This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

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2003 Travels May 12


A new couple that the boss had mentioned that she was expecting, arrived today. There was some element of surprise in this, because not all those who say they will come to work for a while, actually arrive. And this pair was not expected quite yet, anyway.

The boss explained to them that she did not want them to start work just yet, though. We were not busy enough – and she watched the financial outlay very carefully.

H and D seemed happy enough with that. Said they would just settle in and hang about until needed. They set up their camper trailer down in the Grove – we were so envious! But they pitched on the other side of the access track to the other staff rigs down there, so they were not hooked up to the much-guarded power source.

D was a mechanic and used to drive tour buses – so he would be a great asset. He could work on vehicle repair – Adels’ and campers’. He could also learn to do the Riversleigh tour and thus relieve the boss of that at times.

H could cook – she used to do the cooking on the tour buses. That made boss extremely happy  – it reduces the bargaining power of the current cook, who was making noises about better pay and conditions, and was becoming increasingly unreliable.

The couple had been here before, with bus tour groups, and really fell in love with what they saw of the place. So, when they decided to retire and travel, and do some work, they really wanted to come here. Our gain. I thought.

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Water lilies on Lawn Hill Creek at Adels Grove

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2003 Travels May 11


We were rostered for two consecutive days off. Very nice! The boss’ latest policy is to give staff two consecutive days off, each month. Whilst this is great to have, it does not mean that we get an extra day off a month, just that we work longer than a week between times off – still only get 4 days off in every 28.

We did not enjoy the time off as much as we might have. Sitting outside under the van awning gave a prime view of the long drop toilet and the back of the workshop. The nearby main generator was noisy, so there was no chance of sleeping in past 8am, when it was started. The fumes from it gave me a headache if I sat outside for any length of time.

So we really couldn’t sit outside to relax. It was really a pretty poor way to treat staff, even though I understood the reason for it.

We stayed in the van for much of the time. John messed about on the laptop. I did much crochet on the cot blanket. Even so, I had a really bad headache by the end of the day.

We went for a walk around the grounds each day. There was always something new to see, or something to really examine, that we had not looked closely at, before. I was not sure that the tourists, who usually stayed only a night or three, explored Adels sufficiently to really appreciate its beauty. They focused on the National Park.

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Cluster fig fruit

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Large cluster fig tree by the creek

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2003 Travels May 10


On shop/reception again. Third day straight on this – I liked that. It would be interesting to see if I was still quite so enamoured when we really got busy. Apparently, at the real peak time, there would be two of us assigned to the shop.

Every day I was learning more – prices, register codes, unfamiliar icy pole names (not something I normally ate and therefore knew).

The campground fee was $8 per person, per night. Basic dinner, bed and breakfast was $105, but the premium tents cost more. These were the half dozen or so tents that fronted onto the creek and thus had great water outlooks from the area in front of each. In the case of the three that were up the laundry end of the row, they had the view of the little set of rapids, and the burbling noise from those all through the night. Idyllic. We staff called those tents the “Hiltons”.

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Some of the Hiltons

It appeared that there had been a permanent change to the time of the evening meal, now to be served at 6.30pm, compared to the 5.30 of last year. This was a much more civilized time, I thought, which gave guests time to enjoy their activities at the National Park, or wherever, in the daylight, and still get back in time for a shower and drink before dinner.

With the big, deep, industrial sinks in the new kitchen, and a number of staff working at it, the washing up could still be completed in reasonable time for staff – usually by 8-8.30.

Despite that expected time for dinner, its actual delivery was becoming increasingly hit or miss, both in time and quality. Cook was clearly torn between spending time enjoying happy hour on the deck,  and retiring to the kitchen! This was really beginning to worry me, as the only other employee with kitchen experience. I’d come here this year on the basis of “no more cooking”, but……..

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2003 Travels May 9


On shop/reception again. John on grounds.

The range of jobs assigned to the men was quite varied. Obviously, some tasks were more favoured than others.

Canoe hire was a welcome item on the roster, despite the early start involved in order to be at the National Park and set up by 8am. Whoever was on that drove a rattly old ute down there. Sometimes they had to bring a canoe or two back with them at the end of the day, for repairs. The canoes were fibre glass, open Canadian canoe style, and they could get damaged by paddlers who were not greatly skilled.

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Canoe launch area at the National Park. Tubes were lent out in return for donation in Flying Doctor donation tin.

Cleaning the campground and main building amenities was one of their least liked jobs. Fair enough. But one of the men simply didn’t do this, when he was rostered on – ignored that part of the role and relied on one of the rest of us to do it instead, knowing that we would not leave them dirty for the guests. He was not a popular person with the other men.

They would go out on the wood getting expeditions in pairs and enjoyed getting out into the bush. Large quantities of snappy gum were needed to fuel up the three hot water donkey heaters about the place. Back at Adels, chopping it was not so much fun.

John enjoyed being on the roster to do the donkeys – lighting them about 3pm, then keeping them stoked for the evening run on the hot water. Whoever was on this would go down to the campground, just before bedtime, and do a final stoke, so there would be hot water in the morning. They would be stoked again, first thing in the morning, then allowed to die down until the afternoon.

John decided to take it upon himself to revive and look after the vegie garden, since we looked out on this from under the van awning. He fitted this in around his rostered tasks, often working on it at the end of the day, after all his other work was done.

