Kinglake is about 60 Klms or so from Melbourne depending which road you take. As the crow flies it is a lot less. That said, Kinglake has a micro climate compared to Melbourne’s mini climate. Melbourne is known for 4 seasons in one day but Kinglake has as many as six seasons in one day. Overnight Kinglake had heavy cloud cover, some would call it fog, others mist. Whatever it was, it delivered moisture in the form of clinging to everything rather than rain in the traditional sense. The cloud/fog/mist stayed around much of the morning, keeping the temperature below 18°. Mid morning it suddenly disappeared and the temp jumped to 30° and climbing.
After lunch Donnis and I borrowed Nicoles car and drove into Whittlesea for a look around and buy some fencing material for work on their block of land. By the time we left Whittlesea the temp was 37° but a dry heat almost totally lacking in humidity.
About 5pm Errol asked us to help him on the block for an hour. Three hours later we had planted 10 trees on the front boundary, watered them. Covered in hay, then cardboard then mulch and watered again. We rounded up the 7 goats which had found their way out of the top paddock. By getting a half scoop of goat food, shaking it and calling the goats they follow you and nudge you until you have them back in the top paddock then giving them a few morsels as a reward.
The chickens are likewise rounded up although in their case you do not even need bribery. As soon as they see you they follow in the hope you have something to eat. They follow and run in and out of your legs. Watching them run is comical.
The lone young Goose is a bit anti social and tends to hide away.
About 8pm we could see the big blood red sun setting but by the time we drove home to grab the camera and then on to the lookout, the sun had disappeared behind the traditional and annoying Kinglake haze. This is different to the cloud/fog/mist in that it seems to be comprised of smoke/dust and a bit of Melbourne smog.
Tuesday 22nd January
Another hot day around the 35° mark. So we stayed home and stayed mostly indoors to remain cool. Errol put a brisket of beef in the barbecue while Donnis created a potato bake and put it in the barbecue as well.
After Dinner we drove to the lookout to see the sunset. Once again we were a little late but managed to get some good sunset photos and even Melbourne was visible.
I am Royally !@##$% off. Instead of offering an explanation I will save us both some time and say that all my notes from 23rd January to 27th January have been lost. I am disinclined to try to re-write from memory so will say it is all lost.
I can say I am home and Donnis is still in Kinglake and will be home next week.
I forgot to mention last week I won a photo of the week competition in the Whitsunday Amateur Photographers Facebook Group. The photo was apparently published in the Whitsunday Coast Guardian newspaper during the week. I was quite chuffed with the win. My photo of a reflection of rocks in a lagoon on Tasmania’s Bay of Fires Coast.
Well this week I have won again. This time a photo of a disused trestle railway bridge at Boggy Creek in Victoria’s alpine region.
This morning we were at The Broadwater just after 6am. While Donnis walked along the beach and then went for a swim in The Lagoon, I walked all the way to Lands End and return. We then had a breakfast of cereal, fruit and yoghurt (Actually I had milk on my cereal) I am not a fan of yoghurt. While we ate we watched the passing parade of walkers and swimmers and joggers and cyclists and the exercise classes. The location is so alive.
We also came to a decision. Our friends Graham and Wencke have planned a 21 day cruise around South East Asia next month and invited us to join them. Naturally we got quite excited by the idea and by Friday last week we were almost ready to pay for the trip. We told them and the travel agent we had some thoughts and would decide over the weekend. On this occasion we have decided to pass on the trip. We have had so much travel last year and Donnis has just returned from 2 months in Canada and we have quite a few other plans in the first half of this year. I was beginning to feel rushed and besides I feel more comfortable on a 10 day cruise and one which operates out of Brisbane. I am sure other opportunities will come our way for overseas and other cultural travel.
Tuesday 15th January
Weatherwise today was pretty much a carbon copy of yesterday.
We have finalised plans to fly to Melbourne on Thursday and will be away, up in the mountains at King Lake for a week.
It is a good thing we cancelled the Asian Cruise. We have lots happening in February and March.
Wednesday 16th January
Weather is a carbon copy of the last week. Blue skies virtually free of cloud, a light sea breeze and temps around 30°. Hot, humid and have we put the air conditioner on yet?
