Just a Friday photo

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Apologies for the poor quality. I have but a 3meg mobile phone camera.

Things I See or Three Days of Solitude

Of course this is long! That’s why you could make coffee while the page loaded ๐Ÿ˜‰
I was trying to think of a catchy title, but all the ideas I had were a bit clichรฉ, or just plain weird. For example, ‘Visions of the Tropics’, or ‘My Eyefood’. Then I digresssed and this post became somewhat long and emotional.

Anyway, I’m sitting at Walker Bay beach in the car. I’ve got the pig cooking a fish and vegetable broth. The dogs are under the car, resting and chewing on bones after a run on the beach. It’s around 4pm.

A lone seabird flies North over a steel grey ocean. An approaching early Summer storm flashes and rumbles an ominous greeting. Sol has retreated behind rain filled clouds. The rain has started. Just a gentle drizzle, but although the temperature has cooled slightly, the humidity is wicked.
The pig protects the fire from the rain,so my fish and vegetable broth still simmers gently, aromas of reef fish, sweet potato, pumpkin and herbs waft into the car.

The sea has flattened. Perfectly formed small waves are rolling onto the shore. The lightning charged clouds have headed North West and the sun is almost breaking through.

As the sun sets, the wind and the seas calm further. It’s 6:40pm, but still light. The last rays of the sun are splashing pastel oranges and pinks on the clouds. The ocean is a mix of pinks and greys with shimmers of silver.

One in the morning and the clouds have cleared. The moon throws a sheen on a calm sea.

Dawn. Dead still.
The Sunbirds are serenading their mates. A lonely Cricket calls before daytime takes over.

A school of baitfish leap from the water, chased by some mystery pelagic looking for a feed.

This place is beautiful. I realise now though, that it makes me sad. I knew it as our home, but now it’s just another beach. I can’t keep away though. Too many memories, and that irrational thought that just maybe, I might wake and that horrible nightmare has ended, and she is here again.

In the morning (that’s Tuesday 13 December) I took Jack and Floyd for a long walk up the beach. I went for a swim in the shallows & tossed a stick for Jack. Floyd ran amok as usual. He loves playing with Jack & I on the beach. The Smithfield Cattle dog shows in him. He crouches low and eyes up his target, then starts to stalk and suddenly races toward his quarry! He doesn’t stop either. For a full two hours he ran backwards and forwards and up and down the beach, chasing wayward leaves, or a crab that was caught by surprise. He’s learning the stick thing too.

As we headed back to the camp, I was thinking how I hadn’t seen an eagle since I got back here early November. When we were both here, eagles would greet us wherever we went. It used to happen down South too. However, since Her funeral I hadn’t seen one. As I walked, I looked up from looking for shells and not 20 metres in front of us was an eagle on the beach harrassing a crab. It took flight and landed a little further down the beach and watched us. This time it waited until we were less than 10 metres away before it tok flight again and landed in a beach she-oak. There it stayed and watched as we continued down the beach. I saw it again, late this afternoon, cruising South over the camp to somewhere unknown.

I don’t know if I mentioned it in a previous post, but when I first came back here after Tinas funeral, I discovered that our Sunbird friends had nested at our old camp/home site.

I cooked up a hearty bean and vegetable soup this afternoon. I’ve actually been eating food almost regularly this past two days. Healthy food even. In town I was forgetting to eat, sometimes for a couple of days. I need to focus on my health more, so I don’t turn into an old man too early ๐Ÿ˜‰

After an emotional day (up and down like a yo-yo as usual), it’s 09:11pm (21:11) and I’m watching the most stunning lightning show. I just saw a freighter get struck in the channel 9 kilometres out to sea.

The wet season is nearly upon us now. Thunderstorms are common any time of day. Sudden driving rain momentarily cooling us a breeze and some rain, but in between storms the air becomes thick and still. Like a Swedish sauna. Crocodile free creeks are talked about in longing terms. An hours drive to a waterfall is well worth it this time of year. Air conditioners work overtime as locals escape the humidity and the sandflies that take over when the breeze drops.

