Wednesday, January 30, 2008

This is "interesting"...

I this article off of Lorianne's blog. I thought it was funny. I would say that Aussies definitely aren't scared of Canada and many have been there (not usually as far east as NS, but at least to BC) and have loved it. It's funny because one of the things that I like the best about living here is that fact that it reminds me of Canada. In many ways, living in Australia feels more Canadian to me than living in Quebec. Anyway, here's the article...
Australia issues travel warning against Canada; says not as safe as SKorea

TORONTO - As Canadian tourism officials prepare to launch a new campaign next week to promote Canada as a place for Australian tourists to "keep exploring," travellers from Down Under may have second thoughts if they take the advice of their own government's "Smart Traveller" website.
It has a warning posted about travel to The Great White North.
The website, which is run by Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, has Canada listed as a country where travellers should "exercise caution," which is the second-lowest rating out of five - the highest being "do not travel."
Australians are advised to be cautious because of "the risk of a terrorist attack" in Canada, heavy snow, windchill and ice in the winter, and forest fires that can erupt "at any time."
British Columbia, in particular, was singled out as being in an active earthquake zone and "subject to avalanches," along with Alberta.
Canada in the same company as some, but not all, members of the G7 - the U.S., Britain, Germany, France and Italy. But such countries as Serbia, Kazakhstan, Bosnia, Albania, Spain, Malaysia, Greece and Cambodia also have an "exercise caution" flag on the website alongside Canada.
The website says the United Kingdom remains a potential target for terrorist activity and lists the attacks in 2005 and 2007. It also says Australian travellers face the risk of terrorism in the U.S. and mentions a July 2007 National Intelligence Estimate which concluded the U.S. is in a heightened threat environment.
But the site doesn't specifically mention why Canada is listed as a risk for terrorism.
Countries listed as safer than Canada include China, Chile, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Belarus, Romania, South Korea, Ireland, Norway, Japan and Latvia. They get a "be alert to own security" rating, the lowest on the list.
Dozens of countries are deemed less safe than Canada and Australian travellers are warned to have a "high degree of caution" when going there. Other countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq and Sudan have a "do not travel" warning.
William Davis, a spokesman at Australia's High Commission in Canada, told The Canadian Press from Ottawa the warning about Canada is not new, but a "couple of years old."
"This is quite an old warning and it's not really about Canada," Australian High Commissioner Bill Fisher said "The warning is a general one for all Western countries and it followed some quite nasty statements by al-Qaida two or three years ago about attacks on Western countries."
Fisher said Canada is low down on the list of warnings and added all governments put out warnings about countries.
While the commissioner said the warning is old, the website does list the advice as current for Saturday, January 26, 2008 - which is Australia Day, a national public holiday across the country.
"Every year we have a survey about the dream destination and every year in Australia, Canada is No. 1," Fisher added. "So I think people vote with their feet and their money, certainly with their ambitions, so we send about 200,000 Australians to Canada a year."
Canada's Foreign Affairs department declined to return calls seeking the government's reaction to the travel warning.
The Foreign Affairs website, which offers advice to travellers, has no official travel warnings against Australia, and says most Canadian visitors to that country don't have any problems, and there are "no serious security or safety concerns."
However, it does say foreigners are targets for pickpockets and purse snatchers, especially at airports, and all travellers should exercise caution in the more popular tourist areas and avoid hitchhiking Down Under. It says women should not travel alone after dark in Australia and that flash floods and bushfires occur in many parts of the country.
The Canadian Tourism Commission, which promotes Canada to 10 regions including Australia, said 207,000 Australians visited Canada between January and November 2007, up 9.9 per cent from the previous year. The CTC is predicting a four-per-cent rise in the number of Aussie visitors to Canada in the first quarter of 2008 over the same period a year ago.
Sylvie Lafleur, executive director of overseas markets for the commission, told The Canadian Press in an interview from Vancouver that Canada is "very well known for being a friendly, safe and secure destination.
"We know that Australians are very attracted to the breadth of experiences that Canada has to offer."
She said the United Nations has ranked Canada as the second best country to live in.
"I think that speaks volumes," Lafleur said.
She declined to say whether the travel warning would make the commission's job harder to sell Canada as a favourable tourism destination aboard. But she said she isn't worried, noting the high numbers of Australians who visit Canada.
"Canada, we know through our research . . . is really considered a friendly and welcoming destination for Australians."
Lafleur said the CTC promotes Canada through print advertising, billboards and the Internet. She said the commission will be launching a new campaign in Australia starting Monday.
According to the Canadian Embassy website in Australia, Australia provides the fifth largest number of overseas visitors to Canada each year.

