Archive for September, 2011

216. Sunday 25th September 2011. Another week in Finch Hatton and another week closer to leaving…

26/09/2011

Monday 19th September 2011.

Fitted the lambs-wool seat-covers we bought last Friday to TERIOS. A nice snug fit and they sure look good.

We removed the lambs-wool seat-covers from WWWGO. We will put them through a wash cycle. Also need to replace the plastic locking clips as two of them are broken.

Other than that it was a quiet day down on the farm.

Tuesday 20th September.

We were up early and away by 7am as TERIOS has an appointment at 8.30 to try to sort out what caused the terrible vibration two weeks ago. The Toyota dealership wanted the car for 6 hours although the scheduled work would be a fee of $135 for a minimum one hour job plus any parts and materials.

The service department dropped us at Canelands Shopping Centre where we wandered around and wasted time. After a coffee mid-morning we walked uptown to visit Centrelink and the CO-PILOT took the opportunity to look at clothes as she has lost close to 20Kg and her clothes no longer fit.

I was on my best behaviour at Centrelink and did not give anybody a hard time, I did not get angry and did not revert to cynicism or sarcasm in my discussions. That’s a bit hard to do when I do not get a pension yet still have to report each two weeks. At least I came away with a clearer understanding of how the system works.

I am still confused.

In a nutshell, here are the results of the discussion.

My pension has dropped away to almost zero as the house at Airlie Beach was not treated as an asset for the first 12 months of my retirement. It seems the honeymoon is over, the house is now an asset and the rent is included in income. Ergo we have too many assets and too much income to get a pension. Or only a small pension, which is then income tested. While either of us is working we will not get a pension. We have both been working since end of May so have not received any Pension benefit in all that time.

However…

As we no longer live in either house but indeed live full time in WWWGO we will be entitled to rent assistance if we pay site fees at say, a caravan park. The rent assistance is not income tested until after the regular Aged Pension reduces to zero due to the income test. In other words, when we stay at caravan parks in our travels we can submit the receipts and will be refunded a portion of those fees. The Rent Assistance was not available during the first 12 months. It was suggested that we register for Rent Assistance when we leave Mackay and each 12 weeks, lodge the receipts at a CentreLink office of which there are many around the country including some outback centres.

I waited outside the store and read a book on the iPad while the CO-PILOT tried on clothes. I was called inside once to see a pair of slacks she wanted. They are two sizes smaller than she normally  wears and was excited to show off.

The problem with TERIOS was quickly found and rectified. A nut had come off an engine mount and this was most likely the reason the vibration happened just after it was put up on the hoist for the service two weeks ago. The engine has probably been pushed up and off the engine mount bolt and consequently the drive shaft was out of alignment. They found the fault, put on a nut, tightened down all four engine mounts, took TERIOS for a test run and I was only charged for half an hours labour.  That could have been a disaster as the engine had slipped back down on its mounting but any rough roads it would have bounced off again and unless rectified quickly could chew out the drive shaft bearings and damage the gearbox.

I came away happy and the CO-PILOT came away with a new wardrobe.

Our new digital scales, which I earned with Fly Buy points, arrived today. The scales have individual memory and records weight as well as advising such things as body fat, body mass index and a few other things which I have no idea about. I guess I will learn these things over the next few days.

Wednesday 21st September.

Woke early at 5am and wide awake, unable to get back to sleep. I seem to recall this happening earlier this year.

It was a quiet sort of day but hot. A hot breeze sprang up mid-morning and combined with smoke haze covering most of Queensland it was an uncomfortable afternoon. There are lots of bushfires burning all over Queensland. I sewed new plastic buckle clips to WWWGO lambs-wool seat covers, screwed a corkboard to the wall inside WWWGO, finally joined the two sets of awning roof rafters and made a home for them in the hatch. They are 2.3 metres long and just fit.

Thursday 22nd September.

Woke at 4am.

Grrrr!

Nothing much to write about except to say it is hot, I am in shorts n T-shirt all day, there was an annoying wind blowing all day

Friday.

Woke at 5am. This waking early stuff is annoying.

This is the young colt EXCHANGE having a sleep in the middle of the day.

...then wakes up a stretchin an a yawnin and full of agro.

The same hot wind blowing all day. I busied myself fitting the WWWGO lambs-wool seat covers. Then re-installed the Roman Blind between the driving compartment and the living area. We took the blind off to wash it earlier this week. It was fun threading the pulley cords back through where they belong.

The Three Amigo's having some chow time.

...ten minutes later and they are still chomping away.

Apart from that it was a lazy day with the hot wind blowing.

WWWGO has a wonderful site, with the Great Dividing Range as a backdrop and views all round looking over the valley.

My second chosen team, Brisbane Broncos were beaten by Manly tonight. My preferred teams have both been eliminated. Hmmm! My next choice would be the competition leaders, Melbourne Storm, to win their semi-final round against New Zealand warriors then go on to win against Many in the Grand final.

Saturday 24th September

Melbourne Storm lost to the New Zealand Warriors. Now how can I choose between these two teams which hold no interest for me?

Go the mighty Warriors!!!! What else can I do? No way in this wide brown land would I cheer for the Manly Sea Eagles.

Woke at 4.30. Sat at the table and read a book then crawled back into bed at 5.30 to be woken a short while later when the Co-Pilot alarm went off. Went back to sleep and woke at 7.30.