10:50pm. (Tuesday) this lightning show is getting even more impressive. I think the Archer Point lighthouse just got struck. Three big strikes made water or vessels out on the ocean and right now I would nearly give my left leg for a good dslr! I’ve got a tripod, so I’m nearly set. ๐Ÿ™‚ The storms have been coming from the South West and look like they’ll go all night. I haven’t had much rain here, but I heard on the radio that Cooktown airport has had over 45mm today. The airport is about 20km inland from here. It looks like Cooktown itself may have copped a fair bit too.

Update 11:05pm. The most active part of this storm (that’s on land) is heading directly towards me. The wind has picked up significantly (it’s blowing). I was kind of hoping for a lightning strike on the beach, but considering how exposed this big hunk of metal is…I’m parked 20 metres off the beach next to a she-oak and not in our old protected site…I wonder what might happen ;).
Ah well, I’ll know within the hour. I’ve been watching the mountains to the South disappear in the downpour when the lightning makes the sky like daylight. The bulk of the rain is just coming over the hills on the Southern end of the bay. I’m roughly 5km from there. As the gusts increase, the cuttlefish bone I put on the roof earlier rocks. It sounds like a bird running on the roof ๐Ÿ™‚ .

11:20pm: I took the currlebone off the roof. The lightning is close enough now that I am avoiding contact with any metal on the car. Normally I would move under cover, but it’s too late to pack stuff up. I’ll just enjoy the show ๐Ÿ™‚
It’s 11:40pm, and this storm is just teasing me. The wind has dropped and there is a gentle breeze. The lightning is mainly moving of shore to the North. It’s still an excellent show though.

01:30am Wednesday 14 December

The show has moved North, so it is sleep for me.

Wednesdayย  11:40am

The Sou’ Easter has kicked in again with 20 knot winds. The sky is clear, with some cloud forming out West. This morning was dead calm and hot. It was over 30C at 9 this morning and the March/Marsh flies & sandflies were rank. Jack, Floyd and I escaped to the water to cool down a bit. The sea was still and clear, so I swam out a bit but Floyd followed me so I went back to the shallows. He gets all panicky and tries to climb on my head the little bugger ๐Ÿ™‚ . After our walk and swim, I sharpened my knives, machete & axe, and now I’m tossing up on another swim or a nanna nap…

…and the nanna nap won.
I went for a swim after my nap,then collected some firewood for an early dinner. I got the fire going and prepared some noodles *and* rice. The pantry supplies are shrinking (roll on Friday) and I don’t have enough water left to waste on damper, so it’s very basic tonight. As I was waiting on the noodles,I listened to the news on the radio. A couple of lads got stung by irikanji jellyfish today down near Cairns. Looks like oceanย  swimming is off the list for now. For those who don’t know, Irikanji are a small, about the size of the end of your little finger or a large pea. They also have long trailing tentacles which pack a wallop. The initial sting is barely noticeable,but around 15 minutes later the venom lets you know! Initial treatment is to douse the sting trails in vinegar, and if stung, a visit to the hospital is generally required. Yes, Irikanji stings can be fatal.
So, I reckon my next escape from town will be down near the Little Annan crossing. No stingers, no sharks and no crocs.
๐Ÿ™‚

I have added a few cloudscapes that entertained me on Wednesday arvo. The sun went mad with the light paint hey?

A friend popped down about 6:30 tonight. He’s heading South for Christmas in the next couple of days. I would jump a lift, but I have things I need to do in town, and a dear friend is leaving soon and I may not see her for a while. I have learnt more of the treasure we call family and friends over the past four months, and I care for this person more than I thought.ย  Maybe because I have seen the beauty inside her heart. I also think that my headspace has contributed to these feelings, so I’m not trusting my feelings too much at the moment,which confuses me even more! Anyway, Maddy has scored a job with a tour company out at Uluru! It’s official now so I can say it here ๐Ÿ˜‰
Her start date hasn’t been confirmed yet as far as I know,but it will be early new year she thinks.

