This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.


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2015 Travels May 16

SATURDAY MAY 16    LIGHTNING RIDGE

I woke, as usual, about 8am, to a beautiful warm, sunny morning. It was a delight to be taking Couey round the park for her initial morning walk. We went around the perimeter of the powered sites area and spotted a place set up for van and vehicle washing, and a dump point. This park had everything!

Our route continued around the edge of the unpowered area and back to our site. A good length walk and dog was well ready for her breakfast.

I enjoyed mine sitting outside in the sun, which was just the right warmth.

After John was up, I did the washing accumulated since back in the Canberra stay. Two loads at $4 each. The laundry was well set up, in keeping with the rest of the park. I had no trouble finding a machine free, or line space. There was a light breeze – a good drying day.

John was feeling very tired today. Fair enough, after battling with the rotten road yesterday. He said we should, basically, have an “in” day.

I set up my laptop and sent an email to friend M, currently hanging about in Broome.

In the early afternoon, after I’d gotten the washing in, John decided on some activity.

We drove to where his friend Ando had his mining claim and residence.

Ando’s place on Kangaroo Hill

I believed that the terms of mining leases preclude having proper permanent residences, thus opal claims have a great variety of structures as their “camps”.

Ando had a small shack/house, plus an old railway carriage. There were a number of these on claims around the area. I must ask Ando, some time, whether this was a matter of one person buying a decommissioned carriage and bringing it up here, with others copying the idea, or whether some enterprising individual bought a number and sold them off.

The guest accommodation…

Remembered that Ando had been telling us about his drama, last year, when the ground under one end of the railway carriage had given way – old shaft under there – and it had partially gone down the hole. He had described to us the hard work of getting it lifted back up again and supported properly. At the time, I had said to John there was no way we were parking Bus on the claim!

We could see at least three mine shafts on the place – covered with heavy wire grilles, as they are supposed to be. There were waste dirt piles all round.

Ando’s claim was in the area known as Kangaroo Hill, just on the edge of town, right where the sealed road changed to gravel. As the name suggests, it was up on a rise and he has a good view of the black soil flats extending below the ridge. Not bad. Would be a great place for a proper house – provided the underpinnings were solid ground…

Country to south and east of Kangaroo Hill and Ando’s diggings

Ando had lived here full time for a while and ran a business taking tours around the town and area. There were still signs advertising these, around the place.

He had told us on the phone that he’d laid in a supply of wood so that, if our visit had coincided with his, we could have campfires and a BBQ. We could see the signs of that by his terrace area at the back of the shack.

BBQ set up at Ando’s

While we were wandering around, exploring and taking photos, a man came out of his house on – presumably – a different claim, over the back. Found out later that this friend of Ando’s keeps an eye on the place, but knew we would probably be coming up to look around, so did not need to check us out any further.

Road towards Lorne Station from Kangaroo Hill

Next stop was the Information Centre. There was a fair sized fossicking dirt dump maintained there, for visitors to have a try at. Occasionally one hears of worthwhile opal being found in it.

In the Centre, I bought an attractive mouse mat, a bird list guide to the area ($2), and the mud maps and guides to the Car Door Tours ($1). We bought John a good polo shirt and I got a couple of postcards. We chatted with the lady running the place. She had been in town for only eleven months and had a house on a claim. Said she was doing up the house.

There had been statistics kept of visitors since 2009, as evidenced by visitors to the Info Centre. The numbers seem to have levelled out in the last couple of years. Maybe they would rise again this year, with the lower Australian dollar “encouraging” domestic rather than overseas travel? Her numbers for this year to date, seemed to be up. The overall numbers certainly show the value of the tourist dollar to the town.

John could not be bothered sussing out the bowls club about games, so we continued on to the IGA supermarket – the only supermarket – where we very quickly picked up the few items on my list, like Factor 50 sunscreen for John.

He was anxious to get back to Bus to watch, on TV, Carlton playing football, at 4.30. But, after all the rush around the IGA, the broadcast match was not of Carlton at all. He watched what was on. I read, outside, enjoying the warmth, fresh air and the birds – mostly miners and parrots – in the trees.

We had a neighbour swap today. The ones closest to us changed their mind about leaving, and managed to get an extension of a couple of days, but had to move sites to do so. The new neighbours who replaced them had booked an en-suite site, but had arrived a day earlier than they had anticipated and so had to take a night on an ordinary powered site – about which they were a bit miffed. They did not like the site they had been allocated, she later told us, as they were not close enough to the amenity block. I thought, but did not say, that they should consider themselves lucky to have gained a powered site at all.

I watched as they came in, and made an absolute hash of getting onto the site, almost taking their awning off on the en-suite roof. Hard to believe you could mess up driving frontwards onto a drive through site!

After they had gotten sorted, he came over, ostensibly to make friends with the dog, but really to inform us they had friends coming in later today, onto the now empty site on our other side. It was almost like he was expecting us to volunteer to move, so they could be adjacent. Real sense of entitlement there. I’d met it on occasion when working in tourism jobs – never pretty! I guessed there would be a great deal of to-ing and fro-ing, around our site. Better not be through it…I WILL be nice….

This morning I put out a couple of scotch fillet steaks to defrost for tea. Prepared mushrooms and red wine garlic sauce (packet), beans and potatoes. Ice had obscured the writing on the freezer bag, and my beef turned out to be lamb. Could have been worse…