One hundred years ago today……

A hundred years ago today (11 September 1914) some Australians fired shots in anger – it was the day the Battle of Bita Paka took place near Rabaul New Guinea, the day Australians first saw action in WW1, the day the first Australians were to die in WW1.

One month earlier on 11 August 1914 a new chum had answered the call and enlisted in what was called the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force. He had arrived in Sydney three years earlier after having served in the Hampshire Regiment of the British army so was well aware of what he was doing.  His regimental number was 194 so it’s safe to say he was near the front of the queue and raring to go.  He was a first cousin of my maternal grandmother.

Today The Golfer and I went to The Melbourne Shrine of Remembrance
(photos enlarge with a click)


The band played – colours were paraded



The armed Catafalque Party was there and banners were paraded

Band and Catafalque Party4

Politicians were visible – wreaths were laid

Politicians were thereWreaths were laid

Prayers were said and The Last Post played.

Last Post

 The Catafalque Party left – Soldiers and Sailors had been remembered

Catafalque partyPlaque

The Eternal Flame burned above the new plaque

Eternal Flame plaque wreaths

As we looked back at the Shrine on the hill

Melbourne Shrine

I thought of young James Bannister and wondered how well he would have done in Australia after the war had ended – sadly he never got the chance.
In January 1917 he lost his life on the battlefield in France

Bannister James William

Eyes down and looking…..

Andrew High Riser featured the Block Arcade in one of his recent posts which reminded me of how long it was since we’d actually slowed down and taken in the sights of Melbourne.
January 2010 to be precise!

After finishing off some business in the city The Golfer and I had some time to spare before heading home and found ourselves following the crowd into the Block Arcade.  Here in Melbourne we have several of these little quaint arcades in the city centre and this one has to be the best.

Block Arcade is a heritage shopping arcade in Melbourne Victoria.
Melbourne’s Golden Mile heritage walk runs through the arcade
It forms a short, narrow laneway, connecting Collins Street to Little Collins Street in the central business district of Melbourne.
It is also connected to Elizabeth Street in the west, thus, forming a L-shaped arcade and connecting to Block Place through to the Royal Arcade,_Melbourne

block signlink

Built in the 1890s – supposedly so ladies could shop in comfort (and safety) away from extremes of weather we get here in Melbourne.  Seemingly it was the meeting place of Melbourne with a reputation as the most popular place to been seen and shop.

“The arcade was a new shopping phenomenon – the arcade. Modelled on those developed in great European cities such as Milan, Paris and London, arcades were clean and modern, and protected the shopper from the heat, dust, rain and mud of the city streets.  Their architectural design facilitated new ways to display and purchase fancy goods. At this time, changes in manufacturing and higher wages made luxury more accessible than ever.  The modern shopping arcade enabled the buyer to indulge in the pleasures of looking, touching and contemplating goods without any pressure to make a purchase. Browsing became an accepted and expected pastime, and evolved into new leisure behaviour. A commodity that was no longer just a necessity but a thing of beauty, something to ponder and desire.”

Nowadays you will find lots of little coffee shops (one of the originals, the Hopetoun Tea Rooms is still there) and other rather expensive exclusive boutique type shops.

All very nice to look at – Enter if you dare lol

We were there at a busy time and there always seemed to be someone in the way so I couldn’t get any photos of the shop windows but look at the beautiful glass canopy up top (being early January the decorations were still there).
click to enlarge
1  2

What did catch my eye was the flooring – Look at the beautiful tiled floor- Seemingly the largest area in Australia – Imagine being part of the staff trying to keep it shiny and clean lol


and this huge circular piece is at one end under the glass dome.


glass domelink

Haigh’s Chocolates have a fabulous shop at one end of the arcade where they sell their very exclusive hand made chocolates – the sort of shop I’ll never pass by.    Glancing in the window, the sprig of Wattle that caught my eye then the display above it.

For sale – Quandong filled choccies – $109.00 per kilo (2.2lbs!)