Christmas in Rocky or Burrum Heads is looking doubtful at the moment because I can’t/won’t leave the dogs behind this time.
Besides, I am paying back some debts this week which will leave me pretty broke for the fortnight. I think between Christmas and New Year will be more realistic for me budget wise.
Christmas doesn’t feel good this year for me, but I’m going to miss my kids though ๐Ÿ˜ฆ .

8pm: Another brilliant lightning show off the coast tonight. The freighters are copping it in the channel again.

You know how I wrote about me feeling that this is now just another beach? Well, I retract that. This beach is so much more than that. This was our home because we thought it was a beautiful place. It still is, and it always will be ‘our’ home. It’s taken three days to let it all soak back into my soul and it feels good.

8:20pm: Well that was a surprise. I’ve been watching the storm out over the ocean and a real nice lightning storm has snuck up behind me. Very slow and menacing ๐Ÿ™‚ One close strike just lit up the beach and dunes,and the wind has changed direction. I’ve put the lid on the fire pig and put my dry wood under the car. This is right over me. Barely a breeze, but super impressive lightning and thunder ๐Ÿ™‚ . It’s dead quiet except for the waves and ominous rumblings in the sky…
08:30pm
…the humidity has just shot through the roof. Thunder rumbles distantly from that storm in the ocean, challenging the one above me to a contest of electrical brilliance. So far,my storm has stayed silent, no doubt building up something impressive.
My storm responds with three, then four strikes, and follows up with two more a minute later.

The sea is very calm, as is the air. Surprising really. With this much activity, I expected big rain and a lot of wind. But then,I’m used to Southern Summer storms. These pre-monsoon things are like a warning. But sometines they do dump a deluge. Official figures for Cooktown were 47mm at the airport yesterday. It’s also a time to be very,very wary of crocodiles. This sort of weather is the mating trigger. Males and females get very aggressive and territorial this time of year. No time to be creeping around river banks and swamps.

It’s nearly 9pm and my storm is firing at about a strike every 5 seconds or so on average. They’re close enough that I can feel the thunder ๐Ÿ™‚
It is getting more intense as it heads over the coast and out to sea. Now the breeze is picking up, easing the oppressive humidity.ย  The ocean is still gentle, caressing rather than slapping the sand as the small waves roll down the beach.
My storm just roared. The thunder rolled out to sea for over thirty seconds!

My storm has stretched out over the sea in much the same position as those clouds in the south facing pics below. It’s reached out to envelop the small storm and has been celebrating its success with a huge flash along the coast just south of me.

In the distance I can hear wind blowing through the she-oaks, getting closer. The sound of heavy rain on the water maybe?
After a short lull,the light show has re-intensified, the sea is keeping up its steady, gentle rythmn on the beach.

My storm has continued out across the ocean and our reef, all the while showing off its electrical energy. The clouds are breaking here on the coast, and stars are beginning to show. The Southern Cross should rise soon,as will the moon. Clouds have blocked the moon nearly every night since the lunar eclipse.

How do I describe this moon when my camera can’t?
A blood red half moon, with a few thin slivers of cloud slicing through it, looking like Jupiter.
I wish I could show you the view I have. The Moon has gone orange and is casting a golden shimmer over an almost glasslike sea.
A Dolphin shaped cloud is now leaping across the moons face.

At around 11:00pm, four friends turned up with an esky full of beer and JB bourbons. The consensus was that seeing it was my last night out here for a while, they should help me enjoy it! ๐Ÿ™‚ Well, the night was long! We had to build a few smudges around the camp to keep the mozzies at bay due to it being a very gentle Westerly breeze, which brings the biteys out of the bush.
As the night wore on it became very calm, just after dawn, the sea ‘glassed out’. On parts of the horizon, the glass sea merged seamlessly with the sky. Photos below.
A few of us went for a swim. It was low tide, so the water was only waste deep fifty metres out. Plus, the water was so still and clear that nothing suspect could be missed. We just lay in the water and enjoyed the start of a beautiful day ๐Ÿ™‚ . One of the girls was watching us from the beach and said that it looked like we were floating above the water due to the glass out. Also a testament to how clear the water was, because she was standing at least 50 metres away from us. Stunning stuff ๐Ÿ™‚

The weather began to blow from the South East around 11 in the morning. I chose to err on the side of caution and stay one more night. I did imbibe quite a bit last night ๐Ÿ˜‰ and don’t need or want a DUI conviction. Besides, it’s quieter out here and easier to sleep.

