About Me

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Hello there from sunny Nth Qld in Australia...the luckiest country on the planet. I am retired and love to travel . Airplane, boat, walking but mostly by means of my motorcycle. I love to garden.We have recently downsized from a rural block to an itsy bitsy city patch which I am endeavouring to plant as many native trees and shrubs as possible to create my own little sanctuary . Oh, I sing in a choir as well. Life is good.

Monday, December 5, 2016

2016 Inaugural Fossil Ride.

I published a version of this in the Spring edition of Ulysses Magazine  They made me slash it because it was too long.
'Thats OK' I thought.
'I'll just whack it up here!'






Tim and mine trusty steads. We were known as The Valkyrie Twins then.

Townsville Ulysses has around three hundred names on the National members list. I’ve only ever seen forty at our functions. Where the heck are they hiding? I’ve been told that about one hundred of those make themselves known from time to time, however, I’ve not had the pleasure! At the AGM, I’ve run into people I’ve not met before, who came from our town! What’s that about? It’s a mystery to me. It is possible that some are too busy but there is still a fair number to account for.  We have been on many rides with the local members but the AGM’s we’ve attended have been solitary riding events. It’s hard to coordinate a group ride with everyone needing a range of requirements for work and family commitments so it was a bit of a surprise when one of our members arranged a seven-day ride.

Peter Lucas, our ‘Weekly Wrap’ publisher put the itinerary together. He had in mind a handful of takers and was surprised when nineteen of us were up for the adventure! He designed a logo and had patches made. We were all given a number and listed into one of three groups that consisted of amicable riders who could accommodate any necessities along the way, such as puncher kits, Band-Aids, battery packs, Swiss army knives, etc. Riding in a big group does have limitations and can be a nuisance, especially on the outback roads, sharing with the B-Doubles. Pete must have spent months poring over the plans of this first ever “Fossil Ride” (by this lot at least). We took a section of what is known locally as the Dinosaur Trail; west to Hughenden, Winton, Longreach, then east to Emerald, onto Belyando Crossing, and home to Townsville; a 1784 kilometre round trip. Pete researched and prearranged our accommodation. All we had to do was book it, make sure our bikes were serviced, top up the credit card and pack a change of undies and our toothbrush.  

On our vast variety of bikes, two wheeled and three, we congregated outside town at the Caltex, Roseneath, on Saturday morning 18th June. Tim and I drew lucky last in the third group. Each group left ten minutes apart with us at the rear to assist with any unfortunate mishaps. I had volunteered to be Sergeant of Arms. Misdemeanours included: bike droppers, credit card losers, getting lost, wet, arrested, being too young or old, losing luggage, being happy, grumpy, early or late or for the most outrageous pyjamas. Anything that got under my skin at the time! We had a lot of laughs and, going by the amount of dobbing that went on, it was clear everyone got into the spirit of things although I was demoted to ‘private’ by the time the week was out! Ronda Lynch organised a Poker Run and we raised a total of $300. We chose the Royal Flying Doctors as a worthy cause, thinking that in the event of a mishap we might need them!

Arrest him Officer! Birdman Maddy being sorted.
Pete thoughtfully split our days into an achievable number of kilometres for those of us not used to long days in the saddle. The shortest day was only 180 km Winton to Longreach while the longest day was Longreach to Emerald at 416 km. It wasn't an endurance trial that’s for sure and we had plenty of energy left for sightseeing and spending a bit  of time having fun.

Townsville to Hughenden was fairly uneventful but for Ron, Ronda and Eddie dropping their bikes. Ronda lost luggage as well. Us tail-end Charlie's had no near misses at all. We managed to pull up at Prairie and sample country hospitality at the local market. Great scones and cream and delicious cakes. Diet? What diet?

The plan was to meet at the Northern Hotel for dinner. We wined, and dined and I fined my fellow companions. I think I need to watch my back…glad I’m last in the pack. 
The forecast was for rain. It wasn't wrong. We kept dry while riding but got caught out walking back from the pub. Apart from that, I think it was a good start to the “Fossil Run.”

