Monday 29th November.
Woke at 6am.
The sun has not yet risen above the nearby hills so we are still in shadow and it is a little chilly. However the birds are chirping and the sky looks blue. Maybe, just maybe it will be a nice sunny day with few clouds and NO wind.
As things turned out the day was quite warm when the sun was not behind a cloud and you were out of the wind.
While Linda went to work and Alecia and Gavin went to school, Greg and Justin took us for a tour of Ben Lomond then on to a tour of Guyra. We had coffee at a place called JoJo’s which is a combination coffee shop, (Justin has been there so many times he makes the coffee ) curiosity shop, clothes shop and soaps and trinkets and toys and so on. What makes this place even more interesting is it is run by an eccentric (his words) man called Colin. He is an ex Barrister who still dabbles in the local law scene but apart from the coffee shop also owns a garage and panel beating shop as well as a school bus run in which he drives the bus. He also takes his products such as goats milk soap and Angora socks and plastic shoes with a washable inner woolen sock, ideal for cool winter evenings. He also does the cooking at his shop with including his specialty, chicken vegetable curry.
Even more amazing about Colin is he has a collection of cycles which have won or placed in some world cycling event stretching back over 40 years. The bikes are all stacked up in a room at the back of the coffee shop. People seek him out via phone, email or the internet to buy one of these historical bikes. Some are made out of carbon fibre and are so light to lift. The weight is measured in sub kilo. The lighter the bike, the heavier the price tag. Most bikes were in the $7,000 price range while many were worth more than $20,000. There was, according to Colin, more than half a million dollars of cycles in that room alone. Colin stopped practicing law full time around 12 years ago and came to Guyra about three years ago. According to him, his story is that he became too involved in a large case and took on more than he needed to. Eventually he tried to commit suicide by walking in front of a bus. The driver was quick to react and succeeded in knocking Colin to the ground and under the chassis but no life threatening injuries. Later when distracted and again with suicidal thoughts accidentally walked in front of a bus and was knocked down again. By a strange twist of fate it was the same bus driver. When he recovered Colin apologised to the driver and looked to fulfill his life in other ways and gave up full time law.
Tonight we cooked up a batch of cutlets with lentils in the pressure cooker. There was enough for everybody, including seconds.
Tuesday 30th November.
Woke at 6.30am. Yeah! There was heavy overcast and a very chill strong wind was blowing.
Good thing much of the day will be spent travelling and we will be snug in the driving cabin.
We stopped at Armidale for fuel, groceries and black and grey water dumping and taking on fresh water. Armidale has an automated toilet. It is a unisex toilet and it is all stainless steel and tiles. The door is closed and if it is empty a green light is flashing so by the push of a button it will open. The light is red if occupied. On entering a voice welcomes you and gives instructions its use. A time limit of 10 minutes is allowed. The toilet will not flush until you wash your hands or open the door to leave. Even the hand wash, the water and hand dryer are all automated by placing your hands under the appropriate lights. It also automatically cleans the toilet and floor at certain times of the day. Amazingly there is no graffiti and no damage.
We travelled along the New England Hwy as far as Tamworth, Country Music Capitol of Australia. Our original plan was to stop for the night at Bendemeer but we could not find the camping area so we continued to Moonbi but the camp site was right on the highway in the centre of town. We then tried to find a riverside campspot at Kootingal and gave up and drove on into Tamworth and finally, after much searching, found a campsite on the highway across from the airport. By now we were too tired to care. After dinner we heard three Air Force jets take off and boy do they make a noise and a vibration. By 9.30pm all flights had finished and road traffic was thin so we hoped to get a good nights sleep.
Wednesday 1st December.
Woke at 6.30am. So much for worrying about traffic noise.
Today we drove along the Oxley Hwy in increasing rain to Coonabarabran.
Along the way we were stopped in heaving rain by a Rural Fire Brigade man in the middle of the Hwy. There was an accident around the corner and the car was being recovered. We could proceed with caution. The rain continued and most creeks were in flood or rising. The Castlereagh River at Coonabarabran is also rising but we were able to cross as the water was not yet over the road. Bobby n Dianne live a couple of minutes out of town in a private wooded area. Bobby has a huge rifle collection as well as having a secure storage strongroom and safe for guns handed in to the Police as he has better secure storage than they do. I also learned he was once the Australian Masters Shooting Team coach. Tomorrow we visit a chicken farm and catch up with my 90 year old aunt.
Thursday 2nd December
Boring…Woke early again.
Went for a walk to the Castlereagh River – about 200 metres through the long grass or 600 metres via the road, I took the long way – the river is still in flood but the height has dropped since yesterday. Both weirs are underwater and traffic is not allowed through. The wide loads trucks are lined up outside town waiting for the water levels to reduce so they can continue their travels. The Police will not allow the vehicles to pass through town. It rained most of the night and floods went through Coonamble last night. That floodwater will reach here later today or tonight.
We went out to visit the chook farm to pick up a few eggs. A few eggs? Something like a box of eggs containing 6 trays and 15 eggs per tray. After all, the family is coming for an early Christmas gathering and we are invited. Because it was still raining we never got out of the car at the chook farm. Besides, the stench was overpowering.
Next we visited Aunt Maude, Bob’s mother.
Have not seen her for at least 10 years and not visited her at Coonabarabran for at least 50 years. She looks frail but still strong in the mind. She turns 90 next year.
We also dropped into the local grainery / fertiliser place. All the trucks and silo’s are sitting idle. The harvest is delayed due to the rain. A crop valued at M$350 is sitting in the fields and unless it is harvested in the next few days is only worth M$100 or less as stock feed. If the rain continues there will be no harvest.
