Monday, May 30, 2011

Heading South

Steve took us to Coffs Harbour airport to collect our rental car.  I was advised we had been given a complementary upgrade to an Audi A4 wagon.  I gratefully accepted as it made the task of fitting in all the bags much easier.  My guess is the rental company actually wanted the car relocated back to Sydney.

We faced a six hour, 600km journey and did our usual thing of stopping every two hours for a stretch.  On the way north we had seen Fredo’s Famous Pie Shop and we decided to tempt ourselves on the way back.

It was an interesting experience.  All they sell are pies with a very wide selection.  Beef, port, lamb, poultry, vegetarian and exotic (crocodile & camel).  I’ve previously eaten both crocodile (tastes like chicken) and camel.  I selected a lamb and mint pie whilst Jan had chicken.  Mine was delicious!

And so on to Sydney.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Inquisitive Locals

Some of the local inhabitants are very inquisitive.

This is “Baby”.  She is the hungry one and will attempt to knock you over when handing out the feed.  She is also due to deliver twins any day.

I think these are “Chop”, “Cutlet” and “Roast”.  Again, all due to give birth any day.

These two are slightly shy.  I believe they are named after curries!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Goodbye Karangi

Today was the last day with our eldest son and life on the farm.  The sheep still hadn’t given birth!  Steve and I spent the day sorting out the garage.  We constructed racks on the garage walls which enabled us to hang most of the garden tools out of the way.  The garage now looks tidier.

Meanwhile Jan packed our possessions in the cottage.  Steve has a “couch-surfer” arriving very soon and we assume she/he will be accommodated in the cottage.  It’s a lovely little building and complements to farm; wallabies on the lawn and koala’s in the trees.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Clearing the Scrub off the Dam

The farm straddles a gulley in which four dams have been built.  The previous owner had allowed the property to get very run-down and as a consequence there is a large amount of scrub that needs to be cleared.

Today Steve and I decided to clear all the scrub and overgrown grass off the top of the second dam.  The mower doesn’t have enough traction and clogs on the long grass.  Our plan was to use the brush cutter to cut down all the “lilly-pilly” (scrub) and then use the “whipper-snipper” (strimmer) to knock down the grass.  We would then use the mattock to dig out all the stumps.  The hope was this would then provide sufficient traction for the ride-on mower to produce a finished surface.

Using the mower to clear an area at the far side of the dam.

All the scrub across the top of the dam has now been cleared and a final clean up of the area with the rake is taking place.

The finished product.  Only two more dams to complete!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Practicing my Steering

Today Steve and I cleared the scrub along the northern fence line.  It was my first time on a ride-on mower and I’ve decided it’s a low stress job that would suit me in my retirement.

My chariot!   And it goes at the same speed as a narrowboat.  I even managed to ram the banks.

 

I carefully mowed the track along the fence line.  The bank is quire steep and the traction on the mower is poor which meant I needed to take particular care.

Local Walk

We took the dogs for a walk in the morning.  A  3.6km gentle stroll down the local road to the fire station and back.  The lovely green lawn to the left of the fire station is not a golf course.  It’s actually the local cemetery so I guess that means we were in the dead centre of Karangi!  The major difference I’ve noticed between the land around here and that in Adelaide is the colour.  Everything here is green!  I suppose if you live in the driest State on the driest inhabited continent on Earth for 16+ years you get used to the country being various shades of brown.

The grass actually seemed to be growing before our eyes and the hills were well forested.

If we do another walk I must remember to take a photo’s of the local wallabies basking in the morning sun.  Steve told us as story about a recent local Country Fire Service (CFS) safety briefing where someone mentioned the height of the grass on a particular neighbours property (the neighbour wasn’t present).  The CFS representative said “you mean where the ‘rednecks’ are!”

  This caused an embarrassing silence until the CFS representative realised they thought he was referring to the neighbour.  He then clarified his comment by saying “You know….. where the Redneck Wallabies graze!”  Nervous laughter then followed.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Container Completed

Well after quite some time I have finally been able to complete the work on our storage container.  Obviously we purchased a used container.  Actually it was beyond the end of it’s marine life.  However the important thing was the doors sealed, the floor was sound and there were no holes.  The roof looked rather battered which meant water would pond on top.  I could tell this had already happened by the amount of rust.

