Opals, emu eggs and nutters

I had always wanted to visit Lightning Ridge. I had been to Coober Pedy and found it fascinating, so a trip to the Ridge seemed to be a must.

After leaving Moonie, we headed west, across to St George. Here in St G. is a marvellous collection of carved emu eggs. An old Greek fellow does them; he has a story to tell about his years in Greece during WWII and how he came to St George and happened upon this carving of the eggs. The gallery is called the Unique Egg, and unique it is: beautiful carved eggs with portraits, landmark moments like the Commonwealth Games, Merino Sheep, Diggers and so on. It is well worth a visit.

We had lunch and proceeded south-easterly, through the small town of Dhiranbandi and onto Hebel, right on the border of QLD and NSW. Hebel has a small cafe and a pub. Cuppa time there, and in the cafe, home made pies of every description, yum. Back on the road and towards the Ridge we went. The roads were rough, but very little traffic was going our way. They were all heading north, smart people! The further south we went the colder it was.

We finally arrived at Lightning Ridge and the van park was right across the road from the bore baths: natural thermal water straight out of the ground, water which was 41 degrees in temp. I did not go in as it was far too hot for me – the people climbing out resembled lobsters. One woman almost fainted from the heat of the water. We settled in for the evening and next morning began to explore the area.

Masses of rocks white in colour, big rocks, small rocks, powdery rocks – all left over after the opal is extracted. There were many colourful characters to chat with, though they did give us strange looks, as if to say, don’t mess with my dig. Signs warning of savage dogs on the loose, and land mines ready to explode, were dotted about the digs. Also, car doors are the chosen way to advertise everything. Green car doors, red ones, blue and yellow ones, all telling a story.

A castle, yes, a castle. Built by a European man, it’s unfinished but quite a work of art. There’s also a monument to the astrologers and an art gallery of John Murray’s wonderful emu and animal paintings. The sandstone sculptures were done when the owner of the dig found no opals. He is making more from his sand sculpture tours than he ever would from digging opals.

Finally, there’s a large open-cut mine, aptly called Lunatic Hill. In my opinion, one would have to be a lunatic to go down the little holes in the ground. I always reckon if I had been meant to go down a hole in the ground I would have had grey fur and a white fluffy tail.

All in all, Lightning Ridge is indeed a place of wonder

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where the heck is tooraweenah

Well, Tooraweenah is a sleepy little town at the southern gateway of the Warrumbungle National Park.

My travelling mate John and I had been reading good reports on the caravan park at Tooraweenah, so this trip to Queensland seemed the appropriate time to check it out.

First night away from home we pulled up at West Wyalong showgrounds. Nice powered sites and clean tidy amenities. And plenty of room for puppy to run. This was also a first time stopping place for us.

We travel with our dog so at times it is a little difficult finding a dog friendly park.

Next day, up early as it was very cold that night. After breakfast, bacon and eggs, of course, we set sail northwards.

The Newel Highway can be a busy Highway but on this particular day it was really pleasant. Plenty of time to look around at the wonderful scenery. Near Peake Hill there is open cut mining happening again. Apparently a large seam of gold has been detected so the landscape is quite different now. All heaps of overburden and many large machines working away.

Up through Dubbo and Gilgandra we went, big hills abounded, but the trusty ute pulled that big van like no bodies business.
Halfway between Gilgandra and Coonabarabran was the turn off to Tooraweenah. Down the hill lay a sleepy little town. Historic Tooraweenah dates back to 1880. One can take a self guided tour around the town, taking in the original old buildings and imagining life as it were 130 years ago.

A short drive away is the beautiful Warrumbungles. The scenery is amazing. A little further on is Sliding Springs, home of Australia’s largest observatory. All well worth a look .

We located the park and were met by the owner as we entered the gate.

Geoff was very friendly and even asked where we would like to park the van. He told us his wife Sara, would be over later to do the paperwork, just settle in and relax he said.

