Saturday, July 26, 2014

Northern Exposure (part 2)

alternately titled : Living on the Edge

I last left you as we departed Julatten laden with pine cones and rolly around fruit and things in the back of the car. Heading back to Mareeba and our cabin, The Husband wanted to check out this other road where OF COURSE there is always machinery and other super duper fantastic treasures to be looked at.

Very luckily (for me and kids) but there were no fantastic rusting bits of machinery to be seen but I did, quite absently, read out a sign that I saw, EMERALD CREEK FALLS. Then the blinker came on and off we went exploring.
There seemed to be a fair bit of UP in the road that were were following. We were surprised to find quite a lot of sugar cane growing in the area, which was clearly not of the same fertile soils as other areas on the tablelands (the higher and rougher it gets, the less fertile the soil).
What goes up must go down and finally we did indeed go back down again. The photo does not adequately convey the steepness of this section of road and now we understood the NO CARAVANS part of the road signage. As certainly on the way back on this same road I ended up finding a very low gear in order to get up and over. holy smokes.

Anyhow, we found the camp site. A lovely running creek could be seen and heard, but tempting us was the sign that said FALLS –1.9 kms return trip. That is 950 metres each way. PIECE OF CAKE.
Someone in the National Parks and wildlife team wants to go and get some lessons on distance as that was the longest bloody ninehundredandbloodyfiftymetres I have ever walked in my life. More like 1.9kms EACH WAY.

Still it was a nice walk despite being somewhat steep and having a bunch of torturous bloody steps half way along. All that what must go up – there was a big waterfall up there somewhere! The track followed the creek along and one could see little tracks down to favoured swimming holes along the way. Children had to be restrained. We were going to see this BLOODY WATERFALL.

We finally reached the end of the official walking track that led to a little look out where one could admire the torrent of water pouring out over the rock at the top of the mountain. The flow of that water! We would have dearly loved to climb further and see the source of that gushing flow. But we did suspect that what we thought was the top of the hill was but a crest and there was a lot more mountain up there. But geez would have like to have seen the spring that fed that torrent.

At this point my phone went flat, quite over the longest 850 metres ever as well. We turned back around and walked back down (surprisingly so much shorter on the way back, perhaps its 950 metres on the way back?!) which ended up being a much trickier prospect in unsuitable sandals than the climb up had been. We took a break and dipped out feet in THE iciest water I have ever dipped my feet in. Numbing stinging cold. Like out of the fridge cold. We refilled out water bottles from the creek.

So we then drove back up that steep and interesting road…where the “living on the edge” comes into the equation. Fuel light on orange, some questioning frowny looks to The Husband and children living in fear that they would “starve to deaf” that evening if we ran out of fuel on the way back into Mareeba. (however I did not mention that I had found that one can travel approx 35kms on orange without any exciting things happening, that is just between you and I, Ok?!). Fortunately with only 11kms to travel were able to refuel without incident.

The next morning we packed up and headed off homewards. We continued our thing with steep mountain goat walks to look at waterfalls with a visit (and last run for the kids) at Little Millstream Falls. Air was quite brisk at Ravenshoe.
(a long way down; side note it would be nice if they would remove those two trees ruining the view!)

And then we drove and drove and drove. Had lunch on the road back in the dry country and got stuck behind a hay truck from our part of the world for aaaagesss. And made it home just before dark.

Our northern exposure done for another year.

northern exposure (part 1)

After Grandma’s party, and checking waters and deciding we really could NOT drive home again straight away, we decided to take another day off. A 9 hour drive each way with a day off in between is not the funnest holiday. So we left our bags unpacked, booked the cabin for another night (despite its three forks and FREEZINGness each morning) and headed even further north for the day.


We headed down the Rex Range – pulled up at one of the lookouts and admired the view over Mossman and the surrounding farms. Its crushing season and the mill could be easily picked out.

We went to Mossman with the purpose of visiting my mothers oldest sister and her husband. Fortuitously we were also able to kill two birds with one stone (perhaps not the most apt term to use really?!) as my mothers’ brother and his wife were also in town and called in for smoko. None of them are getting any younger and I must say I was a bit shocked to see how much some of them had aged in the couple of years since I’d seen them. But then again, I am positively middle aged myself these days….

