Monday, September 29, 2008

“On the road again”

A full day doing cattle at Bluerock,Wendy operating the run and brent on the crush.

Well the busy season has been on for the last few months. It has been cold here but because it is the summer school holidays in the northern hemisphere people tend to travel. We have had several big groups of American kids, some polite, some rude, some with lots of money (parents credit cards) and others with no extra money. Unfortunately I have to say that the bad rep’ Americans have is duly deserved. This was reinforced for us when we recently went to Cairns on holiday. On one occasion we were given instructions about how things were going to happen during a trip to a bat cave. These instructions were repeated twice. There were several different nationalities there who didn’t speak very good English. However, guess who got the instructions bloody wrong, you guessed it the noisy, arrogant Americans. What is worse they spoke good English, this I know because they were loud enough for everyone to hear them.
The groups that come to Kroombit do horse riding and bush walking and seem to really enjoy themselves. Our groups that have been in are the regional schools for their yearly camps; they do things like abseiling, ropes course, orienteering, and horse riding with bush dancing or campfire as night activities’. Johnathan has been very busy during the day working with kids. As per usual I have been in the kitchen coordinating everything so meals all go out on time.

Cassandra meantime has been working very hard at school she has been doing ok and seems to be enjoying herself; she is a typical teenager in that she talks really fast about things that interest her. You should see her at the library pizza group with other girls her age. Basically I don’t know how they hold a conversation because the chatter just seems like a blur. They eat pizza and talk about allsorts of things but especially books the library should consider buying. Cassandra continues to be an avid reader, although I suspect this may change now as she just got a laptop computer for her 15th birthday.
Can’t believe she is 15 years old. Everyone keeps telling us she will start to show an interest in boys, oh what a scary thought. She just had a social outing at school where they went to Rockhampton to the movies. They are planning a final day one where she gets to go to Lady Elliot Island, offshore from Gladstone, for the day sounds like an awesome time. This is great because of where we live she doesn’t really get the opportunity to do things with her mates.

Cassandra just helped out with some puppies we adopted for a week. The park here has Meremma guardian dogs which look after the goats.

Mereama Puppies

Anyway these dogs had 10 puppies between them and Johnathan was given them to get rid of or sell. They were stinky, smelly ‘hell devils’ when they arrived because the dogs are essentially wild. They had had no contact with humans and were terrified but we persevered and washed and cuddled them and they came right. Man they were cute and fluffy after we got done with them, but they had very sharp teeth which Cassandra found out the hard way, when one little bugger bit her to show his appreciation of his bath.

While we are on the subject of Cassandra, she occasionally has driven the car around the park and sometimes home from town. Recently she was in the car on her own and was returning it to the carport. Your basic 4 uprights and a roof, we park our camp trailer at one end of it, you guessed it she hit the trailer head on, her first accident. She put her foot on the accelerator instead of the brake. Thankfully, there was no damage except she managed to move the trailer off it blocks and bunt it about a foot.

Now Cassandra is getting older we decided to go out for a date and leave her at home. Miley Cyrus was on TV and we would have had trouble taking her with us anyway. We decided to go into the big town of Biloela and have a night out. We choose Saturday night, you know the biggest night of the week. We headed into town and went to the restaurant, only to find it was closed and never opens Saturday. WHAT, who ever heard of that? Any way we went to a second location and you guessed it closed again. Saturday night in Biloela is no big deal. Any way the third place was open and as it happened we had the place to ourselves the whole time. As one of the locals said to us you could have fired a cannonball down the main street that night and not hit anyone.
So that was our big night on the town.

Biloela is quite small but not so small, it has a local show, and this is a big deal in Biloela, all the locals can enter their wares in various competitions. Like best chook, best marrow, wheat, cow, cakes, baking, I think you get the picture. Well Wendy certainly did, she entered a number of photos in different categories and got 3rd place and two highly commended. She was on cloud nine. As well she should, they were great photos.
I am now an award winning photographer if I may gloat, haha. I also won $1.00, that is, one dollar, yeha.

We have just come back from our holiday in Cairns and we had an awesome time. The first night in, we went to the local safari park and had a night tour amongst the hippos, lions, rhinos, and bears. It was cool seeing these things at night as generally we see Australian animals. Johnathan loved the Syrian bears; you should have seen the claws on them. What an excellent way to start a full-on holiday.

Syrian Brown Bear.

We rented a car so organized to travel inland to Cobbold Gorge 6+ hours driving, a place we almost got a job at before deciding to stay on at Kroombit. There were lots of termite mounds and it was hot. We went on a 4wd tour and small walk before hitting a boat to go down the gorge and look at fresh water crocodiles.
Very cool place but no regrets about not going to work there. Kroombit continues to offer us so much.

Cobbold Gorge, Crocodilus Johsoni. Johnsons Fresh Water Crocodile
A split second after this shot he bolted for cover into the water in a microsecond, the boat was less than a meter from him. He is about 1.2 meters in length.

