Walkabout 54 – this is the last post in this blog

Promises and more promises…


That is the link to the photos promised in the last post, which I haven’t finished captioning.  I will do do in due course with Al’s help.  I don’t remember the names of places too well.

We have been home since the end of March.  The move was accomplished with a lot of help from Angela and Kevin and Ruth and we are gradually still settling in, but I am so happy to be here.  Never thought I would say this, but I am.  It is a beautiful spot, the surf thunders away, the birds let us know they are around and I am at peace. This has taken a while to happen, the online work tended to take over my life a bit, as did getting organised and accepting that I couldn’t achieve it all with or without Al’s help,  and we had to pursue our hobby at the same time.

You will realise that we did not go north for the winter with the other Mexicans as we had planned.  We just could not get organised – and in addition the car blew its gearbox.  We are very nervous about this car now, we are so deeply in debt over keeping it on the road that we don’t want to risk any further crises with it.  It can’t do what we need it to do as in carry weight and pull the caravan, so we are in the process of changing our modus operandi.  Less weight and pull a trailer instead.  This implies less overnight comfort as well – so shorter trips until we are more financial. Unfortunately at present the only new stock we seem to find is heavy, dirty, bulky…. or all three in one, but then we are disciplined about how much we take each time.  Not being on the road means that it will be waiting at home for next time..

Last weekend we bought a self-inflating mattress to sleep on at the Coffs Swap meet.  It didn’t inflate (!) but I was so exhausted that I slept anyway, we were lovely and warm and Sunday was a successful swap meet for us.  We often have a high strike rate and did again so we felt pretty good. Interestingly, we only put out Al’s old tools, some cheap books I am trying to get rid of, one table of bric a brac and the flat display boxes. For a change we sold a lot out of the display boxes including some camera equipment that I had almost despaired of selling.  The big advantage of swap meets is that they cost so little to stand.  It will be Nabiac next weekend where bric a brac is not allowed!!  and it is a 2 day swap.  The shop is replacing the mattress and will test it before we collect it.  Here’s hoping.  O yes must mention the car manuals.  Al bought a heap at Lismore a week or so ago and they went well, amazing those dirty scabby old things fetch quite big money especially when they are rare.

Enough for this post – will be writing into the Blog called The Sinnies at home and Abroad and the Wannabe PhD.  See ya later!!

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Two months have passed since I wrote a post in this blog. And much has happened.  The ‘new’ car was fixed, new engine head etc and we set off to head East.  As we left Perth the A/C in the car died a death and we knew that we could cook as we crossed the Nullabor Plain.  We didn’t as the angels were on our side and it was cool-ish.

Crossing the Nullabor is supposed to be an epic journey but it wasn’t, we just drove and drove some more, putting fuel into the car and our tummies in between.  We also slept a bit.  What was interesting about the Nullabor?, well nothing much, the straightest stretch of road in the world must count for something and the advertisements for golf at every fuel stop, sorry Road House, along the way.  Yes there were a few golf ‘holes’ at every Road house, and each road house has its own history as well.  We just wanted to get to Adelaide so we didn’t explore the golf option.

It was wonderful to catch up with Christine, Al’s sister and do the Marion Market again and the Hahndorf market for the first time.  Nice markets if not very profitable.  Still too close to Christmas and too hot!  So on to Melbourne for mid February to meet the Patels, my friends from Swaziland days who had come from London and joined up with old friends to watch the Cricket World Cup.  We had two lovely days with them, amazing to think of how long ago it was since we first met.  Our Ruth was a baby, just sitting up, and Bhaskar and Joe played cricket for Mbabane … 40 years ago!!  I will write a Swaziland chapter some time.  Also overnighted with other old friends, David and Pam Tucker, David I have known since before I was born.  Our mothers were friends.  And Tracy and Marc also gave us a night in their new home, Tracy is also part of the family, she’s been friends with my children since early high school days!

Then onwards Eastwards to Swap meets and antique fairs which helped keep us moving and now we are here in Heritage Park at Angela and Kev’s place, noticing the great humidity, a new experience! and looking forward to moving into our house in Safety Beach.  We collect the keys on Friday morning and fetch Ruth from the airport on Friday afternoon, she is arriving from South Africa via Myanmar to start her big Aussie Adventure.

That’s the skeleton – now for a couple of bits of ‘flesh’.

At the Mandurah market (Perth) we experienced the most unique customer, he insisted on paying me more than I asked for some pamphlets, he thought they were too cheap.  He returned several times and bought more each week and each time paid more than I asked… Then there was the S African/Zimbo who was so thrilled to meet another person with bi-polar disorder!!  He couldn’t stop strumming his Kallimba and kept us entertained as we packed up after the market.  A young woman picked up a Methodist Hymn Book, published in 1890 and especially aimed at Australia and New Zealand, and asked me what it meant – “Methodist”?  Did they believe in God and that…?  I gathered my wits and explained as briefly as I could and she followed up with “Do you have a Satanic Bible?”  Oops.  I couldn’t help her but mentioned that I had a few True Crime books,  she had heaps of those already…

So we face busy and exciting times.

I am doing online tutoring again this semester, in the hope of maybe collecting more data for my research.  Also hope I don’t lose all my pension because of doing this.  We will be busy moving into the house and selling a bit here and there to finance the repairs to the house.  And of course the PhD continues.  Repairs to the house – well perhaps I haven’t mentioned them before.  The floor in the one ensuite bathroom caved in and we are locked in combat with the insurance company who don’t want to cover the repairs… We are going to start on it ourselves and hope to be able to be effective while we battle on with the insurance.

Preoccupation with immediate matters has kept me away from the blog, it has also shortened my emails and caused me to neglect some of them too.   Finances are always a huge worry and somehow I have not had the head space to be creative and upbeat and write lightly about our life.  However my ‘waters’ are telling me that that is changing and lightness has returned. This Walkabout blog is now going to come to an end and the Life and Times one will come into play a bit more.  We will still travel a bit at weekends but will stay put except for about 8 weeks in June/July/August when we will escape up North! for a bit of a circuit of swop meets etc, see some friends and so on.  We are disappointed that there will not be a trip to South Africa this year, probably won’t recognise my grandchildren when we get to go again, who knows when that will be?

