be spending a little more time working at some of the hospitals here in Sydney. Travel nurses are love in what ever city they go to. Travel nursing in Sydney is no exception. She will hopefully be joining me in Perth in about a month.

-Gary Milner

Friday, December 30, 2005

Water in Tasmania

Water plays has a big part in the life of Tasmania. I made a series of running water photos this this one.

There are lots of dams and hydroelectric generation in Tasmania. There have been huge protests over prospective dams to be built in parts of Tasmania that are only accessible by helicopter, and many people have houses or cottages in areas where the only safe drinking water is the water you collect from rain via your roof.

Roof water is not tasty water, but it's better than buying water. In places where it rains a lot you can shower and sate the thirst of a good sized family. Tons of beach houses have cisterns sitting in their backyard that will hold 5000 liters or more. It is really quite amazing, how much rainwater is collected all over Australia, not just in Tasmania.

This series of photos was inspired by a few photographs I saw in several visitors centers. It really is amazing to me that I can do a photo just as good or better than 99% of the postcards on my first try with no really specialized equipment.

-Gary Milner

For Those Of You Who Love Tents

This is the inside of the tent we used for the couple of weeks that we were in Tasmania.

We rented a car from Avis in Hobart because they seemed to be the cheapest by about $10-$20 a day over 10 days. Driving around Tasmania is quite easy. The longest distance between any two cities is something like 500km, so if you don't actually want to see the far south east corner as well as the far north west corner of Tasmania you can drive all the way around it in about 7 hours which is not too bad if you are going to be there for two weeks.

Our first night in the tent was spent on a beach. It's really nice to find free camping spots even if they aren't technically in campgrounds.

One of the amazing things about Australia in general is the fact that there are free electric barbeques set up everywhere. Just about every public park has a public barbeque there waiting to be used. For the most part, people keep them pretty clean as well.

We couldn't boil water on the first one we tried, so we resorted to simply using the little stove that we rented in Hobart from the camping store.

We mainly ate rice with store bought sauces, spagetti sauce and stir-fry sauce. Our pot was a little small to make enough for everyone and we didn't have any meat to add to any of the meals . The food in general was pretty disappointing. We had instant soup, rice, instant noodles designed as side dishes, type things for supper and bread with jam and peanut butter but no real butter or margirine for breakfast.

I was starving for the entire trip, and felt guilty when I did buy something for myself and not the rest of the group.

Sharing food is for the birds. You don't know what the other person likes. You have to worry about dividing it equally and you have to have your meals at the same time.

The tenting worked out quite well for me as I was a comfortable as can be expected in a tent. We saved money several nights because Tasmania has a large number of free camp grounds and because the pay campgrounds cost about a third of what it would cost to goto a hostel.

It's hard to see in the picture, but three people fit in this tent, if they have a car to put their stuff in.

You can see by my backpack I am Canadian.

-Gary Milner

Gordon Dam in Tasmania

When we got to Hobart, Tasmania it was pretty late close to 1:00am. The taxi from the airport took us to three hostels, but they were all closed for the night. We stopped by a hotel, but they wanted $130 and we would have to be out of the hotel by 10am anyway.

We decided that spending the night in a park would be our best option. There are no 24 coffee shops or doughnut shops in Hobart.

It was quite cool, but we put on our sweaters and found a bench to sit on. The first few hours were pretty fun taking pictures and chatting.

We saw a couple of possums which livened things up for about three seconds. And I finished the morning sleeping on the bench.

The only people we saw were two teen girls looking for pot to smoke.

This is a photo of the Gordon Dam. An adventure tour company in Tasmania lets people rapel down the side of the dam for $60. The bill it as the worlds longest commercial abseil.

It looks pretty scary, there were a few people dangeling at the end of a rope while we were there.

You can go down more than once if you are willing the climb the stairs back up. On of the guys who did it said he didn't want to go agian.

An interesting thing about the Gordon Dam is that they let the public walk all the way accross the top of it, while you aren't allowed to walk across the top of many of Tasmania's other dams.

Tasmania uses hydroelectricity quite frequently and we must have seen 8 or 9 dams during our trip.

-Gary Milner

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Sydney For New Year's Eve

We made it from Melbourne to Sydney on the Firefly bus. It wasn't nearly as bad as I thought a bus ride from Melbourne to Sydney would be. We were on the top level of a double decker bus for 12 hours. Luckily I was able to sleep through most of it in two, three hour stretches.

The thing about riding busses is that they make Tracie motion sick. This is compounded by the fact that the top level of a double decker bus sways much more than a regular bus. Tracie felt ill very quickly after we started our trip, but thankfuly we got onto the highway relatively quickly and the swaying stopped.

She also had a gravol, (anti nausia drug) to help her feel better as well as catch some z's. They played the movie, "Flight of the Pheonix" once we got out of the city. I hate to use the term 'turd parade' to describe any movie, especially if you are willing to ignore several really important flaws in the script. In anycase it was better than trying to sleep.

When we arrived in Sydney we went straight to hotel that Tracie's friends booked on our behalf. Unfortunately we are able to check in until 2:00pm so we are basically haning out until then.

I'm going to make time to upload photos with in the next three days.

-Gary Milner

Hello Sydney

Well, it's nearly ten am and we've been in Syndey for about three hours. It's gorgeous out...going to be 40 degrees today.

We have a few errands to do before we get to the good touristy stuff. I have an appointment with what will be my new nursing agency in two hours.

I can see the Sydney Harbour Bridge from here... We'll be taking some photos this afternoon, I imagine... It's exciting to be in Australia's unofficial capital.

Tomorrow is New Years Eve. We have a few friends in town that we're excited about seeing, but our main goal is to watch the fireworks over the harbour.


Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Back to the mainland

Once again, time is just slipping through our fingers. Our two weeks of hiking and camping in Tasmania are over and our three day road trip on the great ocean road has also come to an end. We leave for Sydney tomorrow night, so this will be our last night in Melbourne. Where oh where is the time going?

We had a very nice Christmas. We spent the morning opening gifts around the tree with our old flatmates in Melbourne. Our roomate from Perth / travel companion of over a month, Stephane was also there. Getting to the internet with our laptop has proven to be a bit challenging, so sorry about the lack of photos, but we'll be posting photos as soon as we can. We've taken several thousand pictures in the last few weeks I'm sure.

Tasmania was a lot of fun, maybe more so looking back on it than it was at the time because it was so bloody cold. We even had SNOW on Mt Wellington in Hobart on Christmas Eve. That's a crazy summer. Word from my family is that it was 14 degrees in Canada in winter the same day. Nice and hot and 35 degrees back on the mainland yesterday though, for those of you who were wondering.

Well, I'll add more when I can. Still have a lot of errands to do this aft. Merry Chirstmas to everyone and happy 30th wedding anniversary to Gary's parents.


Saturday, December 24, 2005


Well, right now it's Christmas Eve here in good old Medicine Hat, Alberta. We are dressed in our gay apparrel and are ready to celebrate ---fa la la, fa la la,la la la. This is a special greeting to Gary and Tracie and a wish for a merry Christmas. Also, is everything okay? We haven't heard from you in a long time.

Monday, December 12, 2005

The theory of evolution

In a talk given by Gordon B. Hinkley about geneology he said that people have past relatives known as "forebears". I already knew that bears also are known to have forbears so I'm putting two and two together and assuming that somewhere in the distant past we are related to bears. Later I hope to discover proof that were also related to monkeys, so stay tuned.

Tasmanian Devils

Our stay in Melbourne has come and gone. Before coming here, I used to think that three weeks was a long vacation, but now I realise that you can hardly see anything in only three weeks. There were many more things that I would have liked to have seen and done in Melbourne, but I guess you can't do it all.

Well, we've been here in Hobart, the capital of Tasmania, since early yesterday. For those of you who don't know, Tasmania is an island state in Australia off the south east coast, just south of Melbourne. So far it seems pretty because there are actually some mountains. Although they aren't quite the Rockies, the view does seem more like home than most things we've seen so far.

Because our flight got in so late, we spent our first night outside in the cold...that was crazy. Needless to say we were tired, so when we checked into the hostel yesterday morning, we slept until early afternoon before exploring the city only a bit. Right now we are at the library like nerds waiting until we can pick up our rental car in 20 minutes. Our first stop this afternoon is the Cadbury Chocolate factory, which I'm really excited about.

