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Updated 09.24.2006...............................................................................................

Queensland, Australia... continued...

July 7, 2006

Now let me tell you about the Billabong Sanctuary. First, definitions: A billabong is a dried up water hole. A sanctuary is a place of refuge; a safe haven. So the Billabong Sanctuary is a place that’s safe for dried up water holes.

So despite this misnomer, the Billabong Sanctuary is a place that much of the wildlife roam free—ducks, bats, turtles, humans and even the kangaroos. AND you can feed them, pet them, box with them—I’d have thought that kangaroo boxing would be a big sport Down Under. Perhaps you have to go way Down Under to catch that kind of scene, like undercover down under.

billabong-sign

I’m serious about many of the animals running wild here. Kangaroos are everywhere.

annetta-roo

Then we have the free-ranging lizards. Dominique got close and cuddly with one of these before it was labeled as organic:

dom-lizard

Dominique, being the ever-environmentally-aware child that she is, understood the tenuous hold that humans have with nature. And she decided to take matters into her own hands:

Dom-croc

And then she wore a Boa as a boa

Dom-boa

This previous statement might take a bit of explanation, as requested by my lovely wife, Nicky. See, a boa is a type of snake—a Boa Constrictor. A boa is also a type of wrap or scarf that a woman might wear around her neck and shoulders. So you see that my statement is a play on words. Dominique wore a Boa (as in the Boa Constrictor snake) as a boa (i.e. clothing used as a wrap or scarf around the neck and shoulders).

OK, Nicky got it, but didn’t think it was worthy of, uh, just about anything, much less mentioning on the website. Perhaps I need a new job?... If you can supply a better joke/pun here, please submit all entries to: Darren

Next topic of conversation: Think of a crocodile, which is a reptile and not an amphibian (what’s the difference? See below in the handy Amphibians vs. Reptiles table). Now think of a cute 6 year old child (i.e. Dominique). Now think of the latter holding the former--not a pretty picture, eh? But verily, I tell you that they had a great time together. Dominique even got a chance to give a bite back:

Dom-croc head

Amphibians Reptiles
Cold blooded, just like the Mafia. If you’re a Mafia person reading this, I live in Denver, Colorado and I drive a red Ferrari. Cold blooded--cannot regulate their body temperature like we mammals can. If it’s 90 degrees outside, their body temp would be 90 degrees as well.
Thing wet. Think slimy; again the Mafia are a good example here. Think frogs and salamanders, mostly the wetter animals. Think dry, like crocodiles, lizards, turtles. When you think of human macho manliness, think Darren Rousseau.
Usually fall into the born-one-way-grow-another-way process, like tadpoles turning into frogs. Lawyers are also amphibians--slimy people that were born as nice people then turned into blood-sucking leeches. Reptiles are usually dryer. This may be because they have an ample supply of antiperspirant.Or they may not be lawyers.

The discerning worldsmartkids.com website reader will recognize the animal from the following picture by your careful reading of the Queensland section, part 1:

feeding pademeelons

Do you recognize the animal?

Hint: it’s a small kangaroo.

Hint: we saw them everyday in the rainforest of Queensland

Hint: it’s a Red-Legged Pademellon

OK, enough hints for that one. The animal in question is the Red-Legged Pademellon.

We even ran into a couple kangaroos with Joeys. A Joey is the name of a baby kangaroo.

kangaroo with joey

Video: Kangaroo with joey

Note: if you can not see the video, download QuickTime and view the movie with it.

quicktime logo (4K)

Huh? A Joey is a baby kangaroo, you say? Verily, this is true. In fact, here are a couple of other weird names of babies of animals:

Animal Baby Name
Badger Cub
Beaver Kit
Fish fry (I’m sure there are some jokes here)
Hare/Rabbit Leveret
Hedgehog Hoglet
Rabbit kitten
Rat Pup
Salmon parr or smolt
Swan cygnet
Tortoise Hatchling
Zebra Foal
Human/Homo Sapiens (i.e. Darren and Nicky Rousseau) Poop machines, anti-sleep beings, eternal Mom, “I have a headache” creature.