That was when I remembered the saying:
A moment on the lips – a lifetime on your hips
and walked away 🙂

Links with loads of historical information and more beautiful photos:





We are one……

national day of mourning MH17

“I Am Australian”

I came from the dreamtime
From the dusty red soil plains
I am the ancient heart
The keeper of the flames
I Stood upon the rocky shore
I watched the tall ships come
For forty thousand years I’ve been the first Australian

I came upon the prison ships
Bound down by iron chains
I cured the land
Endured the lash
And waited for the rains
I’m a settler
I’m a farmers wife
On a dry and barren run
A convict and a free man
I became Australian

I’m a daughter of a digger
Who sought the mother load
The girl became a women
On the long and dusty road
I’m a child of the depression
I saw the good time come
I’m a bushy I’m a battler
I am Australian

We are one
But we are many
And from all the lands on earth we come
We’ll share a dream
And sing with one voice
I am, you are, we are Australian

I’m a teller of stories
I’m a singer of songs
I am Albert Namatjira
And I paint the ghostly gums
I’m Clancy on his horse
I’m Ned Kelly on the run
I’m the one who waltzed matilda
I am Australian

I’m the hot wind from the desert
I’m the black soil of the plain
I’m the mountains and the valleys
I’m the drowned and flooding rains
I am the rock
I am the sky
The rivers when they run
The spirit of this great land
I am Australian

We are one
But we are many
And from all the lands on earth we come
We’ll share a dream
And sing with one voice
I am, you are, we are Australian


These are the lyrics to a well known song called “I am Australian” (also known as We are Australian) which was written in 1987 by Bruce Woodley of The Seekers and Dobe Newton of The Bushwackers.

A very patriotic song – often taught in primary schools and has even been one of the songs considered to replace our National Anthem

A very haunting version of this was sung today by Katie Noonan at the Australian National Day Of Mourning Service for the MH17 victims at St Patricks Cathedral, in Melbourne, Victoria.

There were 38 people onboard who called Australia home
16 of them were from Victoria
Today we are especially remembering them

(but also thinking about the other 260 who were onboard and their families)

New heroes………………

On the surface it looks like Australia has two new young sports heroes
Well it just seems as though they are ‘new’ to their sports

In fact they have been ‘in their game’ for quite a few years
and are now reaping some of the benefits of all that hard work

Racing driver Daniel Ricciardo is 25
He has been around ‘cars’ most of his life moving up from ‘karts’ as a youngster through various Formula competitions to finally competing in Formula One.  He really came to the Australian publics eye in March this year at the Australian Grand Prix where he came second (but was later disqualified from for a ruling on ‘fuel flow rate’)  Since then he has won the Canadian Grand Prix.

daniel ricciardo

Tennis player Nick Krygios is 19
Represented Australia in Davis Cup matches, as well as other major tournaments he has competed in the Australian Open, the French Open, and has now reached the 4th round of Wimbledon.  He is drawn against Rafael Nadal so we will have to wait till tomorrow to see how he does.

nick kyrgios

Like all the ‘overnight sensations’ we see on the television pop music shows this couple of youngsters have been making their way up the ladder of their chosen careers for many years.

There wont always be smiling faces so lets wish them lots of luck for many years to come

R is for ………………..

It’s Friday again and time for Alphabet Blogging with Mum

Right then – this week the letter is R
And what I discovered is that:-
The letter R is the only letter in the modern Latin alphabet  (which is the one we use) in which the uppercase has a closed section and the lowercase does not.
Also that:-
The letter R is sometimes referred to as the littera canina (canine letter). This phrase has Latin origins: the Latin R was trilled to sound like a growling dog

Anyway for me the letter R stands for …….. Round

~ ~ Round benches Canada Place Vancouver ~ ~

~ ~ Round benches Canada Place Vancouver ~ ~

~ ~ Round the table Chinese style ~ ~

~ ~ Round the table Chinese style ~ ~

~ ~ Round weights for barbells ~ BodyPump anyone? ~ ~

~ Round weights for barbells ~ BodyPump anyone? ~

And R stands for ………………..Reflections

Right on my doorstep

~ ~ Runner duck and friends anticipating ~ ~

~ ~ Runner duck and friends anticipating ~ ~

~ ~ Runner ducks and friends leaving disappointed ~ ~

~ ~ Runner ducks and friends leaving disappointed ~ ~

 And far far away

~ ~ Reflection of glacier at waters edge ~ ~

~ ~ Reflection of glacier at waters edge ~ ~

So then I thought of………. Real and Reflecting

 There is a place for Real Life right on my doorstep – messy or otherwise

~ ~ An unguarded moment in Real Life ~ ~
~ ~ An unguarded moment in Real Life ~ ~







and there are refreshing and relaxing places for Reflecting on life

~ ~ Reflecting on life in Glacier Bay Alaska ~ ~

~ ~ Reflecting on life in Glacier Bay Alaska ~ ~

And are you ready for this Release:-
The Carpenters


 Mum is hosting Alphabet Blogging  –  pop over and see what others have found for the letter R

Perhaps you’d like to join in – next Friday’s letter is Q

S is for…………..