Friday, January 25, 2008

1st anniversary...

1st anniversary...? Wedding? No. Date since Steve and I met? No. Actually that is today but that marks 8 years since we first became an official couple. Believe it or not it's our 1 year anniversary of living in Australia! I've said this a thousand times but boy, has the year flown by! It's been a good year though. Thinking back on the last year as I walked to work this morning, I realized that living down under has been really good for us. I'm really happy here. I'm feeling so much better, as far as my health goes, thanks to the doctors and practitioners that I have seen since I moved here and thanks to tests that they don't even do in Canada (like the blood test that tells you what foods you are sensitive/allergic to). Steve is looking and feeling great, thanks to all his hard work. Jesse is even looking and feeling good, thanks to shedding some much needed pounds, well kilos, as they say here. We've met some awesome new people, who quickly became the kind of friends that feel like you've known them forever. We've explored beaches, cities and small little villages. I learned to scuba dive and have done a few dives, one of which was on the Great Barrier Reef! Steve and I got to scuba dive together and even though it sounds totally lame (go ahead and make fun...I don't care!), it was a pretty special moment for me when Steve took my hand and we swam peacefully underwater holding hands, surrounded by beautiful coral and colorful tropical fish! Steve and I got to take our first ever planned holiday together and had an amazing time. We've lived in 2 adorable houses, both full of the traditional Queensland charm. We've met some very interesting critters, some cute, some not so cute. We've picked up some Aussie slang and got a few good laughs out of the Aussies when they saw the confusion on my face the first time I heard them use those slang terms! We learned some new stuff too...Stuff like, it's cold in your house when it's 2 degrees outside and you don't have central heating and 4 minute showers are pretty much impossible, drought or no drought! Anyhoo, I could probably go on forever, but you get the point! Yes, overall, it's been a really good year. Sometimes I truly wonder how I will ever go back to living in a cold climate again. The sunshine and warm temps suit me so well! Anyway, here's to another good year! May it be as terrific as the first one!

Thursday, January 17, 2008


We're so boring these days that I'm posting other people's news! I think it's safe to finally post this little tid-bit. After all, it's now on their blog ( and let's face it, once it's on the blog or facebook, it's public knowledge, right?;) Steve and I are pretty excited about the fact that...Darryl, Stacey and the kids are...MOVING TO BRISBANE!!! That's right...they miss us so much, they're moving to the other side of the world to spend their days, evenings and weekends in the wonderful company of the Dickinsons;) It has nothing to do with the fact that Darryl was offered a great position at Pandemic or that they were wanting to do an international move, I'm sure! Anyhoo, we're looking forward to having them here! And they'll be here before long...only a couple more weeks!!! :)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Such a nice pic of Darryl and Shamus
It's even nicer when you take it into photoshop for 5 mintes!

Steve (Cari's not impressed) Dickinson

Friday, January 11, 2008

Merci Clo et Rej!

Just wanna say a big thanks to Clo and Rej for the little surprise we had waiting for us when we got home from work today...Clo made us both pj pants! They're very cute and Australian themed. Mine have frangipani flowers (a very pretty flower that grows on a trees here) and Steve's have sharks (very well suited!). Steve especially loves his and hasn't stopped commenting on how much he loves them since he put them on! So, thanks again!!! Clo, you're so creative!

