Busy Busy Busy

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I am alive. Just busy keeping busy.

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Archer Point and some Belly Dancing

I had the opportunity to run down to Archer Point last week.  The Archer Point area has been owned and managed by the Yuku-Baja-Muliku people since 2006. This is a most beautiful piece of country and I will be exploring the area more in the future. I have it on good authority that the old Cedar Bay crew moved there for a while before heading to Portland Roads.
Today (Thursday) has been good, albeit a little sad in one way.
My friend Maddy has scored a job at Yulara (Uluru) as a tour guide. She has worked there before and is really happy with the news. She is due to start sometime in December. Yep, I am so happy for her, but I’ll miss her when she goes. But hey, I’ve never been to Uluru! Now I have an excuse :o)
We had a little celebration at the bowls club, because Jazz was belly dancing there for a Lions Club Christmas do. Three dancers entertained with fans and bells and a snake. Then Jazz got me dancing!
Stop Press.
I just got offered a caretaker position at a guesthouse up on Grassy Hill! My old boss from the mechanic workshop phoned me and offered a self contained unit with free electricity, in return for housekeeping.
I’ll fill you in tomorrow.
Oh, we spent two days at Trevethan Falls, but i didn’t take pics sorry. :n( I added some random pics for fun :o)

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Must See Saturday Morning near Cooktown

We had to show you these. We popped into the markets early and grabbed a big pawpaw (papaya), a dozen passionfruit, a kilo of bananas and half a dozen avocados for a total of $15.
Then we went to the beach. Barely a breath of wind and a beautiful 29 degrees. The water was crystal clear and fish were running along the gutter,30 metres offshore.

We love this place 🙂

Oh. A fisherman friend dropped 10 kilos of Spanish Mackeral in yesterday arvo. Big fillets about a kilo or more each. And thick!

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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 😉

  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. 🙂

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 😦
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 🙂
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 scissor  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 🙂
It’s coffee time. Tina has the billy on the go. We’re also snacking on plain brand fruit tingles.  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. 🙂

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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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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 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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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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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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