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Sept 2011

A Trip to Queensland

Tuesday, 27th September 2011

On Friday we drove in the Terios to Brisbane. We had to avoid driving through Bingara because we had discovered that the streets in Bingara were covered with wet red stuff which was causing very bad dirtying of the sides of cars which drove through the town. We went up the back road to Bundarra. On the way to Bundarra I had to stop and get a dead lamb off the road to help other drivers and to reduce the risk of carrion eating animals and birds from becoming other road kill. And then went on to Inverell, and Glen Innes, where we stopped for coffee. We then up the New England Highway to Warwick where we refuelled the car and had lunch. Then we drove on to Brisbane which we reached at about 3 o'clock.

We had arranged to stay with my sister Barbara in St Lucia this weekend so that we could celebrate my son Alain's birthday on Saturday. We had a marvellous dinner and conversations and a great night in bed. We haven't been to St Lucia since June 2006 so we were very happy to spend time with Barbara and Ron.

On Saturday we went to Wynnum North were Alain lives and had afternoon tea with him and Chris Woodhouse who has been part of our extended family when we lived in Frenchs Forest in Sydney and his wife Holly who we had spent time with in Brisbane when we were grey nomads and with their two children who had been born in Sydney but who needed to live in Brisbane because on of them was suffering from a chest complaint which the doctor had suggested would be improved by changing the weather from Sydney weather to Brisbane weather. I has indeed worked well.

On Saturday evening we had a birthday dinner with Barb and Alain at a Thai restaurant, Siam Sunset, in Graceville a few kilometres away from St Lucia on the way to Oxley. The dinner was wonderful and we were happy to celebrate Alain's birthday in such a nice place. I was happy to play a song called Siam from a Night and Day recording in my on my Macbook computer. The staff at the restaurant were impressed with my doing this. After dinner I congratulated the proprietor and said that I was so impressed that I would come there again next time I was in Brisbane. He was very pleased.

On Sunday we were taken to the Brisbane Art Gallery by Barb and Ron to see an exhibition of photographs by a famous french photographer, Henri Cartier-Bresson. It was a pretty good exhibition and I talked to the guides to tell them what I thought of the show.

After our tour of the exhibition we went to lunch at the Art Gallery Cafe. We sat outside in the fresh air and I was entertained by a pair of Straw-necked Ibises who were irritating some of the other people. I kept stopping the birds from getting up on empty tables to eat food scraps. The other good thing that happened was the arrival of a beautiful lizard and its juvenile. I recorded its features and took a couple photos with Jean's camera so that I could identify it's species when I got back home and could use the Encyclopaedia of Australian Animals - Reptiles. I couldn't find a lizard like the one we had seen in the book. Perhaps it is an exotic species which has escaped from someone's collection, maybe not, maybe just an omission of an Australian species from the book.

In the afternoon and evening Ron and Barb went out to visit some of their children. Alain came to St Lucia for coffee. We took him to Hawken Village because Ron had said that there were several coffee shops there. We saw a place with a Di-Bella sign and went there because we all believe that Di-Bella coffee is the best available in Brisbane and is better than most other coffee around Australia. We all scored the coffee five out of five which is the best score and most unusual. We all were happy to have a second cup. The lady serving the coffee was most impressed when I told her why we needed more coffee.

I saw a Thai restaurant which had a takeaway sign and checked with them and took a takeaway menu with us back to St Lucia. Later I ordered what we both wanted from the menu and I drove back to Hawken Village to pick up the dinner and buy some lovely yoghurt from the local supermarket which was still open.We had a wonderful dinner at Barb's place and were very pleased with what I had bought..

