Thursday, November 27, 2014

Between 8am and 230pm

That’s the hours that The Husband has me available on a school day at the moment. So he booked me in to give him a hand the other day, to get some fresh air in the searing heat and dust that is “spring” in north west Queensland (I think we had two days of spring like weather in mid August!).  Of course I got to do my favourite thing in the world, drive the tractor.


Apparently I was driving said tractor like it was an off road rally car, however one doesn’t have all day to muck around.

Task of the day was to add aprons around troughs so that calves could get a drink, and so that the cows didn’t continually gouge out the soil around the troughs, making a big depression around each and making getting a drink impossible for small calves.




These heifers – which were trucked to LC in January (robbing Peter to pay Paul so to speak) as it had more grass. As it pans out, where they came from still hasn’t grown any grass (it hasn’t rained of course) and the grass is getting in short supply here as well. They are bright and strong and shiny but on the lean side, and have started calving.  We are helping them out as much as we can nutritionally, with lick and molasses that has a high level of protein included in the mix.


After the aprons are laid into place, dirt is backfilled around them and the trough for the cows to pack down nice and tight. This of course involved a bit of a boys-and-their-toys moment, requiring the digging of a hole to get sufficient dirt. (I kept my mouth shut about that hole being a smidge close to the trough, he had to do a few three point turns to deposit the dirt correctly).

We then repeated the process at two more troughs. 


This one I was quite happy to empty and clean out.  The Husband told me it wasn’t necessary for me to remove my boots and get IN the trough in order to do so. But it was hot and I was quite happy to splash around sweeping out the rubbish.


And then we went home where these two little fellows were not so patiently waiting for their lunch. On the left is Megsie and on the right is Monty. Both are a bit cheeky.   On the far right of the image is some fantastic creation of the kids, built over a small water trough. You may be mistaken in thinking that its part of the rubbish tip, however NO, apparently is a SPA.

I haven’t the mental energy to argue with them.

Actually an outdoor spa sounds quite nice. Bring me a cocktail please?!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Shaken Foundations

Friday the 14th November. I was in Kmart in Townsville, doing some shopping on a flying visit whilst Kate attended a pre boarding workshop in the Towers. My list was long if not haphazardly written, and my plans were to cross a fair bit off that list sans kids.

My mum rang. Her blood test results were back, the results weren’t looking good. She was matter of fact and we discussed what the plan of action was; she was waiting for specialists referral appointments to be sorted out for next week and we would go from there.  I stood in the Christmas crockery aisle, drew a deep breath and marched forward. Mum wasn’t unwell (apart from feeling a bit tired, dr had decided to do some routine bloods)


About an hour later, my brother rang. They’d been having smoko, mum was sitting on the floor playing with Violet. A vehicle pulls up, brother goes out to find its an ambulance! Are you lost mate?! he says. No, they say, we are here to collect Jean!

Of course, the fact that an ambulance arrived to collect a woman who was fairly hale and hearty and very surprised to see them was quite a shock.*** She went and packed her bag and was taken off to town, where they were to fly her out to Townsville that day.  This was starting to look a lot more scary and serious. And not really the sort of phone call one should be taking by oneself in the middle of Kmart.

*** Turns out that Tvlle registrars need to realise that mobile phones don’t work in the bush and when they didn’t get her on the phone to ask her to come in for an urgent appointment, they pushed the panic buttons. Nor were there any local staff working at the local hospital that day, nor did anyone think to talk to the actual dr’s surgery.

I was able to finish off my shopping in Kmart, quite distractedly, before haphazardly throwing the overflowing trolley of shopping into the back of the car. I sat in the air-conditioned car for awhile, gathering myself together and texting The Husband the news of the morning.  I know that if I’d called him, I wouldn’t have been able to string a coherent sentence together.  I’ve been in fairly scary situations before, when Kate was bitten by a snake, and when our neighbour had hurt himself seriously, but on both occasions I was too busy doing and organising to loose the plot however this time I had nothing TO DO.