July 8, 2006

The Strand. Townsville, Queensland. Sounds like a Sci-fi movie, eh? But it’s actually a great park for kids. In fact, it’s probably the most incredible park for humans that we’ve ever seen.

First, they have the most amazing water park on the planet:

waterpark

Video: Waterpark

So let me paint a picture of the awesomeness of this park:

  • They have a Lifeguard. In a place that has a maximum water level of about one centimeter at any given time, there’s a lifeguard there that’s paid, by the city, to pick your child up in case they plant both their nose and mouth in the shallow water.
  • There are slides, ladder, ramps and ropes that are topped with a HUGE cup on top that is continually filled with water all the time. This huge cup is on weighted hinges, which means that once it gets to a very full level (about every 45 seconds), it tilts to one side and empties the entire contents. Kinda like my younger brother during a night out with the boys. It’s a wonderful experience for the kids to bathe in the water that cascades around them.
    • The City of Townsville could really cash in on the parenting thing by putting soap into the water around the 6-7pm timeframe. That way all the kids that play in the water would get clean, and the nighttime routine of shower/shampoo would be obsolete.
    • The city of Townsville could also easily adapt this park to cater to adult entertainment by substituting water for beer. Or have strippers run around in the water. Having this as a pay-for-beer thing would seem to make sense...
  • The water park used to have a larger, longer slide until a couple of kids got a broken collar bone and a fractured skull. They claimed that it was because the slide was way too long and too fast. I say that it’s because their kids were ill-equipped to handle awesomeness. They should teach awesomeness in the schools here. It’s always the case that a couple of bad eggs have to ruin everything for the majority of people…
  • They have water cannons. Just the fact that someone thought of something like water cannons makes this place awesome. Water grenades and water Hummers would only be icing on the, uh, waterousness…
Dom--water cannon

July 9, 2006

Today was an awesome day. The morning was spent at the Strand and the girls climbed an amazing spider-web like thing. We’d show you pictures, but we lost them when we lost our camera. Details to follow—look at July 12 below.

When we were in Mt. Surprise we met a family from Townsville. After some conversation, they invited us to their house for dinner. Great time! The guy brews his own beer and has converted a refrigerator into a beer fridge. We enjoyed really good food and we were treated to a musical feast by their kids playing the French Horn, flute and the piano.

Apparently their daughter heard me play the banjo at the campfire at Mt. Surprise and she wants to learn to play a banjo. Wuhoo! If she does learn to play the banjo, then at least one of us will know how to play it…

July 10, 2006

Dominique lost her first tooth today.

If we’re to be dentally-correct about this, she lost her lower left central incisor today. This is one of the 8 teeth that are responsible for cutting food. These are the sharp, chisel-shaped front teeth, four upper and four lower. If you are a dentist reading this commentary, then please let me put it into terms with which you might be more familiar, depending on the identification system you use:

  Universal No. Palmer Notation FDI 2-digit Notation
First tooth lost
P
Lower Right A
81
Second tooth lost
O
Lower Left A
71
Next Loose Tooth
E
Upper Right A
51

Clearly, there is dissention among the ranks of the dentistry world, and there should be a universal standard for notating teeth. I accept your thanks in advance for you being the next superstar of the party when you bring up this esoteric information.

Nicky had a birthday in Thailand; Annette had a birthday in South Africa; Dominique had a birthday in South Africa. We celebrated US Father’s Day in Australia. And now we have a first lost tooth in Australia. My trip will be complete if I’m able to lose my virginity in Tahiti…

July 11, 2006

So this morning Dominique awoke to $1 AUD for her tooth, plus a candy bar. A candy bar you say?! Verily, this is true. I figure it’s to rot out her other baby teeth. This was her mother’s idea—I was gonna buy her some gum.