Well, that’s three/four days of my life on the Interwebz once again. If you got this far without getting too bored, I thank you.

It’s just after 10pm on Thursday nightย  (15 December) and I’m waiting for the moonrise once again. Tomorrow will be a busy day with paperwork to fill out and stuff. Thanks again for reading ๐Ÿ™‚
I will only post a couple of pics here. My next post will be all photos from the three days ๐Ÿ™‚ .

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It’s All About Us

Hey gang

4:20pm ๐Ÿ˜‰ 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. ๐Ÿ™‚
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.

Crabs
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 ๐Ÿ˜ฆ
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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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. ๐Ÿ™‚
For example, Tina dozing in her ‘Fraggle Rock’ t-shirt ๐Ÿ™‚
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 ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Of Bandicoots Bream and Tinas Scissors

Grab a seat, this may be a long read.

Friday night, 9 September 2011
We were once again at the Dragons Lair relaxing with ale and good food. Dragon had cooked up a really nice Indian curry that was ageing nicely in our cooking pot on the electric stove.
Tina escaped early because the Friday night football marathon was on the electronic opium dispenser (aka the television).
I hung with the boys and watched a full game of Rugby League (Dragons v Tigers). Then watched most of the Tonga v New Zealand Rugby Union World Cup opener. You may think this normal for a bloke to do. You know, sit around on the piss, talking as armchair experts about game tactics and flow. Taking the piss out of Dragon as his team crumbled from a potential winning lead to a demoralizing loss. But no. I haven’t taken part in that time honoured Aussie bloke tradition in over twenty years! Well except for the odd State of Origin clash of course. But that was with mixed company and Roy & HG calling the game on JJJ. The tv provided the vision.
I poured myself into bed about 1:15am and promptly passed out. Meanwhile, at about 2:30am, the girl housemate, we shall call her L, came home. She sits down next to Tina and gives her a cuddle, “Darling, good morning. Would you like to come in for a coffee? Or a cigarette? Have you got a cigarette? ” So Tina crawled out of bed and had conversation, coffee and cigarettes with L at 3am. I wonder if they had Tom Waits playing on the CD? I slept through until 6:00am.

10 Sept 2011
Saturday morning. Market day. Mmmm…Home made pies!
At about 08:30, we grabbed a beef & a chicken with asparagus, plus a sausage roll, then headed down/up to the old Pilot jetty to give the dogs a run and to feast on our Cooktown breakfast.

A bit later on, 4’ish in the afternoon, we organised some water and groceries, then headed off to the Annan River (croc country) again. Before we left town, we grabbed two new handlines, some tackle and some bait.
We collected firewood from the track on the way in. Our firewood comes from timber dropped when they backburned up the track near Crocodile bend.
We pulled up by the river in the same spot we camped with JJ and Charline last week. I pulled Pig off the roof and we got the fire started.

Tina cooked up a chicken casserole using wings and a bunch of vegies. Yummm. The Pig did its job to perfection as usual. Just after dark I caught my first fish in ages (years actually). It was a pan sized bream. Perfect with chicken casserole! I scaled and gutted it, rubbed some salt on the skin, sprinkled herbs and spices in its belly, then laid it into the pan I’d oiled and preheated on the Pig. I let the fish sizzle for five minutes and turned it over. This was repeated four times, then the fish was laid on a plate to rest for a minute.
The skin was almost crisp, but slipped easily off the meat. The flesh was white and fell off the bones with little effort. However, it was still juicy and held its delicate sweet flavour.
Tinas verdict: “Yummy!”
Between us we ate seven chicken wings and the fish, so I guess we’re eating well ๐Ÿ˜‰