Ask most Aussies what S stands for and they will possibly say

Slip Slop Slap

The 1980 skin cancer prevention campaign suggested we
Slip on a shirt – Slop on some sunscreen – Slap on a hat

(Sorry about this but it looks like you’ll have to click on the youtube links
– they were embedded and visible –
but seem to have decided not to play ball the way I want them to)

Original version

Still relevant today with recent additions
Seek some shade – Slide on some sunnies

Updated version

Slip Slop Slap Seek Slide
Good advice no matter which country you live in

Do you have any campaigns like this in your country?

Mum is hosting Alphabet Blogging ZYX style pop over and see what others have found for the letter S

Perhaps you’d like to join in – next Friday’s letter is R

U is for………………..

U is for Unload

A couple of definitions of unload are:
To dispose of, to dump
To relieve of something burdensome, unburden

Thats what happens here at this time of the year.

Once or twice a year -depending on where you actually live
most shires and councils
have what we call hard rubbish collections

It is a service for every household
whereby you can leave all those things
enormous or small – broken or otherwise
that you want to get rid of
On the nature strip out the front of your house and a big truck comes along and does the deed for you

It lets you get rid of – to unload – to unburden
For Free

It frees you from the thought of having to organise all that moving
lifting and paying!!

Hard Rubbish 1

Thats it in theory
In practice its slightly different!

It’s when that old saying
‘One Man’s Junk is Another Man’s Treasure’
comes into play
and the Hunters and Gathers come out.

Little cars and big utes will glide by, suddenly stop and drivers pick through the piles.  Even when times are not hard like now it seems as though everyone is out for a bargain – turning into scavengers – in many cases utilising their skills by upcycling their gains
Unloading others of their useable cast offs before the council truck arrives!

The going rate on scrap metal must have gone up lol
Anything that looks ‘metal’ goes in a flash – washing machines, dryers, bicycles, as well as various other metal bits and pieces are swooped on and removed almost as soon as it hits the nature strip.

Anyway, judging by my ‘nosiness’ while out walking
(yes, I’ve had a little squizzy at some piles here and there)
I think sales in TVs must have rocketed.  From what I’ve seen
just about every house I’ve passed has at least one sitting on the grass.
Mind you it could be the result of the switch over to digital only era we have moved into – which so many older people are Upset over.
I wonder if they will have a truck just for them (tvs) on their own.

The trouble with all this ‘trawling aka car window shopping’ and then unburdening is that it starts to get messy.  Instead of the nice neat (as per council guidlines) separated piles of junk we end up with something like this.
click to enlarge

Hard Rubbish 2

A new version of urban sprawl 🙂

Mum is hosting Alphabet Blogging ZYX style
pop over and see what others
have found for the letter U

Perhaps you’d like to join in – next Friday’s letter is T

V is for………………

Have you heard of Vinnies


I know many Australians have
It stands for anything to do with the St. Vincent De Paul’s Society

The St Vincent de Paul Society’s 40,000 members and volunteers work hard to assist people in need and combat social injustice across Australia. Internationally, the Society operates in 130 countries and has over 950,000 members.

They run fabulous op-shops called just that – Vinnies Shops

You’ll often find me at Vinnies
donating – actively looking for something – or just rummaging around
never knowing what might turn up timthumb

What I like about Vinnies unlike some of the other national charity shops
is that any money raised/profit at a local branch stays in that area
It doesn’t go into a national pot

Vinnies and other Opportunity shops or Op shops
as they are called here in Australia – known in other countries as
Thrift shops/ Charity shops
have come into their own over the past few years

I got to know them back in the 1970s
They were then, and still are, fabulous places to get a bargain
Children grew so fast so for us all those years ago – when as I’ve explained before we were a bit short of cash – so it was mostly the clothing line that made the journey home
But often there were books and sometimes toys.

There are lots of reasons people shop at Vinnies

It encourages recycling, saves useable stuff going to the tip.
others can use what you no longer need
Sheets and linens and crockery are usually a good buy
And of course theres also the chance you could find something that is collectable

These days it’s become trendy for some to be dressed in clothes bought there
(think Retro/Vintage)
so watch out as it isn’t always little old ladies you’ll bump into flicking the hangers along the rack lol

Like many I’m thrifty (but not to the point of being penny pinching)
and never pay full price if I can help it.
It’s not that many years ago I picked up 4 almost brand new tennis racquets
for the grandkids to use here in the backgarden

That’s me being frugal and thrifty – buying second hand things
with lots of life still left in them.  My small payment is also helping others.

