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ALFRED, IS THAT YOU?

11 September 2003

I'm sure I saw Alfred Hitchcock today. Yeah, yeah, I know he's been dead for years, but I'm certain we must have been in a production of The Birds today. It was a literally a day for the birds.

It started with our morning walk. This time I was prepared, camera in hand. The rains had come and gone and I felt we were going to be OK. But no rabbits; no roos. And for awhile there it appeared that we would have no birds either, but then we came up to that big ol' eucalyptus and there they were...pink and grey gallahs, flying around the tree, sitting in the tree, chasing the white cockatoos. I love these birds because they are so different from anything I've seen in the wild...ever. I took several pictures (there's a great cockatoo picture here too.)

After our walk, breakfast (I got to have some of the dogs' yogurt), and morning ablutions, we were set for the day's adventures. We weren't going to wimp out just because of some ol' black clouds and a chance of rain. We had weathered monsoons and come out with photos to show for it. Off we headed to Kings' Park.

If you've ever seen photos of Perth, Western Australia, chances are they were taken from Kings Park. It is a 400 hectare park, 2/3 of which is unspoiled bush land. The other third is gardens, picnic areas, and playgrounds. The park overlooks the city of Perth and the Swan River and the vistas are breathtaking.

Remember when there was no pollution, when skies were blue-blue-blue and waters crystal clear? In Perth they still are. It was everything Peggy has said it was...and more.

We started our time in the park with a stop at a concessionaire for coffee and Lamingtons, a traditional Australian cake. I made faux lamingtons for a party I was going to awhile back, which happened to be held on Australia day. Native Aussies have laughed at my pathetic attempts, so Peggy decided I needed to try the real thing.

We sat ourselves at a table outside and watched the birds--magpies, Western Red Wattle Bird, and parrot-like birds known here as "28s" (I found on Google that they are "like Rosellas"). I tried snapping photos while the birds were flitting about, when one of the 28s discovered we had food and invited himself to join us.

He was so delightful and had us giggling at his insistance that he be given his share. I took a few brief movies (which I can do on my digital camera), and that set us off in a whole new direction: we could take movies as well as still photos! We owe this new discovery all to this little guy:

(notice the coconut still clinging to his beak?)

When the three of us--Peggy, myself, and our feathered friend--had polished off the lamington, we set off to explore Kings park on foot (how grateful I have been these last 3 days that I am so many pounds lighter!) With cameras ever at the ready, we went clicking our way through the park, all the wildflowers, the vistas, the park grounds, and a beautiful new "tree top bridge" (a new suspension bridge that is attracting visitors), which was the scene of one of Peggy's worst nightmares:

The wonderful thing about coming to a continent as removed and as different as Australia is the number of wonderful new things there are to see. Like the black kangaroo paw plant (the link is to my photo on fotolog) and the oddly shaped boab trees.

Eventually we ran out of sights to see and got back to the car for the next adventure, a trip to Hillary's Marina, a mere hop, skip and jump from Peggy's. It was here that I'm sure we felt the ghost of Alfred Hitchcock.

We went to a wharfside cafe for something to eat (we decided on "dinner" even tho it was only 3 p.m. because then we could just have toast as the last meal of the day, and save Peggy from cooking two days in a row--except for the dogs, of course).

Shortly after we sat down at our outside table, people at the next table left and the whole outdoor area was instantly bombarded by hungry seagulls. All I could think of was the gulls in Finding Nemo and imagined all these guys screetching "mine! mine! mine!"

After our early dinner, we went to the nearby Aquarium of Western Australia, which was such a kick. From the entry level, you descend three flights of stairs to a glass walkway where fish of all sorts swim by you and over you. I was having no luck with taking any photos at all and decided to switch to digital movies again. That's when Peggy realized she could do that too, and the two of us had such a great time (when we weren't surrounded by tourists) taking digital movies of the fish, especially the sharks and rays.

We had such fun there that we stayed for about an hour, outlasting several sets of school children, families, and Italian tourists.

Finally, bone-weary, we got back in the car and came home, first to a nice visit from Peggy's friend Chris, then to our toast and fig jam, and finally to spend the rest of the evening admiring each other's photographic work during the day.

All in all, an absolutely delightful day.


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