After that, the three of us head out into the Tasmanian wilderness to explore for two weeks. We stayed up until after one o'clock last night with a guy we met at the hostel who gave us tips about what to do and see. He's been here since mid November taking his time seeing the sights of the island. I started talking to him when I overheard him tell someone else he was from Calgary, Canada from the north west neighborhood of Country Hills.

It's a small world.


Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Ryker gets recognized

Jackie and Glen along with Ryker went to Edmonton today. One of the places they went was the West Edmonton mall which is know to be the largest mall in the world. Edmonton has a population of about a million smiling people. Well they were walking along in the mall when all at once, baby Ryker was recognized by a passerbye from his pictures on" flyker."Amazing eh?

Urinals and Cellphone Don't Mix

The other day Tracie and I went to see Harry Potter. Before the movie started I went to the lavetory. While using the facilities I heard a kid talking loudly. On my way out I notice that he was all by himself at the urinal talking on his cellphone!

It was a clear case of T.W.P. Talking While Peeing! The last time I heard of such a thing was from my friend Bob Riddley who said a girl that liked him one time flushed the toilet while talking to him and he caught her. I couldn't believe it. If you can't hold it, tell the person you're talking to you will call them back.

I thought that it was an isolated incident until yesterday when I was in the facilities at the mall and a man came in talking on his phone and procede to relieve himself without hanging up.

What conversation can't be interupted for this bodily function? Seriously, they'll wait. You can call them back. Send them a text message. They understand. They can hear the splashing and it grosses them out.

-Gary Milner

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Bonne Anniversaire Cedric!

Happy birthday Cedric
Originally uploaded by Tracie Milner.
Lundi soir nous sommes alles boire un coup avec Cedric et ses amis Eric et Alexi. On est alle a St Kilda en commencant et a environs 1h00 on est alle tous les cinqs au Crown Casino. C'etait et Cedric on passe la plupart de la nuit ensemble a la deuxieme etage parlant de la vie et de nos voyages jusqu'a date. Gary s'est passe son soir avec Eric en jouant du poker...en fin ils ont gagne 170$.

Merci Cedric pour une bonne soiree, et bonne anniversaire.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Melbourne Life

Observation Tower
Originally uploaded by Tracie Milner.
Well, we've been here in beautiful Melbourne for about 2 1/2 weeks...I think...I actually have no concept of time anymore. I worked two shifts last week at two different hospitals, both of which were very similar to any hospital in Perth, so there's nothing really interesting to tell. Work is work.

Gary was offered two jobs since he's been here, one at an office and another with a restaurant, but since he was honest about how long we would be here for up front (that is to say, Not long at all), both jobs basically told him it wasn't worth it. I think for this reason, and because I couldn't work the first week and a half, we have felt a little lost here. We thought we might be wasting time just hanging out when there's so much of the country to see. On the other hand of course, seeing a country requires money and our funds are rapidly dwindling.

The plan as it stands now is to fly to Hobart, Tasmania this Sunday, drive around the state for two weeks and then fly back to Melbourne Dec 25th. From there, we drive up the coast to Adelaide and then take the train to Sydney just before New Year's eve. The coastal drive between Melbourne and Adelaide in maybe only about 500 km, but it's known here as the "Great Ocean Road" and it is a "must do" for anyone visiting Australia. I'm really excited for these next few weeks...

Working with the agency here is getting better. I was cancelled for a few shifts last week, something that never happened in Perth, so I was quite unimpressed. They have been growing on me though. I was at the agency Christmas Party yesterday (quite funny to see Santa in the summer at a BBQ) and I mentioned to one of the staff that I was heading to Sydney for January. She suggested I come chat with her today. Well, I'm at the office now (I've just chatted with her) and she has already forwarded my info to a hospital in Sydney and put me in conact with someone who rents flats there. Things like that just don't happen in Canada, and it's a really surreal feeling to be in such great demand and have people going out of their way to help you. You're in demand in Canada too of course, but any Christmas party I've been too there, I've had to pay for myself, and I've never heard of any hopital nurses back home get picked up from the airport or getting subsidized accomodation from their employer. Here, you are in high demand, and you are treated accordingly.

Anyway, 6 more days in Melbourne...I'm excited for the trip, but also a bit sad to leave a place that I never really got to know. My roomates have been awesome, and I'm a bit sad to leave them as well, although I guess I'll have new roomates and new adventures in Sydney.


Friday, December 02, 2005

Vegemite...More like Nasty-mite

I would rather lick dog poo than eat vegemite.

I just don't understand Aussies.

Falling Down

Tracie and I went to see Harry Potter last night. I really enjoyed it. I have read the book, but couldn't really remember a lot of the details except to know that they cut a lot of the book out of the movie.

After the movie, we started riding the tram home, and Tracie got a little motion sick so we had to hop off after only a few blocks. As we were walking home, we passed a group of people who had just left some sort of function and were waiting for taxis to show up. A few steps beyond them I heard the scraping sound of highheeled shoes on concrete quickly followed by a loud thud of a drunk middle aged woman hitting the ground hard. It wasn't like she was able to catch herself at all like sometimes when you slip on the ice and can save yourself by crouching or ducking or what ever so that you fall a shorter distance. This was the thud of a person who was perpendicular to the ground three feet in the air and went straight down. Like when cartoon character slips on a bananna peel. She didn't get up for a long time. I'm pretty sure that she even cracked her head pretty hard.

One thing that I've noticed about Australia (Perth and Melbourne) is that they really tolerate public drunkeness here a lot. People take their drinks out into the street and there are always lots of drunken people wandering the streets late at night. The main roads are always littered with empties. It's not just the homeless people that drink in public here either. Supposedly respectable people of all ages are stumbling in the streets.

-Gary Milner

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Knee Deep In Paperwork

Courtyard Pano
Originally uploaded by Tracie Milner.
As Gary said I got my marriage certificate (thank you to Gary's parents for sending it), so after a bit of hassle (but not too much), I was able to get registered in the good state of Victoria. Working at a nursing agency here in Melbourne has so far proven to be quite different than it was in Perth. In Perth there was a lot of butt kissing going on which was nice since it was my butt being kissed. "Sure Tracie...Whatever you want Tracie..." Here they don't hide the fact that they're inconvenienced when I tell them I do or don't want to work. Anyway, time will tell how they are to work for. So far not so good though because my very first shift which was supposed to be last night got cancelled. Oh well, c'est la vie.

The nice thing on the other hand is that this agency has a couple of houses which they rent out to their out of town nurses. A few days after coming to Melbourne, we moved into the Miller house - so called because it's on Miller Street. It's quite spectacular, especially compared to the flat we were renting in Perth. The living room has massively high ceilings, there are four beds, two baths a courtyard in front and a little patio area in back. Seven of us live here in total...There's Me, Gary & Julie from Canada and Lynsey, Chris, Clare & Vivian from the UK. Everyone but Gary is a nurse. We have all gotten along fabulously, going out together every day and every evening. It's been really fun for us to have 5 new instant friends. I've posted a few pics of the appartment on flickr. This is a pano of our living room.

Melbourne so far has been ok. To be completely honest, we didn't know what to expect when we got here so we were neither disappointed nor pleasantly surprised. We've just been muddling around. The weather here isn't as nice as Perth...about 10 degrees colder actually...but I won't complain about weather for the sake of all of my Canadian readers. The view of the city from the Yarra river is spectacular, especially at night when all the lights are reflecting, but so far I haven't gone down at night to take photos. You can walk along the river on palm tree lined walkways take in the beauty of the city. My friend said he figured it was more beautiful than Sydney...they just need the opera house. People here have been really nice, although they have been everywhere in Australia so far. (Except the guy in Adelaide who tried to run us over...when Aussies get behind the wheel, watch out!) They have thicker accents in Melbourne than they do in Perth and at first we found them much harder to understand, although it's getting easier now.

Yesterday Julie, Lynsey, Gary and I went to the top of the Melbourne Obsevation Deck which is on the 55th floor of Rialto Towers downtown. You get a nice 360 degree view of the city, which is quite beautiful. After that we went down to the Old Melbourne Gaol which is the jail where Ned Kelly was hanged, which is now just a tourist attraction.