From Cobbold we headed back towards the coast, to the Undara Lava Tubes, these are the longest lava tubes on the planet, we did a couple of tours there to soak in the experience, a day visit through the tubes and a night animal sunset tour, the location was amazing. Johnathan wishes he could be more complimentary about our guide Tim, knowledgeable he was, but dynamic he was NOT.
Undara offered railway carriages as accommodation. The bloke who purchased the place saw theses carriages rusting in a Brisbane rail yard and purchased them and had them trucked on site and refurbished into rooms. After buying the property (including the lava tubes) and the train carriages and turning the lot into a tourist park, the government forced a sale and turned the place into a national park, so now there are other tourist operators working at the place.

The next morning we were up at 4.45am because of the long drive ahead and because it was Cassandra’s birthday so we wanted to make sure we had at least the afternoon in civilisation. We went to Port Douglas and the Daintree, we however did not swim in the ocean as it was windy and beach was all muddy and rough. The Daintree River was not swimmable either as salt water crocodiles live there. So instead we did a boat cruise down the Daintree. This was relaxing and super cool as we saw both big and little crocodiles in the wild on their turf.

Then we went back to Cairns, we took in the Skyrail ride (cable car/gondolas) which travel over the rainforest for 8 km to Kuranda. We did all the tourist markets and watched hard rock candy being made. Basically they put all these coloured stripes of soft hot candy together in lengths and then rolled it together making it smaller and smaller as they stretched it out like spaghetti. The end result was a stick which said ‘I love Cairns’. Everyone watching could not believe it.

One of the highlights of our trip was a drive to a national park with waterfalls, Josephine Falls and Babinda Boulders. We had to walk a short distance in the bush to rock pools where Johnathan and Cassandra went swimming. At Josephine they went down a section of the waterfall, Cassandra was so brave and looked cool doing it. At Babinda, Johnathan met 3 locals who were jumping into a boulder strewn gorge and floating down a couple of sections. There are warning signs not to swim in this section and the brochure has a big warning on it, also on the left as you walk in is a commemorative plaque for a soul who came to visit and never left. Any way Johnathan was tempted by this adventure and decided to follow these locals (one of which had been drinking) so he proceeded to jump the 10+ metres, into the gorge below and floated down the two sections. He said it was an exhilarating buzz, and until the last day of the holiday it was the highlight of his trip. That was until we went out on the reef. Cassandra & Johnathan Under the Reef Magic dive platform.

We left the reef to the last day because the weather had been windy and the travel agent suggested it was going to be fine by Saturday. It turned out to be an awesome day. A full day at the Great Barrier Reef, it’s hard to put into words the sheer enjoyment we all had all day. That is if you don’t count the boat trip out there. Cassandra the smart little monkey had her head down reading, claimed she didn’t feel a thing. Johnathan walked around and ate all the time and I sucked on ice because apparentlyit cools you down and makes you feel better. Well at least I didn’t throw up on the way out. Lots of other passengers did. HA. Oops, I suppose I should not mislead you because truth is I loved those fish on the reef so much that on the way back I thought I should feed them. Not by choice I admit, my stomach was heaving on its own. Man I felt seedy. However this did not destroy my day though.
The reef is one of the coolest things we have done since being in Australia. When we got out to the reef we did a heli flight over it to get a birds eye view, it was awesome. We had planned on only snorkeling on our own but we ended up signing up for all the paid activities for an all-round experience. There were only 53 people on board so made it easier to access activities.
Johnathan and Cassandra did an introductory scuba dive while I went on a guided snorkel. Cassandra was amazing and took to Scuba like a duck to water, no issues. She also went on an advanced snorkel trip with Johnathan on the outer reef and loved it. We all loved the day it was awesome and I would recommend it to anyone who loves water and doesn’t get seasick!!!

For our last night out in town we walked the waterfront eateries looking for a place to eat. I (Johnathan) was astounded by the shocking prices and was damned if he was going to pay $30:00 for a steak. At Kroombit we eat a steak most days cut from the slab, and these prices were damn disturbing. We spent an hour walking and driving around and eventually gave up and went to McDonalds. Macca’s wins again. So don’t eat out in Cairns.

When we arrived back home we were greeted with a scene of destruction. It appears while away we had a visitor up to the verandah and he has torn up the grips and seat on Wendy’s exercise bike. Boss (the cockatoo) had missed us and decided to visit, not sure if his destruction was vindictive or just him being him. Usually he comes up and pulls all the screws and nuts out of Johnathan’s tool box and then runs for shelter if he is caught in the act. Apparently he went missing for 2 days while we were away. As soon as he saw us last night he came a running. It is nice to be home.

Well, as updates go that is it. We now have to save for our trip home to NZ at Christmas.

The great Barrier Reef.