This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

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2003 Travels June 9


This had been the Queens Birthday long weekend.

I was on tents today, John on rubbish and donkey fire care, which left him with some time for other work.

John and D were working on converting the old office donga into three more accommodation rooms. They had framed up partition walls and were putting some sheets of veneer/ply that boss had around the place, onto the new walls. They needed liquid nails to do this and did not have much left.

While they were glueing a sheet into place, D braced himself against what was behind him – a window, which broke. D felt a piece of glass in his back. John held the large piece of glass, while D worked himself free from it, then the glass broke and fell and a piece sliced down the front of John’s kneecap.

The men finished the sheet they had been fixing – so as not to waste the precious liquid nails – and only then went to find the boss for wound inspection! There was much blood.

B in particular, was amazed and horrified at their priorities!

D was alright – there was only a small cut in his back. The boss was not so sure about John – thought  he might need  a Flying Doctor evacuation to Mt Isa. She rang them. They said to take him over to the Century Mine, for the paramedics there to assess him.

Boss R had to drive John there, because he had the security clearance to drive there – and knew the way!

I was oblivious to all the drama that was happening. I came up from my duties in the laundry, with a basket of the boss’ washing, to find John sitting on the step of the loading dock, looking rather pale. As it was late in the day, and knock off time for me, I got to go to the Mine, too. There was a lot of security rigmarole at the gated entrance.

When it was cleaned up a bit, there was a big flap of skin hanging off the front of the kneecap, that would not be able to be stitched, so there was much bandaging instead.

There was a great deal of teasing of the guys over the incident, for days afterwards.

I think D was grateful to John, for ensuring that his back injury was not much worse.

John would be on “light duties” for a while. He had to wrap the knee in a garbag, to shower.

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Off to shower with knee wrapped up!

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2003 Travels June 8


I was on shop/kitchen hand. John on amenities/rubbish.

Still having problems with the phone and EFTPOS. B had been reporting it daily to Telstra. Having the EFTPOS out was a real pain, because we then had to use the old manual swipe machine, with the multiple carbon copies.

We acquired a rather surly German backpacker today, to be kitchen hand. She was in the WOOFER scheme, where people work a few hours each day, theoretically in organic/green establishments, in return for keep.

She had been working up at Pungalina – a very remote, fairly new, safari camp tourist venture, in the NT Gulf country. The manager there flew her in here this morning, in his ultra light plane. I wasn’t sure how long she would last. She was not exactly brimming with enthusiasm for anything.

John was growing vegies for the kitchen – zucchinis, tomatoes, spinach. He was incorporating work in the garden with his other jobs about the place. There were already pumpkins that had grown from the kitchen compost dumping, and bananas and pawpaws from plantings left from the days of the Frenchman.

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The vegie garden not long after John started working on it

The men had been seeing a number of baby brown snakes around – maybe 18 inches long. Boss thought there might be a nest near the workshop or vegie garden. Comforting thought!  I gave some thought to whether mother snakes stuck around, after laying their eggs, or left their offspring to their fate?

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2003 Travels June 7


I was on tents, John on amenities/rubbish.

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A scavenging Great Bower Bird beat John to this rubbish

John asked D to fix the brakes on the old truck used for the rubbish run. Its brakes had been almost non-existent since last year, but now something major had broken. D said it would be u/s for a week.

It had been a risky job, dumping the camp rubbish in the distant five metre deep rubbish pit, with no brakes to speak of. The theory was to back the truck up to a small log laid at the edge of the pit, then tip the rubbish out of the tip truck. Then the driver would go down into the pit, to set fire to the day’s offerings. Burning it deterred some of the wild pig scavengers, as well as reducing the size of the accumulation.

Last year, F miscalculated, and managed to dump the truck, as well as the rubbish!

