Saturday, July 24, 2010

Broken Hill to the Coast

Another day's driving full of nature's wonders. The roadside grasses were roughly a metre high, apple green at the base and wheaten at the top. As they swayed in the wind they gave the illusion of being lit from beneath. For 2 days my poor car was subjected to bombardment by huge grasshopper-like insects and I am still trying to get the mess off the front despite numerous washes by Richard and myself.

Suddenly the highway was flanked by a huge body of water and I know what camel drivers must feel like when they come to an oasis! There is was sparkling, clear, bird laden water in the middle of absolutely nowhere.

That night I stayed in a Nyngan motel and was treated to the most amazing sunset I've seen in a very long time.

Coonabarrabran, next day, was a lot larger than I remembered it and a good place for a break in the park and fuel. I'm finding more and more service stations in country towns have gone back to having personnel on the driveway to assist customers and there's nothing wrong with a touch of good old fashioned service.

In my opinion the countryside just out of Coonabarrabran was very picturesque and I made several photo stops endeavouring to capture it.

Hospitality In Broken HIll

Pam was everything I expected her to be and so was her ever supportive husband, Des. Warm hearted, generous, hospitable folk. I felt as though I was visiting with "old" friends.

On Saturday Pam picked me up and we "did" the town. After exploring the main street shops we drove out to Silverton where we had a delicious lunch of home-made sausage rolls in the house Des grew up in which is now an interesting "folksy" cafe.

Then a few klms further on we came to a lookout with a vista I will never forget - it was breathtaking and impossible to photograph.

Burra to Broken Hill

Bill and I drove this route when Richard and Tanya were still at primary school and my memory of that trip was one of boredom but that was well and truly quashed by this trip. As I got further and further north east I was fascinated by the amazing colours in the hills. There must have been recent rains because the rust red soil was flushed in many places with green and even the swaying grasses looked healthy and alive. I began to understand why so many artists choose to base themselves in Broken Hill - the light is definitely different out there. My photographs just don't capture what I felt .

The history and a bygone era was evident in places like this amazing stone built railway station at Manna Hill.

Adelaide to the Gold Coast

There is a wonderful woman called Pam living in Broken Hill who established, and continues to moderate, an on-line group of ladies who knit prolifically for those in need. I was keen to meet her so made the decision to take that route to my next housesit at the Gold Coast.

Expecting to find the countryside dry, dusty and boring, I headed north to Burra, getting off the main highway and taking a few back roads once I was out the other side of Gawler. My black Mazda 3 soon looked as though it belonged to a "country chick" but the scenery was well worth it. Rolling hills tinged with green and expansive vistas to the horizon with the added bonus of absolutely no traffic. I felt as though I was the only person on earth which I found liberating.

I kept thinking of the desert drive ahead of me and made the decision to stay in Burra that night, and be well rested for the next day. I found an extremely comfortable motel which turned out to have a very pleasant little creek running along the back of it. A very restul oasis.

Adelaide Activities

Richard had to fly back home but Tan, James and I explored Adelaide together. It's always fun showing somebody your birthplace. We took a trip aboard Popeye on the River Torrens, explored Rundle Mall and drove to Victor Harbor.

All too soon they had to leave. I went to housesit for the newly weds while they honeymooned in Europe. Nick's sister, Sarah, and I had some very pleasant time together. Lots of chatting, as well as riding the new tram through the City and down to Morphettville to "do" a craft show together.

Together At Last!

It had been a long time since we'd all been together and even though Tanya and James have been together 4 years, it was the first opportunity Richard has had to get to know him. Poor James, it was the first time he'd met a lot of people that weekend but he withstood the test and continued smiling.

The Power Of Positive Thinking

James enjoys the culinary arts so naturally we are happy to let him. What's more he's resourceful - when the supermarket didn't have fresh Rosemary he found some - that's what the power of positive thinking can do. The rest of us certainly had to eat humble pie!

