This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

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2003 Travels August 15


Day off for us. Not much of a sleep in because of the genset noise.

This morning, a big, lovely, quiet, generator was brought over from the Mine, on loan. Everything worked again, even better than usual. But the majority of the icy poles were beyond salvage.

The cook freaked out – too much of her vegetable stock had been sold through the shop!

L and R – friends of the bosses – arrived from Isa, bringing with them some stock to replenish what had not been ordered – soft drinks, some biscuits. But we were still under stocked in some things. It really was an impossible ask for the boss to juggle everything. V and I had tried to help by doing a check of stock each week, and writing down what was needed for the shop, for her to order. But she still tended to forget where she was up to, when interrupted – usually by the baby.

There continued to be a really big cloud build up through the day. It apparently then rained at Mt Isa, at Thorntonia and at Riversleigh, but passed to the east of us, fortunately. We did not need red mud around the tents!

I packed some sandwiches for lunch and we put one of old F’s repaired canoes up on the roof rack and headed off to the National Park.

Launched the canoe from the new ramp and paddled off up through the Middle Gorge. This time, I took my camera, in one of the plastic barrels from the canoe hire.

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Towards the Middle Gorge

We made our way through the impressive, tall, red walls of the Middle Gorge, then carried the canoe – very carefully – along the path around Indarri Falls, and relaunched it back into the creek.

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There’s a lot more beyond this point

Paddled on along the Upper Gorge, through the narrow constricted section that tricks some into thinking that is as far as they can go, and on to the much wider section of creek below the Upper Gorge Lookout.

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The Upper Gorge Lookout is up on the bluff

The end of that wider part really was as far as could be canoed, 3kms from the launching ramp. We beached the craft on a sandy bank beside the creek and set off to explore further by foot.

We walked upstream, along the side of the creek. We mostly followed tracks that had been made by feral pigs, through the spinifex and scrub. These were quite passable to pig height – about thigh high on us – but a bit dense and prickly above that height. But we could see where to go, at least.

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Country beyond the Upper Gorge

We found lots of very pretty little water holes, alternating with rapids sections in the creek. I used two rolls of film on today’s jaunt!

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Lawn Hill Creek changed character so frequently

Reached the tributary Carless Creek. This had flowing water, so we concluded it must be spring fed, too. It originated somewhere just to the east of the Musselbrook Mining Camp, we thought.

We’d probably walked along side Lawn Hill Creek for about a km when we reached the tributary, then walked some way alongside this, before running out of pig trails to follow and finding the bush bashing a bit hard.

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Carless Creek

Ate our lunch sitting beside a little water hole in this creek. We were so quiet and unobtrusive, just sitting there enjoying the peace, that a large feral pig wandered down the bank opposite us, just doing what pigs do.

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Large black feral pig

These pigs were such a problem in the Park – and at Adels, in particular out around the rubbish dump pit. Cook’s husband regularly took a rifle out there, late in the day, and sat up in a tree, waiting for them to come in scavenging, and shot as many of them as he could. This may have discouraged them from the pit, to some extent, but did nothing to alleviate the broader issue that they posed over much of Australia. What really worries me is the prospect of human disease, spread by pigs, getting loose in Northern Australia.

After lunch, made our way back the way we’d come. John was using a stick to push aside the vegetation along the track, and accidentally hit me in the eye with the stick. Luckily, my glasses didn’t break, but it hot at such an angle that I developed a black eye, which later became the cause of some comments!

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We came across a plant with distinctive black and red seeds. M later identified these as a poisonous native pea species. Around here, they were known as Black-eye Susan.

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Black Eye Susan – poisonous

On a narrow part of path, a dragon type lizard suddenly rushed at me from the side. It was clearly in attack mode and gave me quite a fright. It was a pretty little thing, with a really long tail. It actually tried to bite me – ferocious little tacker.

Retrieved our canoe – happy to see it was still there. Very few tourists canoe quite up as far as where we left it.

As we paddled back down the gorges, saw a couple of freshie crocs, sunning themselves on logs over the water – they were looking quite fat and healthy.

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Big fat freshie croc

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Lawn Hill Gorge

We left the canoe with the rest of the hire stock at the Park, so didn’t have to go to the effort of getting it back up on the roof rack of Truck.

Showered and had a pleasant happy hour sitting watching the resident birds and feeling happy with the world.

Then went up to tea. There was fish for tea. But there was not enough left after the guests were served, for the staff to have a proper meal – we were given very tiny serves. How hard was it to count out pieces of frozen fish, this morning, and get it right?

Even the poor meal could not spoil what had been a delightful day.

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2003 Travels August 14


I was on Reception/shop. John was on rubbish collection and donkey fire management – including getting wood from the bush and chopping it.

Cloud built up through the day – I was not sure whether this was ominous, meaning rain, or just innocuous high stuff.

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The supply truck arrived at a reasonable hour, for once – early afternoon. This was optimal time for unloading – before the later afternoon rush of arrivals to book in, and while the baby was having his afternoon nap.

The generator broke down, not long after we finished unloading the truck.

