Lucky for us, we were met by Gail and Greg Melvin, Bec's lovely parents. They trundled us off in 2 cars to Phil and Chook Melvin's place, Bec's aunt and uncle. We have since come to know and love these two couples for their extraordinary generosity and warm welcome to this overheated land. We had arrived during the hottest heat wave in decades, which pushed temperatures above 40C for most off the first week that we were here. Aside from one predawn walk through the neighborhood, we all hid indoors from the scorching sun. Even with air con, it was difficult to acclimatize. A family bbq, where we were introduced to tasty kangaburgers and roo sausages, was a good chance to meet Bec's extended family in Perth. I liked it all, but was really not myself, fading into the cool dimness of my room, seeking any air flow from fans that I could. I slept a lot for the first few days. We went out at night, treated to a view from the 43rd floor of a downtown building and a stroll through King's Park, but all I could really do was try to remain polite and keep rewetting the scarf at my neck to keep cool. I still find it infinitely more tolerable to adapt to the cold by dressing warmly than to adapt to living with high temperatures using fans and air con. My brain just would not absorb or retain much. Fried!
January 26th was Australia Day, so we joined in the exchange teacher events in the heart of Perth. Getting there in Bec's car would have been very tricky without the loan of Phil's gps.That little piece of technology is perfect for navigating in cities! My iPhone is fine for highways and basic directions in town, but is often not specific enough to get us to our goal. That gps never fails!
Well, between the approaching thunderstorm and the evening fireworks, we felt like we were in the middle of a cosmic duel. Violent lightening strikes, boiling dark clouds and thunder approached from behind us as a great display of explosions vied for our attention ahead. Inevitably, the downpour won out as it brought cool relief and a quick end to our Australia Day event.
The next morning, our real adventure began. We couldn't thank our awesome hosts, Chook and Phil, enough for providing a cool haven for our first few days in Perth. They have graciously offered the keys to their home for any time we need to return to the big city. How wonderful is that? Better yet, we enjoyed their company and friendship so much that we will certainly be back.
Bec's folks, Gail and Greg, were kind enough to drive with us on our first trip to our new home in Williams. Except for the stop in Armadale to get groceries, we completed the trip from Perth to Williams within 2 hours.
It was greener than I had imagined, with ghost gums lining the highway much of the way. The fields and paddocks were dry brown and either loaded with sheep or wheat stubble. We saw little evidence of water; a few watering holes for livestock seemed it. It is a very arid landscape at this time of year, but we've been told that come the winter, all turns cool and green, like our summers back home.About 8000 varieties of plants and animals are evident in Western Australia with about 6000 of them occurring nowhere else. They say the wildflowers in season are astonishingly beautiful. Sounds good to me!
Our home for the year is a lovely house on an acre of land, 2 km outside of the town of Williams. There are a few olive, apple, cherry, and fig trees on the property, with some decent corn in the garden still and a few tomato plants that are done and crispy. Parrots, magpies and flocks of rosy galahs are evident daily and have stripped most trees of fruit. Did I mention the clusters of green hard marbles on grapevines around the yard, as well? Much water would be needed for them, but as tight restrictions are enforced on the most precious of commodities, I guess we'll never taste their sweet ripe crunch. Further south an hour or two, where the vineyards beckon, there must be much irrigation or much more precipitation.
Even so, the roses are lovely and Matt's landscaping does much to draw the eye past trees and bushes, rockwork and vines, to the golden hills beyond us to the north. With pure hot country air and an absence of wind, the clarity of the atmosphere makes it look and feel like it might be Tuscany. We have a beaut of a covered patio, ready for warm nights of bbqs and forming friendships. It has a fridge and sink as well as seating for 10 around teak tables, a hammock and other comfy lounge seating. Now if it were just cool enough outdoors to enjoy it!!
Our first impressions of the night sky are breathtaking. Absence of light pollution makes for the clearest stars and brightest moonlight I've ever seen. Indoors, the loving craftsmanship of a talented woodworking artisan is evident in the gorgeous handmade furniture, cabinetry, bed and centerpiece stairway. Matt has built this starter home himself. Clearly, for one so young, he has talent to burn!
We are grateful for the air con recently installed in the master bedroom. Gina is delighted with the whole main floor to herself once we retire for the night. We think this is a well appointed home that we can all feel comfortable and happy in for the year.
Next stop: to the school.