On Monday we went to Noosaville stopping on the way at Maroochydore to buy some fabric from a famous shop. We went to Noosaville to catch up with our wonderful friends Philip and Helene Procter who we had visited many times when we were grey nomads and who I had helped in the preparation of new editions of Philip's book, Camps Australia Wide, a wonderful book about RV camp site all around Australia.. We were so happy to catch up with them again. We took them out to lunch which we all enjoyed at a good Thai Restaurant in Noosaville. We left Noosaville in mid afternoon and went back to St Lucia. I made a navigation error at the end of the Kingsford Smith Drive in Brisbane and we found ourselves in the recently built Clem Jones Tunnel and had to do quite a bit of navigation to find our way back across the river so that we could drive to St Lucia.

We had a lovely dinner which Barb had cooked and we went to bed early to sleep overnight so that we could set off for Barraba early next morning.

On Tuesday we drove back to Barraba. The journey was OK except for a couple more navigation errors. I took the wrong diversion on the Warrego Highway and had to drive right through Ipswich. I was happy to see the details of a place we hadn't driven through before. I took a wrong turning in Allora and we had to do a trip through the countryside to the west of Warwick. I was pleased to view some lovely landscape we had never seen before. The increased distance of the journey from Brisbane to Barraba because we went through Toowoomba instead of going over the Cunningham Gap was about 50 km.

We stopped for coffee at Warwick and I went into Big W to buy a cushion which would reduce the pain in my buttocks when we drove for many hours and I refilled the fuel tank at the same servo we had visited on the way to Brisbane.

We went on to Glen Innes and had lunch there where we had had morning coffee on the way to Brisbane.

When we were driving to Inverell we were looking for a Shire Horse Stud that we had visited in the early years of our grey nomad travels. We couldn't see it so I went into the Inverell Visitor Centre and asked some of the staff why I hadn't seen it. I was told that the horses and the owners had all retired so the place was no longer there.

We drove to Barraba via Bingara and didn't get dirtied by the red mud others had suffered from. We arrived at Barraba at 5.30 o'clock and dropped our gear at home before we went to the Marretts' for dinner.

We had had a great long weekend and were very very happy with what we had done.

Revised: 7th October 2011

Another cultural high note

Sunday, 18th September 2011

Today we went to the Playhouse Theatre to watch a play called "The Weather and your Health" written and acted by Bethany Simons who now lives in Melbourne and who tours Australia with her work. Her husband acted a supportive role of her boyfriend.

The play started by Bethany telling us she was born in Gilgandra in 1933.

The play covered lots of issues of people growing up in a country town and we were all very impressed with the play.

The programme said that "the play is about country life, as seen through the eyes of my Nan who spent her formative years in the NSW town of Gilgandra before moving to Dubbo, the big smoke, where I myself grew up."

After the play we had an afternoon tea and I was able to talk to Bethany saying that I had visited Gilgandra in 1943 when I was eight years old which made her smile.

I later talked to her Grandmother who was the central character in the play and she was impressed that I had visited Gilgandra in the 1940s and had visited it again when I was a grey nomad.

The audience was pretty large and it was obvious that they all enjoyed the play. When I called for three cheers for the Playhouse at the afternoon tea everybody joined in and impressed Andrew, the proprietor.

Some more medical attention

Thursday, 15th September 2011

On Monday we went to Tamworth so that Jean could be checked by her Periodontist. She was OK as she has been every time she has been for a check up.

Yesterday we went to our GP to get the results of our recent blood tests. The results were good which shows that our diets and our medications are working well. I am impressed because I believe that being "controlled" type 2 diabetics means that we won't be at risk of suffering from any of the ill effects which are normally said to threaten diabetics.

Mowing Again

Sunday, 11th September 2011

All winter long the lawns didn't grow at all so I didn't have to do any mowing. Now that spring has sprung with lots of rain and lots of sunshine the lawns are all growing fast.

Having the ride on mower back working properly and having a dry sunny day gave me a chance to mow the lawns.

The mower worked well and I got lots of the long grass and long weeds mowed down. I had to leave some of the long grass near the fences but the lawns now look pretty good so I was happy with what I had done.

I think the mower will stay in good condition so doing all the lawns maybe once a week will be easy as long as the weather stays good.