After a short while , Sara came over to see us. She had a tray of freshly baked scones, with jam and cream. Oh ,how yummy they were.
What a wonderful way to greet guests. We chatted for a while, Sara invited us to damper by the campfire a little later in the evening.
This park certainly was something else. It is amazing how good it feels to be greeted by friendly helpful people. Not all parks are like this.

The park also had a fenced dog run for those people with pets. It meant our dog could run around off the lease and be safe from any traffic. Another thoughtful gesture.

As pets are not allowed in National Parks, the owners of the park will care for pets while their masters go trekking through the hills.
We really did not want to leave this place, but had to be in Brisbane a few days later.

One sure thing though, we will be staying a few nights on our way back to Victoria.

Have you stumbled across a beautiful and special place while travelling? Where was it? Why did you love it so much? Tell us in the comments below…

The What pisses me off Section…just because.

Number 1

When Flu takes away my mojo.
I love to write and get really pissed off when I lose my train of thought. Some days the words just flow, it is easy peasy, I hardly have to think at all and before too long there is a 600 word piece waiting to be submitted to SAS.
But, this past week, I cannot for the life of me put any thoughts to paper. Even writing this seems like a tremendous task.
Maybe it is because I have had a killer flu for a month. I have not had flu for 10 years and this one sure makes up for those years that have been flu free.
I am really annoyed. I am so tired and feel completely useless at times. Cough cough cough, all day and night. Aches and pains all over. I feel like I have been tramped on by a thousand stampeding buffalo.To make matters even worse, I developed a severe case of conjunctivitis as well. OH heaven help me, swollen , mucky eyes. Itchy sore red eyes. A friend asked why I was wearing sunnies inside. I took them off and showed her my eyes, Ye Gods she exclaimed, you look like something out of a horror movie.
Thanks for nothing friend!
Where are my thoughts? They seem to have been cemented into my poor aching head, never to be released again. Oh dear, what a terrible thought. The writing I do is what keeps me amused , it allows me to vent my frustrations, live my dreams , it is better and cheaper than going to a shrink. People give opinions on my articles, it makes me feel good, sometimes makes me feel bad, It helps me make decisions. I feel like I am able to conquer the world. Except for this flu..It has robbed me of my mind.
Please go away flu and leave me alone. Let me get back to being me. Give me back my mojo. Please, please, please.

number 2

Doctors who think elderly patients are either deaf dumb, stupid or all three.
I have on many occasions accompanied elderly people to visit the Doctor.
Almost every time , the Doctor has addressed me, and not the actual patient.
Just because someone is old, does not mean that they cannot understand what a person is saying.
Take for example Mrs A. I accompany her to the Doctor once every six months. Mrs A is 89 years old and more in touch with current affairs than I ever will be. She is a wonderful old lady , one that I can have a discussion with on any topic. She is smart, she is not deaf, she can speak very clearly, her only problem is that she is old and needs blood pressure medication.
Every single visit is the same. The Doctor looks straight at me and asks “ how are you today, what can I do for you”. I look straight back and tell him I am fine , it is not me who has come to see him , it is Mrs A.
Still looking directly at me, ignoring poor Mrs A, he asks me what he can do for her.
I give him another steely look and tell him to ask Mrs A as she is the patient.
He seems reluctant to look at Mrs A and ask her, maybe he has a phobia about old women, maybe he just does not see her, although he should, as she is larger than I ,and not easy to miss.
The Doctor finally looks at Mrs A and asks her what he can do for her. She replies that she would like a new prescription please.
Doctor , again looking at me, “what medication are you on? And how is it , are you having any side effects?
Oh, I am not on any medication Doctor. I am not the patient, Mrs A is.
By this time I am really annoyed at this , needless to say , so is Mrs A.
I have a thought, maybe if I am not I the room he may address the right person. I excuse myself and leave the room.
When I return I see that there still has not been a prescription written out.
Well Doctor,” are you going to write out a prescription for Mrs A or not.”
Oh he replies “ I was just waiting for you to return”.
Spare me please! Am I the only one who can see Mrs A? The poor woman, how degrading it is to be treated like a nobody.
I thought that Doctors were supposed to be learned people. Surely it is not too difficult to treat an old person in a normal manner.
Finally it is done, we leave the clinic , we have a bit of a chuckle and decide that next time I will not go in at all, I will just drop Mrs A at the door and wait outside for her.
I wonder how long it will take ..