We are slowly getting to see the city, although we are supposed to leave in less than two weeks, so it's all going so fast and I'm sure we won't get everything in that we want to. far I am scheduled to work tonight, so I'll let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Life In Melbourne

Tracie got everything with her Victora nursing registration worked out yesterday after our marriage certificate arrived. She is schedueled to work night shifts for a week starting today.

This morning, we went to the lookout deck of the tallest office building in the southern hemisphere. It costs $13.50, but luckily they have a backpacker discount which brought the price down by $2.00. I'm still not sure if it was worth it, but at least is was something to do.

After lunch Tracie and two of our nurse roommates went to the old Melbourne Gaol. It's where they hanged Ned Kelly. They wanted $12.50 to get in so I decided not to go even though Tracie and her friends went. It seems to me that they should be thrown into their own jail for charing $12.50 to get in. I figure that maybe if they caught me shoplifting something, I could probably get a free tour of a new jail but I didn't want to take a chance on being too good a criminal and actually making it out of the gift shop with a Ned Kelly puppet and not getting a free jail tour.

In anycase, it seemes to me that almost everything in Perth was free and that almost everything here in Melbourne costs $12.50+.

I'm looking for a job today, but I feel bad telling restauranteurs that I'm planning on being here several months when in fact we are only planning on being here for two weeks. It not only is an outright lie, it seems dishonest. Although I'm pretty sure no one wants to hire someone for only two weeks. I wish I had a job where I could work for 8 hours and then move on and they love you for it like Tracie can.

Anyway, look for new pictures on flickr in a day or two.

-Gary Milner

Monday, November 28, 2005

Margaret River

The shire of Augusta-Margaret River is a short drive from Perth through Bunbury and Busselton, offering some of the most picturesque scenery in Western Australia. Margaret River town is situated on the banks of the Margaret River approximately 10kms from the ocean, and lies amidst lush green pastures and forests.

The development of Margaret River can be attributed to the Group Settlement Scheme of the 1920's, when some 100 settlers found themselves setting up industries with the assistance of the Government Scheme.

Today the town rests in the heart of the state's largest premium wine producing region. This, combined with the stunning natural surroundings, supports a thriving tourism industry attracting visitors from all over the world.

As a result of its popularity, there has also been an influx of added attractions and facilities created in the area to meet the guests every whim.

When we got there we went to the visitors center and Tracie asked one of the girls what the best thing to do if you only had half a day and didn't drink wine was. For some reason this rattled the girl and she became visibly nervous. Maybe it's because the only thing there is to do here that isn't anywhere else are the wineries.

We settled on seeing one of the caves. The Leeuwin-Naturaliste Ridge is scattered with over 350 limestone caves. Six of these have been developed into major public attractions, all of which are on the Caves Road.

Visitors are encouraged to start their discovery of the regional caves with a tour of the Cave Works Interpretive Center at the Lake Cave site. There they have interactive displays, a crawl-through cave model, and an amazing outside viewing platform which looks down into the cave.

Lake cave, which recently celebrated its 100th year as a tourist cave, has been entirely relit to fully show off its delicate formations and famous reflective lake.

The next morning we went to the mouth of the Margaret River to see the beach and to do a little body boarding. The Margaret River area has some of the best surfing in WA. The waves were pretty small while we were there, only a meter and a half at maximum, but they were really fun. The beach had a very shallow incline and so the rides were a lot longer than they would have been at a beach in Perth. I can see what a big difference good waves make on how much fun you can have.

We stopped at a chocolate factory on our way home but it was pretty disappointing. There were no Ommpa Loompas, and it was more of a chocolate store than anything else. I didn't feel like spending an arm and a leg to buy a few tiny pieces of chocolate. I would probably skip the chocolate factory if I had it to do over again.

We made it back to Perth but were an hour late taking the van back to the rental place. They were good about it and didn't charge us a late fee.

This trip has put both Tracie and I into a vacationing mood. We feel like we are having a trip instead of just working and living in a new place.


Things here in Melbourne are OK.

Actually things in Melbourne are getting a lot better. The marriage certificate arrived today a little after the rest of the mail.

Tracie is in the process of getting her registration and if all goes well, she will have her first shift tomorrow.

-Gary Milner

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Travel Nursing in Victoria, Australia

The other day Tracie went in to the Victoria Nursing Board to get her registration done so that she could get working right away. She had her old nursing agency send all her information to a the nursing agency here in Melbourne, Australian Nursing Solutions. She was planning on working within the first three days.

It turns out that it is a rule here in Victoria that you have to show them a pile of identification knee deep. All of Tracie's information is in her married name except her birth certificate. Which means that she also has to show her marriage certificate. Even though she is registered in two other states here in Australia. They just won't believe her or the other states.

Mutual recognition doesn't really mean much to them, I guess. We almost left that day to go to Sydney just to avoid the hassle. In any case we thought it over and discussed it over lunch and decided to have my mother send it to us and emailed her the request.

Thanks in advance for doing it. I don't know what it will cost to send urgently, but just pay whatever gets it here the fastest and you can take the money from my bank account.

We called them and they said they had sent it, which was very nice of them. There were two options one for about $40 and one for $57 or something like that which would have been three days faster. Three days of work is significantly more than the $20 we saved. In fact it would have been worth it to pay $200 for to get it here one day quicker.

The agency here has been very nice and accomodating to us so far, as have been everyone at all the nursing agencies that we have seen so far including the nursing boards in Western Australia and New South Wales.

-Gary Milner

Monday, November 21, 2005

The Proposition

I've been working at a fruit and veg shop for the last month and a half. My boss has offered me a pretty exciting deal.

My boss (Nick)is looking forward to his retirement. He has found an appealing way to supplement his pension. He has come across a deal that will allow him to build a new building to house a fruit shop. Since this is a deal that very rarely comes around, he jumped at it with the idea of selling his current business, starting a new one in the new building and once it is doing good business, sell it, but keep the building to rent to the new owners.

Starting a fruit shop, getting it going and then selling it is something that he has been doing just about every year for the last 30 years. It has slowed in the last little while because of increases to the Australian capital gains tax which means that by keeping a shop going for a few months longer he makes an adddional 60K from the tax savings. In any case he has a pretty good system laid out for starting a new shop and being profitable a few months.

Nick is taking possession of the new building at the end of December or the beginning of Janruary. It will be an empty shell and will take about another 4-6 weeks to be ready for the shop. At the start of February the new shop will be ready to go.

This is where I come in. Nick would like to ease himself and his wife into retirement. He feels that the best way to do this would be to take me on as his apprentice and teach me everything he knows about the business over the next few years. Tracie would take over Marilyn's (Nick's wife) job of doing the books and schedueling the cashiers etc. When the shop is firmly established or near around the first year mark, we would enter into a partnership and then as more time passes and we get to know each other, Tracie and I would take over more and more of the responsabilities of the shop until eventually they could be out all together.

After five years or so, Nick wants to be out of the shop and retired completely. He would sell me the shop at a vast discount or if I couldn't afford it lease it to me, and if I didn't want it sell the shop to someone else with Tracie and I shareing the procedes of the sale.

For the first little while we would be getting $1000/week for enterprenuer's hours. Which isn't a lot of money for the time you are spending. Tracie makes about that much as a nurse without all the stress.

As things are going, we will run out of money in Canada sometime near July and we might not be able to send much back. Student loans are a pain.

We would have to get working visas here, which isn't a problem just a hassle of the paper work.

On the other hand, we would know how to start and run a fruit and veg shop here in Australia. It is a very profitable business. You make most of your investment back within the first three months if you are doing it correctly.

The wholesalers give you a week's credit before they bill you, and so you have sold most of your stock before they even send the bill.

If you start it properly, you can sell the shop at a huge profit of several hundred thousand.

Unfortunatly, when you have your own business, you are so determined to make it work that you don't get vaction and work long hours. Basically Nick closes for statutory holidays and Sundays. But he is never not thinking about the shop.

An enterpreneur has to be a hard worker.

Shop Back Room
This is the back room of the fruit shop.

The Shop
This is the bulk section out front. It accounts for about 10% of sales in the shop and would fall under Tracie's control.

tomato room
This is the tomato room. We keep tomatoes and other tropical type fruits in here.

