This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

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2011 Travels February 9


Breakfasted again at the Sunset.

As part of our check in here, we’d been given some free vouchers and needed to use them up today, as they would expire when we left tomorrow. So claimed our free coffees at the Aqua Bar. In the casino section, played five free games of keno.

John was being bothered by problems with his glasses that the dog had partially wrecked at home. We drove to the large Casuarina shopping complex so he could visit optometrists. None of those he saw could do replacement glasses, at a price John would accept, before our departure in a week’s time.

I bought a small black handbag, for tonight. The large brown leather one I travelled with really would not look appropriate with my planned good outfit. That was something I’d overlooked when packing.

At the food court there, John had an Asian lunch; I had a salad roll.

Drove on, to Paradise Landscaping, out beyond Berrimah. This was where John had sourced African mahogany timber slabs he’d had shipped home, in 2006. He wanted to seek some advice from the man who’d sold it to him, but man wasn’t there.

Headed back towards town. John wanted to see some coastline so headed for Nightcliff and drove along Casuarina Drive which hugged the shore. Parked and walked out on the little Nightcliff jetty. It gave a reasonable outlook north towards Lee Point.

At Frances Bay

Back at the Nightcliff shops I bought some fruit, for me to snack on, nuts and crisps. Contingencies for when lunch got missed!

Frances Bay

Back to the hotel to relax for a while in the cool. I had a nut snack because dinner could well be late. John scored some of “my” snack, too.

As we arrived back at the hotel, John made a quick decision that we would cancel the Kakadu trip. The road was still flooded and there continued to be some rain, on and off. So he accepted the offer that had been made and booked us into Sky City for another two days. I phoned our booked Kakadu accommodation. The lady was understanding and our deposit was eventually refunded – less a $25 fee – via Wotif, through which I’d booked it originally.

Dressed up to go out and went down to the foyer just before 7pm to wait. P was on time, arriving in a rather rattly old car. He told us a somewhat convoluted saga about the car. P had been sharing a rented house with J, another former colleague of mine. Somehow he’d managed to have the use of J’s car, when J married and moved out. Then, a friend visiting from Melbourne took P to the airport but, when getting back to the house, couldn’t get the key out of the ignition. He called J, who took a couple of days to get round to coming to do something about it. In the meantime, the car was stolen. It hadn’t been insured, so P ended up having to pay J for it. So now, his car is an old ’96 vintage clunker. Was the sort of tale that could only happen in Darwin!

We stopped, briefly at P’s rented house but stayed in the car while he had a quick change of shirt. The house resembled a large tin shed in an overgrown garden – rather a far cry from the time, around 1990, when P owned a rather lovely town house in Fannie Bay.

Bogarts was interesting. It had once been a strip club, and the decor was little changed! There were definite bordello overtones.

P indicated that past student M would be generous and pay for the meals and wines. That probably meant that P had kind of dragooned him into it. It seemed that P was low on funds and M knew that. It was one of the reasons that he provided P with an office space at his law firm. Since “retiring” in the late 90’s, P’s superannuation funds had suffered from the GFC, plus his propensity to give money away to assorted good causes. The occasional consulting or advisory contract he picked up for governments and their agencies did not fund a rich lifestyle these days. It was rather sad to see him reduced to have to worry about how to live – although he did have a rental income from his inner Melbourne house.

M arrived before his wife, who was delayed settling their three children. I’d taught M, in the early 80’s – meeting up with him as a successful lawyer, married with school age children of his own, made me feel quite ancient! But he was thrilled to see me, and through the evening there was much talk of old times. He really did believe that our school had been unique and that he owed his present status in life to it. I was pleased to find that he’d turned into a lovely, intelligent, warm and caring person – and his wife was delightful, too. She and John got on really well.

The meal was excellent. My steak was cooked perfectly. M’s salmon looked great, too.

Being a weeknight, with work tomorrow, M and wife left at a reasonable hour. I walked out with them and got the man who settled up with M to phone for a taxi. I think P would have liked to make a real night of it, especially if we bought the drinks. He was enjoying talking with us and had become rather tipsy. I wasn’t inclined to linger on, though. It had been a really enjoyable evening, to this point and I was so appreciative of M’s hospitality and company.

