Laura and Quinkan Country

Perhaps I was a little misleading (or hasty), or confused when I said I’d put The Greenbus on hold.
What I should have said is, “There will be no more sad here. Only the fun stuff the ‘we’ would have been still exploring and posting about together.” It will be a nice place 🙂
Brad’s Blog will take the weight off this place.

And so…

Tina had a deep love and respect for, and a keen interest in Aboriginal culture and history. Her art was influenced by the mysteries of The Dreaming. One of her favourite non-fiction references was ‘The Archeology of The Dreamtime which compares Dreamtime stories of different country with the archeological evidence of the past. This review give a good overview of the theories put forward.
One of the many areas on our ‘To Do’ list, was to spend some time in Quinkan country.

Laura, the commercial hub of the Quinkan country is only 140km (87m) from Cooktown. For a village with a population of roughly 120 people, Laura contains, and as a community, protects over 30 thousand years of Traditional history, and some 140 years of European settlement.
Laura township was an important link in the Gold trail back in the 1800’s, but more importantly, the country has been a part of the Ang-Gnarra peoples’ culture for thousands of years, and is one of the top ten most culturally significant rock art sites in the world.
Laura also plays host to one of the longest running indigenous festivals in Australia. The Laura Dance Festival is held at the Ang-Gnarra festival grounds, about 15 kilometres from Laura. Every two years, community members and dance troupes from as far away as Woorabinda gather in a celebration and education of dance, culture & history. The festival is also world famous, and attracts tourists from all over the planet.
I’ll give you a list of easy links to more information about Quinkan Country at the end of this post.
Last week, I had the chance to absorb just a miniscule sample of this history. As the year progresses, I will spend more time up in Ang-Gnarra country. For now, here is a small sample of this areas history and beauty.
*Note:* In respect of Ang-Gnarra Aboriginal Corporation, no images of rock art galleries were taken. In future visits, I will ask if I can capture some images for you. In the meantime, the links below have many authorised images of the galleries.

Images around Laura:

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If you head to Laura anytime after this years dry season, you’ll be crossing this bridge on the Peninsula Development Road over the Laura River. This bridge, and a couple of kilometres of dirt are all that is left of the road works between Lakeland and Laura. The original wooden crossing of which I promise a photo of soon,
*EDIT*: Borrowed from an ABC journo’s blog. A future edit will provide links.
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is very, very old & is impassable for most of the wet season. It regularly has metres of water over it.

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The T-junction at Laura. Turn left for Cooktown & South. Turn right to head ‘Up The Cape’.

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All that remains of the old Laura railway station. If you’re into railway history, the Cooktown to Laura line is worth researching.

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Once located at a Police outstation some 24km from Laura, this tiny ‘lock-up’ is now on display at the Laura memorial park. Part of the display reads, ‘…18 natives were once locked in here together…’

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This steam tractor was transported by rail to Laura, intended for use on the goldfields. Upon unloading, it was found to have a broken front axle and was left in town to decay.

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The heath country near the ‘Split Rock’ art site. At this time of year, many native shrubs are flowering.

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An assortment of colour on a rainy afternoon.

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Some of the wild features of this Quinkan Country.

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Back to Trevathan

For those of you who have been following our lives in paradise, you may recall an early post about Trevathan Falls. If not, check it out here: http://wp.me/p14WwP-6H

Trevathan Creek and falls are surrounded by a dense rainforest environment. However,once you get about 50 to 100 metres from the creek itself, the country opens up into eucalypt forest. A lot of this land was ripped up for tin mining in years past, but it is slowly repairing.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

We spent Wednesday night at the Dragons Lair, enjoying the company and conversation. Of course by 10pm the conversation is oft times reduced to drunken ramblings from ex hippies, new age hippies, fisherman and bar managers.
Dragon loves his pool. So last night (Wednesday…stay on track now), he and four or five of the boys and Maddie (@mycooktown) headed to the West Coast pub for this weeks round of the three pub tournament.
We stayed at the house with Benny who was due to go to sea Thursday morning and tried in vain to get sleep and stay sober.

We crashed about 11:30pm under the side awning, wrapped up in our swag bed, but as usual we rose just before dawn and beat the birds again. Can I seriously suggest to even those of you living in a big city? Wake about half an hour before dawn. Make a tea or coffee or your preferred wake up poison, then open your windows, or find a spot where you can hear the outside world. Forget the radio and TV for an hour and just listen to your world wake up. It is very cathartic.

(Thursday 8 September 2011)
Back to the subject. We received a $200 payment from the govt, so we got fuel and smokes, then we bought groceries to last at least a week. Where to go? Everywhere relatively close to town we’ve shown you. But we really didn’t get to show you Trevathan Falls in the dry season.

Now we’ve made amends. Here are the beautiful, relatively unknown Trevathan Falls. The falls are about 40km South of Cooktown at the end of a 4wd track off the Mt Amos road.

How do I describe this place that will help you see it better than this lowly 3mp phone camera can? My kingdom for a dslr.