My initial idea was to “pop” the roof back into place by jacking it up from the inside using a timber strut.  However our furniture arrived before I could complete this.  So I have spent several days scraping the heavy rust off the roof and then using a wire brush to clean the surface rust off.  Next I painted on a rust kill compound followed by a metal primer and then top coat.  The top coat colour is white with the idea it would be more reflective.  If the container is allowed to suffer extremes in temperature the moisture content will rise and our effects will deteriorate.  Then I decided to add a extractor vent  Cutting the hole in the roof proved to be an interesting task and I was surprised to find the thickness of the steel was 5mm.  

Finally I constructed a ridge frame and fixed a tarpaulin over the top carefully cutting a hole for the vent.  With a little assistance from above all our possessions should be secure for the next five years.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Climate

Although Coffs Harbour is in New South Wales it actually has a micro-climate similar to northern Queensland.  The days can be warm and humid, which is probably why so many people move to the area for their retirement.  It’s also a very good climate for growing bananas.
It might be hard to see in the photo above but the hill is covered with a banana plantation.
Zooming in makes it easier to see.  If you look closely you might be able to see the front row of trees have all their bananas in plastic bags to protect them.  All the trees in the plantation are protected using this method.
And what does Coffs Harbour pride itself on?  Just the place to buy anything banana!

The CBD

“Matilda”, the gps, decided the best route to return the rental car would be through the middle of the Coffs Harbour CBD.  I would have preferred a less busy route but you can’t argue with Matilda who constantly informs you she is “recalculating”!

Actually I think the city fathers have done quite well with the CBD.  Apparently the road had been turned into a pedestrian mall which had the unexpected consequence of increasing the level of crime in the area.  So it was converted back to a road.  However on a Sunday it is closed and turned into a farmers market.

I don’t suppose we will see too many palm trees when we reach the UK!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The surf was up

This is South Wall beach which can be found on the southern end of Coffs Harbour.  Apparently it’s another dog beach however the wind and surf were up on the day we visited.  The waves are coming all the way from South America and the local surfers were making the most of it.

It might look cold but it was actually a warm day.  Oh, and there were surfers as the next photo shows

Can you see them?  There were four!  Wouldn’t catch me doing that.  The oceans around Australia are full of hungry Great White Sharks!

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Harbour

With the town named “Coffs Harbour” you would expect there to actually be a harbour; and you would be right.  Originally it must have been rather small, however two outer island have each been joined to the mainland by a causeway thereby creating a much larger artificial harbour.

One of the islands is named Muttonbird Island.  Yes; it’s a breeding ground for muttonbirds which make good eating, although I think the birds in this particular location might be protected!  The island is to the right in the photo below with the low causeway to the left.  In the middle left corner of the harbour is the local marina.

This next photo was taken from the other island and shows the entrance to the harbour.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Happy Birthday

The big day arrived and Jan was taken out for dinner.  I was born with a genetic disorder (short arms and deep pockets) and successfully avoided paying for the meal.  Thanks Steve and Myles!   I can’t tell you Jan’s age, however she can now applied for her seniors card!  As you can see she doesn’t like having her photo taken.

The following day we made a trip into Coffs Harbour heading down to the harbour.  There were camel rides available on the foreshore.   I elected not to treat myself on this occasion.  I probably won’t on the next occasion either!  Interestingly the camels and their Afghani handlers were brought into Australia during the 19th century to provide a means of transporting supplies through the Red Centre.  Some escaped and there are now hundreds of thousands of them running feral and wild.  Whilst Australia hasn’t imported any more camels the same can’t be said for the Afghani’s.

Sunday is market day in Coffs Harbour.  Whilst it’s only a small place there are actually three separate markets.

Market at the beach above and another in the main city parking building below

I notice this is a great photo of parked cars with a glimpse of a parking building in the background.  Nothing in the photo to indicate there is a market in progress.  I shall have to do better!

A Long Day

Our container of furniture and household effects arrived in the afternoon.  It was a 7 hour journey from Sydney for the truck driver and his assistant.  What surprised me was they intended to unload the container on the back of the truck into our container and then drive back to Sydney that same day.