Our taxi driver did not meter our ride back to the hotel, which was not far – just charged us a flat $20. I wasn’t sure if that was normal Darwin night time practice, or a bit suss.

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2011 Travels February 8


Again, we slept well.

The morning weather pattern seemed to be balmy and really nice, but then there was increasing humidity through the day. It appeared that Cyclone Yasi had sucked the usual monsoon weather patterns to the south.

We both went down for breakfast at the Sunset. I’d decided to be like John and eat a big breakfast, then not have to worry too much about lunch. Only problem was that I wasn’t used to eating up big in the mornings, and could only manage some fruit, juice and toast.

Drove into the centre of town. Finding parking was easy. Went to the Information Centre where I collected some gumpf. We went to the counter to buy Kakadu Park passes – $50 for the two of us. Another traveller there said the highway was flooded; he’d been heading for Jabiru and had to turn back. The sales lady said that if that happened to us, we could get a refund.

Walked the Mall. The shops there still had the same rather kitchy touristy type stuff. There was one fairly good seeming gallery featuring aboriginal art and we did have a little browse in that. The reality of air travel and baggage limits acted as a brake on any impulse buying…..

Had a walk around the historic Star Theatre site. The Star Theatre had been a major venue on Darwin’s social scene, from the 1930’s. It was, as befitted the climate, partially open air. It was largely destroyed by Cyclone Tracey in 1974 – along with most of Darwin! Some parts of the theatre were left, and they had now been incorporated into a little arcade that was interesting to wander through.

We rather had to push ourselves to be out and about as the humidity built through the day.

Drove to Stokes Hill Wharf precinct to have a look around there. There had been more development in that area since we were last here in 2006.

The wharf precinct. Very different to “old” pre-Tracy Darwin.

In a pearl gallery/shop there, I bought some dangly freshwater pearl earrings – unusual, and good value with a 20% discount because of the season.

Saw the large Paspaley pearling ship moored at the wharf.

The Paspaley family is synonymous with the pearl industry in Australia, originally working in harvesting wild oyster pearls before WW2, but later developing the cultured – farmed – pearl industry. These days, Paspaley Pearls is a large and diversified business. This was only one of a fleet of pearling vessels they own.

Storm clouds building through the morning….

Drove to the Aviation  Museum, out near the airport. This was John’s choice – in his youth had been an air force cadet. He enjoyed wandering about, looking at the various preserved planes. I was particularly interested by the Vietnam War featured display.

I was a bit hungry, so wandered out to the car and ate the remains of yesterday’s bread roll, which had been left overnight in the car.

When John had seen enough aeroplanes, he decided we would go to the Cool Spot for a late lunch. But when we got there, I really didn’t feel like a meal, having eaten the roll. John then decided to pass on food as well, and we both had a coffee. Despite the oppressive air, we sat outside to have our drinks, just for old times sake. The Cool Spot remains a favourite of mine.

It had commenced raining in the mid afternoon, so we went back to the hotel. The man on Reception told us that the Ghan was a day late arriving in Darwin, due to floods in SA. It was not getting in until tomorrow, and not leaving until Thursday. I hoped that wouldn’t happen when it was our turn. We talked with him about the road floods. He actually went to the trouble of phoning to check for us and found the highway was still cut at the Wildman River. He said that, if we couldn’t get to Kakadu, we could extend our stay here, for $170 a night. We thought that offer was pretty good. I was most impressed by how friendly and helpful the reception staff here were.

Afternoon view from our room

After today’s explorings, it was so obvious that Darwin was a very quiet and different place without all the dry season tourists. I felt we were getting a sense of what it had been like for my various friends who came from Melbourne, back in the late 80’s, to teach at Kormilda, and stayed on for years. I could still see the attraction of the place – just a pity it is so far from Melbourne and family……

Had our evening meal at the Il Piatto restaurant at the Hotel. Italian type food, as suggested by the name. I had a delectable Veal Scaloppini,  John had pasta bol! Not adventurous, but he said it was good.

At night, with our balcony door ajar, we could hear the calls of curlews – lovely.

In the early morning hours, there was thunder and lightning, but John was too tired to get up and look.