This was a huge topic of discussion for us, the parents. What is the going rate for the first lost tooth? Do we use the US price or the Australian price? If it’s the Australian price, do we use the exchange rate at the day of lost tooth, or the day of collection? Do we give cash or something more esoteric, like a new DVD movie, or extra gifts for the entire family, like a lap dance for the Daddy?

We spent the day at a place called Magnetic Island. I wondered if it was so named because of a high concentration of iron, or some type of ferrous metals. There’s no rational reason why it was named Magnetic Island, outside of its obvious attractions (ha!).

Actually there was no iron-clad guarantee with the name (ha!). I’m sure there were both positive and negative thoughts about the name (ha!). But once the island was named, the name stuck (ha!).

OK, the name, “Magnetic Island” has nothing to do with attraction, or magnets of any kind. Which you, the reader, of course remember the physical properties of magnets and magnetic fields from your High School Science classes—i.e. opposites attract. Yes, other elements are considered ferromagnetic since they are strongly attracted to a magnet, which means that the atoms of ferromagnetic materials tend to have their own magnetic field created by the electrons that orbit it. But I digress. When it comes down to magnetic basics we’re talking about the force of nature that allows a drunk man to pickup a sober, healthy-looking lady.

The only memorable thing about this day was driving a Mini-Moke. This is a convertible Mini-Cooper. I don’t know why they don’t call it that, but it’s a pretty cool name anyway. This is a really small car. Take a gander at Annette in her bathing suite inside the car, using none of the magic of digital photographic enhancements at all…:

minimoke2

While driving this car we had to put some gas in it—they measured it by the thimble-full. We got a flat tire during our drive and had to replace it with a balloon. This car was so small that the headlights were matchsticks. This is a small car.

WARNING: The preceding statements were false and said in humorous jest. At no time were any humans or animals hurt or were in physical danger during the writing of these stories.

BUT we lost our camera…

July 12, 2006

Today we realized that we lost our camera. It was a Cannon SD-450 with the 1 Gig XD card. Plus we lost an extra battery, as well as all our family pictures. Fortunately, we uploaded all the pictures the night before, so all we lost were the pictures from Magnetic Island.

Despite our attraction to that island, and the cost of a new camera and accessories (~$600) we figure that we’re still very fortunate. We learned a very valuable lesson: always pack your camera in the lower levels of your backpack and check it before and after you leave each place.

AND make sure you delete any compromising pictures of you and your spouse that may still be on the digital memory card. Ouch!

Also, we’re gonna mark all our valuables with stickers that give contact information in case there’s a good soul that recovers our valuables. Our camera may well have been found by such a good soul, but he/she would have no idea how to return it to us. Good lesson here.

So I spent the majority of the day calling all the places we visited the day before, and visiting some of them. Nicky and the kids went to a Wiggles show. If you’re not familiar with the Wiggles, here’s the lowdown:

The Wiggles are a group of 4 Australian men that formed a band when they were in college. They did the band thing (people tell me that the band was called “The Roaches” but I cannot confirm this) to try to pay for their college, room and board. There was something that alerted them to focus on children’s’ music and they formed, “The Wiggles.”

These guys are a phenomenon. If you have children, then nothing else needs to be said. If you do not have kids, then a brief explanation is in order as to why the phenomenon-ness of the Wiggles is appropriate:

  • They dress primary colors, each person always in the same color—yellow, blue, red and purple. OK, purple is not a primary color, but it is catchy. I guess they should have substituted the purple for green, but how can you second-guess their success?
  • They say the same things over and over. Repetition is the key to kids’ education.
  • They sing a lot. Very catchy tunes. They are so catchy that we adults are often caught singing them. It’s refreshingly frustrating; maybe even annoyingly addictive. How can you NOT be in love with a tune called, “Cold Spaghetti?” Or the Fruit Salad song that goes, “Fruit Salad, Yummy, Yummy.”
  • They are wholesome. You won’t find the Purple Guy hitting on the Yellow Guy’s wife. Nor will there be any Red Guy stealing fruit salad from Blue Guy. Or maybe they already have had their scandals, but we’re removed from their depravity because they’re from Australia. Those crazy Australians…

We experienced these guys years ago when we had our kids and were raising them in North Carolina. Their daily TV shows were great. 5-6 years later, they’ve taken a page out of American TV personalities and their daily shows now are about 95% re-hash of their prior shows, as well as a replay of their live shows.