As we sit by the huge rock pool opposite the base of the falls, we can see irridescent blue butterflies flitting between the callistemons and native umbrella trees that are flowering 30 metres above us on the cliffs opposite. A multitude of honeyeaters, large and small share the nectar and airspace. The honeyeaters show their preferred flower is the umbrella tree. At least a dozen birds are cavorting among a profusion of bright red flower spikes. However, you can’t hear the birds, nor much else. The song of the waterfall reigns in this small gorge.
Look closely at the foliage directly left of the falls as faced. That is a bottlebrish (callistemon) that has its main trunk near the top of the falls. Over successive wet seasons, the flow of water has shaped some branches so that they cascade some 20 metres down,rather than up the way they’re supposed to. It is quite healthy and is flowering profusely.
I only wish I had a decent dslr and zoom lens to capture its beauty.
Tomorrow we’re driving/walking downstream to find a spot where I had camped nearly 30 years ago. If we find it, we may lob there for a few days. But tonight we’re camped at the same spot we were at back in April and pre-burn. But then, it was wet and we didn’t have pig back then.

Dinner: finely diced bacon pieces, onion, potato, tomato, capsicum, mushrooms, spices and herbs in a broth. Once the broth has simmered for an hour or so, crack in four eggs and stir briskly through the soup. The result is a flavoursome, thick soup that is very moreish.

Its about 6:20pm and the sunset tonight is a mix of bright orange clouds and a pastel blue sky. The orange is turning to a deep pink and then almost purple as I type. This phone won’t do it justice so I won’t take a photo.

Friday morning 9 September 2011

I went for a three kilometre walk downstream this morning. But after 30 years things change. I forget that I lived here not long after the tin miners left. The land has regenerated with the help of people. I felt quite disorientated throughout the 6k round trip.
I got back to camp and Tina wasn’t feeling too good, so we headed back to Cooktown. We’ll go back again and search some more one day. In the meantime, enjoy the random pics. Remember to check for the callistemon and appreciate the type of country that this place is surrounded by.

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A Very Lazy Thursday

Today (Thu 1st Sept) has been a very laid back day. We didn’t wake up too early, and the weather was still windy and squally, so we weren’t too keen on a morning walk up the beach.
The patches of rain were broken by some sunshine later in the morning, so we took Jack and Floyd for a wander. Floyd seems to be handling the sand and wind quite well. He also has some stamina for a little pup. He managed a good 3/4 of a kilometre before we picked him up and gave him a rest.
We found a frisbee for Jack and tossed it around until he killed it. Then we started with the sticks into the ocean game. The waves were crashing close to shore and were getting up to a metre or so, which is high for here. But then it’s been blowing 20 to 30 knots as well. So Jack had some more surfing lessons and a good bath.
We also found some big cuttlefish bones. I did some artwork on one for Tina, using shells and the spikes on the end of other cuttlefish bones. It’s carved and embossed. I’ll work on the bigger one as well one day.
We had leftover stew and made dry roasted flat bread for lunch. Oh, and we found a nice size coconut and opened it. Wasn’t as nice as a green one, but it still went down well.
All in all it was a nice relaxing day.

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Time For A Yarn By The Fire

The billy is on. Pull up a stump and take a load off ya feet. It’s been as slow as a wet week these past few days and I feel like chewing the fat for a while. If you want, I’ll translate that last sentence from Australian to English for you.
‘I’m boiling a pot water for a cup of tea. Find a chair and have a rest, because the past couple of days have dragged on and I would like to talk with you for a while.’