-Gary Milner

Friday, November 18, 2005

The Valley of the Giants

On our way to Pemberton we stopped in the Valley of the Giants. The entrance to the 'Valley of the Giants' is 14kms east of Walpole and 3kms from Nornalup, in the Walpole-Nornalup National Park. A pleasant 5km drive meanders through the forest to the Tree Top Walk.

The unique red tingle trees found here can reach a height of 70 meters while their heavily buttressed girth can attain a circumference of 20 meters at ground level. Hence the name 'Giants'.

40 Meters High
Explore the tingle forest at different levels. The exhilarating Tree Top Walk commences from a jetty at the start of a gully. Sixty meter long steel trusses, supported by steel pylons, weave though the crowns of the trees to give the visitor a truly birds-eye view. After reaching a height of 40 meters above the ground, gradually[ descend to complete the 600 meter loop back at ground level.

The Tree Top Walk is disabled accessible with assistance, and the structure is constructed to a gradient of 1 in 12 to cater for wheel-chairs with assistance. A wheel chair is available on site for visitors to use, although wheel-chairs probably couldn't turn around in the middle of the trusses and would have to go to the platforms above the pylons to turn around. The walk is one way only anyway.

Gary Milner
There is also a meandering boardwalk which takes visitors through a grove of veteran tingle trees called the 'Ancient Empire'. This walk will show some of the unique shapes of these giant trees close at hand. You can actually walk through the hollowed out butt of one tree, and into the hollowed trunk of several others.

We finished driving to Pemberton and stayed the night there in the one and only campground. In the morning we went to see the Gloucester Tree, one of the highest fire lookout trees in the world. They were charging $9 per car so we joined the Frenchmen in their van to save a little money.

Can This Be Safe?
153 rungs spiral dizzily to the viewing platform 60m above. Saying 153 rungs doesn't really describe it very well though. The rungs are actually three foot sections of inch thick re-bar drilled into the trunk of the tree. There are additional safety bars behind you as you are climbing, but they would only help you if you lost you grip with you hands and not your feet as well.

I found it completely incredible that they would allow the public to climb it at all. At the bottom there is a sign that I wish I would have gotten a good picture of that said something to the effect of “Extreme danger, others have been injured, if you have any doubt about safely climbing do not attempt” along with a list of eight or nine rules of which my party broke 3 or 4.

In the parking lot there was a small flock of parrots eating and I got a good set of pictures of them. Then Alex got some bread out of his van and the birds landed right on him. We all got some of the birds to land on us, with up to five at a time. A few even landed on people who didn't have any bread to give them. Tracie did it too even though she doesn't really like birds.


On our way to Albany, we saw an echidna. They are a lot like a hedgehog, but a native to Australia and an endangered species.

Albany was first settled in 1826, two years before Perth. Not only does Western Australia's first white settlement boast one of the best natural harbours in the world, it has within its shire boundaries spectacular coastal scenery, perennial rivers, dense karri forests, rich farmland and the state's most temperate climate.

Albany is 408kms south-east of Perth on a stretch of coast which looks out to Antarctica several thousand kilometers to the south. The hub of the varied Great Southern Region, Albany has some 30,000 privileged people who enjoy permanent residence in the state's most popular tourist destination.

It doesn't matter if the tourist desires safe swimming spots, surf beaches, bush walks, fishing, wining and dining, sight seeing, sport, adventure or god old fashioned relaxation, Albany will cater to every need.

At the western end of the Albany Visitor Center, the Bibbulmun Track is a 964km walking trail extending from Perth's suburbs to Albany. It takes the hiker through some of the most beautiful areas in the southern part of the state. There are overnight huts every 20km. The speed record is 17days which is a little over 60km per day.

The Gap
Two of the most spectacular natural features near Albany are the Gap and Natural Bridge. The photo to the left is the Gap, a sheer chasm which visitors can view from safely behind a steel rail. View the seething mass of foam, spray and crashing surf 30 meters below. The waves splash high above the gap quite often.

The natural bridge is a large piece of granite which has been eroded by huge seas to form a fantastic arch. It is a very short walk from the Gap allowing maximum enjoyment of this spectacular site.

Further along the coast are the Blow holes-- a series of fissures in the granite which make loud hissing noises and spurt water into the air when large waves are forced, under pressure, between the rock. It sounds very much like a whale spraying water through it's blow hole. I found them to be a little less than impressive especially when compared to the blow hole on Oahu in Hawaii.

Albany has an incredible amount of things for tourists to do. Unfortunately we were a little rushed and didn't have time to see any of the thing in the city itself before we had to move on. I'm quite sure that it has some of the most amazing scenery in all of the southern coast of Australia.

Thursday, November 17, 2005


We crossed the Nullabor Plain on the Indian Pacific Railway over the last three days. I now have proof that Sasketchawan is only the second flatest place in the whole world.

The railway has the longest strait piece of track in the entire world. Almost 500km without a curve. There are only a few trees visible at any given time (and you can see a long way) and they are only about waist high. There is nothing. I have been to the right left and middle of nowhere.

I don't know what I expected of the train journey from Perth to Adelaide, maybe a tree or two. The sheer size of the nothing was amazing. The french people with us said that it was like a trip from Paris to Moscow would be, and they would never think of riding the train to Moscow in a million years.

Cedric said that once he wanted to visit a friend in Northern France, but it was a two hour trip so he skipped it. Now he's up for driving all over Europe.

We found a nice hostel here in Adelaide very easily and are just going to try to catch up on a little sleep that we missed on the train.

-Gary Milner

Monday, November 14, 2005

All a blur

Big Tree
Originally uploaded by Tracie Milner.
Life here is nothing but a blur. The days are turning into weeks and the weeks into months, and now we're really leaving Perth in less than two days. I'm terribly sad because I don't want things to change, and yet I'm excited for the new adventure. I feel like I have a million different emotions at once and it's overwhelming at times.

Last week, like Gary mentioned, we took a trip to the South of Western Australia avec nos amis francais, Stephane, Cedric et Alex. In one week we covered Kalgoorlie and the "Super Pit" gold and nickel mine, beautiful Esperance and the even more beautiful Cape Le Grand, Albany, the Karri Tree forest near Pemberton, and Margaret River. We climbed hills and trees, went in caves, swam in two different oceans, saw parrots, kangaroos, snakes, lizards, emus, rabbits, pelicans, and echidnas. We stayed in a rented campervan and everyday was an adventure. Needless to say, we had an amazing time. I'm not smart enough to post more than one photo at once, so check out our flickr links on the left for some photos. We took several hundred shots each day, so the few we put on flickr are only a taste of what we saw and did.

When we got back to Perth on Friday, we found ourselves homeless. We thought we might stay in our old appartment, but as luck would have it it was already rented out. After about an hour of hanging out on the lawn, we decided to give Gary's boss a call. He and his wife took us out to dinner last week and offered to let us stay with them, although I hadn't really planned on taking them up on the offer. They are some of the nicest people I've ever met and staying with them has been lovely. I think we've slept better the last few nights than we have in the past 5 months.

Saturday we bought our train tickets for the Indian Pacific, which goes clear from Perth to Sydney. We are only riding as far as Adelaide (a two day journey) and changing trains there and heading up to Ayer's Rock. It's going to be scorching hot up there, but I'm excited to go. After, we plan to head back down to Adelaide, change trains and head for Melbourne. I am already mostly set up to work in Melbourne, I just have to get registered in the state of Victoria. Shortly after getting to Melbourne, we plan to head to Tasmania with Stephane for a few weeks for some more adventures. Stephane and Cedrique are also riding the train to Adelaide on wednesday, so it should be fun.

Today was one of the hottest days we've had in Perth. It was 30 degrees in the shade. They have started putting up Christmas decorations in the city which I find quite amusing, given the toasty warm weather. It doesn't feel like Christmas without the snow, although I don't miss it one bit. It's sure going to be odd spending Christmas at the beach though.

Well, I have so much more to write, but Gary and I have to get back to our host family's house for supper.

Hope everyone back home is doing well. I'll email when I can. I fell like I hardly have enough time in a day to do all the things I want to. Tomorrow is my last full day in Perth and I hope to make the most of it. little time


During a gale in 1792, two French frigates on a mapping voyage of the Australian coast, took shelter off Observatory Point. The first ship to enter the bay was L'Esperance and so the bay was named. The archipelago was named after the second ship, Recherche.