I’ve been good at clearing out cupboards recently and the car is chockers with stuff to donate to our local Vinnies – might just have a look round the store while I’m there ‘cose you never know what you’ll find lol

Mum is hosting Alphabet Blogging
ZYX style
pop over and see what others
have found for the letter V

What goes on there stays there…………..

There is an old saying something along the lines that ‘what goes on “there’ stays there’ – well heres proof (at my expense) that that is so true.

Having been to Darwin previously we decided not to do any trips but just pop into town on the bus and have a look around some of the shops.  Lovely idea says me, lets just have a quick cup of coffe and catch up with home as this is our last Austalian port.

Tell me more!

Tell me more!

So looking very casual and hopefully not too much like a tourist off
we trot down Smith Street Mall
in and out of shops not really fancying anything at all.

I think I'll go this way!

I think I’ll go this way!

Oh look at that says The Golfer – lets take your picture.

Pose for a photo - of course I will.

Pose for a photo – of course I will.

And another one he says – just as I take off my hat
Not a good move on his behalf.
Voila – a not very elegant, (buggered) pooped out and dripping wet Catherine
courtesy of Darwin’s hot humid weather and all that walking around doing nothing

Don't take one now - I'm sweltering!

Don’t take one now – I’m sweltering!

They say the camera doesn’t lie – just wish he didn’t use his quite so frequently

Don’t you just love it ………

When the achievement of a young 19 old representing his country for the first time is number one item on the national news. –

ashton agar  reuters

photo – reuters

THE greatest innings by a No 11 batsman in the history of Test cricket ended just two runs short of the most astonishing century on debut as 19-year-old Ashton Agar last night turned the Ashes Test at Trent Bridge entirely on its head.

source –

Not even falling two runs short of a century on debut could dim the smile on Ashton Agar’s face, and England spent the evening session at Trent Bridge trying to recover from seeing the teenaged No.11 whisk away control of the first Test.

source –

Read more:

Of course this is only the first game in a summer of cricket and there is a long way to go till the end of the last test in August at The Oval – plus there are many games in the UK after that according to this schedule –

So lets give him a pat on the back and wish him  luck in the rest of his cricket career
Go Ashton – you’ve even got me running around this morning with a smile on my face 🙂

PS – He even has his own page on wikipedia –

Today is Wednesday

It hasn’t rained today
unlike countless days last week
It has even been warm today – well warmer than last week
and so far (3pm) I haven’t had the heating on either
But possibly it just felt that way because it wasn’t raining lol

This what it looked like at 10am on Sunday morning
 Storm clouds to the front 

1 From the front wondow

Definitely black looking down the street from the front door.

2 From the front door

We had a visitor on the power line up near Bert’s house 🙂
Sulphur Crested Cockatoo

3 Cocky in the tree top

Looks like he had some mates in Bert’s other tree4 More Cocky friends

Normally they ‘hang out’ in the big gum tree at the bottom of the back garden
No idea why they took up that position 
‘cept maybe with some of the trees losing their leaves
they can see more of the neighbourhood

It was good weather for rummaging through cupboards and making decisions
Yes – the ‘do I need it’ ones 
Looking at the back seat of my car this morning
it would appear there were oodles of things I didn’t need
The things I didn’t need went to a collection van at the shopping centre

For those of you interested
the Snow Ski Season begins here in Australia in a couple of weeks 
Ski Victoria have a fairly good website
and as some of the resorts have already had falls
they are all hopeful of a good season

Mt Buller is just over a couple of hours away 

Mt Hotham a bit further in a slightly different direction

 Roll on summer!!

They come in all shapes and sizes

Close to home – they are fairly simpleMontrose and hills


Montrose Victoria (above)
Croydon Victoria (below)Croydon

Croydon close

Here are some more elaborate ones I have seen on my travels
Numurkah Victoria (below)Numerka


Yarrawonga Victoria (above)
Mareeba Queensland (below)Mareeba

And a fine one from Napier New Zealand (below)Napier

Then there are the enormous ones 
Calgary Alberta Canada (below)Calgary

 Perth Western Australia (below) Perth

There are different interpretations
like in Akaroa New Zealand

And Cooktown Far North Queensland

But all are built with the same purposeHead bowed

We will remember them

We will be on the road tomorrow making our way to Adelaide for Anzac Day (April 25th) where The Golfer once again will meet with his airforce ‘mates’ and march down King William Street honoring those who went before.

Never leave home without it!