Went back to work on Tuesday after four days off (but broke) and my baby has been crook most of the time. Her neck is giving her bad headaches and making her feel sick…like throwing up sick.
I took today (Thursday) off to stay with her. Poor Tina has been in some pretty bad pain since this morning. We have no pain killing drugs until we go to town tomorrow. She is sleeping now though.
The weather has been typical dry season here. The sou’ east and easterly winds generally blow from  the end of May through to October/November. The winds on the coast get up to 30 knots or more, with an average of 15 knots through those months. Come November, the winds will ease and the temperatures will rise. The humidity will remain as usual, in the high eighty and ninety percent range. It will be tropical. Then the rains will come. Monsoonal torrents will soak the Far North for the better part of six months, isolating towns and properties as The Wet revitalises the landscape.  At the moment we’re lucky to be getting the odd coastal shower to keep the coconuts, our baby tomatoes, Paw-Paws (papaya), passionfruit and chilli bushes thriving.
Yes, we are cultivating.
This may be a sign of our evolving from a nomadic lifestyle to that of a combined hunter/gatherer farmer. But probably not. What will be nice is the thought that in five years or so, someone will turn up here and there will be ‘wild’ paw paw and passionfruit growing next to the coconuts. Maybe future visitors will plant more seeds, or help by replanting seed from the fruits they eat.  We’re planning on growing some fast greens like Bok Choy or Rocket. I’ve also got to catch up with Willie Gordon and ask him about local greens and fruits that are around here. I would prefer to cultivate local native foods than exotics.
We discovered a Mango tree at the Southern end of the beach last  week too. If wasn’t for the profusion of flowers on it, we may have completely missed it. It is well back in the scrubland, about 100 metres from the high tide mark. The tree is surrounded by Wattle, some She-Oak, and other native species that grow in the old, mulch rich former dune zone. Come November it should be laden with juicy, pink/green skinned, orange centred fruits of wonderfullness. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it yet, so I’ll tell you anyway. A few weeks back, a bloke roughly our age, and his presumably youngest boy of about four, came into the camp to say hello. It transpired that this very cool gentleman once had a shack on the beach back in the late eighties to nineties, and planted the majority of the Coconuts that thrive around here. Not only was this a cool bit of local history to have learnt, but it also gave us an idea of how old the local palms are.
We’ve been boiling the billy on the pig a lot. 4:20 is usually the best time for tea and we’ve had a bit lately. 😉
Coffee too. Oh, and we have been cooking bigger and better meals on the pig with one frypan and a big pot. Cheaper than the meals in the previous post. I might relate some recipes in future posts because they are “To die for darlings!”
You might be wondering how we can grow food in sand country near the beach. Well, we found an old scrub turkey nest. Basically a 4 metre by 6 metre mound of well rotted leaf, branch, root and other organic debris. All mixed with some sand to enhance drainage and composted by a dedicated bird a few years back. We collect this from in the bush and use it straight as a potting mix. It’s bloody brilliant stuff. I’ll show you some photos later.
I wanted to tell you a few little snippets of trivia that have been flitting around my head of late. That’s why I boiled the billy in the first place.
Actually, some of it isn’t mere trivia. One factoid is actually a sobering thought for some depression sufferers.

Consider this. Recents studies have shown that sufferers of depression who treat themselves with some thing or method other than prescription anti-deppressants, have a 25% chance of relapsing after ceasing treatment. However, those studied who used chemical anti-deppressants had a 42% relapse rate after ceasing treatment.

I’ve been picking up little bits of information at night when I’m not sleeping. Late night ABC Radio from about 10pm when Tony Delroy has ‘Nightlife’, through to Trevor Chappell at 1am onwards is 3 to 6 hours of brain food.
For example. Stephen Spielberg had a lecturer at uni when he was studying  drama and art. The lecturer’s name was Alan…Anakin. No, I kid you not. Darth Vaders real name Anakin, was Stephens lecturers name.

Peter Wier(sp?) first movie was ‘The Cars That Ate Paris’. You really should check this masterpiece of early Australian  cinema and classic sci-fi. Apparently this movie is widely regarded amongst sci-fi afficionados as a hallmark movie of its genre.

Another presumably tax payer funded study has found that the worlds happiest places to live, also rate in the places with the highest rates of suicide. Eg, Hawaii at number 2 happiest place has the worlds 5th highest suicide rate.

Here’s something that maybe one of you dear readers might find interesting. This a mash up of Captain Cook trivia that I knew as well as some stuff I didn’t know that I heard today when Dr Karl was on the ABC Local Radio.
Cooks ship, the Endeavour, was an ex Coal haulier that once carried loads of the stuff around Great Britain. The bark was renowned for its sturdiness in the wild North Sea. What I learnt was that James Cook chose that particular ship because of its robust reputation. He also picked this ship because of its size. The Endeavour wasn’t so much long as it was wide and spacious. The good Captain knew that the ex coal hauler could easily accommodate food, including livestock, to keep 90 odd men alive for three years.

More on the Endeavour. The United States Space Shuttle Endeavour is named after Captain Cooks vessel. You see, the Endeavour made many journeys in what may as well have been outrr space in her day. Also, one of Cook and the Endeavours primary tasks was to plot the path of Venus for some mathematical equation that would make Gt Britain superior in navigating the oceans or somesuch. Anyway. On her final flight, the shuttle crew spoke to the crew of the Endeavour replica ship that is currently circumnavigating Australia. The echange happened as the shuttle came in over Australia and the Great Barrier Reef.
The shuttle took 8 minutes to cross the Australian continent from the far South West through to the North Eastern tip where the HMB Endeavour replica was located. The same journey will take the ship til next year some time.
Another Endeavour related piece of news. I promise it to be the last in this post. A few posts back I mentioned that the Endeavour replica did come to Cooktown. But the harbour was too shallow for her to moor at the wharf. Plus, the weather was too rough where she had to anchor for the crew to put ashore.
As an indirect result of that circumstance, the government has committed a few million to the Cook Shire (I think) so that the harbour can be deepened. Of course, this will allow the larger cruise ships to berth at the wharf as well. This will enhance tourism, but geeze it’s gunna piss the local fishermen off! Dredging fouls the water for months. It takes a good ‘Wet’ to flush the detritus stirred up by the process. Then the big ships block off the fishing spots on the wharf!