Because the nature of the rubbish was largely unknown, and could be volatile, the men had gotten a competition going amongst themselves, to see who “set off” an object that flew the furthest from the pit. So far, John was winning – a camper put a discarded gas strut in the rubbish, and it nearly took John’s  head off, as it flew off a great distance, like a rocket.

To save themselves the unsavoury trek down into the pit, this year the guys had taken to lighting the rubbish fire in the truck, before it was tipped – potentially a risky practice!

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2003 Travels June 6


The truck had to be unloaded early, which cut into my supposed late start, because I was on shop. I got called up early because of the unloading. I was cursing.

John was on canoes again, and took a camera with him, to record some of his day.

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Water monitor visiting John at the canoe hire area

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Quite a friendly fellow!

With a very quiet afternoon here, and no DBB guests booked in, boss decided everyone could go the Gregory Hotel for a night “out”. Except us – who volunteered to stay here and mind the place.

It felt quite strange, being alone here, and in charge, until the others got back, about 11pm. I admit to hoping hard that there was no medical emergency amongst the few guests in the campground!

I cooked our tea in the van, for a change – pasta with tuna, caper, olive sauce.

We had to turn off the genny at 9.30pm.

From that, I presumed the bosses thought we were trustworthy!

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2003 Travels June 5


We had received word that the supply truck would not be arriving until tomorrow.

Shop and canoes again.

Today was the monthly Flying Doctor Clinic, here. For this, a doctor and assistant are flown in, and people come from the surrounding area to consult, have tests done, and the like.

The plane – as all were supposed to do – flew low over us, when it arrived at 9.25am. The “buzz” let us know to send a vehicle over to the airstrip to pick them up.

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Adels Grove airstrip. Road to Nat Park in front of it & road into Adels off that

The Clinic was run out of the old office donga, and on its back veranda.

The shop was busier than usual today, because of people coming to the Clinic. Some aboriginals had come from the National Park, and from Riversleigh Station. They always wanted to buy pies and sausage rolls – of which we had a supply for sale in the freezer. There was only one small, and not very powerful, microwave oven in the kitchen, so it always took ages to reheat these frozen items. As the family groups waited around, the kids dropped icy poles and stuff all over the place, and pilfered small lollies, fishing lures and the like. I tried to give them the evil eye to deter them, but since they were in the shop and the microwave I was tending was back out in the kitchen, I was fighting a losing battle.

There was always a big clean up needed in the shop, on the veranda, and in the amenities, when they all went.

After all that, the truck arrived about 8pm, and parked in the usual unloading place, out the front of the main building. He had to run his onboard generator all night, to keep his freezer and chiller sections working, so it was noisy and could be heard over much of the establishment, in the still of the night. I guess he wanted the security of being parked up where there were other people, plus some creature comforts, but I wished he’d stayed out by the road side somewhere.

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2003 Travels June 4


I was on shop, John on canoes, so good day for us both.

There appeared to be issues with the phone line that affected the public phone, and our EFTPOS machine, which relied on the phone line. B reported it to Telstra.

My paper came on the mail plane. I got daughter’s cot blanket away in the mail bag. I phoned her, after work, to tell her it was on its way.

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2003 Travels June 3


I was on tents, John on yard and amenities.

The tents had mostly dried out. Tent A2 – in the front row, looking on to the creek – was too wet at the front, to use.

H arrived with a tour group. By mistake, he put a couple into A2, instead of the A3  allocated them. They came and asked me for a mop or broom to sweep out the mud, so I realized there had been an error, and moved them. Poor people must have wondered what they’d come to, initially.

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2003 Travels June 2


This was our second day off. Mostly, we just lazed about.

The day became increasingly humid and cloud built heavily in the sky. Then it rained – heavily – about lunchtime. We had half an inch of rain in half an hour.

There was much leaking in the tents – they did not usually have to be rain proof! There was water in the tents and under them, and lying in great sheets across the tent area.

V was on tents today and she was pretty frantic, trying to keep the bedding dry.