So they’ve sold out. It’s not a big deal to me, and I’d probably do the same, but it’s interesting to see that other nationalities are susceptible to the American, “Get Rich and Sell Out Early” phenomenon.

July 13, 2006

Today we’re in Mackay. It’s pronounced “Mak-‘eye.” This was a difficult day to find lodging because Mackay not only has a week-long arts festival starting this week, but also a huge mining convention as well as a country music festival a bit south of Mackay.

So we were lucky to find anything tonight. We vociferously hoped that we’d find something closer to the Central Business District (CBD for you faithful readers) that would let us enjoy the festivals without 3 days of planning.

July 14, 2006

We were able to get a GREAT townhouse sized place for the budgeted $100/night price. It had an upstairs that had bathroom and two bedrooms, both with a ton of space. We thought that this place was great because it also came with an oven and a washer/dryer.

When you’ve been traveling as long as we have, these small conveniences become much more important than they really should be. But we’re OK with that. Anything more than a couple of beds and a microwave is a luxury to us. This makes going back home much more appealing as we have a couch and a full-sized refrigerator. And a toilet that works.

Today we experienced a tour of a sugar cane farm. Sugar cane is a huge crop for this region in Queensland. The region is warm and it’s wet, perfect weather for sugar cane. And we took a tour of one of these farms:

sugar cane

Video: Cutting Sugar Cane

Not only did we experience the cane being cut, but we tasted its golden sweetness:

annette sugar cane

dom sugar cane

But the most awesome time that we experienced on this sugar cane farm was to taste the cane in the virgin pressed mode; we tasted the succulent sweetness that is sugar cane. Understand what it is to be a sugar cane farmer and hedge your bets against the sweet teeth of the world. Let’s embrace our love of sugar and take a taste--cavities be damned!

Video: Squeezing Sugar Cane

Sugar Cane farmers have huge cane fields that are serviced by the huge sugar processing plants. By “serviced by the processing plants” I mean that the processing plants provide train tracks to the large cane fields and arrange times and transportation for all the plants, depending on ripeness, train availability, region and seasonal differences.

What it comes down to is that today’s sugar cane growers are just that—growers. Everything else is handled by the large processing plants, including transportation, processing, refinement, and distribution. Sugar cane is one of the fastest growing plants on the planet, taking only about 6 months to grow. This allows the farmers time to re-plant and do maintenance on their machines.

July 15, 2006

Festival Day in Mackay! Wuhoo! We’re gonna let our hair down. And if it was up to me, we’d let our pants down, too.

Uh, it was OK. There were a couple of musical acts that were pretty good, and some festival food (i.e. meat on a stick) that was good, but overall we were searching for consistent, quality entertainment. They didn’t even have some sort of fried dough, or very much of fried anything. Instead, we got good entertainment from our children, and they didn’t even break anything:

dom hoola

The picture doesn’t do justice to Dom’s hoola-ability. Take a gander at the video:

Video: Dominique Hoola

So there were no elephants, no clowns and no tigers leaping through flaming hoops!! Bummer. Thought the city of Mackay could do better. We should put Dominique on the center stage for peoples’ enjoyment.

July 16, 2006

Movie Day! We watched, “Narnia.” I was able to get a rental from a video place without a permanent address, credit card or phone number. They just let me rent the movie w/the normal $5 rental. Suckers.

Actually we were good citizens and returned it the next day. We didn’t even copy it. We couldn’t because of the Country 4 PAL codes. Those Hollywood copy write bastards…

July 17, 2006

A driving day to Clermont filled the daily docket. There is nothing in Clermont, except the Blair Athol Coal Mine. We hooked up with the tour operators for a tour for the next morning. Touring coal mines—just my thing. Who wouldn’t like huge machines moving huge buckets of dirt and coal? Very manly. I felt like digging a big hole this afternoon just to get a hold of my manliness, but I decided to take a nap instead. Real men aren’t sleepy, so naps are key to reviving one’s manliness.