Ok then. What else has happened of note?
I saw a very large Brown snake this afternoon. Jack the Dog and I were heading to the beach and this snake crossed the track roughly ten metres in front of us. My conservative estimate put this big Brown at 1.6 metres long and 2.5 to 3 cm in diameter at its thickest. That’s about 5’6″ and 1 to 1&1/4 inches respectively in imperial scale.
We’ll need to stay aware of snakes here. That’s the third snake I’ve seen around here. So far it’s one Taipan, one Brown, and what I think was a Red Bellied Black snake.
Snake trivia time. The Red bellied Blake snake is as its name describes it. Jet Black, wirh an almost Scarlet underbelly. But it is actually a member of the Brown snake family. The three snakes I have mentioned above are in the top five deadliest snakes in Australia. Now, normally this wouldn’t concern me. Snakes generally avoids humans. We’re instinctively dangerous to them, so they stay away. But they also love rodents.
The rodents love where humans live.
Conflict of interest methinks.
We are controlling unwanted rodents though. Jack the Dog has caught and killed at least four. We’ve drowned three in traps and I’ve caught two by hand. Oh, if someone ever tells you they killed a ‘Yellow- bellied Black snake’, explain to them gently that they just killed a green tree snake. The Northern from of the common Green Tree snake has a very dark back. It’s almost Black. The underside is Yellow. The southern form has a much lighter Green back. They’re also more commonly seen on fences, low tree branches, or in your rafters. If you disturb them when they are on the ground, they tend to flatten their necks to appear bigger than they are. Green Tree snakes are usually quite slender snakes, growing to 3 metres (in our experiences). They are harmless to humans, so please don’t kill them. One last thing about venomous snakes. Don’t rely solely on colour to identify a snake. I have seen Brown snakes, the venomous type, ranging from a dark brown through to fawn. I’ve also seen a brown snake in the wild that was orange. To add to the confusion, I’ve seen photos in snake field guides showing juvenile browns with banding patterns. So I guess if you want to be sure, avoid or at least don’t purposely upset a ground dwelling snake. Chances are around here is that it is venomous. The only pythons I’ve seen are couple of Black-headed Rock Pythons, dead on the highway at the southern entrance to town.
You’d think that we’d be trekking through the local scrub with our hiking boots, thick socks, spats and denim jeans on after the above stories. But no. We still get around in shorts and thongs. We’re just more aware of our surroundings when we do.

(Friday): I’m going to set up a bucket trap for tonight to catch some rodents. Tina was sick still today, so I let her sleep and stayed home again. I have to go to town this afternoon and see the boss. We can’t phone from here because we have no reception. I also need to get the pain meds from the chemist for my Baby.
We’ve had some fairly good rain overnight too. The temps have stayed in the 20’s from my estimate. That’s the poroblem with no reception. No weather reports except for the radio. I need a rain gauge and a thermometer!

Back from town.
I couldn’t find the boss, but I did get groceries. Just the basics. SR flour, sugar, powdered milk, oats, peanut butter and some bread & butter. Bought some discounted garlic steak and turned it into a stew with onion, spud, tomato and some spices. Simmered over the pig for an hour or so until the beef softens.

Saturday
Tina is still basically bedridden. We didn’t go into town today. I started the table work and did some gardening. We did manage a short beach walk, but that made Tinas neck worse.
I’ll have to go to town tomorrow. For nothing else but to see if I still have a job.
Saturday evening. The fire is going. It’s a clear, cool evening. The sea breeze is finding its way through the scrub, giving the wind chimes an excuse to sing. The crickets have started their nightly ritual, trying to find a mate. The ocean is kissing the beach. The moon is almost directly overhead and almost half full. It is casting a nice glow across the ground and on the trees.
Tina has been asleep most of the afternoon. I hope her neck eased a bit for her. In the past three days I realised how lonely it would be here without her. She has slept on and off when she could. But only half hour or hourly. Each time she rolls, the pain wakes her up. As a result, conversation and interaction with her has been fleeting, even though we’re less than a metre apart most of the time.

Righto, that’s enough. Sometimes I can talk underwater with an apple in me mouth.
Photo time!

For your viewing pleasure:

The billy on the boil.
Jack the bodysurfing Dog.
Jack wants to go to the beach.
The baby Tomatoes.
The beginnings of our new table.
The Bamboo is seasoning well.
The back of our pig pen.
The front, with our wood drying fire.
We need firewood.
Late afternoon. Vegie patch at centre, with our ‘Guest House’ in the background. Jack and the pig on the right.