And what would that be I hear you say!
Hold on I’ll tell you in a minute 🙂

 Something I’ve learn’t about travelling is that even with the best weather forecast in the world you never quite know if it will turn out the predicted way.
My Dad used to think that way as well
So there was one thing that always accompanied him on his travels
and that was his Pac a Mac 

Once he retired, nothing – especially a little drop of rain – was going to stop him being out and about enjoying himself (cringworthy at times Mum would say lol) He favoured the long raincoat style, it keeps me bum warm he’d laugh!Wet day at the wishing well


Having fun in the street on a wet day

Anyway he taught me well – the first thing I hunt out when we are gathering things together is my Red Jacket.  The best bargain I ever got – $5 in a sale many years ago.  Windproof and showerproof, Light (weighs less than 200gms) and Loose (so I can layer beneath it) and packs up flat into that little bag. My Red JacketSo much easier than the swish red Rainbird Stowaway one I have thats lurking in a cupboard somewhere – yes, I’ll agree it (R/bird) is more tailored and has a wicking lining but try as I might there was no way I could fit the whole coat into the pocket (as was suggested when I first got it years ago) and on the very rare time I ever managed to do just that all I ended up with was a lumpy roll lol  Now they come with an extra bag but you still end up with a bulky roll thats hard to pack!

Anyway it (my Red Jacket) has  been here, there and everywhere with me, fits nicely into my carry on bag when o/seas or comes along in the car for travel in Australia. Not always needed but reassuring to know its there.   A brollie comes too and they are great but can be lethal in the wind 😦

Heres a few of the places I’ve found it
Cruising along in the rain on its first trip to Alaska in 2006, where it visited the Mendenhall Glacier.  (Notice the layered clothing lol)  The Golfer came along as well. He had his own special jacket with him

Then it was spied in Newfoundland in 2010, firstly at the film set of Random Passage (tv series adapted from a book of the same name).  Another day it was seen walking along the boardwalk of The Tablelands in the Gros Morne National Park, later with its hood covering another warm fluffy hat it braved the cold on Western Brook Pond.   It found its way to Quidi Vidi Battery – an historic place near to St John’s – then on to contemplate the hard life of the early settlers near the cold Atlantic Ocean.  Thankfully as the wind dropped for a little while it found time for a laugh and smile with a blue jacketed friend

It’ll be tagging along with us when we’re up north in Queensland this coming Winter.  Hopefully it won’t put in an appearance then 🙂

To see the photos full size click on the first photo of each gallery,
it will open to a slide show, scroll down to ‘view full size’

Who got a surprise at Mt Surprise!!

Mount Surprise
is a small place south west of Cairns on the Savannah Way.  Its a strange name for a town miles from anywhere.  This article from the Northern Herald newspaper describes how it got its name

This is Ezra Firth The first European settler
who took up Mount Surprise as a sheep station in 1861The naming stories seem to vary because
I found another one here and yet another one here !! 

Right out the front of the van park we stayed in at Mt Surprise (July 2012) is the remnants of the local cemetery.  One morning we wandered over to take a little look at the very tiny ‘Mount Surprise Memorial Cemetery’ as it is called which is actually listed in the Australian Cemetery Index.

This plaque lists the names of some who are buried there but more detailed information is supplied here and a little bit more here which describes the cemetery exactly as it is – a forlorn patch of ground right beside the road..
click small photos to enlarge 

Seeing these Black Kites soaring about above us didn’t help with the mournful feeling there either lol  Too high to get ‘good clear’ photos – my little Canon only has a limited zoom so I’ve cropped this to give you an idea of their wing span and general outline.

Later the golfer asked me to come for walk with him down to the creek – we’d seen the sign for Elizabeth Creek from the road

and been told it (Elizabeth Creek) was just out the back, down the rocky trail behind where we were staying (Jo and Joe’s van park).

Just one problem tho’ – I’d been told there might be snakes around so tread carefully……and he wondered why I was getting further and further behind lol

I stopped along the way to ‘admire and talk to’ this lovely Red Winged parrot

Red Winged Parrot

So by the time I scrambled down onto what I thought was a dry creek bed

He was already waiting for me –

and nobody was more surprised than I was with what I saw
Supposedly a small creek but certainly not small by the creek standards we’d seen elsewhere!