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2011 Travels February 7


I had a great night’s sleep. The bed was king size and it was so wonderful to be able to spread out. It had already started me thinking about changing our bed at home to a king sized one. The room temperature was conducive to sleeping and when I’d wandered out onto the balcony, before bed, to have a look, the night seemed almost cool.

John got dressed and went down to the Sunset Restaurant for breakfast. I could lounge around in nightclothes for a while as I’d ordered two slices of bread to toast, from the room service menu. There was a toaster provided in the room. But my two bread slices cost $8.50. John’s breakfast – all he could eat, from a great variety – wasn’t much more  expensive than mine.

I texted son and mentioned the breakfast experience. From his prior experience of working in hotel management, he texted back, in capitals: NEVER, EVER, EAT BREAKFAST IN HOTELS.

The Tour Tub bus, for which we had all day get on/get off vouchers from Great Southern Rail, phoned to say they’d altered their schedule to a standard guided tour. I said we didn’t want that – the man seemed miffed. But there was a world of difference between making up one’s own schedule of sights to see, and for how long, and being herded into a tour that someone else dictates.

In view of this, I phoned Thrifty to see if we could get our hire car a day early; no problems doing so. Not the busy season in Darwin so not that much demand, I guessed.

It was already obvious that a number of tourist attractions were not open during this part of the Wet. Fortunately, we’d already spent plenty of time in Darwin in the dry time of year,  so were not disappointed by closures. But any visitor coming here for the first time at this time of year would have to be prepared for a limited choice of attractions.

We went to the Casino and joined their Action Club. This gave us some “free” money to use in the place. Since we were confident of our ability to be disciplined in the Casino environment, I saw no issues with availing ourselves of offered freebies.

Caught a taxi to the Thrifty depot. The paperwork for the hire car took ages to finalize – mainly because John was being obtuse and asking the staff questions to which I already knew the answers – because I’d read all the information beforehand and he hadn’t bothered.

We were upgraded to a Mitsubishi Lancer, which was great. It did take John a little while to get the hang of driving it – more modern than anything he’d driven before, and very different  to our 1996 Defender and 1986 Barina!

Out of the controlled environment of the hotel, it was hot and extremely humid.

We went to the NT Museum, had a coffee at the cafe there, then browsed in the establishment.

There was a feature exhibition of the music group AC/DC history and memorabilia. It was really interesting, including letters from Bon Scott, who had died at age 33, that made it clear he was heavily into booze and drugs.

Another interesting display featured fossils and reconstructed skeleton models of some prehistoric critters.

I made sure John also saw the stuffed form of Sweetheart – the very large crocodile who made himself unpopular attacking outboard motors on fishing dinghies at a popular fishing location. Over five metres long, he accidentally died after  being trapped for relocation.


Another must-do at the museum was the Cyclone Tracey exhibit. This was an extensive display. Particularly memorable was the experience that replicates the darkness, wind noise and general clattering and banging that those who lived through the cyclone in 1974 would have known. It was scary, even though we knew it wasn’t “real”.

There was much debate going on in Darwin, at the moment over whether Cyclone Tracey or Cyclone Yasi was bigger. NT people seemed indignant that Tracey might be overshadowed!

I always enjoyed the art gallery section here, featuring an extensive collection of various forms of aboriginal art.

By now it was well and truly late lunch time. Went to the nearby Nightcliff shops. John didn’t want anything, having had such a huge breakfast, but I was really hungry. John was getting tired and impatient, so I grabbed a bread roll from Brumbys, but didn’t stop to eat it because John didn’t want to linger. So we did a quick shop at the nearby Woolworths – coffee, milk (the long life milk in our room was awful), bottled water. John bought Coca Cola. I wanted to get fruit but John didn’t want to go there. Then he decided to do a big alcohol buy up: wine, scotch, Jim Beam, rum! I’d have preferred food.

Back to our room, where John had a sleep and I read.

Seen from our balcony

I’d tried to phone old boss, P, this morning, but the mobile number he left was wrong, and there was no answer at the number of the office he maintained in Darwin. A former student of our school was now a lawyer in Darwin who had a lot of contact with P, so I phoned and left a message at the law office. P rang me while John was asleep, wanting to arrange dinner at Bogarts, an eatery at Parap. We  agreed on Wed evening. Old student M and his wife would be there too. P would pick us up here at 7pm.