From Hughenden to Winton, it was lovely to see the country after the rain. Even lovelier to ride in and not be wet. Puddles along the Flinders Developmental Road must be a welcome sight for the locals. Us travellers though were wary of the very soft edges. The track was wider than I remembered from a few years back. It was only narrow as we got closer to town.

Sax and The Single Girl
We received a right royal welcome when we arrived at North Gregory Hotel. Dinner had been sorted and a special spot set for us in the dinning room. “I should be able to ‘get ‘em all’ tonight for something!” I thought as I checked in. After dinner some of us wandered down to the next pub to check out the local talent, “Sax and The Single Girl”. It’s well worth a look when you pass through. 


I made a new friend, Nell from Winton, a classic Bushy. She’d done it tough most of her life, being cook and general hand in shearing sheds and fencing teams. She had her kids out there as well. She had a mop of snowy white loopy curls cropped at a sensible length. Her blue check flannel shirt may not have been a fashion statement but it too was sensible for warding off the winter chill. For the ten minutes we chatted, I found out lots of her life story and a goodly amount of info to square her up as a woman with attitude. “Not always been like that,” she said, “but not anymore. Buggar it…what have I got to loose, I’m seventy-eight! Stuff ‘em.” I’m not sure who ‘them’ were but I think I’ll stay on her side! Apparently, she sings and writes poetry. They’re a talented lot in Winton.

Just as we were preparing to leave, a young constable was coming out of the pub. I winked at him and said, ‘Excuse me, we are having trouble here. Think you need to sort this bloke out before we get into real strife.’ In a flash, he grabbed ‘Birdman’ by the wrists and had him spread-eagled across his bike. Out came the cameras. We needed proof to show his wife that someone at least could control him!

The Great Northern at Winton

The roads from Winton to Longreach  were all pretty good even after the rain we’d had. I would not have wanted to leave the tarmac to make room for a truck though. The sides of the road were soft and I sure as heck didn't want to get my boots dirty. However, it was two lanes pretty much all the way so there was no need for concern. The roads have little to offer as far as bends go and I found myself thinking about flat spots on my tyres. I could probably do with a trip to Tassie to round them off! The horizon looks as though it goes on forever out there. Even on an overcast day you still get a mesmerising shimmer. I know people who think it's a boring ride but personally I am in awe of the vastness. Everything seems BIG out there…except you on your bike that is. If you happen to be last and the others are out of sight there is an aloneness that leaves you feeling very small. You ride for ages before passing a vehicle.

Most of us took the time for a chat with the Grey Nomads at Corfield and Morella. They counted us all and wanted to know what we were up to. One of the ladies just happened to be a past Ulyssean from Glen Innes NSW . Sheila Dunbar had great delight in telling us all about her last ride on their Goldwing, along the Great Ocean Road in 2000. She pulled me up for calling her a grey nomad. 
“Have you looked at yourself in the mirror  lately?” she asked.
Part of the fun of travelling is talking to people. I always seem to meet gems. 

Waving our new friends goodbye we took off to catch up with our Fossil mates; the air getting chillier as we went. It was overcast but not threatening. Great conditions to ride in. 
Country hotels can be a real treat with meandering hallways and old-fashioned furnishings, throwing back to a time that maybe you don't want to remember! For me I think it’s wonderful. “As long as it’s clean.” Even the most rundown of our lodgings were clean. Dusty maybe, but clean! 

Longreach Hall of Fame
 We stayed two nights at Longreach to ensure we saw all the touristy things: Stockmans Hall of Fame, Qantas Museum and the Cruise on the Thomson. If you choose to stay at the Tourist Park on your visit, it may pay to check your room first to make sure doors can be locked and microwaves are fixed to the wall! It’s a dusty place with no greenery. If you have never been out west before it can be a bit of a shock to the system at the ‘unfinished’ look of some places. Things only get fixed if they don't work anymore. Country people are very resourceful and making do is part of their life living in a place without a Bunnings or Myers!

