Archive for August, 2011

210. Tuesday 30th August 2011. It has been a long time since we have had a woops so we will correct that…

30/08/2011

WOOPS!!!

Just before Christmas 2010, Donnis and I took on a housesitting gig at Traveston on the Sunshine Coast. We had agreed to stay at Traveston until the owners arrived home at the end of March. On 15th January 2011 Donnis flew across the sea to Vancouver, Canada, then by ferry to Vancouver Island. After a few weeks she flew to Cancun, the party capital (Donnis was not and still is not, aware that Cancun is a “swinging hotspot”) on the east coast of Mexico. She spent almost 10 days at a luxury resort apartment along with her sisters Joan and Linda and her long time friend from high school, Darlene. On the day of departure, Darlene tripped on the wet and slippery tiles near the checkout. Although she bravely soldiered on and flew back to her home in Edmonton Canada, she sought medical advice and found she had a broken ankle. So much for memories of a fun time in Mexico.

Linda flew to Porta Viata on the west coast of Mexico and joined her partner, Doug for a few weeks in their very own luxury apartment.

Donnis and sister Joan returned to Vancouver Island and after a couple more weeks they flew and drove to Bamff and on to Calgary where Joans daughters Andrea and Simone are living and working.

What a difference Donnis went through. Hot humid and heavy rain here in Queensland before she left, then cold of Vancouver, then down to a tropical winter in Cancun and up to the bitter sub zero conditions in Calgary.

Donnis flew from Calgary direct to Las Angeles and a direct QANTAS flight to Sydney where she stayed a few days more, with a heavy cold she brought over from the USA or Canada. When she was well enough to travel she flew to the Sunshine Coast Airport and the rest was chronicled in our blog pages during March this year.

Although Donnis took my trusty Panasonic NV-DCF7 1.2mega pixel camera with her, she did not take many photos. The following is a few of her photos from that travel adventure.

Oh! Did I mention I stayed at Traveston all that time?

Sob!

Joan, Linda and Donnis soaking up a few rays of Sunshine at Cancun.

Linda, Darlene and Joan in a little eating thatched hut beside the ocean.

Linda, Darlene and Joan beside one of many luxury pools at the Cancun resort.

How big are these pools at Cancun?

The girls visited a nearby village in Cancun and took a few photos.

This horse and buggy was a part of an afternoon cultural event.

Local colourful cemetry at Cancun. Note the stairs to a crypt.

I do not know what sort of dragon this is. I understand it is some variation of a Rainforest Dragon. It was spotted at the cemetry. Perhaps it is an after hours security service?

Another view of the colourful cemetry.

Also spotted at the cemetry was this pair of Macaws.

Driving into Bamff, Canada. Note the height of the snow.

Main street of Bamff with mountains in the background.

These are the mountains you can see from any point in Bamff.

Joan, on the right, with her daughters, Simone and Andrea on the left. You can probably understand how cold it was by the clothes they are wearing. Joan's parka partially covers her face.

Remember these photos were taken with a 10 year old digital camera with a 1.2 megapixel capacity. Given the camera was at the forefront of the digital revolution and used as a “point n shoot”, mostly the results are not bad. The photos, as always, can be enlarged by clicking on them. A second click will double their size again.

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209. Tuesday 30th August 2011. Churches…

30/08/2011

In our travels we often see a church which captures the eye for one reason or another.

The following photos are by no means exhaustive. It is just a random sampling of 10 churches we have photographed. There are still more to come sometime  in the future.

An glican Church at Kandanga near Gympie. We had just left the Sunshine Coast at the end of March 2011 and Kandanga was our first overnight stop. I usually go for an early morning walk and carry the camera “just in case”.

Another Kandanga church I found in my walk.

Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Kandanga.

In the early days of this blog, at page 012 to be precise, I wrote about my trip to Norfolk Island. I recommend everybody should take a trip to Norfolk.

1. Because they need our dollars. Although they need tourists to come and spend money, by some twist in the inbred mentality of the islanders, they despise the tourists. So. On the one hand, they need us but try to ignore us on another level. Those 100% dependent on us go out of their way to give tourists their money’s worth. When they finish work they despise us. That said I still enjoyed my time there and would go back again.

2. The place is just oozing with history and luckily for the islanders, through good luck or good management many of the historical buildings and ruins have been retained and maintained.

3. It is still part of Australia.

This is a fascinating old Church of England and is well worth a visit to see the interior.

Uniting Church Norfolk Island.

Historical Cooktown. Well worth a visit in the Winter months as it is too hot n humid at any other time. Cooktown is an historical place which has retained many of the old buildings, The street outside this church has the original kerb and guttering built out of pieces of bluestone.

Hebel is about 60klm from the NSW border. Next stop is Lightning Ridge. Hebel is a small community with a pub, general store and not much of anything else.

 Our Star of the Sea Catholic Church on the seaside at Stanley in Tasmania.

 

St.Pauls Anglican Church Yarraville Victoria.

St. Faith’s at Ohinemutu Rotorua, NZ. On the lakeside.

St.Peters Anglican Church, Hamilton Tasmania.

Early photos such as those taken at Cooktown, New Zealand and Norfolk Island were taken with my state of the art (at that time) Panasonic NV-DCF7 1.2mega pixel camera. Two years ago I lashed out and bought my latest Panasonic DMC-FZ50 10mega pixel camera. If you click on the photos to enlarge them, you should be able to see the difference in quality. With the DCF7 I always used the highest resolution for all photos.

208. Sunday 28th August 2011. Another quiet week in Finch Hatton and another week closer to being on the road again…

29/08/2011

Monday 22nd August 2011

It was a day off for both of us.