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New Furniture and The Story of The Halstroms Fridge

I guess it was in need of repairs. Plus, The Legend of The North couldn’t sit on it properly. I’m talking about our bamboo & driftwood seat. Sorry ’bout that.
Yep. It was looking sad. Anyway, The Legend & The Lad rocked up on Sunday with a couple of beers, a few ideas and a treasure.
First the treasure.
I’ve been talking about trying to find or buy an old hand auger. With a hand auger I could dowel together timber, drill holes of most sizes and a host of other things. Well, it happened most serendipitously that The Legend’s father had one lying in an old trailer that was either bound for, or came from, the tip.
It is old and partly seized up. But the two piece sprung jaws and the chuck still work fine. I put a bit of garden hose on the handle with cable ties temporarily, just to make turning it a little more comfortable. I’ll improve on that soon. I’ve already used it to drill holes in some bamboo that will be a new wind chime. Works a treat!
The Idea became the new chair. Four stout lengths of bamboo, four narrower lengths, and a length of timber we found in the treasure trove. The secret place is ‘B’s’ old farm. We can’t tell you where it is though, because then it wouldn’t be a secret. The forest has almost consumed the farm now anyway.
We’re now planning our next bit of new furniture. We know where there are several lengths of timber similar to the new seat base, but about half the lengrh. So we’re gunna grab some and make a table for preparing food and stuff. It’ll have bamboo legs and bracing, with three lengths of plank side by side. It should work well.

The Hallstrom fridge.
Edward Hallstrom was an Australian inventor and philanthropist who made his fortune with fridges. He invented a kerosine fridge that basically replaced the Coolgardie safe (Google it) in the outback. He was also a huge contributor to Sydneys Taronga Park zoo. The one in the photo is an early caravan model that ran on gas or electricity. The coolant is ammonia. That’s the fridge I mentioned in an earlier post that is on loan until The Legend needs it again.
Anyway, that’s enough for now. We promise to post again soon. Maybe even later tonight 🙂

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Happy Snaps and Jack The Dog

(Sarahs post is coming soon)

G’day all.
It’s late. Around 12:30 am on a Tuesday morning. We went to bed at 6pm. Well, we chatted for an hour or so before we slept. I think our body clocks are attuning once again to the Sun. I mean, we have a 12 volt flourescent twin tube that runs off Jimmy. However, on waxing Moon nights we really don’t need it. I think our non TV, non powered lifestyle has a lot to do with our early bed nights.
But anyway, I woke up an hour or so ago and couldn’t go back to sleep. The best cure for insomnia in the tropics is a beer or two. Well, so I was told by some drunk bloke in a pub. That hasn’t worked. So I figured I’d try typing up a post on this phone. That will at least introduce some fatigue into the game. Might even try another beer, contrary to common medical advice.

Jack The Dog

According to our third youngest daughter Sarah, Jack was her best Birthday present. You see, Jack was born on Sarah’s 13th. He is the progeny of two very good natured and extremely intelligent dogs. His mother was Tinas girl dog Rasta (bitch is just a tacky word imho) and his dad was my dog Joey.
Both Rasta and Joey are long gone. Victims of Dingoes and such. Sarah turned 19 last Friday, Happy Birthday again dear Sarah. This makes Jack 6 in human and I think, 42 in dog years? Damn! He’ll be my equal in age next year!
Jack has been talked about by us before. He’s a bit of a National Park and sometime motel room Ninja dog.
He doesn’t bark as a rule. He lived in a cabin with us for 18 months or more in a caravan park. He was capable of holding his bladder (and bowel) for up to 14 hours. We would sneak him down the back paddock ay night and throw a stick for an hour with him. In the early morning, if he wasn’t in the truck with me, Tina would sneak him out again. During the day he’d sleep inside.
He’s been caving, swimming, rock hopping, beach combing and mountain climbing in National Parks. He has *never* attacked a native animal. Ever.
He ignores wallabies and gungurru. But he will growl or bark when feral pigs are around. Actually, the first time he really barked was the first time he went to Walker Bay beach (see an earlier post).

Happy Snaps

I don’t have many today. I have a theory though. I think the reason I don’t want to sleep is because I cherish every waking hour that I have the privelege of staying where we are. I mean, check out the first photo. That’s an afternoon view of part of the track into the ‘property’ where we live.
We also eat well. The next pic is fried onion damper. The onion damper is baked and then you eat some. Then, you fry the rest in oil. It’s NOM NOM food!
The Pig eats well. About 3 to 5 kg of wood a night. But then we force feed it too 🙂
Tina has woven some thick vines together. I reckon I’ll snarf one for the top of a wind chime.
We’re slowly building a collection of chimes, wind chimes and mobiles to sell at the local markets. Maybe next fortnight we’ll set up a stall and corner the market…bad pun unintended 🙂

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We Are Geeks Therefore We Shall Google Maybe

Let me tell you. I am in a bit of a quandary.
(Hind sight insert) Oh, and let me also warn you of the plethora of photos at the end of this post.

