Walkabout 34 – “…..lights” of the past 12 months


This post begins with the link to the post that should have preceded this one!  It was mistakenly placed in the Wannabe PhD Blog – so I invite you to read it, it also should have been #33.  Ah well at my age we start to duplicate, forget, misremember and remember all too clearly!

We left Ipswich on 21st December 2012 and on a very hot Queensland day set off after the pantechnicon with our household goods to Grafton.  Personal highlight.. the first for me… was finding Angie and Kev’s place in the pouring rain in the dark.  Very empowering, but not a presage of the months to come when I have hardly turned the key in the ignition let alone driven.  Alan shoulders all that as well as all the issues involving caravan and van development and maintenance.  So far a fabulous job well done!  I do the paper work and quite a lot of packing and unpacking, cleaning and setting up the display at the markets.  A mixed light that one as it kills my back. 

Another highlight has been the two extended periods we have spent at Kirkcaldy near Moonee Beach with Angela and Kevin.  Their unfailing generosity and hospitality has been wonderful.  Other havens of refuge have been Jack Jansen and Robyn Drysdale in Cooloola Cove (Tin Can Bay), Diana Cogill and Geoff, and Graeme and Lorraine Gardiner (Brisbane) Dan and Gayle Comyn in Canberra, Kerryn and Pat Parkinson (niece and husband), Albury, David Curtis in Eden and now, Rhonda Drager (Al’s sister) at Sunset Strip, Phillip Island.  These are all kind people who have been happy for us to park on their property, use their showers and electricity, watch their TV, and enjoy their company.  Makes us feel ‘normal’ folks not homeless gypsies, tinkers, smouse, carnie folk, of no fixed abode… Those feelings could be low lights, but aren’t because we enjoy the freedom of setting off at the start of a day not knowing where we will sleep that night and then finishing up on the bank of a beautiful river or lake, usually a free spot!  Where we can enjoy being surrounded by bush, birds and human silence.

Marketing highlights have been the farmer’s market at Mackay where one person cleaned us out of high end art deco pieces and the D’Avesn bowl.  The matching lowlight to that is that we have not been able to replace them with items of similar quality.  The Rocky swop was a good one as was the little market at Agnes Water where on two consecutive weekends we were cleaned out of our high end PNG artefacts which we have also not been able to replace.  That business of getting the stock we want is in an ongoing lowlight and challenge.  Because of the pressure of keeping up with the mortgages we have to market twice a weekend so can’t go to auctions or garage sales!  This reality foregrounds one of the qualities of doing it the way we are – we are constantly on the move so continuously lack local knowledge – this is a challenge we will be taking up in the New Year as something we have to remedy, find a way of getting local knowledge ahead of being there.  The matching highlight is that we often bring something different to the local market so the novelty attracts custom except that since the Queanbeyan Swop we have been struggling a bit to make decent money at the markets.  The decline might be to do with the season, we have experienced before that the markets ‘fall off’ over Christmas, we hope so.

Shopping highlights have been Max and Marg in Wondai, Richard and Jill in Toogoolawah, the Incredable Tip in Mackay and Dorothy Sherratt in Moree.  We bought well and paid well in all those places, we left on good terms with the former owners of the goods and have done well out of it.  I should mention the shopping we did in South Africa where the exchange rate helped us get lots of very good stock.  Most of which we have sold and sold well.  Most of what we have left from SA is vintage children’s books which people here tend to want to pay pennies for and which I am going to have to reduce to sell unless we sell them on eBay which brings me to another highlight hitherto not reported on in any other blog.

After Cobargo and Pambula, both hard yards, we went to Kongwak a tiny spot on the map with a reputedly fabulous regular Sunday market.  We had all the space we needed and set up an attractive stall, people came trickling in and out without spending… including a couple of dealers who pretended to be dumb public!  Oh dear!  and of course spent nothing, and we made just enough to fill the fuel tank and buy food for the next week.  Not good.  However the person managing the market janeyx ( http://www.janeyx.com.au) came over to chat to us as we were packing up.  She is a lovely lady with strong positive energy and she picked up on our jaded, dispirited, disappointed and starting to be more than faintly desperate, attitude.  She pushes the idea of selling on eBay, we hate the idea!  She gave us the book she has written on selling on eBay, a small energetic beautifully presented little book, she inscribed it beautifully and thoughtfully and we were re-energised!  We believed in ourselves again and moved on afresh.  A true blessing and highlight. 

