It’s All About Us

Hey gang

4:20pm πŸ˜‰ Tuesday 13 September 2011
After getting cleaned up at the Dragons Lair, we headed out to Walker Bay. First we checked the North end, then headed to the South to find some shelter from the trade winds. We found a nice hidden clearing about a hundred metres (330ft) in from the beach. The thick coastal scrub just lifts the wind over our heads, but also lets the breeze flick in a little to keep things cool and fresh.

I learnt a lesson today. Tina should not have shopped by herself at the supermarket. She insisted though.
“I haven’t been in their for ages! I’ll do the shopping.”
Tina purchased some avocado, bread, tomatoes, eggs and potatoes. Cool. She also bought a tray of herbed steak, a cold chicken, some cheese kabana. Enough cold meat for three days. Cool too. Except we have no fridge or ice. πŸ™‚
Now, we could have eaten the chook last night. But…we also had two live crabs that our bama mate had given us. They were happily resting in the mangrove leaves in the old blue Styrofoam esky we’d found at the Annan.

A Quick Diversion

Bama Explained
The term ‘bama’, pronounced ‘bumma’, is the local term in both guugu yimmithir and kuku yalanji languages for person or people. However, over time it has become the respectful term for differentiating between local aboriginals and white people. White people can sometimes be referred to as migaloo (whitefella), but that’s generally reserved for tourists who travel up here around the same time as the whales migrate North. We sometimes think there was an in-joke going on when the White humpback whale was named.

Our somewhat famous mud crabs are arguably the best tasting crabs on the planet.
Mud crabs are most commonly found in tidal saltwater, mangrove lined rivers and creeks. They’re also found in mangrove lined coast.
Now, some people may argue with me, but in our humble opinions, the best way to cook Australian Mud crab is thus:

Assuming a 1 kilogram (roughly 2lb) mud crab.
It must be alive! If you can’t get live green mud crab, ignore this and buy a cooked one.
Euthanase it.
Squeamish people avert your eyes. Either place in a freezer for an hour,or spike it between the eyes with something sharp.

Preferably get a big pot of fresh clean ocean water,about 5 litres (1.3US gal) and bring it to the boil. Immerse the crab and allow it to come to the boil again. Boil for 15 to 20 minutes, then take off the heat. Let it sit in the hot water for a couple minutes, then remove and immerse in a bucket of cold saltwater.
Leave in water to cool for 15 or 20 minutes before eating.
Oh, if you put thick layers of fresh mangrove leaves in your esky with your crabs, they’ll live for days. Keep the esky in the shade and open it for fresh air a couple times a day. Replace the leaves every couple of days or so. Only mangrove though.

End Diversion

Anyway, we decided to cook and eat the crabs instead, and sacrifice the chook to the dogs in the morning.
Dinner was fresh Annan River mudcrab, boiled in Crystal clear Walker Bay ocean water. Accompanied with ripe Avocado, tomatoes, lettuce and soft multigrain bread and butter.

We went to bed early, listening to the ocean and the breeze we’d become so used to before Tina was diagnosed with the GBM.

Wednesday 14 September 2011

We both had an interrupted sleep. Tina was awake more often than me, listening to the radio and quietly shushing Jack when he barked at a hog or wallaby in the undergrowth.
I woke around 11pm. Then at some hour after that, I woke with an overwhelming urge to throw up.
After emptying my guts, I felt much better and slept til dawn, about 6:15am. Tina was fine. Not sick at all. Just not very tired.
I did something silly while cleaning up last night. It may have contributed to my sickness 😦
This morning, Tina had some steak and salad for brekky. I took our long bucket out to the beach with Jack to get some washing water. There’s a good 25 to 30 knot Sou’Easter blowing off the ocean onto the beach. Our spot in behind the 4 metre high, dense vine scrub is well protected, but the wind still rips through the canopy at the edge of the clearing, letting us feel her freshness when a gust rolls like a wave into our camp.
Which leads me to the beauty of Pig.

Pig, of whom I think you are intimately aware, provides our cooking fire, warmth and entertainment during our nights here in Paradise. Pig can contain a fire and its ash in a 20 knot wind. I reckon it could handle more though. The mesh on the vent at the bottom of Pig, Pigs Arse, holds the ash until it has completely burnt. The ash can’t start another fire outside Pig. The only evidence of Pig that you’ll see after we leave a camp after a few days, is a small pile of ash that might, but probably wouldn’t fill a 10 litre (4gal) bucket. Thankyou Legend Of The North, Pig is good πŸ™‚

Tina weighed herself Tuesday morning at the Dragons Lair. She was 67.7kg (10.6 stone 150lb).
Prior to the Dexmethsone treatment, well actually, the Thursday Tina flew from Cooktown a month ago, she weighed 58kg (9.1st or 128lb).
An extreme appetite is a common side effect of Dexmethsone. There are others as well, some quite serious. I think it is either the Dexmethsone or the omezaprole that lowers your immune defenses. We have to be careful in case Tinas system weakens.