We went down to eat dinner at the Sunset Restaurant, which offered 20% off their meals Monday to Wednesday. It was a seafood buffet. Lots of choice, and delicious food. I was super hungry, having only had a couple of bites of a bread roll since my toast this morning. I wrapped some wedges of camembert in a serviette and took them back to our room for later.

John watched TV. I read, wrote up diary.

So far, the anticipated spectacular lightning displays had not eventuated, much to John’s disappointment. Plenty of dramatic cloudy skies but that was it.

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2011 Travels February 6


An early start was needed. There was packing to finalize with last minute items.

Breakfast was only a coffee for me – I was a little apprehensive, mostly about the drive to the airport. There was a time when traffic in Melbourne on a Sunday morning was really light, but no more.

Our flight was scheduled to depart at 2pm and we were to have our baggage checked in by 1.15 at the latest. I had printed off our paperwork at home, which made it easier at the airport.

My little car was deposited at Jetport Parking at 11am, their bus had us at the airport at 11.15. All quite seamless. Baggage for our Jetstar flight was not being accepted until midday, so we sat and read the Sunday Age.

Our combined baggage weighed in at 40.3kg, but no fuss was made about the surplus .3. My share of it was 17kg; in our family I am the economical packer!

Going  through the security check was the usual three-ring circus act that we’d experienced in 2006-7. John had to take off his belt and shoes – and try to hold his trousers up. His metal hips set off alerts. Whilst waiting for him to get through, I scored an explosives check – a new experience for me. How conceivable was it that a would-be terrorist would come in the  guise of a 65 year old grandmother with a somewhat bumbling partner?

Bought lunch. I had a herbed pizza roll, John had the same with cheese and a container of chips. We both had coffees – the best part of the meal, by far.

Our plane was late arriving from wherever, by 30 minutes, so we left Melbourne 20 minutes later than scheduled, but arrived in Darwin on time, at 4.50 CST – so the flight lasted four hours.

I had paid extra when booking the flight, for seats with extra leg room, by the emergency exit. They did have lots of space, but no window to look out of. I was annoyed that this fact was not made clear in the booking blurb. As it happened, we travelled over thick cloud all the way – more Yasi aftermath – so wouldn’t have seen much. Another annoyance was that I could have taken a bottle of water on board with me, despite all the prior information suggesting otherwise.

The flight was smoother than I’d expected, given the prevailing weather conditions across the continent. The staff were pleasant. The refreshments that were served were eminently forgettable.

Our plane was continuing on to Ho Chi Minh City, so baggage came off quickly.

Once out of the terminal, we were hit by a wave of hot and steamy air. with that hard-to-define but pleasant smell that I associated with Darwin. John was somewhat taken aback by how thick the humid air seemed. I had been here before in the Wet Season, but he hadn’t, so it was new for him. It felt like the temperature was around 30 degrees and the humidity well up the scale.

A taxi conveyed us to our chosen accommodation at Sky City – the hotel associated with the Casino, but one with frontage to Fannie Bay and the Timor Sea – and hopefully where John would see his storm displays. We were allocated Room 307, which gave us an outlook to the ocean view, to the Star City groomed lawns leading to the beach, and also a glimpse of the pool.

The hotel had a series of inner open air atriums, so that from the lift lobby, we walked internal balconies to get to our room, past tall palm trees and other tropical vegetation growing in the central atrium. That was a great effect – one did not feel shut in, like in normal hotel corridors.

The central atrium that gave access to our room

Our room was pleasant without being ultra luxurious: big enough, clean, but there was only one armchair. The balcony was tiny. We could stand out on it to look at the view, but it was not big enough to sit out on in any comfort.

Sky city room

A  message was waiting when I turned my phone back on, from my former boss, who had just arrived in Darwin – where he spent a lot of time, and had a base. He was suggesting we might catch up for tea. We were not in the mood for group socializing, so I ignored it.