I started by watching them and then felt I had to start helping or else they were going to have a very long day.

Almost immediately we came across the first damaged item.  Jan’s electronic piano had been smashed off it’s base.  I think what happened is the heavy safe was placed beside the piano and the rocking motion of the train allowed the safe to slide repeatedly against the legs of the piano breaking the joints.

Jan plugged in the piano and we were able to confirm it worked.  However we have yet to check the pedals on the base.

The other item damaged was the glass in a large batik picture we purchased in Malaysia.  Of course there may be more damage but there was little point in attempting to unpack every box as the items were transhipped from one container to the other in the dark.

I’m now rather exhausted and I have yet to prepare the container for the time we are away in the UK.  Somehow I think tomorrow is another big day!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Karangi

We have arrived at the farm to find the goats hungry and the sheep pregnant.  So feeding the noisy critters became a priority.

The main house is at the end of the driveway.  We also noted the container for our furniture had been delivered

This is the single bedroom cottage that will be our home for the next two weeks.

I needed to level the container and did this using concrete blocks and timber packing.

It took some time to jack up the container and install the dunnage.  As it’s going to be like this for at least five years I need to ensure the foundations are stable.  The next task will be to remove all the rust off the roof and repaint it.

Members of the extended family.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Heading North

It was dark by the time we reach Sydney.  An overnight stop and we took the opportunity to have a final reunion with Jan’s family.  We enjoyed an evening meal with the extended family celebrating our nephew’s 30 birthday.  Jan’s brother and sister-in-law have a beautiful big home in the NW suburbs.  Originally there was one house but now it consists of the original home plus a massive 6 bay garage, swimming pool and a huge new home with all the latest technical features.

This is the entrance to the property with the garage on the right and the new house in the distance.  The original house is behind the garage.

Another view of the garage

Adam blows out the candles on his birthday cake whilst his sister and mother watch

Rather blurred photo but Jan’s brother and sister-in-law in their new kitchen

Next morning we were back on the road heading up the Pacific Highway towards Coffs Harbour.  A considerable amount of work has gone into improving this road since we last travelled on it.  Much of it is now dual carriageway.

However there are still some areas where improvements are being made

After 7 hours and two comfort breaks we finally arrived at the farm.  But more about that tomorrow!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Tooleybuc and the Hay Plains

The Mallee Highway ends near the State border between Victoria and New South Wales.  There is an interesting bridge across the Murray River at Tooleybuc.  Timber deck and the centre section can be raised.  I assume this is to allow river boats to pass.

On the far side is the town which mostly consists of the hotel

After a brief stop we headed north towards Balranald and then across the Hay Plains.  This consist of 150km of… well…. mostly nothing!  At the western end there is low scrub but as you head further towards the centre it starts to look very bare.

 

Just a vast flat plain.  After a boring couple of hours we noticed smoke on the horizon.  It looked like a wild fire however were we unable to confirm this as the road slowly took us around the area.  We refuelled the car at the town of Hay and allowed the dog to stretch her legs.  Then it was back into the car for another 3 hour drive to Wagga Wagga arriving as the sun went down.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Journey

We spent our last night in Adelaide being accommodated by our good friends Trevor and Carolanne.  Trevor made the comment “I helped you move into this house and now I’ve helped you move out!”  We were up before 6.00am and I did some final re-arranging of our possessions in the rental car.  Every last small space had something squeezed into it.  Carolanne cooked us a breakfast with the idea of providing us with some energy for the road.  By 7.30 we were on our way.  Ahead of us was a journey roughly equivalent driving from Stafford to Rome.  The plan was to stop for a rest break every 2 hours.  This would also give Bella (our miniature daschund) the opportunity for a toilet stop. 

The first stop was just beyond the town of Lamaroo.  By then we were on the Mallee Highway in the heart of the wheat belt.

These “scrubby” looking trees are very drought resistant and exceptionally hardy.  When cut for firewood they will burn for hours.  Unfortunately they don’t have many other uses.  The entire countryside was covered in them before the Europeans arrived and settled the area.  It must have been exceptionally hard work clearing the land.

We stayed on the Mallee Highway across South Australia and Victoria before arriving at the New South Wales border after a drive of approximately six hours.