Charming The Stingrays near Margaret River

Here are a few more points of interest close to Margaret River…

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Hamelin Bay

The Beach at Hamelin Bay – only 25 minutes away from Margaret River – is a must see. Yes, the beaches are fantastic, but the real reason to come here is the huge stingrays that come right close to the shore. These beautiful creatures come right up to you when you paddle in the shallows even allowing you to touch them. Needless to say Dani loved it.

Fantastic beaches at Hamelin Bay, but these are not the big attraction

I think it’s fair to say that Dani is becoming a little blasé about a lot of things. The amount of truly amazing things he has seen and done since we came to Australia is mind boggling for me. So it is hard to gauge how he really feels about it all. When I was his age the best we had was a week’s holiday to the coast in a caravan or holiday camp, usually within an hour or two drive from home. That’s not to say we never enjoyed it. We did. A lot! You make the most of what you have. I always agreed with that old saying. But to me, when I was Dani’s age? Wow! The thought of doing and seeing what he has this past three years would have blown my mind.

Dani the Stingray Whisperer

River Mouth and Surf Beaches

Margaret River meets the Indian Ocean – well, almost

More or less directly west of Margaret River town the river itself meets the sea. Yet it didn’t quite make it into the Indian Ocean when we were there. It was the middle of summer however. When it rains I am sure the river will flow right into the sea. Maybe at high tide the two would meet in summer too? We never got to see either.

Margaret River. That’s the river not the town. As it meets the sea

Just down the road is Surfers Point; a go to site for surfers, windsurfer and kite surfers.

Surfers Point.

Gnarabup Beach off Surfers Point

Why do they do this?

This is a lookout near one of the beaches in this area. Incredibly they build and maintain these things but fail to keep the “view” clear. In this case the beach is not visible because the trees have grown to big – as they tend to do if left uncut. This happens a lot in Australia. So much money is spent on making (in some cases) elaborate walkways to reach a well built lookouts, only to leave the plants grow wild. There is no lookout! Unless you consider looking into a tree as a lookout. What’s the point? Cut the vegetation!!

Waste of taxpayer’s money.

Teach Your Children (Well)

My iPod is now a fixed feature in the car. Just as well as there are plenty of good songs on it (as well as a few dubious ones) and it helps to keep Dani occupied on longer journeys. In other words it prevents him from feeling car sick if he can listen to his own song selections.

The other day I was driving in the car with Dani and he selected a few songs off the iPod. Totally on his own and listened to them in full. All three were long songs by the way as you are about to find out. These are the three tracks he chose:

Dogs (from the album Animals by Pink Floyd)
21st Century Schizoid Man (from the album In The Court of The Crimson King)
In The Court of The Crimson King (title track from the same album by King Crimson)

Dogs is a personal favourite of mine. Probably the best track on possibly Floyd’s best album. The other two are classics sung by Greg Lake (on his one and only King Crimson album appearance). I had the pleasure of seeing his (own) band perform them both live many years ago. I couldn’t have picked a better trio myself. I sat there enjoying the tracks as much as he did thinking proudly to myself ‘my work here is all but done’. But of course it never is. Is it?

We are all under constant bombardment from the (almost) total shit that is the majority of modern music. Often surrounded by it and feeling helpless at times. The struggle continues my friends. Who knows what garbage will be churned out at the next America’s Got Talent TV contest? Or for that matter any country’s version of “The Voice”. It hardly bears thinking about does it? It remains a tough  struggle against the relentless onslaught. Production lines of crap “music” courtesy of the TV companies.

Yes, it sometimes feels like a lost cause. Like the 300 Spartans trying to hold off the might of the Persian army at Thermopylae. But we brush ourselves down and soldier on. And this recent victory, however small, gives me great hope for the future of our youth. Ah, those delicate sounds of music from bands with similar colours in their names (Pink and Crimson in case you’ve forgotten – please keep up)… True classics.

I can stand tall knowing that the lad has been taught well…

Oh, and the title of this post? That is of course a Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young song from their classic album Déjà Vu.

I have yet to get Dani to listen to that one. But it will come…

Onwards to Margaret River

We left Albany and headed for our final base before returning to the Perth area. A few nights in Margaret River, a town on the river of the same name, in a great central location for all sorts of places of interest.