I have decided to become an Australian citizen so that I can vote and get involved in local politics.  It is too frustrating not to be able to register any sort of attitude to what the idiots in power get up to!  More about that later no doubt.  There is an election in NSW quite soon and the parties are ramping up their activity.  Hope they follow QLD and throw out the right wingers in the National and Liberal parties but no one seems to believe this is possible.  We shall see. Rural constituencies are very powerful here – I am reminded of the English ‘rotten boroughs’ in the 19th century where sheep returned members to parliament because all the people had moved into the towns!!

All for now – pictures later, in the next blog – I haven’t had time to process them, lots waiting including a lovely little video of an echidna visiting our campsite…

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At Jubb road the temperature was 44.7deg C on Monday – so hot we could have fried an egg on our car bonnet if we had had a car. Alas it is in Bentley, Perth with its engine in pieces showing a damaged cylinder head. The cooling system failed, a hose broke. Alan dealt with it as soon as he was able, which was very soon after the event but there was still collateral damage. There might be more to tell later in another post.

In the meantime back to the weather. It was so hot that Viv loaded me up in her car with one of the other camping wives and we sallied forth to Serpentine Falls to swim in the beautiful cool water of the two big clean rock-lined pools below the falls. I was so reminded of life in Muscat that I reminisced at length… We sat outside until quite late that night and enjoyed the sunset. Alan had attached a tarp to our awning which added to the pleasant cool of the evening. Meanwhile Alan sweated it out in Perth and found the train system very functional and cool. He also mentioned similarities to temperatures in Oman.

Said tarp, a light blue one, doubled the shade capacity and helped a lot on the hot days. But Tuesday was not such a hot day, instead it was a bit breezy, the flapping of the tarp drove me dilly… and then we were waiting for news from the mechanics… I struggled to work. The news came as described above and life went on but the wind increased. We tightened the ropes, gave the pegs extra blows to encourage them to stay put but all to no avail and we leapt out of bed at midnight to bring the whole thing down. We dealt with the tarp leaving it under weights for the morning and returned to bed. Not for long. the spring-loaded awning tried to break free next so we had to put that back into its place furled against the caravan roof. We did sleep after that, mercifully.

And today the wind has blown without respite, all day. As we had little shade we stayed indoors and worked away and rested too. Alan did comment in the last post that WA can mean Windy Always!! We have been promised rain and storms but although the sky has looked as if it was going to deliver it hasn’t yet. What has been delivered is a significant drop in temperature, necessitating jumpers and extra bed covers.  Uncertain weather can affect one’s outlook on life,  however we are together in it and support each other as we plan and research markets and fairs en route to Safety Beach and beyond. We swing between the certainty that we will move forward, adapting to changes as we go and some moments of deep gloom as we ponder why Fate sends us difficulties not of our own making.  No answers come to mind in much the way we cannot predict the weather.

Support in difficult times comes in many forms and we are grateful for some wonderful friends here (Viv & Ray) and relatives .. all the girls and Kev & Angie …. for their moral support. We have to live from day to day right now as the car – minus it’s – unfortunate for us  – destroyed head, is firmly planted in the workshop and the new one is now heading from Brisbane by “express courier”. This means anywhere up to a week to get here.  We hope to survive the constant changes in both the weather and our fortunes in that period. The cost of said head is another very long story in itself and will be told in future instalments.

Needless to say marketing is out of the question as the “Tardis” has our stock in it. Even Alan is reciting the Serenity Prayer these days!!!!


Link to a couple of pics from Serpentine Falls

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I have been procrastinating and thinking about how to go about this year-end Roundup.  Many of the places around this area end in –“up” so taking that metaphor as a start I began to write.  Ironically much of recent events in our lives have not been about up but more about down and I don’t want to write about it that much because it makes you worry and feel sad for us whereas we seem to bounce back pretty well and get back into putting one foot in front of the other day by day.  We find ways to make ourselves happy and I, certainly, don’t stay gloomy for that long.  Having said that though, we do realistically have gloomy thoughts about our financial future from time to time.

We used to say glibly that if buying and selling stuff didn’t enable us to have a night out every week then we shouldn’t be doing it!  Nights out will not be a reality for a long time to come.  Two reasons – the markets are not as profitable as we had become used to and we have significantly greater calls on our income.  We had to get finance to buy another Sprinter van and those repayments are a burden.  We could get angry with ourselves and each other but the truth is that the Demon Bi-Polar struck twice in quick succession; we sold  the old Sprinter for way too little and agreed to buy the ex-RAAF ambulance Ford 150 V8 which was always going to be a dog.  We also bought stuff at a Gray’s Online auction which turned out to be not what we hoped for!  However we are managing to sell it with small profits and continue to work as hard as we are able keeping within the limits imposed by Centrelink w.r.t. our maximum allowed earnings.  A dear friend from Swaziland days once said – “It was always like that with the Faraghers, feast or famine”  so not much has changed except the personae in the drama, now the Sinnies.

In the last 12 months we have met wonderful people and seen wonderful places.  We have met up with old friends in the flesh and on FaceBook, we have had health problems and learnt to manage them better, we hope(!) and I have finished the first chapter of my PhD.  Last Christmas and Al’s 60th was spent with Rhonda, Al’s sister on Phillip Island.  That was pretty good then Adelaide with Christine, another of Al’s sisters where Ruth joined us and time with Kathleen Heugh and her husband Anthony Johnson was an unexpected bonus.  My sister Angela and her husband Kevin were unfailingly welcoming and hospitable, they looked after our caravan and car when we went to South Africa, and are still looking after my car.