The Cruise on the Thomson River was such good value for money, and they accommodated the group’s party requirements for two birthdays! It’s worthwhile entertainment from the moment you get picked up till you are dropped back. On the last night in Longreach, we had a BBQ in the park’s camp kitchen. We were having such a good time we even had gatecrashers. We shared the birthday cake and they shared condiments and their stories! I had to cancel the Grumpiest Old Man (or Woman) award. I couldn't even get a nomination from a wife! Any contenders had turned into very placid happy go lucky Fossils. 

On the Capricorn Highway, and headed for Emerald, there was lots to stop and see; Ilfracombe, Barcaldine, Jericho, Alpha and it’s along this road that the scenery changes. Instead of the flat ‘wide open spaces,’ hills appear. The smells change. Dense shadows form. Grass and shrubbery line the selvage of the tarmac. About a 100 ks from Emerald there is a lookout at Drummond Range. A sharp turn left off the highway and up a kilometre of tarred track there is a view. From there you can see the road ahead winding through the range. It crosses a rail track that appears from the west. It too twists and turns its way through the hills and valleys. It's so quiet up there, but I can imagine in the deep of night under a velvet blanket of stars, a big ole’ coal train chugging its way east and shattering the peace. I’m going to camp up there one night. It says, ‘No Camping’  but crikey, who is going to know? 

Emerald sports one of the best accommodation packages I have come across in Queensland; value for money, ‘Discovery Parks.’ Only problem was some of us couldn't find it. It is not signed very well. A GPS would have helped. If it wasn't for one of the other riders coming back from his usual reconnaissance  run we’d still be out there looking!  For $116 we got an ensuite room with two for one meal deals. It was State of Origin night and a lounge room was set up for us pretty much to do as we pleased. Being the well behaved Fossils we were, most of us hit the deck before the game was over. 


Western Blue Sky


With so many riders and so many kilometres, odds are that something would  go wrong somewhere regardless of any well made plans. One of the riders found a tyre developing lumps where it shouldn't! He would have replaced it but none were to be found in Emerald. Our local dealer in Townsville, Rising Sun Honda, happily sent a tyre to Charters Towers, but that was 470 ks and two days away according to our schedule. He decided to ride slowly and conservatively and make it without incident and that’s exactly what he did! Next stop for the day was Clermont for fuel and coffee and a wander through the museum. A quick head count, just in case they mistook our mob as exhibits, and it was off to Belyando Crossing for the night. Staying there was a first for most of us. Usually it's a lunch stop before the home run. The rooms were good enough but just not enough of them. We supplemented beds with a couple of pump up mattresses pulled out of panniers. The girls bunked in one room while all the boys dispersed over the rest of the rooms. It felt a bit like school camp. “It’s only one night,” I reassured my ‘fussy who he sleeps with’ husband! Soon after the bedding arrangements were settled, all the riders congregated around the fire place. Wood had been collected for the evening. A few cans had passed the lips of a thirsty few already. I sat down at the front of the store for some solitude and note-taking time. As I wrote, the business of feeding us began. The BBQ was cleaned of the signature outback dust, tables and chairs arranged, and a bain-marie was set up. 