After unpacking and settling in, we went to the Dragon Court Chinese restaurant in the hotel, for dinner. The meal was lovely. John had a duck dish, I had crispy pork belly and we shared fried rice. Indulged in a bottle of crouchen reisling. John – whose mindset was still anchored in frugal caravan travel – was a bit uptight at the overall cost of the meal, especially as the bottle of wine was $34. But it was our first night and thus warranted a little celebration in style, I thought.

Went and looked at the Casino part of the establishment, and briefly played the poker machines, giving ourselves a $10 cap each, and both taking a small profit, rather than ploughing it back into the machines.

We did not stay up late – it had been a long day – and our bodies were still operating on Melbourne time anyway.

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2011 Travels February 5


We were woken early by a phone call cancelling the bowls scheduled for John today.

Melbourne was flooded in places. Our pool had overflowed, as had the gutters on John’s shed.

Gotta be able to catch those, somehow…..

When John came back from unblocking the shed gutters – absolutely drenched – he went off to shower and change, inadvertently leaving his glasses where Birdy dog could access them. I spotted her with the neatly folded up spectacles in her mouth, and managed to retrieve them. The earpieces were a bit chewed, the frame a bit bent, and a lens had popped out. I found that on the lounge floor and John managed to put it back.

After lunch, took Birdy to the kennels for her stay away. We had to take a very round about route to get there as the police had blocked off a number of flooded roads.

At the kennels, a staff person took our girl away quickly – there were no prolonged farewells. She trotted off happily without a backward glance! We left her favourite blanket and toys for her. It was arranged that she should have training in coming when called, and obeying the instruction to “drop it”! Both greatly needed skills she had so far resisted acquiring.

I felt very sad on the drive home, and rather guilty at leaving her and just hoped she would adjust with no fretting. Troublesome though she was, at times, we both loved her dearly.

Was time to get serious about packing the brand new suitcases we’d bought for this trip. It had been a couple of decades since I had needed a suitcase for travel – soft bags and backpacks had been appropriate until now. Suitcase technology had certainly changed in the interim. Wheels….

We used our bathroom scales to check our baggage weight. We could each have 20kg. Mine seemed comfortably under that. John’s appeared to weigh over it, but he decided that the scales were wrong. We needed to include a smaller, soft luggage bag, for the train; there would not be room in our compartment for the two cases.

Friend M visited us later in the day. I gave her the perishables from our fridge. She was in the process of having her Troopy converted into a pop-top camper, which she hoped would make it more comfortable and convenient and do away with the need for some sort of separate “living” arrangement, like the tent she had last year. She was having some issues to do with changing the registration and insurances, though.

At night, despite our excitement, the house felt wrong, with no dog keeping us company.

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2011 Travels


After his health problems of recent times, John decided it was time to get serious about some of his “bucket list” items. A couple of these could be bundled together: to travel on the Ghan train, and to spend time in Darwin in the storm season – because he wanted to see the spectacular lightning displays there at that time.

To my later chagrin, I have to admit that I was not really keen on the idea of travel on the Ghan. Back in Uni days, had done a couple of trips between Adelaide and Melbourne on the Overland train, sitting up in seats all night, and had not enjoyed that. But The Ghan was something John really wanted to do, so I went along with the idea.

The Ghan train

I’d worked out a trip that would see us, in February,  fly to Darwin, spend some time there, then travel on the Ghan to Adelaide, from which we would fly back to Melbourne. An initial idea, of driving one way and putting the vehicle on the train one way, did not work out. Truck was over the height limit for the train. John said my Barina car was too small and uncomfortable for distance travel – and it was not air conditioned.

I had attempted to make a booking for the Ghan online, but kept getting stuck in one of those endless loops of no progress and much frustration. Eventually phoned Great Southern Rail direct. It turned out that the online glitch was a very fortunate one, because GSR offered me a package deal that worked out much cheaper: our rail travel, five nights accommodation in Darwin at a venue of our choice, and a day pass on the Darwin Explorer bus. All for less than I would have paid for our rail fares alone, had I managed to book them online!

I built the rest of the plan around the Ghan trip dates, and booked our flights; arranged car hire in Darwin and parking of my car near Melbourne Airport; accommodation in Adelaide, Kakadu National Park, and a second stay in Darwin, for after we returned from a jaunt to Kakadu.

Birdy dog was booked into kennels, which we had visited and inspected first. They also offered some behavioural training – an attractive proposition!