Today will be a quite lazy day for us. We’ve gathered wood, collected water, cooked breakfast, checked the weather on the radio, and decided to do a lot of nothing today.
Images today are of The Penn rod we found washed up on the beach. Which reminds me. I forget when we’re in range to Google this rod. Do any of you fisher folk have a replacement value for it?
There is also the float we found that will be for JJ or The Legend, a few obligatory Jack and Floyd shots (puppehz izz cute), and whatever else I have a whim to show. πŸ™‚
For example, Tina dozing in her ‘Fraggle Rock’ t-shirt πŸ™‚
Pig is there with his Blue 5 litre enamel pot (another gift from Legend). See the ash pike? That’s from boiling two crabs, boiling the billy twice, pan frying steak this morning,and boiling off the crab water this morning.
OK, here is a Tina-ism. It might give you an idea of where her head is at at the moment. Her confusion with naming things is more pronounced early in the morning, or at night when she is tired.
“These guys taste pastel!”
…said whilst eating weet-bix with creamy mixed powdered milk at 10pm one night. Pastel=like cream…duh!
…and Aussie kids are weet-bix kids! Sport, team, guys…
If you don’t know weet-bix, Google them too.

Lunch time!
A Tuna salad of Avocado and raw Broccoli florets with seasonings. Too nice on a tropical Wednesday.

We have plans for next month while waiting for the Pensions to come through. First,Tina is adamant that we attend the Wallaby Creek Music and Arts Festival. We’ll get a Centrelink payment on Thursday the 22nd before Wallaby Ck, which runs from the 23rd to the 25th. The tickets will cost us around $200 for the weekend, but dogs are banned. What do we do with Jack and Floyd? I heard a place in Rossville will board dogs for the two days. Jack and Floyd would be very well behaved, but I guess rules is rules.

3:30pm. Time to sneak into town and get some non-perishable food πŸ˜‰



Hanging Out in Crocodile Country

This weekend JJ, Charline, Tina and I camped down by the Annan River. The saltwater end. This is crocodile country.

We spent Friday night at Dragons lair again. Good company, good conversation, and the last of the LOTR trilogy showing on the dvd. We ate like kings. Tina cooked up a big potato bake and I fried up chunks of lightly floured Red Emporer that one of the boys had caught earlier in the day.
I fell asleep on the floor at some stage, so Tina rolled out the swag next to the car in the back yard and woke me up to put me to bed.

We were parked half under a huge, potentially hundred and thirty year old mango tree that is in early stages of fruiting. Now, it’s been blowing 30 odd knots these past few days, and last night was no exception. The fruit on the tree ranges from about grape size to about pear size, and we kept getting woken by mangos hitting the roof of Jimy the 4wd. I kept thinking about how much they’d hurt if we were in range…ouch.
At around 3am, a one of the housemates came home with her friend. We ended up sitting inside for a while. Well, Tina went inside first and yarned with the girls for an hour. I stayed under the blanket watching stars and dozed off again. I was woken by the loud crunching of dog food about 2 metres away. As I turned my head, something shot off around the back of the house. I didn’t see what it was, but later I was told it was the native quoll that resides in the bush immediately behind the house.
We ended up back in bed half an hour before dawn.
We hit the markets at about 8:30am and the place was jumping. People everywhere!
We picked up a couple of those somewhat famous home made pies for breakfast. Then we bought half a dozen avocados for $5. Ten passionfruit for $2, and a paw paw for $2. Nomm Nomm!

Now it’s 11:30am Saturday, and we’re waiting by the banks of the Annan. JJ and Charline should be here soon.

JJ and C arrived and had a story to tell. They’d popped into the local camping shop to buy an airbed & pump, and to partake in the free sausage sizzle.
They left as winners of the lucky docket prize. A $200 rod and reel combo, a 25 litre icekool esky, a camp chair and a fully kitted tackle box.

JJ and I went on a firewood run and he took me on a little tour. As we drove along the track, he said, “I’ll show you Crocodile bend. I hope the croc is there.”
We saw the croc as we drove to the edge of the river. The Northern side where we were was a good ten metre vertical drop. Across the river was a small sandy point, created by a hairpin bend in the Annan.
The saltie in the photos is between two and a half and three metres long. It’s tail was Black, contrasting with the pale clay colouring of its body. The crocs body is the colour of the ground we’re camped on.

We made up a casserole of beef, spuds, sweet potato, onion,celery, tomato, zucchini, garlic and spices. After simmering for a few hours, the beef was falling apart and the flavours had mingled into a beautiful meal.

It’s around eight in the evening and we can hear unidentified fish jumping in the river. The birdlife has settled after the sunset choruses.

The dogs are all dozing and the campfire is casting gold into the trees. Crickets and the constant sou’ east trade winds blowing through the canopy are the only sounds other than the occasional night bird. We’re ten minutes from town, but may as well be a thousand kilometres from anywhere. Occasionally the wind creates wavelets on the river that tinkle against the river bank. We’re camped relatively close to the bank, given that this is full on croc country. Ten metres, five dogs and a nice campfire is good defence. We’re sleeping in back of Jimmy as usual. JJ and C are on their air mattress next to the fire with two dogs on watch.
10:00pm Saturday.
The moon is near to setting, casting a silver grey sheen on the river’s rippled surface.
The sound of a truck crossing the Big Annan Bridge echos from a kilometre downstream.