Of course the trip to South Africa was a blast and included several celebrations of Ruth’s 40th birthday and also Mary’s birthday.  Then there was the challenge of getting to know Maxine and Roxanne again, they appear in a new incarnation each time we see them.  Children seem to grow so quickly.  Maxine loves the nature programmes on TV and Roxanne is a ball of non-stop activity.  Each time I see my daughters I am amazed at how terrific they are and how different.  They seem to have inherited Joe’s and my better traits and added some of their own – I am indeed a fortunate woman.  I have to include Steve our son-in-law in this as he is a rock for us all at times, generous, intelligent and wise.  He is also gifted at finding ways to say what has to be said without offence.  We all learn from him.

I am trying not to repeat what I have already said in previous blog posts and give more of an overview of the year.  The most important thing was the travelling.  We left Esk in SE Queensland at the beginning of June, were in Rockhampton at the beginning of August having stopped off in Gympie and Childers in July.  Then on to Biloela and Anakie and Camooweal, changing caravans on the way.  Then on to Katherine and Darwin and for me the romance of the trip deepened, places I have never dreamt of and people I loved meeting.  All further punctuated with problems with the car and big spends on getting it right.  Then onwards to the Kimberleys and the Pilbara and vast uninhabited stretches of country covered in fantastic spring flora with amazing rock formations, termite nests and ground colour changes from red bull dust to creamy and dark brown.  Broome, Port Hedland and Geraldton were all new to us both and raw and cooked enough for us to be in love with them all for all sorts of reasons.  Broome, the wonderful Betty Rupe Outback artist and Jeanne, Aboriginal print maker – new friends; Port Hedland the fascinating Roy Smith, artist and scene painter and Deidre McAlear his partner kind and caring people with stories to tell.  Geraldton was another goodie, nice caravan park, don’t usually like them but this one got it right for us, sites nicely spread out and a great walk to the beach.  Also met Cilla the Kiwi cook there, another wonderful person with a story.  Then coming south things seemed to deteriorate until we hit Jarrahdale where we met Viv and Ray who are angels, they have taken to us and they found ways for us to pay our way by buying stuff off us!  They have now have offered us special pensioners rates for our next week there when we leave Marrinup.  Of course we will accept and will see the old year out with them over a huge feed of seafood and other delicious goodies.  Viv is of Italian heritage and loves to feed her friends, the most amazing Brinjal Parmigiana ever!

I have been finding that I have been staying inside a lot and not seeing much – so yesterday Alan and I went to the shops and spent up on Christmas food.  Cash being a Christmas present.  I felt so light and happy buying all the things I love!, French fig jam, gluten-free mince pies… Then we went to Dwellingup to order fresh rolls for Christmas, imagine that, round the corner is a little bakery and while there I wandered a bit and found that there is a little station where a group of volunteers maintain and refurbish steam trains that they then drive at the weekends, the Saturday night dining experience takes 3 hours and winds through a gently floodlit forest,  over 5 courses – wouldn’t that be lovely?!  I have discovered all sorts of Australian quirks, or at least enthusiasms that I have not encountered before, one of them is this delight in past artefacts and how the people lived ‘in the days’ as they say.  The railways people are all over the country and there is sadness that trucking seems to have superseded the trains.  You might remember that in the blog about Ravenshoe there was a restored station there too with old guys who looked after it and the trains that didn’t run anymore.

My current reading material is called The Free and Easy Land by Frank Clune and he travels around Queensland and other parts and writes about it in the 1930s, so much to enjoy, his humour is great but he is a true WASP.  One can’t expect political correctness from one in his time and place.  But it is very interesting when he writes about places we have visited and adds much history to the scenario.  The trading in books has taken a turn in the direction of Australian books and I have been lucky to find a few old ones, a children’s book by Ethel Turner of 7 Little Australians fame, called – o dear, can’t just recall the title, but something about Hearts…it is supposed to be worth lots of money so I hope I can get something decent for it, would help the credit card!  But we found one at a tip by Ion Idriess, – about prospecting for Gold.  He is probably the highest value author in Australia!  Wasn’t very high value but didn’t last long on the stand!  And then there is My Brilliant Career by Miles Franklin 1st edition but 4th impression and dated 1902, a year after the first printing.  I am waiting to find out what it might be worth.  A real 1st edition on an auction was supposed to be fetching about $3000.  Wouldn’t that be good, help with the debts a bit.  Tools and books are what are saving our lives at the moment.  Both selling better than anything else.  We always look for interesting and it does work but sources have been scarce lately.

Al’s turn…..

The demons that inhabit my being had been working overtime lately and all L says is true. However we are optimistically turning those events around and slowly developing guidelines for when I get “urges” or depressed in the future.  Hopefully the upgrade of some of my medication will also kick in.

W.A has been a real challenge to the emotions. On one hand it is such a vast and interesting place with wonderful history, people and places of interest. Then on the other hand we have encountered a true “Bogan Culture” at some of the markets. Rudeness being rampant!!!

As well we have been unable to sample some of the real delights through the lack of adequate facilities for people like us with boisterous dogs. Margaret River being the case where there are wonderful camps near the beaches but with “No Dogs Permitted” signs all over the place.

The weather here is variable to say the least with no two days in a row the same and I now know what the initials W A stand for …. WINDY ALWAYS!!

As yet I have not had a surf in Western OZ and only a couple of swims in the ocean mainly due to the above. So I am looking forward to heading East on the 5th January where hopefully there will be some sun, surf and serenity.

We have been contemplating a return to Safety Beach and maybe there will be a decision on that in the near future… who knows? What we do know is that we have to get the repairs done on the damaged bedroom asap and the insurance company is still being negative to our claims.

So onward we march to our next adventures. Happy New Year to all.


The link to the latest pictures.

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Walkabout 49/50 – leaving Jubb Road for ?

Wanting to catch up with the Picasa albums I am putting numbers 49 & 50 into this post.  I need to say a bit more about Jubb Road.  Reflecting about it, and about how we decided to leave.