The truck chiller/freezer section must have been  faulty, too, because the icy poles all arrived soft. They got softer still, without the freezers here working!

No soft drinks at all came with the order. Seemed the boss got sidetracked by the baby, when she was preparing the order, and forgot that bit! There also did not seem to be the usual quantities of fruit and vegetables.

Electricians came from the Mine – very handy neighbours to have – but couldn’t fix the generator. The place had to operate on the old, spare, genset, which had much less output, so we had to alternate freezers being turned on, to try to keep the ice frozen, and the kitchen frozen foods unthawed. The old genset would run all night, alternating the freezers, to try to keep up their chill. We would all just have to put up with the noise.

Between the state the icy poles arrived in, and the freezer issue, there ended up being a lot that got too soft and had to be thrown out.

Campers had seen the supply truck come in and came to the shop to try to buy fresh produce, which we usually had for sale for a few days after truck day. But the boss had also forgotten to buy in any extras, this time. She instructed that we should sell them what was in the cool store, anyway. That would not please the cook, when she was back on duty tomorrow!

The booking person from a tour company that had come here a few times this season, phoned to pencil in dates for their tours for 2004. She asked if we had a new cook. I asked why? She said she thought the meals they were served, this year, were atrocious. I said something non-committal about staff changing from year to year. Later, I passed this feed back on to the boss. She just shrugged. I know it is so hard to get staff for places like this, but she did need to consider that the place needed a reputation for – at least – adequate food, especially amongst the more up-market clients. It might mean hiring a proper cook and paying them more than the other staff, which I thought would be fair enough.

Cook and D got back from Mt Isa. They brought the paper rolls for the EFTPOS machine back with them – we had been out for a few days. Another ordering lapse. We did so much business using EFTPOS, sometimes $4000 worth a day, so this was a serious issue. Without the machine, people did not buy so much.

B cooked apricot chicken for tea – it was nice because she’d gone to some trouble to cut the surplus fat out of the chicken pieces. Again, there was quite enough for staff – there were hardly any tourists in for the meal.

The old genset was noisy and could be heard clearly, through the night, over much of the property.

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2003 Travels August 13


I was on tents again; John on canoes.

Mail plane day. Was a card from friend M. I was pleasantly surprised to find my newspaper came – despite the long weekend.

Now cook and husband had gone to Mt Isa for a two day, one night  break – their routine two days off.

B, who had been acting for much of the time as kitchen hand, filled in as cook and did an excellent roast beef dinner. There was plenty for all and even seconds for the hungry men – a nice change!

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2003 Travels August 12


John on amenities/grounds. I was on tent housekeeping.

A routine sort of day. Not too many tents to do. No unpleasant surprises, like a man using the little rubbish tin in his tent as a potty, during the night, and leaving it behind to be emptied by whoever found it! That was V, not me, and she was most unimpressed!

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Some of John’s signs, drying

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2003 Travels August 11


I was on tent housekeeping, John on amenities/grounds.

I was called up to the office to take a phone call from the Flying Doctor. I had some anxiety as I hurried up there from the laundry. But it was just to say that all my blood related tests came back normal: blood sugar, liver and kidney functions, thyroid levels – the latter always reassuring, since I was surgically relieved of half my thyroid some seven years ago. Unfasted cholesterol was only 4.9  which was apparently very good, since several of the other staff expressed envy!

I was now certain that the mystery aliment had been a muscle injury.

B and M arrived back late in the day. Their two day break had extended to four, because M had a sore foot and had to have it scanned in Isa. He thought he had hurt it doing the canoes, with the new canoe ramp in place. The men did not think it was a great design and found it very difficult to use. Thought up by a Ranger who did not work on canoe hire, clearly!

I wasn’t sure how M had managed to get a scan done on a long weekend. Their extended absence had meant last-minute roster changes. If he could no longer do canoe hire duty, F and John would be happy because it was their preferred duty. But it could also put some pressure on, because M did not like the more grotty jobs like cleaning anything, collecting campground rubbish. He preferred to be off working independently on “special projects” – like building planter boxes for flowers!

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2003 Travels August 10


It was our twelfth wedding anniversary. I spent it on reception, John on amenities cleaning and grounds upkeep. We did not publicize the occasion and there was no celebration.

Old F had been spending much time, over the past couple of months, repairing the canoes. The tourists were pretty hard on them. Even though there was a well posted and publicized ban on taking them beyond Indarri Falls, because of the lack of a proper portage, many did drag them along the somewhat rocky path around the falls, then kept paddling up to the Upper Gorge. So there were lots of holes and weakened patches on the canoe bottoms. Most days, the old canoe rattler came back at the end of the day carrying a canoe or two, for F’s attentions.

John had been using time left at the ends of days when he was not on the canoe roster (which often ran beyond 5pm), making some signs on old drum lids. The idea was that these would be posted, along the road from the Gregory corner, to here, advertising the place. He and old F had a work area for their activities outside the old workshop, a bit away from the tourists were likely to wander.

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2003 Travels August 9


Same duties as yesterday for us.

I was steadily busy, as was John, without being frantically rushed. Trade was tailing off a bit.

We were back to night temperatures of about 19 and days of 30.

