Happy Friday! I am writing this in the late afternoon (as opposed to my usual writing time of after dinner) because we are off to a big footy game tonight. The footy regular season is winding down and each of these last couple of games is important to the teams trying to make the Finals. In footy, and other things here in AU, the finals are like the play-offs are in the US. The Grand Final is the championship game. So tonight’s game is between the first place team (the Hawthorn Hawks) and the 5th place team, the Collingwood Magpies and it is sure to be a great game. The game is at the Melbourne Cricket Grounds and 70-80,000 fans are expected so the house should be rocking! One of Jim’s Aussie colleagues gave him his 2 season tickets to this game and the seats are terrific. You may be able to sense my (our) excitement, and that is because we have become big footy fans!
In my last blog entry I showed you one of my favorite Aussie trees, the Moreton Fig. I mentioned by other 3 favorites, but didn’t take the time to find photos of those trees. But I did my homework and can show those to you now.
The Fern Tree
We’ve seen this tree when we’ve been in temperate rain forests here in Australia, but they do grow in other places in the world. I think I like them so much because they remind me of the ferns that grow at Jenny Lake, only these are on steroids! Also, most references call these trees Tree Ferns, not Fern Trees, but I like Fern Trees better!
The Mountain Ash (shredding bark tree):
This is one of hundreds of varieties of eucalyptus trees here in Australia. It is one of the tallest trees in the world, taking second only to those Redwoods in California. And what is cool about this tree is that its bark in long sinewy strips that hang in the surrounding trees and gather at the base of the tree. I’ve never seen anything like this before and when we are walking through forests with these trees, I have to pick up and examine the strips of bark. These trees also flower in the summer and I would have liked to see that.
The Norfolk Island Pine
The thing I like about this tree is that the branchlets ( a tree book’s word, not mine) grow up, so there are all these layers of branches with fingers reaching towards the sky! I always have to stop and take a photo when we see one of these trees. They like to grow in sandy soil and are tolerant of sea spray, so they are frequently along the coast.
Shortly after we arrived here I bought Cronin’s Key Guide-Australian Trees by Leonard Cronin and I have referenced that book frequently.
Today I took the #8 tram to the CBD and walked a long ways along the Yarra River towards Port Phillip Bay. I was hoping to see some big ships, but didn’t get far enough to see the docks area. I did have some nice views back on the city. The wind gusts were ferocious and I was glad to not get blown into the river. On my walk, I made a stop into the casino to see if my luck had changed. I’ve been there 2 other times, and both times quickly lost $5.00. Well, today was my lucky day! After a few minutes at a Pokey (slot machine) I was up $30 and called it a day. I now have beer money for the footy game!
Here are a few random facts that I thought were interesting:
- The news reported that McDonald’s in the USA pays its employees about $8.00/hour. Here in Aussie-land, they pay $14.50/hour, which is significantly more, even with an exchange rate conversion.
- Father’s Day is September 1 here in Australia. Jim will no doubt want a double celebration, especially since one of his off-spring will be with us at that time!
- Jim rides on one of the Yarra River bike trails to get to and from work. The trail on the other side of the river, that he doesn’t ride on, has been closed for repairs for a month and last night on his way home he counted 128 riders going in the other direction in the last 1.7 miles (the reroute section.) That is a lot of bikers! He is heading out of the city in the morning when most riders are coming into the city and the reverse in the afternoon/evening.
When I was FaceTiming with my parents this morning, they said that some of their friends frequently ask about the temperatures we are having here. I will try to do better with reporting that info. Today the high was 17 degrees C. (62 F.) The lows have been between 7 and 9 degrees lately (45-48 F), but it has gone as low as the high 30’s F. Not bad for winter, but the Melbournites regularly ask us how we are managing the cold!
Time to go to footy! We’ll grab meat pies and beer for dinner before finding our seats!