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Margaret River. That’s the river, not the town. As it meets the sea

Albany to Margaret River

The drive from Albany to Margaret River was relatively straight forward – apart from my right knee being incredibly painful. Driving an automatic car when you left leg is injured is quite easy. You simply don’t have to use it. It’s different with your right leg however. I needed to lift the leg from one foot pedal to another in order to brake and then accelerate. It was painful but we had a good run with reduced need for stop-start driving. It was still the best part of a 4 hour drive.

Margaret River is definitely one of those places that has come a long way in recent times. The town centre although still very small is mostly new looking. The area is famous for its wines but there are also some amazing coastal areas within easy reach. I guess this is a great base for so many things to see and do within just over an hour of driving.

Dani overlooking Margaret River (river) near the town centre

It is not a very picturesque town but the location of Margaret River is fantastic.


The town is named after the river, which is presumed to be named after Margaret Whicher, cousin of John Garrett Bussell (founder of Busselton – watch out for a future post for this place) in 1831. The name is first shown on a map of the region as recently as 1839. The first settlers arrived around 1850 and timber logging soon followed around 1870. By 1910, the town had a hotel which also operated as a post office. In earlier days the area was widely known for hardwood timber and agricultural produce. You can still see examples of just about any food produce in the region.

These days the area is best known for its wine production, surfing and tourism; attracting (so they claim) an estimated 500,000 visitors a year. The coast to the west of the town is famous the world over for its surfing locations.

There is nothing of great interest in the town of Margaret River itself, but it is definitely a pleasant place to stay with enough places to eat and drink. And it’s a great base for the many vineyards and awesome beaches in this part of WA.

The Big Climb.

No. Not another one of “The Bigs of Australia”. This one refers to what for me was more of an ordeal than a touristy visit. We visited the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse. One of the few I have ever seen that allows you to enter and climb the spiral staircase to the top. The Lighthouse precinct is heritage listed. The climb to the viewing deck consists of 176 steps. It was not easy with my injured knee – tougher coming down actually – but I had to do it. It is not often you get the chance to go to the top of one of these old lighthouses. Daniel meanwhile practically ran up.

Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse

Cape Leeuwin lighthouse is directly south (about 53km) from Margaret River and occupies the corner of a peninsula at the southwestern most point of the continent. This spot marks the dividing line between two huge bodies of water – The Indian and the Antarctic oceans. To the right the Indian Ocean and the Southern Ocean (as they refer to it here) lies to the left.

Two oceans collide. Not that you can tell the difference.

Here the headland that the lighthouse is built on draws a distinct line between the two great oceans (see below). To the right is the Antarctic Ocean. To the left the Indian Ocean

To the right of the headland the Antarctic. To the left, the Indian ocean.

Before we left we took a peek inside the lighthouse museum where there was a scaled down version of the lighthouse as well as a LEGO model.

Wine and Craft Beer

Wine has long been a big attraction in the Margaret River region with plenty of wines on offer. More recently craft beer breweries have popped up all over the area. We visited one or three…

So many breweries and vineyards. So little time…

Pioneer Cemetery at Augusta

Yes folks. Another! This time it’s in the small town of Augusta near the Cape Leeuwin lighthouse. We stopped in Augusta for lunch and passed this place so I felt obliged to take a look…

I suppose I do have some morbid fascination for these type of places but mostly I  just like to pay homage to the brave – and often dirt poor – people who built these areas that we so freely enjoy nowadays. Anyway, anyone interested can study these information plaques. It’s all part of the history of Western Australia..

Albany Old Gaol

Albany Old Gaol

Ah… It seems ages since we last visited a place of  justice, punishment and rehabilitation – even torture for some poor souls. So, here we are to put that right, with a visit to Albany Gaol.

This gaol is close to the old harbour front in an area containing several old heritage buildings and places of interest. Also a great steak restaurant by the way…

The gaol was built in 1852 for imperial convicts transported to Albany as skilled labourers. This is a common theme eh? The number of skilled convicts was surprisingly high all over Australia. It must have been very risky being a carpenter or stone-mason back in old England in those days. One little misdemeanour when out for a drink and BAM!! You suddenly find yourself being shipped off to the other side of the world where your skills got exploited to build a colony. I still think it was a clever idea by the authorities though. Many convicts worked on building the town jetty, manning the pilot boat and building the road to Perth.