Another hot windy day.

Rain is desperately needed. This time last year it had been raining for two weeks and the grass was green and long. Plus there were muddy bogs all over the farm.

Sunday 25th September.

A hot day. I was going to say it was an uneventful day but on reflection that was not the case. Mid-morning I received a call from niece Kelly. She and Jase were heading up to the gorge when they spotted WWWGO on the hill. They dropped in for a quick tour and a cup of coffee. Kelly is pregnant and baby is due in the next week. It was a nice visit and it looks as though we will be visiting Kelly and a new bub real soon.

Mid-afternoon I received a call from a lady interested in buying VIRAGO. I gave her directions to daughter Averyl’s house as VIRAGO is stored there. I called Averyl and set up a time for inspection. The lady called later. She could find neither of the streets I named and somehow got lost. Perhaps it was my too simple instructions. Perhaps it was her interpretation. So I gave an alternate set of instructions. The lady is on board a yacht heading to Bowen and had asked a friend to drive her and has to ask a second time for another favour.

Sigh.

Averyl called. She and Paul had started VIRAGO but each time they put it in gear it turns off. Oh. Dear! What a time for this to happen! After talking them through several possible causes Paul commented the stand was still down. That is a built in safety feature. When the stand is down the bike will turn itself off when attempting to put it in gear.

Sigh!

The CO-PILOT called at 5pm and left a message while I was out feeding the chooks and the horses. She finished work late and discovered she had left the lights on all day and TERIOS has a flat battery. She had to wait an hour for RACQ Roadside Assist to turn up as they are busy and Mirani is a 40 klm trip from their base.

Sigh!

The CO-PILOT arrived home about 6.30. The battery was not only flat but the cells were damaged beyond repair. A new battery was installed. In the process, the stereo unit shut down and required a code word to unlock it. Luckily I found a pass word amongst the vehicles papers so managed to get the radio working and re-programme the local stations.

SIGH!

Not such an uneventful day after all!

215. and the Lord said, “Let there be light” and lo, there was light throughout the land. There still is in some places…

25/09/2011

Sometimes we add an extra post to the weekly regularity.

The extra post is usually photographic in nature and is about things we see on our travels and there are enough of them to create their own subject.

This post subject  is all about LIGHTHOUSES, hence the introduction about light. Most lighthouses these days are little more than a tourist attraction and do not operate at all. Others are automatic and need no routine maintenance just a checkup by a visiting lighthouse keeper or even a volunteer group to cut the grass, paint walls and fences and perhaps polish a lens.

So lets get the trip started…

Airey's Inlet in Victoria is on the famed GOR - the Great Ocean Road - it stands high on the cliffs at Split Point. It was built in 1891 and still operates on 240 volt automatic..

An interesting piece of historical lighthouse keeper lore was about…

“The keeper at Split Point at Airey’s Inlet in Victoria did not exactly sleep on the job but he did not see why he should be deprived of his social life at night. He scratched a small hole in the black paint on the back of the lantern, which prevents the light shining inland and annoying residents. This keeper, Richard Joy Baker, scratched the hole to line up with the Airey’s Inlet Hotel. Each time the lenses rotated, the light winked through the hole, assuring the keeper (who had retired to the hotel) that all was well.”

Cape Byron Lighthouse, the most Easterly point Australia at Byron Bay. Built in 1901 it still operates on 240 volt automatic.

It is accessible by foot, although with 500,00 visitors a year, car parking can be a problem. Guaranteed.

Amphitrite Point Lighthouse near Ucluelet Vancouver island Canada. Sits on a wild and wet spit of rocky point on the west coast of VI. Purely an automatic ,lighthouse.

Kiama Lighthouse sits on the hill above Blowhole Point, and overlooks Robertson Basin a man made harbour. Purely a 240volt automatic lighthouse.

There are reports the lighthouse is 224 foot above sea level. It seems these reports are incorrect as it is actually 121 feet above sea level.

Norah Head lightbhouse near Toukley NSW. Established in 1903. Photograph taken from Soldiers Beach. (not to be confused with SoldiersPoint. about 50 Klms further north.

The lighthouse was strongly mooted by local landholder Edward Hargraves (who is credited with starting the first Australian gold rush in 1851) because of his concern over the number of wrecks in the area. These included the Gwydir with three lives in 1894 and earlier a boat with 20 Chinese seamen whose bodies where washed ashore.

 

Point Dangar Lighthouse near Coolangatta Qld 1971 (there seems somer confusion with the location spelling. Sometimes it is shown as DANGAR and sometimes DANGER.) Choose your preference.

Point Danger is home to the Captain Cook Memorial Lighthouse. It lays claim to being the first in the world to experiment with laser technology (1971). I oprefer the older traditional style of lighthouse design.

The Black Lighthouse at Fort Queenscliff built 1843. Replacing an earler sandstone building.

Fort Queenscliff was built around the light after fears that ships carrying gold from the gold rush may be attacked by privateers.

Tacking Point Lighthouse near Port Macquarie built 1879.

The structure is built of cement-rendered bricks and because of the elevation only needed to be 8 metres high.

Yamba Lighthouse overlooks the surf beach and Clarence River. I enjoy this photo as it was taken early one stormy morning as I was walking along the path from the surf beach. Unknown to me the lens on my Panasonic 1.2Mp camera was covered in a fine film of salt. That gives the photo the gauzy hazy appearance.