July 18, 2006

Today we took the 9am Blair Athol Coal Mine tour. Coal mines are a great example of the rape of the native planet. It’s also a great example of man’s ability to make machines that are way too big, way too powerful, way too expensive, and way too cool. I figure if I took one of these trucks to my High School Prom I wouldn’t have been shut out from the cool crowd. But the gas bill would have been enormous at 1.2 miles per diesel gallon.

Blair Athol Truck

Blair Athol Old Shovel

They would do well to rent out their machines on the down times to people who would like to drive them and rip up a bunch of earth.

Blair Athol Coal Mine

So we took yet another tour of a mine. Why? Because we could. I love to see the really big machines. I love to hear that one tire costs $25,000 and they need forklifts and huge bucket loaders to change a tire.

Plus the tour was free.

July 19, 2006

This was a quick 2 hour jaunt south to Emerald. Emerald. The place of, uh… emeralds. And other gems. Everyone said that this is the place to do fossicking. Fossicking is the mainly Australian term that means, “to search for any object by which to make gain.” So here we fossicked for gems.

Have you ever fossicked? Have you read our take on panning for gold in the Western Australia section? Here’s a synopsis of what I think are the idea, and the actuality, of panning for gems:

Idea of panning for gems/gold Actually panning for gems/gold
I’m gonna get rich soon How much do I need for several rounds of beer tonight?
Hey, that looks like something valuable… How can I con someone into buying this crap?
I’m young. I’ll put in a good 10-12 hour day. Oh, my back. How long have I been doing this? Only 35 minutes?!!
I’m a visitor to the Emerald, Queensland area. Everybody tells me that I should take my 4 and 6 year old girls to a gem mining place and let them fossick for gems. They say that little kids love to do this, and you can buy a bag full of dirt that’s guaranteed to have gems in it. Frickin’ bastards. I paid $25 AUD for a bag of dirt, and they made me smile for that?! Did they not see my girls EAT the dirt instead of SIFTING through it? Gems my ass. Frickin’ worms are more like it.
Emerald is such a wonderful place. How could it not be with such a beautiful name? Sounds so magical and mystical. And of course since it’s named after a gem, it must have a lot of emeralds lying around for us to find… What a scam—I think that if you name a place like, “Diamond” that might get people to come there in the hopes of finding diamonds. I guess that’s why there are no places that are named, “Dogpoop” or “Herpes.”

Actually I think this area is known for gold and rubies, not emeralds. I think they named the place, “Emerald” because of the color of the grass

Seriously. That’s what is says in the Tourist Information Brochure.

Despite the ill-named, hope-filled place, it was pretty cool because we were able to shoe-horn our way into a School-of-the-Air uh… school. It’s not really a school because there are no students in the building. It’s pretty much a radio station. So maybe we should call it a School-of-the-Air station, or broadcaster.

Regardless, you should remember that Australia is about the same size as the lower 48 United States. Whereas the US has over 310 million people, Australia has about 21 million people. This makes Australia in the top 10 of the least dense places on the planet. So if you are a child and you need to find a teacher or school, then you might have to drive or fly a really long way. Or be able to throw your homework really long distances.

Your lunchbox would have to be the size of a small refrigerator.

To get around this, the dude that came up with the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS, a service that flies volunteer doctors to really rural places) created something called “School of the Air.” This was a UHF radio based school that students “logged” into at a prescribed time each day for 30-60 minutes of air-based teaching/lecture/answer/question. They were mailed a bunch of material on a weekly/monthly basis and were required to return the materials on a similar basis. This process seems to work pretty well, and I was impressed with the work ethic of the students that we met.

They changed the name from “School of the Air” to “Distance Learning” because a lot of it is done via landline phones and internet now. So we saw in a tourist brochure that there was a “Distance Learning” school in Emerald that gave tours. Regardless of the name, we walked into the school and asked the head office people about the tour.

