This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.


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1998 Travels December 24

THURSDAY 24 DECEMBER     TOOWOOMBA

It was raining when we woke up, but not cold.

Xmas Eve seems very different, without the large family gathering that has been the routine, to plan for. But it is nice to be so relaxed, instead of racing around the crowded shops buying the last minute perishables, as I would have been doing at home. Even if we were home, the group would be smaller, as V is in WA and S in Port Moresby.

I did a final, quick, shop for last minute items for the holiday period.

Checked at the Post Office – the mail we were expecting has not arrived. This may be due to the Xmas mail volume, or K may have been delayed sending it.

After lunch, we both went to bowls. There were showers and one big rain interruption, but we managed to play 18 ends. I had difficulties with length and sometimes with width – and did not enjoy the afternoon at all.

Tea was chicken cacciatore.

I tried to phone friend TB; according to his last letter, he should be at his mother’s, in northern NSW, by now, for Xmas. But there was no answer.


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1998 Travels December 23

WEDNESDAY 23 DECEMBER     TOOWOOMBA

I sewed and read, in the morning. John worked on bringing our fuel and accommodation records, that he keeps on spreadsheets on the computer, up to date.

He went to bowls in the afternoon.

I washed the van floors, cleaned our ensuite, then went for a walk around the streets for an hour or so.

John did not enjoy his bowls much. He was in a team that was skipped by a teenager, who became petulant and bad tempered when things did not all go his way.

Tea was steak and mushrooms.

Rain set in during the night. The lovely big shade trees that we welcomed, when we first arrived, dripped loudly on the roof, throughout the night.


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1998 Travels December 22

TUESDAY 22 DECEMBER     TOOWOOMBA

In the morning, I read and sewed. John spent time on the computer. I began work on a small tablecloth, on cheap blue fabric I bought way back in Queanbeyan. I am using a Hardanger style pattern on it – not sure how well it will work. Will use the tablecloth on our small folding table, when we have picnics.

Flohr Motors phoned and we took Truck to them. The State Manager was very nice. They will arrange for the panel work to be done, to fix the roof; they will also repair where John backed into the tree at Lake Maraboon, but we will have to pay for that! Maybe $100? They will also arrange a new roof rack, as they agree the paint should not have peeled on the one we have. They are not sure when they can fit us in for the work – will phone us. We were very satisfied with the service we are receiving, to date.

Did a big grocery shop, at Woolworths. Bought some Tattslotto tickets – live in hope! Bought ourselves a little portable chess/backgammon set, and John bought two very high quality kitchen knives – a small and larger chef’s knives. Cost $85! They are very sharp – good finger slicing implements for me, I suspect.

Drove to the edge of town, to the Woolworths fuel outlet, for cheaper diesel – 70cpl. With the Xmas holidays coming up, I think the price of fuel is elevated.

Had a late lunch, after all that.

Later in the day, went for a walk around the streets, and along a creek/drain, several blocks  to the east of us, that is being done up as a water garden. It was a good walk.

Tea was chicken maryland pieces, marinated Greek style before cooking, with salads.

The TV signals here, as one would expect, are good, so John is happy.


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1998 Travels December 21

MONDAY 21 DECEMBER     TOOWOOMBA

After breakfast, had a big hunt for the video warranty documents. This involved searching through some cupboards, John’s collection of papers in about three different locations, and the small expanding file that is meant to hold important papers and is stored under the bed. Eventually found the warranty, but not the receipt for when we purchased it in Geelong.

John phoned Daewoo/Retravision and was told he’d need to do a Stat Dec, obtained from a Post Office, re the purchase details. They don’t make it easy!

So, we drove to the Post Office in Margaret Street, through the Xmas shopping traffic, in the centre of an unfamiliar city. At the PO, John was told that newsagents sell Stat Dec forms. This was beginning to assume farcical dimensions!