The Bridgman Wedding

Nick and Kelly Bridgman signing up for the rest of their lives.

Since my last update I've driven to Adelaide for the wedding of Nick and Kelly. Well, actually, Richard drove from Brisbane with me in the passenger seat which made a pleasant change. Tanya and her partner James flew in and the 3 of us had a beachfront apartment at Glenelg. We used to live next door to the Bridgman family and both Tanya and Nick were born during that time so we have a long and close association. I stayed on to housesit for the newly weds.

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Run South

After 4 more days at O'Connell River Caravan Park - this time in a warm dry cabin - I sadly had to leave the Whitsunday area.

Just north of Mt Larcom Richard who, unbeknown to me, was driving north for work, called. We were just a few klms apart so we enjoyed a coffee together. I like life's little surprises.

The drive down the Bruce Highway was the worst I've encountered in my wanderings. The rain was so heavy once I got south of Rockhampton that I had no choice but to slip in behind a well lit semi-trailer being driven at a sensible pace and follow his lights. I made Gin Gin by nightfall and chose to stay in a motel.

Next day I climbed the steep winding, picturesque road from the Bruce Highway, through Palmwoods to Maleny and was at the Stipanov's in time for lunch. Their son Martin was there on holiday and it was the first time I've seen him since he was a young teenager in the 90's. My meditation teacher, Wendy, and Gary's Mum, Jan, were also there for lunch which, as always, was a healthy and delicious one.

At the Glasshouse Mtns I called into drop of the Dingo Beach Yarn Group's charity knitting to Karen Croke who later reported we'd donated over 300 items. What an amazing effort by just 9 dedicated ladies and there is more which I just couldn't find room for in my car this trip.

Mitchell, Nicholas and Zac greeted me with enthusiasm and I stayed overnight with them then went with Zac to his first official swimming lesson. It's always great to be able to be part of their lives.

The Wet Came

There I was with a week left to go when THE WET began. Unfortunately, my little tent proved incapable of handling this quantity of rain and it flooded driving me into the front seat of my car where I spent a warm, dry, not too uncomfortable night. The power of the mind is a wonderful thing - I simply imagined I was sitting on an aircraft heading to Europe. The drum of the rain on the car roof replicated the drone of an aircraft engine and I slept.

Next morning I had no choice but to up tent pegs and head back to friends, Sue and Wayne, at Dingo Beach. I turned up looking like a drowned rat but, as always, found a warm welcome. Wayne's shed made the perfect place to put my tent and camping gear to dry.

My final Dingo Beach housesit was a little different to the usual in that the senior member of the household, Mona, was there with me. Mona is 91 yo, still does crosswords, suduko, reads, knits for charity and keeps up with world affairs. She took care of me really. She made us porridge each morning and our dinner each evening. We had Sue and Wayne around for dinner one night and Mona prepared everything. I was assigned the table setting and the vegetable preparation duties!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

North Queensland Wanderings

O'Connell River Caravan Park 22 klms south of Proserpine

My current home

O'Connell River Caravan Park is where I'm currently camped filling in time between housesits. I must have passed this place dozens of times but never noticed it previously. Yesterday while on the Bruce Highway heading to Cape Hillsborough it looked very appealing so I swung in and found a gem. My camp site overlooks the wide, healthy looking river (no fish biting the locals tell me). The grass is lush, there are shady trees, friendly folk, mobile and internet access and a swimming pool. All for the princely sum of $16 per night. I've decided to stay all week. The only negative is the number of insects, some of which flap their wings loudly, which seem to find their way into my tent at night. Tonight there are 3 jewel green grasshoppers gazing through the mesh as they take up residence between the tent and the fly sheet at ceiling level.

It's Wednesday and I've spent the entire day reading a book I just can't put down "More than Riches" by Josephine Cox. It's a story about a girl called Rosie set in the 40's and 50's in the UK.