Well, once again I haven’t written much lately because I’ve just been a bit too busy.  School has kept me especially busy with marking, report cards and the occasional participation in workshop and afterschool meetings.  Each day I teach 5 of 6 classes, then go to a meeting and/or come home to 3 hours of report cards and marking.  What a joy!!  It’s almost over though.  I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

In the last weeks of our year here, we are travelling as much as we can.  Last weekend we were in the south, touring the Great Ocean Road with Leon’s son.  We stayed at a very nice hostel in Queenscliff on Friday and another hostel in Port Fairy on Saturday night.  In between, we drove to Bell’s Beach, had lunch at Apollo Bay, viewed the 12 Apostles further west with a detour to Cape Otway to see the koalas in the trees.  We weren’t disappointed on the last count.  We even had one crossing the road at one point.  On our way back to the main highway, there was a single koala in plain sight, climbing down the tree.  We were taking pictures when a wiseguy decided to honk several times, scaring the poor koala back up the tree.  Idiot!!  By the way, koalas do make noise.  They sort of bellow/growl quite loudly when they aren’t happy.

On Sunday, we drove home through the Grampians.  It’s a chain of mountains (hills?) that reminded me of the Green Mountains in Vermont/New Hampshire.  I guess for this part of the world, they are really high.  We had lunch at a “family” restaurant and I could think of what Gordon Ramsay might do with the place to make it profitable again.  You can imagine how poor the food was.

This week was a bit shorter school-wise as we had a marking day on Friday.  We had a cocktail and dinner in Melbourne to attend where I was asked to say a few words.  So I prepared my answers all week.  The cocktail was put on by the Victorian Institute of Teaching to say goodbye to this year’s exchange teachers and send the outgoing Victoria exchangees off on a good note.  We got to meet the couple going to Ottawa next year and told them to make sure to call us when they arrive so we can show them around and get them some fun activities for their children.  After the cocktail, we walked to the dinner, celebrating the 40th anniversary of the IFT program.  We’d been asked to prepared a show for the dinner, so I came up with the idea that Leon could put a nice slide show together with pictures of the many travels this year’s exchangees did.  They gladly provided some terrific and very varied photos from all over Australia and abroad, along with some lovely quotes of their final thoughts on the experience.  I contributed a quote from my daughter “Timtams are God’s gift to Australia!”  That got a good laugh.  The slide show turned out really good, thanks to Leon spending hours and hours on it.  It was nice to see the exchangees for a last time and talk about how our year has been and what our plans for returning home are.

We got to our friend Matt’s very late, after midnite.  This morning, we got on the tram to visit the Queen Victoria Market for a few thank you gifts I wanted to buy.  It was raining cats and dogs as we left the house and we all got soaked, especially Bradyn as he didn’t want to carry an umbrella.  After a nice breakfast at a sidewalk cafe, we walked through all the stalls at the market.  I found what I was looking for and we made our way home to Bendigo via the afternoon train.

This week, we are planning to go back to Healesville to show Bradyn the Sanctuary there.  That won’t be till Saturday, as we have a local ITF Christmas party on Friday.  The weekend after that, we are off to Tasmania for our last big trip in Australia.  It will be a 4 day trip starting with an overnight ferry, each direction.  I am sure looking forward to that.  And my students will be all done on December 8, although my report cards are due on the 5th.  I’ll still be at work, but mostly in meetings.

Check out my snake necklace - yes, it's a live snake. I have gotten so brave since I got here.
Jocelyn and Mike (Alberta, Canada), Deb (former ITF, Yarra Valley) and Leon (husband, best mate, formerly of Denmark)
Sara Coleman - from Scotland, you can imagine her lovely accent
speaking at the year end cocktail
Bradyn in the 4wd they rented for the Outback trip
further west from the Apostles

sleeping koala
view from 12 apostles