I am not looking forward to flying to King Lake where temps have been in the 40’s and predictions it will stay that way for several days.
Sister Bev called to say to expect an invitation to the wedding of their son Mitchell in March. The wedding will be in Gerringong on the south coast of NSW. Naturally we will attend and for a change we will fly to Sydney and spend up to a week with family. We have decided it will be easier and cheaper than driving although we will be without a car we have Bev and or public transport.
Thursday 17th January
We both woke at 5am far too early but not enough time to do anything other than have breakfast, finish packing, tidy the house and prepare to leave.
Friends Tony and Dawn called, they are heading to Mackay next week and want to call in to see us. We arranged for a key to be left with neighbours so they can stay at our house to break their journey. They will probably stop in again on their way back to Port Macquarie in a couple of weeks.
Friends Wayne and Debbie collected us at 9.15 and drove us to Gold Coast Airport at Coolangatta. This is a regional airport but has been used as an International airport since 1995, mostly for flights from China and now has flights to and from Hong Kong, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Japan. Yes it was busy. Because we are travelling stand -by we had to wait until 11.15 before we knew if we would get tickets for the scheduled 11.45 flight. We finally got the go ahead at 11.20 and still had to get our bags checked then make it through security and on to the departure gate. As always at security we had to unpack our carry on bags including camera and laptop. Grrr! Then we had to repack our bags. Just as we were rushing out of security, after repacking the bags, the sign on my forehead must have been visible to the man who gives a final pat down check and looks for drugs etc. He called me over for a pat down etc. I got a bit grumpy because we were rushing to get to our flight. Every security check point in every airport in every nation always manages to call me out to check me. There must be a sign on my forehead that only they can see! We made it to gate 6 with a couple of minutes to spare. That is when we looked at our tickets. Donnis was assigned row 3 while I got row 36 down the back. Later, on arrival in Melbourne and the long wait for our suitcases we found my bag had a big tag attached. “THIS IS THE LAST BAG”. It was also the first bag off and on the conveyor belt.
Gee it was a bad flight, noisy groups of children. Teenagers being boisterous teenagers and as we came in to land the plane swayed side to side then bounced on the runway where it again swayed and never seemed to slow down. Strange as it seems, this had the effect of quieting the noisy passengers. It further quieted the quiet passengers. On arrival the outside temp was 36° without the humidity.
We had a couple of hours wait at Melbourne. We pushed our luggage over to the International Airport then had lunch before meeting Errol.
An hour later the car was climbing the long slow road to the top of the Great Dividing Range. This is almost the end of the range which stretches from the very tip of Australia and passes through 4 states and over 3,500 Klms, finally ending at The Grampians. Here in King Lake we are at an elevation of 550 Mtrs whereas in places, such as in the Snowy Mountains where the height is 2,238 Mtrs above sea level. This mountain range is the third longest in the world. The ranges carry a diverse fauna and fauna and stretches from Tropics with heat and humidity in the north to temperate with snow in the south.
Friday 18th January
Woke early to an overcast morning and as I sat up got a feeling the world was spinning. Uh oh. Vertigo!
We drove to the block where Errol is building his house, met the flock of goats helping to clear the block of unwanted vegetation such as noxious weeds,Lantana and Blackberry but Instead of joining Errol working on his house or driving to Wittlesea with Donnis and Nicole I stayed home and rested, trying to slow the spinning world including a snooze. By evening the world was still spinning but at a slower rate.
Before dark, clouds started to roll in across the tops of the trees then descend to ground level like a pea soup fog. Slowly everything disappeared. The clouds brought in a dripping sort of rain. The temperature dropped from around 32 to 22 in a couple of hours. By bedtime the temp had dropped again to around 16° and a chilly breeze was entering through the open window. We like fresh air so tonight we added a doona to the bed. Funny that 24 hours ago even just having a sheet on the bed was too hot.
Saturday 19th January.
Wow! Cold night air is good for sleeping. Went to bed at 10pm and woke at 6am. I have not slept that long in ages. That said, the rest of the household was still asleep. I dressed warmly and went for a walk. The community of King Lake has worked together to form a bigger stronger community with lots of new houses and a lot less trees around houses. That said there are still those who want to be surrounded by trees and unless they are legally forced to adapt and conform they will always be a risk in this bushfire prone area. They will also be a risk to their neighbours.