Training……what ‘dat?

As our February 6 departure date was approaching, we watched with awe and trepidation as Category 5 Cyclone Yasi approached the north Qld coast. Apart from its impact on places there that we had visited and loved, there was the possibility that it might behave as previous cyclones in those parts had – continue west, re-form over the Gulf, then hammer the Top End. That could impact our travel plans. In the event, it made landfall further south than originally predicted and dissipated across SW Qld.

The path of Cyclone Yasi (BOM)

The tail end of Yasi did, however, feed into a low pressure trough that brought a deluge to Melbourne on 4-5 Feb.


2010 Travels The rest of 2010


John completed the rest of the six month trial on the new anti-clotting drug, with no apparent adverse effects. But then, trial period completed, it was back onto warfarin, with the accompanying weekly blood tests and see-sawing INR readings.

A while later, the trial drug was approved for use for a different condition, and our GP managed to obtain supplies of it for John to take, replacing the warfarin. Eventually, a couple of different drugs containing the trial substance were approved and put on the PBS list, and John moved to taking one of those. 

The puppy came home. The little female we had chosen had been the runt of the litter, but was so lovable – initially! She had some of the blue heeler markings of her heeler cross stumpy tail cattle dog mother – the tan eyebrows and facial marking, and paws. But she had a partial tail only.

We called her Birdy, just to confuse people!

Until now, I had not known anything about the Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog – or even that such a breed existed. But some research revealed that the breed was developed in Qld in the 1800’s, from a mix of ancestry similar to our blue and red heeler cattle dogs, but also a naturally bob-tailed dog used in stock herding work in some English markets, and probably some dingo. Those involved were seeking a dog with great cattle working instincts but also the stamina to work in the outback conditions. A “proper” stumpy is either mottled red, or mottled blue/black, but not a combination. A pure bred one does not have the brown facial markings and feet of the blue heeler breed. Our pup was definitely a mix of heeler and stumpy.

A red stumpy

The breed fell out of favour for decades and almost disappeared, but some enthusiasts bred up the line again, and had the breed officially recognised as distinct, with listed breed characteristics. So, a pure-bred stumpy is either blue-black mottled, or red-white mottled. They do not have the facial markings of the heelers. They have a naturally occurring stump tail no more than 4 inches long.

A “blue” stumpy

Birdy proved to be a very determined little lady. She did not like being shut in the laundry at night, and her crying kept us awake. Bit like having a new baby! Toilet training was not a concept she fully grasped, for a long time. She proved to be an inveterate chewer, not only of her toys, but also of anything with a wooden corner – like skirting boards! But she was very lovable and clearly trying to do the right thing – just having difficulty figuring out what that was. We eventually concluded that, being the runt, she may have been a bit brain damaged at birth.

Taking her for her daily walks at the Lilydale Lake was good for our fitness.

In September, John turned 70. I put on a pizza party for some of his surviving siblings, all older than him. The Bendigo family came down for a weekend, and grandson stayed on for a week of the school holidays.

Grandson and Birdy adored each other. Because of her scatty ways, he called her “mad dog”. She was very different to the two docile whippets he had at home!

Late in the year, after five month old Birdy had been neutered, it was time to see how she adapted to caravan life. She had already demonstrated that car travel was quite acceptable, and she behaved alright when she encountered other people and dogs on her walks.

With M, we went to a caravan park at Cowes, on Phillip Island, for three nights. Set up on a site that was a good distance from other campers.

We did some sightseeing and a lot of walking. Introduced Birdy to the beach. She took to the waves – literally. But made herself sick trying to bite the waves and thus taking in lots of salt water.

However the trip was not a great success. Birdy had no sense of boundaries. As far as she was concerned, anyone she could see or hear from the van was an intruder and she barked and growled accordingly. At night she spent a lot of time – in the van – barking and growling at noises only she could hear.

We concluded that we would have to be pretty cautious about travel with her, because we didn’t trust that she wouldn’t have a go at other campers if they came too close. Could just hope that, as she matured, and with more practice, she would settle down.

Birdy was definitely a two speed dog – either full tilt into running, digging, chewing…..or dead to the world.

Any gardens we didn’t want excavated had to be fenced….
That was my knitting!