The sun was getting low, casting a small boy’s shadow into that of a giant, exciting his imagination. His mum ushered him past me into the shop. It wasn't long before they returned and climbed into their car. I was glad I wasn't going to be on the road at that time with old man sun burning my eyesight blind. The loud hiss of brakes being released  shattered the quiet as a truck pulled out into the dusk. The crows choir ‘cawed' the day out. It wouldn't be long before an entirely new and fresh look would appear under the cover of night. A young man who worked there was watering the gardens; an oasis with the help of recycled water. The recent rain had left the land beyond the garden looking pretty good as well. It’s not often we get to see it like that.  Earlier in the day, I had seen at least 50 Brolgas feeding in a freshly harvested paddock . I’d also had a close encounter with a Wedge Tail Eagle. I had slowed down so he'd have time to take off but he waited till I was beside him before he spread those wings and left his road kill. For a few seconds he flew adjacent to me before lifting up and away. I ducked to one side as I imagined I could feel his mighty wings! They are such magnificent animals. Riding beside one is as good as swimming with the dolphins I reckon!


Ronda Lynch and myself
Our dinner was ample even if plain. One cannot be too fussy out there in the bush. “No place for a Princess here.” After dinner, the fire lit, we settled into another round of yarn spinning. Everyone said how great the week had been and the seeds were sown for the next trip. 

Early next morning some of us made a two hour dash to the Towers for breakfast and then rode the last leg home. 

It has been a while since our group has taken any big trips away. Things have changed or should I say the members have. Not too many of them like the business of putting up a tent these days but there have been a few newbies in the group lately which has sparked a renewed interest in adventure. It’s time to make new memories to add to the already amazing history of the Townsville Ulysses Branch. 

Our President, Frank McQuirk, sadly could not join us in this first Fossil Run but one of our riders kept him suitably in touch and in the know. None of this ‘what happens on the ride stays on the ride’ stuff! Well, that’s what Frank’s been led to believe at least! 


Riding with nineteen people takes commitment to what the Ulysses Club is on about. It was on our way to our first AGM in  Alice Springs that I witnessed the camaraderie with a group of mates. I want to be the oldest nana on a bike and I might need a hand to achieve that! The thing that inspires me about our club’s members is, no matter what, they just keep riding! Having cancer treatments, dicky knees, sore shoulders and a variety of ailments caused by ‘your date of birth’ doesn't seem to stop them! They are an amazing bunch who never give in when it comes to having some fun and they watch out for each other as well. If you are out there holding a membership and not riding, get yourself down to wherever they meet and join in with the rest of us ‘Delinquent Fossils'.  It might only be for a chat and a coffee or it may well be the beginning of your next adventure!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

All going to plan  regardless of whether we want them or not we have them. Totally oblivious to them for the first couple of years then you'll be counting the days down till the next one for the forthcoming 4 or 5 decades after which, what's left of them you will prefer to ignore and hope that nobody notices. Yes, folks. Its birthdays, whether we want them or not! I mean we all want them and relish in getting older but not necessarily to be reminded especially if life has been a bit harsh! August is full of them for us. In the past we have had enormous parties to co-celebrate our main milestones 50/55 and 60/65 and so on. Memorable occasions that our friends still talk about! I think my party arranging days are over now though. I'll leave that to the kids. Mind you this year we have received a bonus.

I'm not sure for how long but I have been telling everyone I'm 63 this year. I even recall someone telling me I look good for my age. Maybe last year I had the years wrong as well. I am so unconvinced I've had to do the sums over and over to check. 2015 take away 1953 comes up with the same answer every time and yet I still disbelieve! Is it because I feel old? Is it because we have crammed so much into the last couple of years it literally feels like it should be an extra year squeezed in there somehow? Im not sure but when you get to my age to suddenly have an extra year thrown in that you didn't know you had is a bit like winning the lottery.  Quite a few of our friends and relatives have fallen from their perches already not to mention a few who are poorly so we are constantly reminded that our time left here on the Earthly plane is dwindling fast and to make each day count is paramount. So by my calculation, or miss calculation I have an extra year to spend.

We have a busy 8 months ahead of us with a cruise to PNG in November and then another to Kangaroo Is in February. When we get home from that it will be a quick change into our riding gear and heading off to Tasmania and who knows where after that! How am I going to get the benefits of that extra year when I am so booked up anyway? I thought maybe I tack it onto the end but friends said not a good idea. "You may not be so good at the end. Best spend it while your feeling good."
Sound advice I thought!