Another early visitor to the area was Matthew Flinders, who anchored at Lucky Bay in 1802 during his voyage to chart the souther coast.

He named several landmarks including Thistle Cove.

In1841, Edward John Eyre men Captain Rossiter on his epic journey from Adelaide, abourd the French Whaler 'Mississippi' in a bay which later became known as Rossiter Bay. Middle Island, visited by Flinders in 1802, was later established as a base for sealers operating in the area.

1863 saw the arrival of the first settlers, the Dempster brothers, who traveled overland from Northam with their families and stock.

Other settlers followed with the discovery of gold at Coolgardie and the town became the principal port of the gold fields.

The town suffered a severe setback with the opening of the Perth to Coolgardie railway and was reduced to a holiday resort and fishing town.

However, the town attracted enormous publicity in the early 1960's when American investors established large landholdings in the area. The success of their farming methods caused an influx of new farmers from all parts of Australia. This helped make Esperance the prosperous town it is today.

The aboriginal name for the area was Gabba-kyle, 'the place where the water lies down like a boomerang'.

Today Esperance is romantically dubbed the 'Bay of Isles' and the visitor will find that both these descriptions fit, for nature has bestowed upon Esperance countless attractions.

The climate is temperate, the bay a brilliant blue, the rolling plains seem endless, the headlands are magnificent and the wildflowers are truly splendid. The town of Esperance lies on a beautiful bay, dotted with the islands of the Recherche Archipelago.

It is the only port in the south-east of Western Australia and is serviced by a standard guage rail system from Kalgoorlie. The port of Esperance exported over 3,000,000 tonnes of product last year, including wheat, barley, oats, lupins, peas and minerals. Agriculture is by far the leading industry with tourism and fishing also playing important roles.

The region has been dramatically transformed in the past few years. The once struggling farms have been replaced by rich, fertile crops and pastures. In 1954 there were only 36 farmers in the area, utilizing about 8,093ha. Today there are about 600 on more than 404,686ha. This transformation came about through a combination of Australian agronomists' know how and American investors' money. This American inspired land development revitalized the area. Potentially, the Esperance region could be one of Australia's greatest producers of beef, fat lambs, wool, wheat, oats, barley and other crops such as linseed, safflower and grain sorghum.

Tracie Looking at the Sunset
There are quite a few things to do in and around Esperance. We went on the Great Ocean Drive which is one of Australia's most spectacular scenic drives.

It is a loop drive 38kms long and includes some of the area's best know attractions, including spectacular beach and coastal scenery, Rotary Lookout on Wireless Hill, Twilight Cove, Observatory Point, Wind Farms and the unique Pink Lake.

Pink Lake
The coastal portion of the drive is the best part, but the Pink Lake could also be interesting. The Lakes colour is attributed to salt tolerant algae called dunalella salina. Table salt is harvested from solar ponds on the eastern end of Pink Lake. Hugh Stockpiles can be seen from the lookout. There was less salt than normal in the lake while we were there, and so the algae that makes the water pink wasn't in bloom and the water wasn't pink.

One of the other major attractions in Esperance is the Tanker Jetty. The jetty is located on the town foreshore. New Zealand fur seals and Australian sea lions often visit the jetty in the hope of finding fish scraps thrown into the water by anglers who use the jetty. There was only one seal there during our visit.

The WA Government Railways built the Esperance Deepwater Wharf, commonly known as the Tanker Jetty, between January 1934 and February 1935. It was the first major project for young engineer, John Gillespie and was officially opened by State Mines Minister, Selby Walter Munsie on 13 April 1935.

With 37 feet 6 inches (11.2 meters) of depth available to bulk ships where it extended 1140 feet (842 meters) into the Esperance Bay, the jetty provided an excellent facility to unload bulk fuel and load grain for export. The last tanker to unload bulk fuel from the Jetty was the “BP Enterprise” in 1977. Since then fuel has been shipped through the land-backed wharf which had been built during the 1960's for the export of grain and minerals.

With the end of commercial use, the Tanker Jetty rapidly fell into disrepair to the extent that, in 1985, 67 outer piles had worn completely through and another 38 were 50-75% worn. A portion of the jetty beyond repair 124 was so unsafe that 7 piers were removed – separating the head of the jetty.

In 1988 the Apex Club of Esperance took over an initiative of Jaycees from the year before when the Save the Tanker Jetty Association was formed. Under the leadership of Barrie Stearne, with assistance from gold fields and Esperance local governments, community groups, service clubs, and the dedicated citizens of Esperance, an amount of $163,589 was raised. The State Government contributed $150,000 towards the preservation of the jetty, which is a focal pint of enjoyment for visitors, locals and seals alike.

We found a nice caravan park to stay at and as we were leaving, Tracie back into their gas pump and did a real number on it. I'm sure she knocked it off the stand. It was mounted on a small concrete pad and you could see that the pad had been lifted a little bit off the ground at least enough to crack the dirt around it.

The park manager said that it had been hit before and that it cost $1200 to get it fixed, but since he hadn't used the pump in 12months that he would just let it slide. He said that the tank was empty and he didn't have any plans to use the pump or tank anymore anyway.

We got the Frenchmen and went back there to camp. We had supper with them and it was very nice. We had a good visit and I got them hooked on Autostitch.

Just 56kms East of Esperance is Cape Le Grande National Park. There are several granite peaks, one of which we climbed. There are two campsites with full facilities and caravans are welcome, although there are no power hookups. The lights in the Bathroom are solar powered, and stay on automatically for three hours after dusk and can be switch on for five minutes per press of a button. The showers also rely on solar heating and while they ask you to limit your shower to around five minutes or less, the water is pleasantly warm.

Galloping Go Anna
While we were there I spotted a large monitor lizard, know locally as a 'Galloping Go Anna' it was close to a meter long, Easily the biggest wild lizard I have seen. There were also several species of smaller lizards and various types of crabs.

The beach was spectacular, the sand was very fine and hard packed. The beach sloped ever so gently out to sea and so the wave broke pretty far out and we could get a nice long ride in on our body boards. It was the funnest ride we've had up until that point the waves were pretty small with the very biggest one being less than a meter.

Gary  bodyboarding
With a four wheel drive, you could drive along the coast on the beach which looked pretty fun, although you do have to be careful to watch for rogue waves and not turn too quickly in order to avoid rolling. I'm told that driving on the beach is illegal in most places.

When we got done body boarding on the beach, we went on a little hike. We got to a spot where it was obvious that water running down the mountain had washed away any dirt that had a chance to build up and so there was an area free of trees and I convinced the others that we should climb to the top rather than take the path around the mountains to a beach. I am really glad we did. We got lots of photos of the scenery and of ourselves and we had a really good time. It was one of the highlights of my time here in Australia so far.

Swallow a Fly
At about 15 minutes to sunset, I got worried that we would have to walk back down in the dark and to complicate things I could see that the weather was taking a turn for the worse. I could see a line of wind blowing closer and closer towards us hard. I could see the white caps on the water.

We got back just when the wall of wind hit. In the shelter of the camper van, we had our supper and then headed back to Esperance. We decided that we would avoid finding a pay camp site and went searching for a place to stay free. It ended up that we parked outside the fire department. Since it was a volunteer fire department I knew that we would be undisturbed unless there were a fire that night. Soon after laying down for the night, it started raining pretty hard.

There are also many things in Esperance that we didn't have the chance to do. It relies heavily on tourism to supplement income from agriculture and fishing.

Kalgoorlie Super Pit

Kalgoorlie is a 600km drive from Perth. There are several small towns between Perth and Kalgoorlie. By small towns, I mean gas stations with several hundred people living nearby (if you could call existing in a place that small living). They are nice little towns though if you like living in the country and having a quiet life.

Kalgoorlie offers a unique outback environment, heritage and a wide variety of attractions that reflect the past and present. The city has modern services, facilities and a rich and fascinating history, yet still retains the feel of a frontier town.

The appeal of this city is a charming mix of unique gold rush heritage with the exciting wonders of modern mining. Kalgoorlie was established in 1893 with one of the world's last great gold rushes.

The pioneering spirits is still very evident today with sensational turn of the century buildings that comprise some of the finest mining-town architecture in the world.