New shops and businesses have opened and a new shopping village is being created which will be good for the community as they have to travel long distances to do their grocery shopping. The village now has a new Fire Station as well as a new Rural Fire Service, a new Ambulance Station and a new Police Station as well as a huge State Emergency Services building and a big fancy gleaming office for Parks Victoria.
Previous bushfires in King Lake were in 2005/2006, 1969, 1926, (60 lives lost in several fires around the state). The good news is local councils are imposing stricter restrictions on new building submissions and requiring blocks be cleared more, access roads within the block and access roads be outside be opened up so emergency vehicles can attend. The bad news is many of the older homes are not subject to such measures of reducing fuel for potential fires. Added to this are more houses and more people.
It was cold tonight and we were very grateful to hunt up the doona we had taken off the bed last night.
Saturday 19th January
People started arriving from near and far. Today is the reason why we are in KingLake. We are meeting at the KingLake Hotel to celebrate Errol’s 40th birthday. The hotel is a lovely new building built on old foundations surrounded by trees which have regenerated after the fire.
About 36 people were there to eat, drink, be merry and sing happy birthday.
Half of them were children. Four friends from University days (three of them pilots) gave speeches as did I.
The party went on until 1am when the publican called TIME ladies and gents.
My laptop crashed about mid morning and I spent several hours re-setting it, in the process losing any Apps previously installed.. Data was not lost.
Sunday 20th January
I woke early to find people sleeping in the lounge area and one in the pop top caravan parked in the front yard. By 9.30 those bodies were beginning to wake and the smells of bacon and eggs made sure they woke. The University friends staying at the hotel also arrived for a big noisy breakfast. Today is officially Errols birthday so he received another round of well wishes and presents he did not receive yesterday.
The rest of the day was spent doing as little as possible. We did walk around the back yard where chickens were in the process of sitting on eggs or teaching little chickens about their role in life. The poor young orphaned Goose was shown how to use the little wading pool and some fresh eggs were collected.
There was also a miracle of sorts. A young two week old chicken disappeared a few weeks back and it was feared he was a meal for a fox. There came a report of a young chicken, matching the missing chook description, living with several horses on a nearby vacant block. The youngster is the missing meal and has been surviving on water from the horse trough and eating their droppings. He is also bigger than the others who did not escape..
Facebook photo sites and downloading missing Apps onto the laptop occupied most of my day.
Donnis and I both woke early and went to The Lagoon/The Broadwater for a walk and a swim for Donnis. She was so happy swimming in what she called silky smooth water, with a perfect temperature.
The weather forecast said showers. The sky said there was a threatening hint of showers. Just before we went to table tennis at 7pm there was a spit of rain and that was all we got. An entire day based on a forecast of showers and a sky which backed up the forecast, we got nothing. We really do need some rain. Up north they are drowning in rain.
Tuesday 8th January
Donnis was up early and went to her favourite place for a walk along the beach and a swim.
The day looked cloudy early but by midday it was a brilliant sunny day with high humidity. Not the best weather for gardening so I worked in the garden. My shirt was drenched within minutes and back protested but by the end of the day I got 90% of what I wanted done, done.
Wednesday 9th January
Sister Enid arrived today. The last couple of days have been very hot so we decided to stay home and chill out.
Thursday 10th January
In the morning i30 was booked into the Hyundai Dealership to have a light fitting in the boot replaced. It has been a bothersome light since I bought the car new and a replacement fitting was ordered the last time the car was serviced. Today was my first opportunity since then to have it fitted. I had been in the service waiting room, waiting, when the service manager called me. I stood too quickly and experienced a sharp pain in my lower back. My pain was compounded when she told me the part we had waited on all this time was cracked and could not be used. I left without the repair being made but also with a back which needs repairing.
We started the afternoon with a drive to The Spit but once out of the car and on the rock wall both Donnis and Enid decided it was much too hot for walking. Instead I drove to Jabiru Island Park so they could have a swim in the enclosure.