I was – selfishly – so glad to be off. There was so much mud underfoot. Much of the soil around the tent and main building area is alluvial silt, very fine, and quickly turns to mud.

The bloody van roof leaked again! The silicone around the wiring inlet hole must have worked a bit loose. It made me think criminal thoughts again about the “expert” who did the botched job, last year.

The Grove looked so much greener, with all the dust washed off the leaves. It smelt fresh and lovely.

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Old mango tree in Gorve, dating from the Frenchmans Gardens

I finished making the cot blanket and bundled it up, ready to go off in this week’s mailbag. I was glad to have finalized it, after several months. Now I could go back to just knitting in my occasional spare time, instead of feeling pressured.

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2003 Travels June 1


Today was the first day of winter – that concept meant more down south than it does up here.

Yesterday’s rain was quite unusual for this time of year. Generally now, the days are very pleasant – warm, without the high humidity of when we first arrived, and nights are cool enough to sleep comfortably.

We got off to a slow start on this, the first of the two days off. We could sleep in, now that it was quiet around us.

Went for a walk around the place and along the creek, just enjoying the look of it all. I took photos of more cicada shells, “marching” up a snappy gum trunk.

We left at 12.30, to drive up to Bowthorn Station – the neighbour beyond Lawn Hill Station.

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Lawn Hill Station cattle at “Cow Corner”

The shop had for sale two books written by Kerry McGinnis, of the family that owns the station. We could do with some more of the book stock, so that was a good reason to go visiting. The story of her childhood and growing up in the stock camps of her droving father (Pieces of Blue), and then of the family’s eventual settling at Bowthorn (Heart Country), were engrossing reading – made better for me by knowing some of the country.

It was a lovely, very scenic drive, even though we had been over all the tracks last year. The road through Lawn Hill Station was excellent – the road crew had done a great grading job. We passed their new camp, about 5kms south of the Bowthorn/Doomadgee junction.

We had a picnic lunch by the water hole at Elizabeth Creek. There was still a fair amount of water over the track, here.

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Elizabeth Creek waterhole, by the track crossing

Beyond the turnoff to Bowthorn, the road was still rough, for the 23kms to the station. It hadn’t been graded yet.

We reached Bowthorn about 3pm. Both the McGinnis sisters were there. We chatted for over an hour. It gave us more insight into station life in remote places. They had an extensive vegetable garden and kept poultry. They made bread every day. Not only were they feeding themselves, but also some of the workers on the station.

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Feeding the poultry at Bowthorn

Judith made woodcraft items and she and John talked about that. I ended up buying a small piece that she had for sale – carved wooden toadstools, set into a piece of tree branch. It was quite whimsical, and made from local timbers. Cost me $25. I collected a stock of books for the shop, and bought some copies for myself, and for Xmas gifts, which Kerry autographed.

We got back to Adels just before 7pm – just in time for tea. It took us one hour and 20 minutes to do the 85kms or so, back from Bowthorn. That was a measure of how good most of the road now was.

We had a great day out. It was the first time in five weeks that we’d been out from the place.

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Driving over the black soil plains of Lawn Hill Station, with a cloud build-up

During the day, there was a steady build up of cloud – looking ominous.

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2003 Travels May 31


It rained during the night – quite steadily for a while. It sounded more than it was. We didn’t get the rain direct on the van roof, but rather had the stream of drips from the tree canopy overhead. Aesthetically, it was some welcome variety. In the morning, the air smelled really lovely. The birds were really rejuvenated.

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Bar shoulder dove – a “walker bird”

Through the night, the bull was calling out, from out the front somewhere – lonely, poor old thing.

Practically, the half mm or so that we had was a pain – there was mud tracked all over the place, until the ground dried out later in the day.

I was on shop and assisting in the kitchen. John was on cleaning amenities – not fun, with the mud – and the rubbish run.

The bones were weary. Only had one day off in the last nineteen. We really needed the coming break.