After looking at the pictures in  https://picasaweb.google.com/105183160149035139526/Walkabout49212JubbRdNovember?authuser=0&feat=directlink you might be struck by the idyllic vibe of the place.  And idyllic it was and gave us space to do a lot of soul work as well as other work.  We gave serious thought to what we are doing.  Should we head for Safety Beach and call this rondlopery/wandering off?  Settle down and start being normal?  I couldn’t see it at all to be honest.  This feels like the way of our life.  I had a little breast scare, was expecting to be told the worst after the ultrasound and that sort of focused my mind.  Especially as I had to pay $50 so called co-payment.  Such rubbish Tony Abbott speak… makes me furious, but the medical services have been so good to me I seldom complain.  Anyway I have not had the phone call so assume that I am all clear to go on travelling.  We started to feel as if Jubb Road was home and it almost felt dangerous.

We did break the mould and marketed in Mandurah,  and Canningvale.  Mandurah was a lovely experience, except we got there nearly 3 hours too early.  There are some pictures that tell that story of how we used the time.  https://picasaweb.google.com/105183160149035139526/Walkabout50LeavingJubbRoadToGoToMarinupViaBuffaloPoint?authuser=0&feat=directlink.

We also stopped at a garage sale where the all-over tattooed owners were sitting on their verandah smoking and coughing at 6am.  We bought a couple of interesting bits off them but they had a display of knives and krises and kerises that would have been tempting if they had not had big money on them and if they had not been tourist stuff that they had been suckered into.  We didn’t tell them that, just bought what we could afford and was authentic.  They started off the experience by having a huge argument between themselves, Al asked what they wanted for the cigarette lighters, “Couple of bucks each” said the old guy at which his wife screeched out something like “Not on your f…g life!  At least 5-7 bucks each, stupid bugger hasn’t woken up yet!!  cough cough splutter… and on she went.  Anyway she found her smiling face eventually and opened the shed to reveal a shrine to Elvis (over priced to blazes) and a few other precious items.  Nothing for us, we have already been burnt believing that anything Elvis is saleable.  Got rid of the last 5 books at a cut rate price to an enthusiast, the first for many months!

So still in search of a rideable wave we headed for Buffalo point after Herron Point where the caretaker told us that his job was being advertised.  We thought about applying, it is a lovely spot with toilets and non-potable water, a small salary and perks.  Anyway we had already decided that we didn’t want to get stuck anywhere, there is still too much of Australia to see.  Buffalo Point was a non-starter, nowhere to camp near the beach just a parking lot and behind that Conservation Park and no dogs.  So we headed for Marinup where it is free and has a good drop loo but no waves.  We have lots of water and then there is the forest.  It has rained since we got here, lovely and cool but Bella is getting a bit restless.

Swings and roundabouts abound in our life and Al still hasn’t had a surf but the forest camps tend to be free.  We also got so fed up with our technology, all supplied by Telstra, that we have started again and have found cheaper ways to do it with better technology, still with Telstra who are the only people who have decent coverage over the whole country, in other words, a monopoly.  Let’s hope it continues to deliver, it has been a source of great frustration.  We head for Mandurah market again on Saturday towing the caravan and then down to Busselton where we had to apply, provide pictures of our wares and then wait for an OK.  At least they didn’t have to wait 2 weeks for a committee meeting like they did in Katherine!

We head south after that and hope to see much more of SW WA before we head to Perth again for antique fairs in January.  Then onwards across the Nullarbor to Adelaide to see Christine (Al’s sister), Melbourne to meet up with Bhaskar and Vidula (friends from my Swaziland days) then on to Coffs Harbour to meet up with Ruth who is on her way to OZ and celebrate my birthday in the bosom of my family.

Imagine the logistics in planning this trip to optimise our time playing tourist, finding markets/fairs and making the 5000kms (plus detours for touristing) west to east of Australia.

A Footnote – I am going to revive the Wannabe PhD Blog so if you have already subscribed to it you will know and if you haven’t let me know and I will send you the link.

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Walkabout 47 Port Hedland to Perth

This is a long-ish post – sorry but just warning you… has been over a month since I last wrote which is because we have been very busy with a range of dramas outlined here.  Port Hedland was a mix.  Camped at the PH golf Club, very basic, dusty and windy, much mitigated by meeting Roy Smith, artist signwriter and his partner Deidre.  They travel in a bus covered in tromp l’oeil images (sic) – fabulous – funny and light.  The market at the Yacht Club was a bit ordinary, a whatnot with all the uranium glass was knocked over, lost some beautiful pieces, then I had an ‘attack’, finished up in the PH hospital, not as bad as the last one and much supported by Deidre, an ex-nurse.  We also didn’t sell much.  So ever onwards, this time to Cleaverville – a good camp site close to the beach, good shade and composting toilets.  We thought we had reached Nirvana, sat outside and enjoyed the dusk and sunsets but on the second night, there was no breeze and we were driven indoors by the sand flies, midgies they call them here.  It was a hot night so we slept in the nick with coils burning and windows open.  Sleep was fitful, Alan tossed and turned and complained of being itchy, we slathered ‘No Itch’ all over ourselves… In the morning Alan felt better but I had started to itch.  They had come in clouds through the mosquito netting…  Everyone in the camp site had a story to tell about their night with the midgies… most were on their way to another spot!

We went on to Roebourne and Wickham (sounding like Jane Austen?) .  Roebourne was fascinating, the original prison with a good little museum and authentic artefacts.  We were heading for an evening market at Wickham, a mining town with little to recommend it except a fabulous grassy footy field for the market and very pleasant organisers who delivered the crowds.  By this time I was itching more and more, took what anti-histamines I had but was in serious discomfort.  Finally went to the hospital writhing and scratching but as it was only insect bites and there were sick people waiting at A&E I had to wait.  Three hours later a doctor saw me and was horrified to see the state of my skin – scalp to toes covered in large red weals!  Anyway she gave me a prescription for a cortisone based medicine and a better anti histamine and I slept OK and healed.