The gaol was extended in 1873 and became a public prison including housing Aboriginal prisoners. The gaol was last used in the 1930s as a police lock-up and was put up for sale in 1941 as it was declared unfit for habitation. It remained derelict for years but was restored between 1989 and 1996 to become the museum we see today.

Warning: Readers may find some of the following photos disturbing…

The old cells seemed narrower than others we had seen
Gaol wash room

The site of a hanging at the gaol in 1872

New Prison

Nowadays Albany has a modern prison which opened in 1966. It is set just off the road leading to the coastal beauty spots of Sandpatch beach and Albany wind farm. A dramatic stretch of coastline with very picturesque views of the ocean.

It is said that inmates in the new Albany prison can hear the ocean but never get to see it. Food for thought for those serving time…and even more so for those willing to commit a crime.

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Around Albany

Historic Whaling Station

The last whaling ship in Albany.

This whaling ship and station were still in use as recently as 1978. Whaling was – as we already knew – once an important industry in Australia. When the whaling station closed here it marked the end of the last shore based whaling station in Australia.

For Albany it was the end of 178 years of whaling. This museum crams in all that history and allows you to explore the ship as well as the oil storage tanks and out buildings containing tools used to process the whales as well as many skeletons…


Misery Beach

Aptly named for me. After exploring the whaling station we went to nearby Misery Beach where I thought my left knee was recovered enough to play beach tag with my son. Too much twisting of course was always going to lead to another injury. I should have known better. As it turned out that injury was to the right knee. Probably equally damaged over the years and weakened – having taken most of the weight the past couple of weeks – yes; it went! Exact same pain as I had had in the left kneecap. Bloody Hell! This was not a lucky start to the new year eh? I spent the next few weeks recovering from that knee injury.

Dani at Misery Beach

Frenchman Bay from the beach

That said, Misery Beach is a great spot to relax if you ever get the chance. Great views across the Frenchman Bay. Even in the overcast weather we had that particular day.

Albany town viewed from Misery Beach

Seal Island in Frenchman Bay
Opposite side of Frenchman Bay

Valley of the Giants

About 108km west of Albany, past the quaint (and crowded) town of Denmark, lies the Valley of the Giants. An old forest of tall trees many of which are several hundreds of years old. This is where they had one of those trees so big that you could drive your car through the trunk. Sadly that tree is no longer standing but there is a mock up of how it was and the car that was famously photographed driving through the trunk. Not as famous as that one in North America but similar theme…

Would have been great to see the real thing…

There are still several trees that are large enough to walk through and even a treetop walkway that I decided to sit out due to my injured knee.

There are still plenty of massive examples

Also this forest is home to a type of quokka. I had thought that they were only to be found on a couple of islands, mostly famously on Rottnest Island off the coast of Fremantle of course – click here for that trip. We never saw one but we were assured that they do live here…

Torndirrup National Park

Torndirrup National Park covers most of the south side of Frenchman Bay peninsula. This area is convenient for half or full day trips out of Albany.

The park is home to many photogenic spots. Among others are the “Natural Bridge” and “The Gap” rock formations as well as dramatic clifftop lookouts. There are several beaches (including Misery beach) and Cave Point lighthouse

“Natural Bridge”
“The Gap” (a collapsed former natural bridge)
Dani overhanging The Gap

The scenery was so inspiring that Dani decided he wanted to take some photos using the zoom lens.

Dani trying his hand with the zoom lens
Cave Pont Lighthouse (taken by Dani)

Dani and his dad, close to the edge.

Three Years On – A Corona/Covid Lookback

I know what I have said in the past about mentioning the “C” word. But I realised the other day that the 3rd anniversary is upon us. (Or just passed us by, depending on when I actually post this one.) That is to say it was three years ago that Australia went in to official “lockdown” because of the coronavirus (aka Covid) “pandemic”. .

(“Anniversary”. Hmm…if that is even the right word? Is there anything to celebrate?)

