Snorkeling at Coral Bay

A few weeks ago, when Uncle Danny was visiting, we took a trip to Coral Bay, about 8 hours north of here. This is where we visited last September, with our friends Louise and Joe and their twin boys, and where we all really snorkeled for the first time.

Coral Bay was originally a small fishing community on the Ningaloo Reef. The bay is now protected from fishing, although there are numerous spots close by to catch the snapper that just flock around while you are swimming. From the surface, it just looks like a pretty little seaside resort. But beneath the water…..

 

I would love to attach some video, but am having trouble and will try again later. Can you see the manta ray under the ledge?

School Part 2

The kids are almost done with their first term at Aussie School and have decided they’d like to remain on in school until we begin a couple of months of traveling starting in June before we return home.

Addie has been attending Geraldton Senior College, which is essentially high school but only includes grades 10-12. It is the only public senior school in the town, although there are several private schools.

www.gsc.wa.edu.au

We’ve been very happy with the school, as has Addie, and she is doing very well. She takes math, English and science (genetics, currently) an Australian history and social studies class (they are studying World War 2 and Australia’s involvement). She also takes geography and is currently studying local erosion and other beach issues. This is quite a big topic in Geraldton, since the construction of the wharf where the large container ships come in,has changed the flow of the sea, which in turn has somewhat changed the shape of some of the beaches and caused indundation of some roads. Not being coastal dwellers, she and I find this interesting. Par for the course for beach folk, though.

She also takes a cooking class and brings home a variety of dishes, and a photography class. Also PE is a required class and she is learning netball which can be best described as basketball for females, without dribbling, and with no backboard.

Challenging.

Frankie is at John Willcock College which is the public middle/junior high, grades 7, 8 and 9. It’s a very large school, split into subschools. Frankie is in Chapman subschool and is in an extension class that generally contains students who will probably be on a university track as opposed to workforce or vocational track.

www.johnwillcock.wa.edu.au

She is playing euphonium in the school band and has also joined a little group of musicians called The Fifth Beat in which she plays drums. She enjoys both of these.

She is also doing very well, and is taking math, science, English, music, art, social studies (history), home economics, Indonesian (the foreign language here!) and PE. She’s really been enjoying basketball in PE. It’s like netball, but with dribbling and a backboard. Lol.

Will is in Geraldton Primary School and is in grade or year 6. There’s an endless number of public primary schools in town, all relatively small. It’s not the one closest to us, but it is one of the oldest schools in Western Australia and was recommended to us. The school has that old colonial feel to it.

http://www.everythinggeraldton.com.au/directory/primary-schools/geraldton-primary-school

He loves it, has made good friends and has joined the ukulele club on Wednesday lunchtimes. Ukelele is huge here, which fits right in with the sub-tropical beach lifestyle.

He also takes Indonesian, which he found a bit challenging because all the kids have already been learning it for a year. But he feels he will at least know how to buy a banana when we go to Bali.

He does soccer on Friday nights, has just finished surfing on Saturdays, and still does Scuba Ranger activities.

He has played some American football with his friends and last week he went to his friend Jaxons birthday party at the beach. Jaxon had asked for a “grid iron ball like Wills “.

Will gave him his! It was a big hit.

Anyway, I have a few photos of Will’s school disco on Friday night. It cracks me up that they still call them discos. They were called that when I was in school here!

When we picked him up they were all dancing to Thriller and I thought for a moment that I was possibly stuck in a weird squiggle of time-space continuum.

The lighting was a bit funky due to strobes so they are a bit blurry, but you can see he was having fun. He’s wearing a white shirt and blue shorts.

 

  

😊

The rest of the pictures are of the first school assembly at the primary school. Parents are all invited and a lot attend. These take place every two or three weeks on Friday morning. They sing the Australian anthem, repeat the school motto and then a certain class is appointed to sing a song that addresses a current topic of citizenship and behavior at school. They also have a gold slip drawing and prizes. Gold slips are given out for good behavior and the prizes are usually canteen vouchers, which pleases all parents!

Merit awards and sports awards are also given out for commendable behavior and skills.

Will got a merit award at the first assembly for adapting well at his new school. They said they would make sure he had such a great time at school, he wouldn’t want to leave. 😀


Will getting his merit award.

He’s facing the principal. The other boy is a sixth grade student council member. These kids are selected in 5th grade and seem to take it very seriously. On this occasion they were busy ushering the tinier tikes into their proper places in line.