New Year, New goals, New attitude

Ick. That pretty much describes my mood so far this week. The weather has been grey and rainy, which I actually like but it's definitely not helping to improve my already ick mood. I guess according to Dr. Phil philosophy, the weather would technically be enabling my mood. Anyhoo...there are some things that I would like to change but to be honest, change is a little scary and overwhelming. It's definitely not easy to get goals off the ground, even if you do have a new found positive motivation, thanks to the beginning of a new year. Who doesn't feel inspired to save the world as you scream "Happy New Year and jump around and hug"?!
So, the strangest thing happened to me the other day...I was thinking about what holds me back from going after the things I want (side note: I've definitely improved at this! However, Rome wasn't built in a day and I still have a little work to do!)...that's when I stumbled across this quote on my Boss' desk (literally, I was thinking about it and turned around and there it was...a sign from something greater? Who knows, but here goes...)
"Fear is man's greatest enemy, and it manifests itself in forms as diverse as shame, jealousy, anger, insolence, arrogance...
What causes fear? Lack of confidence in oneself." Swami Prajnanpad
Interesting, eh? Yes, I still say "eh", even if I have started referring to my occasional snoozes in the afternoon as "Nana naps", one of my favorite Aussie expressions. It's amazing how fear sneaks in there, takes over your rational thoughts and contributes to making you feel all around miserable!
So, as I sip my wine and contemplate my goals for 2008, I'm trying to look ahead with no hidden signs of fear, just confidence and positive thoughts. I hope everyone can do the same! Let's keep each other posted on our progress!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Rain, Rain, Rain

Okay, it's been raining a lot these days and it's been that way for weeks, now that I really stop to think about it. It doesn't always rain hard each day but we get rain almost daily and the sun hasn't shone for a full day in quite some time. The weather in and around Brisbane was pretty crappy all over Christmas, with beaches being closed down and people having to evacuate their homes because of flooding. I think we picked a really good week to be away! Anyhoo, here's a couple of pics that I snapped the other day when the heavy rain hit. Man, it rained SO hard!!! Steve had to go get Jesse from under the house and bring him into the house because he was too scared to step into the rain and the VERY large puddles that quickly filled our backyard. Unfortunately, it's not like home... the rain does not help break the humidity and even after this particular big rain, it stayed VERY humid. Ick. I like the heat but hate the humidity! In these pics, you can see the rain running off our roof. I wish the pics showed the intensity of the rain though!

More friends...

We have a few of these little geckos in our new house. Two of them like to hang out in the front entry room of our house and 1 little guy likes the back "mudroom", as we call it. I'm not sure if it's always the same ones or different. Either way, I don't mind them being around. They eat the icky insects and they are kind of cute. I still prefer them to keep their distance though. The little guy in the picture was brave enough to enter a little deeper into our house and found his way to our kitchen. Rej and Clo happened to be here and Rej caught him and put him outside, which was good because although I really do find them cute and they aren't pesty like some things that enter our house, I'm not dying to catch one of the little guys anytime soon!

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Our trip...Day 1 - Monday... Green Island

It looked like this when we left Brisbane...rainy and chilly! I wore a sweater!
And it looked like this when we arrived in and sunny!
We did a little looking around Cairns before boarding the cruise ship at 1:00 p.m. There were some cute shops and the vibe of the city was very laid back.

This is the ship getting all the luggage onboard.
As the ship embarked on it's adventure, we all held streamers in the wind. It looked quite pretty.

This is what our cabin looked like.
This was the view from our cabin.

We met some really nice and interesting people on the ship, including our dinner companions. They sat at the same table as us for meals. Max and Phillipa Davidson own a camp deep in the bush in Darwin (Northern Territory) and Ray is the camp manager. This is their website... looks like a very cool bush adventure and Steve and I are really hoping to get to do it in a couple of years. We also sat with a guy named Michael, who was very sweet.
On the first day, we anchored at Green Island. It's a beautiful island with beautiful beaches. We didn't swim because it's also the 3rd most dangerous beach in Australia and there had been a lot of serious box jelly fish stings a few days prior to us arriving. We went for a guided walk on the island instead.
These guys were everywhere and liked to peck at toes if you were wearing open toe shoes. They don't usually fly and survive well on the island because there are no serious predators.

