Grab a Coopers from the Esky, next to the barbie

Ice? Check. Beer? Check. Chicken and sausages? Check. Barbie? Fire it up.

It’s Sunday evening and my hosts Jared and Ruth tell me they’ve invited some friends over for a barbeque. Naturally, we’ll need some ice in the Esky (portable cooler) to keep the Coopers (pale ale) frosty.

Jared preps the retro grill, Ruth marinates the chicken, I sweep the shed (covered patio area), Delilah wipes the kids’ table, and Tilly tunes her guitar.

There’ll be three little kids running around, three guitars jamming, one dad bongo-drumming, a backyard fire burning, stars twinkling, and me pushing twigs into the fire and quietly taking it all in.

Jared Thomas at home with the barbeque in South Australia.
Jared Thomas grills up some chicken skewers on the barbie at home in South Australia.
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Miss a Burmese-Goan memoir

Cover of Homeward Bound, a memoir by Aloysius D'Souza.

Rangoon, Burma was home to a community of Goan families before WWII.

That included my father Leo Rodrigues and his cousin Aloysius D’Souza. They were born in Rangoon and  were age six when the Japanese attacked the city a few weeks after they bombed Pearl Harbour.

Leo and Aloysius and their families had to flee Rangoon by rail, sea, and land. Our families arrived safely in Calcutta port and trickled back to Goa via Delhi and Bombay.

Two years ago I flew to Goa, India to work on my own book based on my Girl Gone Goa blog. I felt compelled to put it on pause because I wanted to edit a memoir that Aloysius had drafted. I couldn’t help but get caught up in his stories of community, music, food, farm life, and war.

Today I received word that Uncle will celebrate both the publishing of his book and his 83rd birthday in Goa this week.

I’m in Australia now and I feel like just one small ocean separates me from him. But a travel agent tells me a return flight from Adelaide would cost $1900.00 AUS and a visa would be impossible to obtain.

Publisher Frederick Noronha of Goa 1556 tells me I’ll receive a copy of the book shortly.

But I feel sad I can’t be there with my talented, story-teller uncle.

My great grandfather Sylvestre D'Souza left his family in Goa to join the gold rush in western Canada.
My great grandfather Sylvestre D’Souza left his family in Goa to join the gold rush in western Canada. Aloysius’s book describes how Sylvestre remained in Canada for many years, leaving his wife to care for their three children Anju (Aloysius’s father), Bemvinda (my grandmother), and Gerry on her own following WW1.

Find a stairway to heaven

Staircase descending to Port Noarlunga beach in South Australia.

In South Australia, a stairway to heaven goes down, not up.

It starts from a road where you park your sand-carpeted hatchback. There’s a industrial-size tub of SPF50 sun lotion in the back with the towels. It’s got a pump so you can slap it on fast.

Faster than it takes to pull on your wetsuit. It’s thick neoprene rubber and if you’re lucky, you’ve got a buddy nearby who’ll pull the back zip for you. If she’s local, she’ll tell you how the surf looks before you even peer over the rail.

When you do, you see an expanse of blue with strips of white foam. They curl and break like slow-motion music. If you’re a surfer, that’s heaven.

I’m staying in South Australia with Jared Thomas, author of Calypso Summer and Songs That Sound Like Blood. He loves to write. And he loves to surf.

He tells me he’s going to show me how, sometime soon.

Author Jared Thomas in surf gear at Goolwa Beach, South Australia. (photo: ulrike.ca)
Author Jared Thomas at Goolwa Beach, South Australia. The stairway to heaven in the feature photo above is Port Noarlunga Beach.

Attend a show at a Waldorf School

Willunga Waldorf School choir at end-of-year concert.

Tilly is in Class 8 at the Waldorf School here in Willunga. It’s an unusual school, where 13-year-olds discuss personal journeys, portrayals of women in advertising, and 9/11 conspiracy theories.