The first lighthouse official keeper was William Walker who came to Yamba as a member of the Pilot’s crew and remained in the job until 1886 at least.

He was a widower for many years and lived by himself in rooms attached to the lighthouse.

Evidently a man of some education he accepted the job as teacher of the first provisional school but, as explained in the section on the Public School he resigned in 1870 because he couldn’t hold two jobs in the Public Service and he had never given up his employment in the boat crew..

A reporter of the “Sydney Mail” (24th Oct., 1885) called him “an old sailor … whose absence would now be regretted almost as much as that of his light. His bachelor quarters are snug and comfortable, and a perfect pattern of neatness and cleanliness, while the lamp and reflectors shine like polished gold and silver work under his attentive care”.

Cape Ottway Light Station another landmark on the GOR -Great Ocean Road.

Australia’s most significant lighthouse.

CAPE Otway Lightstation is the oldest, surviving lighthouse in mainland Australia. The light, which has been in continuous operation since 1848, is perched on towering sea cliffs where Bass Strait and the Southern Ocean collide. For thousands of immigrants, after many months at sea, Cape Otway was their first sight of land after leaving Europe.

 

214. Sunday 18th September. Still at Finch Hatton and we visit Airlie Beach and Mackay and have a busy week…

19/09/2011

Monday 12thSeptember 2011 Long post this week with many photographs. The sun shone brightly and the sea of rolling sugar cane stood out as patches of green. Patches of brown showed fields already harvested. Another field at the bottom of the hill was being harvested all day. The local White Herons

Australian White Heron's feeding from ground didturbed by the harvester. Click on image to enlarge it and clearly see the Heron's.

with a few Torresian Crows follow the harvester along each row and pick up grubs and beetles disturbed by the harvester. The eagles and hawks hover overhead looking for a different meal. They look for mice, snakes, bandicoots and lizards running into the harvested field. Donnis and I spent most of the day clearing out stuff we have not used in some time or not used at all. We created two piles. One to be thrown out or given to the St.Vinnies. The other is to be taken to storage in Airlie Beach. Last week I donated a large box of books, already read, to the nursing home. It seems silly to take up such a large volume of space, not to mention weight of books that I was keeping to swap along the way. I still have 17 unread books and that is more than enough to swap one for one. One of the items Donnis agreed to put into storage is a portable massage table which weighs in excess of 15 Kg and takes up a huge amount of space. Now all I have to do is to convince her to store the masses of medical textbooks. They are heavy and in my opinion not needed in our travels. I spent a couple of hours vacuuming TERIOS  to remove the dust and grit off the floor and seats, legacy of the week’s spent driving on gravel roads around Eungella. I dusted down all the internal surfaces and Armouralled the plastic interior surfaces. The seats and interior door trim were cleaned with upholstery cleaner. All windows, inside and outside were cleaned. The floor mats were thrown out and replaced with new ones. The car seat covers were also thrown away soon to be replaced with good looking, form fitting covers. The glove box, ash tray and coin trays were also emptied of all the little bits n pieces which accumulate. The interior now looks and smells like new, well, almost. I washed the outside last week at a brushless car wash but it looks just as dirty again from driving on and off the stud farm every day. The dogs pee on the tyres which has more dust clinging to the pee shape. Tuesday 13th September Woke at 7am to the sound of harvesters working in the field nearby. Donnis woke at 5.15am to go to work but apart from my initial waking as she climbed out of bed I soon fell asleep and did not hear her leave. The mail brought the registration renewal. Woops. Forgot to include the cost of that in my calculations. Darn! Any plans we had for leaving here by the first week of November are well and truly dashed. Even getting away by the end of November is looking a little shaky. As always our plans – which we do not have, just vague thoughts of what we would like to do – need to be flexible. As a planner who is/was controlled by the clock and the calendar, I have been learning to cast off that life and be ready to accept change as it occurs. Donnis has no trouble with changes and seems to be able to accept a change in plans quite readily. Sigh! I thought by now I would be more relaxed with regards to plans, timetables, schedules but it is obvious I am not. I rarely wear a watch these days but being flexible and accept change is more than not wearing a watch. Trust me, I am working on it. Wednesday 14thSeptember It was a long day. We drove to Airlie Beach.

Part of Airlie Beach foreshore.

I wore a watch. First stop was a doctor appointment for Donnis (in the meantime I visited BCF to look at a kayak and also visited Bunnings for a corkboard.) then it was on to the appointment with our tax agent. On arrival she told us she had already half completed our tax return by accessing the Australian Tax Office and all we needed to do was supply a little additional information. The good news was we do not owe any money to the ATO. I was relieved as I fully expected we would need to pay them a few thousand dollars. After that bit of good news we drove to our storage shed at our house at Jubilee Pocket to drop off some items which are no longer needed. Then we had lunch at Hogs Breath Café. For those who know about the Hogs Breath chain of restaurants across Australia may not be aware the original HB was started in Airlie Beach by a man called Don Algie (I once did all his insurance and that of all the franchises). Then Donnis had a dental appointment while I called into the office of Oceanic Insurance Brokers and said hello to the staff. Then we called to see our friend Cheryl A, as we stayed with her tonight. Cheryl is retired and lives alone except for the two black female poodles, another female dog of indeterminate breed and a female cat. (Do you see a pattern emerging here?) One of the poodles is blind and has diabetes. Cheryl has to inject it with insulin three times a day. Then finally we went to dinner at a Thai restaurant where we joined my sister Sandra and her beau, David.

