The market in Charters Towers was OK – we had left Clermont exhausted and stopped at Belyando Crossing, it is marked on the map but is only a roadhouse with rooms and showers. It does have a pub though! We availed ourselves of the facilities, the showers were cold and not clean and cost $5 each!! The food was ordinary but the drinks did the right thing by us and we rolled back to our van and caravan, wandered a few 100 metres down the road and parked off for the night. We left early the next morning, clean and ready for the new day arriving at Charters Towers (CT) at 5.30 am, an hour and a half after leaving Belyando! We found the CWA hall in the centre of CT and hung around until a nice lady arrived to let us in, they rented space by the table, we had two tables and Alan draped himself and the ‘jewellery’ boxes around the flower boxes and benches around them in front of the hall. As usual our display was greeted with delight but very little left it!! It didn’t matter, the people organising the show were lovely and very well-meaning and we met other traders who gave us all sorts of useful information including about the Community Day coming up the next Sunday, as in last Sunday.
We took ourselves off to a caravan park to stock up on electricity and water and very comfortable showers. They were having a sort of communal meal provided by the Lions Club in the caravan park so we paid up and joined them. All good except that vegetarians got no consideration except some extra vegetables, the meal was silverside and vegetables. The potato bake didn’t happen so it was a boiled potato, cream sauce from the meat and boiled ex-frozen the rest… The dessert was good if standard cheesecake and ice cream. Then followed the after dinner entertainment, a bloke who has been involved in the town’s beef industry for ever and is the resident expert, he proceeded to tell us all sorts of stuff including how they de-horn the cattle… too dreadful. He was diverted thankfully so I didn’t have to leave in the middle of what he was saying at that point but then the diversion turned into a major knocking of the Labour Party – at which point I did leave. Too ghastly, exhausted and actually also several beers to the good I needed to be peaceful somewhere and my bed felt like the next best thing!
On our list of things we had to do for the week were to get the new tyres for the van, get things rolling with Centrelink to see further if the Government can help us survive better, get our prescriptions filled, buy groceries, me to go to church, and park off at rest. Oh yes, in Clermont, Alan passed some men carrying boxes and stuff out of a shed in the main street and into a truck, asked them what they were doing and if they wanted to sell anything. We were just in time to buy up a heap of filthy dirty boxes full of whatever!! An old piano stool, homemade and pretty rough but full of music and some other cases of junk. High on the agenda was to sort out that stuff, clean it and get it ready for the Community Day.
The caravan park started to feel too expensive, money just trickles down the drain somehow so we were told about Macrosan Park from a neighbour, a lovely woman from Victoria, who also lives in her caravan. So up sticks and onto Macrosan Park, it looked pretty awful to me when we arrived, on the Burdekin River, but the banks are high above the water and there were very few trees. I said nowt and Alan simply drove down the bank towards the water and found a spot between the trees far away from everyone else where we could get on with our lives. (Look towards the railway bridge in the picture on the other side of the river from where I took the picture and imagine where we might have been!) And get on with them we did. We cleaned up the stuff, packed and priced and oohed and aahed over the Masonic medals and swords and maces – not to mention a mountain of certificates and invitations, books of rituals and rules and two completely rotten aprons, one which had very nice silver chains and bobbles on it. We washed the medals and discovered that the majority of them were gold and old and pretty with intricate designs. All engraved with presentation details. I used my best pricing instincts and made them ready for the market.
We managed to do one bit of touristing before we left CT, we visited the Zara Clark museum http://www.nationaltrust.org.au/qld/zara-clark-museum, and what a good thing to have done. The ladies who look after it, all volunteers, were welcoming and we chatted at length, they had a wedding dress in a case that made me think of a 1930s wedding cake ornament that we got in one of our clearances – I think Salisbury – and no one has even looked at it – we gave it to them at the market on Sunday, they were thrilled. They also bought the made in occupied japan Toby jug I have also carried around for ages to add to a terrific collection of Toby Jugs in the museum, as well as a couple of things for themselves. So that was a good contact.
The market got off to a slow start but suddenly took off and before we knew it it was all over and we had sold most of the Masonic medals and all the paperwork to one person, we kept one medal back because we suspected that it had diamonds set in the gold. I am glad we did. We took it to the jeweler yesterday and they are diamonds. We actually had a huge day, sold lots of big heavy stuff and the van felt much lighter as a result. At least we will eat for the rest of the week. We stayed in town after the market, had a shower at the roadhouse and slept outside a park. We spend most of the next day doing the Centrelink stuff getting all the paperwork together and all that. We are hopeful of getting some relief from the government but it will mean not running our marketing operation as a business and in fact cutting down on it a lot. The staff were very nice but the rules are quite clear.
We spent last night at Fletcher Creek, a rambling free campsite with cold showers and very ordinary loos beside the river as well. We took Bella for a walk and were swimming her in the river, chasing sticks, of course off the lead, and she disgraced herself by rushing to a pretty little schnauzer on a lead and giving it a nip on the bum. I find I get very upset when she does that sort of thing. She is disobedient and others can be forgiven for thinking she is a savage animal and dangerous and ought to be in a cage. Anyway she did calm down and a nice man from nearby brought her his leftover bits from his steak and sausages and said he thought she was lovely!! She behaved beautifully with him. We also met another couple who were so like us it was almost comical. their van is as old as ours and has also been modified to their needs. Their dog is an Alsatian but 9 years old so we didn’t let them get too close. They liked the same sort of places as us so we got lots of information from them and they have invited us to visit them in Geelong.
We are in Mount Garnet tonight and for some of tomorrow then on to Yungaburra and Tolga for the market, Yungaburra to shop and Tolga to sell. We couldn’t get a site at Yungaburra. We travelled over 300 kms today and the terrain has changed such a lot, I hope some of the pics will come out for next week… We are tired and struggling a bit with ourselves, facing some of the realities of our existence is not easy… ageing and poor, not in the script!
I might try and write some of that back history one day soon. Still waiting to hear from USQ about the PhD proposal. Not hopeful, the longer I wait the less likely it seems and the less I think I want to do it anyway. There seem to be more urgent things to do. Academia starts to feel a bit unreal and out of my world! Someone else can take my ideas and turn them into knowledge… We shall see what to do.
Post Script……. Charters Towers is a place to see. Historic old buildings, a fabulous Gold mining history and extremely nice and friendly people. Also one of the best value Chinese meals ever.. Alan
The link to the picasa page follows this – do not be confused by the different numbering – I know what is going on!