I was pleased to join her and her family to the school’s end-of-year concert. According to Wikipedia, a Waldorf education’s “…overarching goal is to develop free, morally responsible, and integrated individuals equipped with a high degree of social competence.”

It also includes a high degree of musical competence. The event showcased everything from percussion poles to xylophones to classic guitar. A piece by the Senior Band, Kaze no Toorimichi, felt transcendent.

During the break I wandered the school grounds and got a sense of the Willunga Waldorf School’s  radical building and grounds design.

Classroom building from Waldorf School in Willunga, Australia.
Classroom building from Waldorf School in Willunga, Australia. (Source: http://adzewillungawaldorf.weebly.com/)

From what I’ve seen so far, and having spent some time with Tilly over the last couple of weeks, I’m impressed—and just a bit jealous.

I wonder how my generation would have turned out if we could have received this kind of creative education?

 

Grill a Postie

Letter carrier on a 110cc Honda "Postie" motorbike in Willunga, Australia.

I want to ride a motorcycle in South Australia.

The roads wind beautifully along picture-postcard coastlines, through vineyards, and between mountain ranges—how could I not?

The trouble is, I need a bike. It’s got to be small, light, ready to carry gear, and less than $2000 AUS.

A few people have suggested a Postie bike. Similar to my vintage-style Symba Honda Cub, the Australian Post’s delivery vehicle of choice is small (just 110cc) motorcycle that is nimble, easy to operate, and tough as all get out.

Today I caught sight of a Postie zipping in and out of drive ways on his specially-equipped Honda Super Cub CT110. I literally waved him down and then fairly grilled him on the particulars of his bike.

He told me Australian Post puts the bikes to auction when they get near the 30,000-kilometre mark. He suggested I look up the Postie  bikes at Pickles Auctions and maybe Gumtree (similar to craigslist).

There were lots to choose from. One fellow is even selling a Postie bike equipped with travel bags for $2,250 AUS. The price seems a bit steep for a 110cc bike, but oh-what-fun it could be to ride.

I’ll have to grill up a toasty and give this some thought.

Meet a Postie and ask him about his motorcycle.

Find love at Bondi Junction

1973 B&W photo of Bondi Junction train station ticket turnstiles in Sydney, Austraila.

I was twelve years old when Peter Foldy’s 1973 song Bondi Junction played on my white plastic radio in my pink-and-lavender bedroom in Guelph, Ontario.

The sweet-voiced song told the tale of a young man who met his first true love at a mysterious place called “Bondi Junction.”

I eventually discovered that Bondi Junction is a real place in faraway Australia. I wondered if I would ever go there.

I did. It’s a transit station east of Sydney. It’s a great place to find a direct bus to Bondi Beach. But, like poor Peter, it was not the place to find love.

The song did well for Peter, though. It was a Canadian’s break-out hit single nominated for several awards. He might have been influenced by three brothers he met when he was still in Australia—the brother Gibb. They’d go on to become the Bee Gees. He’d go on to direct a film that is rumoured to inspire the film American Pie.

√ Catch a bus at Bondi Junction.

χ  Find love at Bondi Junction.

NEW BLOG: Cycling France’s Canal des Deux Mers

Ulrike's bicycle on a dirt path next to the Canal du Midi, France.

Go to Cycling France’s Canal des Deux Mers

Hey hi! Check out my newest stories—a bike adventure along a historic canal that runs 500 kilometres across the south of France. The canal connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea. It’s called Le Canal des Deux Mers—the canal of two seas.

I solo cycle-camped the Canal de Garonne, the Canal du Midi, a section of Mediterranean coastline including the Carmargue, and a bit of the Rhône River.

I drank wine, ate cassoulet, mingled with riverrains, joined some pagans, and slept with four Frenchmen on their canal boat—it’s a story.

To join the ride go to the Cycling France’s Canal des Deux Mers photo-travelogue. And if you’re keen, listen to a conversation about my journey on the Adventure Bike Touring Why I Bike podcast (45 minutes).

See you there!

Ulrike