Archive for February 19th, 2012

239. Sunday 19th February 2012. Culcairn and Howlong (is a piece of string?)…


We have a generous helping of photographs this week.

Some comments from readers would be appreciated.

Monday 13th February
It was a hot day and the CO-PILOT  went to work on the night shift. Otherwise we stayed in camp and did several loads of washing and relaxed.
Tuesday 14th February
The CO-PILOT  came home from work and went to bed. I did a load of washing, emptied the black water cassette, filled the fresh water tank and on the CO-PILOT ‘s suggestion I drove to Albury to see a movie and do some grocery shopping.
I was looking forward to seeing the Star Wars Episode 1 in 3D. Now the alternate name of The Phantom Menace and with Ewan McGregor in a lead role I should have been forewarned. This was just a 3D enhanced version  of an older movie where Anakin Skywalker is introduced as a “Pod” racer. Maybe I did not read the reviews closely enough. In a nutshell I was hugely disappointed to pay $14 for a movie I had already seen and the 3D effects were nowhere near as good as I have come to expect and nowhere near as good as the trailers for upcoming movies. Perhaps the other 6 people in the theatre felt as ripped off as I was. Dunno, cause I did not speak with any of them.
Wednesday 15th February
After a cool morning ( we are shaded by tall River Red Gums until about 11am) it turned into a hot day. The CO-PILOT slept until mid-afternoon.
Apart from my usual chores around the camp I decided to try something new.  In any sort of camping situation you can never have enough guy ropes, complete with spring and timber runner. I have one guy rope with neither spring nor runner. (a legacy of the dogs on the farm at Finch Hatton, I suppose the runner looked like a bone) I also have one guy rope with no spring. That was an easy one to fix as I had bought a pack of springs when in Albury on Monday.  Finding a piece of suitable timber from a fallen branch I cut, filed and drilled a runner and made a complete guy rope. Great!

Here is my handiwork making a guy rope from rope I braided myself and timber from a fallen River Red Gum branch.

I was so pleased with that effort I made another runner, using a piece of rope I had made when we camped at Finch Hatton. I made a complete guy, including rope, spring and runner.
I cooked a couple of 25mm thick fillet steaks for dinner. I used the cast iron griddle on the handy butane stove. The steaks were liberally sprinkled with ground pepper. They were melt in your mouth yummo tasty steaks. I can never understand why people and restaurants need to use steak knives. If you use a quality steak and cook it correctly a good steak with need the minimum of gentle cutting.
I must again make comment about our $40 Dick Smith Personal Video Recorder which saves to an external hard drive. Using a local TV guide I selected a week of movies and or TV series. I then programmed the PVR allowing an extra 10 minutes for the finish time in case programs are running late. The PVR turns on and off as required and when we want a movie it is so easy to use. Apart from the small price tag the unit is small and fits into WWWGO without any problems, not like a big DVD Recorder.
Thursday16th February.
Not much to report today. I had so much fun and enjoyment making the guy rope yesterday, I decided to make another. This time it was a double. It was overcast all day and I could hear thunder in the distance. Twice during the day light rain fell. In the evening the thunder got closer but no rain.
Friday 17th February
The CO-PILOT  is on afternoon shift and has a 1pm start. We have been having our main meal at midday so we can still have a meal together and any leftovers she can take to the hospital for her evening mail.
Today I cooked a rolled pork rib roast, stuffed with umm err, stuffing, including mushrooms, almonds and cranberries. Our $40 turbo oven special cooked the pork to perfection. I set it on a lower heat and cooked it for two hours, turning once. I brought out my beautiful carving knife and the slices just rolled off the jointed in perfect increments. The CO-PILOT  had been given a butternut pumpkin earlier in the week so I placed several fat chunks in the turbo oven at half time. At three quarter time I placed several broccoli heads, wrapped in foil with a little water, into the turbo as well.  All was cooked as melt in your mouth and tasty. As long as we are here and have power the turbo oven will be used often. Once we leave and are self-sufficient once more and the weather gets colder, we will use the on-board gas oven.
I have started to get back into my routine of a brisk walk first thing in the morning.

A tree lined Culcairn street.

The walks are usually about 2 klms and I get the opportunity to look around most of the streets of Culcairn.

Interesting sign in Culcairn.

We are probably in one of the best locations in town. We are beside the Billabong Creek, the toilets and showers are a 50 metre walk up a small hill, we have power and water and the shopping is only a 250 metre walk away.

A dozen times a day these goods trains roar through the Culcairn Crossing.

In the afternoon the clouds rolled in, thunder thundered and rain, big drops of rain, fell, but despite the huff n puff the rain was only short lived although the thunder persisted a bit longer.
Saturday 18th February
The CO-PILOT  was a little late getting home last night as an elderly cancer ridden patient died. She cleaned the body to be presentable to family and all she wanted to do when she came home was to take a long, hot, cleansing shower. Although his death was expected it is still not a pleasant task to clean up the body and bed sheets afterwards.
The CO-PILOT , as expected, slept in until 11am especially as she had difficulty falling asleep last night.
I took my usual walk and photographed unusual letter boxes

Interesting letterbox. Note the intricate cast iron lacework in the background.