Oh what a raging torrent it must be in the wet – see how the trees have been bent from the force of the water flow

Now I must tell you about my BIG suprise whilst I was down there – I’d been standing a bit further downstream from the golfer ‘trying’ to take ‘arty farty’ reflection shots like this not very good one

when I saw a bit of movement out of the corner of my eye to my left and heard a sort of muted splash  – yes, you’ve guessed it, moving around in the water close to the red blob I’ve put on the photo was a BL………y BIG crocodile!!  I didn’t stay long enough to take his picture tho lol

Lets just say I couldn’t get back up off the river bed fast enough – no worrying about snakes on the path or looking for pretty coloured birds – this scardy cat just wanted a sit down and a nice cup of tea.  Steve Irwin is not my name lol

PS. When we did get back to camp and I remarked about what I’d seen, one of the staff very noncalantly just said ‘ Oh yes they are there alright, but they are freshies and won’t do you any harm’ – freshies meaning fresh water crocs.

Butterflies Flowers Volcanoes and Kangaroos

Undara National Park 
where we saw it all
Before we went down into the caves we’d climbed the long trail

To the top of the  Kalkani Crater

We were walking along minding our business looking out over the area below

And there it was
I was lucky enought to see this beautiful brown spotted butterfly
sunning itself on some grass and definitely not bothered by the group of people walking by.

Euploea core
Goes by the name of:
Common Australian Crow Butterfly Common Crow Butterfly Oleander Butterfly

The Common Crow (Euploea core) is a glossy black butterfly with brown underside with white marks along the outer margins of the wing. The wingspan is about 8–9 cm and the body also has prominent white spots.
The Common Crow is distasteful due to chemicals extracted from the latex of the food plants consumed in their caterpillar stage.

There were plenty of them around

The adult butterflies only have four normal legs, as the first pair of legs is not fully developed

Don’t ask my why but I’m always surprised when I see the wild cousin of plants we have been used to and tend to think of as cultivated garden plants.
More often than not the ‘wild one’ is just as interesting as the cultivated one
like the Australian Native Pandorea.

Heres Julian talking to us about the smallish bush we came across
Pandorea pandorana

Pandorea is a genus of 6 species, of woody climbing vines and creepers in the family BignoniaceaePandorea pandorana ranges in habit from a scrambling plant to a vigorous vine, growing on larger trees in forested habitats

We had a great walk round the top of what was an extinct volcano and look what we saw as we were driving out of the park
Is this my good side?

No I think this is!

Great day out and I wouldn’t mind going back some time
For a clearer look all photos will enlarge with a click 

Light at the end of the tunnel

We finally made it – We were now in Gulf Savannah Country and one of the reasons for the long trip was see the Lava Tubes at Undara.  We had chosen not to stay in the famous accomodation at the actual national park which ‘contains the remains of one of the earth’s longest flows of lava originating from a single volcano’ but at Joe and Jo’s Bedrock Village – a van park in Mt Surprise itself about half and hours drive down the road  – the road being The Savanna Way

Our guide on the day we took the tour to Undara was Julian – one of the knowledgeable Savanna Guides allowed to take tours there – a fun fella who looked after us really well and answered all our questions.

All photos will enlarge with a click

After doing the Crater Rim walk it was off to the actual caves – walking along bush tracks that had been kept to a minimum width to not disturb or affect the land in any way.    That way the cave entrances are not evident – known only to the guides.

We visited a couple of the big caves and as you can see had to negotiate our way down the rocky entrances very carefully – some were bigger openings than others, all surrounded by forest, but if you look really hard you can see Julian standing alongside the rope ladders ready to lend a hand whenever it was needed.  These are from both our cameras, they turned out a little dark so I’ve altered the exposures by hand.  Enlarging them (with a click) will make them clearer

So once our eyes had become adjusted and with the help of the fabulous little torches we were loaned we were eager to see what was hidden down there.

Rather than just write loads of information in the post I’ decided to put lots of links in.  Do click some of them to see what it was all about.
More to come next time
See you then

Now where were we?

Oh yes 2 days down on a 4 day drive – taxing to say the least.  Actually there seems to be a pattern to our behaviour during these long drives – this is not the first time we’ve ventured this far north and the same thing seems to happen each time.

Day one starts excitedly, we’re a bit hyped up having spent the last few days making sure we have everything ready and packed in the car so it takes us till lunchtime to relax and get into the swing of thngs.  By the end of the day all this catches up with us and we are glad to get to our first stop.  Day two we start to bicker – happens each time!

Even tho we have bits and pieces in the car (to read, craft and listen to) as well as snacks to eat I think it’s the effects of sleeping in a strange bed and the prospect of another long day on the road that brings on this stupidity – as thats what it is.

‘Why are you changing the radio station – I was listening to that CD, why are you changing it – why have you changed the heating/cooling – what do you mean keep both hands on the wheel – this one when you can see for miles ahead and there’s not another thing in sight!’  Silly little things. 