John decided to try the repair place anyway, since we were in the city centre – Dent’s Radio and Repairs. They were happy to take it on, but said it will take a week or two to get to it.

Then we went to Flohr, the Landrover dealer. Their Service Manager was at lunch, so we walked over the road to the Woolworths shopping complex, browsed a little, then bought lunch – pizza for John and a ricotta and spinach pastry for me.

I bought John the KKND 2 computer game – for his Xmas present. Cost $90.

Back to Flohr, where we saw the Service Manager. He will phone us tomorrow, as the State Manager will be there then and we can take Truck in for him to inspect the problem rivets and the roof rack that is peeling paint in large sections. It was a proper Landrover one, and should not be deteriorating like this.

Then, of course, we had to suss out a couple of bowls clubs – one by the Botanical Gardens/Queens Park, and one in Toowoomba South. John booked himself in for a game on Wednesday, and us both for one on Thursday.

While we were by the Gardens, we went for a walk there. They are most attractive. The walk was enjoyable, as the weather is mild here, compared to where we have been.

Drove to Picnic Point, which is in bush land on the eastern side of the city, and admired the view across the edge of the Range, past Table Mountain, towards Brisbane, down in the distance. It was pretty hazy, but I attempted a photo, anyway.

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The outlook to the east from Picnic Point, past Table Mt, towards Brisbane

Toowoomba is about 700 metres above sea level, perched on the edge of the Great Dividing Range, at a point where it rises abruptly from the coastal plains. This means that the road to Brisbane has some steep gradients! Its elevation means that it is much cooler than Brisbane. The area was settled in the 1840’s and the city grew as the centre of the rich Darling Downs agricultural district. Today it is, I think, a similar size to Geelong – about 120,000 people.

Back at the van, relaxed for what was left of the afternoon. I finished my first significant Hardanger project – a white table runner, destined to eventually grace the centre of our big red gum table at home.

Tea was cold rissole sandwiches for John, rissoles and salads for me.

The evenings here are so pleasantly cool – it is really refreshing.


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1998 Travels December 20

SUNDAY 20 DECEMBER   ROMA TO TOOWOOMBA   376kms

We left Roma at 6am.

The day seemed a bit cooler, but it was still hot.

Today’s drive was much less interesting than yesterday’s. It was through fairly flat country, with cows, crops, some cotton.

We arrived in Toowoomba in the late morning. Went to the Garden City Caravan Park, where I’d made a tentative booking, on an en-suite site, for three weeks. After a quick look, we decide it will definitely do. It is a Big 4 park. We get a free night, each week, but they only gave us the club discount for the first week. That cost $102.60, and the other weeks $114. A bit over budget, but we are still a few hundred dollars under what we’d allowed, for the year.

We have a pleasantly shady site. There are lots of permanent dwellers in this park, including around us. The pool looks very nice. This place will enable us to see out the very busy Xmas/New Year period, away from the great heat further north and from the crowds on the coast. It will also – hopefully – enable us to finally have the Truck roof repair done.

After setting up and having lunch, we went for a 30 minute walk around the nearby streets, to get an idea of what it is like and where there is to walk. There is a back gate to the park and from there it is only a large block to walk to a small shopping centre, which will be handy.

I made rissoles for tea, with salads.

Phoned all four offspring to let them know our whereabouts. V was at work, at Burswood Casino, where she looks after staff uniforms. I don’t think she ever envisaged doing such work!

The video machine seems to have lost its colour. It is only ten months old, so should still be under warranty. John says he will investigate having it repaired while we are here.

As we will not be moving on until next year, I tallied up the distance we have towed the van since we set off – 8220kms. Towing it has gotten easier, for sure.

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1998 Travels December 19

SATURDAY 19 DECEMBER   RUBYVALE TO ROMA   487kms

We were up at 5am and away at 6.15. We are getting good at this. It was not long after sunrise.

The early driving was pleasant, not too hot.

