This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

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2003 Travels July 22


Some clouds rolled in during the day. We hadn’t had cloud for ages. They were not supposed to happen in July!

Reception was not too busy, except for the middle of the day, when North Highland Tours came in with forty two elderly guests. It was an expected booking, and through the morning we’d prepared the cold meats and salad plates for their lunch. I helped with this, when there were no Reception customers.

The tour group was just getting off their bus, out the front, when I went out of the kitchen onto the dining deck with a couple of salad plates that casual campers  had ordered through the shop, and which I’d put together. 42 sets of greedy eyes swiveled my way, and they all surged towards me, down the breezeway.  I didn’t know whether to stand my ground or drop the plates and run! They were like vultures.

The boss found yesterday’s $440 error – hers. Whew!

V and F arrived back about 4pm. That should ease the work load a bit.

John did not get back from the canoes until 6.20pm. He was not happy. It had been a tough day. The workmen were still working on the canoe launch ramp. The boss had forgotten to tell him, this morning, about the large tour group, so he was not expecting the 42 bodies who descended on him at 4pm, to canoe! They were not easy to please and needed a lot of assistance in and out of the canoes, getting settled and so on. The boss apologized!

After tea, John and I drove down to the National Park and met with the Head Ranger and another who was a specialist on the area. We were there to get directions on how to get out to the Musselbrook section of the National Park, roughly west of Lawn Hill.

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Approximate location of Mussellbrook camp – black dot

John had been working on the head honcho, when on canoes, convincing him that we were competent remote area travellers, and worthy of being let loose out there.

Apparently it was very interesting, out there. We had heard enough to be intrigued. Even the bosses had not been out there yet, and of course it was off limits to the general public.

Last week, John got the ok from the Ranger, and I’d persuaded the boss to add an extra day off to the next double we got. We were the only one of the five couples who had been here since April/May, without being out of the place for some family or medical reason and we really needed a break away. So that was something to really look forward to.

A load of diesel had come in days ago, and there had been time for the tank to settle, so John refuelled Truck – $1.07cpl

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2003 Travels July 21


I was feeling slightly refreshed in the morning, when I started at 10am,  but not so when I finished at 8pm, after a day on reception.

Yesterday afternoon, John must have gotten distracted when he was watering his vegetable garden, and the hose was left running all night. Big oops! The whole place was out of water by the morning, until the reason was found, and the various tanks refilled by pumping from the creek.

The initial thought was that a camper had – yet again – put a tent peg where they were clearly instructed not to, outside the site boundary made by white painted rocks, and gone through a water pipe. Although usually they had the common sense to come and own up – if only because their site was flooding, so it was pretty obvious!

But it was not a camper this time. The dialogue on the staff notice board ran: “Who left the hose running yesterday?”  “Was it in the pumpkin patch?”   “Yes”   “Bugger”

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The shop was reasonably busy through the day. The bosses went out for a while, to visit with the managers at Lawn Hill Station, who are friends.

The register didn’t balance – nothing new! It was $440 out – in our favour! I went back in there after tea and checked all the EFTPOS dockets. Found a few that had not been entered in the register, but not enough to account for the discrepancy.

There were some very late arrivals – like almost 8pm – who booked into the campground. No prior booking! They managed to talk the boss into making them a meal – for $10 a head. It was basically leftovers, but not too bad.

The roster got changed because B and M had to go back to Isa on Friday. Our day off was made earlier, so it worked in our favour – at least in the short term.

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2003 Travels July 20


It was our day off – and very much needed. We got up at 10am, after fourteen hours of sleep. John’s thigh had been cramping badly during the night.

The boss was still on crutches, but feeling rather better.

We decided to have a do-little day.

I did some van cleaning. Read newspapers. Knitted. Wrote some long emails. Took some photos about the place. John did some of a long letter he was writing and played computer games.

I made us toasted sandwiches as a lunch treat – using the griller in the van’s stove.

It was very pleasant, just to sit outside the van, watch the bird antics, take in the green-ness, and relax in the tranquility of our bit of the grove. The bower birds and doves were always comical to watch.

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Great Bower Bird

I went up to the shop and bought five copies of Pieces of Blue and four of Heart Country – Kerry McGinnis’ books – to become Xmas presents for the offspring and a birthday present for John’s sister. John parcelled that up and put it in the mail bag. That exercise cost us $225!

I was going to cook tea for us “at home”, but John discovered that roast pork was on the menu, so we went up to eat with the staff, as usual. Unfortunately, it turned out that there wasn’t enough food for the staff to have normal serves. John got a small piece of meat and no crackling. I got some vegies only. We were pretty annoyed – staff had to wait till all the paying guests had been served, and got underfed too regularly. I was still hungry, after tea.

I don’t know why the cook never roasted pumpkin to go with roasted meats – the bland boiled mash she produced was a real let down. The meals were rather pedestrian, a lot of the time. I did think that B and I did better, last year, even without a proper kitchen; we certainly made sure that enough was cooked for staff to be properly fed. The men did such physical work in this place that they always had big appetites.

There was a new roster for next week. I was on reception four times, tent housekeeping once, the new category of kitchen hand once, and one day off. John was on canoes twice, amenities/grounds twice, rubbish run and donkey fires twice. But this was all dependent on V and F getting back before Thursday, when they were back on the roster.

Into bed at 8.30pm!

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2003 Travels July 19


I was rostered on tents, to start at 8am. But the boss said to start on reception and stay there for a while, as there were not tents to be urgently done. That was the lull before the storm!