We have our Bamboo. We have lots of it, and we’ve been experimenting with things. In particular, we’ve created an instrument for one of our daughters. I even lashed out for a saw. A Hacksaw to cut the bamboo easier.
Now, let me lead you to the reason for titling this post as I have.
Both Tina and I are Interweb Geeks. We both know how to effectively use a search engine. Crickey! I’ve been using search engines since before Google was born. I can clearly remember when Google really WAS your friend. Ad free and promising not to cache your searches.
Anyway, getting back to Bamboo for a bit. I bought the hacksaw. It was cheap. I even bought an 18 tooth blade to go with the 24 tooth that came with it.
WARNING. A TRIVIAL TECH TALK FOLLOWS:
Hacksaw blades over here are measured in teeth per 25mm. Which is about the same as teeth per inch. I reasoned that a slightly ‘rougher’ blade might work better. Why? Because both The Legend of the North and his cohort in Legendarianism, ‘The Lad’, had suggested that I just buy a ‘proper’ saw. They warned me that a hacksaw would take ages to cut through the thick stuff. But, I bought a hacksaw. And it works well. For the thin stuff. Of course, to successfully cut bamboo, you need to cut slightly into the opposite side of the tube from where you make your main cut. It’s like ply or laminate sort of. Even though bamboo is round, it has a waste side that can rip and fray as you cut through the bark. To prevent it, make a saw cut on the opposite side of the tube first.
Why haven’t we Googled this stuff yet? I mean I’m a sceptic. I was taught many stories and skills over the years, but always got second opinions. The Internet was my encyclopedia once I learnt how to use it properly. But I didn’t. I relied on my skills. Stuff that has been festering in the far corners of my brain. Just waiting for a chance to have conscious fame for 15 second. But. I was wrong on the saw in part.
So, let me advise you now. A hacksaw is perfect for bamboo up to 30 to 40 mm in diameter. After that, I recommend a good quality, sharp wood saw, with wide teeth. Of course I need to Google that to confirm, but that’s what I reckon 😉 But then, The Legend of the North and The Lad did warn me.
END TECH TALK

So. I am creating a couple of instruments for one of our kids. I had  a ‘Moment’ earlier this week. Just for fun I made this thing. I can’t tell you what it is lest the daughter read this post. But she’s clever. She’ll work it out anyway.
I made this thing for fun. It didn’t work. So I experimented with a little fire to harden things up. Now, I can barely play a Blues Harp, let alone a guitar. But Tina is not only artistic, but musical too. So she tested my prototype. It made *music*.
I have rarely had moments in my life where something I’ve created by hand has reduced me to tears. But when this ‘piece of wood’ was coaxed into making a sound, I cried.
I know it sounds trivial. But one of those other special things that were partially created by my hand (and made me cry) will be the recipient of this gift. And I know that she will be able to create music (if she wishes to) from what I’m creating.
It’s trippy. We’ve created three working instruments based on Tinas knowledge, my woodwork and a little mathematics to tune them. We’re learning to tune bamboo wind chimes by listeming to the prototypes we’ve made already.
It’s weird. I’ve thought about Googling for ideas. Especially when it comes to tuning wind chimes. But I know the basics of tuning. You know. Length. Diameter. Where the striker hits the chime. So I’ve just played. And I’m proud to say say some of my chimes just sing. Others need minor mods and they’ll sing too. It’s like Tinas shell mobiles. Some are designed to move in the wind silently. Others are made to connect, make contact and sing as well. The delicate sound of shells kissing is almost like sea, but far gentler.
Googling is good. But remembering stuff you’d forgotten you knew is a far richer experience.
We are sooo happy 🙂

Random pics follow, including one of the HMB Endeavour replica moored at the leads to Cooktown harbour. She was to deep drafted to navigate the channel into the wharf. She also left a day early, due to the 20 knot South Easters blowing strsight into her bow out there. Apperently the crew had a reall rough night on Friday. The decision was made to depart Saturday morning, rather than Sunday. I don’t blame them either. A 2 metre swell would be rough on that old coal carter, let alone having to cater to the wind. Oh, and we scored a tree ripened Red Paw Paw from the markets. We’re going to sprout the seeds. The ONLY way to eat Paw Paw (Papaya) is tree ripened. Otherwise they just taste bitter and you have to add sugar or honey to re-sweeten it. The best standard Paw Paws I ever ate were grown at ‘Top Garden’ in Cedar Bay in the  early Eighties. The trees were on average five metres tall, with large, bulbous fruit. We didn’t have a problem with flying fox. They may have claimed one or two per tree. The rest were ours, picked yellow with a net on the end of a pole. The sweetest things you’ve ever tasted.
If you have an idea, or a link to something unique bamboo wise, or even some advice we could use, comment or tweet us @UnclechilliMan or @OneGreenBusy

Now, enjoy the pics.

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Bamboo Is Too Much Fun

First, a Big Happy Birthday to our third youngest. A post for her is coming soon.
The Legend of the North and his partner in legendarianism ‘The Lad’ popped out Monday arvo with five lengths of green Bamboo for us. They are about 6 metres long on average. The longest is easily 8 metres. Carried atop a Hi-lux 4WD ute through town and out along the narrow track to our place. I wish I’d taken a photo when they rocked up 🙂
So, what do you do with an 8 metre length of bamboo? It’s first use is as a clothes line. Just a temporary use. We have some ideas and will reveal them along the way.
Speaking of Elephants, the photo of the timber is the bundle of firewood I collected on Tuesday afternoon (my Friday this week). I bundle it using one rope, with two loops about 30cm apart. The rope pulls up tight and keeps the bundle stable as I carry it on my shoulder. That bundle was about 40 odd kilos. But it’s only about 100 metres or so that I have to carry it. Between Tina and I, we generally collect enough wood in one trip to last us a few days.