We stopped to take a photo at the Bottle shop/pub on the Tropic of Capricorn, between Rubyvale and Sapphire. So, today we officially leave the tropics again, after seven months. However, I suspect we will not notice much change, weather-wise.

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Leaving the tropics after seven months

We drove to Emerald, then turned south, going through Springsure, to Rolleston. There we turned south again, onto the Carnarvon Development Road. This took us through Injune and on to Roma.

The country from Springsure onwards, was interesting – dramatic hills around Springsure and then the Carnarvon Range was off to our right. We must return and explore these parts, sometime.

It became quite hot. We had a couple of drink and stretch breaks – at Rolleston and Injune.

We passed the turn off to Carnarvon Gorge National Park – another intended future destination, but not at this hot time of the year.

The roads south from Emerald were all sealed and quite good.

We reached Roma about 1pm. Got diesel – 70cpl.

Booked into the Villa Caravan Park for the night – $15. Did a quick set up, then had our sausage sandwich lunch. John then had a nap for a couple of hours.

Later in the afternoon, we walked into town – about a km – and had a look round. Being the weekend, all was rather quiet. Back at the park, I had a swim in their pool.

Tea was bacon and omelettes, and some of the yummy red grapes we’d bought at a roadside stall for $3 a kilo.

It was still hot at night.

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1998 Travels December 18

FRIDAY 18 DECEMBER     RUBYVALE

We were off out to Mt Leura again, at 6.30am. It was quite pleasant driving out there at this time of day. If one lived here, there would have to be a regimen of utilizing the cooler mornings, retreating in the heat of the day, and having early nights.

JJ and L told us we could go out to Katie’s Gully alone, as L had a bad night with a sore back and they would not be going out. I suspect the bad night – and morning – had more to do with the box of beer we gave them yesterday!

Anyway, it was good to be out there on our own, and we explored our hunches, digging up and bringing back four large and one small buckets of gravel for washing. Even though it was early, it was still hot work.

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Sapphire fossicker at work in Katie’s Gully – digging out a gravel layer

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Rough, dry, sieving the gravel to get rid of the dirt and large chunks of rock

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Is that an interesting bit?

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Thirsty work – pretty grotty too

Washed the gravel, back at JJ’s place. We got some small pieces of sapphire and one very big yellow and blue piece, bigger than my thumb nail. This generated much envy and disbelief from JJ, who confidently predicted it would cut beautifully and be worth thousands. Maybe $50,000! John was very pleased!

We said our farewells to the men – who we suspected might be heading out to Katie’s Gully in a hurry, to see where we had dug. Drove back to town and straight to J the cutter. She did not take long to pronounce that our big yellow chunk was too fractured to cut, or even polish. Well, it had given us lovely thoughts and feelings for an hour or so. We will certainly keep it as a little “treasure” – a piece of might-have-been.

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The chunk of parti-coloured sapphire we found

From the bits that we have found here, we did arrange for her to cut two stones for earrings, and set them, and one ring stone – a pale greeny one that she thinks will cut to nearly a carat, and set that too. So I will end up with some new jewellery from this stay – special pieces because of having found the stones ourselves. It will cost $270 for the cutting and setting. Good value, we think. When the work is done, she will mail them COD to a designated Post Office – and we will pay at the Post Office before collecting the goods.

We had a counter lunch at the pub, to console ourselves for the “loss”. We both had the seafood basket. It is a long way from the sea, here, but it was very nice.

Then we went and again admired the jewellery at the Rubyvale Gallery.

Back to the van and cool air and a nap for a couple of hours. All that temporary excitement was too much!

After that, although it was still hot, we packed up what we could. Sat outside watching the clouds build up and a most impressive lightning display.

John had sausages and bread for tea; I had some biscuits with tomato and cheese. Neither of us was very hungry, after the big lunch. The leftover cooked sausages will make a nice sandwich filling for tomorrow’s lunch.