December 2004

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Still in fresh clothes...

Even more spontaneous. The last Monthly Report closed with our last minute decision to escape to Tasmania during Christmas. When it comes to real spontaneity, Sue and Kevin can still teach us something: Sunday night (19.12) they decide to accompany us on the Overland Track. At 11:00 pm they book their air fares, the Monday is spent purchasing backpacks and other hiking accessories. On Thursday (23.12.) we all fly south full of expectations about our little adventure.

And this in summer... — Snow on Mount Ossa

On the Overland Track. It is amazing with how little you can do when you have to carry everything on your back for one week. Overland Track, that means in our case eight days of bushwalking over a distance of approximately 90km, totalling 5280 meters ascent and 5500 meters descent and per person 20 kg of thoroughly selected gear. If you take into account the tent, sleeping bags, mats, stove, rain gear and warm clothing, there is not much more storage left if the track shall not become a torture. Hence, the muesli rations for brekky are weighed at home and packed into plastic bags with added milk powder – you only have to add fresh water from a creek for your meal –, fresh underware for every day is declared an unnecessary luxury (we humbly admit...), the red wine cask for Christmas is being taken out again just before the start of the walk. But you can do without, and we are "paid back" manifolds by pristine alpine landscapes, undescribable closeness to nature, and four seasons in one single week. Hands up, who of you had a White Christmas in 2004? And this on the 40th latitude south in the Tasmanian mid-summer... More in our photo gallery Overland Track. We also publish a new special story Reportage: Possumgeschichten (German only).

No, not Sofie and Peter: Tourists at the Opera House

Sofie and Peter visiting us. We shall not forget the beginning of the month. In December as well, we had visitors: Claudia had met Sofie in 2001 at a conference in Hong Kong. Now, she and her partner Peter travel Down Under. A few years ago, Peter had been working in Melbourne and Sydney for a couple of months, thus he still knows all the locations and still has many friends all over the place. As a consequence, we hardly get to see our visitors, so full is their calendar. We manage a joint BBQ and a couple of glasses of wine every here and there before the two shoot off again, but we cannot offer a photo with all four of us. However, Sofie and Peter were nice to have in our house, and we will always remember the exchanges of Aussie tips.

Champagne, diluted with rain

Claudia's Birthday. Ever since 2002, Claudia is celebrating her birthday in summer. After her first birthday Down Under literally "fell into the water" (see Monthly Report December 2002), while last year a merciful sun shone on Peter's Surprise Party (see Monthly Report December 2003), this year it was time again for "The Wet": On the 10 December it rains cats and dogs. To the extend that the ladies in Sydney's streets take off their shoes and wade through the waters barefootly. Add to this an accident in the traffic bottleneck Harbour Tunnel and we found ourselves in the middle of a traffic chaos. Consequently, Peter's plan, to meet just there (to be more precise: At the Opera Bar) for a glass of champagne almost failed. But when finally and with one hour of delay, he, Sue and Kevin toast to Claudia, the stress is soon forgotten. Nevertheless, we plan to celebrate next year's birthday in Balmain instead of in the City. If possible with sunshine...

Andrew and Claudia

Birthday Party. Again, our traditional birthday party took place on the boat ramp of the Balmain Sailing Club. Whilst in 2003, the party started out as a surprise party for Claudia, the birthday girl is heavily involved in this year's preparations. Again, we carry tables and chairs for hours on end, boxes of champagne and nibblies, everything goes down the 100 steps of the staircase to the water's edge, before the first guests turn up at 6:00 pm. A merry crowd of people enjoys the mild evening, the golden sunset and the atmosphere on Sydney Harbour as we celebrate until late at night.