This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

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2006 Travels July 2 – 3


Flights out of Darwin were not easy to get, at this time of year. Son managed to get John onto a Jetstar flight on Tuesday night.

Now that the cafe trade was steadily busy, we were consistently running low on supplies by about Sunday of each week. When boss 1 came back from Darwin, after the weekends, he brought supplies with him, but they were proving not to be enough to last the week out.

Cabbages had become quite expensive, this winter, up here, and sometimes not even available at all. I convinced boss to try womboks instead, which were both cheaper and in supply. He was initially sceptical about wombok coleslaw, but after a trial batch, had to concede that they worked quite well.

Monday night, M, John, and French John went off to bowls at Batchelor. I worked till 6.15pm, finishing off the cheesecakes for the next day.

Resize of 06-14-2006 28 Monsoon safari camp kitchen area

Campfire circle in the safari camp section

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2006 Travels June 30 – July 1


I managed to grab some time, in between kitchen duties, to make some phone calls and contact L and R, our house sitters from last year. The family circumstances that had made them unable to commit to sit for us this year, had changed. They were currently doing a sit in SA, but could take over ours, from 20 July – three weeks away. That would be a great piece of good fortune for us. They were very happy to do it. So I arranged that, there and then.

Had to do our usual work for the rest of the day, despite a racing mind and feeling very distracted. Then had much discussion through the evening.

What would we do until 20/7? We wondered how bad the house really was, in terms of needing cleaning? What would happen to D’s belongings? We certainly did not want her back in the place, even when she was released from hospital.

It was decided that John must go home and sort everything out. That made me feel a bit better about things. It would cost us, though, in terms of John’s lost wages, and air fares. At this peak season time of year, fares would be at a premium.

We contacted son, who had work history in the travel business, to try to get John onto a flight.

We thought John might remain at home until L and R arrived.

At least, that would give John some respite from the increasing unpleasantness of boss 1. Actually, even boss 2 seemed to be throwing the odd tantrums these days, though those were not directed at his employees.

Recent attempts by boss 1 to make John’s life harder included a ban on him using the blower to remove leaves from the gravel paths  around the cafe – on the grounds that the blower created corrugations in the ground. Only hand raking was to be allowed – unless it was boss using the blower.

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Corrugated path?

On another occasion, John and French John were tasked with picking up – by hand – any stone in the large car parking area that was bigger in diameter than a 10 cent piece. That was an awful lot of stones, and after a few hours spent on same, one day, the task lapsed and no more was said about it.

Resize of 06-14-2006 46 Monsoon staff showers

Staff showers

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2006 Travels June 29


A massive problem for us surfaced today, after we had finished work.

B came to our camp, with a couple of letters she had found in their 4WD. Seemed boss 1 had collected them on their way back here on Tuesday, but had not bothered to give them to us. We were less than impressed, but not surprised by his lack of consideration.

They were two letters from the tenant – E – of our granny flat, at home. They had been written around the 12/6 – over two weeks ago! She said that our house sitter had fallen, in the kitchen, and broken her leg or ankle. Apparently tenant had not been home, so D had somehow gotten herself to the lady over the road – C. She called an  ambulance and D was taken to hospital.

Later, when E – who had keys – and C, went into the house to get together some things for D, in hospital, they found the place was filthy!

E said that she’d thought for a while that D was abusing medications. She reckoned D had been living on chocolate and biscuits.

There was cat mess about the place and the litter tray had not been cleaned out for a very long time – so cat had stopped using it!

It sounded absolutely dreadful.

The second letter indicated that C and E had done what they could to clean up the worst of the mess. They had found lots of packets of pills – painkillers and sedatives, and a number of prescriptions for same. It was clear to E that D had been doing the rounds of a lot of doctors, over quite a wide area, obtaining these.

Apparently D’s ex-husband had turned up, from Tasmania, to take over her house sitting duties and was staying in the house. E wrote that she thought/hoped he was OK!

Since all that was nearly three weeks ago, we lost no time in rushing up to the cafe, to phone E. Explained the mail delay and thus why she had not heard back from us, until now. Said we would have a think about the situation and get back to her. She said that D was still in hospital – apparently an addiction to opoid based painkillers was a bigger problem than the broken limb! E believed her hospital stay could be a long one.

