Tuesday, February 20, 2007


Well the Aussies can shut up now about it never raining, one downfall added 230mm to one dam catchment in Northern NSW. I will admit it was all costal towns that got it and very few inland farmers saw rain at all. Some NSW farmers got the rain as flood torrents as it swept through their property, drowning sheep in the hundreds, from one extreme to another.
The rain had an extreme effect on us too. When we got the trailer tent the salesman said we had to weather it a couple of times to make it water proof. He said set it up in the
backyard and soak it down with the hose, let it dry and then do it again. Good theory.
In actuality, for us it was bloody useless advice; 1) we had no hose 2) we had no back yard. So we resigned ourselves to weathering it on the road. Well, we were told it hardly ever rains here, so we thought it would be a while before we encountered any issue.

First few nights in the trailer were a dream, and the bed was “oh so comfy”, Wendy and I were very surprised. Then on the 3rd day in Ballina “the heavens opened up” and they had an unusually large tropical storm, lasting several days. You guessed it, we got flooded out as every seam in the tent leaked like a sieve. Litres of the stuff came in and the beds got soaked. So, at extra expense we booked into a cabin and spent 4 days waiting for the weather to change and the tent, and everything in it to dry out.

Well we are now back in the tent, and guess what, it bloody rained again, all night however not a drop came in. Thankfully Johnathan had spent the previous day applying silicone spray and seam sealer on all the seams, “what an angel”.

All good experience just part and parcel of getting on the road.

We have been doing a lot of fishing and the other night after dusk Cassandra & Wendy both landed a Shovel Nose Shark (Head like a ray & tail like a shark).

Whilst staying in Ballina we caught up with some of Wendy’s relatives, Lyn, Gary & Judy who she hasn’t seen for some 17 years. Excellent day and visit, as Lyn & Gary were a wealth of information as they have been on the road travelling for years and they gave us some great advice. We watched the rodeo, which was on at the showgrounds where they were staying. (They stay for $10.00 a night, whilst we are paying about $27 per night, all part of the learning curve)
We have planned to meet them in a couple of weeks in a town called Miles (300 odd Km’s inland from Gympie). Gary has said he will take me for a fox hunt. (One of my goals) They gave us heaps of practical info to get us started especially about ways to reduce our spending, and other very important things like how to go for a shovel walk, but more about that in the future.

Wendy has christened our tent trailer Lucy ‘yes’ after her pet pig (which we ate).
I have enclosed some pictures to give you an idea what we are living in. Basically it is a tent 18’x18’. We sleep on top of the trailer on a super queen size space, the tent has a tub floor 9’x9’ where Cassandra sleeps & we store stuff. We have a step stool to get into bed, as it is high up. Then we have an optional awning we can attach with 3 walls, so we can totally enclose it if we wish. When I stand in the centre of the tent with my arm outstretched I cannot touch the roof of the tent, the side height is almost 6’ so I don’t have to bend down to enter, luxury! This week’s pictures the tent. www.castawaycampers.com will give you more of an idea.

I must say it is nice to be finally on the road, I can’t wait to dispense with Brisbane and hit the small towns.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Were drinking it here!

I have a small aversion to some spiders, and occasionally wake up at night from spider nightmares. Now that I have set the mood, let me take you on a visual journey.
Last night we had another visitor, (remember the gecko from the first week) this time the visitor was not welcome. I knew nothing of this visitor originally, until, Johnathan trying to be discreet, flicked on the light in the darkened room where I was merrily in nod land. Get this! he then informed me it was “nothing” he was just trying to “find something”, but I was “to stay where you are, don’t move”. By now you can imagine my curiosity had been peaked.
Johnathan is on the floor, on the bed, tentatively moving containers and items on the floor. Then he jumps to get a container to catch it, I’m going “catch what”, “just stay there”, he says.

Ok, now it is in the container; let me describe size to you. Close your eyes imagine your biggest daddy longlegs, now, imagine that daddy’s leg span being doubled. Ok, change the body to the size of your thumb and lastly add fine fur to the whole body.

I’m guessing my aversion is not going to disappear anytime soon. The books inform us this visitor was a member of the Huntsman family, and lives most commonly in gardens AND houses and comes out at night, yeeha.