I have planned a few overnight rides to pin in my callendar for the next few weeks to take advantage of the fabulous weather here in sunny North Queensland. Our little modern suburban block is in need of a few more trees and shrubs which will keep me fit and busy as well. I have book to write...maybe that is why I have been given this extra year...to finally put a full stop to that! Whatever I do with my extra year I guarentee it won't be wasted!  
                                                                 Party 2013 circa.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Fickle Facts of Love

I said that I'd always be true and that I'd never look at another. I lied.

Usually I commit for life. I make my decision to "hang in there" and work through the problems together. Not that we've had any real issues. I've maintained my end of the relationship dutifully and with vigour. We regularly went out together forming a tight bond that I thought would never break. It was as much a surprise to me as anyone when out of the blue I said,"That's it, it's over".
Tim had been at me to get a new one but I always said no, until I saw a candy coloured Boulevard in pristine condition with only 3000 ks on it. The price tag a tad high which led me to look at brand newies.
"I think I might just forget it for the time being. It's not the right time". I'd gone the length of three states alone just me and my Shadow. I tagged along with Tim on his 'first BIG ride', we've pored over maps and through magazines planning more adventures together. Its been okay till now and she'll do for along while to come!

We were away with the gang in Bowen when the phone rang. It was Tom checking to see if I still want to sell my bike. I spluttered a little and told him a price. "My mate will be around to see ya tomorrow."
The ride home was sad for me thinking that this may be the last ride together. We cleaned her and slapped some polish on her and we waited.
Monday afternoon: Young man turns up. "Yes I'll take it"
Tuesday : Ran around and got road worthy and rego papers sorted ready for new owner to come and take her away. He came. They went. I'm bikeless!
Wednesday AM : Out test riding bikes and eliminating what I don't want and deciding that I will always be a cruiser chick.
Thursday: Picked up my new Boulevard M50 and took her for a 150k trip straight off.
It's different!

Monday, October 24, 2011

"My Ramblings from The Centre"



Uluru Central Australia
‘People watching’ is one of my favourite hobbies. I could sit at a train station or airport or shopping centre for hours and just watch and invent other people’s lives with only my imagination and see say. My assumptions and conclusions are most likely wrong but I do find it entertaining and it vitalizes the creative juices in my veins, much like a blazing sunset or tranquil desert scene, so it is no surprise that my imagination was ignited on a recent holiday to Central Australia. It was like a box of Continental Chocolates; an assortment of characters to choose from.

‘Desert Beauty’   

She couldn’t see me watching her enter the baths but I had the feeling she knew everyone took notice. My spying eyes where camouflaged under the rim of my wide brimmed hat as I bobbed about in Dalhousie Springs.

She was obviously from the city; there was an air about her. Short cropped modern hair style wrapped in a swish band that framed a face that appeared to undertake a regular beauty treatment; smooth and flawless. She had the covering of an overfed city woman maybe the product of too many lunches, yet still firm from a daily workout. Who knows?

It was the way she held herself that stood out; her head raised slightly, chin up, eyes seemed to be caste skyward, almost like you would stand if you were about to receive an award – proud, sure, strong, self-aware. Her partner was a scrawny pale specimen sporting a long skinny plait. A pot smoking muso maybe? She could have been a singer in that case although I fancy she would have been a painter or designer. The way she cocked her head could have been her spirit awakening to the beauty of our surroundings – sniffing in the colours and sounds and smells of the outback paradise.

Maybe when she goes home she’ll design a cloth stained with the memories of her desert trip or paint a scene reminiscent of her dry dusty adventure….well part of it at least. Today she is bathing in 36 degree ten thousand year old water exploding to the surface naturally through a ‘mound spring’. She was wearing a swim suit that only one with self-assuredness would dare. It was a very high cut at the leg affair, that does a cheeky disappearing act and reappears at the small of her back. She had a singlet top on that probably hid an exposed midriff but from the back it made it look like she had no pants on! Her cheeky bits resembled her nature maybe…..