And so ended 2010.

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2010 Travels May 22


In the morning, I went with daughter and grandson to the central shopping area.

While we were away, John tried to set up the new TV/DVD player they’d bought, so the record function would work for them. He wasn’t sure he’d managed it though.

After an early lunch, we went off with them to watch grandson play soccer, parking Truck and van near the soccer ground. It was only the third game the kid had played, and he didn’t seem to have much idea about it. Actually, none of the little players did!

After that, we parted from the family, and headed for home. Again, it was familiar and routine. The countryside was lovely and green. There was noticeably more regrowth in the bushfire ravaged sections across the Dividing Range.

We arrived home at 4.30pm. Got the basic unpacking done.

Bought a cooked chook from the local shop for John’s tea. I couldn’t be bothered foraging for myself, so had some of the chicken. It was quite nice and we didn’t have any ill effects after.

It had been great to get away for a break, but was also good to be home, where there was a bit more space – and I can get away from the background TV.

Tomorrow, we would go to select our new puppy, though she wouldn’t be ready to come home for a few more weeks yet. That was such an exciting prospect.

Our pup on her first day home

On Monday, John would be off to see the folks at the ECRU unit again. He had managed this trip so much better than we had expected. It was probably good for him to have distractions from the state of his lungs and general health.

I wondered, though, when and where the next adventure would be? The events of earlier this year had demonstrated that we could no longer automatically count on being able to tackle an extended trip, every year.


*  away for 32 nights

*  accommodation cost $690.30 out of pocket

*  accommodation discounts $15.70

*  towed van 3520 kms


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2010 Travels May 21


We were up at 8am, away at 9.30.

It was a routine drive, done so many times before, to Bendigo.

Fuelled at Sea Lake. Lunch was at a rest area near Culgoa – a pleasant spot, but very littered. There were very few locusts about now. The cold weather must have accounted for them.

Reached Bendigo right on school finishing time. Had just finished backing into the driveway, when daughter and grandson arrived home.

I’d had our mail re-directed here, for the trip duration, to save having to ask a favour of the flat tenant. Grandson had been responsible for collecting it from the box and storing it. John paid him $20 for doing this, then tried to work out what his daily rate of pay had been. The kid was a bit young, yet, for that sort of maths.

Daughter was concerned to hear that helping with her resume had inadvertently led to John “breaking” his laptop.

Fish and chips for tea, which we bought.

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2010 Travels May 20


I got up at 8.30am.

M had already gone from her site. She was off to Swan Hill, further along the Murray, today. Friends were doing a house sit there and she would spend a few days with them. I felt a bit lonely!

Gol Gol site

Today was to be a lay day for us, to give John a rest from two long days of driving. Even though I took a turn at the wheel when he needed a nap, he still did the bulk of the driving – his choice.

The impatient man from yesterday was equally impatient this morning, hitching up to move on. He would not be a delight to travel with, for sure.

After John got going, we drove back across the river, into Mildura.

At the Information Centre, I collected a number of up-to-date booklets about Victorian regions. It looked, now, that our travels would be confined closer to home, for at least the short term, so I needed such material.

Needed a quick supermarket visit to get food for tonight.

It was then John’s choice to visit Woodsies Gem Shop, where we spent some time browsing. The very comprehensive displays were interesting. I managed to buy a pair of turquoise earrings – my birth stone. I will be able to remember this trip by the assorted earring purchases!

We had a Subway lunch. I was used to the bacon in my usual order being microwaved before being put in the sub. Here, it went in raw – and was still raw after the roll had been toasted. Not nice at all.

Back across the river but turned left, towards Wentworth and thus to Orange World. This is quite a slick citrus marketing outlet, much more so than the more common roadside stalls in these parts. I bought a bag of oranges  for each of my offspring plus one for ourselves, a bag of mandarins ditto, and some  grapefruit for us. John’s impulse buy was a citrus peeler – rather a clever gadget.

For most of the rest of the afternoon relaxed back at camp, though we did summon up enough energy to go walking along the road that parallels the river, again, for a little exercise.

Gol Gol area. Caravan park beside Punt Road. Prime river side real estate….(Zoom)

Chicken schnitzels for tea, with some salad.