Dinner at Airlie Thai on the balcony overlooking Airlie Beach. Donnis, Cheryl, FrankieG, Sandra (also known as Sandi or Shan) and Dave the builder.

Whew! Little wonder I was ready for bed by 9.30. Thursday 15thSeptember. Another busy day. After breakfast with Cheryl we drove into Airlie Beach for coffee with Percy and Bronwyn M,

Percy, Bronwyn and Donnis AKA Co-Pilot.

friends of Donnis from her days when she lived on Hamilton Island. Percy built all the pools on HI including one for the late George Harrison of Beatles fame.

i recall the facilities at beachside were falling down and smelly. Those facilities have been replaced, at least on the inside, and now look like a toilet block orta look. The graphics over the men's urinal were worthy of a photograph.

After coffee we drove to Brandy Creek to visit more friends of Donnis from “the old days”, Lok and Ros S,

Lok, Ros and Donnis on the Lettuce farm.

who started the original Wok Inn Restaurant in Airlie Beach. These days they keep busy with a hydroponic lettuce farm

Lettuce in hydroponic beds ready for harvest.

which supplies shops, supermarkets, restaurants, green grocers and fresh food outlets in the Airlie Beach area. Ros put on a wonderful, sinus cleansing curry chicken for lunch. We finally left Airlie about 2.30pm and arrived back at Finch Hatton by 4.30pm. Another day which left me tired and ready for bed by 9.30pm. Friday 16th September Another early morning drive into Mackay to take Averyl & Paul to the airport. I will be looking after grandchildren, Shelby-Rose and Anakin until Sunday night. Today, the co-pilot (I realised that once upon a time I called Donnis the co-pilot but lately have reverted to calling her by name. From here on in I will call her the co-pilot until I forget and start calling her Donnis again) drove around Mackay looking for an In Vehicle Video Camera System. As we do a lot of Klms and plan on doing lots more Klms we believe a video camera mounted on the windscreen will be of benefit, not only in a crash situation but will be able to show interesting visuals as we drive. The type of camera we want is one which gives about 13 hours of continuous recording on a 32Gb SD card, includes a Google Maps linked to GPS display, records G-forces in the event of an accident, automatically saves video prior to, during and immediately after. It automatically loop records over non saved material. http://www.gotrack.com.au/myview/index.php Only JayCar knew what I was talking about and had sold their last two cameras that morning. The co-pilot and I bought lambs wool seat covers for TERIOS then went our separate ways. She to do some grocery shopping then return to Finch Hatton for the night as she starts work at 6.30 am in the morning. I went to collect the grandchildren from school.. Saturday 17thSeptember. It is strange but as I start to type the date each day I have this urge to type the month as March!!! Today we took a drive to Palmyra on the outskirts of Mackay, near Walkerston and in the heart of cane farms. The reason for us being here was to visit the Mackay Kart Club and to watch Dave the Builder,

Dave in his GoKart 96 coming round the bend at Palmyra Go Kart Track.

Sandra’s beau in action as a go kart racer. I was quite impressed by the facilities at the kart track and in all the safety regulations governing the sport. Each kart is basically the same sized engine, has the same size wheels and tyres, same exhaust system and brakes. All vehicles are fitted with electronic monitoring devices which are recorded via sensors in the concrete track.

Sometimes cars spin out off the track and cannot be re-started. Here we see a driver and pit crew removing the kart from the track. All karts have a trolley to move vehicles around.

This is a sport which I would love to be involved in but the costs are quite high. Some drivers manage with just themselves and a friend and use facilities provided beside the pits to set up and work on their machines. Others, such as Dave have a purpose built trailer which carries three karts, spares, tools, fuel and of course supplies. Others are even more organised with trucks fitted with sleeping accommodation and food preparation areas. I will not be getting involved as apart from the cost, we are getting on the road again in a few weeks and need to stay focused.

Anakin and Shelby-Rose at the Go Kart track.

Later Shelby, Anakin and I drove out to the Mackay Harbour. The harbour wall was damaged during cyclone Ului in 2010 and cyclone Yasi this year. The roadway on the wall has been closed to all traffic, vehicle as well as foot. Until now. The gates were open today for people to use the wall as a way to see a different perspective of the harbour, as well as hundreds of vantage points for fishing on the quiet harbour side or the open ocean side of the wall. Scuba divers, spearfisherpersons, photographers and walkers were all enjoying the opened road and pathway. Mackay Harbour is in fact three separate harbours and it is quite large.

Mackay Harbour Entrance Beacon

The first part of the harbour, through a relatively narrow opening in the rock wall is used by all vessels, including larger ships who take on bulk sugar and other bulk or container cargo.

The original harbour which has been built onto twice, forming another two purpose made harbours.

