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Christmas letter from Hubie & Lani v Dalsen

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Greetings from Perth!

It is difficult to believe this is our second Christmas in Australia. It feels like the other day when, on Olivia’s 7th birthday, we left Canada. That was 18 months ago…

The girls had a good year at their school, which is called “Kapinara Primary”. In most aspects it is very similar to Sunalta in Calgary. They have started playing the piano this year and already have quite a repertoire. They also decided to follow in Lani’s footsteps, bracing the Australian sun on the tennis court. Without doubt, the highlight of the girls’ summer activities has to be our swimming pool. They enjoy the ocean but Vanessa is still a bit cautious to go in too deep. Olivia has focussed on little athletics during the summer months and during winter she plays netball. Vanessa is more the bookworm and we have seen the Harry Potter books come and go one after the other.

We were fortunate enough to visit two out of the three salt operations owned by Dampier Salt (Hubie's company). Our trips up north to Lake MacLeod (Carnarvon) and Dampier were both very exciting and educational for the girls. We drove up to Carnarvon (900 km one way) and made a short holiday of it. Apart from visiting the site, Lani and the girls saw whales off the coast, close to the Cape Cuvier, Dampier Salt’s ship loading facility at Lake MacLeod. On the way back we visited Shark Bay, a world heritage area. Beautiful.

In November, we flew to Dampier, the largest of the three Dampier Salt operations. One of the reasons for the trip was to get the kids to appreciate that the whole of Australia does not look like Perth. They got that pretty quickly. During the approach into Karratha airport (near Dampier), Olivia, who was next to the window, remarked: “Dad, but, dad, there is nothing here…” We hired a 4WD to explore the Pilbara a little, as much as one could do in a day, which is not much at all. We had a swim at a place called Python Pool, a natural rock pool in the Chichester National Park, not far from Karratha. We did manage to give the kids an appreciation of the open space and the stark beauty of this part of the world and we had a great time.

There are many similarities between Canada and Australia. Because they are so different in one (obvious) way, one tends to miss the similarities until you experience both, or think about them for a while. Canada has 30m people on 10m square km, Australia has 20m people, on somewhat over 6m sq km – almost the same (very low) population density by global standards. Lots and lots of space, big sky. Both populations are highly concentrated in a few large cities – a quarter of Aussies live in Sydney, about a fifth of Canadians in Toronto. Both are basically still constitutional monarchies. The two countries grapple with many common issues, not the least of which is the treatment of their First Nations or Aboriginal Peoples. So much for demographics – both places are wonderful places to experience. Canadians and Aussies share a great willingness to tackle new things and to get on with the day’s challenges with a smile.

As always, work was not without its challenges. Dampier Salt bought a third solar salt operation at Port Hedland, which is also in the Pilbara (North West Australia) in late 2001. This operation had to be integrated with the rest of the business. Hubie travelled a fair bit, several times to Japan, Taiwan and Korea, but also two trips to the USA, one to Europe and another to Mexico. They also had to deal with some issues resulting from changing Industrial Relations legislation in Western Australia. In the end though it was a very good year for Dampier Salt.

Shortly before Christmas, we hope to be leaving for South Africa to catch up with Lani’s side of the family. (Hubie calls it the ‘pilgrimage’.) We have not been there for two years. We hope to spend the time meeting some new additions to the family and catching up with each other's lives. Lani’s younger sister who now lives in London will be there too, as will her other sister who lives in Johannesburg. We look forward to the break.

Speaking of breaks, our plans to visit Canada next July are firming up. This is still a surprise for the girls but the tickets have been bought and we are really looking forward to catching up with all our friends in the Northern hemisphere. So, be warned…

Well, this is a hastily drafted snapshot of what was a challenging, wonderful, busy and blessed year.

May your Christmas season be filled with joy and many happy moments with friends and family. All of the very best to you for next year.


Hubie, Lani, Olivia & Vanessa

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HI Hubie julle,

Goed om weer van julle te hoor.


Danie Alta Botha

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