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Published: September 22nd 2010
We are back in Kerikeri for a couple of weeks, on-route to Dunedin. Well, the couple of days work at the station turned into 8, 12-hr days of grading, checking water lines, mustering, drafting, loading, de-horning, castrating and fire-branding cattle, and a continuous stream of meals to prepare and laundry to assist with, along with joining an evening kangaroo/wild pig hunt with Kim the roo shooter. The largest paddock required a chopper to assist with the muster.
Sadly, the weather cut our visit short by a day or two as 10mm of rain turned the 20km trip to the bitumen into a slidey glug of red mud. Murray had the grader on the back of the road train, but the truck wouldn't budge. Our trustworthy landcruiser proved its worth and we threw it into four wheel drive and fishtailed out to the main road. Even on the bitumen, when a road train was coming our way, we had to get on to the dirt (they have right-of-way) and throw it into 4WD to keep going. And it was great to see Chris and to meet Martin and Danielle's son Blake. Chris is Blake's tutor, and he receives his schooling through
"The School of the Air". It was great to see this in action with Chris overseeing Blake's written correspondence lessons and hearing about their 30 minute twice daily lessons with his teacher, via the phone and internet.
The internet is via satellite, the electricity is by solar, backed up by diesel generator and the mail comes twice a week.
Thanks to Gwen, Brian, Martin, and Danielle for a great few days. We will be back!!
A visit to the "Waltzing Matilda Centre" at Winton (near where the lyrics were supposedly written by Banjo Patterson in 1895, was well worth the visit and the museum was great. Another enjoyable night with Judy and Jock in Longreach was followed by Jock's speciality barby brekky. The next day, 3rd Sept we travelled back to Emerald, and the following day Wick and Doreen packed up their caravan, after a slight delay caused by Wick not reading his tablet packet correctly, and having to sleep it off, we travelled east to Duaringa staying in the roadside rest area. Aussie sure knows how to look after it's transient travellers - toilets and hot showers for a gold coin donation. Rain was forecast so we
bought a tarp to put over the back door of the truck. This turned out to be great foresight as we travelled to Coominglah Range, near Cania Gorge National Park, had just set up camp when the rain started at about 6pm. It didn't stop until about 8am in the morning, so we cooked tea under it, then were snug and dry in the back of the truck. That was the most rain we saw in 5 weeks!!
The next day we drove to Paradise Dam near Biggenden. Although this is a man-made lake, it is a beautiful setting with an abundance of birdlife including pelicans and spoonbills. Wick had taken his fold-up boat and he took me (KC) fishing. We putted across the narrow lake and drifted amongst the flooded trees as the sun set in the west. This was one of the most amazing sunsets I have seen. the colours of grey, pink and orange were reflected in the water, the tiny ripples making the water look like shiny corrugated iron. Unfortunately my camera was on shore, and we didn't catch any fish, but saw plenty of activity beheath the surface. The fauna was interesting too with
bats flying into the tree above us, feeding on ripe berries, and squawking at each other. We stayed two nights here and on our last morning Doreen called me over to look at a small but deadly brown snake, the majority of which was hidden in the short grass just outside the ladies and gents toilets! Needless to say its life was shortened. I know you are supposed to save the wildlife, but we considered that the human species needed saving too!
Calliope was our next stop, with a visit to Wick and Doreen's granddaughter and her partner. W and D then headed back to Emerald, and Dave and I headed to Agnes Water, and Town of 1770 on the coast.
We had been there before with Jeffrey, when W and D lived there about 10 to 12 yrs ago. So we had a celebratory beer at "The Tree" bar overlooking the water, but the huge mango tree has disappeared.
We were able to book a campsite at the Info centre to stay at Wreck Rock camping ground at Deepwater National Park, about an hour's drive south on a 4wd-only track. This was a small camp in the sub-tropical
bush, with only 14 sites, really nicely spaced out, and with water and a composting toilet. It was so nice, we stayed two nights.
The next night was spent at a roadside rest area called Wallum Reserve between Bundaberg and Childers. The sugarcane near Bundy was being harvested, so we sat and watched the big machinery cutting and sorting the cane.
The truck needed an oil change, so we donned our grubbiest clothes and found a spot to do this. We didn't spill a drop, so think we should receive an eco-friendly award. The old oil was deposited where it should be - at the waste management site at Gympie.
One of our last nights in the truck was spent on a small pull-off, up a metal sideroad in the forest. We were set up for the evening, enjoying a pre-dinner drink when a man came out of his driveway and walked over to us. We immediately thought he would ask us to move on. However, he said, " just checking you're ok, and I see that you are, so no worries". How nice is that!
The next two days was spent sussing out the storage
place for the truck near Caboolture, the train to get into Eagle Farm and accommodation for the night at Hamilton, Brisbane, near the airport. We look forward to picking up our lovely Troopy from Tom next Autumn, for our trip next year.
Our flight was great and it was wonderful to have Sharon meet us in Auckland, to stay with her and Johno and to take them to their favourite Japanese restaurant, Narita's in Wairau Park, to celebrate Sharon's birthday.
Back in Kerikeri, we are catching up with family and friends again, with lots of stories to tell, the odd beer and chardonnay and flat white to share. We will head back to Dunedin in a couple of weeks to catch up with friends and family there, pack up our NZ Troopy and meander back to Northland.
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