Visiting cruise liners have used the wharves as well as large naval ships. The middle section is for smaller ships and some tourist vessels. It once supported pylon type berthing for pleasurecraft. My 7m yacht, ASTARET was berthed here for a year before I moved it to Shute Harbour. The third section is mainly to accommodate pleasure craft, sail and power, in a marina type environment. Marina style multi story apartments are built on this end of the harbour and is an impressive area. The entire third section was once upon a time a surf beach which has now been moved several hundred metres to the southern side of the new harbour breakwater wall. Now, here is one of life’s curiosities. I was sitting on the breakwater wall photographing the grandchildren when I noticed a yacht heading for the harbour entrance. It was on a tight course to come in close against the rock wall and take full advantage of the fading southerly breeze. I thought some photographs of the yacht with Slade Rock (Slade Rock sort of makes a secondary entrance boundary and due to the length of rock extending out and only visible at extreme low tides, it is advisable to give it a wide berth)  in the background.

DEHLER MAGIC with Slade Rock as background.

As it got closer and from my higher vantage point I could clearly see the name DEHLER MAGIC, Cumberland Charters, along its side near the stern.

DEHLER MAGIC

In my previous life, before retirement, I was a Marine Insurance Broker and one of my clients was Cumberland Charters, partly owned by Charlie P, who also happens to own DEHLER MAGIC. It was strange to see it this far south as the normal charter limits is not below the Whitsunday Islands. Often charterers may pay for additional crew to take them outside normal limits or drop them at a preferred marina to catch certain flights out of say, Mackay. I scanned the people on board and even with my zoom lens could not see Charlie on board but did notice two people who appear to be Cumberland Crew.

DEHLER MAGIC inside Mackay Harbour.

After much coercion from young persons we had pizza for dinner and I was amazed that one adult and two young children ate two pizza. Sunday 18th September The three of us went to the movies today. We saw Spy Kids 4 in 4D. Now 4D is nothing more than a gimmick and does not provide any additional benefit to the experience. It is filmed in 2D and supposedly has Smellorama. This is a numbered button which comes on the screen telling you to scratch the corresponding button on a card??? We were not given a card and I suspect neither was anybody else as I never once smelled anything out of the ordinary. Except, maybe for the smell of popcorn or as in our case, the smell of a freshly opened pack of Starburst Jellies. The movie is strictly a kids movie and although action packed I found myself nodding off after half an hour. Watching and listening to Anakins reaction after the movie, as he hyper skipped and jumped and kapow kapowed his way out of the theatre I wondered that perhaps I was the same when I was his age and was allowed to take myself (and younger brother Allan) to the movies on a Saturday arvo. We would come out of the movies along with our friends and would ride an imaginary horse and shoot imaginary guns and hide in niches away from imaginary gunfire. Nothing has changed I suppose except the movie technology, the surround sound and most important of all, the cost. When I was young my brother and I received two shillings (twenty cents) pocket money on Saturday. That money paid for admission of one shilling and three pence (about 12 cents) for upper stalls seats and with the remaining ninepence I bought myself two packets of crisps. (Allan bought Choo Choo bars and spent the entire afternoon slobbering his way through the two bars) Today the cost of the tickets for the grandchildren was $24 plus $11 for two frozen cokes. We supplied our own crisps and jellies).My seniors ticket cost $8. Had we booked on line, including two lots of giant popcorn and two super dooper size coke the cost of tickets would have been $59. What families can afford to take their children to the movies once or twice during school holidays or even once a week? Gee I know wages and the standard of living has increased since my childhood but I cannot help but believe we got more for our money in those days. After collecting Averyl and Paul from the airport, the CO-PILOT and I went to Souths Leagues Club for a so-so dinner and by the time we arrived back at our FH camp it was time for bed. ZZZZZZzzzzzz….

213. Sunday 11th September 2011. The tenth anniversary of the day the world changed forever…which has nothing to do with our post this week. Still at Finch Hatton…

12/09/2011

Monday 5th September 2011

Guess who was the birthday boy today? No! I am not going to share with you my age. Ya hafta guess!!!

Donnis went to Marian (that is the name of a town which is 10Klms from Mirani) to have a massage in exchange for giving a massage. I dropped her off and drove on a further 20 Klms to Walkerston.

Water tower in the centre of Walkerston. Ya could not get lost in Walkerston. The land is flat flat flat for kilometres in all directions and the water tower stands out.

Melissa had warned me there is nowhere to have a coffee in Walkerston and she was almost correct. The bakery does coffee but the only tables are outside on the footpath where you can sit and watch all the traffic and smell the associated fumes pass by.

Walkerston is a two pub town. The Duke of Edinburgh (which also doubles as the RSL Club) is in the centre of town.

O'Sheas Pub is at an intersection.

Although I was surprised by the amount of traffic, I should not have been. Walkerston is on the Mackay – Nebo Road, the access road to all the coal mines which have sprung up over the Great Dividing Range in an area known as the Bowen Basin. Twenty years ago there were only a handful of mines and staff numbers and traffic were fairly predictable. Now there are a multitude of mines and the flow of traffic including trucks and buses is almost constant through the once sleepy village of Walkerston. As most of the workers at the mines are contracted under a FIFO scheme (Fly In Fly Out) they live in purpose built camps near the mines and are bussed to and from Mackay.  Workers mostly live in Mackay so there is a constant all day every day shuttle of buses to and from the mines. In fact Melissa’s husband Steve works at an older more established mine but he stays on a friends property near Moranbah and drives himself to and from work and then back to the farm at Finch Hatton at the end of his roster. Another son in law, Paul, is one of those workers who stay in camp for his shifts then comes home to Mackay by bus at the end of his roster.