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2003 Travels May 8


I was on shop/reception. The usual 10am start and later finish.

There were boxes of supplies that had come on the truck, to be opened and put way. With each weekly truck, now, the shop stock was being built up, to cater for the busier times to come. So some of the box contents were stacked on the shelves in the shop, filling the many gaps that were there in the “off” season. Other surplus was put away in the large pantry/storage area, between the shop and the kitchen – part of the new main building.

The shop had a large chest freezer, for bread (frozen) and one for blocks of ice. These were made here, from water frozen in ice cream tubs. Later, as the season built up, bags of ice would come on the truck, though I wasn’t sure where a large quantity of a week’s supply of bags of ice would be stored. More than the chest freezer could hold, I suspected.

The range of ice creams and icy poles was reasonable, but limited by the smaller size of their freezer.

There was a fair range of tinned and packet basics, long life milk cartons, and a few camping and fishing supplies. The shop did a regular trade in things like hand fishing reels, with the aborigines who came down from Doomadgee to fish at the National Park. They never came prepared – it was easier for them to call in at Adels and buy gear, rather than plan ahead and pack. They also bought a lot of the large supply of snack foods, crisps and the like, that the shop stocked.

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Reflections in Lawn Hill Creek at Adels Grove

More geared to the tourists, there were souvenir stubby holders, post cards, hat pins, T shirts.

The shop stocked a limited range of cigarettes, tobacco and camera film.

There were lots of cold drinks, of course – a whole big drinks fridge full, and some frozen packs of meat suitable for the BBQ. Sometimes, some fruit and vegetables were put into that fridge, for purchase, but sales of same were not promoted. Most of the time it was hard enough to keep up the supply of these for the kitchen, let alone try to stock for traveller demand. Occasionally, a desperate tourist would plead for a few potatoes or onions – and if I was on shop, I would go ask cook if she had enough for the week and could spare any. We did the best we could to meet demands, within the constraints of being so far from supplies and having to pay high transport costs to get goods here.

Although we had some bottles of methylated spirits and kerosene in the store room, it was policy not to display these on the shelves of the shop, but only to supply tourists who asked if we had such items. “Locals” were to be told that we did not have any.

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2003 Travels May 7


Today followed much the same routine as yesterday.

The company tour stays two nights, so their tents did not need doing until tomorrow – and it wouldn’t be by me!  I only had a few to do today.

It was mail plane day. I was annoyed to find that my much anticipated newspaper was not in the mail bag. In my lunch break, phoned the newsagent in Mt Isa about it. The girl who answered the phone told me the non-arrival was because “We always go to the Post Office on Mondays and the Post office was shut on Monday”! Clearly, this was a routine not to be broken for a little factor like a long weekend. Mount Isa mentality!

The boss’ washing machine was moved from the loading dock down to the laundry – in anticipation of the coming increase in tent guests and hence washing. The extra machine would definitely be needed. It also meant that the boss’ washing would need to be done by whoever was on tent duty. And here was I thinking my days of washing nappies were long past!

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Two functioning washing machines. Filling one with the hose. Old freezer stored cleaning gear

I asked, and was told, that the bigger, stronger,  commercial washing machines would not work here, due to the low water pressure that was delivered via the pump from the creek. There were also the issues of the calcium build up in machine innards, from the high calcium content of the water, and the little freshwater mussels that come in the water and then proceed to grow and colonize where they shouldn’t. Any domestic washing machine that lasted the distance here, for any time, was truly amazing.

The supply truck came in during the afternoon. Wednesday was happening day around here!

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2003 Travels May 6


Another early start for John, who was on canoe hire again.

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John running the canoe hire at the National Park

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The view from John’s “office”

I had an 8am start, so I could do Reception until V started at 10am.

The boss had received the dates that the paleontologists would be here this year for the annual fossil dig at Riversleigh – arriving 19 and 20 June and leaving 28 and 29 June. I allocated them into accommodation – using pencil. Later, V checked these and altered a couple. That ten days would be a tight period for accommodation in the DBB section.

I only had three tents to do and the DBB amenities. F did the campground ones, for which I was grateful. I hung out a load of baby washing that boss had done in her washing machine, which was on the dry dock deck. Did shop/reception for an hour while V was at lunch and again at afternoon tea time. Mopped the veranda in front of the shop.

Like yesterday, John was back early, and minded the baby while he worked around the grounds.

I knocked off at 5.15 and had a very welcome shower. I’d raised lots of sweat today – the tents are very muggy when one is working inside them. I’d managed to Baygon myself while clearing spiders out of one – my nose ran for hours!

A company tour group came in. Some of the Grove owners ran a bus company that offered two night, three day guided tours from Mt Isa – to Riversleigh and the National Park, staying the two nights in the DBB tents here.

It was the first tour of the season for H, the Waanyi aboriginal tour guide. It was great to see him again. I think he was pleased to see us too – we had built up a bit of a rapport with him when we were here last year.

My back was a bit less sore today – maybe I was getting used to the work?

John had a busy day on the canoes today and was very weary.

We were in bed by 9pm – early nights were in order here. We were so tired that we managed to sleep against the background noise of the nearby generator, which didn’t go off until 9.30pm.