The country was typical Pilbara – lots of red sand and all sorts of interesting trees.  https://picasaweb.google.com/105183160149035139526/BroomeToPortHedlandSeptOct2014?authuser=0&feat=directlink

As usual the pictures tell a better story.  We had a look at Exmouth, Al still looking for a surf but there was nothing free around there.  We did find a sort of sand quarry a way off the road, wonderful yellow sand and spent a night there until someone came over to us and told us we were on private land.  so we decided not to stay much longer.  It was a good spot and unfortunately is in the pictures I lost.  Don’t know what I did but erased a lot of lovely pictures and now in  hindsight can’t remember all the places we stopped at, there is a blank in a whole leg of the trip.  Sorry.  And even sorrier for me.  We headed for Gerraldton where we knew we could do a market.

On the way through we stopped at Bowes River, an informal spot on a cliff overlooking the beach near Horrocks.  This was something of an adventure, there was a group of young people, ‘backpackers’ is their generic name but they were actually travelling in their own vehicles,  they’d found each other on Gumtree.  They were very jolly and invited us to join them, they dragged whole dead trees into their camp behind their 4 X 4’s for their camp fires.  They liked Bella and threw sticks for her.   However it was here that I actually lost the pictures.


All the pictures of wild flowers are an attempt to make up for the ones I lost but I never covered the same ground… there was one flower I particularly wanted to share, these are the links to the images




but frankly neither one does the plant justice as my pictures had done!  Not bragging, a fact!  Anyway I mourned that loss but had a soul filled with beauty from looking at them and hope you will enjoy my pictures of the other flowers.  Eventually I will get round to naming them.  It was like a ‘fynbos’ feast that went on for days and days!!  My South African readers will know what I mean,  the Western Cape fynbos belt is gorgeous at this time of the year and of course earlier but this is hundreds of times more extensive and even here near Perth there is much to delight the eye.

In Geraldton we stayed in the Drummond Cove caravan park.  We agreed that it was the best so far, modest price, our site was close to good clean amenities and so peaceful, we were almost completely unaware of our neighbours, Bella hardly barked at all and a wonderful walk to the beach was part of the perks not to mention the quaint garden sculptures in all sorts of unexpected spots and an interesting aviary, not that I particularly love looking at birds behind bars which made taking pictures impossible.  The time spent in Geraldton led to us doing two weeks of markets and selling our trusty Tardis and buying another vehicle.  Alan had hankered for a 4 wheel drive and for a vehicle with more power.  he found an ex-RAAF ambulance that seemed to fit the bill, a Ford F150 V8.  He went to Perth to fetch it and returned excited about it.  I was less excited especially when I discovered that it did 3 kms to the litre!!  It was also smaller than the other one so we had to do some expensive culling of stock and other items.  We bled our way to Perth and arrived at Jubb Road where we are still.

Cutting a long story short we traded the ambulance in on another ex ambulance, a sprinter this time, not 4 wheel drive but more powerful and large enough to take double what we now have to fill it.  All good except that the cost is enormous.  Wish we could just put it down to bi-polar moments and move on but it all has to be paid for and we are confronting that with our usual determination.  So we are at Jubb Road where we are looked after by the wonderful Viv and Ray, who take the rent and an interest in our doings.  They also buy stuff off us.  This is 100 acres of land containing an olive orchard, a dam and lots of trees mostly jarrah, railway sleepers used to be made of this timber.  We are close enough to most things and surrounded by peace.  The black cockatoos come over every evening and I am challenged to get a picture of this daily migration.  The 28s (Australian Ring-Necked parrots) are plentiful and too beautiful, their green is like jewels. This picture is the best for showing the glow of their plumage.


I have a picture of them too but not as good as this one.  The down sides are that there are no amenities except water, so we are learning to use our portable toilet to the best advantage and our little generator is doing a good job.  At first neither the TV phones nor internet worked but we have been able to upgrade the phone so now some of that is solved.  It seems to work and provide internet connectivity.  We have spent ages on getting the new van ready, Al has put in the shelves we need to store the tables and stuff in the front, Ray made a cargo barrier, we had to get a tow bar and yesterday the auto electrician fitted the electric braking system.  We have also covered the windows with some banner fabric bought at the Tip Shop.  Theoretically we are good to move on to a free spot if we can find one, but don’t really want to move, we are comfortable here and Bella roams free and is friends with the other dog on the place.

There have been some sadnesses as well which seem to hit us harder as we age and take longer to become philosophical about… our friend Esme Matshikiza lost her grandson in a car crash in Johannesburg, so sad, a lovely young man, married a year to a schoolday sweetheart and then Steve’s (our son-in-law) dad died last weekend.  Never easy to lose a friend and all at such a distance so no possibilities to grieve together.  Although Richard, Steve’s brother lives in Perth and we hope to see him soon when he gets back from SA.

In the meantime I have sent a first draft of my first chapter to my supervisors and anxiously await feedback and try to go on but somehow I don’t know where to go and what to do, so taking a little break and reading lots of police procedurals etc… available cheaply in op shops, then I sell them at the markets!  Sorry this has been a bit long but I will try and write more regularly and often and so shorter pieces.

Love ya



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Walkabout 46 – Model T’s and dead Toyotas: The Sinnies really go bush!

We spent an extra week in Broome, but not really in Broome. We set off to find a free spot nearby and came across a rest spot that appeared to be singularly uninviting and as we were leaving we noticed a road leading into the bush.  We followed it, as one does, and came upon a clearing with big trees.  We checked it out and decided to stay.  I picked up some of the rubbish to make it feel a bit more hygienic and dropped it into the back of an abandoned Toyota ute.  We knew that we would have to use the shovel for the toilet but that did not deter us.  We had enough water and battery and the generator for a week.