There was a nice breeze blowing and once we walked around the island to the enclosure they decided it was too cool for a swim.
Friday 11th January
In the morning Enid joined us at the usual Friday morning art group.
Afterwards we drove to Cabarita Beach in northern New South Wales. Traffic on the M1 was horrendous but once past the section where road works are being carried out it was a nice pleasant drive.
Today was another fierecesomely hot day so on arrival we looked somewhere for lunch. Enid spied a little place about 200 metres out of the normal shopping centre. The Stunned Mullet turned out to be a gem of a fish and chippery serving up mostly fresh local fish, prepared any way you like. We all tried the local Flathead, mine was crumbed and deep fried, theirs was Tempura battered and deep fried. Either way it was great eating. This place is on my list of favourites who serve real fresh local fish and do not use imported Basa. Their prices are reasonable too.
Next it was a walk up the steep boardwalk on Cabarita Hill. Despite the heat there was a delightful breeze and a brilliant sunny day and big surf.
From the top of the hill at the Whale Watching platform there is a great view of Bogangar Beach to the south
and Cabarita Beach to the north.
Donnis and Enid cooled off with a swim in the surf
while I photographed surfboard riders.
With my back there is no way I could risk further injury in the surf.
Surprise, surprise, doing the driving caused no pain at all. It was only painful while getting in and out of the car. We took the long leisurely drive home via Point Dangar Lookout in Tweed Heads, Collangatta, Kirra Beach and Currumbin Beach.
We stopped for a cold beer at Palm Beach Surf Life Saving Club.
Saturday 12th January
We started the day with an early morning (6am) walk along Southport Beach.
Donnis and Enid also took a surf break in the 24 degree water.
It always amazes me how many other people are on the beach at that time of day.
The surf lifesavers now set up their swim flags and beach patrols at 6.30 am.
Later Donnis and Enid had fun window shopping at Harbourtown Shopping Centre. After dark we went to Kabachi Ya a little Japanese restaurant just out our back door. As always the service is quick, pleasant and respectful. The food is fresh, cooked quickly and served with no fuss. Sometimes we have no idea what we have ordered but always enjoy what we get.
Sunday 13th January
The day started hot and got hotter.
Another early morning walk along Southport Beach followed by a surf for Donnis and Enid followed by breakfast at the original Main Beach Pavilion.
The pavilion was built in 1934 and was hugely popular in the 50’s and 60’s.
In 1995 the building was listed in the State Heritage Register. A few years ago the building was converted to a beach house style café. The original dressing sheds and showers have been converted to an open kitchen with lots of seating including lounges to offer a different dining style. The walls are adorned with old photographs of what it was like way back when. The café is popular evidenced by the fact they open for breakfast at 6.30am and people are already waiting. Many people grab a coffee and sit in the park nearby to watch and listen to the surf.
Boo Hoo Enid left to travel to Brisbane shortly after lunch. It was wonderful to have her stay with us.
After a big Continental Breakfast I was on my way just on 8am. Lots of traffic getting more so as I got further down the highway. I planned to stop at a United Fuel Station in a little town called Gunalda which until today I knew nothing about as previously I have cruised through not knowing there was a town. There still isn’t. It is just a location on a map. United have built a brand new fuel stop here which blew me away with its sheer size. United also own the Pie Shop called Pie Face. Almost all the modern United Fuel outlets have a Pie face franchise incorporated in the store. Inside the station there is Pie Face and several other choices of food and a huge seating area but what stood out was a private Truckies Lounge which has another set of tables etc with toilet and shower facilities. Business was brisk especially as fuel was at least 12 cents a litre cheaper than the nearest town. Everybody had to line up for fuel. Very impressive for an outlet in the middle of nowhere at least 20 Klm s from a town in any direction.
After a few stops I arrived home by 4pm. Had a snooze to gather some energy for the New Years Eve party at the clubhouse. We had opposing expectations of those present. There were those who wanted the TV turned on so they could watch the tennis. Others wanted to see the telecast of the fireworks from Sydney. Others wanted to play games and others wanted background music and a bit of dancing. You canna please everybody all of the time. However I was in bed by 12.29. I was too tired to stay awake any longer.
