It has been a busy week so I have lots of photos to accompany the words. In fact I have split the post in two as there is a huge number of photos. I will post part 2 tomorrow.
Monday 23rd December
The day started like any other day in this neck of the woods.
That soon changed. A warm breeze rolled in from the north west. The breeze stirred itself into a gusty blustery hot dry dusty wind fuelled by the baked plains between here and the great unknown beyond Bourke.
It got hotter and more uncomfortable with that gritty fan forced oven of a wind.
I no longer feel guilty about sitting indoors in air conditioned comfort.
I did venture out in the air conditioned RALLYE to look at a few sights around town. The town is dying a slow and painful death. All the buildings are old and many are in a state of collapse, held together with whatever materials come to hand. The hospital and surrounding support buildings are a modern oasis by comparison. In fact they ARE a modern oasis in their own right.
Communications are difficult with spasmodic data and telephone services. My blue tick phone will go from two bars of signal to none in moments. Our wireless data modem will often receive as much as three bars but this will also disappear quickly. Not only is the signal weak but the speed is abysmal as well. This is not a major town. In fact it is not even a minor town. It is just a stop along the way to a couple of bigger towns. The few shops which do open are all heavily barred and shuttered at night and weekends.
A walk along the river bank and under the bridge reveals broken bottles and glass of Christmasses past. I asked the lady at the Post Office/ bank agency/ tourist information bureau/ stock and station agent/ and anything else they can try to make a dollar, if the river bank under the bridge and near the weir was where glass was mined. It took her a little while to decide if I was serious when it dawned on her I was referring to all the broken glass. Her eyes lit up, her mouth curved into a smile as she realised I was being facetious. Of course she agreed with me. Looking around town I am unsure if there is a lack of civic pride or just a lack of civic funds.
The hospital doctor has sent my urine sample away for testing. It could be a few days, it could be a week or more before there are results. In the meantime from my symptoms and first urine sample he believes I have a bladder polyp. If that is the case it needs to be removed surgically. He will forward results to my doctor in Airlie Beach. Interestingly my last blood test, about three weeks ago, revealed something in the bladder so this could be it.
Tuesday 24th December Christmas Eve
Donnis had to work day shift and attend a staff lunch before she could walk home…about 100 steps…maybe less.
The day dawned overcast and cool. Somewhere around 28°.
I entertained myself by taking TERIOS for a 4WD trip following rough tracks which meanders beside the Barwon River. Wow! Some of the scenery of River Red Gums and other trees hanging over the banks or in a slight backwater eddy are just magnificent.
Although there is plenty of water in the river at present, the banks along most of the places I explored are high and steep. It sort of reminds me in a smaller way what the Murray River looks like. Even a few Klms out of town I still found places on the banks of the Barwon where glass was being mined.
I also viewed the large town water tanks. Water is pumped out of the river, put through a filtration process and stored in the tanks and used by the locals. Water sprinklers are going 24/7 at the hospital while other houses have grey packed earth and weeds neither of which require water or mowing.
Tonight we opened a bottle of Penfolds Grandfather Port a present from my employer. The port was as smooth and mellow as I remember it from years ago when I could afford it…by the tiny glassful…I could never afford a whole bottle.
Both yesterday and today internet signal was a miserable process of being lucky enough to be in front of the laptop when there is a signal for two or three minutes. It took all morning to download emails .
Wednesday 25th December – CHRISTMAS DAY.
In the morning I had one of my classic nose bleeds. It was one which I thought would never stop. It was not so much a bleed than a gush. The bleed left me weak and shaken.
By the time the bleed was under control – about an hour – we had to dress as Santa and Mrs Clause to deliver presents to the patients and staff at the hospital. I needed to fill out the tummy part of the Santa suit with a folded towel. Somehow they forgot to include a beard and a big black belt with the outfit.
Regardless, the elderly patients were pleased with the attention. One very frail old lady wanted a hug every time she was given a gift. It seemed she wanted the human contact more than the gift. That was a very humbling experience.
At midday we went back to the hospital and had Christmas dinner with the aged care residents and some of the nursing staff.
The day was overcast with rain threatening.
In the afternoon my phone rang and it was friends Glennis and Eric who have been on and off the road for three years. We have met up in some wonderfully remote places over the years, none of the meet-ups had been pre-planned. (We have, over the last three years met at Theresa Creek, Qld, Barcaldene, Qld, Longreach Qld, Charleville Qld, Nindi Gully Qld, Beardy Waters NSW, Culcairn NSW, Guyra NSW, Bucasia Qld and Brisbane Qld.) They are on their way from their newly purchased home in the tropical rainforest at Cape Tribulation near the Daintree National Park to their other house at Cockle Creek in Tasmania. The house at Cockle Creek is the southernmost house in Australia and they are getting it ready to put on the market. Anybody interested in buying a quaint secluded house knowing nobody else has a house this far south and surrounded on three sides by National Park with the creek and Bay part of the amazing views should let me know. They had arrived at Lightning Ridge and had called to say Happy Christmas. Wow! We are only an hour away so asked them to come to Colli and have Christmas Dinner with us and stay the night. We had a starter of cheese and crackers followed by prawns then a delightful ham with Hawaiian Sweet Potato and pumpkin with a dessert of Christmas cake, custard and cream. What a wonderful Christmas dinner enjoyed with good friends despite being so isolated.
We had a wonderful, if not unusual Christmas Day.
Donnis went off to work at 10.30 pm.
Thursday 26th December – Boxing Day
It rained overnight and left big puddles on the road.
I was up at 6am and ready to go on my walk. I was twenty metres along the footpath when one of my dreaded nose bleeds began. That took an hour before clotting began and once again left me weak and shaken.
We farewelled Glennis and Eric, as they re-commence their journey to Melbourne via, Walgett, Condamine, Gilgandra and Dubbo and so on via the western parts of NSW into Victoria.
We then decided to drive into Moree as Donnis wanted to buy some extra towels and sheets at a Boxing Day Sale. Not one shop in town was open. We had a 300 klm drive for nothing except lunch at the local services club.
Late in the afternoon I took a walk around town looking at the old buildings of a bygone wealthier time.
Friday 27th December
It was hot again today and as Donnis has to work tonight we decided to stay at home and rest in air conditioned comfort. Oh and eat too many Christmas chocolates and jellies!
IMAGES OF COLLARENEBRI…COLLI.