Then,  boss R, who had been standing on an old chair whilst trying to repair a roof rack for a tourist, fell on his replaced hip, onto the cement, when the chair broke. He was in much pain, and some shock, too. He could hardly walk and was on crutches for the rest of the day. He slept for much of it. His wife was very concerned and on the phone about him to the Flying Doctor, and to the Century Mine paramedics. They were not much help – the Doc said to use a hot pack on it; the paramedic said to use a cold pack!

So, that left just basically, M and me to run the show! Thank God her baby was being minded. It was day off for J and D. B and M were still in Mt Isa. Cook’s husband D was off taking  a Riversleigh tour. Old F was around and helped us a bit.

To add to our woes, we ran out of diesel fuel, so there were disgruntled tourists in the mix.

It was 3pm before I got to start on the tent housekeeping. There were six to do, so that also meant washing twelve sets of sheets and twelve towels. There were also the tea towels from the kitchen to wash.

I finished at 6.30pm, after a very long day. I felt exhausted. Ditto John, who had barely survived the day at the canoe hire, without the launching ramp. There had been no surplus staff to help him down there today. He was in pain and really worried about his hip.

Late in the day, B and M returned.

We would be at absolute capacity again, in the DBB accommodation,  next Tuesday and Wednesday. But, late today, the boss’ son and his wife arrived to stay for a week or so, needing a couple of DBB beds, without any of us staff knowing that this was going to happen. That would really push things beyond their limit. At tea, I announced that anyone on staff who booked anyone else in, on those days, would end up sharing their own bloody bed with them! Old F promptly asked how one went about booking someone in!

I fell into bed at 8pm.

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2003 Travels July 18


John was on canoes, I was on shop – with the later start. But I put on casual clothes and went up at 8am, to help unload the truck. There was a huge amount. At 9.45am, the boss told me to take a break, so I went back down to the van and got dressed in shop uniform.

It was a busy day, with many campers coming in, and doing shop trade. There was a big company tour group came in. The owner and his wife came up too, with them – there were too many for H to manage alone.

I thanked H and the company owner, again, for their help with M’s transport.

John came back from his work day really concerned, because some Park Rangers had taken out the canoe launching ramp, to rebuild it. So he had to lift and carry and position the canoes. It had been really hard on his replaced hip, and he was exhausted. With the big numbers expected tomorrow, he would need help down there. They had consistently been doing big numbers at the canoe hire – not great timing by the Rangers! He said it was not pleasant, working in their building site that was now all round him!

A while ago, the Rangers had installed a new pontoon walkway to access the path to the Island Stack, Cascades and Constance Range. The old one had been washed away in the last Wet season. This one was removable, so could be taken out at the end of the year.

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The new pontoon walkway

I was really tired, too – it had been a long day.

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2003 Travels July 17


I was on reception, John canoes.

I was wrong about a fall off in trade! We were still very busy. There was a pick up again in the campground business – we were just about full again.

A fly-in guest from a DBB tent, came to me and complained that a camera had been stolen from his tent. Such a happening was unheard of here, so we were surprised. Eventually, we decided that his claim was a bit suspect. The camera and lens were gone, but his very fancy camera bag was still there. Nothing else was missing from their tent – the contents of his wife’s handbag were intact. We wondered whether he had simply left it somewhere, or maybe lost it in the creek – they had been canoeing – and was trying to set up an insurance claim?

OD, the manager of Pungalina Station, over the border in the NT, came in to stay the night, with his mother and his two children. He was driving them back from Pungalina to the plane at Mt Isa. After tea, we got talking to him, sitting around on the dining deck. He was running an upmarket  safari camp operation there, and had just opened up a bit of a camp area. The safari camp only dealt with small groups, and specialized in tailor-made experiences – fishing, sightseeing and the like. He said they were trying to serve “local” food – such as yabby cocktails, their own beef.

He invited us to go and camp there, when we finish here in September – with a view to potentially working there in 2004. It sounded like really rugged and interesting country, and off the usual tourist track. Quite fascinating, in fact. John was interested too. We decided we would definitely go and suss it out. Small guest numbers, and not constantly busy – sounded workable to me!

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The location of Pungalina, relative to Adels/Lawn Hill

The supply truck came in at 7.30pm – late, of course. We had been hanging out for supplies of bread and ice creams for days! But we refused to unload it until morning, so the driver had to stay over.

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2003 Travels July 16


John on canoes, me on reception.

We had another go at solving the missing money problem from yesterday, and found the mistake was mine! I’d counted two lots of banded up $20 notes as $200, instead of $400. Never did find the missing voucher, though.

It was a busy day. I had to take the Troopy and drive to the National Park, to take a lunch to the pilot of a fly-in group that had earlier been taken there. The cook had forgotten to cater for him when she did the lunches for his group members.

Finding one pilot at the Park was like finding a needle in a haystack! But eventually he turned up at the canoe hire station.

Whilst waiting around, I talked to the owner of a Trakmaster caravan there. Have to admit that I was in no hurry to go back.

It was really nice to drive to the National Park – I had forgotten how lovely the scenery was, on the way down there. It was the first time I’d driven there, this year. But the road was pretty poor, although the Troopy handled better on it than I was expecting. From experience with the Hilux we used to own, I was not a fan of Toyota steering!

John’s “Office” was so lovely!

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John at the office…….

I came back from the Park behind a sodding Victorian arrogant driver who would not let me pass, whilst he tootled along at 40kmh. I was not confident enough, in the Troopy, to really push the issue.

The sick kid was still vomiting, and dehydrated now. There were more phone calls to the Flying Doc, and the boss had to give another injection. The mother fainted! The parents decided to drive to Mt Isa, rather than have an air evacuation. I suspect they did not have ambulance or health cover. So they left. We hoped all went well for them.

It was mail plane day and there was the expected bag of mail from home. The house sitter’s letter was the most interesting item in it.