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Archive for the ‘week 7 on the island’ Category

Today Aiden’s cast came off – yay! Initially, we were told it would be on for 3 weeks, but a different doctor has kept it on for around 5 weeks. We actually ordered some things from an online store to surprise him when the cast came off. We thought conservatively that it would arrive 2 weeks ago. This is before we learned that if you don’t send parcels express post they come by ship and since we’ve been here the first we saw arrive was a few days ago. So that’s one ship every 2 months. Very sadly, a worker was killed yesterday during the unloading. This means all unloading has been halted and our parcels are sitting on the ship. Looks like this and a number of others sent by family will be redirected back to the mainland. They’ll be well travelled!

Back to the casting off, so to speak.. the doctor tried to avoid Aiden screaming by trying to cut the cast off with scissors but it seems fibreglass is too tough so in the end she used the saw.  Aiden sat perfectly still. What a brave boy! And he quite liked wearing the ear protection. He was a conveyor belt worker! His leg has been a bit tender today but the doctor said in a couple of days he should be fine. 8 hours of flying should help him rest.

Well this is our final blog from Christmas Island. Assuming there is clear weather and no electronic problems with the plane (as was the case with two flights last week) we’ll be off tomorrow afternoon. It’s been a unique experience here and we are sad to leave the great people we’ve met and the great natural adventures that the island offers. It was fitting that we sat having dinner with friends tonight with a glorious sunset over the ocean in the background. The sun has set on the Christmas Island chapter of our blog. Thank you for reading and following along with us. Our blog will continue but it won’t be daily. Life in Melbourne will be exciting in different ways but it will not hold the novelty factor of Christmas Island.

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Just a quick entry as we are all tired after a big day. Rob got invited out fishing with two other guys this morning. They left at 5:30am and went out on the water. They had a fantastic morning, it was great to see the island from the water. Rob almost caught his first big fish, a big Wahoo, but just as he was reeling it in, a shark came and took the fish! Rob thought the story might have been about the one that got away, but later Rob did catch his fish. It took a lot of effort and and Rob nearly didn’t get his fish as another shark came for it, but  Rob successfully landed a 9.2Kg Wahoo!!!

It was a truly amazing morning as Rob got to see dolphins, sharks, tropical fish, manta rays, and a big Wahoo to take home to eat!!

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Australia day

This morning Di painted faces at the Australia Day BBQ  while Rob and Aiden ate sausage sandwiches  and Aoife played with balloons. Then Rob went off as usual to the detention centre to run a Bible study with the guys, but not as usual he was invited back to one of their rooms for a special breakfast of noodles and fruit. Rob had a rare insight into their living conditions. Until today he’d seen the meeting rooms but not their living quarters. This guy shared his room with one other. Rob wasn’t actually allowed in their bedroom but had to stay in a common eating area. It sounds homely with a dining table, microwave and fridge, but everywhere is concrete and steel. Not quite a prison but not quite cosy. The complex even has tennis courts (with metal ‘net’), gym, indoor basketball court and internet facilities. Again, it’s good but people still get depressed in there. Rob heard that the new Australian of the Year criticised (and has now apologised to) Kevin Rudd for having detention centres because of the impact on mental health so he asked one of the guys today. This guy said one or two months and people are happy but after that they start getting down. It’s boring and you don’t know when you’re going to get out.

Meanwhile, Di had been dropped off at our place only to realise Rob had not left her any keys to get in. ‘That’s OK’ she thought, ‘we’ll just go to a nearby park that the kids love. Rob will be back at 11’. This was at 9.30. 11 came and so did the rain. Di and the kids waited under the shelter at our place for another half hour for Daddy to show up. The breakfast with the guys delayed him. Rob wanted to run a poll to ask you if he should have passed up the opportunity to see more of the detention centre in order to feed and shelter his family but Di’s writing this so we won’t. All’s forgiven now.