Later I saw her fussing about preparing dinner in her camp kitchen, the wrap no way possible meeting and covering her and when she bent over….well, I’ll not go there. I wonder what or who she thought was impressed by her near nakedness? I was impressed by her sheer nerve and say ‘good on her’, as I blushed and turned away.

*

 

‘Old Mate’

Old Mate as I affectionately named him had become more than just a watching game. We came across him three times on our trek through Central Australia. Still we had not exchanged names, yet a familiarity had formed; an anonymous alliance as we journeyed our distinct separate ways that always ended up in the same place, him the quest of a grey nomad, us our annual holidays. Our first encounter was on a green grassy knoll at Kings Canyon Station – an oasis after what we had previously endured making our way down the edges of three deserts.  Red and dusty all around but for our camp spot and he was complaining! He reckoned the watered grass bought mozzies. He rambled on about how he liked burnt out scrub for a tent site. “It’s a sure thing there’ll be no snakes around either,’ he said in his broad pommy accent. I reckon he was cadging for a meal, but I was not going to offer. Talk is pretty much all you get from your fellow traveller when on the road and I was not about to change the rules! Besides everything was rationed for the amount of days we’d be out. I didn’t cater for generosity. Mind you his paunchy stature was evidence that his diet was more than adequate.

Our second encounter was at the roadhouse at Kings Canyon Resort the next day after walking a gorge or two. We had our thermos coffee and crackers and cheese, him with his pie and coke. I could see the envy in my husband’s eyes, junk food not on our menu.  This is where we found out he was a pensioner spending as many days, or years even, adventuring. No retirement village for this happy chappie. Instead an old green Toyota 4WD ute loaded to the hilt with his tent and spare tyres and God knows what, haphazardly thrown in the back although I am sure he would know where everything was and could put his hand on it in the wiggle of a willy wagtails tail feathers! It all looked rather grubby really, dents and scratches on faded duco that may have never seen a polish rag. The tailgate of the ute was a display case for old car badges. Ford, Holden, Mazda, Toyota; a hodgepodge of all makes and models glued and screwed to the panel. He matched his vehicle; shabby maybe with torn and worn out shirt but not smelly and dirty. His shaven head smooth as a river boulder, a couple of teeth misplaced although I am sure he knew where they were and would have told us had we stuck around long enough to listen! His tattered sandshoes had seen better days. I am positive I saw a sockless toe peeking out through a split. He enjoyed telling us where he was headed and how he managed to get through fences and gates sporting NO ENTRY signs, to put up camp for free.  

Our last encounter was at Ruby Bluff Gorge a week later. We had gotten ourselves bogged in a sandy riverbed. It was ‘Old Mates’ fault. We saw him camped and decided to go further into the park to keep our distance from him. Ah…such is the workings of Karma. It was a feeling of guilt that made us stop and at least say goodbye the next day after spending a night stopped in our tracks and up to our axle’s in garnet tinged sand. He looked on with amazement as we told him our story and we, as he told us his intentions of driving alone across the Simpson Desert! He wouldn’t even attempt the riverbed here. How he thought he was going to make six hundred sand dune crossings was a mystery. His front end was jacked up due to broken shocks (new ones floating around the ute somewhere) and there, out on the track, forty six gruelling kilometres from the nearest road that was one hundred and fifty kilometres to anywhere, he was about to fix it! Pure madness. We begged him to please wait at Birdsville and tag along with other travellers. Mind you other travellers wouldn’t want a bar of him I’m sure. The police had even pulled him over the day before we met again and went over his vehicle, asking him all sorts of questions and breathalysing him. At least they showed concern.  They couldn’t find anything wrong so off he went on his merry way. At least he didn’t get bogged like we did! He didn’t seem to be the least bit worried…. smiley and cheerful and full of stories – probably a little bit full of himself, but harmless – Oh and very much so ‘living on the edge’.