I worked on my thesis and Alan worked on the stuff for the markets and rested.  We both did a good job of resting actually.  A lovely young Swiss boy joined us and shared his pictures of his trip over the Gibb River Road from Darwin to Broome.  Just fabulous, through the Kimberleys and into the gorges.  We regretted that our outfit could never go there, too rough, too many rivers to ford and much too bumpy for our delicate market goods.

Alan found one of the treasures of our trip!  A toilet at the end of a path leading from our camping place.  It was a hole, lined with car tyres, two tyres above ground with carpeting nailed to the top and covered with a lid attached to it constructed  of an old plastic rubbish bin lid.  What a pleasure, the most sanitary long drop I have ever used!

Back to Broome for the markets again and again all was good.  Back at Tarangau Caravan Park we met two older couples driving Model T Fords and towing little caravans decorated with Angel Flight logos.  The one couple were American with somewhat hair-raising stories to tell about the hoops they had to jump through to get visas for Australia!  Pillar to post across California to find the right doctors and officials.  They were nevertheless having a great time, tootling along the secondary roads at 60 kph and seeing the country.

As always the pictures tell a tale:


After Broome we stopped at Barn Hill Station, perched above red cliffs it is a leafy oasis with gorgeous beach and sunsets.  All a bit basic for non-basic prices.  Paying again for position!  Two nights there and then on to a free camp at De Grey, one of the best spots yet, a river for Bella, shade for us and lots of space so we felt pretty isolated… but weren’t actually.  Very peaceful and rejuvenating. Again check the pics.

The most remarkable quality of the landscape now is the colours, the red earth, the white tree trunks, the sere grass and lots of blackened trees.  The sunsets continue to be spectacular shades of red and the sun still seems to drop out of the sky.  Western Australia really has a different feel to anywhere we have been before.

So far the most expensive fuel we have found was at SANDFIRE  which is about half way between Broome and Port Hedland. We carry three jerry cans but Alan only filled two of them as the third one was well hidden in the “Tardis” (our new name for the Mercedes as those “Doctor Who” fans will relate to). So to be on the safe side we topped up at this servo. Put $ 40 in at $1.99 per litre.  Arrived in Hedland with a few litres to spare to find the price had amazingly dropped to $1.67 a litre .  Sand Fire roadhouse also has a fascinating history, started in 1970 by a man who had just turned 60 to assists the many motorists who used to get into trouble on the 660 kms of dirt between Broome and Port Hedland.  Their first petrol tank was a 44 gallon drum with a hand pump and initially only about 30 cars a month stopped there!  It is a thriving concern now having been rebuilt after the buildings were gutted by fire.  It is still run by the family.  Fire is a constant enemy here.  It is striking how much of the land through the NT and Kimberleys and now here has been burnt.

Going to start the next post about Port Hedland… enjoy this one so long…

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Walkabout 45 – Mad dogs and Englishmen … (Flanders and Swan)

Writing from Broome – I have a few stories to tell but will restrict myself a little… The new caravan is old news now and its attendant woes – it is now the car/Tardis.  Leaving Katherine where we relaxed very well and Alan changed the oil in the van, it went into ‘limp’ mode.  An expression applicable especially to Benzes when their computers go funny.  One wonders what offends the inbuilt robot?  We had done something.  We limped into Darwin into a very expensive caravan park, $55 pd – all sites had en suite showers and loos.  It was run down, under maintained and under-serviced but comfortable.  We found a man with a machine that could read and diagnose the Tardis computer, booked it in to see him.  Waited a week for the appointed time, nothing happens tomorrow here! and dropped it off.  We caught a cab into town thinking that that way we would get to Centrelink without getting too hot!  We did, for a price.  Then we did a bit of an explore of the town centre.  Saw the Chinese Museum, very interesting and uplifting, bought a book, had my sunglasses nicked in the bookshop and bought some sushi. (cf some pics of the city centre in the picasa link at the end of this blog.) Then we headed for the bus stop to go to collect the van.  Of course we had marked where to get off the bus!  It looked different so we got off too soon!!  and walked for at least 4 kms in the noonday sun… I am neither a mad dog nor an Englishman!  and was hot and pissed off by the time we reached the workshop.  Alan was hot too but was not allowing himself to be annoyed, he had rung the bell on the bus!  Worse was to come, the man with the machine charged us a total of $900 (+) to make the car go properly and said it had gone wrong because there was a little dirty oil left in the sump which confused the car’s computer!

All the stories I have ever read about robots running the world came back into my memory, especially those where they are malign and humans lose control.  He also told us to get the wheels aligned, the computer didn’t like that either and to buy a new tyre also because the computer said we had to.  We were prepared to act on the latter instructions but felt sore about the $712 labour charge to read the computer!!!  Not all bad in Darwin though.  We had two gourmet meals with Henk and Trish, they prepared them of course, what a welcome change from our caravan cuisine and take out meals… Henk also gave generously of his time to talk about my PhD work.   It was fun to hear about the FYHE conference where he presented the paper.

We had excellent markets at Nightcliff, desperately needed for the car etc… and then relaxed at the Ski Boat club on the water after the first one.  Straight home after the second because we were then staying at this wonderful spot – Comalie RV Park about 80 kms out of Darwin just past the Batchelor turnoff, (where Henk works).  Large park, powered site and decent amenities for $20 pd.  doesn’t come better than that.  Very interesting, people running the place with all sorts of great information about the area.  Only downer, the poor Telstra service wrt internet and phones,  so we were pretty much out of touch.  Did some work and resting and headed West when we got the tyre on Monday.  Had to wait a week for it to come from Adelaide.  No real sweat.