I promised shipwrecks in my last post. There is one on our favourite local beach. Apparently it’s been there for ten years or more. However, the wreckage was more exposed back then. Nowadays, only the bow of what was once a barge remains above the sand. Sometimes the wreckage is completely covered by sand except for the top of the bollard. I’ll do some research and dig up a name for the vessel and how it came to grief.

UPDATE

Check the latest lengths of bamboo that The Legend of the North and The Lad delivered late Tuesday afternoon. We’re just hanging to hit the hardware and buy a decent saw!

We’re thinking big chimes, plant hangers, xylophones and maybe some drums. We’ve spent much of Wednesday playing with driftwood and cutting bamboo with our rudimentary saws. See the ones we’re currently using in the pics. We’re going to get a proper one soon. We’re also hunting a hand auger to dowel some joints in timber.
Anyway, we’ve experimented with a few narrower lengths and the sound and airflow characteristics are excellent. Roll on big bamboo drums!

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Of Crocodiles, Echidnas and Taipans

First and foremost. A BIG Happy Birthday to Tracy Macy! Happy Birthday sugary plummery! We hope you had a good day today/yesterday xxxx. We’ll FB you on Monday. She tweets as @tracymacy so follow her! She’s our titta (sister).

So, here I am, relaxing on my driftwood and bamboo lounge chair (padded with towels because I have a bony bum), in front of our flash fire place, and I got to thinking how damned lucky I am to be where I am/we are.

It’s kind of hard maybe for some folk to realise that we are very happy and very comfortable in our modest little home. Our water supply is a bunch of plastic bottles of varied capacity that we refill in town. Our toilet is a hole in the ground out in the scrub. We shower in town, or we bathe in the ocean. Our ‘kitchen sink’ is a 10 litre, square bucket. We have a 12 volt lifht for when we need it that runs off the car, and we have a gas fridge on loan, courtesy of our friend, The Guitarist. But we are sooooo content! We eat well. We also have time to make mobiles and bracelets and stuff. My work in town allows me to be home well before sundown. So, I can walk on the beach wirh my favourite person in the world, throw a stick for Jack the dog, and collect ‘stuff’ for our art.
I just bloody well love being alive now!
Not many of you know this, but 5 months ago I explained to Tina that if we didn’t get away from where we were, I would probably ‘off’ myself. We were existing. We weren’t living as such. I was making twice as much money as we do now, but it was gone before we knew it. The only good thing about where we were was that we were close to the majority of our kids and one or two special people that we care for dearly. But the place was killing me emotionally and spiritually.
So we made our move. I no longer feel ‘dead’. Nor do I contemplate suicide anymore. I am spiritually and emotionally comfortable (for want of a better word).

But enough of that maudlin stuff. I’m supposed to be writing about Crocodiles, Echidnas and Taipans. But first, since our last post, Tina has made half a dozen more shell and driftwood mobiles. We’re thinking of hitting the markets one weekend to see if anyone wants to buy some of them. $10 each sounds fair don’t you think? Check out the photos. Some of them tinkle, but some don’t. But they’re all very organic and pretty.

OK. Back on track. Last week we saw our first snake near our home. It crossed the path we use to go bush to our ‘business’. I’m pretty sure it was a small (1metre) Taipan, but it could have been a Brown snake. We decided not to get close enough to check the scale count to properly ID it. We just let it go in its way. It was a very nice snake though. No doubt we’ll see more as the seasons change. Hopefully they’ll help control the rodents. Jack has killed two mice so far. Jack is NOT a pig dog. He barks at wild pigs, but is smart enough not to chase them. God idea too. The pigs we’ve seen here are twice his size.

Crocodiles.
For those of you who don’t live in croc country, you may be a little surprised to know that big bitey saltwater crocs are just as at home in the ocean as they are in estauries. There was a 14 foot (4.5 metre) croc tagged in the Endeavour River a few years ago. The tag had a beacon attached. This crocs movements were tracked as it moved around. They (DERM) found that this croc regularly went up every creek that fed the river. Then it would travel 20 plus kilometres out to sea and cruise the Great Barrier Reef. Then it would do a bit of a coast run before heading back up river.
Now, we’re croc aware. We know they’re about, so we don’t really think about the signs that are common around here and other croc friendly parts of the tropics. So, as my civic duty demands, check the photos from our favourite beach. It’s less than 10 km from town. Funnily though, the ‘recent sighting’ sign has been there for nearly a month. However, recent sighting signs in town are removed after a couple of days. Maybe they don’t want to scare the tourists
🙂

Echidnas
The very last thing I expected to see around camp was an Echidna. I mean, we’re pretty close to the beach. I’ve seen them in the mountains, the desert and the bush. But for some strange reason I hadn’t even considered that Echidnad might like to hang out near the beach. Well there ya go. The Echidna in the photos was nearly inside our home. Time for some edjamacashun. Echidnas are monotremes. If I recall correctly, there are only two animals in the monotreme family. One is the Echidna. The other is the Platypus. Both are egg laying mammals. And both are completely dissimilar to each other. One has a duck like bill and beaver like tail and spends most of its life in still, freshwater creeks. The other is spiny, likes dry country and lives mostly on ants.