*


‘A Childs Play Ground’

Drifting about the Outback and rummaging through historic townships you are bombarded with how hard the pioneers worked and of the difficulties experienced taming the wilderness. The Hall of Fame for men in Longreach and in Alice Springs the Pioneer Women’s Hall of Fame, pays tribute to those who risked all for the sake of earning a quid and making a life for their families at the same time opening up the country. Even though times have changed and machinery and communications have made things easier hardships take on a different hue. I couldn’t help notice how life is for the children in isolated areas. As a mother from a regional city I believe children need other children and socialising was a major part of teaching my lot. What if you are the only child of a family who chooses to live hundreds of kilometres in either direction from another town? I had the pleasure of meeting one young lady who lives with her parents and grandparents together running a hotel in such a place. That’s all there is…a pub after 150k’s or so from a Queensland border town, a building looms up out of the mirage. When you leave to continue your journey the road stretches for another century of kilometres. The hotel has withstood the tests of time for the last 149 years. Floods, wars, droughts and economic disasters, kings and queens and prime ministers move on into forgotten news but this little old pub remains… a comfort to the weary traveller, road gang’s drovers and stockman. It’s hard to imagine working in such a place all those years back without electricity and the creature comforts afforded today. It’s hard to imagine working there now even with all the trappings of modern day living, aircon and flushing toilets. What’s even more difficult is picturing how a child might cope.

We pulled up to what used to be a hitching rail for horses and wagons. We acknowledged a friendly nod and smile from the welcoming committee – four or five adults and a little girl about nine years old. Their party took up the entire end of the verandah. I thought at first they were fellow travellers pulled in for a rest stop just like us. In fact they were some of the owners. You couldn’t help notice the little girl. She stood out for all her smallness. Checked country shirt and blue jeans, dusty boots, hair pulled roughly into a coil – no regard for fashion taken into account – a need to keep it out of the way while she did her daily chores no doubt. Sunday must be funday as she was in her prime performing tricks in the dirt out front with her pink handled whip. Precocious and showing off her ability to control the stockman’s tool of trade and laughing at the sound it made thwacking the dirt. It was a spectacle.

After such a long day we decided to have ourselves dessert… after all, there in the bar was a chalk board that stated for $5 you could get yourself a coffee and a slice of cake. By this time all sunset watching was done and verandah sitters now became cooks and order takers and yarn spinners. Grandad was the yarn spinner specialist, mum was the cook, dad, when he wasn’t flying copters served a beer, grandma was absent tending to other family business in a real town..

“So is the sign up to date?” I ask. “Is that cake still available?”

Grabbing her pencil and order pad the miniature waitress announced that it was. “Yes and the Raspberry cake is the best ‘cause I made it.”

How could you say no to that?

She flicked an errant wisp of her dark hair away from her face then wrote down the order before rushing off to the kitchen. I ignored the fact that her hands had probably not seen a cake of soap since bath time yesterday and that her clothes were not appropriately ‘food handler’ clean. There is a time and place for such things and here was not the place or the time!

Her conversation was more like that of an adult not a child.

“Hey Grandad, we took seven dinners tonight. That’s a good day, hey. Not bad for a Sundy”

The adults both agreed, “No not bad at all” the old man nodded.

Sitting up at the ancient bar along with fellow travellers I listened to all the questions being asked. I sensed that all these inquiries had been asked before and the old man’s answers were dependant on his mood. There was a tad of sarcasm and annoyance having to respond over and over to the same old, same old, when on the wall was a history of how when where why and who about the place! I prefer to listen and wait….

“So where do you come from Boss” the grandad asked me.

My patience paid off and all the information came forth. I read the historical account but how he lived now with his family in this isolated place was what I was interested in. As it turns out he is sick of it and he’s looking to retire. “I’ll swap ya” was what he said to someone pulling up in their Winnebago earlier. “Bus for the Pub”.