As we left the farm in the morning, I took Donnis to the spot where I saw the snake yesterday. If it was still there, it would be another piece of evidence that it was a Taipan. They are a territorial snake. It was in the same place but as Donnis approached with the camera it moved away under the road. Donnis was clicking away still taking photos. What the!!! Unseen by me was a second snake as she had not seen the first. WooHoo. Usually Taipans are known to be in pairs. If you see one there is another not far away. The camera settings were not correct for wildlife and the photographer was a bit nervous but the result is still not bad.

One of a pair of Taipans.

Did you know?

  • Of the ten deadliest snakes in the world, all are found in Australia.
  • The second deadliest snake is the Taipan being beaten into to first place by its cousin, The Inland Taipan.
  • With just one envenomation (bite) the Taipan venom is enough to kill 250,000 mice or 30 adult humans. It is not the amount of venom it is simply the toxicity of the venom.
  • Annually, more humans die from Bee stings than Snake bite in Australia.
  • Generally those who are bitten and die are snake handlers, milkers (milkers are those people who milk live venom from a live snake to make an anti-venom) or people too stupid to leave a snake alone.
  • Most snakes prefer to move away but if antagonised or cornered they will attack. Except the Inland Taipan which will go out of its way to attack. Luckily the snake is only found in an isolated patch of desert in the middle of Oz.

Donnis and Melissa took me to Pinnacle Pub for a birthday dinner and I had a rump steak.

Tuesday 6th September.

Donnis went to Mackay to do a two day course to renew her CPR certificate.

Wednesday 7th September

While Donnis was at day two of her course I took TERIOS to K-Mart to have a service carried out.

While waiting for TERIOS to be serviced I had a coffee at Muffin Break. This is what greeted me as I drained the last of the coffee from the cup.

First the car ran wonderfully when I picked it up but when I was on my way to Donnis a terrible shuddering occurred. I took it back to K-Mart but they could not find anything wrong and claimed what they did was a simple oil change, filters and plugs.

Hmmm! The shuddering occurs when in 5th gear. So we have devised a routine until it can be assessed by Toyota on 20th. If the shuddering occurs, slow down change back to 4th until the shuddering stops then change back into 5th. I(t could be the drive train, the brakes or the gearbox). Just what we do not need in our lives at the moment but better now than somewhere in the outback.

Thursday 8th September.

It was another overcast day with a few spits of rain.

I have started to braid a rope just for the fun of it.

Melissa called my handiwork "plaited rope". I call it "braided rope". Perhaps we are both correct. I find the process relaxing and gives my hands and fingers a good workout.

All the hay bales in the stables are held together with a simple thin nylon twine. Instead of throwing out the twine I have collected it over several weeks and started to braid it together. At first it was straight forward. Then came the moment where I had to add another piece of twine and simply knotted two pieces together. It makes the rope lumpy and does not look good at all. As well, when I stopped braiding for the day I put a knot in the three pieces of twine. When I re-commenced braiding I started from the knot without taking out the knot. Again it was not pretty and was lumpy. Now that I have a sizeable length of rope those lumps and knots are beginning to unravel. It did not take long for me to devise a way to join in a new length of twine without using a knot. The first three metres of the rope has been unbraided and the rope now feels lumpless and has a smooth continuous feel to it. I have twenty metres of multi-coloured rope and am waiting on more hay bales to be opened so I can do a bit more braiding. I am enjoying the relaxation of the braiding process.

Closeup detail of colours and texture of the braided rope.

Friday 9th September.

The morning started with a thick fog blanketing the area. The fog started to lift but still filled the hollows and valleys as far as the eye can see.

Early morning fog from our hillside camp at Finch Hatton.

WooHoo. Usually a fog heralds a bright sunny day to come and that is exactly what occurred.

Power lines through the fog.

WWWGO & TERIOS in the fog at Finch Hatton.

Later in the day the wind picked up from the northwest and finally swung around to the west. This brought a chilly change to the afternoon and evening.

Saturday 10th September

Woke to a chilly morning and a cool breeze blowing from the southwest. The breeze has swung through from the west to south west with gusts from the south. That cool breeze got stronger as the morning wore on until a huge gust came along and blew our two folding chairs and a milk crate down the hill. I quickly grabbed the awning before it was blown apart. We waited for a lull in the gusts and wound the awning in.

Sunday 11th September. The tenth anniversary of 911. It still sends chills down my spine. I still get angry about the cowardly act. I still do not like being in large cities although I did not like large cities beforehand.

It was quite cold overnight and early this morning. You know the type of cold I am talking about. You are in bed, all cosy and snug in your warm cocoon and you stretch and encounter the chilled sheets outside your warmth area. Yikes! You realise you have pulled the blankets up over your head and an explorative hand sneaking outside the blankets convinces you it is too cold to get out of bed. On the other hand your bladder is telling you otherwise.

Geez. This is Spring. In the Tropics.

We both had a day off so went in to Mackay to catch up with sister Sandra. Of course a little shopping was achieved as well.

Boo Hoo. My Rugby League team, the North Queensland Cowboys were defeated last night by Manly. My preferred team is now out of the 2011 competition. As a result I have switched my allegiance to my other preferred team, the Brisbane Bronco’s and – pardon the expression – they are a dark horse to be at the grand final.

Go the Bronco’s.