Tuesday 1st January. New Years Day.
Not much to report today. I had drinks in the afternoon with my neighbour Marie and several other ladies. It was interesting to hear the stories of their younger days more than a half century ago and how several of them lived in the famous Kings X in Sydney. Brave ladies. There is no way I would have walked around The Cross when I wore a younger mans clothes (thanks to Billy Joel – Piano Man)
Wednesday 2nd January
Up early – not too early mind – but early enough to see the filtered light still struggling through the coastal cloud.
I went to the Broadwater Parklands and walked around noticing how many like -minded early morning people there are at this time of day. I was home by 7am.
Friday 4th January
Another early morning at Broadwater Parklands.
Today I got as far as the Sundale Bridge which connects Southport with the rest of the Gold Coast.
Weather forecasts of a few showers this week have proved baseless. No showers, no rain.
Saturday 5th January
It was too hot to play bowls this afternoon, In fact it was too hot for any activity. Actually it is not the heat but the humidity which makes it feel hotter and saps the strength.
A neighbour has some Caladium growing in her garden.
She offered to pot a shoot and nurture it until it would be well enough to transplant. I wanted a Caladium as my father had one magnificent specimen in a pot. On his death I took the plant it kept it in a happy place. When Donnis and I hit the road in 2010 we gave it to my daughter to place in her greenhouse. In 2011 when we visited it was struggling to survive. I wanted another specimen. As a matter of interest when I visited my daughter over Christmas she showed me the Caladium as she had moved it out of the greenhouse and placed it next to a brick wall but out of the way of any wind but in ¾ sun. It is thriving and is once again a huge colourful plant. Today I collected the plant from my neighbour and waited until near dark before transplanting to a huge pot I had prepared earlier in the day. I also created a new branch line to the watering system and ensured the pot is in a nice place out of the wind, away from the setting sun but gets midday sun. Fingers crossed it will be happy there.
Sunday 6th January
I have not done much this week. It has been hot so I have kept a low profile staying at home in the cool, staying hydrated and only doing a minimum of anything. Of course I still play table tennis twice a week and do my walks along the Broadwater in the mornings. Next week line dancing starts again.
Donnis arrived home this morning. Her flight had been delayed an hour but she was greeted with a hot Brisbane day but she was dressed for a cold Vancouver winter. She struggled to stay awake all, afternoon. Instead of going to the beach where it would hot and crowded we went to Australia Fair, parked in the shade and just enjoyed walking around in air conditioning.
After dinner of a nice lamb curry and a glass of wine Donnis lost the battle and was in bed by 7pm.
I had intended to post this to the internet on Sunday night. Regrettably download/upload speed and internet were unstable. I suppose with a full motel and lots of people wanting internet I should have expected it to be slow. As well I was tired from the long drive and went to bed early. So, here it is, New Years Day and I am just finding time and inclination to finish what I started.
Today I drove 70 Klms to Finch Hatton in the Pioneer Valley which lies under the brow of the Eungella Range. Along the way I stopped at Mirani beneath the road bridge and the sugar cane railway bridge where they span the deep chasm over the Pioneer River.
Locals and council have worked together to convert a popular rough swimming spot into an even more popular better organised family picnic and swimming and canoeing spot. It is called, affectionately, Platypus Beach.
I went to visit my daughter Melissa, horse stud and training facility. She and hubby Steve prepared a picnic lunch and drove us up the Eungella Mountain Range to picnic spot called Sky Window. This place is normally part of a lush rainforest National Park. Recently a bushfire which started in Finch Hatton and quickly got out of control raced up the escarpment along lots of deep and steep hidden ravines. The forest floor was littered with 70 years of accumulated fire fuel. It had been 70 years since a fire came through here. Residents of Eungella and Finch Hatton and small villages between were evacuated. My daughter managed to evacuate her 10 horses 3 dogs and other farm animals until the fire was brought under control. The fire jumped the only road into and out of Eungella. Many people had to be air lifted out. The Eungella Chalet which has sat at the top of the pass for 85 years was expected to be destroyed by the fire which was out of control.
Aircraft Foam Bombed the leading edge of the fire on the perimeter of the chalet.