I am quite satisfied that I can do this without having to use the small push mower which caused some difficulties with my ageing body.

Another visit to Tamworth

Thursday, 8th September 2011

Today I had to go to Tamworth to attend a Tamworth Regional Council Volunteer Forum. I was representing the Barraba Community Development Committee which is a committee of the Tamworth Regional Council and is composed entirely of volunteers. I was also representing Barraba Community Incorporated and Barraba Branch of the Australian Red Cross which are also volunteer organisations.

I was accompanied by my wife Jean and my Granddaughter Kelly who wanted to do some shopping there. The shopping in Tamworth is necessary because we don't have as wide a range of retail items in Barraba as they do in the city of Tamworth.

The forum was not very impressive. I had thought that it would be about what we should do to ensure that we had an adequate number of volunteers and that they would be good at what they had to do and would be well satisfied with their jobs. Sadly we were told at the introduction that the forum was a study of volunteers by Council Staff who were doing a management course at the university and their course project was do research into volunteers so they were simply interested in what we said.

An Unhappy Evening

Monday, 5th September 2011

We had an Annual General Meeting of the Community Development Committee tonight. I was elected Assistant Secretary again. The Chairperson, the Treasurer and the Publicity Officer were all re-elected. Last years Secretary had resigned so we needed a new Secretary. My daughter, Sarah, the Publicity Officer volunteered for the job and was elected.

After the AGM we had a monthly General Meeting. Many regular issues were discussed and some good decisions were made.

There was an issue on the agenda which I had been promoting at previous meetings.

The issue was that the Council had not removed the 24 hour limit on the free camping in the Barraba Lions Park. The Council had come to an agreement with the Campervan and Motorhome Club to call Barraba an RV Friendly Town. The principal of the RV Friendly Town scheme was to make RVers comfortable in free camp sites near the town so that they would be encouraged to stay for a few days which would result in them spending their regular weekly spending in the town.

I had been arguing that the Community Development Committee should strive to get the 24 hour limit extended to support the scheme principal which would benefit the town's businesses.

Sadly a new member of the Community Development Committee who was an ex Caravan Park person had been arguing against my idea on the grounds that extending the time limit would remove the ability of the Council to evict badly behaving long time campers.

I had argued that this was not a completely sensible idea because the 24 hour time limit would result in the RVers considering the town to be unfriendly which would encourage them to go elsewhere and to spend their regular weekly spending in another town and to advise their friends to avoid our unfriendly town.

Tonight's meeting had a brief discussion on this issue. The first thing said was that my ideas were purely personal which I denied but the meeting passed a resolution to quit any activity to get the time limit changed. The vote was pretty well all in favour.

My response to this was to consider that the members were not prepared to accept my ideas but were prepared to accept the particularly biased and irrational idea of the ex Caravan Park person.

My immediate response to this was to think of resigning from the organisation because the members had demonstrated a pretty universal irrationality which could affect the goodness of the decisions about other issues. I haven't resigned but I am pretty unhappy. My hope is that I will recover from this.

A Great Celebration

Sunday, 4th September 2011

Today was Fathers' Day so we had a family lunch at the Playhouse.

The food was gorgeous and we drank lots of our favourite grey nomad wine, Banrock Station White Shiraz. I was able to give some to a couple of people from another family celebrating Fathers' Day, they were also impressed with the wonderful wine.

As it was also a celebration for my birthday tomorrow I was given marvellous birthday presents by my daughter and my grand daughter.

It is so nice to have somewhere in Barraba as pleasant as the Playhouse to have celebration meals. I am always impressed.

When I went to pay for the meal I was told that it had already been paid for by someone else in town, I wasn't told who that was, but I was very happy.

I was please to find out this morning that Chico the cat had found his own way out through the new at flap which I fitted yesterday.

More house work

Saturday, 3rd September 2011

Today I spent some time in the morning doing the laundry because the weather had come good with no clouds, just lots of blue sky and sunshine.