212. Wildlife, um err maybe even some less than wildlife and some tame life…

11/09/2011

In our travels we often see animals doing whatever it is that animals do. We take photos because that is what we do. Some of the photos may have appeared in earlier posts. Some never have been published before. We thought it might be nice to share some of our many wildlife photos.

The good local folk around Noosa Beach mostly learn to live with the Scrub Turkey which is a protected animal. They are also in plague proportions and are very cheeky and a bit like a seagull in that they want to eat what you are eating…while you are trying to eat it. Some locals have suggested an annual cull but so far their pleas have fallen on an unreceptive audience. There is one albino scrub turkey running around and we were fortunate enough to see it.

Albino Scrub Turkey taken at Noosa Woods November 2010.

In July and August 2011 I met a many cattle while carrying out my Census duties. Often the cattle was in small herds while at other times they were in small groups of five, sometimes less. Sometimes they would crash out of the thick undergrowth or jungle and give me an annoyed stare. Some even looked ready to charge. So far the score in the cattle charging and my retaliation is, Cattle 0, Frank 0.

Hmmm! Just a thought. Perhaps they thought I should be counting them in the Census as well. Maybe that is why some of them looked annoyed.

Annoyed Brahman at Eungella.

We see the Australian White Ibis almost everywhere we have travelled. This one was seen at a crowded Southbank in Brisbane late November 2010. Kids were running around on the sand and in the water but the Ibis just ignored them all.

Australian White Ibis, Southbank, Brisbane, Queensland.

While driving the “back o Bourke” in NSW in October 2010 we saw many fine specimens of lizards in the red sandhills.

Bearded Dragon somewhere near Bourke, NSW, October 2010.

The Census allowed me to see parts of Eungella the average person would never see.

Llama sighted at Eungella, (more correctly that should be Dalrymple Heights) Queensland, during the August 2011 Census.

There are many different ducks in Oz. This one was spotted in Gympie, Queensland, January 2011. I have not identified what type of duck it is. Perhaps because deep down I know it is not a duck but is really a juvenile Swamp Hen.

Juvenile Swamp Hen ???

Ahhh. The magnificent Brahminy Kite. We see them everywhere we travel near a body of water. For years I called them a Sea Eagle which looks nothing like this. They are not easy to photograph and this was the best of about twenty photos I took. It was taken in May 2011 over Eimeo Creek, Bucasia Beach.

Brahminy Kite

More unidentified ducks. This pair would investigate the old campfire every morning. They were spotted in November 2011 on the banks of the Gwydir River near Bingara NSW.

Ducks...Bingara NSW

I saw this lovely Black Swan on the banks of a water course running through a park on the outskirts of Gympie Queensland in January 2011.

Black Swan

The last photo in this post (there will be future animal posts) is of the huge cattle drive we became part of for a short period of time in October 2010 near Morven Queensland. As we inched our way forward and passed the cattle they would turn their heads to give us an uninterested look then continue ambling along without a second glance.

Cattle across the highway.

211. Sunday 4th September 2011. Spring has arrived in Finch Hatton…

05/09/2011

Monday 29th August 2011

Donnis had a day off and I went to Finch Hatton to deliver the completed Census material to the Area Supervisor. The rest of the day was all mine. With the rain (perhaps I should more correctly call it a drizzle) settling in for the day, neither of us felt like going anywhere or doing anything. We stayed home and did the usual boring stuff like the washing. As Donnis is working tomorrow I have an appointment with the doc to remove the stitch from my neck (he removed a skin tag last Tuesday). While in town I plan on getting TERIOS washed and lots of shopping done. I prefer to grocery shop on my own. Donnis will use Melissa’s Hilux which has been sitting in the garage for almost two weeks. I decided to start it up to ensure Donnis does not have any problems with it tomorrow.

Oh dear! Not only does it not start, there is not enough battery to even light up any of the dials or lights.

Nuffin!

I dug out my pair of high voltage jump start leads and hooked up to TERIOS. Even with it revving, the HiLux would not even turn over. Only the dash instrument lights came on.

Oh darn, oh gosh, oh no.

If I cannot get the HiLux started I will not have time to drive to Mackay in the TERIOS, get all my jobs done and back by 1pm so Donnis can go to work.

I looked for a battery charger in Steve’s shed but the only one I found was clogged with wasps nests.

I have cancelled tomorrow.

Tuesday 30th August.

Today does not really exist as I cancelled it last night.

More showers. By 9am there was 13mm of rain in the gauge. That makes a total of 29mm since the rain began. It is all good to help fill the tanks.

Melissa and Steve arrived home about 4pm and let the horses out of the float. They immediately ran around the property to say hello to all the other horses. There was such excitement amongst the horses. With all that equine energy around I left the feeding regime to Melissa and Steve.

Wednesday 31st August.

The last day of Winter.

The clouds slowly drifted away and were replaced by sunshine. By the afternoon it had turned into a lovely warm day.

Steve spent two days slashing some of the paddocks before he went back to work.

We moved WWWGO today. Yep we have left our place at Melissa & Steve’s Stud property. We have moved to another location. We have moved at least 20 metres on Melissa & Steve’s Stud property. The spot we are now on is not quite level, the grass is a mixture of weeds and bumps and hollows. We have to walk further to the house and I love it. This is where I wanted to camp in the first place.