 

 
Our last day of school will be June 3rd, which is winter here, so school will still be in session. We will pull the kids out, muster up as many report cards as we can, and head onto the last part of our adventure: the Big Camping Trip.

More on that later…

Blessings to you all.

 

Summer Days

Summer (and winter, spring and fall) are indescribably beautiful down here. 

It’s just nice ALL the time. And when we do get the very occasional rain or cloudy day, it’s such a novelty, that that’s nice too. 

It’s stereotypical resort weather. We’ve had a few scorchers, temperatures well into the 100 teens, and some of those temperatures have lasted for a few days in a row. 

We’ve kind of forgotten what it’s like to feel cold. 85 or 90 is just a comfortable, every day temperature anymore, perhaps even a touch cool.

Ok, we’ll shut up now.

Anyway, we’ve been enjoying a lot of water activities of late. The girls, now certified in scuba, went diving recently at the Abrohlos Islands, offshore from here by about 40km, and had a great day. 

   
    
 
I think they sort of got over their fear of the shark that day, when they saw many plain old regular eating fish,almost their size. There’s a lot of large life in the Indian Ocean. 

And it’s also incredibly beautiful.

  
Scott’s uncle Danny is also visiting currently and has enjoyed the water the last couple of days. Today we went out on the replica longboat. It was a boat like this that took crew from the shipwreck of the Batavia all the way up to Jakarta in Indonesia, for help. They had 40 some people on this little boat. However, as someone said today, they would have happily been pulled behind the longboat with a rope than endure the horror that took place on the islands they left behind. See our earlier blog on the Abrohlos for the details.

But today’s boat trip was relaxing and enjoyable and a couple of Bostons became dab hands at being shipmates.

   
    
    
  
    
      
   

Here’s Danny just sitting back after tying up the mainsail. 

 
And here’s Will, working the rudder.

And some days we just have great days on the beach. Mostly afternoon or weekends now that school is in session. 

   
     

   
 
Addie’s wearing zinc cream on her nose. When I was a kid, you could only get it in white, now it’s available in all colors. It’s just a sun block, and an Australian icon.

The little clam type creatures in the following video can be found just under the sand on some local beaches. If you dig them up, they stick a little foot out and dig right back down again.

Excuse the sibling rivalry:

Surf Groms

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surfing

A grommet (grom) is a young participant in extreme sports. Originally, a grommet was a surfer under the age of 16. In recent years, this has expanded to include other extreme sports, most notably skateboarding and snowboarding.
Tim Winton, Australian author, in his children’s story Lockie Leonard, Legend, stated:

“Things are never as simple as they seem, not even for grommets”.
We were only familiar with the word for its description of a metal reinforcement. And thankfully, we didn’t have to use the word in the little-kid-ear-tube connotation (yay, breastfeeding!).

But now we know this particular use of the word in it’s most fun and sunny sense. 

Will joined Surf Groms recently and they meet on Back Beach (the surfers beach) every Saturday morning. Keith and Kelly are the coaches and in the nicest possible way, are about as stereotypical surfer dudes and dudettes as you can imagine, right down to the huge hoop and holler they give every kid when they ride one in. They start off with a safety lesson, teaching the kids wind direction,  rip, tide, wave height, scary critters and sun savvy behavior.

Back Beach, around the corner from the lighthouse, has a God-given perfect collection of waves of all heights, and so they all head out after a few practices on land, jumping from the cobra position up onto the board. Keith and Kelly go back and forth through the waves, watching and helping each kid. In a group of 10 kids, they’ve all stood up. And it’s only the second week!

Will loves it. At this age, they don’t all have much core strength to go straight from flat belly on the board, to standing, in one jump and this is the goal right now.

Planks, planks, planks! 

They tried the back-hand turn this week. No idea what this does yet, but I’m sure the story will unfold. 

Hang ten, friends.

   
   

 

 
Love this one….

   
 One of the Groms, Benji, brings his little dog Marvin, each week. Marvin loves to watch Benji ride in. Benji is a mini-legend in his own right. 

 Marvin and Scott, vying over Marvins special stick…  

Take It With You

The kids started school here in Australia today. The new school year begins in February, which seasonally of course, is the same as our August. 

We’ve finished our homeschooling for the year, and we hope they are ready to return in the American fall, prepared for their next year. It’s gone well, we’ve loved teaching them and have enjoyed the flexibility that homeschool offers but we also want them to experience Australian school.