That was the first lockdown, which was more of a mock-down to be fair. There really was not much evidence of covid – then known affectionately as coronavirus. The first lockdown was hardly noticeable in Australia. Many shops remained open but eventually (a little later if I recall) pubs, restaurants and gyms closed. Again no massive panic. But it did kick in a bit when they forced the schools to close. Even that did not last long though and pretty soon places reopened. It was not until the real lockdowns of 2021 that Australia had to endure the kind of crap that Europe and America had to put up with since March  2020. That was a real lockdown and was clearly aimed at coercing people into taking the vaccines. Which worked really well here in Australia. Th part about people taking them. No about how well that actually worked. No. By their own regular figures -whether you believe them or not – NSW Health data clearly shows many times more are dying of covid now than before people started taking vaccines. Before the 2nd lockdown in fact.

I also looked back on some of my posts around that time. We hadn’t been in Australia much more than a month. Although the endless media bombardment of what was to come began pretty much when we arrived.

Here are some links to posts abut this subject. I suggest you go back and read them. I was pretty much spot on the money back then – despite it being a very uncertain time. And I remain adamant: I was right then and I am right now. Just click on the links below to read those posts…

An Old Dad’s Take on this Coronavirus

Coronavirus Update from Oz

Adiós Coronavirus

Poem – At the End of the Day, It’s Just the Flu

Coronavirus Fun – Well, Why Not?

Go on then. Here’s a “C” Word Update from Australia

A Few Moments of Clarity

And a few from exactly (OK, almost) three years ago…. end of March 2020:

Coronavirus – The Curious Case of Australia

It’s Lock-down Time in Oz Folks!

Scaring the People into Lock-down

There are other updates, later, like April 2020 and so on. Just type covid” or “coronavirus” in the search bar if you are interested.

Of course for anyone paying attention the house of cards is falling down these days. So many real facts are emerging that you would like to think some people will be held to account. Please don’t hold you breath on that one.

If you want to know how I rumbled the scam, more or less right at the start, I can tell you. It was so simple. It was when it became obvious that there was no political opposition to the governments plans. None! ZERO! Absolutely f*ck all!

You see, when there is nobody in government asking pertinent questions or challenging the narrative; when all the main parties completely agree; then you have no real democracy. (The mainstream media were of course complicit too let’s never forget that.) In fact the main opposition parties around the (so called) western world were all screaming for even harsher and more strict lockdowns. Yes, there were the odd dissenting voices in various parliaments up and down the globe but I am talking mainly about the two main parties working together and singing from the same hymn sheet. And not in a war time, state of emergency situation. One where an enemy is bombarding your shores forcing their way in. The covid situation was always, always, far from being that clear cut.



In one of my posts (I think a little later than March 2020) I mentioned a now relatively old documentary that somehow stayed online during the “pandemic”, called The World After Armageddon. Here is one link to it but I am sure there are more if you search:

It remains the gold standard in documentaries on this kind of topic. If you have never seen it I strongly suggest you do. That is what a real pandemic would look like. And it’s a lot worse than pubs closing and no toilet paper on the supermarket shelves. Please remember that when our lovely, honest politicians do this to us again. Because they will….

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Albany – The Oldest Settlement in Western Australia

Staying in Ravensthorpe meant  shorter drive to our next port of call. Albany. The city at the southwestern tip of Western Australia – and therefore of Australia as a whole.

Albany Town Hall

The settlement at Albany was founded on 26 December 1826 as a military outpost of New South Wales. It is the oldest colonial settlement in Western Australia– predating Perth and Fremantle by over two years. Although completely the other side of the continent it was a semi-exclave of New South Wales for over four years until it was made part of the Swan River Colony.

Albany Court House

It was founded basically to keep the French out of this remote part of the continent. It is easy to look at things nowadays only through a modern day lens. But back in the early 1800s many parts of the world were still being carved up by European powers. If that military base had not been set up Western Australia could have become a French colony. Thankfully that never happened eh (LOL)…

By the last decade of the 19th century, the town was a gateway to the Eastern Goldfields. For years, it was the colony’s only deep-water port, and so was important stop off point for shipping services between Britain and the eastern Australian colonies. When Fremantle Harbour opened in 1897 Albany’s importance as a port dropped. After that the town turned to other industries such as agriculture, timber and interestingly, whaling. However, the port is now a stop off for large cruise ships.

