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Published: January 12th 2011
Monday 12th January – and it’s unbelievable that we are already five months into our trip. We had planned for both of us to have a medical checkup while in Melbourne which we meant to sort out earlier in our stay. But our involvements over Christmas and New Year and then our nasty colds put paid to that. Still, we do need assurance that our present way of life isn’t doing any damage to our long-term health and well-being and so, last Thursday, we arranged a joint appointment at Manningham Medical Centre for 10.30am today. When we got there we were asked to complete forms for their records and then we had a chat with one of the doctors. She checked Graham’s pulse and blood pressure and also the tablets he is taking. Pleasingly, she confirmed that his health level was good and there was no obvious cause for concern. My blood pressure was also checked and was marginally high but acceptable. I wanted my blood sugar level checked but had not considered that I would need to “fast” beforehand. The doctor suggested a less busy pathology centre that I could go to the following morning after fasting overnight and it
was also marginally closer to the caravan park. She arranged for the results to be sent to her and for her to ring them through to me in a few days. So we paid our bill and drove off to find out where this other pathology department was. It was deserted apart from a young fellow manning reception – he was very helpful and suggested I come in as early as possible in the morning before it got too busy. As we were now fairly close to the Pines we went on there to get some lunch and I also wanted to try to print off some photos for Daphne but, unfortunately, I couldn’t find anywhere to do that.
When we got back to the caravan the news was full of the terrible flash flood that had occurred in Toowoomba, described as an inland tsunami. There is no major river there and the city is on top of the Great Dividing Range so it seemed unbelievable that so much floodwater should sweep through the city centre. It was due purely to the excessively high density of rainfall and the fact that the ground was already saturated. As the afternoon
went on another disaster was taking place in the Lockyer Valley as the tsunami water found its way towards the sea sweeping all before it and even Brisbane was put on flood alert. Much of Queensland is now affected by flooding and it’s sad to hear that so many towns we had happily visited during our time there are now severely flooded, people are being evacuated, many people are “missing” and, sadly, at least 12 people have lost their lives.
Tuesday - we had intended to leave today but booked another night at the CP so that I could have my blood test. We got to the pathology unit at about 8.15, ready for the 8.30 opening, but there were already 3 people in front of me. I didn’t have to wait too long though and the blood test only took a few minutes but it took about 10 minutes to sort out payment! I shall await the results with interest as, since my doctor told me just before we left the UK that I was borderline diabetic, I have been quite determined not to partake of unnecessary sugar and I have lost about a stone in weight so I’ll be disappointed if my major sacrifice has not improved my blood-sugar level.
Back at the caravan, when we checked on the latest news we discovered that many of Brisbane’s suburbs were now coming under threat as the river swelled to many, many metres above its normal height – probably the worst flooding on record. The Premier of Queensland, Anna Bligh, seemed to be giving news conferences every few hours and appeared to be doing a fantastic job keeping the general public up to date with the latest situation.
Overnight into Wednesday we had more trouble with possums so had another interrupted night’s sleep. In the morning Graham asked one of the CP workers if there was anything we could do to stop them and he said: ‘move to another site where there aren’t any overhanging trees’. We looked around and laughed as this caravan park is stacked full of trees. Because of the severe weather conditions which are now beginning to affect places in Victoria, we made the decision to stay on yet again and booked in for two further days. Our next two intended destinations, Ballarat and Horsham, are both on flood alert so, despite the possums, we’re probably better off staying where we are for now. We popped down to the office just before 9am to find it still closed. Eventually one of the office ladies appeared and um’d and aah’d about whether we could stay – she said “come back in half an hour when the computer is up and running”. But what if “the computer says no” we thought – we would only have 30 minutes to pack up and leave! Fortunately, when we went back we found that “the computer says yes”. The office lady also offered more pearls of advice: we should ring the CP we want to go to in case any flooding is very localized. To be fair we hadn’t yet rung a CP yet but had thoroughly checked area details on the computer. Our reluctance to move on was simply because there was a severe weather warning in force for most of central Victoria and the Grampians area. The office staff on this park continue to amaze us with their ‘poor’ (actually much worse but unprintable) customer relations. Make no mistake, we are only staying because we don’t want to put ourselves at risk – not because we love it here!!!.
The Crystal Brook Caravan Park, where we are camped, has the Mullum Mullum Creek running through it which is now flowing very full and fast. We are backing onto it so have been keeping a wary eye on the level although it would have to rise some 4 or 5 metres before it would cause us a problem. The bank on the other side, however, shows signs of having been washed away recently so we’ll definitely be monitoring water levels regularly, particularly if the unpleasant stormy weather continues.
The news on the TV about the floods continued to be grim – a large part of Brisbane was expected to be under water when the river peaks early on Thursday. Hundreds of homes were expected to be flooded with thousands of people needing to evacuate to emergency centres or to friends or family. Warnings are also being issued for areas across New South Wales and Victoria. At this point we have had to question whether we should carry on with our ‘pootling’. We have had a great time with, luckily, some great weather but lately everywhere seems to be under threat one way or another. Surely things are bound to improve – aren’t they? Realistically, I don’t think we would ever give up on our travelling intentions but now might be a great time to disappear to New Zealand to escape for a week or two.
Later in the morning we went off to the Westfields Shopping Centre in Doncaster. It’s a very large and modern complex, was very busy and kept us amused for a few hours. In ‘Big W’ I managed to get some photos printed using one of their self service machines. We’ll give them to Daphne and David. I’m beginning to get the hang of the machines they have in their stores so it didn’t take long at all.
It was a hot and humid day and, as the afternoon went on, heavy storms came in. We had hoped to cycle or swim or both but in the end the weather put a dampener on outside activities. So we showered and turned in early hoping that tonight the possums would leave us alone.
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