Flying high in Australia

We are back in Australia!


It’s such a pleasure to return to John’s adopted country, and we are enjoying somewhat nicer weather than we left behind in England. It is spring here, and the roses are stunning everywhere. The bottlebrush is in bloom as well, and the jacaranda trees are all purple. Jacaranda blossoms, when they start to blow off the tree, are known as “purple snow” to our friends in Whyalla, South Australia.

Jacaranda in full bloom

Jacaranda in full bloom

We did our first performance in Whyalla for the Samaritan College Parent Community. Fran Mason organized it. She’s a friend of a friend of ours in Salem Oregon, and set up a very nice afternoon with yummy desserts afterwards. It was our first time in Whyalla, and the first time in that part of the Eyre Peninsula.

Our next gig was for the South Australia Quilters Guild in Adelaide. This is the fourth time we’ve sung for this guild, and we have lots of friends there. This time, we were helping the guild celebrate the opening of their quilt show and entertaining between the presentation of prizes to the winners. The quilts were magnificent. We did notice a number of people who stood up for their prizes more than once – including the president, Candy (and here, I always thought that being president of a large quilt guild meant no time for quiltmaking!).

When in Adelaide, we usually stay with our friends Robyn and Paul in Aldgate. They have a feathered friend who is very interested in ground meat and will actually eat it out of their hands! Here’s a picture of Paul and “Matey”, the magpie.

Our friend Paul and his friend "Matey"

Our friend Paul and his friend Matey

The day after the gala in Adelaide, we drove 13 hours to Bathurst NSW for our show the next afternoon. This one was organized by two SCQuilters (Southern Cross Quilters, an on-line Australia/NZ quilting group that I belong to). Del and Heather did a great job enticing quilters and non-quilters to the event. I love to sing for non-quilters, and watch them slowly start to “get” the passion and joy of quilting. Del had organized two huge cakes as part of the refreshments.

The chocolate cake

The chocolate cake

We stayed with Heather and her husband Peter, and really enjoyed their company. They have been building their own house for the last 10 years, and it is huge and wonderful. But such a big job! As the song says, “It ain’t finished yet”.

When they want to take a break from construction, they both enjoy gliding. In fact, that’s how they met. You know: when you take a plane without a motor up into the sky and fly it around for a while. I’ve always been fascinated by gliders, thinking them elegant and beautiful, and this morning before we left Bathurst, Peter gave us the chance to try one out!


Peter has been gliding since he was 16 years old, so he is an expert. He teaches gliding at the Bathurst Soaring Club, so I knew I was in good hands. (I kept telling myself this during the flight…..) I got to sit in the front seat, with my feet tucked into the nose of the plane. We were towed up behind a small plane to about 4,000 feet, then Peter released us from the tow line.

The view from the nose (on the ground still)

The view from the nose (on the ground still)

Behind the tow plane

Behind the tow plane

Up, up and away!

Up, up and away!

Silence, except for the sound of the wind through the vent. We caught a thermal and started climbing, flying in a tight circle like eagles do when they’re reaching for the sky. Sometimes, Peter said, he sees eagles flying with him, looking sideways at him as they both float on the rising air. It was extraordinary. We stayed in the air for about a half an hour before descending again. Landing was uneventful, thankfully. We glided to a perfect landing, thanks to Peter’s expertise.

Then he took John up, and I got to watch several gliders floating in the sky above. They are lovely – big white eagles floating in lazy circles to catch the upward drafts and so extend their flying time.

Now it's John's turn

John has his turn too

There he goes!

There he goes!

The lineup of other soarers

The lineup of other soarers

Another glider above us

Another glider above us

Next time? I’ll take something to help the motion sickness. It will help me appreciate the experience a little more fully. But I would LOVE to do this again! What a way to fly!

Thank you Peter, for an unforgettable experience!
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One Response to “Flying high in Australia”

  1. Karen O. Says:

    Wow! How fun! I was just looking at an ad in a quilt magazine for trips to Australia and NZ, and wishing I could be there right now…we’re getting hammered with high winds and rain. Any Shop Hopping going on? Have fun down under!

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