By day three its back to normal again, it’s as if we’ve settled down into a better routine knowing and accepting there’s nothing we can do about the size of our great land and as we’ve chosen to drive and not fly thats all there is to it.  Day four the excitement is back again, we know we are on the last leg of the journey to our first destination and relaxation.

On this trip, the unusual changeable weather of the first two days (its supposed to be the dry season up there!)  hadn’t helped our emotions and attitudes so when we left Charleville on the third morning it was good to know we were back to talking to each other lol.  It was going to be a long day driving in the outback to Hughenden via Longreach and Winton (9 hrs) and seeing blue skies and sunshine and not rain and the fog helped – also knowing the countryside was going to be fairly flat and wide.  We’d spent some time travelling and visiting places along these roads three years previously so knew what lay ahead.

Looks very similar to above but was actually taken a couple of hours later.

It was a drive with lots of snoozing and quiet times but to bring us back to reality we did come across plenty of this along the way – road works in the middle of nowhere.  All the action was much further down the highway but they still needed the road clear of traffic at times.  There is so much road work going on in Queensland it could have a post of its own lol

And this was a really welcome sight at the end of the day.  What a change in temperature as well, instead of putting the heating on to warm the cabin we had to put the cooling on lol – had an early dinner of Fish and Chips along with an early night so we’d be ready for another day on the road in the morning.

Leaving Hughenden the next morning the sky seemed to have a very strange looking hue about it – such a quiet and peaceful rural look out there it was a shame to move on.

But on we had to go –
seeing the mysterious looking low lying fog
brought back memories of a couple of days beforehand.
This was how things looked at 8am

and oh dear, by 9am the real thing had emerged again lol

Charters Towers came and went and then it was onto the Gregory Development Road for the last leg of the journey to Mount Surprise.  Some travellers had warned us The Gregory Developmental Road is ‘a bit of a nightmare’, with a single lane in the middle of the road for much of the way with very soft shoulders on either side – now guess whose turn it was to take the wheel when this stretch of road turned up lol

Originally used by road trains and mines traffic but just recently tarmaced the idea is that you slow down and pull over to one side when the big trucks come by – they have right of way.  And I can tesify that ‘they’ don’t slow down for anyone or anything lol  Oh and the road doesn’t look like that all the way – there are great big chunks of it that are gravel or dirt !!

Now heres a few things to do to amuse yourself – when your camera is behaving itself.
Take pictures of your hat, the sound system and the temp guage.  And then wonder what certain clouds remind you of.

When we first noticed it this lonely cloud looked like the
Mediterranean island of Cyprus
That where I met Dh so we then spent a while reminiscing about those days

 Oh isn’t love grand – great ending to the day

All systems go

So we are off and running about 6am the first morning – I’m still half asleep at this time so traditionally Dh takes the first ‘shift’.  The rain was tumbling down – not a good sign to start the day, we just hoped it would clear up.  No luck where that was concerned, 2 hours up the road to Shepparton, time for me to take the wheel and it was teaming down.

Lets just say that for most of the next 7 hours this is what we saw.
A Very Wet Windscreen
with wipers moving continuously from one side to the other!

We ate our packed lunch in the car – we only stopped to refuel and change drivers, no pictures were taken along the way as I usually do when we are out and about, it was certainly not the best day’s drive in a long time.  At the end of the day we were quite relieved to reach Cobar, even there it was cold wet and horrible so we just ate a quick dinner at the pub and bedded down for the night hoping for better weather in the morning.

Next morning it looked good to begin with.  The long straight road out of town was dry and even though the skies were heavy above there was a promise of something nice on the horizon.

The scenery changed, there were wide open spaces – and there it was – a little bit of blue sky peeping out from behind those strange cloudy skies.

Oh and look the sun was there as well.  Yes, it was early and like me it *the sun* was just waking up, sitting low on the horizon hidden by cloud, but it was enough to make us feel we really were ‘on holiday’ now lol.

That was at 8am
– by 9am it had all changed –
the countryside is now shrouded in thick fog!!

Now you know those roadside signs (like the one below) that you see warning of unfenced areas where stock may roam across the road – they are all well and good when, like below, you can actually see the road ahead.

We definitely didn’t see the one warning that this mob
might be wandering across the highway lol
Roads still wet in places – thick fog
and bl……dy great animals appearing out of nowhere
can’t say we don’t have things to laugh about!