ย  Around 8pm we heard something in the undergrowth. Floyd the pup growled and barked, all the while looking between Jack on his and the mysterious monster in the bush. Jack meanwhile, just lay there looking into the scrub without any concern. We knew by his attitude that it was some sort of native animal. After we’d settled Floyd, the mystery creature became a little braver. It turned out to be a little bandicoot, so we enticed it closer with some dry dog food and fruit scraps. It came within four metres of us before finally heading back into the bush an hour or so later. Both Jack and Floyd ignored it and went to sleep. They’re good puppies. ๐Ÿ™‚

I lost half a dozen hooks through the night from the current dragging the lines into tree roots. So I pulled up about 11pm. I’ll collect them on Sunday afternoon low tide. Tina can be my croc spotter.

Sunday 11Sept. 2011
Up at 06:30. The lines went in about 7:30am after coffee. We’ve made a soup from the casserole sauce and it’s heating up. The lines have ‘telltale’ soft drink cans attached, so we can hear if they run. They’re only 20 metres away, so we shouldn’t have any dramas reaching them quickly.
I think Tina and I made a good choice with Floyd. He is showing intelligence even at this early age. He would now be just on six weeks old. He sits on command, comes when his name is called then sits at your feet, and generally shows a natural will to learn. Jack is tolerating his puppiness, but puts him in his place when needed.

It’s still only about 11:30 in the morning, but we’ve eaten a big meal and did some tidying and we’re ready for a siesta. The lines haven’t interested a crab,let alone a decent fish ๐Ÿ˜ฆ
I’ll try a doze and a line will go. The Sunbirds are just off in the trees, two males are trying to out sing or fly each other, while the lone female follows the show, singing in approval at their displays.

I couldn’t sleep, so I went down on the bank, looking for sinkers and hooks. I found a sinker, then came across a top quality soft lure. It looks like a small greenish yellow mullet. Tina got me to hook it up to a handlines for while. So I climbed out on this big old tree that overhangs the river bank and proceeded to hand cast it out into the channel and jig it back in. The tide was on a good outrun so the lure was working well. It is internally weighted and sinks diagonally into the water, then when jogged, it make a lifeline paddle back up. A large Long Tom, full of teeth and needle like bones followed it in at one stage,but no strikes.
Then I hooked my other handline and buggered the whole show up. It took half an hour to untangle the lines while sitting over the river on tree trunk being swayed by 25 knot gusts. Then a legal size mud crab hooked up on the other tangled line. I couldn’t climb to shore to get within reach, so just hauled it two metres clear of the river before the big buck let go.
Bummer.
After untangling the lines, we rerigged and they’re out just on the edge of the channel. Maybe a big flathead might take a liking to my smelly old baits.

Low tide came and I took the opportunity to see if I could find some of my snagged tackle. I found one of my hooks and two sinkers. But I also scored half a dozen other hooks, ten sinkers and two wire traces. Score!
We’ve hooked onto our second big crab, but it too let go at the surface. I wish we had a big scoop net. We’re going to modify the long desnagging stick we have here so we can hold the next one to check its size and sex.
If all goes well you’ll see photos ๐Ÿ™‚
Tina decided a haircut was in order, so she found her Wahl brand hair scissors…let me tell you about Tina’s hair scissors. YOU DO NOT CUT ANYTHING BUT HAIR WITH THESE SCISSORS!!
Tina bought this set, a pair of thinning scissors and a pair of standard scissors about six and a half years ago. She had always wanted a set of quality hair scissors. As a mother of four kids, home hairdressing was often a necessity. Anyway, this set was on special for $85, down from $250, so Tina snapped them up.
To this day, all they’ve done is cut hair. Maybe fifty haircuts in nearly seven years. They are very cool.
A Wahl 6.5″ thinning scissorย  and a standard 5.5″ scissor. They are both Rockwell 57, 420 stainless steel, ICE tempered, and with a satin finish. They are super sharp.
So we both cut Tinas hair so she could see the scar and remaining stitches in photos. Check them out below.