Donnis decided she would start making new curtains for WWWGO. That meant I had to take down the pelmet to gain access to the curtain track to remove the curtains to use as a template for the new curtains. I should mention that was for the dining room curtains. I have to do the same for the two bedroom curtains. Donnis also cut out and hemmed up a privacy curtain for around our bed. All we have to do now is wait for Winnebago to send us the 6m of plastic tape with curtain runners attached. Once that is sewn in place we will have functioning curtains again.

The temperature was cooler than usual until in the afternoon big black clouds rolled in and large slow raindrops fell. Just as well they were slow as we had our blankets on the clothesline. Once they were rescued and hung out inside the house to dry, the real rain started. We could see the rain coming which gave us a chance to close hatches n doors n windows as the rain was accompanied by wind and later, by thunder and lightning. The dogs do not like the thunder and stayed close to us with their tail between their legs. There was only enough rain to dampen the dust and make the ground greasy in each paddock where we feed the horses.

Tuesday 23rd August

We had medical appointments in Mackay today. I had a skin tag removed from my neck.

We caught up with my sister Sandra for coffee.

We went shopping and arrived home in time to feed the horses.

There was 11mm of water in the rain gauge.

Wednesday 24th August.

I drove up the range to Eungella for possibly the last time (at least as far as the Census is concerned).

Shortly after reaching the town, the wispy clouds rolled in and moisture fell all around me. Now I am hesitant to say it was raining as I was right in the middle of the rain clouds and I think everything was wet as opposed to falling rain? The gravel roads were wet and slippery. Visibility was down to about two car lengths and to top it all off, as I rounded a bend about 50 scared cattle were running in all directions from out of the gloom. Hmmm. They have found a way out of their confining paddock, wherever that might be, and were a hazard to driving. Thankfully I missed hitting the moving targets on both the outward and return journey. As I drove beside these galloping beasts, their eyes reflected the terror they felt. I wondered if my eyes looked like theirs, as quite frankly, I was a bit concerned myself.

Thursday 25th August.

A day off for me but Donnis went to work in the afternoon. At dusk it was the usual feed the chooks, feed the horses and feed the dogs. The dogs get as excited as the horses at feed time and chase the horses who start kicking at the them. Of course when I arrive the horses are still a bit skitterish and if the dogs come near them they kick. If I am near the dogs then I am dodging hooves as well. So. I have taken to putting the dogs in their pen while I feed the horses. I feel safer and the horses are just anxious to be fed, not anxious and stirred up.

Friday 26th August

A day off for both of us and we just pottered around doing nuthin’ in particular except a few loads of washing. We have had rain showers interspersed with sunshine the last couple of days. There has been a total of 14mm of rain in the rain gauge. Combined with a bit of nitrogen from the lightning on Monday and the light showers perhaps the grass will start turning green again especially if we get follow up rain.

Last weekend our nearest neighbour gave me a half dozen fruit from his lemonade tree. I squeezed two of them and ended up with a full glass of refreshing lemonade juice. Gee but it has a nice taste. Today I raided the tree for a few more fruit. What a pity it is not loaded with fruit as I could squeeze as much as I can pick then freeze the juice in portions for the future.

Our Solar Screen arrived in the mail today. These things fit the front windscreen as well as the two side windows. There were no instructions included and although it theoretically should be easy to fit, they are designed to fit completely within the window as well as covering the frames and panels. After a bit of putting them up and taking them down a few times I now know the secret. Besides that the Solar Screen gives total privacy, provides a light barrier and keeps the cabin area cool which in turn keeps the rest of the MH cool. Donnis will really appreciate them as summer rolls on.

Saturday 27th August.

Let me tell you about the vagaries of winter in the tropics. A few nights ago we had a cold snap and Donnis decided our two blankets were not enough so we put the feather doona on the bed on Monday and that kept us toasty warm for three nights. Thursday night we kicked off the doona in the middle of the night and substituted a blanket. Last night the blanket was kicked off and we only needed a sheet for warmth. The overcast and rain has kept night time temperatures comfortable. We woke this morning to wispy fog hanging in the low lying pockets of land. From our hillside perch the valley below looked like it was covered with a fluffy white blanket. No photos, as it was still too dark.

Sunday 28th August

Yesterday and today I worked at completing my Census Collector Work Book. All the various boxes which are ticked when a task is complete must cross balance. The good news is the book does balance and I will hand it in to the Area Supervisor tomorrow. Technically my job with Australian Bureau of Statistics will be complete. I said technically. I am contracted until 5th September and need to be available for any follow up by the main team. I have requested to be included in any de-briefing which may occur.

So. Apart from any requests from ABS my time will be my own. We have planned to get TERIOS serviced. We also plan a service on WWWGO as well as four new tyres. We also need a day to get our tax done and after discussion we agree to use the same agent as last year. Regrettably that means a day spent driving to and from Airlie Beach.

After dinner the predicted rain finally arrived along with thunder and lightning. Strangely it was a very warm night requiring only a sheet and during the early hours we pulled a blanket over us.

207. Sunday 21st August 2011. Still at Finch Hatton…

21/08/2011

Monday 15th August 2011. Finch Hatton

I prescribed a day off today.  Not much of anything got done.

You know, it felt quite good not to do anything and not be bothered about it.

Water in the house tanks is getting low. Although Steve is a little concerned, he feels getting water trucked in is not an option – yet. Instead he pumped water from another two storage tanks elsewhere on the property. All going well that water will last until the rain comes again. Some of the horses are in a paddock with a dam. There are another two storage tanks for the remaining horse paddocks, stables and chook pen. If they get too low, we can pump water from the dam. The next 3 months are, traditionally, the driest months of the year with little or no rain. The grass begins to dry out and becomes brown and brittle. Water and food for the horses will become more of an issue over the coming months. There are 14 horses on this property and another 2 “retired” horses next door. One horse, next door, TEQUILA, is well into her late 30’s. For a horse that is quite old. She is going grey around the face and mane. This was Melissa’s second horse and started her along the path she is now following.

