Monday, January 28, 2008

The Luxury of clean toes.

Let me just say we are proud to be Kiwi’s, but on occasion when we meet other kiwis, that are travelling the Oz Experience circuit we almost want to deny our heritage, only because some people we have met are complete and utter dicks. Mind you it is not just the kiwis, there are lots of idiots travelling, and I think it must be a generational thing, perhaps I am getting old?
Putting that aside it is interesting to hear some of the fears and uncertainty from a lot of the backpackers. They think that suddenly because they are in the outback they will see more snakes and spiders; it is great fun to take the piss, because we don’t think there any more out here than anywhere else. Anyway, we show them to their rooms (bush cabins) which are a bit like stables (unlined, with big gaps between the roof and the wall), which allows for airflow. You hear gasps and squawks when instead of spiders they see little geckos, big eyes and suction cup feet, and then exclamations of “I’m not sleeping here”. They are absolutely delighted when you inform them they should be glad they have geckos because that means there are no spiders. One girl even tried to go and claim geckos from other cabins for her room. Not sure why they care, as most of them are so drunk when they go to bed they wouldn’t even know if a spider or snake nested in their bed.
The reality of it all is there are some incredibly poisonous animals here. On the ground you occasionally see little perfectly round holes with webs over them. Of course the curiosity is peaked (Wendy’s’ curiosity) and out come the sticks and the poking starts at a good arm length away. There have been some really big spiders in those holes, poisonous hairy ones with big fangs. I have stopped doing it now just in case I accidentally piss one off that can jump. The other day one of the staff girls came to kitchen carrying a t-shirt which she had left on the line (for a long time), attached to it was a big spider, when it was poked with the ever handy stick, the f***** thing took off really fast shooting a ½ cm web out its bum. That was really freaky, especially given we decided it was a funnel web spider, very deadly. Scary, because I thought they only lived in holes in the ground, now I will have to check clothes that aren’t used for a while, like raincoats.
Since our December blog about Johnathan’s bronco ride there have been subtle little hints about when he is next going to ride, nothing is planned just yet but that is mainly because of scheduling. We are currently on holiday on the Sunshine Coast after dropping Cassandra off at the airport, she was nervous about flying on her own but also very excited and it was interesting to see our little girl spreading her wings.
She in fact kept asking us when we were leaving, so she could go it alone. In the end we stayed until it was 20 mins prior to her flight beginning to board.
We have a luxury of an apartment with a bath and a shower. Johnathan has had several baths as we only have showers at home. You can luxuriate in a bath in way that you can just not do anywhere else and you feel clean and relaxed. This brings us the point of clean toes. It is amazing how little things can provide such enjoyment. At the farm there is so much dust and when not in work boots we all wear scuffs with holes in them as they are easy to slip on and off. Problem with these is your feet and toes get very dirty. Johnathan came back one day saying “look clean toes” to which Cassandra and I beamed back with smiles of full teeth. Now don’t picture this wrong, we all shower daily, but this standard routine does not get all the dust off that builds up round your toe nails. We don’t have to worry quite as much anymore though as we have moved out of the tent and now live in a little cottage with a big verandah. It is beautiful, as although we all still live in the same room, we now have our own shower and toilet. So our feet don’t get dirty walking from the shower to our home. The best thing about having a house is Cassandra now has a formal area to study which doesn’t get dusty and she won’t have to put everything away between uses to stop it getting dirty or wreaked from the elements.
While on holiday we also have a TV and have found ourselves watching that a lot. One of the highlights of this holiday was “The Police” concert we went to in Brisbane. Johnathan was in fine form and being a big, big fan of them he knows all the lyrics. He even suggested his singing voice was as good as Stings, I was quick to inform him this, may have been purely because we couldn’t actually hear him (Johnathan) singing over the music from the speakers. Oh, how deluded some people are! To finish the evening off we had a visit from the actual men in blue, back at our hotel, at 1.30am. The neighbouring room had had a computer stolen and had been verbally discussing (in loud voice) it for about 2 hours prior to the Police coming. They had heard our computer shut down and must have informed the Police during their visit so they came to check, sucked in, ours was a different brand. The police and the Hotel both apologised to us. Oh the city is an exciting place, not. We could never live in one again.