What an abuse of the trust we placed in the woman!

Now we had a big dilemma. Did we stop work here and go home? What else could we do? Neither of us was prepared to keep a total stranger staying in the house, even if he was willing. As we’d had no communication from him, we had no idea of his circumstances anyway.

I felt a mix of angry, sick, apprehensive – just plain worried.

Resize of 06-21-2006 11 Fence and termite mound Monsoon

Fence was no obstacle to termites

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2006 Travels June 28


The day was routine.

The evening was livened up by the cutting of pilot S’s hair, after the cafe had closed for the night.

The staff group and WOOFERS were sitting outside on the lawns  after tea – a rare occurrence, because we usually all went our separate ways. But some of the ranger staff from the National Park had come to visit, for drinks, and a couple of the local people, who were involved with the art venture in the gallery rotunda, were also there. There were no guests in the safari camp and no diners. The gathering turned fairly raucous, fairly quickly!

Resize of 06-28-2006 05 Scott haircut Aaron and Lauren

S commented that he really needed a hair cut. John volunteered to do it, and went off to the van to get the gear I used to cut his hair.

Resize of 06-28-2006 02 Scott haircut 2

John started the clipping process, by torchlight, but then local lady K got in on the act and finished it off, amidst much hilarity.

Resize of 06-28-2006 10 Scott haircut Kerry takes over

Fortunately, using clippers with a set length attachment, there wasn’t too much that could go wrong.

It was a fun night.

Resize of 06-28-2006 07 Scott haircut Mem and Birgit

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2006 Travels June 27


We both had the day off.

We got the usual early start, in order to take Truck to Darwin for the radiator core to be replaced.

Travelled in via the dirt road route.

Resize of 05-05-2006 map litchfield

We were getting a bit low on fuel, so John topped up the tank – with just $7 worth, at Berrimah, on the way in – $1.44cpl.

Collected the hire car again – this time, we had to pay for it.

Went back to the Cool Spot for brunch, again. Then  browsed some shops to fill in time.

Truck was ready to go by early afternoon.

Filled the fuel tank at Coolalinga, on the way out – $1.37cpl.

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2006 Travels June 23 – 26


The days went by, mostly  in the usual pattern.

Resize of 06-22-2006 Kimberley Rose Monsoon Cafe

Kimberley Rose outside the kitchen window

There was one unusual occurrence on Friday. A strange helicopter came in and landed in a cloud of dust, not far from “our” one. A man bustled out of it – I was watching through the kitchen window – and went towards the front of the cafe. He was wearing the large, broad brimmed hat favoured by many of the pastoralists up this way, and the usual moleskin type trousers and check shirt.

Then I got busy cooking and next thing heard the chopper taking off again, only about five minutes after it had come in. When I queried B about it, she said it was the boss of nearby LaBelle Station. He was out mustering, and had run out of cigarettes, so just dropped in to buy some!

We had noted the board at the front of our area, advertising LaBelle to tourists – for accommodation, fishing tours, boat trips. I had not heard of the place before we came here and was rather intrigued, so hoped to get a chance to visit there before we finished up here.

Resize of 06-21-2006 13 LaBelle sign Monsoon

John had taken to spruiking the cafe’s mango cheesecake to the lunching bus groups and encouraging them to venture into the cafe to buy a piece. As a result, the consumption of the watermelon slices that were provided with the buffet lunches, went down, the sales of cheesecakes slices went up – and I regularly had to work late making three or four cheesecakes for the next day!

Monday night, John and M went to Batchelor to play bowls.

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2006 Travels June 22


I had the day off. John was needed, because there was a BBQ group booked in, and a big lot of other bus numbers for lunch.

I just wandered around and generally relaxed.

Thought about my mum, who would have been 94 today, were she still alive. She would have been delighted by the life I lead these days – lots of travel and different experiences.

Resize of 06-14-2006 09 Yet another pandanus study Monsoon

There is something sentinel-like about these pandanus

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2006 Travels June 21


We both had a day off.

I did the usual washing and cleaning up in the van.