Close up of the cast iron lace.

and noticed a fixer upper house for sale.
Only $60,000.
Hmmm! Do we want a house at Culcairn? It is off the beaten track although close to the city of Albury it is nowhere near the ocean which is where we want to be. Besides we already have our two houses near the sea at Airlie Beach and Bucasia Beach. After working at fixing up Errol’s house in Mackay and helping to get the new house in Corrimal ready to move into, I am not sure if I want a fixer upper.
At least not in Culcairn. I am sure the Henty hospital would welcome the CO-PILOT  with open arms.
Still, I have a good collection of tools in Airlie Beach and if we found a suitable fixer upper somewhere near the coast between Sydney and Brisbane, we could be tempted.
Anybody know of such a house?
Preferred locations, travelling north from Sydney would be,
Bonnie Hills

Another letterbox (dysfunctional?)

Ned Kelly letterbox.

Cooked a Tandoori Chicken in the turbo oven so we could have a meal together before the CO-PILOT  went to work.
Sunday 19th February
Gee, the last month has flown by.
The CO-PILOT  has a night shift tonight so that gives us a full day to have a look around the district.
First we headed west to the little town of Walbundrie which has a few interesting old buildings,

Placque commenemorating the 100th anniversary of the original school building.

How did they manage to pack 60 students in this building? Students from different grades and only one teacher!! Current teachers winge if they have thirty students in the class.

Closeup of the 140 year old rough hewn white granite "bricks".

Walbundrie Pub. Note the For Sale sign. Even though it was a hot Sunday morning and there are cars parked outside, the pub was not open for business although a sign advertsied evening meals Friday & Saturday nights only.

then  I was surprised to find we then turned to the south to the town of Brockelsby and from there to Howlong.  (Gee I can’t help myself Howlong did it take to drive there? OR Howlong did we stay? OR Howlong did we wait to be served?) The first two towns were small with little general stores. We expected Howlong would be the same.

An early building in Howlong, the Mechanics Institute.

Approaching the town we were gobsmacked to see a green green green golf course and a full car park including several tourist buses. In town the smart new bakery was doing a roaring trade and across the street at the Court House Hotel,

The Courthouse Hotel at Howlong. The dining room was beautifully lined with timber and the tables had white starched tablecloths and silverware. Very elegant.

When we left the bakery we this Porsche parked next to TERIOS.

the timber panelled old silver service dining room was also packing people in. Howlong is a far larger and busier town than we expected. I did not realise the town is on the Murray River and by crossing the bridge into the state of Victoria there was a pleasant spot beside the river.

Picnic at Howlong on the Murray River.

Turn left to the boat ramp and No Camping signs. Turn right and there are several spots for free camping beside the river. Back in town at Coronation Park is the same deal. No camping near the boat ramp but follow the dirt track 150m to the right and there is free camping. All along the river are the absolutely, stately, wonderful, gorgeous, awesome, downright dangerous River Red Gums.

Magnificent River Red Gums.

Another River Red Gum.

Be aware these trees can shed a limb without notice and the limbs are often big enough to flatten a car. OR a motorhome or caravan parked beneath. The story is these trees shed limbs when heat stressed in summer. When it is raining or windy they seem OK. My rule is anytime is a good time to avoid parking or camping beneath them. Their canopy spreads very wide. So as much as I love these trees I also have a healthy respect for them especially as their nickname is WIDOWMAKERS.

Take a gander at the size of this recently falled limb.

I had not consulted a map before we left but soon discovered it was quicker to drive to Albury and turn off along the Riverina Highway. That is the way we will go next time as we explore other Murray River towns of Corowa NSW and Rutherglen Yarrawonga in Victoria.
We were bad people today, both having a pie with salad for lunch and followed up with a simply decadent Vanilla Slice which had a chocolate icing and a layer of cream on top of the vanilla.
While rubber necking our way around the campsite on the Victorian side of the Murray River at Howlong we met a couple from Finley, Frank n Carol. They own and manage a sort of retirement home. To escape their seven day a week job they allocate a weekend away in their caravan. They come to Howlong and camp and veg out for two days to unwind.

Despite this hollow trunk and fire blackened interior, this tree is still alive.

Although it was a longer drive than anticipated we saw a lot of new territory of rolling hills, flat prairie like areas and the lushness around the swift flowing Murray.
There were people with a small boat towing children on an inflatable rubber ring. With the many fallen trees and branches sticking up out the water I thought it was not a good idea especially with a 7 knot current. It looked like fun but we were pleased that no incidents occurred while were there. However a man on a catamaran with many fittings and all his food and luggage for a 3,000 klm traverse to the Murray River mouth, took a wrong turn this week, hit a submerged tree  and capsized after only 7 klm. He lost all except the  catamaran which was badly damaged in one hull.


I keep saying, “the more we see the more there is to see”.

In the middle of Howlong we saw this small yard with a Bull, a sheep, a chicken, a rooster and several chicks. Talk about a farm yard.