Not sure if you have been keeping up with the weather or the current affairs of Australia but big things weather wise have been happening, big floods and damage costs in the millions. Anyway it is hard to put into words which will evoke the emotions we have about our area. We have not personally had floods but we have had what would be close to a miracle. Imagine a mind-boggling experience which is almost unbelievable. We have for a long time joked about Australians not knowing what a creek is because all the creek crossings here are dry, just empty sand beds. Anyway we have one of these empty sand beds running through the park, where the horse trail ride and walks happen. There are trees and Lantana growing everywhere and this sand bed has been this way for over 4 years. Anyway we have had no rain except for about 11 mm over the last 3 weeks; everywhere has been getting storms and floods. We are in a bit of a valley and the rain goes around or dumps itself on the range about 12 km away. We had no inclination of the amount of water which had been rained on the range. Johnathan went to take a couple of staff members up the creek bed to a water hole about 6-9km from the park the other day. The track crosses over the dry creek bed several times to get to the place. Anyway Johnathan had got only about 2 km from the park and there was water flowing down the creek, he crossed that one, but by the time he got to the third one he had to turn the 4WD around and come back. When he called the park on the 2way radio to tell them, he was not believed. The boss’s son in law rushed out to check for himself. Back at the park the water was not running, so Johnathan and Andrew went out on the motorbikes following the creek bed backwards to see where the water was. They met the water coming down about 1km from the park. When they measured its speed by placing a rock in the water and one in front in the dry it was travelling about 1 metre every 30 seconds. Later in the day they visited the wharf at the park which when you stand under it you can not touch it and the water was slowing coming toward it. Standing under the wharf Johnathan said the water on his right was ankle deep and the area on his left was dry as the water hadn’t yet reached it.
This wharf is at least 7 feet of the ground, the following day the end was under water, 20 minutes before this photo the creek was bone dry.
When we got up the next morning the water was running past the park and this meant another visit to the wharf was required. This is the amazing thing, and I wish I could describe it so your heart wells up like ours did; the wharf was covered in water. We are talking about a creek about 10 metres wide and over 6 feet deep, appearing from nowhere, all within 24 hours. It was the coolest and most exciting thing I have ever experienced. We went for swim in that water, off the wharf. Johnathan even took a horse in for a swim with another staff member. He and Cassandra also headed back into the farm up to the first river crossing, which was now too deep to drive through. He suspended a rope across to help them cross then they went up stream and rode the rapids down using the body board. Cassandra said it was better than the Wet’n’Wild theme park.
We have been told the water will last most likely until about June and once it seeps into the ground it will provide water for the park for about 18 months.
Coming from NZ I had trouble comprehending it. What is also amazing is the floods that happened inland are going to cause floods on the coast but they have had 10 days to prepare for the torrent of water that will eventually make its way down the rivers towards the coast. It is like waiting for clock ticking, they estimate the flood will hit Rockhampton on Wednesday morning and the river will peak at 8.5 metres above its normal level. The water has had to travel approximately 400-500 km. Incredible!
Australia keeps giving us new experiences and we continue to love it.
We have a new addition to our family, his name is Boss and he is cool. He is cockatoo that fell out of a burnt tree and couldn’t fly. He was found before he was old enough to feed himself and we looked after for 10 days when he first arrived but have since inherited him because the girl that had him has left the Park.
Cassandra has the job of feeding him mostly. He has the coolest personality and normally walks around the place picking up bright and colourful things. The other day he picked up a beer can and tilted it to his mouth. Boy, the backpackers loved that photo opportunity. He eats muesli and fruit but especially loves peas. He has been a bit adventurous lately as he is learning to fly. Unfortunately he has got lost a couple of times as he can get up but can’t get down from trees. It is silly as Johnathan and Andrew have been climbing trees to get him down as he looks really sad and pathetic after being up there for a while. To save ourselves the grief the boss trimmed his wings the other day to stop him flying off, this upset some staff but in reality he can not look after himself yet and his wings will grow back in about 8 weeks. We really miss having animals and Boss helps to fill that gap, but we are trying not to get too attached although I think it is already too late.
See you next time.