On the one hand it was a wonderful effort by all involved to save the Chalet. On the other hand it is tired, crumbling, dirty and badly in need of repairs, maintenance, a big overhaul and a general tidy up of all the rubbish and bits and pieces stored there over the years. As it was built on the top of an escarpment known for land slippage, it is easy to see the cracks in the foundations. Eungella receives a very high average rainfall and now the fire has destroyed much of the plants holding the steep hillsides intact, a good solid heavy rainfall this season may bring some unexpected slippage. We could see where the fire was stopped literally metres from the chalet.
In other places within the National Park we could see where the fire jumped the road and continued the devastation. In other places with park tracks only a metre wide and the canopy of tree crowns were touching, the fire stopped at the pathway.
The possibility for disaster was enormous but somehow most properties survived with little or no damage. Many houses and sheds were destroyed without human life or cattle losses.
It was a great opportunity to spend time with Melissa and hear of her personal account of the fire. Soon it was time to go as she and Steve have a training session with horses every afternoon. It was back on the road for me and another 70 Klms return to Sandi’s house.
Friday 28th December
Today grandson Anakin was spending a few hours training at the Wake Board Park.
I joined daughter Averyl, granddaughter Shelby and him at the water park and watched him show off.
I may have gone overboard on photos but he needs some to supply to his clothing sponsor.
Aferwards, Averyl, Shelby and I went to The Lighthouse at Mackay Marina for fish and chips. Today I had my favourite, Red Throat Emperor. I could have done with more fish and less chips.
Saturday 29th December
I woke this morning with realisation I have made an error in my travel plans. For some reason I thought Sunday was 29th December and by leaving Sunday to drive back to the Gold Coast I would arrive on 30th and have a whole day of relaxation before a New Years Eve party.
Gulp! Today is the 29th. I will arrive home on 31st December sometime in the evening. No relaxation.
I also woke with realisation that sitting beside the water wind the wind blowing, although I was sitting in the shade, the sun reflects off the water. I woke with a huge facial sunburn. I expect over the next few days the burn will start to flake off my face.
I visited my daughter Averyl and grandson Anakin after lunch and told them I would be leaving in the morning.
Back at Sandi’s house she cooked up a wonderful baked Barramundi for dinner. Wonderful. If there is one fish better than Barra it is the Red Emperor I had yesterday.
Rain has come and gone in squalls all day and tomorrow promises to be fine to begin my road trip.
Sunday 30th December
I was on my way by 7.45am. About an hour down the highway the sunny skies turned dark. Very dark. I took off my sunglasses and then the rain began. Slow then hard and constant for about 30 minutes. Perhaps the heavy rain will splash up under the car and find any bits of salt I may have missed when I twice washed the car this week. See post 656 for details.
After the rain came the sun. Thank goodness I always use the air con.
I stopped in Rockhampton for lunch, then a fuel top up at Mt Larcom and I arrived at Bororen Hotel at 2pm. It was a good trip although the usual boring section between Sarina and Rockhampton lived up to its name. It is always good to get that part of the journey behind you.
I have a comfortable room here at the Bororen Hotel. On arrival they asked if I had a reservation. Ummm NO! Do I need one? Yes you do for the next 6 weeks. School holidays and lots of travellers. That said, I managed to get the last available room.
Dinner saw the dining room crowded with mostly families. There were locals on a Saturday night out and a few travellers who stopped for dinner. Another guest I spoke with said she had been there for a week as part of her regular trip to the area. She has researched accommodation and found this is the best deal anywhere. Other guests also mentioned they had been here 10 days and use it as a base to travel to the coast around Gladstone an d a myriad of beaches, rivers lake etc to satisfy their fishing activities. I can see why you need a reservation.
I had the local delicacy, Whiting fillets, crumbed and deep fried. Nice but I could have had more fillets and less chips. Hmmm! I think I already said that about another fish and chips meal this week. I am grateful this week has mostly been seafood and none of it was the dreaded imported, bottle dwelling a feeding catfish, BASA. Beware Basa and always ask what fish is being served to you. If the fish and chips you are going to buy seems cheap, it probably is and probably is Basa. Say no to Basa.