Number 3

People who don’t use a spoon to get Jam out of the jar.
I get so pissed off when visitors come for a meal and show that they have no manners.
Take getting jam out of the jar for instance.
So many people just dip their knife into the jar, even though I always put a spoon next to it.
Once a persons’ knife has been dipped into the jam jar it usually leaves globs of butter in the jar.
I find that quite disgusting.
Sometimes the person even licks their knife before putting it in the jar, how gross is that?
Over the years I have lost count of the numbers of jars of jam I have had to throw out.
There is nothing worse than a jar of jam with huge chunks of butter mixed into it…
The thought of the butter and maybe even saliva from the licked knife is almost too much to bear.
One look is enough to make me physically ill.
When I was a kid, my dad would insist on jam being put into a cute little dish on the table, and a jam spoon placed beside it.
I thought he was a bit strange, but now I have seen what happens if this is not done.
So Dad, you were not as strange as I thought..
In fact, from now on I am going to do that same..

Number 4

Cotton.
Cotton all over the side of our beautiful roads.
It looks disgusting, it looks like someone has blown their nose on a thousand tissues and dumped them. It looks like small pieces of used toilet paper flying everywhere.
It makes me mad.
Whilst travelling about our beautiful country it soon becomes clear in which areas cotton is grown.
The roadsides suddenly become littered with white stuff. Everywhere there is white fluffy stuff.
The average person would be fined thousands of dollars for littering like this. The cotton carriers seem to get away with it.
There are signs all over the outback, asking trucks to dump their dust before entering a town. Asking the carriers to spray the animals in the tick bay before proceeding.
Why can’t signs be put, where appropriate, for the Cotton carriers, asking them to cover their load.
Surely it would not be too difficult to cover the load so the pesky white fluff would not blow all over the road.
There must be a way of preventing it.
There is a way of preventing it.
Just cover your load!
I am sure some enterprising soul would make an absolute fortune if that person was dedicated enough to collect all this waste. Heck, I reckon one could make enough undies for a thousand people out of it.
Enough sheets for a family of 300. There is no end to the uses of this litter.
Cotton is expensive, the average Aussie cannot afford to buy pure cotton garments. Yet, here it is, absolute waste, all over the side of the road. It goes on for hundreds of kilometres, sometime really thick and other times not so much, but all the while it is there.
Maybe we should start a petition to stop all this litter.
Now that sounds like a good idea.

SAVING POTSY’S COW

Mr Potts was our neighbour, I called him Potsy but not to his face of course. He had bought a farm next to ours, and didn’t have much clue about anything to do with farming. Potsy was from England, he had been a mechanic over there. This is probably why he was somewhat ignorant about the way a farm works, and of course on how to treat livestock.
He had a nice jersey cow, but kept it tethered on a short lead, even though he had over 1000 acres in which it could roam.
I was about 12 years old at the time and hated to see this poor thing tied up all day, most days in the blazing Mallee sun, without a drink of water.
I would wait until I saw him go down the paddock and ride over to untie the poor beast.
Day after day I did this.
But Potsy must have been smarter than I thought .. He set a trap. He went off down the paddock one morning , as usual, so when I thought it safe, I raced over, (on my horse) and untied the beast.. Uh Oh… Potsy came roaring back, shouting and frothing at the mouth… I kicked the horse into action and tore off home… Potsy in hot pursuit. I went around the back of the shed to hide, ooops , Dad was there. Dad told me to go inside the house. After a fair bit of loud talking, and a few choice words Potsy left .I was shaking when it was time to face my father…I’m in big trouble I thought. Dad grinned at me, and trying not to laugh told me it wasn’t a good idea to meddle in other peoples’ business ,even though he did agree it was wrong to tie up a beast and leave it without water , shade or food. It was downright cruel to do so.. He must have given Potsy the message as well because from that day on the cow had the freedom to roam about and never again was it made to suffer…