Negative reply.

We all get tired; that’s why we were on holiday but there was a child no more than nine years of age willing and able to carry on when grandfather finally gives up the ghost. Before that though she will have to endure formal education; school of the air and probably boarding school. If she is lucky she may get a taste of another life and never return like so many of the young do from remote areas. Or she’ll be here till she is an old lady too or at least till the pub withers away.

We were camped across the road under a rickety old shade covering that was originally a horse shelter. It’s off the road and had a table and rough-hewn benches to sit on. We had our fill of beer and cake and it was time to jump in our swag. All around the makeshift camp area where signs of a little girl at play; a dolly’s pram and bits and bobs that furnished a cubby. It was her play ground when off duty from bar and kitchen duties and there, next to our tent lay something else, hidden.

How he saw it in the dim light of our torch is a miracle. To miss it would have been a shame although of course I’d never have known.

 “I have found some ones stash”

What” I reply. “What do you mean?”

Stash to me was….well it could be anything!

“Where?”

“See those rocks in the corner; well they’re hiding a box.”

My curiosity was always going to get to me, no chance of it not.

I carefully unstacked the rocks and exposed a clear plastic lunch box. I felt like I was an intruder. I nearly put it back and left it but something apart from curiosity urged me on.

There were Macca’s toys, Minties, miniature dolls, hairclips, an assortment of treasures and in a plastic bag a small note book and pen. Dare I read it? I felt ashamed of my prying.

The small book was a place to leave a message for the little girl. Others had found it before me and written a few lines and left a small gift. What a find; Comments from all corners of the country from other prying travellers!

 I rummaged through my bag and retrieved a pin with some bling on it that I had as decoration. I could live without it but even a nine year old, whip slapping, future manager of a  pub in the middle of Australia needs a bit a bling, so that is what I wrote along with thank you for being so creative and allowing us to share a small piece of her life.

I’ll never know what she thought of her small gift and it doesn’t really matter. For someone so young to invent such a game intrigued me. Did she watch out the window and spy on us spying on her stash? She trusted us with her stuff though. If that was here in the city it would be nicked!

I looked in the rear view mirror as we drove away the next morning… I couldn’t help wonder what the future held for the only child in at least a hundred kilometres. Maybe one day I’ll get back there to see.   



*


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Look what I have now?

Isn't she the most beautiful little creature you have ever set your eyes on? Spoken like a besotted Nana for sure. I love being a Nana! She is so much like her dad at that age...but hey...her beautiful mum is there too.
Her name is Brynn Charlotte...born at 12:43 AM 20th June 2011

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Visiting Friends

Dijana and me!


Lots of catching up and sifting and sorting through lifes challanges, a few glasses of effervesence al la 'Yellow Glen'. Summary for the delightful visit from a friend I have not seen for over two years is, two out of three ain't bad!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Crafty Memoirs




Front of bag!



Back of bag!
 Crafty Memoirs: I am to become a grandmother in June. Another  first for my list of never before achievements! I am very excited to say the least. I have made a tote bag for my daughter-in-law Kia to cart all the baby bits and pieces around when she is out and about. It's made from the jeans worn by Rob way back when they were in high school together. There is a small white rosette on the fob pocket that is off  her wedding gown, a trinket that used to belong to my Mum is pinned in with one of Robs nappy pins. There is reference to their love of the ocean as well as dogs and cats. The back side is literally being booted. Probably something I could have done more of but being a softy ....well I have sewn on his first booties instead. A labor of love! I had been keeping the jeans to make a skirt for myself. I am so glad I didn't get around to it. I am keeping my fingers crossed now, hoping she likes it!
I would like to say thanks to Annette Sibson for the inspiration! She is a very talented artist. You can see her latest creations on display from 15th April to 22nd May at Umbrella Studio. 

 
The bag!