Anyway, I’m off for now, but check the last pic. It’s a random view from where I’m sitting. Wish You Were Here to enjoy it. Especially you Twistyman, and you kidlets. Oh, the tent is our guest house. We sleep in the back of Jimmy. So remember, if you come for a visit, you’ll be sleeping in luxury on an airbed in the mansion 😉
Lastly. Do a Google for Geoffrey Gurrumal Yunupingu. The go to YouTube or somewhere and find some of his music. Gurrumuls music is just too cool to not sample some of it. Seriously.

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Dodgy Bush Furniture, Plaited Vine Bangles and Mobiles

What do you when you have two days off? Why, you make plaited bangles from vines and dodgy furniture from driftwood of course!

Wednesday was spent doing not much at all. The evening was quiet, spent yarning with a couple of folk from town who came out to visit. A few ales and some interesting conversation while the music of artists as varied as Geoffory Gurrumul Yunupingu, Syd Barrett, JBT and The Dead Kennedys played on our ‘fone’ in the background. Next time our friend will have to bring his guitar out. Last time he just played some freestyle type acoustics that blended with the ocean and the breeze in the bush. Very cool stuff.

Our plans for Thursday were influenced by the need for more sitting spots near the fire.
We have (had) two eskies & a dog food drum for seats, so when we get more than one visitor I usually take the ‘floor’.

So, bright and early Thursday morning, we took a trip to a good scavanging spot we’d been informed of. We collected a length of old sawn hardwood that was once a porch step. We also grabbed some poly pipe, once used as a water supply line & now destined for our ‘kitchen sink’. Three lengths of old corrugated iron also came with us to be used as a bigger fire/wind guard around and over the campfire.
On the way home, we pulled up by the beach and found some interestingly shaped, solid chunks of driftwood and put them in the car as well.
We got all our treasures home and started to scratch build a seat from driftwood and vines.
I managed to get most of it done with driftwood. The first pic shows it half done. I had to cheat a bit and use one coach bolt on one end of the seat. The other end is lashed with vines. The rear support is also lashed in.
I couldn’t find anything in our driftwood stash to make a back for the seat. Not without a decent hand saw at least. Going back to the beach wasn’t an option either. So I ended up using some bamboo driftwood to finish it. It’s comfortable & it supports two people easily.

While I was playing with wood, Tina got to making vine bangles. Check the photos. Very organic and very cool! They’re all different, with varied twists based on how the vine flowed in the weaving process. Even Jack wanted one to go with the shell bling on his collar. Have a look on his left front leg. 🙂

On Thursday night our friend turned up again. This time with his guitar. The seat was “sick” in his opinion, and excellent for sitting while playing. I recorded a bit but the wind noise thru the fone mic kind of drowns the guitar. Maybe on a calmer night. The chair worked. It supported his 100 & my 60 odd kilo frames easily. The only problem so far is that the seat part is only good for small butts. The back rest works well though. I’m working on a way to make the seat big bum friendly soon.
The Guitarist went home with a vine bangle and is going to bring his ‘pig’ out one day for us to test out. We’ll keep you posted 🙂

The wind has been blowing up since Wednesday afternoon and by this morning (08:00 Fri 24 June) it was up to the 30 knot mark SE to Easterly.
The ocean isn’t quite water ski smooth out there as you can see in the photos. Even the mouth of the Endeavour had ‘surf’!

The wind mobile has been loving the breeze too. There’s a couple of pics there. It’s a mix of twisted dead vine, driftwood and shells. One shell that acts as a wind catcher is a feather shaped, wafer thin scallop type shell that spins crazy in the wind.
Tina is in the process of making another intricate shell mobile. When she has it finished, we’ll post pics.

(15:30 Fri 24 June): Out of neccessity I’ve made a windbreak around the fire place. Even though the fire has a windbreak and is in a relatively protected spot, when it’s blowing 30 knots on the coast, we get gusts through the site that can stir the fire up. We do not need to be creating a hazard now do we? So, I’ve bolted some iron together according to some obscure design rule in a Quantum Chaos Theory study guide and created a fire containment vessel thing. One side is adjustable to allow for variations in wind velocity and direction. The rest is solid. Sort of. But then, if you look at the photos, there were 5 to 10 knot gusts blowing in when they were taken. So it’s working 🙂

(19:00 Fri 24 June): Tina has finished one mobile. It’s currently under wind testing 😉 . Check out the photos. She has started work on another and if it’s ready in the morning I’ll post even more photos 🙂
The fire enclosure is working well, even with a largish fire it keeps things calm and contained.

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