Hello Maitland – 8th and 9th March 2019

So forgot to mention a little bit about the town of MacLean that we stayed in last night. As we drove into the town we noticed that most of the power poles had a tartan painted on them with the name of the clan listed. It all looked very effective and relates back to the roots of the town.

The popular Maclean Highland Gathering has been held for over 100 years during the Easter weekend. Participants and bands contest traditional Scottish athletic and cultural competitions, such as caber tossing, highland dancing, band competition, and bagpiping. The “Maclean, The Scottish Town In Australia Association”, is a community group which was formed in 1986 and promotes Maclean’s strong Scottish origins. The work of this committee over the years has ensured that Maclean now has national and international recognition as ‘The Scottish Town’ in Australia. Many street signs are written in English and Scottish Gaelic.

Our 450k drive down the Pacific Highway which has a shocking reputation for fatal accidents was non eventful thankfully but unfortunately it did bypass all the little towns that it use to go through. It is now mostly a dual concrete carriage way with a myriad of vehicles that whizzed past us at a great rate of knots.

We found out a little bit more info regarding the rope structures that we saw on a reasonably regular basis strung across the highway. These are for the possums and koalas to use as crossings. It is a different approach to what Canada uses as they tend to build more tunnels for the bears, dead, moose etc. Guess considering that Koalas as possums live in trees that this would be a more appropriate crossing for them. It would be rare for you to see these being used as koalas and possums are nocturnal creatures.

We arrived into Maitland at about 6.00pm to Carol and Pete’s in time for a great dinner with Carols brother and sisters there to join us. They also taught us a new card game called golf. We look forward to teaching all of you this highly entertaining game that we are told makes for a good drinking game?!?!

We know Carol and Pete from the early 1990’s through Nick. Pete use to work with Nick in Brisbane and then they relocated to Maitland in the mid 1990’s with their four children. When we located to Muswellbrook around the same time we were able to see them more frequently. Maitland was only up the road by about 100k.

You can see by this map that since we left Sydney we have done almost a rectangular partner. When we get back to Sydney that will be completed.

Saturday 9th March

Today was a catch up with friends Kirsten and Andrew who live up the Hunter Valley in a town called Singleton. We knew them from our Muswellbrook days and Fraser worked with Andrew at Mount Arthur Coal. Kirsten worked for a veterinary practice as a vet and we always use to comment that more often than not she found the owners the most difficult to deal with. We all felt that the Vet Schools needed to include human psychology courses in vet training. It was never the animals that caused her grief.

They settled into Singleton about 12 years ago and now have two children Lucy and Mitchell who are keen on horses. Kirsten is also keen and each of them had a horse though Andrew can’t get his head around them. We assured Andrew that at least he did have to worry about the vet bills!

The valley is so very dry and has had no significant rain for two years but during our time up at their property is bucketed down for a couple of hours. We were pleased our visit could bring them so much joy. We coerced the kids into convincing mum and dad that they needed to bring them to Canada so that we could show them around. If we keep doing this we will become fully employed tourist guides for all our Aussie friends.

We have also been extolling the virtues of our house and dog sisters Joannie and Simon back in Calgary and at this rate we will be able to get them around Australia house sitting and house painting for a year.

We spent the evening relaxing with Pete and Carol and having a look at their photos from their recent Tasmanian trip. Alas, that is the one state we have not visited on this trip but will be making the effort to head down there again at some time in the future.

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