WWWGO in our new location. The cloud ridden Clarke Ranges - part of the Great Dividing Range - can be seen in the background.

Thursday 1st September. Spring is in the Air.

It was a day off for Donnis so while she spent the day at camp making new curtains, I spent the day shopping in Mackay.

Well maintained Commonwealth Bank building in Victoria Street.

A couple of posts back I threatened to mention a bit more about the history of Mackay.

This building was once a bank. When I first arrived in Mackay it was being used as a bank but I cannot recall which one. Note the original bank name has been removed. Note also it was built in 1922, four years after the cyclone. Since then it has had several tenants, including a building society. One complete block of Victoria Street was fenced off while council workers re-surfaced the roadway.

In a nutshell, Mackay was “discovered” by a man called John Mackay who, in company with others set out from Armidale in NSW in January 1860 seeking pastoral land. They first spied the Pioneer Valley from an area around what is now known as Eungella. They worked their way down the escarpment and found the land was fertile. All vowed to claim a parcel of land on return to NSW but some of the party died and others lost interest and only John Mackay took up a parcel of land. By the end of 1863 a sea entrance to Pioneer River was found and a town established, comprising about four stores and a few makeshift houses. A good sized town continued to grow until the cyclone of 1918 destroyed most of it as well as claiming 22 lives. A surge of rebuilding took place and many of the buildings standing in the two main streets, Victoria and Sydney, date from 1919 onwards. The main industry of the area was sugar cane with some cattle over the Clarke Ranges to Cleremont. Today mining in the hinterland seems to be the main industry followed by the mining support businesses, sugar cane and tourism. Beef cattle is still maintained but seems to have slipped down the ladder of success as has most industries since mining has had a resurgence. I found it interesting that small scale mining of gold, lead, zinc and copper is still being carried out in the area around the back reaches of Eungella.

Victoria Street under reconstruction. The block was built around 1899 and obviously survived the 1918 cyclone.

Lots of reading is available from http://www.mackayhistory.org/research/research.html

The palace Hotel on the corner of Victoria and Sydney streets. Once upon a time there was a hotel on almost every corner in Mackay.

Mackay District Courthouse. Still in use today.

Although I did not get everything I wanted it was a full day and I arrived back at camped suitably tired.

I picked up the new sliders from Spotlight for the bathroom curtain. Yikes! As nice as they are, they do not fit the I-beam bathroom rail! It is back to the drawing board on this idea. Over the next couple of days I will look at dismantling the bathroom shower screen and see if the rail can be modified. Otherwise I will install a different I-beam rail.

Friday 2nd of Spring.

Donnis was at work. I started to install the overhead kitchen lockers with new pull handles which I bought from Porters Hardware along with some quick change drill bits for my tiny Bosch Lithium Ion Drill. Amazing what a couple of good tools can do. The handle screws were too long so I cut them shorter with my tiny handy hacksaw and filed them back with a set of tiny files I bought some months ago.

I hung the new curtains and pelmet over the dining table then hung the privacy curtain around the bed. This curtain is good if one of us wants to go to bed and the other wants to sit up and read or watch TV.  We also have a set of wireless headphones so there is no TV noise.

I also put a couple of “throw” rat baits under the engine cowling in the hope it will keep our motor area clear of field mice wanting to build a nest in there or chew off the insulation on the wiring. I did have a “throw” rat bait in the same area when we first arrived in Finch Hatton. I noticed a couple of dead mice near where WWWGO has been parked the last few weeks AND the rat bait pack is missing.

Donnis will finish making the remainder of the curtains for WWWGO when she next has a few days off. After that we will tackle re-upholstering the pelmets and the bed headboard.

Saturday 3rd September.

We were woken by the sound of large raindrops and the realisation we went to bed with both the main and bathroom hatches wide open. Although the rain did not last long it seems to have brought strong winds and cooler temps with it.

Sunday 4th September

Cold n windy again. When I say “cold” it is probably still 20 or 21 degrees but the wind is cool. I baked a packet mix carrot cake today. It is the second last of the “gluten free” packet mixes Donnis bought. I am not sure why she bought them as neither of us has a gluten problem. Well, maybe I do in respect of baking gluten free cakes. They just do not cook the same as a regular flour type cake. As usual the cake turned out dry and cumbly and near enough to tasteless. The icing is the kind which runs off the cake and pools around the base.

Gluten Free Carrot Cake.

Oh, well. I sliced it as best I could, wrapped it in clingwrap and froze them for when I want a bit of cake with my tea or coffee.

This afternoon I went for a walk with the dogs, throwing a Frisbee for them to chase. They then drop it on the gravel road for me to collect and throw again. As I bent down to pick it up, I saw, curled up on the side of the road a…TAIPAN…or maybe an… EASTERN BROWN SNAKE. They both look alike with a gunmetal grey colour and a tan coloured head. Both are in the ten deadliest snakes in the world. I lean toward it being a TAIPAN as they live in or near canefields and this one was on a rock beside a canefield. It reared its head and came toward me. I picked up the Frisbee and left the area. Both the Taipan and the Eastern Brown will attack humans. Most snakes will move away.

Of course I did not have the camera with me so no photo’s. Melissa tells me the Taipan’s are territorial and there is a good chance the snake will be in the same place tomorrow.

Hmmm! Looks like the Spring snake season is already underway.

Bugga!