The baby fell off the unrailed back verandah/loading dock, 1.3 metres up. He had a few more bumps on his head and some skin grazed off his jaw. The boss was really missing the carer!

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2003 Travels August 8


John was on canoes. I was on reception.

It was the long weekend for the Mt Isa Rodeo. This time, last year, we had just gotten to Doomadgee. That was not a pleasant recollection!

We did a fair trade in tourists who did not like the idea of the festivities – or who could not get into the booked-out accommodation in the town. Rodeo refugees! There was also a steady stream of locals from Doomadgee, stopping in for drinks, ice creams, snacks, on their way to Isa for the event, which is huge on the local calendar.

B and M went off to Isa for a two day break. They managed to get out a lot – much more than the rest of us. Some of that was medical related, which we did not envy them for, but status as relative of an owner seemed to allow them latitude.

The crawling baby fell down the steps in front of Reception, when the boss got distracted, and developed a sizeable bump on his head. Apart from that, seemed fine – tough little tacker.

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2003 Travels August 7


I was on tents, John on amenities/yard again.

It was a hard day – I had thirteen tents to “do”. That meant about fifty sheets to wash, dry and put back on beds; twenty six towels to wash, get dry, fold, and place on beds in tents; the kitchen tea towels and the baby’s nappies to wash. I actually managed, though, to get our clothes washing done, in amongst tent cleaning.

I worked 8am to 6.30pm and was exhausted at the end. I sweated a lot – the days were heating up and it got quite stifling working inside the tents. Think I got a bit dehydrated.

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I could look out on this whilst cleaning tents

John had hosed around some of the tents, to settle dust, and he got some of the matting areas in the front of some tents, wet. I had to clean mud of those before I could do the tents. Two old codgers traipsed across the mats of three tents – separately – so I had to sweep them twice extra. Was not happy! That contributed to the late finish.

I was very thorough with the tent cleaning – perhaps more so than some of the other staff when they had a lot to do. Maybe I was not as kind to myself as I could be.

John was cross because I was late and wasn’t around to have a happy hour beer with him at the van when he knocked off at 5pm.

I couldn’t stomach the thought of cook’s greasy lamb chop special casserole – made with instant Maggi flavour additive and without any fat skimmed off whilst cooking. I’d also seen her bread and butter custard, sitting on the edge of the stove, most of the afternoon, waiting to be put in the oven, with the bread pieces drying up and going curled. She did not make it by pouring the custard over the bread – just dumped it all in the dish, any old how.

So, I drank lots of water, instead of having dinner, and really enjoyed my shower, which with the water adjusted to tepid, was really refreshing.

After tea, John went to do a computer internet download, in the office. It took ages, because daughter had emailed me a couple of photos of grandson, and that clogged things up. John couldn’t finish his download, so was not happy. I should have to tell daughter thanks for the thought, but no more! I loved the photos of the five month old – cute age.

About 10pm, John went out to investigate a crashing noise and found another white bull in a bamboo clump near us. Here we go again! F and D shelled out of their vans to help him chase it out of the grounds, but it finished up down in the campground somewhere. They had to choose between letting it go and settle down, or waking up the whole campground. They just hoped it stayed away from tents. For that matter, away from staff caravans too.

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2003 Travels August 6


I was on reception – unexpectedly – because V got me to swap with her. She was not in the mood for being pleasant all day, on reception! John was on cleaning amenities and yard work – back to reality!

Mail day. There was a mail parcel from home, a couple of postcards from friend M, posted as she’d driven her wide circuit back to Mt Isa, and my newspaper.

I took a phone call on behalf of a touring group. They wanted to confirm that they were booked to meet up with boss R for a Riversleigh tour, tomorrow morning at Site D. They also mentioned that they had eight or nine camp sites booked for two nights. BUT – I could find nothing in the camp booking book! I made pleasant, affirmative noises, completed the call, then rather frantically double and triple checked. When I eventually caught up with boss, and pressed, he “thought” he could remember making the arrangements!

I had to do some very complicated shuffling around in the bookings book, to get the group into sites relatively close to each other – luckily, we were not full. This sometimes haphazard approach to records and bookings was very annoying. It was embarrassing when one was on the counter and people came in, believing they had bookings, and we couldn’t find same. It was mostly the result of people phoning in the evening, and the bosses taking the calls on the portable handset, and then not getting round to going into the shop to record the details – notes on little pieces of paper got easily mislaid.

It was a long day. It was quiet in patches, then there was a rush of campers near teatime, wanting pies, sausage rolls and the like – so there was pressure on the little microwave in the kitchen, as well as on me. It took about five  minutes to heat one pie, and we could only do one at a time, so dealing with any quantity required patience, both by the customer and me!

John helped wash dishes after tea, while I went back to the shop to finalize the till, which I hadn’t had time to do, before tea.

It was cook and husband’s day off, so the boss was cooking. R cooked fish on the BBQ, which he did well and it was nice. But it was served with mashed potato and boiled frozen peas and carrots, which was a bit boring. Dessert was pineapple crumble – using tinned pineapple – with custard; the custard was alright.