Of course my Aunt Heather brought out the cake and the biscuits and all sorts of other lovely goodies served on the good china (she told me that she thought, bugger it, it never gets used! so uses it whenever anyone turns up for a cuppa). Kids in heaven as I saw her sneaking them each a soft drink out of the back fridge with a little chortle. It was great to see them all. I am kicking myself now, I did not take a photo of them all with the kids.

Fed up on cakes and again needing to undo top pant buttons, we drove past the mill on my uncles directions (retired engineer) and think we may have slightly trespassed however got to see the sugar trains coming in and the bins being tipped out. Angus had a running count happening of all haul out trucks we had seen on out travels and the count was pretty high.


The kids then requested a beach visit, so the closest one to town was Newell Beach which I hadn’t visited ever before. One of those quiet coastal townships, with its service to the tourist trade limited to the fish n chip shop (open 7 days!!!! but closed on Mondays. Guess what day we were there!)

We checked out the beach. Looked pretty fine as beaches go. Fine fine sand and lots of shells. Kids removed with much whining and moaning.



With the fish n chip option scratched off the list, and CLEARLY in need of more feeding, we hit the bakery and found a pie. Enjoyed in the coolness of a local park by a river that I had swum in as a child. Buggered if I know how we did it, the water was absolutely glacial. We were fascinated by local flora (black bean tree I have been told).


There may have been quite a collection of seed pods chucked in the back of the car. Probably highly illegal. We then wound our way back up the Rex Range, and pulled up at Heather’s Julatten weekender block. I’d live there in a heartbeat. Gorgeous.


As you can see, we stopped at Julatten with a purpose – to collect pine cones (for our wood heater). Added one large garbage bag to the black bean contraband in the back of the car. Checked weather reports and wished I had another garbage bag.


We also wandered down and checked out the fruit orchard, down a steep driveway that did not seem so bad going down. But going back up laden with odd bits of citrus? a TOTALLY different story!


Not such a shabby view from the front steps!

We then added citrus fruit to the increasing load of rolly around things in the back. Also collected were a couple of mystery fruit items which I consulted the collective brains trust of Instagram and Facebook about. (unripe sour sop and chocolate sapote apparently!)

The adventures of the day did not finish there! But I’ll bore you again another day with the rest….

Friday, July 25, 2014

90 years

During the school holidays we packed up and headed north to greener pastures to celebrate the 90th birthday of The Husband’s paternal grandmother.

Feels like we’ve done this road a bit of late, and we made good time. The favourite swimming spot just out of Mt Garnet was packed with grey nomads chased very far north by the cold.


We rolled down the windows to breathe in the fresh tablelands air as soon as we climbed the escarpment and across the Millstream to Ravenshoe.  On a mission, we didn't do any wandering touring around the back roads but drove straight through to Atherton through Evelyn (my dad’s old stomping ground) and Upper Barron, some of THE most prettiest countryside ever.


The kids were super excited about the prettiness and the greenness and freshness. Back seat shenanigans and noise had father’s blood pressure rising. He isn’t keen on those bits of extra bendy steep rainforest roads with hyper children squawking in the back seat. Ah. Good times. Every family road trip has them.

Grandma’s birthday celebrations were to be held in the busy town of Mareeba. With six children, and looooots of grandchildren plus a very healthy dash of GREAT grandchildren, there was nearly as many family members as years racked up attending the RSL for a luncheon.

Photos were of course taken.


This being The Husband’s branch of the family tree pictured with Grandma. There was NO attempt to try and squeeze the whole family into one photo. It was torturous enough trying to get some of the more prolific breeders of children organised in one photo. (I was tasked with helping to arrange the groups pleasingly to help the photographer – an aunt – not have a nervous breakdown!)



Ah. Another stellar family shot. We are really getting a rather good collection of these gems. Sigh.

Cousins had a great time giggling and meeting up with second cousins once removed that they’d never seen before.


The tables were beautifully decorated by one of the granddaughters, with doilies and bunches of flowers, and grandmas favourite colour (lilac).

And then, after we were well fed and watered and everyone had chatted and talked and caught up and happy birthday sung, we went home to our cabins with top pant buttons undone.

Happy 90th Birthday Grandma!

Thursday, July 24, 2014


Just a technical, viewing question.