They all had blank faces and didn’t know anything about a tour of the school that was advertised, or unadvertised, by the Tourist Information Center. After I threatened legal action, they conferred with each other and thought that it might be easier to just give us a 5 minute tour of the place instead of throwing us out. OK, I kid about the legal action stuff—I actually had a gun.

OK, I kid about the gun stuff, too. I was armed with my conversation skills and razor-sharp wit. What other weapons of coercion does one need?

They were actually much, much nicer and more accommodating than I describe. We were taken to the broadcasting studios and actually included in one of their on-air lessons.

distance learning

This was an amazing exhibition of the Australian hospitality and willingness to share. We had a great 90 minutes asking tons of questions and they were really very open to sharing what and how they do what they do with us.

July 20, 2006

On to Roma today!

Uh, we CAN leave today, right? I mean the death-river of class 5 flowing rapids over the very long access road will stop soon, right? There must be a different way to get off this property, right

Nay

Apparently the farm at which we’re staying lives downstream from a dam. Periodically, they let the dam gates open for a bit to lower the water depth in the lake. Unfortunately for us, they did this about 8 hours prior to our leaving. Usually this doesn’t last for more than 8 hours, but today it did. And now we’re looking at about 1.5 – 2 feet of flowing water over 20 meters of the road to their farm.

There is no other way out. We must cross the river or stay here, but we’re out of beer so staying here is not an option.

It’s like Niagara Falls, without the barrel…

Dilemma: the rental car insurance does not cover us if we get stuck in water. Should we stay or should we go?

We went. And it wasn’t that big of a deal. But it was a bit exciting that morning. Could we live on just half a box of Special K for the entire day? Those chickens roaming free look awfully tasty. Since I have my newfound hunting and skinning skills (see Western Australia for the lowdown on this), I wasn’t too worried that we might go hungry that night.

July 21, 2006

The big thing to do in Roma is to visit the Big Rig. The Big Rig is a reproduction oil rig. Since this region is one of the first discovered oil fields in Australia, this seemed like a good thing to do. Plus you have to visit anything called, “The Big Rig.” If it was called, “The Little Rig,” or the, “Middle-Sized Rig,” then maybe we could give it a pass. But, “The Big Rig” is something that your HAVE to visit, even if it’s a scam. I must remember that the next time I create a tourist-oriented marketing scheme around an oil-based entertainment park.

The Big Rig wasn’t so big. In fact it should have been called the, “Medium-sized Rig” or the, “Fair to midland-sized Rig.” Actually it was a smallish rig, so maybe there was some rig-envy going on.

big rig

It was fairly uneventful and fairly un-educational. Outside of the kids being able to climb on the stuff, we kinda killed time here.

annette pump

At night, the Big Rig place had a night show. This was pretty cool. It was a recreation of how it might have been if you were an early oil explorer in the region. It had a great light show, cool pyrotechnics, and the mannequins farted a lot during the re-enactment. Farting is always funny when you’re trying to entertain kids.

OK, farting is funny even if you’re not trying to entertain the kids. Nicky laughed a lot.

July 22, 2006

On our way south to Goondiwinidi (pronounced Goondiwindi), we stopped at an historic village. This village was a recreation of a turn-of-the-century Australian village. They advertised it as an authentic village, but methinks that most, if not all, of the buildings are replicas built to about 2/3 original size. If these buildings are original, then the Aussies 100 years ago were about 3.5 feet tall. Or they walked with a huge stoop because many of the ceilings were really short and the doors were really small.

They had a pretty interesting museum there, but an Australian museum means a hodge-podge of stuff that are remotely related. It’s more of the shotgun approach to museums: Hey, gather tons of things that look vaguely old and put them together. A 1965 Kodak camera belongs with a 1905 cotton gin, right?

95 cents ...please

miles

It was actually a lot cooler than I depict. Albeit smaller than I expected. They should market this place to midgets. Or mini-me’s.