This evening we got to rub shoulders with the white collar workers of the island – actually it would be more accurate to say the white board short workers. Not sure where all the Chinese and Malays were, let alone the collars (except Rob and the Administrator). It was the Australia Day party held by the island’s administrator (kind of like a mayor). We had a lovely time thanks to some lovely babysitters. The singing of the national anthem was funny. Not many were all that keen to sing in the first place, but then it became obvious that some didn’t know the words. One guy near us sang, ‘in history’s page, let every stage’ then mumbled ‘and territory’. I think he thought the words were ‘let every state advance australia fair’ and the territories had been snubbed.

Funny place Christmas Island. Full of quirks and surprises.

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Apparently there are no poisonous creatures on Christmas Island but the spiders we saw today certainly looked threatening. We managed to get babysitting for the kids so we could go to West White beach, which is over the other side of the island from us, near the detention centre. Rob’s seen the sign twice a week when he’s out visiting the refugees and has been keen to go. We’re glad we didn’t take the kids because apart from scrambling over rocks and climbing down a 15m cliff, we saw maybe 50 big spiders on the 1.6km path. The first we saw was a bit of a novelty  but when we realised nearly every web had a spider like this in it we became a bit jumpy. Every leaf that brushed Rob’s arm and Di’s hair brushing her neck suddenly became alarming. An hour of stick swiping to try to remove the webs from our path and we made it to the beach, only to be drenched by rain.  So we were glad we’d brought our towels, although we’d hoped it would be to dry us from swimming, not from the rain. It was particularly disappointing because on a good day it would be a beautiful, secluded tropical beach.

The return journey was much quicker. We had squelching shoes and clothes sticking to our bodies, not to mention a babysitter’s deadline, so we just wanted to get home. The spiders didn’t seem half as dangerous and even the slightly fiesty robber crabs waiting for us at the top of the cliff climb just seemed minor obstacles as we powered on to the carpark.  

It might not have turned out the way we’d hoped but it was an adventure nonetheless.

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Last Sunday

Today we had our last Sunday at church here. We’re sad to be leaving when we’ve only just started to get to know the people here, but that’s what happens when the term is only 2 months! Before we came we thought, “even if it’s a disaster it’s only 2 months”, but it’s actually been a fantastic experience. If we are to leave one legacy we hope it will be morning tea. When we arrived, we were struck by the precision and speed of the pack up once the service was over. The church meets in a community hall so need to pack all their stuff into a cupboard. That first week, the last handful of people were standing around saying their goodbyes 15 minutes after the service finished. But we introduced morning tea about 4 weeks ago (radical, we know!) and this week there were many lingering half an hour after it finished.  One lady who is just a gem behind the scenes even brought things to share so hopefully she’ll keep doing that and others will catch on too. Otherwise it makes it hard to build community, especially when there are natural divides due to language and culture.

One highlight from today was hearing from one of the refugees who was locked in jail as a political prisoner for 2 1/2 years. Someone gave him a Bible and he read the whole thing – he had a lot of time on his hands! He said no-one helped him in jail but Jesus, whom he’d met through reading the Bible, helped him and gave him peace. Today, he stood before us and told his story, made all the more inspiring when we know how it is that he is on Christmas Island. We know he cannot go back to his home country because he’ll be killed and we know he risked his life on the boat to get here. By God’s grace he now has a visa to enter Australia. He’ll be in Perth on Wednesday.

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This is a post we’ve been meaning to make for a while. We live right next to the railway line!! Well, the railway lines have long gone, but where we’re staying, Drumsite, used to be a major railway area on the island. There used to be railways criss-crossing the island. They were used for phosphate mining.

However the railways were decommissioned after the mine built the conveyor belt which now carries the phosphate. Before this the phosphate was carried by rail. There used to be a very steep incline railway which took the phosphate down the hill. It is now possible to walk along the tracks of the old incline railway – we did that last Saturday morning. It is very steep (especially when you’re pushing a pram), but a great walk.

Though the railways have long gone, there are still reminders of the railway past of the island. Near our house some old rolling stock stands rusting away.

Down at South Point there are some old railway ruins – including this old railway station which used to take phosphate miners’ children to school!

The Christmas Island history of railways is a very interesting one and it’s hard to believe there were once so many railways where now there are none.

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cute photos

Photos we took at the beach today..

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