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Kangaroo Korner

posted Jun 2, 2014, 10:09 AM by Bowmansville UMC

Welcome to the promise of summer and the second last article in this series.  I hope you've been enjoying and learning from them.  It has been a real pleasure to share so much of my new home with all of you, and certainly the longer I am here, the more I know, understand, and can embrace the adventure...

Before I begin, may I wish a very Happy Father's Day to all the men of our Church, whose living example of steadfast Faith and goodness have influenced the lives of all of our Church's children.

So here we go with Seniors, the Law and Faith in Australia.

Senior life is good here, particularly in my State of Queensland.  I outlined some of the medical benefits in last month's issue, but there are many others, as there certainly are in the US as well.  Each year I am entitled to 4 one-way (or two round trip) rail tickets.  Sel and I were so busy with our Duo this year, for which we are very grateful on the one hand, that we were unable to make use of that perk in 2013.  But we certainly will--eventually! As seniors, we are also entitled to some free bus transportation, and very low cost cab service in limited situations.  We also have access to lower cost theater and movie tickets, as well as admissions to theme parks and other places of interest. The parks systems here are generally free anyway, but discounts or free admittance apply to most every event held in them.  The one that is really outstanding, though, is that we are entitled as Seniors to reduced electric and water rates, and property taxes.  We also get discounts of up to 15% at many retailers just for being old--I'm just not sure if that compensates me enough for all the new aches and pains...

There are numerous Senior Clubs in every area, whose members come from far and wide (some belonging to many different clubs) for a host of activities, including meals, bus trips, shopping excursions, charitable works and entertainment.  There are also an incredible number of Senior Residence properties--everything from very independent living to nominal care to severe care facilities, ranging in appearance from modestly pleasant to downright gorgeous!  It seems like they can't build them quickly enough here!  So many seniors want a simpler lifestyle by the time they are 50, and love the community aspect of these homes and gated communities.  It is quite different from my experiences in the States, although I am aware that these types of communities likely exist more now than before, and certainly will in the future.

Along the lines of 'unique facilities', Australia is home to an amazing number of 'Surf Clubs' and their beachfront restaurants, which offer delicious and very inexpensive meals.  Life saving is a major industry here, and even very young children take classes in safety and rescue, not only for their own protection but as a possible career path.  The young clubs are called "Nippers"--I love it!

And now to the manner of Faith.  While we are officially a Christian nation, organized religion does not appear to me to be an uppermost concern for the majority of people.  The Catholic, Lutheran, and Anglican churches are predominant, as is one called the Uniting church.  This was formed from the ashes of 3 faith practices which did not survive successfully on an independent basis.  Sadly, one of these was the United Methodist church. So I worship at a Lutheran church near my home.  Allied to the limited success of organized religion is the diminishment of what we consider the Sacrament of Marriage.  In this extended part of the world, including New Zealand and parts of Asia and the Pacific, 'Partnerships' are more common, and carry significant legal considerations.  I think this contributes to the kind of 'wildness' or 'untamed' quality often associated with this continent, and the 'rough around the edges' image of its people.

I haven't said much about the Law here, because I am not well acquainted with that topic (thankfully).  But I do observe that legal proceedings and subsequent outcomes seem less influenced by public opinion, legal 'maneuverings' and the media than they sometimes appears to be in the States. Another interesting observation references toll roads and payment of fees:  while we have toll roads, we have no toll booths.  All cars are photographed by mounted cameras at the toll line, and if you don't have a pass code sticker in which you keep a subtractable balance for payments, a sign is posted indicating the number to call within a given, generous amount of time to pay your fee.  Failure to do so results in police action.  All I can say is that, to my way of thinking, we drive on the wrong side of the car, on the wrong side of the road, and we have free left turns at lights instead of free right turns--and lots of bicyclists and newer car owners don't much bother with the rules.  But I am getting to like the roundabouts which so often replace the traffic lights--they really keep the traffic moving, even though they still scare me a little.

My love to you all, and, as always, please remember to pray for the world's children.




"Build a little fence of trust around today, fill the space with loving deeds and therein stay; Look not through the sheltering bars upon tomorrow, God will help thee bear what comes of joy or sorrow."  Mary Frances Butts