Bob n Dianne son, Grant
and his wife Bec and their two young children arrived.
They live at Moranbah not far from Mackay. After a bit of talk we found that Bec used to work with CGU Insurance and regularly dealt with the staff at the office of Oceanic Insurance Brokers.
After a barbecue dinner Donnis discovered Bec works with a programme called Snapfish and Bec likes preparing photo albums which she then has printed. I must admit they do look good.
Before going to bed we set up an account at Snapfish.
Friday 3rd December.
The day dawned heavily overcast but no overnight rain.
The river level has gone done but is still across the road near the house.
Grant’s car had broken down on the way from Moranbah. The repairs, completed under warranty, meant the car was now ready to be picked up. Bob, Grant and I drove the hire car – also provided under warranty – over to Gunnedah and picked up Grants car. Before leaving Gunnedah we drove out to look at Lake Keepit where Bob has kept a caravan and annexe, on-site, for thirty years. It started to rain on our return and some creeks were in flood again.
Shortly after arriving back at Coona (BTW it was still dry here) Bob n Dianne daughter Libby and her husband Gary and their 4 children arrived.
While dinner was being prepared it was somehow agreed that us men, the hunters, would hunt for some rabbit for a barbecue tomorrow.
Where there was fields of rabbit yesterday there were none today. On our second pass of the field we got a call from Bob’s brother, Lance.
He had gone through a flooded causeway on his way here and the car was flooded with some major motor damage and the car was being towed to Gilgandra. He and his wife needed a lift so Bob n I were despatched to Gilgandra to fetch them. Before we left we saw news reports of flooding in Dubbo, Orange, Wellington, Mudgee and other places. Many roads were closed and trucks were delayed or stopped as they could not move. Although the drive to “Gillie” was dry, the rain started just as we came over the bridge. Hmmm. Lots of water rushing below us. The river is the Castlereagh which also runs through “Coona”. We had driven almost 100 klms to collect the stranded couple and their luggage. It was fully dark by the time we left “Gillie” and the rain had increased and was so heavy we had trouble seeing and speed was down to 30 kph. Four pairs of eyes were straining to see out the windscreen and there was no conversation.
By the time we dropped Lance n Jane at Maude’s it was after 10pm and we were tired and hungry. By now the rain had well and truly set in and it was a good night to rug up and stay in bed.
I woke a few times to the sound of rain.
Time for a bit of a rant. Talking with Bob and other rural people it seems if your dog or dogs escape from your property and menace or kill other persons livestock, justice is swift without argument. Once a dog has a taste of fresh blood he will never be the same and must be put down. Either to owner of the dead stock will put the dog down or the dog owner will do it himself. There are no if buts or maybe’s. The dog owner will pay the stock owner suitable compensation. That is the unwritten rule in the bush.
Now let’s swiftly move to an urban situation. A dog or dogs escape and attack a person in the street or on their own property. In cases like this the dog owner will deny his precious dog is dangerous and will resist all efforts to put the dog down. Meanwhile the injured party is likely to spend days, weeks or months in hospital or worse, dies. Forever more they will be terrified of dogs. There is no compensation for the injured party.
It seems to me the rural people live up to their responsibilities as a dog owner whereas urban people will not.
End of rant.
Saturday 4th December
Woke at 6am. It was still raining, quite heavily at times. Forecast is for more n more n more rain.
Basically sat around home, eating n drinking n socialising most of the day.
Rain showers on n off most of the day.
We borrowed Bob’s Land Cruiser and drove into town for a look around.
Back home we continued the eatin n drinkin n socialisin.
Late in the day Aunt Maude arrived with Bob’s brother Lance, his wife Jane and their son Wade who happens to be a forensic cleaner at Waratah Police Station near Newcastle. (The elimination of bloodstains, stains sustained from other bodily fluids, offensive odours biohazardous material & finger print powder.) Lance tore a tendon in his leg while trying to push his car out of a flooded creek yesterday.
So we settled down for another barbecue with all the trimmings and a few drinks. The children all got presents and the noise of their squealed delight was deafening. Dianne gave us a basket of bathroom goodies, Thank you Dianne. It was an unexpected surprise.
Sunday 5th December
Today has been mostly fine and the sun even poked through a few clouds during the day. The flood scene continues further south with Wagga Wagga now the latest scene of inundation and homeowners are being evacuated. Here in Coonabarabran I dug a small pit to dispose of black water. Although we are quite some height above the Castlereagh River and on a hill, I discovered the water table a short distance below the surface. After digging less than 300mm water started oozing into the hole, quickly filling it. The more I dug the bigger the hole grew as water swirled around. It seems the ground is so waterlogged we are walking on a thin crust of soil and sand suspended over the water. According to Bob all this area along the river is soft sand and mixed with water can soon form the old fashioned scary movie stuff known as quicksand!
Yep. After digging around in the stuff I can agree with him.
Today Libby, Garry and their 4 children, Paige, Isobelle, Tahlia and Felicity left to return home to Newcastle. Tomorrow Grant, Bec and their two children, Mia and Bailey will head home to Moranbah while we set sail with Moree as our destination. Further if we feel the need.
I had taken the bike off the back of WWWGO when we first arrived but with the rain I could not go for a ride. Today was dry enough so I rode into town and took a look at a park on the riverbank. Hmmm! Disappointing there is no cycle path in town and through the park and under the bridge. After the park I battled traffic to the clock tower then rode home and put the bike back on the rack.
See ya next week.