GREASE IS THE WORD

My luck changed a few weeks ago, I, who had never won anything, not even a booby prize. I who had never scored any freebies, not even anything completely useless.
Thank you Emma, for giving me the chance to see Grease, the Musical.
I must have gone to the Post office three times a day, for a week at least, hoping the prized tickets would arrive. I just wanted to hold them in my hand, to be sure it was not a dream. At last, they arrived.
My excitement could be likened to that of a kid in a lolly shop being told he/she could have whatever they wanted.
The days were ticked off on the calender, the time seemed to drag, I had told my daughter of my good luck and naturally she would come with me to the show. Grease was her very favourite movie. I think she was just as excited as I was.
The next week I went out and bought 50’s style wigs and clothing to wear to the show.
The day arrived. Woo Hoo, up early to catch the train to Melbourne. A five hour trip, it seemed to take forever.
My daughter met me at the Station. We couldn’t stop talking about the show. I am sure people must have thought we were high on drugs.
There was still a few hours until we could go to the Regent theatre, so we decided to get changed into our outfits and go down to Chinatown and have our very favourite dumplings for dinner.. Oh how I love chinese dumplings, can’t get such things up in the sticks where I live. The staff in the restaurant were giving us strange looks, but it worried us not. We ate till our stomachs were bursting and then walked around to Collins Street to the Theatre.
There were people everywhere. As soon as we walked up the steps the press converged on us, taking photos with some of the cast. I guess they loved the old granny done up like a pink lady and the young chic looking very 50’s style.
Heck, we almost felt famous. Time to go in and partake of the free wine on offer.
There was no one else dressed like we were, but many people had 50’s style clothing on. Everyone was hyped up ready for the show.
We entered the theatre and took our places in seats that were very close to the stage, excellent seating, and right in front of us sat Patty Newton, her daughter Lauren and Laurens two children. I was tempted to ask for a photo but thought better of it. I am sure it would have spoilt their night if everyone had converged on them wanting photos.
Suddenly Bert Newton appeared on stage. He was playing the role of Vince Fontaine (the Brain) DJ. He joked with the crowd, sort of geeing everyone up, getting us in the party mood, as if we weren’t already.
He is good, old Bert, he certainly knows how to work an audience.
The show started, Val Lehman as Miss Lynch was great.
Danny was played by Rob Mills and Sandy by Gretel Scarlett.
The singing and dancing was fantastic. The T Birds, none of the actors were familiar to me, were darn good as were the Pink Ladies. Lucy Maunder who played Rizzo was great. Stephen Mahy as Keninckie, gosh, there are some talented people here in Australia.
Todd McKenney, love him or loathe him, what can I say Mr Teen Angel. You rocked. I have never been a Todd fan but have to give him credit, he can sing and dance wonderfully well.
In fact I think he was probably the most outstanding performer on the night, even though he only had a small role.
At the end of the show there was a much deserved , standing ovation.
Well done cast of grease the Musical. You certainly deserved it.
Thank you once again Emma, for giving me the chance to see this wonderful production.
I felt that all my Christmasses had come at once.