Sunday Arvo around 15:30, or 3:30pm.
As the afternoon cruises on, one of the Sulpher Crested Cockatoos that resides in these parts flew by, screeching its signature hello on its way to somewhere unknown. A few Rainbow Lorikeets zip by, while just downstream a honeyeater calls.
Just on sunset I have the same luck. A nice break nabs my hook. I got him off and cast again. Five minutes later and bang! Something slams the line and wraps it up in the mangroves. Ah well. Another bream is good. Tuna is going to foil bake it with butter. The bandicoot is back and bolder than ever. Straight of the small rise and into the clearing. Damn! I forgot to put food and water out. I’ll do it now.

The bandicoot turned up about 6:45pm. It’s now 7:30 and it’s just on the edge of the light and the clearing, crunching a few little bits of dog food.
We’ve also just finished a superbly pan fried bream, courtesy of Tina. From hook to plate took under an hour. In environmental terms we burnt less energy catching and eating it than the fish provided us. Carbon negative? Probably not in the big picture. But it was guaranteed fresh ๐Ÿ™‚
It’s coffee time. Tina has the billy on the go. We’re also snacking on plain brand fruit tingles.ย  Nomm Nomm! They come in the bagful!

Just in case anyone is wondering, today we also paid silent respect to all civilians and others killed by acts of terrorism and/or war.

The fish have either gone off the bite, or my last bait is gone. Ah well, next time around I’ll know when and where to fish for the bream.

08:00 Monday 12 September 2011
For the first hour after dawn it was calm. Then the regular breeze kicked in again. For the first time this year, we’ve felt mozzies. Not worth a mozzies coil but noticeable.
Late yesterday arvo, a local and his two boys came down and threw their crab pots in. I offered to watch them overnight and check them occasionally. This morning I pulled out four just legal buck mudcrabs and put them in an old Styrofoam esky with some mangrove leaves. That’ll keep them stable and calm. I’ve rebaited the pots, added extra rope to one and moved the other one closer to us, and they’re back in the river. Hopefully there’ll be more in an hour or so.
Our bama friend, Eddie, came back about 9:30 this morning to check his pots. I gave him the esky with the four crabs and told him the story. He gave us two of the crabs and left the pots in, saying he’d be back between 3:30 and 4:30 this arvo. We decided to hang around til then and keep an eye on them for him.

We’re going to break camp this afternoon and make a trip to Walker Bay beach. We need to get fresh water, and we have some long lengths of bamboo down the beach that we need to cut in half and strap to the roof of Jimmy the 4wd.
We also need to move from here for another reason. Crocodiles are crafty. A croc may swim by here and take no notice of us. It may do the same thing three or four days in a row. Then one day it will watch. It will learn the habits of the food on the bank over a day or two. It will come closer. We may get lucky and see it. Or not.
We’ve already broken two rules of croc country camping.

One: camp at least 30 metres from the river bank, especially if the bank has easy access to the water. We’re half that.

Two: don’t throw your fish cleaning scraps in the water. Well, the rule is technically, ‘don’t clean your fish at the river bank’. Now that would be plain stupid. We clean the fish in our long bucket away from the river, but we toss the guts into the river. It’s probably a good thing that the tides run hard here and drag the offal away quickly.
But having said that, I’m still very croc wary because I know there is a three metre croc that hangs around 600 metres upstream, and crocodiles happily tour hundreds of kilometres a month in a river system like this.

3:30pm Monday.
Our mate turned up and grabbed his pots. No more crabs this time. Tina got coffee going and we prepared to pack up.

Now this next paragraph you can choose to believe or not, but it did happen.
I walked over to the bank with my coffee to pick up some rubbish. A splash to my left startled me. A little five foot saltie got a front and shot across the water, diving as it got to the channel.

Time to break camp.

One final note. It is exactly one month since Tina first showed signs of being sick. She is amazing. ๐Ÿ™‚

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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.

06:30
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 ๐Ÿ˜‰ . 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 ๐Ÿ™‚
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. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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

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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.
Plus:
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.

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 fromย  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.ย  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.ย  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 lastย  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. ๐Ÿ˜‰
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 studyingย  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 Australianย  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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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A Little More Randomness

Grab your preferred poison, find a comfortable seat, and relax. This may take a while.