While at Coomalie, we went to Litchfield National Park, nearby, a lovely little park with a truly spectacular display of meridian termite mounds.  Such clever little critters – the frail termites – they build their ‘homes’ on a NS orientation so that one side never gets direct sun. (Pics in picasa link)

Markets are a bit different here though.  Katherine had to have a committee meeting before they could say if we could stand there.  Was pretty small anyway so no worries on that score, Mindil, the mid evening week-night market was too full for us, Kunnunurra next small town only allows handmade/grown produce, Derby also very small and Broome will only assign our site to us after 7.30 am once the regulars are all in!  We usually start setting up about 4am… ah well we will just go with the flow!  We drove for 3 days from Darwin to get here today, 4 tanks of fuel at $1.90 per litre… and put in the hours, we slept for 11 hours last night!  Still had good overnight stops, one at a creek which you will see in the picasa link when I have done it.

The changes in the country have been spectacular, still flat and dry and dusty but at about the NT/WA border the Boabs start. (Some of you will know them as Baobabs)  There are thousands of them, in all shapes and sizes.  I have 100s of pictures to sort through to find the definitive ones.  Also of the rock formations and the termite mounds.  The other thing that struck us is the amount of burning that has been done in both NT and WA.  Amazing, I wonder if it is so necessary?

Driving across “The Savannah Way” is a trek to avoid if you are not playing tourist. Long straight stretches that go forever and the sun gives the driver’s right arm a good tan. We hope if we ever come this way again we have a 4×4 so we can enjoy what is on offer…. which is plenty apparently.  Got to get off the road that winds endlessly like a blue-grey ribbon with red stripes down the sides.  There are caves, more rocky mounds, the Bungle Bungles, famous, they are.  At a road works hold up the guys came over to chat to us and reassure us that all was well and we would soon be driving again and all that, ours also told us that the Bungle Bungles were just that more dome shaped rocky mounds…  Ah well, I so wanted to go into the Keeps Park to see the Aboriginal paintings and the fabulous rock formations, but once again was thwarted by the presence of our darling Bella.  No dogs allowed.  It is just at the border between NT and WA.

Postscript:  Good markets in Broome but very rule-bound!  Got to suspend belief a bit and go with the flow.  Very good wind downs at Matsos Broome – a boutique brewery and restaurant with a deserved top reputation.  For me the main thing was the view over the ocean, such ambience.  We have missed our Bella who has been in kennels, she is too noisy in the caravan park and it is too hot for her to stay in the car.  Not sure where next but tomorrow I will do the washing in the caravan park laundry,  Alan will fetch Bella and we will pore over the maps and find out about the markets in the next place, Port Hedland might be IT.  Our post has gone there anyway.  More later.  Picasa link https://picasaweb.google.com/105183160149035139526/DarwinToBroome?authuser=0&feat=directlink

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Walkabout 44 – Into the sunset and across the divide …

We headed west and west again to get to the Drovers’ Muster Festival in Camooweal on the Queensland / Northern Territory border after the Bowen market. It got flatter and dustier and so much warmer. Wonderful changes.  Towing our new caravan felt really good. A strange thing this, that we seem to feel better, more relaxed and more content the less we have. Even the nature of the traffic changed, more road trains and bigger road trains and fewer ordinary vehicles except caravans… more of them and mostly heading south. The ‘Mexicans’ from the southerly states heading home for the summer having enjoyed the sunshine and warmth of the North.  The pictures do show something of this; https://picasaweb.google.com/105183160149035139526/Walkabout44AyrToCamoowealToKatherine?authuser=0&feat=directlink.

Camooweal Drovers’ Muster was a wonderful experience.  Camooweal has only 300 inhabitants and they all came to the Festival which also drew support from neighbouring stations, Mt Isa and other small towns.  The caravan park was full and the pub was open more than usual.  I enjoyed the warmth (although still cold at night), and the nice people.  Welcoming and interested in what we are doing.  The calf branding was interesting at first but as I didn’t know anyone competing I lost interest after about an hour.  The next day it was more interesting as I saw a very attractive young woman compete.  She was beautifully turned out complete with earrings and diamond studded belt she did a good job of roping her calves as well.  The calves didn’t seem to present much challenge once roped.  But marks were awarded for a range of things; time being important, tying the legs correctly, and applying the paint brand correctly as well.  The calves had already been branded properly, so we were spared the smell of burning hide!  They competed in teams so that was fun too but I had other things to do, like attend to the customers.

The Australian books, especially those of Bush Poetry were very popular as were the general reading which sell at $3 each, less than some op shops!  Alan sold lots of tools as well and we ran out of wrapping paper and plastic bags so we must have done well.  We were able to put some money into the credit cards which was pleasing as we have ransacked them!

We had some interesting conversations with our fellow stall holders, especially Trevina, the photographer.  I loved being able to share about that hobby of mine and learn a bit as well.  She makes Bush Medicine which we have been applying to our cracked heels and it is doing a good job!  Always good to hear about life as an Aboriginal Australian, especially a person who had such a healthy sense of humour and sense of her own power.  She and an Aunty of hers are currently engaged in battle with the authorities Federal and Indigenous to have something recognised…  thinking about what it was… She had a huge heart and tolerance for people who had wronged her people over the years.

We crossed into the Northern Territory (NT) and left Queensland behind us.  A big divide for me I have never been in the NT before and there was a real sense of heading into the unknown leaving behind friends and family and encountering strange and wonderful things.  Perhaps not so mystical, just hugely long stretches of straight flat roads with road signs that I am certain are put there to keep drivers awake!!  The colours and shapes of the trees change as does the earth and also the termite nests which are frequently dressed in T shirts or other funny clothes and make one smile.  We spent the night at (Pebbles) Kunjarra – just a space made for overnight stops, with toilets and trees.  It is a sacred place for the Aboriginal people and has been the subject of controversy.  The Indigenous voice won that one.  The picasa pics illustrate all of the above.