On my laptop, when I edit and publish photos on the blog, the colour seems pretty spot on. Nice and clear, bright colour but not too saturated.

However on my office computer, they appear over saturated. I think its just my office monitor, as on my smart phone the images appear as I would like them to as well.

I would love to know how they appear on YOUR screens. Feedback appreciated.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Coldest Morning of The Year

Or it certainly felt like it. After running around for quite some time the afternoon before, packing up saddles and bridles and directing child traffic from odd places where they were avoiding work, bright and early and before a very COLD daylight, we headed off. Destination, “helping” the neighbour walk home some cows for weaning time.

Fortunately, horses had been transported earlier but needed saddling and persuading that the cold weather was no excuse for bad behaviour.

Finally we moved ‘em out… after the obligatory rollcall photo


I think there was enough man and kid  power there!


The spare kid was still in residence, yet to be handed back to her parents, so she was having a lovely time with our lot. Was nice to have her, it had been a long time since she’d visited. So she got to ride Chester, meaning Angus was without a mount. This did not bother him at all, his riding skills minimal and his desire to really improve them not great either. The apple did not fall far from the paternal tree with this child and his love of mechanical horsepower over the four legged version.


As you can clearly tell, I was at the back end of the mob. Angus and I followed along in the buggy, he found ways to keep himself entertained (mostly involving feed the starving beast – he has NOT stopped eating since his tonsils were removed)


(new favoured driving spot, not overly OHS compliant but highly entertaining for small boys and handy for jumping off to chase slooooow cows out of bushes and logs).



We need to work on this kids foot and weight placement when riding…suspect the legs are just there for ornament at the moment and all of the weight is on her bum.


















The weather was quite lovely after the freezing start, and the couple of hours it took to get to the laneway were not a hardship to withstand. Really, there could be worser ways to spend a morning.

Snacks, a little spell and some buckjumping antics were enjoyed at the laneway. Disappointingly the buck jump rider did not perform close enough to the camera to capture the action, although suspect the pony in question did not really have his heart in it.


















Angus scored a ride with his new mate, when one of the other kids was seconded to wrassle with a baby calf in the back of my buggy (calf having decided he’d had enough of this walking caper). The end of the laneway was but a short walk to the yards. Yarding was done without incident.


However once yarded bulls had to be cut out from the main mob as they were already shaping up to cause strife and needed to be locked up in small yards away from each other. (testosterone ridden males typically chest beating and scrapping for a fight!) I am not sure any of the smaller kids were in any way shape of form useful in this process but they certainly thought it was fun. My kids have never cut out on horses before, nor probably even seen the process although this was something that I grew up doing.


And that ended that! a leisurely lunch and then the repacking of all saddles,jumpers, buggies and children…and home again with the hope to get there before dark. We made it by the skin of our teeth.

And geez, didnt they sleep well that night!

Sunday, July 13, 2014


Due to a long and complicated story, we got a bonus race meeting to attend this year at our local track. Run by the “big” committee of the neighbouring town, we decided at the last minute we really should attend. Given the five minute drive to get there it really wasn’t a huge investment of our time should we decide we’d had enough of being polite and sociable! And hey! An event we weren’t part of organising is always nice to attend.

With three girls to suddenly dress (spare kid still being in residence) and all with an opinion, it took a little time to get the girls dressed (and happy about it). Well the biggest one wasn’t 100% impressed but given she’s put her feet through everything and micro skirts aren’t on my list of suitable clothing for an 11 year old, she just had to suck it up.

Thank goodness little boys don’t care about clothing. As long as its comfortable. And his socks don’t sag.


The young ladies ready for their afternoon out. (we have sadly squeezed the last wear out of my favourite blue and yellow striped dress!)  The Husband solemnly handed out three dollars to each child as spending money.


Angus deciding to start a new fashion revolution with the one boot out and one boot in look. (see what I mean about boys? I think he forgot to pull his jeans out after he put his boots on…thank goodness for hand me downs. He has loved these little boots from a bigger little friend)

And finally, I quickly slapped together a suitable race going outfit for myself. I picked up this fine and rather expensive straw hat from the (fancy smancy slightly snobby) Endeavour shop the other day, for the princely sum of $18. I loved its shape, but removed the rather silly looking over the top bow it had on its front. In my flower stash I had a black one the right size, so applied. Dress was one that I gambled on off a sale rack for under $20 also when in town, added a black jacket and the old faithful wedges and there I am -  ready to go. Although on reflection, not being used to wearing skirts with a bit of space, and combined with a windy day, some of those table weights hanging off the hem might have been a good idea.