“Even if we could afford to rent a house in town, we’d still live in our car in the bush”.

Before we get random, I’d like to be all spammy and give a big hello to our friends Judy and Willie who are Guurrbi Tours (www.guurrbitours.com).
If/when you ever get the chance to come to Cooktown, I reckon you should go with Willie and see His country. Given that Guurrbi Tours is listed in the Top Ten ofย  150 Must Do things in Queensland, then you’re guaranteed of something special. Then, when you read comments from others who’ve taken the journey who write how their lives have been changed as a result of Willie and his stories, then I think you’d be compelled to experience Guurrbi Tours.

OK, please don’t really think of this as spam or advertising. Willie and Judy have no idea that I’ve just promoted them.
A little history. We first met Judy on Twitter and discussed and asked advice about a few things (long story). Judy and Willie have been so helpful and caring and dare I say it, uplifting (for want of a better word) to us since we arrived. I can’t thank them enough. Judy became Tinas ‘Patron Of The Arts’ when she managed to get Tina commisioned to repaint the crocodile at ‘Pams Place’ (www.cooktownmotel.com) in Cooktown.
The first night we were in town, we had intended to go to the flood fundraising event that Willie and Judy had helped organise. We wanted to go, but as some of you folk who have read our blog for a while would know, we had $2.85 in our pocket. We phoned Judy and made the excuse that we couldn’t get their because our headlights weren’t working (which was true), but we didn’t want to say “Oh, we’re destitute”. Anyway, 10 minutes later, this gentleman in a 4WD, baring a striking resemblance to Willie Gordon pulls up. Willie had come down to see if he could help and offered to run us up to the hall. We would have taken up the offer just to help with cooking and after event cleaning, but we also had Jack and Billy the dogs.
Both Judy and Willie are wonderful people and I seriously recommend that you include Guurrbi Tours in your plans if and when you come to Cooktown.

OK, random.
How do you personally define a ‘comfortable’ temperature?
For example. It is about 3pm on Wednesday afternoon, 20th July 2011. I don’t know what the temp is. Maybe somewhere between 22C and 26C. The sun is dappled through the tree canopy on my left, but I can feel it’s warmth. It is not humid by any means. Occasionally the breeze from the beach touches my back, cooling me slightly. For me, when the breeze eases, and the air becomes Sun warmed, I find my comfortable temperature.

What bird do you associate with where you live? In other words, if you were far from home, or a place you once called home, what bird, if you saw it, would you remember from (and remind you of) that place?
For me (Brad), the bird that reminds me of Rockhampton, Queensland (Australia), where I used to live (and my daughter was born) is the Rainbow Lorikeets. These birds are prolific in Rockhampton. If you’re ever driving through around sunset, you’ll hear them roosting in some of the palms that line most of the highway through the city. It’s a loud and chattery chorus that you can’t help but hear.
Cooktown of course has the Sunbird that I’ve talked about before.
Blackwater. Mining town. Lived there for a while. My sister was eight when our parents moved there. I was 19? Just back from Cedar Bay. My sister has lived there since 1983. The quintessential Blackwater bird is the Australian Raven, sometimes confused with the Torresian Crow. The difference is that the Raven has a call like “faark faark faaaaarrrrrk”, whereas the Crow goes “faaark faaark faaark”. My theory is that the Raven is bored witless, whereas the Crow is just frustrated with having to listen to the Raven whining all day.

Finally, Brisbane. The House Sparrow, very closely followed by the Pigeon.
I remember when I was around eight years old, collecting fallen Sparrow chicks from the ground under the eaves of a church in Sunnybank, Brisbane (QLD Australia). There were so many sparrow nests under the eaves that we’d find find around a dozen dead or dying chicks on the ground during breeding season.
We left ‘Brissie’ in early 1972 I think, and lived in Peth,Western Australia for the next four years. Oh, this might sound too obvious, the Black Swan is ‘that bird’ for Perth. Anyway, I digress.