A huge open cut mine, one of the biggest in the world, sits on the edge of town on the largest square mile of gold-bearing earth ever discovered. Before is was the Super Pit, it comprised lots of smaller mining companies that tunneled rather than using a pit mining system.

Holes in the Wall
“The most amazing thing that happened in my lifetime is Alan Bond buying up all the leases that became the Super Pit. Bond saw open cut was needed, started it and it grew and grew. It was the inevitable finish of the single operations. I remember when it was scattered all over with small companies running their own mines and they were all battling.” -Charles (digger) Daws, former president Boulder Shire Council, interviewed, aged 87, in the Kalgoorlie Miner, December 1994

“He (Bond) had almost pieced together the jigsaw of leases which were in separate hands for nearly a century. It was now possible to operate a gigantic and ever-descending super pit, in which massive equipment could tear out the old underground workings and the unmined gold in between.” -From the rush that never ended by Geoffery Blainey)

Where small operations had once controlled the famous Golden Mile, WA businessman Alan Bond started buying up the individual leases during the 1980's, seeking to create one big company and one big pit, from which gold could be extracted at a much reduced cost. Ore recovery rates had fallen so low, and underground mining had become so expensive that 'open cut' mining appeared the only way forward. Bond's company failed to complete the takeover, but, in 1989, the entire area was combined and Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mines Pty Ltd (KCGM) was formed to manage the assets and operations of the joint venture partners.

The Super Pit
For the first time, all the leases and infrastructure of the Golden Mile had been brought together. It was now possible to mine fare more economically and to continue the harvest of the Golden Mile, which has produced nearly 50 million ounces of gold since the days of Paddy Hannan and his fortuitous Golden Quest. Others who had embarked on quests of their own, including Bayley and Ford, Leslie Robert Menzies and young John Aspinall would doubtless be amazed at what their adventures have led to.

Today this region is one of the most important gold and nickel producing ares in Australia.

Kalgoorlie is famous for its mineral wealth, outback environment, rich history and hospitality.

Gold was discovered in Southern Cross in 1887. Five years later, news of a rush at Mt. Youle resulted in three Irish prospectors, Paddy Hannan, Thomas Flanagan and Daniel Shea, setting off from Coolgardie in June 1893 to explore the area to the east.

At a point some 25 miles to the east, one of the horses lost a shoe and the group was forced to camp for the night at the foot of what is today called Mt. Charlotte. It was here they were surprised to find a few god nuggets and, on June 17, Paddy Hannan rode into Coolgardie with about 100 ounces of gold to register his Reward Claim.

Discovery of gold deposits located some 5kms to the south led to the discovery of the world famous 'Golden Mile', the riches square mile of gold bearing ore in the world. This triggered one of the biggest gold rushes in Australia's history.

Men came in their thousands, many unprepared for the harsh conditions they encountered with inadequate food and scarcity of water. There was no sanitation and few medical supplies. Thousands died from thirst or disease contracted from drinking contaminated water. Nevertheless stories of fame and fortune spread rapidly and within a few short years 93 hotels and 8 breweries had been established for a population which had swollen to over 30,000.

Water shortages were finally relieved in 1903 through the genius of the State's Chief Engineer C. Y. O'Connor. The establishment of a water pipeline, from Mundaring Weir in Perth, over some 563kms to the Gold fields, ensured that the city prospered.
Since then the fascinating history of the Gold fields continues.

The Super Pit was the main thing that we saw in Kalgoorlie as we wanted to get a jump on the drive to Esperance so that we could me our Frenchmen friends there the next morning. We left Kalgoorlie at right around 6:30 just as it was getting dark, and so we had to drive pretty slowly because there were so many dead kangaroos by the side of the road and we didn't want to find a live one the hard way. We drove until about 10:00, and stayed in a caravan park in a small town called Norseman.

If we thought that Perth shut down early, there weren't even any lights on in people's houses. It really surprised me. The campground was basically a dirt parking lot with grass along one side to camp on with electric outlets and taps to fill your reservoir with water.

We left early after showering. There was one other RV in the park, but there was no sign of them waking up.

-Gary Milner

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Southern WA

Tracie and I went on a little road trip through most of Southern WA this week. We spent the last seven days seeing the small towns around Perth.

We went to Kalgoorlie to see the superpit, one of the worlds largest open pit mines. We went to Esperance, a small port town directly south of Kalgoorlie. We went to Cape Le Grande, a national park near Esperance. It had a great beach, lots of kangaroos, heaps of lizards of various shapes and sizes up to about 3 feet long and thousands upon thousands of flies. Pemberton and the tree top walk were good. There is a walkway suspended 40 meters in the air where you walk above the canopy of the euclyptus trees. Albany was very beautiful, there is a natural arc near the coast and a huge gap in the coast which is about 30 meters deep and the waves splash way over top of it. Margeret River was rushed and therefore a bit of a disappointment, especially considering that their main thing is all the vinyards. Tracie told the girl at the Tourist Center that we only had a day to visit, and that we wanted to see the very best things but that we don't drink and want to see things other than vinyards. The girl became visibly nervous at the thought of it.

In anycase we have almost 3 gigs of photos and will be uploading them asap. Tracie is taking her turn first, so take a look at what she has to offer.

-Gary Milner

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


Remembrance day is on Friday. I'm posting a picture of Grandpa Ellsworth Scoville's war medals from the second world war. He was in the Navy and was primarily posted to convoy escorts and submarine hunting. He helped in sending many nazi submarines to Davy Jones locker. He had many narrow escapes from death himself. The ships he was on were powered by steam and he was a steam engineer.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Happy Halloween!

Originally uploaded by Jackie Hutch.
Yesterday was halloween and we dressed Ryker up as a fireman. We trick-or-treated to a few friends houses, and got lots of candy. It sure pays off, and even though the baby doesn't eat that much candy yet, the people don't ask questions, they just fork it over, and we say "uh, he doesn't eat those" if it's candy we don't like. One good thing is that we know all of our friends give out good candy. We had about 6 trick-or-treaters come to our house, but we had no candy, so we gave them granola bars.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Darth Vader Pumpkin Carving Template

At long last here are the Darth Vader Pumpkin Templates that everyone seems to be searching for.

I've made only one, but I'm including a negative version so that you can print it off without using a lot of in, and a regular version so that you can get a better idea of what it will look like.

In the top one, you cut out the black parts and in the bottom one, you cut out the white parts. Make sure that there are no "islands of pumpkin" floating in the middle of the parts you cut out.

I hope that you like this Pumpkin Carving Template that I have made. I recommend that you check the ads for pumpkin carving related notices. Often commercial sites have good ideas for carving pumpkins as well as free or almost free templates for carving. Someplaces also sell specialized pumpkin carving tools.

Click on the images to find larger copies suitable for printing. If you find that they print too small, don't worry about resizing them larger, because even if the quality of the image drops with the enlargement, you only need the outline to transfer onto the pumpkin.

If you find this useful, feel free to link to it using ""

-Gary Milner

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Perth Mint

We went to see the Perth Mint this morning with our flatmate. It costs $9.90, but if you have a backpacker card they give you the concession rate which is about $7.50.

The mint has some pretty interesting things. They have a gold pouring demonstraion where they pour molten gold into a mold to make a bar. The person talks about the history of the place, about all the tempratures involved and the safety gear.

They also give a tour of the mint where the person tells about the history of the mint and some of the things that went on there. The very first supervisor of the mint over-ruled the arcitect and builders who wanted a single large front door. The supervisor wanted two doors one for business (prospectors and miners) and one for use exclusively by his family. The doors both enter into the same room, but one was exclusive. The guide also explained that there were checkpoints for the guards that recorded the time when they arrived. The guards, however, discovered a way to forge the time recordings so on cold winter days they would just forge proof of their rounds instead of actually doing them.

Only one shot was fired while guarding the mint, that was when on guard shot another in the leg, presumably by accident. The mint only had one gun, so the guards had to share it. They say it was the most handled gun in Western Australia because one of the guards always had it in their possession at any given time.

The person doing the gold pouring said that pants with cuffs were banned at the mint while they were in fashion, because splashes of gold would get caught in them and the workers were found to be taking it home for themselves.