Anyhow, I pulled myself together, and continued my day. Being in Townsville already was turning out to be quite handy, with mum to arrive at some point that night. And that list of things to do was pretty handy as well, to give me something to do.

After booking into a motel and estimating that the plane should have arrived, I timed my arrival to the hospital perfectly that evening, as mum had arrived and was just being settled into a bed in oncology (which is scary word in itself, but you get over that quickly).

I’ll shorten the story at this point, as its ongoing of course.  A great range of Dr’s and nurses are looking after her throughout the raft of prodding and taking blood and testing. They are currently talking a thing called Waldenstroms, which simply put is a form of blood cancer. Its somewhat similar to Non Hodgkins Lymphoma, except it is of course RARE. It does appear manageable. Mum said to the dr that she’d hoped to have made her 90’s, the dr replied lets not get too excited but we’ll see about the 80’s, which gives us much more hope than the rather long and unfriendly sounding names the other doctors were speaking of to start off with. They think its been picked up early in the piece, which again is hopeful. So for now, mum is sitting (somewhat impatiently) in a hospital bed, in the lairy printed soft pants I bought her for comfortable yet non-nighty bed lounging (not an item of clothing that would usually grace mums wardrobe!) and armed with a new touch screen phone that in theory she can send and receive texts from. (receiving going sort of OK, sending NOT at all unless cheeky brothers send messages on mums behalf!)

And added to list of rain that we are hoping and praying for, is mum’s health. We’d appreciate it if you could add it to your list as well.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Around here

We continue to feed horses, every afternoon, without fail.



Some times with some added Red for Daniel Day.



We continue to search the skies for signs of rain filled clouds. Some days are more hopeful than others.


We continue to have heavy hearts when we allow ourselves to really look at the pictures in front of us.


We work. Some days are sticker than others with molasses spills. Dust is a given. (lets not talk about cobwebs, OK!)


We play.


And we wait.

IMG_5797IMG_6399IMG_6673IMG_6053 IMG_5855

And we wait.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Off and Racing

Way back in August we were meant to hold our annual race meeting. We had a teeny tiny amount of rain the day before, and on this dry parched ground, it was deemed enough to make the surface somewhat dangerous, and so the races were postponed. We all breathed a sigh of relief and went on doing the myriad of other things clamouring for attention.

Roll around the new race date – which so fell the weekend after the Melbourne Cup.  That’s one way to get the spring racing mood happening I suppose, although Spring Racing in Western Qld poses far different wardrobe challenges than spring racing in Melbourne (not to mention the need to kick off ones thongs TWICE in one week!). Cardigan less of an issue opposed to keeping cool!

Melbourne Cup day I was very tempted to stay at home and wallow in the air-conditioning and not stray far from the televised coverage. However, with the combined nagging of my mum and sister in law, the kids (given a day off school as they didn’t have a show holiday) and I frocked up and went to the Melbourne Cup function hosted by the other small school in the shire.




(violet clearly finding the situation concerning).  I favoured a blue and yellow ensemble for the day, with the head piece being borrowed, but matching my new yellow clutch which I just LUFF.

We had a lovely day out, Angus relishing in some boy play and not arriving home as tidy as he left (in fact saturated from balloon fights with a “boy” with children of his own).

Roll on our own race meeting, at which our tiny p and c run the canteen. There was little time for photos I have to say, the crowd was big, and we were kept on the hop all day.


The Husband had to shower and dress the kids – thank goodness they are somewhat self sufficient these days. I arrived home for a shower after setting up, in time to take a few shots before they got dirty. (side note here. Boys bloody skinny legged slacks. How awful are they?! where does one buy normal legged slacks?)


And I managed to snap this on my way between the coldroom and the food shed. The fashion was every bit as colourful and glamorous as Melbourne. Except a bit dustier around the edges.