We returned in 1975, and the friends we stayed with informed me that the city council paid 2 cents a head for House Sparrows. No, I didn’t start a sparrow culling empire as a 12 year old. But the thought did occur to me.
Pigeons are the iconic Brisbane City bird. But I guess the same can be said for most cities, so I won’t flog a dead horse.

Large ships and whales. First, some anecdotal evidence of the existence of large freighter engine resonance. There is a shipping channel roughly 15km East of us. Quite often you can hear the thrumming of the ships engines as they pass by. The sound carries through/over the water.
Whaleologists (you know, them people who study whales) have suggested that man-made noise in the oceans of the world may be detrimental to whales’ health. I reckon they may be right.

Random photos follow…

Oh, the photos of the train stuff. Cooktown had a rail line back in the old days. It went from here to Laura. Well, nearly to Laura. The bridge was never completed. You can find a bit of the history of the line on the Interweb.

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I’ll Tell You Why We Live Where We Live

I’ve borrowed the title of this post from a segment on a Sunday radio show that’s been broadcast in Australia for years. The radio show (‘that all people know’) is called ‘Australia All Over’ and is broadcast live on most ABC (Australian Broadcasting Commission) stations every Sunday between 6am and 9am.
Hosted by the ageless Ian ‘Macca’ McNamara, the show is a mix of interviews and discussions with famous and not so famous people. The focus of the show though, are the listeners. Aussies phone in from places as populous as Melbourne, or as remote as Oodnadatta. They even call from Patagonia and Antarctica, describing what they’re doing what the weather’s like. Macca also read emails, letters and faxes from people telling about where they are and what they’re up to. The best way I can describe ‘Australia All Over’ is like walking down the main street of a small country town, saying g’day to those you pass, then sitting outside the local newsagent, saying g’day and having a bit of a yarn to folk as they enjoy the morning.
One of his segments is ‘Why I Live Where I Live’, where he reads stories from people describing just that.

So, here goes:

We live in spot where the sea breezes reach 30 knots. Yet even though we’re barely a two minute walk to the beach, the breeze through our home is just enough to make the chimes and mobiles sing and come to life. We are protected by a wall of foliage. The wind is shielded by She-Oaks, calmed by Coconut palms and weakened by Wattle. Native Jasmine also tames the trade winds.
Our home has no walls. Unless of course a tarpaulin counts as one. Our roof is also a tarp, but we are well protected when it comes to rains and wind. The tree cover helps as well. Our bed is the comfort of the back of our trusty 4WD drive wagon, which backs up almost under the roof. We have the temporary luxury of a loaned gas fridge, courtesy of one of our very few semi-regular visitors. Plus a fire pig as our oven/stove, gifted to us by the same person who owns the fridge. We have a home made driftwood and bamboo chair that seats us both nicely, and for guests who choose to stay a night or so, we have a very large tent set up with a blow-up double mattress. Quite salubrious.
We most importantly have privacy and solitude. Most of the time it’s just us two and the dog, plus the Sunbird couples who are deciding whether to nest in our ‘house’ or not.
Sunbirds are my favourite bird. To me they are the quintessential tropical bird. They are quite bold around humans and more often than not can be found nesting close to people. They are also very beautiful little nectar eaters.
The females have an olive-green back with bright Yellow undersides and throat. The male has an irridescent purple-blue patch under his throat. They both have really pretty voices as well.
Sunbirds reassure me that yes, I do live in a little bit of paradise. We also have an echidna who passes through as well.
On occasion, a small wallaby ventures within view of home. It’s still a little nervous of Jack the dog. Not that Jack has any interest in chasing gungurru. Rats are more his preferred size.
We can walk the beach every day, which we do. The air here is invigorating. At this time of year, the prevaling winds come from far off shore. It’s Oxygen rich goodness.
Walks on the beach reward us with interesting shells and driftwood that we create our mobiles and wind chimes from. At times the sea is like glass, but it can be wild as well, with whitecaps and shore breaks.
We have no running water or power, but we’re only 40 minutes from town, so that’s no drama.
So there ya go. That’s a summary of why we live where we do. Gotya some pics too.

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