They also have a 12.5 kg bar of gold worth over $200,000 that you can pick up an handle.
If you are wondering why I don't have any actual photos of anything inside, they forbid photography in a misguided attempt of preventing people from casing it for a robbery as well as increasing post card sales.

Overall, if you are in Perth you should see the mint.

-Gary Milner

Monday, October 24, 2005

Happy Birthday Jackie

The 23rd was my sister Jackie's birthday. Year after year I wish her birthday was on the 31st. For some reason when I was little I thought it would be funny if Jackie was born on Halloween. Like it would mean she was a witch or something.

The thing is that even though I thought the idea up when I was eight or so, I still think it would be funny.

I have given notice at both my jobs now and so I only have 2 weeks worth of work here in Perth. I'm really looking forward to being unemployed again. We don't really know where we are headed other than a little sight seeing before we make it to the east coast. We'll be going to see Ayer's Rock and then on to Melbourne I guess. We don't know if we'll be staying in Melbourne or moving on to Sydney or Adelaide right away.


Saturday, October 22, 2005

More and more bad news

Just when I was thinking of using tequilla instead of gasoline in my car, a hurricane hits Mexico and now the price of tequilla is going to go up. You just can't win can you.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Halloween Pumpkin Fun

A SCUBA group in Bozeman Montana has come up with a new Halloween tradition: carving pumpkins underwater.

The biggest problem with carving pumpkins underwater is that they float. That's why scuba divers fill the hollowed gourds with rocks before taking them under.

This year about 16 divers gathered to take part in the event which takes place on a platform suspended about 15 feet below the surface of the water to prevent churning up mud and thus reducing visibility.

In other news, Bruce Bradford belives that pumpkins have no rights, at least that's what the bumper sticker on the side of his 120-foot cannon named, "the Second Amendment".

His goal of creating the cannon? To be the first person to shoot a pumpkin half a mile. Most pumpkin shooting competitions have at least three rules. The pumpkin projectile must weigh eight to 10 pounds, it has to leave the launcher intact and no explosives can be used.

The thing about Halloween here in Perth is that they don't celebrate Thanksgiving or Halloween (although there is some Halloween candy for sale). The stores and even some of the public buildings already have their Christmas decorations up and it isn't even November yet.

-Gary Milner

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

It must be nice...

Colorful Ryker
Originally uploaded by Jackie Hutch.
To be in Australia by the beach in the long hot summer. Everytime I look at the photos of a warm climate, I'm jealous and I think of how nice it would be. I can't see how you would ever want to come back. I was wondering if you could ever get tired of living near the ocean with such warm weather, and Gary said "you can't". So, that answered my question, and left me yearning to one day live there too.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

A little bit about me and my life

View from the top
Originally uploaded by Tracie Milner.
This post is from an email I wrote to my mom the other day. Gary says that any time I write a nice email, I should also post it on the blog. I know it's nice for you guys back home to read the blog and see what we've been up to, but we've been so busy living life that going downtown and sitting down to post is just an hour spent indoors that we could have been outside having fun. Anyway, here are some of my thoughts.

We are having a really great time here in Perth. I love living by the ocean. Every day we go fishing or body boarding, and the weather is just getting nicer and nicer. It's starting to be in the mid to high 20's regularly and it just puts you in a good mood when you wake up and the sun is shining and you know you're only 20 minutes from the beautiful coastline.

We are making some really good friends too. Michelle and Dermot are our closest friends. They live two doors down and Michelle is a nurse and Dermot is a carpenter. They moved here 2 weeks before us, she's from New York and he's from Ireland. Dermot is the one who taught us to fish and now he thinks he's made monsters out of us. They love it here in Perth and they've decided to stay until at least January, so we're a little torn about leaving, although we do want to move along and see the country. It's exciting to travel around, but it will be sad to leave also. I also made friends with a girl from work who's from Vancouver. She moved here 2 years ago on a holiday visa and she loved it so she got permanent residency. We have also made a few friends from church, although we really just go to church activities with them.

It's strange that just a few months ago when we landed at the Perth airport, I remember thinking that I didn't know what was in store for me. I didn't know anyone, I didn't know the city, I didn't know what kind of a job I would have or where we would live. Now I work here, have an apartment and I have more of a social life after 3 months than I ever did after 3 years living in Calgary. I really feel like I live here, and I'll be very sad to leave. I'll be walking down the street and run into people I know.

I think that maybe people are interested in talking to us because of our accents. It's an ice breaker to ask us where we're from, and then the next thing you know we're exchanging phone numbers and making plans and the rest is history. We've even gotten people's numbers that we've met on the beach. It's crazy.

Anyway, that's pretty much our life in a nutshell. Gary is working a lot. He works at the restaurant most evenings of the week and at the fruit and vegetable shop 3 days a week in the day. Yesterday he worked 9-3 at the fruit and veg place and then 4-11 at the restaurant. But it will only be for a few more weeks, and we're saving some money to do a few fun things. Plus we have a lot of fun on the weekends, usually fishing or swimming or seeing the sights of the city with Michelle and Dermot.

I do miss family, and I wonder what I'm missing out on back home, but at the same time I'm really glad I'm here. I think that living somewhere else really opens your eyes to the world. I realize that there are a lot of things that we have really good in Canada that I took for granted because I didn't know they were good until I left, and there are also things that are better here. I have a new philosophy that life is too short to spend in the same place doing the same thing, and it's certainly too short to waste any days sitting around at home instead of getting out there and living life. I'll never look back on my life and wish I had just stayed in Calgary (or even Canada) at the same job in the same house. I am really excited to do more traveling.
Needless to say, we are having heaps of fun. It's about 28 degrees now, (1:30 pm wednesday) and I'm just waiting for Gary to call and tell me he's done work and I'll meet him at the beach. I'm so excited to be heading into summer instead of winter.


Note to Jeff Follis: I tried to comment on your blog but I couldn't because I'm not a member of your blog. I tried to email you to tell you, but the email address I have no longer works.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

How to Cook Pumpkin Seeds

Many of you may be interested in a Pumpkin Seed Recipe


  • 1-2 Tbsp. butter
  • Salt to taste
  • Baking dish or sheet
  • Bowl
  • Cold water


  1. Preheat oven to 250 - 275.
  2. Wash and clean pulp off seeds and place in a bowl or shallow baking dish.
  3. Melt 1 - 2 Tbsp. of butter.
  4. Slowly add to seeds while tossing or stirring.
  5. Sprinkle with salt or other spice mix.
  6. Spread out evenly in baking dish or cookie sheet.
  7. Place in the oven.
  8. Check and stir them often until crisp and golden.
  9. Let them cool a few minutes and enjoy!

Experimenting with different types of seasonings will make the seeds a lot more enjoyable.

Here is a second pumpkin seed recipe


  • Pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 stick butter, melted
  • Salt to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees.
  2. Wash pumpkin seeds after removing from pumpkin.
  3. Soak in melted butter for 5 minutes.
  4. Cover a cookie sheet with foil and spread seeds on it, keeping seeds from touching.
  5. Sprinkle with a little salt and bake 2-5 minutes or until lightly browned.
  6. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.

Pumpkin Carving Links

Happy Halloween Everyone! I've noticed that traffic coming to my site through web searches is starting to be skewed towards pumpkin carving templates and pumpkin carving stencils so I decided to put up some links to these pumpkin-tastic sites.

If you came here through a google search, there are likely relevant ads. Commercial sites generally have lots of really good content that may be of use to you, don't overlook them.

History of the Jack O'Lantern

The Irish brought the tradition of the Jack O'Lantern to America. But, the original Jack O'Lantern was not a pumpkin.The Jack O'Lantern legend goes back hundreds of years in Irish History. As the story goes, Stingy Jack was a miserable, old drunk who liked to play tricks on everyone: family, friends, his mother and even the Devil himself. One day, he tricked the Devil into climbing up an apple tree. Once the Devil climbed up the apple tree, Stingy Jack hurriedly placed crosses around the trunk of the tree. The Devil was then unable to get down the tree. Stingy Jack made the Devil promise him not to take his soul when he died. Once the devil promised not to take his soul, Stingy Jack removed the crosses and let the Devil down.


PUMPKIN FRESH contains our powerful & unique breakthrough formulation - this is not a "coating", rather a powerful "absorbing fungicidal agent" which soaks into the flesh of your pumpkin masterpiece protecting it from mold, rot and decay, allowing it to keep its freshness much longer than if left untreated.