Someone else took these photos of the kids fashions (awesome photo isn’t it!) Our rough and tumble spare kid dressed up beautifully  (remember, she won at the last race meeting and obviously inspired her!); Gracie in the middle in the white navy and yellow (she was so clean looking!) won the girls. Angus, sporting an ice cream mustache and SO NOT neat and tidy, won the boys. (good thing they could see what he’d been like on arrival!). Thankfully a lady sitting near him whisked his ice cream out of his hand before he accepted his prize.


We sold all bar two sandwiches, which we gave to someone in need of food in his belly. Packed up and put all away that day.  It was exhausting.


















Snapped these in the car park – these two girls – so grown up looking! – head off to boarding school next year.

And that, is the end of our racing season for the year. Thank goodness. My aching feet.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

School Holidays Part 3–The Trip Home

The kids and I decided that we would “play tourist” on our way home from Cobbald, determining that Forsayth and Einasleigh, thriving metropolises that they are, wouldn’t take up too much of our travelling time but break the trip nicely.

Happening upon phone signal on our exit from Cobbald did however delay matters somewhat with a backlog of four days worth of messagebank messages to catch up on.

A potted history of Forsayth:

Originally known as Finnigan's Camp after the prospector who discovered gold nearby in 1871, within a year the settlement had become Charleston township, and it continued to grow despite near desertion when its inhabitants rushed to the Palmer River Goldfield in 1874 and to the Hodgkinson in 1876. After a slump in the mid-1880s the township was again a flourishing centre by the mid-1890s, having five hotels, a school and a court of petty sessions.

By the late 1890s base metal prices were high: a number of promising copper deposits were opened up in the Etheridge district at Charleston, Einasleigh and Ortona, and several were acquired by a subsidiary of the Chillagoe Company. This led the company to commence a rail link in 1907 from Almaden to Einasleigh and the Charleston area, which was completed in January 1910. The Etheridge Railway terminated at a new settlement on the other side of the Delaney River. First known as New Charleston, it was renamed Forsayth after the railways commissioner, James Forsayth Thallon. During the year, all the buildings in Charleston, including the police station and the school, which had previously been at Gilberton, were moved across the Delaney River to Forsayth.

New buildings and services followed the opening of the railway; these included a hospital, a new court house and a new school built in 1912, and a public hall built two years later. In 1914 the Chillagoe Smelters were shut down and the town's importance as an ore-loading facility and centre for miners and their families declined as mining activity in the area was scaled back. Forsayth remained the railhead for transport to the west, although plans in the 1930s to extend the railway to connect to the Croydon line did not proceed. From the 1980s, renewed mining activity in the area and increased livestock traffic revived the town. Today Forsayth is a service centre for road transport and regional tourism.

What interested the kids was the little machinery display that was around the town, what interested me was a well kept older building I noticed on our way through. Don’t get me wrong, this is a very small township, in the middle of some very dry, barren hills, but the stop was interesting enough.


Many old mining and other assorted machinery were also display in the centre of town, with great signage explaining their purpose. I’m all over this sort of thing these days, nothing worse than wondering what the importance of something is.


I got to investigate the old building that caught my eye as we also visited the public toilets, were I may or may not have liberated a small plant cutting from the healthy pot plant in its foyer (husband calls it “pinching plants”, I call it propagating).


This charming old building was the Stationmasters residence back in the day, and has had new life breathed into it as a B and B apparently. The railway – still in use for the Savannahlander– runs past its front door (although I believe this is the end of the line, from Cairns) . I possibly could have asked to look around the building but didn’t.  I like its distinctive shape.

On the way in, the kids and I had noted the sign indicating the old cemetery. Now knowing the history of the town (see above) this cemetery is mostly consisting of residents of the old settlement as we expected. It was also on a slightly different soil type, which probably meant it was on high ground above flood level and was better for digging? It wasn’t a big cemetery, and possibly a great many unmarked graves; some that were there were fenced and tiny, no headstone but obviously a child's. It would have been very inhospitable here back in settlement days if one had been ill.