July 23, 2006

We’re staying at a great campground in Goondiwindi. So great, in fact, that we extended our one night stay to 4 nights. These guys have something going on every day—nightly happy hours, campfire dinners, Saturday morning pancake days. What a great place.

We just hung out at the campground today and participated in their bush stew dinner. Dunno what was in there, but I wanted more which is usually a good sign. And they have mostly tame possums there that eat out of your hand:

feeding a possum

Perhaps those same possums were in the stew, but I’m not complaining.

Earlier in the day I was caught practicing my banjo and I was coerced into playing for the bush stew. There was some live acoustic music playing during the dinner and I was called on stage to perform. Fortunately, the Aussies are a forgiving audience, and my many mistakes were either forgiven or unknown. But it was a fun time—I was able to play my banjo in public and mess up a lot and nobody thought that I was making mistakes.

July 24, 2006

Australia Cotton is the word of the day. I mean they’re the words of the day. Cotton is one of Australians big exports, although they don’t do much with it except to ship it to Asia for raw processing and clothes making. It’s pretty sad actually, that most of Australia’s industry nowadays has been shipped to China. But that’s no different that what’s happening to the US.

In the dry country that is Australia, water is a huge concern for any farmer. Cotton farmers have to estimate their water needs and put in a bid for these needs at their regional water, uh, whatever they call their regional water company. Then they are on a schedule that allows them a draw on their purchased water. It’s a tough life. Here the diamond-water paradox is alive and well.

July 25, 2006

Today was a kinda nothing day. We hung out at the library a bit. That’s about it. I could make up something amazing that we did to wow and impress you, but that would be untrue. And this website is all about truth—there are no lies and no exaggerations. Just the straight dope from us…

July 26, 2006

We saw how paper is made today. It’s made from old T-shirts. Throw in a pair or two of old underwear and you have a good scratch pad! Ha!

Actually this place is pretty cool. They get scraps of fabric from the local cotton farmers. They cut the fabric into really small pieces, all by hand with scissors. After soaking these pieces in a water solution, the fabric breaks down into its cellulose fibers. Flatten these out on a screen and let dry, then voila! Paper.

making paper

These guys are pretty good. They specialize in really big paper, and they win many awards, and their big paper art runs $1000+

big paper

Now if they could just make big pencils and crayons to go with the big paper, I think they’d have something here, at least for big children.

In the afternoon we went to a Horse Cutting Competition. I know, I too thought that we’d be witness to, “Who wants the T-bone?” and, “How thick do you want the Rib-eyes cut?” show. Yet again, disappointment hits me like a windshield hits a fly.

A horse cutting competition is a cow-roundup. How can you and your horse most efficiently corral certain cow(s) into a certain area of the pen? Quickly, and with the least wasted motion.

horse cutting

Video: Horse Cutting

What’s going on here you ask? I still ask that question. I asked that question to a couple of people here and their response was one of two:

  1. It’s too difficult for me to either tell you, or for you to understand.
  2. Who the heck knows? I’ve been watching this for several years and I still don’t understand it.

So we think it has something to do with the bond between the horse and rider, and singling out one or more cows, and keeping them away from the rest of the heard in some efficient fashion. Or maybe it’s just seeing who might be able to ride a horse with the most red-ants in their underwear and still keep a straight face. Or maybe it’s seeing how many non-horse people they can scam into thinking that what they’re doing has anything to do with skill or score-keeping. Either of these scenarios fits. And either scenario is as boring to watch as the other.

July 27, 2006

Today is yet another travel day into yet another state. This time we leave Queensland and we enter New South Wales; we exit Goondiwindi and we enter Coonabarabran (pronounced: "Coonabarabran"). On the way there we were witness to yet another creative Australian way of farming:

The road to New South Wales

I think this farming method is to save slaughtering costs by letting the cars that travel at 100km/h do the slaughtering for them.

Fortunately because we were on our way to Coonabarabran (see pronunciation guide), we were able to get a good deal with the local butcher


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