It was getting a bit grim there for a while but by the time we got to Cunnamulla just 120 kms north of the New South Wales / Queensland border and stopped for lunch it had all burnt off.   Which did make us wonder what we had been moaning about lol

So after being Fed, Watered and Rested we set off on another couple of hundred kms drive north down (or is the UP?) the Matilda Way, along the long road to Charleville with nothing on either side but the open land of homestead properties.

By now I was loking forward to a lovely lamb dinner round the campfire – speciality of the van park we were booked into – and even when we were about an hour out and more rain came down again I didn’t mind too much as we were nearly done for the day – of course that feeling changed when we arrived to find it had been cancelled because of the rain.

So it was off down the road to a local pub, the historic Hotel Corones, for our evening meal and then home to bed and the dripping? (more like thumping) of water off the surrounding trees onto the cabin roof from the rain that came down during the night!!

If we are ever in Charleville again we intend to stay one night in that Pub/Hotel – talking to a couple we shared our table with at dinner (there were plenty of spaces in the dining room, sharing a table with other travellers is a way to find out about the roads ahead and places of interest) – anyway they were staying there for the night and told us about the old fashioned feel to the place and how comfortable the rooms were even if you did have to go down the corridor to use the bathroom and toilet!  They had been given a tour of the hotel when they booked in but were sad that nobody of importance had slept in their room!
Bye for now

PS There is a statue in Cunnamulla erected as a tribute to a song writer and a muscian – I’ll tell you about it another day.

So where do we begin?

Thanks for all your Welcome Home comments and emails – we were on the road for a couple of months staying in cabins and living out of a suitcase so it is good to be back in a house with all the amenities (and the clothes) to choose from.

After all that time in the sunshine I certainly found it cold, wet and miserable the first few days back, then the rain stopped and the sun has come out so things don’t look quite so bad.   All the thin summer clothes are back in the wardrobe and its back to sensible warm things suitable for the current temps – read fleece tops and warm pants lol

Where did we go for our Winter trip this year?

I could just tell you we drove through 3 states (Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland) on our way to Cooktown going via Cobar, Charleville, Hughenden, Charters Towers and Mount Surprise, down to Cairns and then on to Bowen (midway between Townsville and Mackay – coming home to Melbourne through those same states but on different roads via Rockhampton, Goondiwindi and Forbes but not many of you would have an idea of where those places were.

So to help you with that I found a map online – added a red line for the out (up) bit and then a blue line for the down.

We broke the trip north at Mount Surprise to stay a couple of days and visit the Lava Tubes at Undara.  With the road from Hughenden to Mount Surprise being closed due to heavy rain we had to go via Charters Towers which meant the total mileage (kilometreage sounds daft lol) from home to there was about 3000kms in the end.  We had travelled this route before and knew what it would be like but it still turned out to be Four Long Days!!

The drive to Cooktown (which is the most northerly town on the east coast of Australia) was a doddle at 500kms compared to the previous but going through the Atherton Tablelands didn’t mean we could take it easy.  Twisty turny is the name of the game and as we’d never driven the road north of Mareeba before ‘taking very good care’ was the name of the game.

Visiting Mount Surprise and Cooktown was on last years agenda but with Aunty Pam dying and us having to return home for the funeral we didn’t get there so I was quite pleased we achieved it in the end.

A short drive (300kms) down the Bruce Highway to Cairns a few days later and we caught up with a very old airforce ‘mate’ of Dh’s – stayed a couple of nights and then moved on to Bowen (500kms down the road) for the rest and recuperation part – Six Whole Weeks to do nothing much but enjoy ourselves.

All good things have to come to an end so reluctantly we took the long drive home down the Bruce to Rockhampton and then on the Newell via Goondiwindi and Forbes.  Total of 2500 kms from there to here and with a mileage of over a 1000kms going out and about whilst we were in Bowen the poor car added about 8000 kms to its odometer reading.

Once I’ve sorted the photos out hopefully I’ll be able to tell you a bit about some of those places over the next few posts.
Bye for now

Seen on a Sunday #2

Sunday September 6th 2009  Winton Central Western Queensland,_Queensland

On a hot Sunday afternoon we were pottering down the main street in Winton
and came across this fella.
Just sitting there doing nothing:)

He’s the infamous Jolly Swagman
made famous in the poem by A B ‘Banjo’ Patterson
which later became a bush ballard and our unofficlal national anthem.
‘Waltzing Matilda’  

I’ve altered the image to highlight his features

It won’t be this year
we have other places planned to visit
but hopefully we’ll go back some other time to say G’Day.

17/30 June Post a Day