I attended school in Adelaide, Australia, for six years as a kid, 4th through 10th grade. I have endless happy memories of a way of being taught that always felt like it was part of the big outdoors. PE classes were often at the beach, and there were frequent school camps that were focused on science and history. We would go away for a week, to dorms or cabins, located in various wild places, and mess around collecting starfish or seaweed, or learning about Ned Kelly.

So Will is heading into 6th grade in Australia, Frankie into 8th and Addie into 10th, or sophomore year. 6 months ahead of schedule, but it’ll all come out in the wash, we’re sure. 

We hope they’ve learned enough about Australia these last six months to settle in and make good friends, maybe some will last forever! 

Here’s some fun things we’ve all learned that they will take with them to school:

1) Australians are not impressed with one-upmanship. If you absolutely have to prove you are right, you must always follow it with some extremely self-deprecating remark. You will be teased mercilessly if you don’t do this! 

 This humility is the whole basis of mate-ism. You’re my friend because you believe we are equals. So, be a mate. Admit your faults willingly. Aussies are great at this and it makes them easy to be around. 

2) Things ARE different. And that’s perfectly ok. You’ve done just fine not having ice in your drinks the last 6 months. For the cold beverages, it’s probably just overkill anyway. And let’s face it, it might be actually be a little weird that bread stays fresh out of the fridge for as long as it does back home….

There will be yet more differences at school – enjoy them!

And if you want to argue about it, look at no. 1) again.

3) There will be LOADS of sport and outdoor activity. You will always sweat whilst doing this, especially when it’s 115F in February.  This is an incredibly active part of the world. Enjoy it just like you’ve been doing. When else are you going to surf during PE?!

4)  Teachers are teachers everywhere (even when they are mom). They have your best interests at heart. Respect this and them. 

5) Remember in PE: you can’t throw the Aussie Rules football in the same way as the American football. It just doesn’t work. Handball it.

6) Mrs. Obama is nowhere to be seen and therefore there won’t be any jicama, beets or quinoa in the school canteen! Phew! It’s yummy meat pies and sausage rolls. It’ll get more than burned off by the extra activity previously mentioned. You might still be able to get jammy donuts at school too 😀.

7) Don’t be a whinging Pom, American or any other nationality. Complainers aren’t appreciated anywhere. 

8) Your church family is cheering you on the whole way today. You’re going to be just fine. God’s got you covered. Look for Him when you feel lost.

9) Uniforms are great! Elementary kids apparently sunburn their heads easier…

  
 10) Yes, you can ride your bike to the beach on the way home after school. We will meet you there.

Go get ’em, little mates.

   
 

  
 

Scuba Ranger Will

  

 This last week Will has been participating in a Scuba Rangers class at our local dive shop. He is not old enough to be PADI qualified, as Addie and Frankie were, but this is a great introduction, and unless the girls keep up with him, he may end up more experienced. Today was his demo day where he and the kids in his class demonstrated their skills and gave a presentation on the correct use of regulators, buoyancy control devices etc.

He now has the option to take other classes, including night diving. It’s a very civic minded class also, coming up soon is the National Clean Up day where all the local divers go down under the piers and clean up things that have been dropped. Last year a student found a scooter, which was his to keep! I told Will not to bring any shopping carts home, there’s bound to be a few of those….😆

The instructor set a plexi glass screen on the surface of the water so we could take photos. The one above shows Will demonstrating scuba language for “cold”. Apparently it’s a universal sign…

Here he is demonstrating air sharing with his scuba buddy, Nelson.

   
 
And here is Will, demonstrating neutral bouyancy:

   
 
And here’s a few more shots. He had a great time. Keep posted for more underwater adventures:

   
    
    
The group “volcano” (from pressing the purge button on your regulator.

    
   

Cerys’ joey cuddles

The one thing Cerys has been desperate to do since we moved to Australia was to hold a Joey. So when she and Hannah visited, we took them to our local Greenough Wildlife park for Joey cuddles. This park is privately owned and acts as a rehabilitation place for orphaned joeys, injures dingos, even crocodiles! Michelle, the ranger, is by profession, a snake removal expert, meaning you give her a yell when you spot a venomous one on your farm. She comes along with her black bag and snake stick and relocates your problem for you.

http://m.wildlifeandbirdpark.com.au/
Anyway, Michelle absolutely loves what she does and wants to share it. It’s quite contagious.

  

  

  

  

  

 If you request a Joey cuddle, she brings out one of her little friends who is literally hanging in a bag pouch around her house (off doorknobs, dining room chairs etc) and you can hold them for ages while she tells you about her work. What a treat.