Arriving in Phillip Island to find Rhonda struggling with dreadful pain in her back but still with wonderful energy and sparkling brown eyes and in control of her life.  We continued to be inspired by these terrific 50 year olds and set to to clean and sort our stock.  The silver is all gleaming, having soaked in an electrolytic tub – we bought the metal plate in Pambula – the display boxes are clean and cleared of ho hum stock, and everything we thought we should not have on the stand was set up under the gazebos for a garage sale at the weekend.  Serendipitously Rhonda was having a clear out too and she and Aaron, her son, set their stuff up in the car port so we had a good display, Al plastered the town with signs and we waited for the customers.  A few did come, but talk about the pointy end of marketing… o dear and we were giving it away for pennies as well.  We loaded up bags of linen and bric a brac and clothes and off loaded at Vinnies yesterday!  Anyway all clear and ready for the next phase.  Christmas will not be characterised by big spending this year, indeed if I allowed it I would be feeling a bit bleak.  At least I have squirreled enough to buy Alan a cake, a bottle of rum and decent food for his 60th birthday!!  And the family Christmas party at Rhonda’s son’s place in Melbourne is taken care of by a collective effort.  So all is good, just no presents!

The big event which I have to touch on here is the passing of Nelson Mandela, icon and role model.  The event has touched me in many ways, reminding me of my alienation from my roots, the difficulty of mourning at a distance, the complications of the SA political scene and a sense of wastage of much sacrifice and very hard work in trying to make a difference in the face of the machine of apartheid, especially now when all we read about in the regular press is the bad news of mismanagement and graft and corruption.  At least I do hear some of the very good news from friends, family (my children who are still fighting the good fight) and decent media.  Thank goodness for FaceBook and all the people who post such interesting links.  I am going to have to stop spending so much time there – got to get on with marketing and the PhD which is now a happening project. 

I will be ‘teaching’ online again next year in Semester 1 so keeping my hand in, just hope it does not compromise Al’s Disability Pension which he now has been granted  after much to-ing and fro-ing.  They still have not read all the paperwork correctly and seem to think I have a generous pension from the UK!  Don’t seem to believe that 20 GBP a month does not go far!!  Anyway that will be sorted as will everything else in the fullness of time and the grinding of bureaucracy.  We hope to visit South Africa for Easter next year and Ruth’s 40th birthday!!!  but have to secure a bit of a bank balance first.  More of all that in future blogs.  Suffice to say that I am looking forward to more time on the road, more time on the PhD and successful marketing and possibly eBaying!  Over to Al.


My beautiful wife usually says it all so well that I am not  called on to comment too often. So being out of practice I will give it my best shot.

I do all the driving because I cannot sit in the passenger side of a car for long. I do all the work on the caravan because it would fall to pieces if I didn’t. I pack the car while Lynette packs the boxes because I  (a) do not have the patience to pack as well as she does and (b)my muscles are better put to use being the huntlanger (handlanger SaE)(one who carries). (c) My moods swing from totally apathetic and depressed to totally manic and grumpy, so it is best that we have separate roles that do not cross over too much.

We have seen so much in such a short time that some of it is a blur. However the one constant is the joy Lynette gets out of even the slightest “new adventure” or scenery. I get my joy mostly from her enthusiasm as the issues I face these days are understanding the way my mind functions and overcoming the negative feelings I was so used to having in the past ( and still do at times).

I am now A PENSIONER which is a double edged sword. I get money from the government (not much by the way) and free (almost) medicines to help me with the mood swings, but I now feel “OLD”. Something that I have fought for a long time. The other major issue is that my ever resilient back is really giving me grief for all the years of abuse I have given it. By the time you all read this I will be 60 and in many people’s eyes that is old. Yet all I want to do for my birthday is get up early and have a good long surf. Hopefully the Phillip Island weather and waves will be kind to me. So while I feel the pain of ageing, I still want to indulge my passion for waves.

It looks like I will not get to play Hockey this year. That means I missed my target of playing at least one game every year for the past 50 years. I know of a few people who would have been over joyed at my not playing… friends and foes alike .. because of my propensity to be a pain in the neck at times. Maybe next year

We have both thrived on this adventure and we want to continue as long as possible and as Lynette says we have to work out the best ways of funding the whole shebang. I guess that will be the “REALLY BIG ADVENTURE” ……. learning new ways of buying and selling.

Anyway to all the friends we both have and all the new ones we have made over this year, we both hope to see all of you in the near future and if not hope you enjoy your lives as we do ours. Merry Xmas.

Small postscript.  I ‘lost’ this draft and so it was not sent.  Anyway have now found it after hours of searching and asking for help all over the world…so here it is. Warts and all.  



About retrocentricaussie

We are a pair of ageing 'gypsies' who find junk and sell antiques, especially objects from the art nouveau/art deco years and old and well-loved tools. We also occasionally buy antiques as well!! We haunt clearance sales, garage sales, charity shops and sometimes dumps. Lately we have even been to a 'proper' auction. The thrill is in the chase for good stuff at prices we can afford and still sell the items on at a profit sufficient to support us. We recycle what other people don't want anymore, we find new homes for nice things. We sell at markets and antique fairs, swap meets and wherever else we can find. Our clientele are mostly ordinary people who want something they can afford that will enhance their quality of life. We are especially pleased when generation Y buy from us. It suggests that appreciation of quality and good design is still part of our modern aesthetic.
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