In the afternoon I decided to fit the cat flap I recently bought so that we could keep the screen door closed, we had left it open a bit for several weeks so that Chico, the McAlpine cat we are looking after could come and go as he wanted. The open screen door had given rise to an unpleasant number of flies and other insects in the wonderful fully flyscreened new back deck.

The job was very hard on my body because I had yo use lots of tools including a tenon saw very near floor level. I did get all the work done and have tried to train Chico to come in and go out through the cal flap. We will keep an eye on him to make sure that he has learned what to do.

Another busy day

Friday, 2nd September 2011

Today I had several volunteer jobs to do.

Early in the morning I had to go to school to spend an hour and a half doing the Junior Red Cross Breakfast. I was so happy because my friend Pam King who lives across the road from the school, came to help me. She did say she would be pleased to to join the Barraba Branch of the Australian Red Cross so I will give her a membership application form.

We didn't get any JRC children to help us today. I spoke to one of the regular helpers and she told me that there was no roster at the moment which was why no-one was helping today. I asked her to arrange a meeting of all the volunteers and she talked to the Principal and came back to me with a meeting organised next Monday late at lunchtime.

After that job I had a two hour meeting with the President and Secretary of the Barraba Community Incorporated to discuss what we had to do about the Barraba Artisans' and Farmers' Market, and to arrange when we were going to have a general meeting to get all the members to contribute to the decision making.

After a very brief break I had to go to the regular General Meeting of the Barraba Branch of the Australian Red Cross. There were only three of us at the meeting, the other two were long time members who were recently elected President and Treasurer ( I am still the Secretary ). We had some good discussions and made some good resolutions and closed the meeting after just over an hour.

In the afternoon I had to pick Jean up from the Claypan after her Friday morning craft session. I then had a bit of rest to get back on top of the day. Sadly the McAlpine's cat, Chicko, who is living with use while Mark and Cathy are away was off in the afternoon doing his normal tour of the area so we didn't get much of a chance to talk to him.

The end of August

Thursday, 1st September 2011

Yesterday I had to do the Junior Red Cross Breakfast at the Central Primary School.

Today I had to prepare lots of documents for tomorrow's General Meeting of the Barraba Branch of the Australian Red Cross of which I am the Secretary.

I didn't have any time left to do any other work.

Next Monday will be the Annual General Meeting and the General Meeting of the Community Development Committee of which I am presently the Acting Secretary. I have done all the preparation for these meetings earlier this week.

During the weekend I will have time to do some domestic work. On Sunday I am entertaining all of my family at a father's Day lunch at the Playhouse at which I expect to the only father celebrating his birthday just one day away. We are always impressed by the restaurant at the Playhouse.

Today I checked with Karl at Rural Traders to find out if he had been able the repair my mower. He told me that he had found that the belt had become badly distorted so he was trying to get a replacement. I was impressed that Karl had been able to do work on the mower that I wasn't able to do and was happy that he believes that he can get it back into full working order.

Spring has not arrived

Wednesday, 31st August 2011

Even though I was expecting another really sunny day, it didn't happen yesterday. There was a lot of clouds in the morning and in the afternoon we were covered with a great layer of dark clouds. Sadly that meant that I couldn't do the laundry.

Because of the weather in the winter we had to stock up on clothes so that having to wait a fairly long time for a fine day to get the clothes washed, we didn't run out of clean clothes. That still makes the present weather not too bad for our laundry.

I am looking forward to the real spring so that these delays don't occur.

Happily, the sheep that were living in our back paddock have been taken away. I used to have to check on them every day and recently feed them hay every day. I also used to suffer because every time I went outside in the back lawn or even in the carport, the sheep would shout at me and I would be worried that they might be waking up our neighbour who works at the hospital on the overnight shift and needed to sleep during the day. Now none of this gets at me.

Strangely the sun has set due west today even though the equinox when I expect the sun to set due west is 21 days away. I will check the sunset bearing every day until the equinox to see if I have misunderstood the astronomy.


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