On reflection it was incredibly funny Johnathan playing the gallant, while trying to be discreet, let me assure you, it took me some time to go back to sleep.
The following night he caught another one, unfortunately this tale is not so happy. He (the spider) was put in a jar “to show Cassandra in the morning”. The jar was placed outside on the table. The sun comes up early here (about 5 - 5.30am) and before Cassandra arose at 7.30am the poor little bugger had been toasted. Oops, guess he won’t be coming back for another visit.

Spiders aren’t the only things which are upsized here. One bug we found was dried out, which makes for easier handling. It had big horns on the top and bottom of its head; we gave it to Cassandra to find out what it was. (Part of her home schooling) It turned out to be a Rhinoceros Beetle. The body was over 5cm long, the width just over 3cm and the height 3cm, now imagine that with 6 big legs attached.
Putting the bugs and spiders aside, things in Australia are definitely different. Another experience which has caused us some humor is the Australian systems. Johnathan has been incredibly patient and I must commend him as I would have lost my cool very fast. Some of the systems here are incredibly frustrating and some Aussies are complete Wombles. Johnathan rang about 30 insurance companies, and none would insure us as we had no fixed abode. They need an address, so they can “set a rate”. Then they want to know where it will be parked at night and what address the vehicle would most commonly be returned to. Did they not hear the “no fixed abode” part at the beginning of the conversation? Anyway after many calls Johnathan found a lovely broker in Victoria who assisted with no issues, and insured the trailer & contents, to boot.

Another frustration is with the time things take. The car was registered and given a licence plate but the sticker needed to be posted out (could take anywhere up to 2 weeks) What’s wrong with these people? At home we can get everything there and then.
Tax number is going to take about 28 days, so we need to go all the way back to Brisbane to collect it from the Central Post Office.

They are very backwards here, we have found lots of places only take cash & don’t offer EFTPOS; we are absolutely dumb struck by it.
It is very frustrating at the moment waiting to get going. We would have been on the road earlier but the car yard we purchased our car from is buggering us about doing a few jobs I wanted done on the car. We had an RACQ (AA) check done on the car and there was a few minor things highlighted, the yard has agreed to do them but they move at the pace of treacle.

Mind you that has given us more time to explore Brisbane.
We went for a forest walk through the Karawatha forest, we came across termite mounds, massively big structures for little ant like creatures.
We also had a chance to watch the Wakeboard Woman’s finals on the Brisbane River; it was good to see a Kiwi chick first up. We made a day of it and wandered through the Brisbane Art Museum, most enlightening. Ask Wendy why one of the guards told her off. (I did not touch the exhibition despite what the uniformed Nazi thought.)
We finished the day by swimming at South Bank at a manmade salt water pool, which is situation in the park along side the river.

As you may have pick up on from above we have started Cassandra’s’ home schooling, so now a basic time structure has been put in place so the relaxing holiday part is over.

The Brisbane Art Museum was basically just a big yawn for Cassandra, but she did like the life size elephant painted in Bindi (Little dots) by Bharti Kher. The little dots had wee tails and looked a lot like sperm to Wendy and I, but that’s art for you.

We’re drinking their urine here.
Warning: queasy stomachs beware!

I know before we left, Steve & Dominic among others gave us advice on how to drink our own urine if we needed too, if caught in the outback. They seemed only too happy to regale us in stories of this nature. Dominic even tried to make a bet with us on how soon this would take place.
Well, the guessing is over, I have found out that in Brisbane, they already use recycled water to top up their fresh supply, due to the lack of fresh water availability. It was on the news recently as one Shire took a vote to recycle water and there was uproar. The following night on the main news they revealed 13 locations in Australia that already recycle waste water and Brisbane was one, it was a bit of a shock as most Australians thought their’s was a fresh water supply.
So we did not even make it to the outback before we lost the bet.

As we have begun to explore things we have come across some wonderful and humorous names and have decided to start sharing these with you.

One of the suburbs north of Brisbane was a place called “Humpybong”, this name gave me a giggle, however the belly laughs came from the name of a beetle learnt about as part of Cassandra’s schooling. A “cockchafer” is a beetle eaten by bandicoots.
We will continue to increase our vocabulary and share any quirky with those that are interested.

See Cassandra’s pictures this week.
Bindi Elephant (Brisbane Art Museum)
Brisbane River from River Cat
Water Monitors, dime a dozen over here, like sparrows back home.
Triceratops skull (Brisbane Museum)