BRING ON JULY

July is the month I head north. It is the month I leave the southern coldness behind.
I should make every month July.
The mornings of late have been cold, damp and miserable. I do not like the cold.
I am a warm weather person.
The cold seems to turn me into some kind of hibernating monster. I just cannot function with any normality.
It is as though everything freezes over, especially the brain.
Oh how I would love to move to a warmer place. I keep asking myself why I do not do this.
There is never a clear answer.
Last week I did make some progress though. I joined a house sitting site and put my name down as a potential house sitter , for those wanting their home and pets cared, for whilst they went on holidays.
I am good at caring for pets and other peoples homes. I take pride in keeping a place nice and tidy.
I take pride in making the pets feel loved, so they will not fret for their owners.
I think I would make a great house sitter. I have experience, years of it. I have house sat for family on many occasions. They never had any complaints.
This might be the first step to a permanent move up North.
It could be the push I need to do a runner from this unbearable cold.
Hopefully it will make me see that it is not too hard to relocate.
I have lived in dozens of places during my adult life, but have been bogged down here in cold old Victoria for over 25 years.
It must be time for change.
Maybe the arthritis would settle down if it were a bit warmer. I would probably be more active as well because I wouldn’t need to put on so much clothing that I could hardly move.
There are so many positives about moving. Not many negatives that I can see. In fact I cannot see any negatives.
Perhaps it is the thought of selling up and moving that is the problem. I am not sure.
A couple of months housesitting might give me the get up and go, to come back down here and sell everything.
Wipe the slate clean, so to speak and start completely afresh.
It sounds good in my mind, just load one suitcase into my car and go.
I think I can , I think I can.
I know I can.

The Mallee Dust Storm

Living in the Mallee during summertime is not the easiest thing to do.
There are snakes, big brown snakes. They come out in the cool of the evening and bite the unwary. They also bite the dogs .I have lost several dogs to snake bite.
No, it is not easy. But, the worst thing for me is the wind and the dust.
Wind alone is bearable. Even though it is usually hot and dry, it is bearable.
Coupled with dust however, is another matter.
When I was a young kid I thought my mother was crazy . She would shout loudly and order everyone inside to shut all the windows and cover the beds and furniture with plastic covers, whenever the wind sprung up. Mum would become very grumpy and unreasonable.
I just did not understand what all the fuss was about.
I mean to say, I loved the dust storms . One could hardly see in front of one’s eyes, but it was fun. All this thick red choking stuff floating about. It stuck to everything and made wonderful patterns on windows and walls.
Or so I thought back then.
Fast forward almost 60 years and I have changed my thoughts on dust storms.
They are hideous things. They creep up with little warning and smother everything in a thick blanket of dirt. Red dirt that is very hard to wash off or sweep up.
Beds have to be changed, curtains washed, floors swept and washed and then swept and washed again.
Outside the verandah resembles the neighbours fallowed paddock. I swear I could plant spuds in the dirt on the verandah, and they would grow.
The dogs go from white to red and their eyes are full of mud. Red mud.
The car is absolutely unrecognisable. Just like a mound of red dirt.
My feet leave craters in the dirt. It is not unlike walking on the beach, only the sand is red.
Everything is red.
Fences are only half as tall is they were after a dust storm blows past. The red dirt piles up in front of them and needs to be graded away.
These darn things make a lot of extra work for a person.
All the plants are covered in red stuff, they can hardly breath. Out comes the hose, to clean them up. Thank goodness we still have water.
A dust storm will usually strike just after one has done a big clean up in the house.
They know, these storms are smart.
They will not blow up if the house is unswept. They wait, picking the ideal time.
They like it even better if there are nice wet clothes on the line.
They know if a person goes to town and leaves the windows a little bit open.
They know if one is expecting visitors and the barbeque is all set up.
They know everything.
I cannot see any good reason for a dust storm, I mean, there is no real purpose to it. If I want extra dirt in my yard and house surely I can just take the wheelbarrow down the paddock and get some. At least then I could put it where it is needed.
I wish with all my heart that Dust Storms would cease to exist.
It would make my life a lot easier.

snippets of my life as it is and how it was