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