From top left: Premier Hotel, Post Office and Albany Hotel
London Hotel, York Street view and St. Johns Church

Silo Art

Another one from the WA Public Silo Art trail. The ruby sea dragon (Phyllopteryx dewysea) is painted on the massive silos (35m high x 50m wide) at the Albany grain terminal. This one was painted by artists who go by the names of The Yok & Sheryo.

There’s a great video showing how it was painted with before and after shots; simply visit

The mural art theme is continued in the city centre, a variety of murals by local and international artists. here are some examples…

Chainsaw Sculptures

Just outside of town the art theme continues at Chainsaw Sculpture Drive. This is just a sample there were many more…

Views Across Albany

Just inland from the port/cruise ship area, and a fair old drive uphill, the ANZAC memorials on Mount Clarence commemorate the time when in 1914 the first ANZAC troops departed from King George Sound. The lookouts from Mt. Clarence offer some of the best views across Albany.

Looking out on Shoal Bay, and (inset) Dani at an ANZAC memorial
Views over Albany

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By the time I get around to posting everything about our summer holidays we will be getting ready for the Easter break. Don’t these school terms fly by? I must try to do these things as we go… Easier said than done of course. But stay tuned anyway.

Trips out of Ravensthorpe – Hopetoun and Fitzgerald River National Park

Hopetoun – pronounced Hopetown (I think) – and is named after a place of the same name in Scotland. It is just under 50 km (half hour drive) to the coast from Ravensthorpe. It is a small seaside town originally built to service the mining industry of the area with a port and lies right next to the Fitzgerald River National Park.

Driving around Australia you quickly get used to the yellow kangaroo signs at the side of the roads. Then there are the (less common) wombat and even koala signs. Around this part of Australia there were a few new ones (for us). These on the road down to Hopetoun…

Watch out for camels…
…and low flying white tailed black cockatoos!
We never saw the cockatoos but we did see some camels…

Hopetoun was established in 1900 as the port servicing the Phillips River goldfield and was gazetted on 9 February 1901. The port jetty was a terminus of a railway line between Hopetoun and Ravensthorpe that operated from 1909 to 1935. The port closed in 1937 and the jetty was destroyed in 1983. More recently it has been a site of accommodation for the nickel mine, east of the town of Ravensthorpe (the mine has closed and reopened several times).

What remains is a quiet and attractive seaside village which attracts holiday makers to the nearby beaches and Fitzgerald River National Park.

Port Hotel and beaches at Hopetoun
Old raiwlay station and other buildings in Hopetoun

This is definitely an area and stretch of coast where I would like to spend more time. The national park close to Hopetoun is spectacular…

Fitzgerald River National Park

Yet another national park that we have visited. This one is known for its rugged and spectacular scenery.  The Fitzgerald River National Park is one of the larger national parks in Western Australia with some 330,000 hectares of natural wonderland and a magnificent stretch of coast.

As always on the coast of this vast country the beaches are spectacular and practically deserted. A few of the beaches we strolled along we had to ourselves. Remember this was during school summer holidays and in an area where all accommodation was full !!

Beaches in the Fitzgerald River National Park

Like many places in Australia this national park has some fantastic beaches. I wonder which stretch of coastline is ranked the highest in this vast country? I must look it up… It’s exactly the type of thing someone will have written about online.

As usual, we barely scratched the surface of this vast unspoiled wilderness. To really see this park properly would require a week at least spent either camping in the park or staying in and around Hopetoun. Easier said than done during school holidays of course…

Marcel The Shell With Shoes On – Film Review

OK. You probably haven’t heard of this movie. Neither had I, until I happened across it by accident. Some tweet about it being nominated for an Oscar… Anyway it was nominated in the Animated Film class although at least as much of the action involves humans. It didn’t win the Oscar but at least more people will now know about it.

Marcel the Shell with Shoes On

It’s the story of Marcel, a shell dwelling creature that lives in a large AirBnB house with his nana Connie. The exact species of animal is unknown and never divulged in the film. But not only can they talk, they can also even read. They even have a favourite TV show; 60Minutes with host Lesley Stahl.