Found this poem on another blog site. The blogger copied it from the back of a toilet door in a caravan park located at Mt. Surprise north Queensland. If you have ever stayed in a caravan park, some or all of the following will mean something to you. If you have never stayed in a caravan park you might just have to use your imagination. I particularly like stanza’s 7 & 8.

There was movement on the station,
So wrote the famous man,
But how did Banjo know this?
Had he towed a caravan?

Perhaps Banjo had been woken
In a van park from his sleep,
Some two hours before sunrise
By strange noises from the deep.

The eerk, eerk, eerk of van legs
Being wound up in the dark,
As the nocturnal traveller
Starts to wake the sleeping park.

Then just like some feral mating call
Some others answer back
With their eerk, eerk flaming chorus,
As the first starts down the track.

Everything they pack is metallic,
And it clatters, bangs and dongs,
As they bark out loud instructions
Amid the hollow clack of thongs.

And now it’s best to warm the motor,
If you’re leaving in the dark.
Especially if it’s diesel –
Why not wake the whole damn park!

When it comes time to hook on
You hear the circus start
More left, not right, I said this way
You brainless old fart

How dare you call me brainless,
You ungrateful, senile drone.
If you don’t want my directions,
Do it on your bloody own.

By now the doors are slamming,
Just to finish off the show,
You sure you turned off the gas?
She yells “just bloody go go go”

Now it’s almost daylight
And the camp picks up the pace,
As these grey nomad gypsies
Begin their morning race.

For the next park is their target
Where like metallic ants they flock,
For the first in gets the best shade
And the nearest to the toilet block.

There’re miles of zippers zinging
As the tents fold up to go.
And the campervan doors are grinding
As they whiz bang to and fro.

Now in the park it’s show time,
Magic moments all can share
You prepare for the entertainment
As you grab your beer and chair

For here comes the new arrivals
With their wives all looking terse
If you thought leaving was a hassle
Well arriving is ten times worse!

Cause hand waving female logic
With male thingking don’t compute
So a jackknife on a van site
Soon erupts in hot dispute

It’s as good as any circus
Wives and husbands on attack
As spectators in their deck chairs
Watch the rigs shunt up and back.

There’re trees and shrubs to back thru,
And water taps of course,
Then the happy couple go inside
To contemplate divorce.

It’s 7pm cheap phone calls
It’s a rush for all to get through,
Three phones for ninety people
And you’re the last one in the queue

The callers are always yelling,
Because they’re are far away,
Forcing half the park to eavesdrop
On every word they have to say.

You drift off in peaceful slumber,
Sweet dreams flit through your brain,
Till 5 o’clock in the morning
Eerk, eerk – here we go again!

Ah well you might as well as get up
For you feel your bladder screaming
You rush up to the toilet block
Oh no! It’s closed for cleaning!

So if you reach the caravan park
And things are quite amiss
Don’t worry it will all come good
It’s part of Caravan Bliss!!!

Tuesday 17th August

It was a day off for Donnis so we drove into Mackay to get new tyres on TERIOS, a doctors appointment for each of us, a bit of grocery shopping and a few bits n pieces to make life easier on WWWGO.

There is a shower screen on board WWWGO and although it is efficient, the runners in the I-beam track have started to break off from the screen. A replacement screen costs almost $300 plus postage. We have opted to find runners (or gliders or sliders as they are also called) to fit the I-beam track. A regular house shower curtain can be fitted with washer type weights in the curtain hem. So, for around $40 we get a new shower curtain for when we are on the road again. Although that is probably more than 2 months away, the time will fly by. Regrettably we cannot buy the runners off the shelf. They have to be ordered and picked up next time we are in Mackay.

While shopping we picked up a sensor type hand soap dispenser. Instead of pushing on a pump nozzle we can now just place our hands under the dispenser and the correct amount of soap will be pumped into our hands. Due to limited space on our vanity handbasin, the sensor dispenser seems an obvious way to go.

We also picked up some new carpet runners for the entranceway, under the table and over the in-floor storage hatch. I have not liked the current set-up of 4 different styles and colours of mats and would be happy with just the bare vinyl. Donnis says she wants something soft under her feet, especially when she gets out of bed in the winter.

While wandering around Mackay I realised I have not written anything or taken photos of the town. Simply I have taken Mackay for granted, it is about time I included some stuff about Mackay in this blog. The thought is on the back burner and once the Census work is complete I will do a story on Mackay.

Melissa and Steve left this morning, taking three horses with them. They are travelling to NSW, not far from Sydney where they will take part in an endurance ride. Melissa said they will be away for 10 days, Steve said 3 weeks so I guess we see them when we see them.

Wednesday 17th August.

Wowee! Those new tyres make a difference to the ride and handling of TERIOS.

Today it was back up the range to Eungella and Dalrymple Heights. I have collected all but 26 of the Census papers I handed out. Of those, six belong to the families who work at the dam and they will be collected on Saturday. Some are people who agreed to do an E-Census and I have not yet received a message to tell me they have. Several are people who wanted to mail the Census. Again I have not had a message to say they have done so. Finally there are those who have taken the papers but not yet put them out for me to collect. I will have Thursday and Friday off and travel the range again on Saturday to tidy up the remaining households.

While driving along the gravel Bee Creek Road,

Bee Creek Road follows, in part, Bee Creek. The road from this point onwards becomes narrower, more rutted and potholed and more twisting corners.

Pretty Bee Creek Valley. During the floods associated with the 7.5m of rainfall earlier this year, all of this valley was underwater.

