Country Club ‘visits’ Australia

Wilma Sletmoen

The Community Country Club, sponsored by the Emo-La Vallee-Chapple Healthy Communities Coalition, “visited” Australia on their 15th stop, which was held last Wednesday (Nov. 24) in the common room at the Golden Age Manor.
Speakers Dorothy and Bill Sylvester took the 31 people in attendance on a fascinating and fun adventure to the land “Down Under” as they shared pictures and highlights of two trips there.
They focused particularly on Western Australia and the city of Perth, where Dorothy’s brother resides.
Their photos revealed a beautiful, clean city situated on a coastline with miles of sand beaches and stunning rock formations.
There are picnic and camping facilities all along the coast, all free of charge. Even Christmas is celebrated at the beach since it occurs during the heat of summer in Australia.
Dorothy described the tradition in Perth of an ecumenical Christmas church service on the beach, followed by picnics and barbecues.
She also explained that any time someone visits someone else’s home, they never arrive empty-handed; they “bring a plate” of baking or other food.
In the city itself, traffic congestion is controlled by a system of colour-coded buses that greatly reduce the need for cars. Companies have flexible hours for workers to reduce the concentration of people in the city centre at one time.
Graffiti is controlled by allowing graffiti artists to register to do their painting in specific spots. After a certain length of time, they must remove their work and other artists have the opportunity to use the spot.
Buskers also register with the city and take turns performing. The Sylvesters described listening to many talented artists who would set up, busk for an hour, and then be replaced by another performer.
School children wear uniforms, and all outdoor activities for children are scheduled to end before 3:30 p.m. because it is dark by 6 p.m.
Dorothy described the Australian people as extremely laid back, but they take their democratic rights and responsibilities seriously—anyone who does not cast a vote in an election is fined by the government!
Adequate water supply is a constant problem in Australia, with water being piped many hundreds of miles to supply some communities, so water conservation is extremely important.
Of course, no “trip” to Australia would be complete without a look at its unique plants and wildlife. The Sylvesters had pictures of kangaroos and koala bears, a species of pine tree that is unique to Australia, and gum trees that do not shed their leaves but do shed their bark every year.
They also spoke about the “Outback”–the interior of Australia where sheep ranches can be 10,000 acres in size because the arid land only can support one sheep per 100 acres.
As well, the population is so sparse that schools may have only five or six students in all grades.
The quality of education for these children is maintained by requiring teachers to leave the cities and spend time in the rural areas in order to advance in their careers.
Following this very informative and enjoyable presentation, the Healthy Communities Coalition served a lunch of tea sandwiches and dainties, which typically would be served for “high tea” in Australia, around 4 p.m.
Club members enjoyed a time of socializing and viewing some of the items the Sylvesters had on display, including a sheep skin and kangaroo tail.
Everyone is reminded that the next Country Club will take place in February with a “visit” to Denmark.
Notices with the exact date will be posted around the three communities.