Pumpkin Carving Tutorial

Before you can begin to carve your design, you must prepare the pumpkin by removing the seeds and thinning the inner walls (save the seeds to make roasted pumpkin seeds, a wholesome snack). Depending on the complexity of your design, allow an hour or more to make your Jack O Lantern. By the way, the techniques outlined below will also work for carving turnips, some squash or even watermelons.

Fabulous Foods Halloween Page
Lot of Galleries, Patterns, Products, Etc...

Pumpkin Carving 101

Everything you need to know about carving a Jack O'Lantern, from choosing a pumpkin to the tools that you will need to carve it. You will also Patterns, Products, Etc...

Extreme Pumpkins

Interesting techniques for carving gourds. This page has been around for a long time. I linked to it a year or two ago. The have lots of information and tutorials about carving pumpkins as well as galleries of carved pumpkins. Lots of good ideas for carving as well as carving contests.

Zombie Pumpkins

Original Stencil Designs...some free..some not..reasonable pricing. Lots of great ideas including galleries depicting famous people and movies.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Visiting the Wave Rock

We rented a car in Perth and drove to the wave rock near Hyden, WA. It takes four hours to drive more or less. I really enjoyed the scenery. There are lots of sheep ranches and wheat fields. Seeing the wheat fields reminded me of home. That area seems a lot like Southern Alberta only a little more hilly and a lot more trees.

The Wave Rock wasn't quite what I expected. I think I had it confused with another rocky ridge I read about in Frommer's Australia or Lonely Planet or something like that.

The wave portion of the rock is probably only one-two blocks long and approximately 30 feet high. The rock itself is around 5 or 6 km around the circumfrence.
More cement wall
A few feet above the wave there is a stone fence that travels right around the top of the rock. The fence is used to catch rainwater and direct it into a reservoir. It is a genius idea, this reservoir was used for nearly 60 years, then in the 80's another similar catch water reservior was built on a similar rock 20km away. Hyden gets most of its water from the new reservior but is supplimented significantly by the Wave Rock Reservoir.

Dam Pano
This is a picture of the reservoir. You can see that they have put up a big chain link fence around it to keep people from swimming or fishing or generally messing in/with the water. I find the rust stains running down from the fence particularly interesting.

Trogdor the Burninator
As we were walking around on top of the rock, I heard some scratching on the rock behind me and I turned around to see what the commotion was. There was a little yellow snake trying to eat a lizard that looked just like this one. I didn't have time to get close enough or even to get my camera ready so there is no picture.

We saw this lizard later as we were walking around the bottom of the rock. It was a little difficult to get this photo because I had to be so close. There were 6 or 7 lizards just as big, all in the same area. I think they must have all been living under the same rock for protection. Everytime I get into a situation like this I am just kicking myself for not buying that long lens in Hong Kong.

-Gary Milner

Thursday, October 06, 2005


Here's a word you've never heard of---along with its origin and meaning.The word is "mondegreen" and it means "a misheard lyric". It originated with Sylvia Wright's mishearing of the phraise "Oh they have slain the Earl of Morray and laid him on the green." Miss Wright thought the words were---Oh they have slain the Earl of Morray and Lady Mondegreen.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005


I find learning the origins of words and phrases fascinating. With winter coming here in Canada here's an origin that you might find interesting as well. The phrase is "Three Dog Night". This phrase originated with Canadian Inuit People. It gets very cold at night in the Canadian arctic. When a night is particularly cold---so cold in fact that you have to sleep with three dogs to keep warm, then that night is termed a three dog night. Stay tuned and I'll maybe tell you more origins from time to time.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Fishing for Fun and Profit

So we've been hooked on fishing.
We've caught a fairly large variety of fish already. Blow Fish, Silver Bream/Tarwhine, Brown-Spotted Wrasse and two others that we couldn't identify.

When Tracie's friend Michelle was casting, the weight hit Tracie and fell in the water. When Michelle reeled it back in, the fish to the right had been caught from amongst the rocks.

I Caught a Fish

Catching fish is pretty fun, especially when you catch them in pretty rapid succession.

The fish I'm posing with to the left is a Brown-Spotted Wrasse.

Tracie was very excited to eat the fish we caught. She didn't seem to see the point of catch and release, but is coming around a little. I told here that if she wanted to eat the fish we caught, she had to deal with cleaning and cooking them. As little experience as she has cooking fish, I have never cooked a fish. After seeeing Dermit clean the first one, she knew more than me about cleaning them because I haven't even seen it done since I went fishing on my Uncle Randy's boat 20 years ago. We ate him two days ago. There was a lot of meat on this fish which was nice. The Bream didn't have as much meat and had more bones.

Please Don't Eat Me!

To the right is one of the sliver Bream that we caught. Fremantle can sort of be seen behind him. We ate him last night and boy was he tastey. There is a related variety called Black Bream that have a black stripe at the tip of their tail.

More and more, I'm beginning to see the appeal of chartering a boat to go fishing. I've heard of a place that charges $90 for the day and supplies everything you need. It is pretty tempting. I guess they use their fish finders and what not to make sure that you can catch a pretty decent fish.

Puff Fishy

Here I'm holding one of the Blow Fish that I caught. They don't seem to puff up untill you are holding them or roll them onto their backs on the sand. You can see the spikes on his belly, they didn't poke that much, but the bigger puffer's spikes seemed to be a little worse than the smaller ones.

Every time we caught one of the blowfish, I thought of the line from the Simpsons when Lisa convinced them to go to the Sushi Place, "Poison, poison, yummy fish!".

Since blowfish have poison parts, Seagulls won't eat them. The first time we went fishing, I found four or five of them dried out on the bank of the river.

Another Fish

I had to cut my line, but after a little while, Michelle's line got caught in mine and she decided to pull mine in and got it un-stuck. This fish was on the hook. I was disappointed that I had to cut my line.

Here fishy, fishy.

Well, I think I'm hooked on fishing. Or the fish I catch are hooked anyway.

Saturday, Dermot and Michelle took us out to the Swan river for our first go at fishing. We caught a lot of blow fish, but nothing edible. It's pretty fun to reel in a fish, though.

Then yesterday, we went to Cottesloe beach and fished from a rock jetty. It was pretty fun, and we were catching heaps of fish - mostly blowfish again, but a few "real" ones. We spent all afternoon there, and the time just flew by. Dermot caught two white fish that we're going to cook up tonight, and Gary caught a green one that we had last night. I was in charge of beheading, gutting, scaling, and frying the fish. It sure is a brutal job and can make you lose your appetite, but I did feel like I owed it to the fish to eat them after all that.

The fish last night was melt-in-your-mouth delicious, and I'm really looking forward to supper tonight. We plan to buy a second rod sometime this week, so that we don't have to fight over whose turn it is to fish.

-Tracie, The FisherQueen

Friday, September 30, 2005

Life, Etc.

I'm at an internet cafe with Gary and I just looked back over my shoulder at him to see that he is also posting on the blog right now. I wonder who will finish first.

Gary's mom bought us a laptop before we left Canada, which has been very nice to have, although lately we haven't been able to get much use out of it. We used to take it down to the library and "share" their wireless internet, but it hasn't worked once in the last two weeks. We also used to go to another place downtown that hasn't been working out for us. I don't think anyone wants to share with us anymore.

Needless to say, we now have to go to internet cafes to post on the blog, and I'm not really sure how we'll get any photos on the internet without our laptop.

In three more hours it will be October first. I can't believe how the time is flying by. Four more weeks and our time in Perth is done. I'm getting pretty excited about moving on, but kind of sad at the same time. We've made some friends here that I'm a little sad about leaving, although our two closest friends are backpackers themselves who will be leaving in December.

We bought a fishing rod yesterday and hope to go to either Cottesloe beach or the Hillary Marina to catch some fish tomorrow. The weather here has been kind of crappy though, especially compared to the rest of the country. Apparently Perth usually has one of the mildest winters of any Australian city, but to look at the national forecast day after day and see that it's sunny and 26-33 degrees in all the other state capitals, but rainy/windy and 18 degrees in Perth is starting to get depressing. But as long as it's even remotely nice tomorrow, we'll be catching fish for dinner.