Had a child quickly paint toenails with the only polish we could find in the house, a delightful matallic purple. Investigations are continuing into the whereabouts of the rest of mum’s polish collection. Not extensive, but containing more than purple.

We had a nice afternoon out, the crowds not being quite as expansive as what we are used to at our normal race meeting. The whole family, husband included, were quite surprised to be included in the Fashions of The Field entrants.(in specific sections obviously).

The spare kid, clearly part of my own family this day, was stunned to win the Girls Section.


A sash, a bag of little girls goodies (loom band stuff) AND the most lovely corsage were her winnings. She was pretty stoked. As was I! The Husband however, was not impressed with being included in both the Gents Fashions and Best Dressed Couple and was mightily pleased that he was quickly dismissed from both. (he said afterwards that of course it was the care he took in choosing his cap to match his shirt that must have gotten him into the line up)

(photos below from the Race day photographer)


Clearly stripes were THE only thing to be seen in on race day.


The Ladies line-up.

















And the winners, Best Dressed Couple (Michelle wore gorgeous nude wedges, which you can’t quite see in the photo) and Best Dressed Lady. Both were presented with the most stunning arrangement of flowers put together by a Charters Towers girl who is talented in both floristry and millinery. Funnily enough, after meeting her I could not work out why her face was so familiar, until I had a revelation, she MUST be a sister to another acquaintance… sometimes I am a bit slow.

We ended our afternoon out with a quite burger, before heading home on dark to feed the ever waiting horses, put on our flanny jarmies and have a milo whilst watching a movie and loom banding.

Clearly, the loom banding was the kids and not the parents. One was snoring in his arm chair and one was massaging her feet that were very much unaccustomed to clomping around a dusty paddock in very unsuitable shoes.

Now we just have to do it all over again in about 6 weeks time for our OWN race meeting, albeit from behind the canteen counter, and hopefully wearing far more sensible shoes!

Saturday, July 12, 2014


Its no secret, you’ve seen more of the ponies this year than any other year. Normally they reside at my parents property, where there is space and grass for them. But for the last 6 months of last year, mum was feeding the horses molasses and hay and other goodies to keep them going. Normally the horses come in to my place, with its limited space, during the wet season and time of abundant feed in a small space, over the long school holidays. Of course the limited wet and ongoing dry conditions put paid to normal plans. So in January, with some rain having fallen and the horses condition somewhat improved we brought them in. And in they have stayed. This this means the kids have been riding them far more often, rounding up the poddies and generally just goofing around with them.

We taped out a new space for them recently, in the tick free buffer zone that exists around our village. Political machinations by a a couple of residents (some people are never happy?) meant that our usual little paddock was no longer available but where there is a will there is a way, and while there is dry grass to be eaten in front of full on hand feeding we will make use of that.  The routine of feeding and watering the animals has become just that, and each day we poke on down with their daily ration and fill up their water trough.

In between, the ponies sometimes get ridden. Somewhat of a shock to their system, and taking an extra hour out of mum’s afternoon for the pleasure!


Joined by another horse loving little girl, and with the spare kid visiting after a long hiatus, the chatter of the girls was like a little mob of budgies on horseback.

Angus chose, wisely I suspect, to take up the offer of a truck ride delivering weaners with Dad and the local truck driver. Fortuitously for Angus, they pulled up in front of the house just as we were heading off.



I drove ahead in my buggy to supervise the ride (not quite confident in their abilities to go alone, especially with two kids not of my own tagging along!)   and watched and listen to them come towards me. Let It Go was a popular song choice as they rode along…..

And then, all too soon, the sun was getting low in the sky and the chill of evening was encroaching on the warm winter afternoon, so trot back to the paddock they did, unsaddle and feed their valiant steeds.

Hopefully, given their advanced age, steeds are also partially deaf, to put up with the renditions of Let It Go…over and over and over…

(another afternoon in paradise, who’d want to live anywhere else?!)

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