Monday 14th January
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!
Donnis and I took a walk to Bollygum Park just on the outskirts of town. A good description can be found here http://www.melbourneplaygrounds.com.au/melbourneplaygrounds-info.php?id=25710 but I do not have any information on the land. Was it burned in the bushfires and was it used for something else?
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.