I spied with my little eye, a man. Wearing a Telstra shirt. A Big Pond van was parked off the road beside the jungle. At the first opportunity I found a place to turn around and squeezed up close behind his van. Although there is not much traffic on this road I do not want TERIOS hit by another car coming around the corner. I talked with the Big Pond man for 10 or so minutes and discussed my mobile phone and Internet lack of signal. As soon as I mentioned Finch Hatton he agreed it is a black spot and no matter how many people complain there are no new transmitters or other improvements planned. We discussed options for my external antenna and we parted company. At least he seemed to know what I was talking about but more to the point, he knew his subject, with 20 plus years of experience, not some fluffy teenager in the Telstra Shop who has no hands on experience and not like some voice on the Help line who only reads from the official book.

Tonight our new desktop antenna arrived in the mail. It has a magnetic base, 2m of cable and gives a 3dB of gain. I attached it to the roof top metal plate I installed last year and ran the thin cable through the rooftop hatch to the modem. Although the signal strength did not change – it remained on low – the signal, so far, seems to be constant. If I can maintain the signal, even a low signal, the antenna will have done its job.

Thursday 18th August.

Last things first. The internet signal via the modem has remained constant all day with no dropouts at all. So far, so good.

It was a day off for both off us. Donnis has started a new fad diet and drove to Walkerston to buy “white fish”, skinless chicken and spa water. The fish and chicken have been cut up into 4oz portions to go with the 9oz portion of a single vegetable, excluding root vegetables that she is allowed for each meal. She must drink many litres of water and she can do that more readily with the spa water. Time will tell if she loses weight and now is an ideal time to do it as she can buy new clothes while she is still working. I will need new clothes as well.

Tonight I cooked a composite meal for myself in the pressure cooker.

Composite meal? What’s that?

I took a meal from Amy’s blog

http://oz360.blogspot.com/2010_10_01_archive.html

which she named Chicken Drumsticks and Dumplings in the Camp Oven. I also took a meal and methodology from our Pressure Cooker Recipe Book called One Pot Chicken with Dumplings. I used Chicken Thighs and lots of soup mix plus chick peas both of which I soaked all day. I included carrots, onion, parsnip, parsley, and coriander but forgot the peas. I also tossed in some dried Rosemary, Thyme, Oregano and a few chilli flakes plus cracked pepper and ground salt. I cooked everything except the dumplings for 10 minutes under pressure then took the lid off and got the mixture simmering again. I made dumplings (first time ever) filled with parsley. (next time I will include spices in the dumplings) I simmered the dumplings in the pot for 15 minutes. Next time I will fully submerge the dumplings instead of just allowing them to float on top. (unless readers who know how to cook dumplings can advise me) The incredible yummy smells in WWWGO almost drove me crazy and when I took it into the house where Donnis was eating her 4oz of chicken and 9oz of cabbage, it drove her crazy as well. I have three containers of leftover which I froze as I will be having this again while Donnis is on her diet.

Friday 19th August

Last things first…again.

I have had internet signal all day with no dropouts.

I sat up late to watch the critical Cowboys V Rabiitohs game. The bunnies needed to win to get into the top eight while the Cowboys needed to win to retain fourth position. At ten minutes to go the bunnies scored and converted a try and with two minutes to go they scored another converted try, Scores locked up, 24 all, at the end of the game. In the first minute of 10 minutes extra time the Cowboys attempted a field goal which bounced off the post. Then the Rabbitohs were awarded a penalty in front of the posts and it was game over 26 to 24.

Sigh! I am wide awake and it is after midnight.

Saturday 20th August.

Once more. Last things first. In case you are not aware I have been driven near to distraction with the lack of or inconsistent internet and mobile signal while based here at Finch Hatton. I solved the mobile problem by installing a small, window mounted antenna. That increased the signal. Previously the signal would sometimes be up to three bars but mostly less, sometimes nil. Installation of the antenna gives me a constant mobile signal of three bars and often as much as five bars. During the week the Telstra 3dB antenna arrived and I installed it, via the magnetic base onto the roof of WWWGO. The signal since then has been a constant “Low” and often moving to “Med” with no dropouts. Prior to the antenna the best I could get was a “Low” signal with constant daily dropouts. Those antenna’s have given us a new lease of life with consistent mobile and internet signal and removed annoyance and frustration from our days.

Today I drove over the range to collect any outstanding Census material. Have I mentioned how bad the roads are? Getting access to some of the farms is along pretty rough bush tracks. The collection phase of the contract is almost complete. I now have 16 outstanding homes to collect material from. I plan to do the final collection or delivery on Wednesday. These will be my third and final collection visit. I will now leave the same material along with a letter advising the Census is compulsory.

At one location I parked Terios beside a farm gate while I entered a neighbouring property. When I returned , about 40 cattle had apeared at the gate and were waiting patiently beside the car.

With all the cattle beside Terios I noticed what I thought were beads of sweat on the nostrils of the cattle. A Google search reveals that most breeds of cattle, do, indeed, sweat through the nostrils.

I have met some characters in my visits but the greatest character is the one I never met. I had been told by many sources there was a 92 year old gold miner, way out in the bush, His gate is locked and I would never find him. He is well known in the area and he walks most of the time but has a camp “somewhere out there” as it is described to me. I found the first of his two gates and left his Census material, including a reply paid envelope, in a plastic bag, held down with rocks, on the ground under his first locked gate. I did not expect any response, believing I would have to collect the blank Census after three visits. Last week while calling on a couple in their ramshackle house in the jungle, they told me the old miner was their friend and he was coming to town the next day and bringing his completed Census, in the reply paid envelope, with him. Today I received a text message on my phone to tell me the miners completed Census had been received. His friends told me he walks 5 klms each way, every day, from his camp to the gold mine. He walks in all weather, crossing creeks and mud holes wearing his trusty gumboots.

I found this shed seething with character and was probably built by a character. It is built of slabs of sawn timber and concrete.