Marcel seems to be living a happy life in the confines of this house when a documentary film-maker (Dean) moves in. Dean befriends Marcel and learns that there was once a thriving community of these shell living creatures. Previous tenants in the house had regular arguments and during one such argument one of them stormed off with a pile of clothes that the rest of Marcel’s family was in the middle of.

Fascinated by Marcel’s incredible story – and doubtless, that he had discovered a talking mollusk – Dean decides to make a short film about Marcel which he then posts online. Marcel’s popularity suddenly sky rockets as millions of fans latch on to the youtube video.

That level of popularity does not bring with it much in the way of help and despite having so many fans none of them seem interested in helping Marcel locate his lost family.

One day while out in the car with Dean (hunting for the car that took his family away) Marcel gets car sickness and also comes to realise the size of the task. The outside world is a very big place. On returning he find his nana has fallen off the washing machine and cracked her shell so Marcel concentrates his energy on helping her recover.

Kinda Spoiler Alert Warning…

Lesley Stahl contacts Dean and Marcel offering to make a show about Marcel’s life and missing family. Marcel does n’t want to but his nana talks him into it. During the making of the show Marcel’s nana passes away. But the news about his family is out to the wider public, and… Well; I am sure you can guess what happens… Right?


This one definitely went under the radar when it was made and first appeared in 2021 yet was not widely released until July 2022. But it may have a major resurgence now it has been nominated for an Oscar. This is a great little film that can be enjoyed by all the family. It’s not going to get in anyone’s top ten all-time list (definitely not mine at least) but it is easy to sit back and just run with it.

This film has been nominated for lots of awards (I had no idea there were so many – but what do I know?) for best animated picture, and actually won a few. It’s sometimes funny and definitely heart-warming. A bit of a feel good movie. The kids will love it. Especially the way Marcel gets around the house and down those tricky stairs…

Marcel’s child-like naivety often points out some of the more ridiculous things that make up modern day life. Most poignantly (for me) when he realises that the huge youtube following is not what it pretends. People turn up to make their Instagram (or whatever) videos to post themselves on line, in their own movies. All the usual ‘been there and bought the T-shirt’ brigade, making it all about themselves with little or no connection to the original cause. Marcel understandably gets disillusioned by what he sees. “This is not a community. It’s an audience”. Yes, indeed. Well said Marcel!

*** I will give this movie 3 stars (out of the usual 5).


Two Up – A Simple Gambling Game

Two-up is a traditional Australian gambling game, involving a designated “spinner” throwing two coins or pennies into the air. Players bet on whether the coins will fall with both heads up, both tails up, or with one coin a head and one a tail (known as “Ewan”). It is traditionally played on Anzac Day in pubs and clubs throughout Australia, in part to mark a shared experience with Diggers through the ages.

The game was known to be popular with convicts as early as 1798. By the 1850s, the game was being played on the goldfields of the eastern colonies, and it spread across the country following subsequent gold rushes.

The game is traditionally played with pennies – their weight, size, and surface design make them ideal for the game. This type of game is obviously not unique to Australia but places like these (see below) may well be.

This place is well signposted…

After World War 1 it was played extensively on ANZAC Day but was illegal on other days. Naturally illegal Two-Up schools sprouted up and still exist. With the onset of other gambling games like cards and (later) poker/slot machines, the game’s popularity dropped. But it still goes on. Sometimes legally sometimes in what looks like an illicit gambling den.

Bush Two Up

Incredible that such places are built for a game of coin tossing eh?

This place looks like it could also house cock fights. Who knows? It may do, although that would definitely be illegal. It is remote – far enough off the main road – and who would go to these places apart from those interested in gambling and the event?

Inside the arena
Dani would not be allowed here if there was a game on. No alcohol and no under 18s.

The organisers even saw fit to build toilets!

Ladies and Gents facilities

This “Bush Two Up” site is mentioned in the Kalgoorlie tourism website (among others). This particular Two-Up venue had a legal event on New Year’s Day. Sadly we had another long drive that day. That was when we headed south to the coastal town of Esperance…

We even saw the Two-Up games on sale in one shop. So of course Dani wanted one. Not exactly authentic copper pennies there but at least the same size as the ones used in the original game. That piece of wood holding the coins is called a “Kip” and the ne whose turn it is to toss the coins is called the “spinner”. Shame really. I was hoping they would be called the “tosser”. Never mind eh?