Five minutes later, just as Tuna and C were nearly asleep, three of the dogs went off their nuts at something in the bush up the rise. Nothing could be seen though. Probably a wallaby or pig on the high ground.

Sunday 02:00(am)
We were woken by the sound of light rain. I covered our stuff with the swagger canvas. Charline woke up, then JJ. I grabbed our large awning tarp from the roof of the car and they covered themselves and their queen sized airbed.

Then the rain stopped.

Got the fire restarted from the coals. It was obviously a good hot fire because the rain didn’t put it out.
Hot Coffeeeee!

Tina is still eating well πŸ˜‰ . The stitches are slowly disappearing too. Tina still gets a bit confused, but mainly when she is tired or just waking up. Recalling names of things is still hard for her at times. But she is happy and loving life πŸ™‚
Tina has had weetbix, a tomato, a passionfruit and half a tin of Irish stew and some bread so far for breakfast. I think I might keep a record for her so she can read back over it later. πŸ˜‰

We drove to crocodile bend to see if croc was on the sand bar, but no luck this morning. We did discover reception here though, so you might get this post early.
Thanks for the Fathers Day wishes too πŸ™‚

Charline and JJ headed into town and came back around 1pm. It was shishkebab time!


Jimmy the 4WD is sick. In a sick way

We went to the beach with JJ and Charline today. Checked out where we used to live, but it looked a little forlorn, then continued up the beach. Poor Jimmy gets a little hot when he has to work, so the run up the beach in the soft sand was probably not the best thing to do I guess.

We got up to where JJ was but couldn’t get off the beach due to the sand and that diff ratio problem I talked about ages ago.
I had suspicions a long time ago that the previous owners had put the wrong differential on the front end of the car.
I was right. On soft sand Jimmy runs better in reverse due to wheel rotation issues. When going forwards, the front wheels spin too slow and the rears dig in. In reverse, it pulls along well.
Anyway, jimmy overheated and blew the top tank seam on the radiator, plus it got another pinhole at the bottom of the cooling fins. So jimmy sat in the sand for a few hours cooling down. We topped up the radiator and backed down the beach and then drove up behind the dunes to where JJ and Charline were parked. Later in the afternoon we topped him up again and drove the 10km home. I love our car. Even with a nearly destroyed radiator, he still got home, and the temp didn’t reach 3/4 up the gauge.

We’ll hunt down another radiator through the ‘matevine’ tomorrow.

The beach was fun though πŸ™‚


Bush Mechanics Part One

It’s about time that ‘rough and ready’ bush mechanics were given a fair go. Since about the nineties, real ‘Bush Mechanicals’ were relegated to ’emergency fixes’ with dire warnings of their temporary nature.
I bring this first of many parts that deal with cheap and nasty fixes that may keep your old (motorised) unit mobile for a little longer, without spending hundreds of dollars.

Welch Plugs

They are those round, usually brass or stainless steel cup shaped caps that are knocked into the casting holes on an engine head and/or block.
Welch plugs tend to corrode and leak vital cooling fluid (they are located on water channels) at the most innopportune times. Keep a few five and ten cent coins in your toolbox, plus some of that 2-part ‘liquid metal’ epoxy. You could also get some of that hi-temp 2-part putty that comes in a long ribbon of blue and white. It’s waterproof too.
Anyway, clean up the outside of the coroded welch plug as best you can. Try to get all the grease and rust and water off it. A $2 can of spray degreaser will help.
Once it’s clean, mix your paste or putty. Take one those coins that more or less match the inside diameter of the welch plug. Smear a generous bit of your ‘glue’ onto one side of the coin and place it glue side down (or in) the plug. Then slowly fill the plug with the putty or epoxy. The epoxy can be tricky for plugs that are on the vertical sides of the block or head you’re working on. It holds better in the long run than the putty. I have two plugs located under the injector lines and glow plug rail of my 2H Toyota diesel engine that I sealed in the above manner over 12 months ago as a temporary fix. They’re just real fiddly to get at. I’ll buy replacement plugs one day and do all four or six that are there. I dread the day the one at the back of the head goes. There is only about a one or two centimetre gap between it and the firewall. I will have to pull the motor out.
Oh, the total cost of the above quick fix?
5, 10 or 20 cents, depending on what size coin you use.
Liquid Metal 2 part epoxy $15
2 part ribbon putty $12
Can of degreaser $2
A rag $1
That’s $30 bucks to fix without touching a spanner. The bonus is you can do this anywhere if you have $30 worth of stuff in your toolbox.

OK. So that was Bush Mechanicals Part One. Next, I’ll tell you how I managed to beat a frozen front diff inspection plug that an FBH* and a cold chisel wouldn’t budge.

*FBH: F%$#ing Big Hammer.