Other characters are the two couples who live in houses which are being reclaimed by the jungle.

The conspiracy theory man who lives in his defunct dairy.

The couple who have built an entirely self-sufficient property where they live with their two husky dogs.

The couple who have built their own TV tower out of old steel bed frames.

The coal miner and his corporate wife who escaped to their own little bit of rainforest.

All these people and more, live in remote locations and simple things city folk take for granted, such as electricity, water, TV signal, phone, internet, sealed roads, shops, neighbours, they either do without or provide their own.

If anybody ever finds themselves in the Mackay area I suggest you explore but reserve some time to drive out to Eungella and enjoy the drive up the range then have lunch at the chalet and stay late enough to view the platypus at Broken River. Of course just a drive along any of the escarpment roads, Eungella Dam Road or Dalrymple Road to enjoy the changing landscape which includes cleared dairy pastures, native open timbered hills and untouched deep rainforest, sometimes all three can be seen, several times over on Dalrymple Road.

Arriving home this afternoon my senses were arrested by the sweet smell of the cut cane as it came to me on the wind passing the harvesters about 1klm away. It was a nice change from the clinging dust which follows me every day I am over the range. Whenever I stop, to open a gate for instance, I stay in TERIOS as few moments to wait for my dust cloud to drift past. TERIOS is thickly coated with the stuff but I will not wash it until I have finished my workload. The new tyres already have streaky drizzles of dust congealed over the markings left by, not only Melissa’s dogs but of every dog on every property I visit.

Sunday 21st August

A day off. I had a day of lazing around, playing on the computer, talking with friends on Skype and talking with the nearest neighbour about motorcycles.

206. Sunday 14th August 2011. Finch Hatton, Eungella endlessly…

15/08/2011

Monday 8th August 2011.

We are still at Finch Hatton.

In my travels around the area I have seen a number of interesting sights. This weeks post includes photos of some of those sights. All photos are sprinkled throughout this post in random order and do not relate to the text.

Enjoy.

Interesting stone walls on both ends of this house. The side walls are mud brick.

Today I was up early as I needed the car as did Donnis. I drove her to work in the dark,

This is the view which has greeted us every morning when I drive Donnis to work.

returned to WWWGO for breakfast then headed off to the Census meeting at 10am. Then I headed off up the pass to Eungella to hand out some more Census forms and back down the pass to collect Donnis from work at 4pm.

Tuesday 9thAugust

A tractor which has reached its "use by" date.

It is Census Day.

We drove into Mackay to spend an hour or so with my sister Enid (Sue) who is in town for a week to catch up with my other sister Sandra, (Sans, Shan), her daughter Kelly and son Aaron. Also for her to catch up with friends.

After coffee we picked up VIRAGO and took it to daughter Averyl in the hope it will be easier to sell from a more central location.

After the fields are harvested, farmhouses are revealed for the first time in at least 6 months.

Afterwards we drove up the range to Eungella to hand out a few more Census forms. While at the caravan park we stopped to chat with a few Danish visitors who were cooking on a barbecue which overlooks the Pioneer Valley. What a spectacular vista. Several cane fires were seen in the distance as well as the street and house lights of the villages and towns along the valley floor. Due to the smoke haze we could not see as far as the lights of Mackay.

Last post I had a photo of neatly ploughed fields. In fact that was just the tidying up plough. Since then the farmer has ploughed and planted a crop of sugar cane. I am reliably informed this particular farmer is one of the best in the district, allowing certain fields to lie "fallow" for a season or two and rotating his crops..

Wednesday 10thAugust

Just waiting for caring hands to restore it to its former glory.

The first day of collection of the completed Census forms. I was upset to discover one of the other collectors who promised to deliver to a few of my remote deliveries had not done so. As well one of the properties I could not access did not receive their forms. I drove out along the challenging dam road to deliver to a remote station which has a road suitable for high clearance vehicle only. TERIOS is higher than normal but not high clearance so I could not chance taking on a 40 klm drive of bad, bad, road. I put their forms in a roadside mail drum at the dam. It was a long day. I was home by 4pm but spent another hour compiling the 40 completed forms I received today.

There are many abandoned houses in the district. Some are in the township of Eungella itself and many are out on properties. This house is within 250 metres of the centre of town.

Thursday 11th August

This abandoned house is within 150 metres of the centre of town. (Centre of town is a general store and post office)

Day two of collecting Census forms and I have slowed down, with a combined two day total of 66 forms. The rate of advices that people have completed their Census on-line has also dropped off. Hmmm. I have 100 more forms to collect including calling back at least three times if somebody is not home. Sigh!

This house is on a remote property. Theres is no visble access to the house.

Friday 12th August

Day three of collecting Census forms. I now have 100 collected. Collecting is, if anything, slower than distributing. If somebody is not home and has not left their form out for collection I write a note and advise I will be back on a certain day. Still, I expect I will have 90% collected by Tuesday and it is a case of following up with the remaining 10%. I am a bit tired of driving up and down the pass and all the gravel and rough tracks I am driving over. The TERIOS is handling all I am throwing at it. It is also covered in dust, inside and outside. The floor pan under my feet is covered in gravel and every crevice is covered in dust. My fault I suppose for driving around with the windows open and when another car or truck drives past, their dust just blows in the windows. I will not clean TERIOS until I have completed my contract in another couple of weeks. When I clean and vacuum I will throw out the floor mats and seat covers and replace them. Hmmm. Maybe I could do a nice polish job as well.

This area was once a thriving dairy industry. Many of the properties had their own dams some of which were so big they were small lakes. As these dams were built up to 100 years ago it is hard to tell if the billabongs were dams as the bush has returned to reclaim lost territory.

Saturday 13thAugust.