I'm not sure what these were but they really hurt if you bumped into them!

This guy only had one leg! He still got around well though!
Leaving Green Island.
The ship at night. It was just a small cruise ship, which I loved. There were 85 guests on the ship with us. The ship can hold a maximum of 150 guests.
Our first night on the ship was New Year's Eve and they had a Gala New Year's Eve dinner with 7 differnt desserts! Yum! The food was fantastic, as it was all week long. The drinks were yummy, including the real strawberry daiquiris that they served. They actually blended them like in Canada. Every daiquiri I have ever had in Brisbane isn't blended, just mixed like juice on ice. Ick.
Everyone wore the New Year's Eve hats.
There was the usual countdown and then this dance which I somehow got caught up in.
Happy New Year!
Hey, what cruise would be complete without the typical Titanic shot? Isn't he a cutie? Okay, so I have posted lots and lots of cruise pics, so be warned before you continue! And, just in case you hadn't already worked it out...we had a fantastic time!!!

Day 2 - Tuesday Morning... Cooktown...

Tuesday morning, we anchored in Cooktown. It was a sleepy little town that really didn't have much going on at all. It probably didn't help that it was New Year's Day and most things were closed. But still, I can't imagine growing up there! There is a main road in and out of the town but apparently, it gets washed away almost every year by a cyclone or heavy rain. It's very far from any main town or city.
The ocean was amazingly still on our trip. Even the crew were shocked at how still the water was for days. It was like glass. Even with the water being that still, it still took a bit of getting used to when it came to walking around the ship. I can't imagine if it were really rough seas!! Steve and I both walked a little silly for the first few hours that we were off the ship, just because we were so used to moving with our sea legs.

This little guy came to chill out with Steve.
Cooktown used be a gold mining town but came crashing down by the middle of the 20th Century, leaving it a ghost town of only about 300 people. It's slowly building itself back up through tourism but still does not measure up to it's glory days when it had over 30, 000 people, 163 brothels and 94 pubs. Surprisingly, from what we saw in the windows of real estate offices, an average house sells for about $300 000 to $400 000. Fact: Cooktown has more crocodiles than people. Unfortunately, we didn't see any crocs. It's my goal to see a real croc in the wild before we leave Australia.
This is a staue of Captain James Cook. Someone decided to dress him up in protest...something to do with cricket...I know nothing about cricket, so I'm not sure exactly what the problem is.
The statue's costume was well done.

Lots of very wide, very quiet streets.
Very large flying bugs, about the size of small helicopters kept attacking us! I think some locals sitting out on their stoop got a good laugh at Steve running from one!

There were dead frogs everywhere on the roads. It was a bit sad. Steve thinks the locals probably kill time by making hitting frogs with their car a sport.

Day 2 - Tuesday Afternoon... Two Isles....

After Cooktown, we sailed to Two Isles to do some snorkling. It was the first time we got to snorkle and we had a blast! Steve was the last one to get out of the water and I had to literally yell for him to come in, as the last boat was leaving to go back to the ship. He loved it!
The above pic is me relaxing with a good book and a good cocktail on deck in the sun. Ahhh, I love vacations.

Steve's a super star at diving down deep in the water.

I love these sea slug guys. I'm not sure what their official name is but they're pretty cool. We saw one while we were diving that had a HUGE string of sand poop dragging behind it! I want to get a fish book and learn the names of all the fish that we saw. It was also pretty exciting when we saw a 5-7 foot shark of some kind go right underneath us! Steve tried to get a picture but he darted off as soon as Steve dove down to his depth. It was awesome! Guess you'll just have to take our word for it!

We saw lots of HUGE clams...

I love this picture of Steve. He looks so intense! Even under water he likes to snap pics of himself! ;)