For a little exercise. we did the short walk around our Monsoon Creek. Boss 1 had made this a while ago, for guests to use. It was only a few hundred metres, but it was quite pretty.

Resize of 06-14-2006 52 Light and shade along the creek Monsoon

Light and shade along the creek

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Lemon breasted flycatcher

John had a funny event happen, in relation to the creek walk, a while back. Some German visitors asked what there was to do and he directed them to this walk, and jokingly called after them “Watch out for crocodiles!”  Then there was a shriek and they came racing back saying there was a croc on the little log footbridge across the creek, that is the start of the walk. John did not know it then, but there was a resident freshie hangs out in that area of the creek and it was having a sunbake. It made the tourists’ day!

Resize of 06-14-2006 53 Creek study Monsoon

Little croc lived in there


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2006 Travels June 16 – 20


These were routine days to begin with.

Boss 1 seemed to be feeling in an unusually expansive mood on Friday morning. He really was quite mercurial. He decided that we should have a staff breakfast, starting at 8 and opening the cafe a little later than usual. We sat out on the lawns in front of the cafe, eating grilled haloumi cheese that he had made for us, and drinking coffee. It was a pleasant start to the day.

The boss swap happened as usual on Sunday, with boss 1 and B heading off to Darwin.

Resize of 07-18-2006 61 Walker Creek fungi

But boss 2 came down with some sort of flu bug, during Sunday afternoon, and took to his bed in the old caravan.

That left the three of us to look after the evening trade at the cafe.

I had to wing it a bit with the evening menu items. Fortunately I had observed the men making things like the special rice they served with the poached fish. Also fortunately, only a couple of meals were required on each night – and they were items I knew how to do. Also fortunately, the dinner guests did not stay late.

As well as staying on duty for the evening meals, I had to start early in the mornings, due to having the cafe open for breakfast from 8am. I did a couple of 12 and 13 hour days.

Each of the two nights that boss was off crook, I closed up the cafe and took the register tray to his caravan, before heading off to ours. I didn’t know what the bosses usually did with it, but I wanted to be safe.

We had noticed that each of the bosses, when heading off for their turn in Darwin, took a heap of cash out of the cafe register. The register itself did not work properly – hitting the keys only rang up that sale and opened  the cash drawer, it did not tally any ongoing amount. So there was no record generated. We felt this was risky – made it easy for any light fingered staff. i.e. some of the WOOFERS, who we overheard talking about helping themselves to some pocket money. There was no way of knowing what should be in the till. I decided the book keeping here must have been somewhat hit and miss!

When we first started work at the cafe, wondered if there was a cash flow problem – that might have accounted for the fact of no produce deliveries. For a while, wondered if we would get paid! That seemed delayed, but we had received some wages now, and could only hope that they got all caught up – and that the compulsory superannuation got transferred as it should. This was especially so as all of John’s wages were to be salary sacrificed into super! But, sometimes one had to both trust their gut feelings about people – and I felt boss 2 would do the right things – and just have some faith.

John was given Tuesday off. He enjoyed his leisure, but of course it meant no wages for that day. But I needed to start at 7.45 to open the cafe, and was needed to do the bulk of the kitchen work. Although boss was back on deck, he was still not feeling great and went off to have an afternoon sleep.

I finished at 6.15, when he came up to take over and do the dinner shift.

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2006 Travels June 15


We had another relaxing day at camp, until just after lunch.

Resize of 06-14-2006 50 Staff camp site Monsoon 3

Then B appeared at our camp – unusual in itself. She said we’d had a phone call to the cafe and we were to phone M – John’s cousin. John went up and did that. They were at the caravan park in Batchelor.

We drove in to meet up with them, for a little while. After arriving at the park, and setting up their camp, they had gone to the store/PO to check for mail. They have the same surname as us, and the lady informed them that the mail had already been collected by someone from the cafe. Eventually, they twigged that it was probably our mail and that we were working there.

We had an enjoyable catch up, for a few hours. Tried to persuade them to come and camp at the caravan park next door to the cafe, but they had to meet friends in Darwin so were on a tight schedule. We continue to be ships in the night with these two, meeting up with them at unpredictable places on our respective travels.