As I was preparing to open a locked gate, this creature charged out of the jungle followed by the remainder of the herd. All crowded around me but this one in particular would not budge. I had a Crocodile Dundee moment but unlike in the movie it kept snorting at me and would not move.

Another day of driving up the pass and along rough bush tracks and sometimes, meeting the people who are at home. All seem to be a little starved of new faces and visitors as they all want to have a bit of a chat. Of course then there are those whose homes are becoming part of the jungle who pass things out to me from a half closed door (or for the positive minded people amongst us…a half open door). I get the feeling they are trying to hide something.

Another road and another bovine wanting to challenge my right to drive along the road.

Sunday 14thAugust

One of hundreds of billabongs, dams, ponds, lakes, whatever, scattered throughout the mountain district.

The drive up the pass is getting a little tedious, beautiful as the scenery may be. The roads around Eungella and Dalrymple Heights seem to be getting worse although it could be my tolerance is getting lower. The gravel Dalrymple Road has many switchbacks and 20kph corners and follows the contours of the ridge line. For some strange reason the narrow road narrows even further at the corners where there is no margin for error. I try not to look at the steep drop off beside the road but I keep my speed limit less than 70kph. Although this is not a built up area and very few houses or farm gates, the posted speed advisory limit is 70kph for the entire 21 klms.

A grader abandoned beside a creek.

Today I managed to call on every house or farm where I delivered a Census. Many of the papers were still where I left them meaning nobody has visited since I made my deliveries. In those cases I cancelled the entry. At other homes the papers were complete and waiting for me. In other cases the papers were not waiting for me nor have the tenants completed an on-line census. In those cases I have to return at least another two times to collect the papers. I leave a card to advise I will return and if no result by the third visit I leave a letter.

I did not investigate this hollow tree too closely as it could be home to an aggressive reptillian.

205. Sunday 7th August 2011. Finch Hatton in the midst of the Census…

08/08/2011

Monday 1st August 2011.

It was Donnis day off so she joined me on the Census delivery around Mt.Dalrymple and Eungella. It was another long day but thankfully the sun was shining and the cool breeze only bothered us in the morning. All the people I spoke with today had a disaster story to relate about cyclone Yasi which ripped through here earlier in the year. (the cyclone crossed the coast some 500 klms north of here but the devastation was just as dramatic) Although some 80 Klms from the coast as the crow flies the area was still hit by cyclonic winds. Not just cyclone Yasi but cyclone Ului in March 2010. The rainforest was hit hardest with many trees uprooted and thrown across the main road and also the access roads to properties.

Originall Council workers bulldozed the trees to the side of the roads. Now they are in the process of clumping many trees togehter and burning off. Not the girth of the tree trunk held by the crane. So far council workers have travelled about 7 klms of 28 klms of the Dalrymple Road.

People were trapped for days and even weeks inside their homes. We saw many buildings flattened or shredded while beside them was another building looking completely unscathed.

Abandoned house.

Another abandoned shack in the rainforest and gradually being reclaimed by the jungle.

Of course along with the cyclonic winds came a rain deluge of around 11m. Creeks became flooded, access roads washed away and the red earth became impossible to drive or even walk on.

One of the better quality homes and driveways located in the midst of rainforest.

One man said he had a cheese cellar he could have used to hide from the cyclone but the wind blew off the door, the rain flooded in and all he had was a flooded access shaft and ladder which reached about 3m underground. He was also concerned something would fall over the shaft, trapping him inside so he stayed in his house in terror.

A sad tale from another lady was about a prize $15,000 bull which walked on ground covering a concrete 3,000 litre molasses tank. The top of the tank collapsed with the weight and the bull drowned in the molasses. Of course when the owner went looking for the bull it could not be found for three weeks. It was only when the tank was due for refill they found the broken top and the dead, well preserved bull.

Another property, deep in the rainforest, has the name “JUNGLE A”.

A Llama was wandering around one of the proprties.

A long drive down another rainforest track brought us to a large pottery in the jungle. The owners say they have been living and working there for 30 years and will continue making pottery as long as they are able. Some of their brick, wood fired kilns have succumbed to age and collapsed. It was easier to leave them there and build another rather than repair the collapsed kiln.

One of the roads we travelled was Snake Road. As a bit of fun somebody put a snake on the sign. The cow is a sort of communal post box. If you have a small parcel to deliver to somebody along Snake Road, leave it in the cow and the addressee will collect as he or she passes. A good system. Some residents also leave eggs or other produce in the cow for friends on nearby properties

I forgot to mention last week that we bought a TENS Device. That is, a Transcutaneoue Electrical Nerve Stimulator which is used as additional therapy to treat pain in muscles and joints. I made a decision to stop the regular doses of pain killers, before even thinking about buying the device. Therefore at night I stopped taking an anti-inflamatory tablet and two Panadol Osteo tablets with dinner. Now I hook up to the TENS for 15 minutes in the hope it will ease the discomfort of the hip bursitis. Donnis on the other hand loves the device and finds several painful muscles which require TENS treatment each night

Tuesday 2nd August

Donnis decided to stay home and do a bit of cleaning and cooking. She made some chilli meatballs and a sort of cole slaw salad using miso as a dressing ingredient. The meatballs included her own breadcrumbs which she made from rye bread. Both the meatballs and the slaw were moreish and I was a naughty boy and had seconds.

For me another day in the mountains around Eungella and Mt. Dalrymple. Very few people were at home but those I did meet were keen on a visit from anybody in order to brighten up their day. That’s my theory and I am sticking with it!

One interesting property today was built out of mud brick.

Good example of a well constructed mud brick home.

(we saw a house yesterday which had 4 walls constructed of different materials, mud brick-concrete block-corrugated iron and timber)

Not so fine example of a mud brick house.

Close up detail of mud brick workmanship.

