We all wanted to visit Australia. The girls had a desire to see the animals, I had a desire to see the country and Dave had a desire to show us a little of the place that he had experienced during his first world trip. We were also excited to reconnect with old friends on this leg of our journey.
The rugby community is a close one. Often traveling players will connect with a local club to play a season, as Dave did when he travelled, and as many do when they visit Canada. Each season new players join Dave’s club at home and as a result, we are fortunate to have met people from all over the world.
One such couple, Tim and Sarah Barrett, arrived in Calgary in 2000 from Australia. Their first night in Calgary, they slept on Dave’s apartment floor. Although their time in Calgary was meant to be shorter, Tim connected with The Canuck’s rugby club and they ended up staying in Calgary for a couple of years. We had great times - camping, going out to dinner, hanging out after games, but with time, distance and raising families, we became out of touch.
Lucky for us though, our friends, Duke and Nat, were still in touch with them and mentioned we would be visiting Australia. Tim contacted us and generously invited us to visit them at their 12 acres in the beautiful Barossa Valley in South Australia.
What a gift this time was, for so many reasons! We were so excited to reconnect with these two and would have been happy hanging out with them at their place for a few days. However, Tim and Sarah insisted we come for longer and planned a variety of different things to do that gave us and the girls a variety of experiences we would not otherwise have had on this trip.
After flying into Adelaide, we began our time with the Barrett’s at a lovely beach house in Carrickalinga. On the south Australian shore, we enjoyed looking for kangaroos, playing in the surf and watching the shark patrol plane go by (although Meghan was secretly hoping it would begin to circle indicating the presence of sharks). We also went camping over the Easter weekend to the Murray River where the kids got to enjoy paddle boarding, swimming and bush walks.
Tim and Sarah have 3 girls, Jemima, Tilly and Georgia, all who are in similar age and have similar interests to our girls. It was great for everyone to have new friends and playmates for the week! They all got on like a house on fire throughout the week and were happy to be off with the girls making forts in the fields surrounding the Barrett’s house, walking the dog and creating shows for the parents. They were also happy to be free of Mom and Dad for a bit.
The cultural exchanges between the kids were plentiful during the week. It was fascinating to listen to the kids’ conversations as they asked about each other’s countries. Topics were varied with everything from music, animals, currency, weather, school and traditions covered and compared. Meghan and I had the opportunity to cheer Jemima in her final netball game of the season as well. It was a great chance for Meghan to watch a sport that most likely, if she was growing up in Australia, she would play. In addition, we all learned that the Easter Bunny has help hiding the eggs from the Easter Bilby and they are very tricky hiding eggs in trees while camping.
Our kids thrived while we were there. Being on an acreage, the girls also had the unique experiences of riding a motorbike and Maroo, the horse, helping to take care of the bunnies and dog and looking for red backed spiders. So many new skills and understandings came. Most importantly though, new friendships that we know will continue despite the distance. We understand that Avery and Tilly have made travel plans of their own. 😊
Not to worry though, the kids didn’t have all the fun. Us adults got in on the action as well. In addition to many late nights chatting and catching up, we also had a lovely kid free evening out for dinner with many of Tim and Sarah’s friends. It was a night of good company, good food and good wine.
You see, the Barossa Valley is home to wine country and we were there during vintage (harvest). Many living within this region make their living in the wine industry. Many of Tim and Sarah’s friends welcomed us into their cellar doors and one friend, Richard, an award winning wine maker for Elderton Estates, gave Dave and I a behind the scenes tour of the winery - an incredibly generous thing to do at such a busy time of year for him. Not only did we learn about the process and science of wine making but we also got to taste a variety of great wines in various states of the process. Such a unique experience!
Needless to say, we had a fantastic week with the Barrett’s. To pick up right where we left off so many years ago is a great reminder of what true friendship is. Tim and Sarah, you were incredible hosts. We had such a great time reconnecting, getting to know your children and seeing your part of the world. We can’t wait for you to come and visit us! We’re already thinking about what great things we can show you and your girls when you come to visit us in a few years
We're the Danchuks - follow our explorations and family adventures in a wide world (2018).