{I believe the Newton referred to on the headstone was another mining settlement in the area}

We also found an interesting flowering tree which Georgie, lover of weird looking things, begged we investigate. We did, plucking from it (not without some gymnastic endeavours from both of us!) a large, very light, green seed pod or fruit. Turns out that this is a native Kapok tree, the inside of the pod (seed) being used to stuff saddles, pillows and mattresses. One must have to have had a rather good crop of trees to get enough pods?!


So onwards we drove, back to Einasleigh, perched on the banks of a small but spectacular Copperfield Gorge.

The township of Einasleigh, originally named Copperfield, was laid out in 1900 by the mining warden on a new township reserve established near the Einasleigh Company's copper mine. Although the company had been formed only in the previous year, already two hotels, a store, a billiard room, and butcher and baker shops were being built and funds were being collected for a school. The town briefly became the largest population centre in the shire during construction of the Chillagoe Company's Etheridge Railway in the years 1907-10. After the closure of the mine in the 1920s, however, the township almost disappeared and was saved from extinction only by its location on the railway. 

Found by Richard Daintree in 1866, the Einasleigh copper deposit was one of the earliest mineral discoveries in north Queensland. It was initially too remote to develop and was abandoned and virtually forgotten after Daintree's death. The Chillagoe Company rediscovered the Einasleigh shaft when exploring the area and began developing it in 1900 through its subsidiary, the Einasleigh Copper Mines Company. A small blast furnace was erected for smelting in 1902, but until the opening of the Etheridge Railway in 1910 operations proved uneconomical because of high transport costs. The mine closed when the Chillagoe Smelters were shut down in 1914.

Acquired by the Queensland Government in 1919 as part of the assets of the Chillagoe Company, it returned to full production the following year, supplying the reopened Chillagoe Smelters. As the Einasleigh State Mine, it finally closed in 1922 as a result of depleted ore reserves and a post-war drop in the world copper price.

Einasleigh sits on the Eastern edge of the Newcastle Range, on the banks of the Copperfield River.  Einasleigh is on the old Chillagoe to Forsayth railway.  Once a Copper mining town, it is set among some unusual scenery with flat top hills that rise out of the grasslands.

Our arrival in Einasleigh happened to coincide with not only the arrival of the Savannahlander, disgorging its mostly elderly passengers for lunch at the pub (which pretty much sat on the banks of the Gorge) but also the RFDS Clinic Day.

The kid wished we could stay for a swim in the Gorge.


(another stellar family holiday photo for the album, yes?!)


Other buildings caught my eye as we again found need to check out the public conveniences.


The police station building(now unmanned but still used by the police throughout the year) is a very old building. Thankfully good signage quelled my curiosity somewhat, this building moved to Einsasleigh from Port Douglas and named Dyas Homestead in the early 1900’s.



This building too also had a familiar roofline, the old stationmasters residence. (appeared to be a private residence so I didn’t stick beak). Clearly all stationmasters buildings on this line were built on the same specs.

So then it came time to move along again, crossing the Copperfield Gorge via the rather spectacular road bridge. Its a single lane bridge and I itched to stop and photograph the aspect however sense overcame that urge, even though traffic wasn’t exactly thick, murphy’s law would indicate that as soon as I did a road train would come along.

This nearly concluded our touristy adventures on the way home, however the kids also begged that we cross the big Einasleigh River waterhole at Carpentaria very slowly so they could see if there were any freshwater crocs lolling about. Considering there was a merry band of bikini clad holiday makers swimming there as we crossed, the lack of sighting was understandable. (and possibly could have been a traffic hazard for locals?!)


And then, after a refuelling of both car and bellies back at the Oasis, and chatting with a surprising number of other travellers that we knew, and receiving a message to go the “long way home, we are out of milk!” from The Husband, we put head down bum up and headed the next 300km home.

And I got the milk.

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