Another was a camp of tents in the middle of the bush. Yet another was at the end of a long, winding, rocky track and stood at the very summit of a steep hill and had 360° view. Of course it was open to every wind that blows and today there was strong wind warning in place so it was very windy. I needed to engage 4WD to get in and out of this property.

View from the backyard of another deserted house.

The natural vegetation of the area is dense rainforest. Somewhere around 100 years ago, early settlers cleared the land to make pasture for their dairy cattle. Driving along the roads you pass between areas of dense jungle into an open area of pasture then perhaps a lightly wooded area followed by rainforest. Where the land is no longer being used for dairy, the jungle is slowly reclaiming lost territory. One of the houses I visited on Sunday is, in my opinion, in the process of becoming jungle again.

View of Eungella Chalet at the top of the range from Netherdale at the bottom of the range.

Commemorative plaque at the site of Plane Creek Mill at Finch Hatton.

Wednesday 3rd August

I delivered all of my Census papers to those houses which I could find. All I have to deliver now are the campgrounds, caravan park, cabins and chalet. I will do those on Friday. Today therefore became a rest day. I did not realise I needed a rest until today.

The road to Eungella is very steep and has lots of bends. The 20kph corner is typical of the pass.

There are several waterfalls like this beside the road. The water passes under the road but metal grids are in place to allow for extraordinary rainfall and creek flooding.

VIRAGO would not start again today so I have arranged to ride it to Bullet Bikes in Mackay so they can repair it.

Thursday 4th August

The morning started out fine and sunny so rode VIRAGO to Mackay with Donnis following in TERIOS.

While shopping, the weather deteriorated and became overcast and windy. Rain started as we were on our way home.

Canefield harvested then ploughed ready for re-planting.

The temperature dropped and the wind got umm err windier. By the time we arrived home the awning on WWWGO was flapping. As discretion is the better part of valour, we pulled the awning in. Not without a bit of difficulty. The wind has pushed the arms out of alignment which meant I climbed on the step ladder to push them back into place.

Donnis made pea and ham soup for dinner and I bought a big baguette to dunk in it. Yummo!

Friday 5th August

Woke to rain. In fact woke a few time during the night to the sound of rain. Driving up the pass to Eungella it got darker and darker until found myself in clouds once again and the rain was heavier. Visibility was down to a few metres. By midday the clouds lifted for a short while and the sun even made an appearance.

Briefly.

The wind has been driving all day and the temp in Eungella was low enough for my hands to turn blue.

Tonight I shallow fried little Whiting fillets in lemon pepper crumbs teamed with potato and sweet potato wedges cooked in the turbo oven and completed by a crispy salad.

Saturday 6th August

Another quiet day. Donnis went to work. I stayed home.

It was not an entirely unproductive day.

I cooked a batch of ANZAC Biscuits. Note they are ANZAC Biscuits. Not cookies, not cakes, not slices, not wafers as per these interesting comments from Wikipedia.

“ANZAC biscuits are a sweet biscuit popular in Australia and New Zealand, made using rolled oats, flour, desiccated coconut, sugar, butter, golden syrup, bicarbonate of soda and boiling water. Anzac biscuits have long been associated with the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) established in World War I.

It has been claimed the biscuits were sent by wives to soldiers abroad because the ingredients do not spoil easily and the biscuits kept well during naval transportation. Today, ANZAC biscuits are manufactured commercially for retail sale.

Biscuits issued to soldiers by the Army, referred to as “Anzac tiles” or “Anzac wafers”, differ from the popular Anzac biscuit. Anzac tiles and wafers were hard tack, a bread substitute, which had a long shelf life and was very hard.

Legal issues

The term ANZAC is protected under Australian law and therefore the word should not be used without permission from the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs; misuse can be legally enforced particularly for commercial purposes. Likewise similar restrictions on naming are enshrined in New Zealand law where the Governor General can elect to enforce naming legislation. There is a general exemption granted for ANZAC Biscuits, as long as these biscuits remain basically true to the original recipe and are both referred to and sold as ANZAC Biscuits and never as cookies.

This restriction resulted in the Subway chain of restaurants dropping the biscuit from their menu in September, 2008. After being ordered by the Department of Veteran’s Affairs to bake the biscuits according to the original recipe, Subway decided not to continue to offer the biscuit, as they found that their supplier was unable to develop a cost-effective means of duplicating the recipe.“

Besides all that, the ANZAC Biscuits turned out quite well and Donnis has a hard time not eating them.

While the biscuits were baking I mixed and kneaded and rested and kneaded and rested a loaf of rye bread. Once the biscuits left the oven, in went the bread and the result was 95% successful.

Sunday 8th August.

A day of rest.

At least for some of us.

I spoke with old school mate, George C, via Skype. Also set up a three way conversation with his daughter Codie who has just bought a laptop and set up Skype. George asked me to give her a little on-line help and encouragement. I also asked George for a little help and encouragement baking rye bread and I will try his tips next time I bake.

Melissa training Azarlia ready for the next competetive ride later in August.

204. A couple of days riding around the valley and the Census delivery begins in earnest…

01/08/2011

Something new to start the week. I have added a map showing all our destinations since we first started a journey with a motorhome.

The first was a hire motorhome which was really too small for our needs. This motorhome is shown as:

1. on the information box when you click on the tent icon

Our second was a converted Toyota Coaster and is shown as

2. on the information box when you click on the tent icon

Our current motorhome is a Winnebago Leisure Seeker on an Iveco 50C15 Daily Chassis. We call it WWWGO and it is shown as

3. on the information box when you click on the tent icon.

At this stage the travel route is not shown on the map and the tent icons are not in a different colour to denote which vehicle is represented. There is time enough for me to learn how to do all that whizz kid stuff in the future.