Onwards to Tennant Creek which was a depressing experience capped by the only public toilet in the town being out of commission and the shops not having one which I could have used.  One wondered what the shop staff did!!  Not!!  anyway I found Alan and he drove me to a servo at the end of town where the people were very nice.  But Tennant Creek was not redeemed by their niceness.  The people in the streets were mostly Aboriginal who looked poor and unwell.  I was pleased to leave.  Then on to a beautiful spot on the old main road for the night.  The pictures tell the story beautifully.  I loved the Telegraph Memorial, which we came to early next morning.  It was mind-blowing to think of those men all those years ago, 1890s, travelling those many miles on horseback to lay telegraph cable and then linking to cables that carried messages to Europe!  There too the pictures do a better job.

It was another one of those things, like the Snowy Mountain electricity generating scheme, that demonstrates the ingenuity, entrepreneurial spirit and determination of those pioneers.  The landscape places demands on people, who in their determination to survive and maintain links and standards, created answers that cause me wonder and respect, to seemingly intractable problems.  While all the time I am mindful that the Indigenous people didn’t have such problems because of their simple lifestyle and living in harmony with the land, creating their stories and songs and art to celebrate life and living and who were brutally treated by the same pioneers.  Lots of history there to be discovered yet and appreciated by me.


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Walkabout 43 – and the wheel(s) came off – almost

This is going to be a longish post so you might want to take it in stages. I have headlined it to help. We have travelled from Esk at the end of May to Mataranka now since I last wrote a Walkabout blog post. So this is an attempt to fill the space of the last three months during which much has happened. We went to the Gympie guns fair again and then on to Bundaberg and Agnes Water (Walkman’s Beach) where we found Paradise Lost.

You will remember me raving on about Walkman’s Beach last year, well they have slightly changed the system, demarcated campsites, and now there is a Bogan Mafia who control the place, they victimised a bloke who ran his generator during normal hours, they had campfires and there is a total fire ban in the place, they had parties right next to us with loud boom boom music and generally spoilt the atmosphere. We were disappointed but as I did mention earlier there were positives; we met the delightful Italians who cooked pumpkin risotto for us and were able to get into Bundaberg to get the van key repaired, it broke off in the lock and the ambulance came very quickly when I had a vertigo attack. I went to the doctor in Agnes Water and now have the right medicine to take when I am so attacked. All good as they say here !!

Next was The Biloela Historic Machinery Annual Festival. This was a real highlight. Not many selling stalls but several selling old stuff and lots else to marvel at. There was a wood chopping contest, a demonstration of carving fence posts out of huge trunks, demos of how the draft horses was used to drive machines like wheat grinding and water reticulation and the Grand Parade led by the local members of the Light Horse and consisting of many OLD farm machines, trucks and cars, a 3-wheeled Messchersmitt among them. I was enraptured by the love and attention that had been paid to restoring those old things. We joined the crowds at the day’s end jollifications on the Saturday night and thoroughly enjoyed expanding my sense of country Australians who use expressions like ‘fair dinkum’ ‘you beaut’ and everyone is ‘mate’. The pictures will tell the story better.

We stopped at a ‘bush camp’ for a couple of nights beside Lake Victoria with some of the other marketeers, Carl, Terry and Dave and bought LED lights for the outside of the caravan and car, they looked splendid, (past tense re the caravan – more later). We camped in a ‘laager’ and I really enjoyed the company of humorous interesting people. Bella had a good time not being on the end of a chain all the time.

Childers Festival was a pretty good event, lots of music and nice food and then on to the Rocky Swap, also a good-ish event although down on last year, our neighbours arrived well after us and set up so that we were almost completely hidden. We were grateful for every sale we made. Rockhampton to Anakie is where we had the big adventure. Bowling along happily looking forward to seeing Glenda and family again when this loud BANG interrupted our happy musings.

The wheel on the passenger side of the caravan had fallen off, took Alan 400 metres or so to bring us to a stop with the caravan running on the hub which was new before we left Coffs Harbour in May. A woman coming towards us waved us down and showed us where the wheel had landed on t’other side of the road in the bush. But not before it had wrecked the cupboards and contents and counters inside the caravan, damaged the chassis and bowled off over the road. We were shocked to our core, what to do?

The CIL caravan insurance were so helpful, got a salvage vehicle out to us which loaded the ‘van onto a huge flatbed, pics to follow and video on You Tube, watch for it… and we followed into Blackwater where we booked our shattered souls into the motel. Sorting ourselves out completely preoccupied us for the next days. We hunted for a caravan to hire in the area and there was nothing available, this being mining country, the Gemfields, every form of accommodation is desirable. We hired a trailer, put the trade goods into it and the mattress and domestic stuff into the van and set off for Anakie. We stayed at the caravan park in a cabin a bit overdue for refurbishment but were grateful to have it as we needed the gazebos for the market so couldn’t have used them to live in.

All went well at Anakie, lovely to see Glenda and Shawna again, pleasant people came through the stall and we were offered a caravan to buy by one of them, he was camping at Sapphire so we planned to buy it from him. It is a good one we are in it now, slightly bigger than the first one and much more comfortable, also a few years newer. However it has left us ‘platsak’ – ie with no financial reserves at all. Got to have a home and who knows how much longer we will be given to enjoy it.

This time to Bowen in the Whitsundays. Supposed to be going to Clermont for the Gold and Coal Fest but the weather so confidently predicted rain for the Friday and Saturday of the Fest that we piked and headed for Bowen instead as the rain was supposed to be over by the Sunday. All this came true and Bowen was pleasant. We stayed in the caravan park there and weeded out our possessions so we fitted everything into the Sprinter not named Tardis for nothing! We even left our folding chairs. I was reminded of a story my cousin Noreen Ramsden tells of when they left London they left Mark’s high chair on the pavement, couldn’t fit it into the taxi with themselves – 6 of them – and luggage!! So happy to get to Ayr where we were due to take over the caravan and did although we had to wait. Left the Whitsundays and headed for Camooweal.

This was a huge highlight, after a huge drive, but I have to complete this asap as we have to leave the caravan park before 10 and it is 10 mins to go so I will tell about Camooweal, Bushies and Yarning in the next post.