Monday 25th July 2011

Donnis worked today. It was her day off but got called in. At least she has Tuesday & Wednesday off.

Our new Rolla Roof Rack cross bars arrived in the mail today. After unpacking and determining that all parts were in the box I proceeded to put them together. I then attached them to the TERIOS roof track rails and we now have rather smick looking roof racks. Donnis wants a canoe. I say let’s compromise and have an inflatable canoe. So far we are deadlocked one all. Besides we have too many other things we need to buy first.

Tuesday 26th July

Donnis went to work today. She got called in again.

I, on the other hand, have the day off. I took a ride on VIRAGO to Kinchant Dam.

The area where the canoe activity is taking place is where the family picnic area is located. Most speedboats and jet skis operate from around the launching ramp where there are fewer picnic facilities.

I rode to Mirani and took the road which runs beside the dam wall for about 5 klms. It is unsealed but in good condition. The sealed road leading up to it is in terrible shape. No potholes, just car sized holes and riding on a motorcycle was quite a challenge. Considering it was Tuesday the dam had a good deal of activity going on. Several speedboats including water-skiers and on the picnic part of the dam what appeared to be a school excursion with about 10 canoes with four children per canoe.

This cool dude in his muscle shirt would zoom around and back to the ramp and turn off his motor. Then a minute later would fire up and do the same loop again. And again and again and again No passengers, no skiers.Huh!

There is a resort of sorts here at the dam. It is known as Kinchant Waters but the office, bar, restaurant were all closed until the evening when the bar is open until “late”.

Kinchant Waters bar and dining area.

Hand made rough hewn rough "chic" tables n chairs.

This would be a popular gathering spot in Autumn, Winter and Spring. A cozy fire to stare into as you sip on a beverage of choice.

 

Lots of permanents with pretty rough rigs hogging the foreshore sites. The better looking caravans and motorhomes were further away set back into the hill. Apart from the noise from speedboats and party time with live bands Friday & Saturday nights and juke box the other nights I wonder if anybody gets any sleep at night.

VIRAGO at KInchant Waters.

Wednesday 27th July

Today was a day off for both of us so we went to Mackay to do a big grocery shop as we may not be able to get to a shop for the next 10 or 12 days. We went to Spotlight for some curtain material. While there we bumped into Pete. I worked with Pete and have not seen her since she retired two years ago.

Later we were at Porters Hardware and bumped into a Sugarloafer, Sandra who we have not seen since early 2009 when she and husband Phil went travelling for 6 months. Sandra had an operation on her foot a few months ago and although she looks well still walks with limp as one leg is now shorter than the other. Perhaps when she has her hip reconstruction later in the year she will be more balanced. It was good to see her.

Thursday 28th July.

We have checked the mail every day in anticipation our BigPond antenna patch lead. Nothing has arrived.

Another day around the farm.

Friday 29th July.

I was off at 8.30 to start my first Census delivery day at Eungella. The traditional meaning of the name Eungella is “land of constant cloud”. It was an overcast day but halfway up the mountain pass I was in the midst of cloud and barely able to see more a cars length in front of me. At the top it seemed worse. I could not see the houses on either side of the road. It was cold and when a wind sprang up it was numbingly cold. Regardless I started my deliveries and thanks to the wind, the cloud dispersed and was all gone by about 11am. Mostly there was nobody at home either because the people are at work or there are a good many weekender type houses here. I finished relatively early as I had to collect Donnis when her shift finished at 3pm. Despite a late start and an early finish I managed to get 25 census paper delivered. Only 175 more to go and 9 days to do it in. The outlying farms will be ones which take the most time, driving along farm roads, opening and closing gates, looking for the residents. Those that are home have so far been inside with doors closed and log fires burning. Did I mention the temps can be as much as 10° cooler on top of the mountain?

One person I called upon told me they have had 7.5metres of rain since the beginning of the year. Further up the range at Dalrymple Heights, 11 metres has been recorded this year. Yes, you have read that correctly, rainfall is measured in metres!

Saturday 30th July

Another day up in the cool mountains. Today I drove the full length of Bee Creek Road and called into all houses which had markers at their gates.

Gates!

Gates!

Let me tell you about gates. They are so frustrating. In case you are not aware, all gates in rural areas should always be left as you find them. If they are closed then close them behind you. That means, pulling up at the gate, determine which way it swings so you do not open onto the vehicle, understand the locking chains, open gate, swing it back and hold it with a rock or similar, get back in car, drive through, stop, get out close gate and connect chains and drive on. On the way out it is the same procedure. Some properties have two or three gates. Considering I called on 30 properties, that gives you an idea of how many gates were opened and closed. Once in, once out.

As I drove I could see yet another rural road in the hills above me. Mt.Dalrymple (1,549metres) rose even higher in the distance. Eungella itself sits about 1,200 metres above sea level. I met interesting people saw great scenery and properties hidden in rainforest or above a creek. The mountains in the distance looked as though they should have snow on them. In fact they have. In recent years, I believe 1994 and 2002, good snow did fall.

Tomorrow I plan to tackle those higher elevated roads and Mt.Dalrymple.

Sunday 31st July

Day three of delivering census papers.

Today I tackled Dalrymple Road, knowing it ends at a dairy farm sitting just below the summit. I saw some wonderful valley views and looked down the escarpment at Mackay, 1,500m below. Some places I saw made me wonder, how and why people live there. These houses seem to physically grow out of the rainforest and are just as mouldy and rotten as the ancient forest itself. The walls and floors do not join and doors have shrunk inside the frame. The roof is invisible beneath a canopy of greenery growing out of it. Even the doors were rotten. When I knock on a door or wall there is a distinct RAP, RAP, RAP sound. Knocking on rotted timber doors sounds like knocking on a damp sponge

It was another long day, and I arrived home ready for a shower, dinner and bed.

Cheers