Mount Gambier Part 2

My Sturt Desert Rose
My Sturt Desert Rose

To pick up from the other day – Mount Gambier informed me on Monday that there was no accommodation to be had within a 50 k radius of Mt. Gambier on account of the annual Jazz Festival. I spent the next two days telephoning all around the  area  outside the 50 k to try and find accommodation. I felt it was important to attend. I finally found accommodation in  Dartmoor, Victoria about 55 k from Mt. Gambier.  I was quite pleased about that. Last night, Wednesday , a new email to inform me that because of the lack of accommodation in Mt. Gambier and surrounds, it was decided to  change the date of the conference from Saturday 7th May to Saturday 14th May. Can’t say I was terrible impressed since I now had to contact the Dartmoor Hotel,  cancel the booking and explain why. Actually they were very good about it and I thanked them for their consideration.   How that effects us here – we had organized  a congregational dinner for Saturday 7th May.  It was decided, that because of the clash with Presbytery, the dinner was changed from Saturday 7th May  to Saturday 14th May to allow me to attend. We cannot alter it again – that would be just too much and it would start to impact on other things. So, I wont be attending the dinner – I’ll be driving back to Adelaide. I’m not impressed. Anyway, the only real consolation is that I can spend a bit more time at the Lady Nelson Sailing Ship and the Umpherston Sink-hold Gardens. It also means that after a spot of dinner I can go back down to Umpherston for a night tour because I understand at nighttime the place has a lot of possums and they are very friendly- so that should be interesting. However, I have read that the possums are not around every night, so I hope they are when I am there –  I would love to see them.

Benji and the WaWa.


Benji is fairly calm and placid, but for all that, he is not a pushover and will stand up for certain things. He is used to playing with his toys on his own or with me.  The other day he brought his toy into the lounge and was playing with it for a while, then he left it. A short time later the wawa started playing with it and  a bit of a disagreement ensued. Benji went back to his toy, lifted it and walked out of the room with it and put it on his bed, which is in my room. I just stood quietly and watched this. It was very interesting and I really wish I had had a camera on me at the time. Actually, there are toys all over the lounge and it looks more like a large play-pen than a lounge room. Also, although the wawa seems to have “adopted” Annabell, she does come to greet me when I get home after being out – however, Benji gets a tad jealous about this and pushes her out of the way.

The last few mornings have not been all that great so instead of going out early, I have coffee and  a play on the computer then we drive down to the wetlands and spend a good hour and a half down there. We still go walking around the district at night but the mornings in the wetlands have been very interesting – never knew that the place could get so busy with walkers, joggers and cyclists. Fortunately for us ( Benji and me)we go off the  the general track and since the walkers, joggers, etc. don’t go there ( it’s gravel and dirt tracks rather than  bitumen)  we can  walk in peace

Photograph I took in Naracoorte
Photograph I took in Naracoorte

and quiet. It’s amazing how many people think the  wetlands is the area  enclosed  by the bitumen – which covers about two ponds, when there are seven ponds in total. Admittedly, the area of the bitumen is the area that has been most developed with swings, barbecue area, flying fox, grasslands for sport and recreation, whereas the remaining area is still gravel and dirt track – it’s also the area where much of the wildlife is – Black Swans, Ducks and  Australian Moorhens – or Marsh-hens, which I first came across in Naracoorte two years ago. The ones here are very skittish and take off as soon as you approach them – perhaps having the dog might have something to do with it – I don’t know.


Mount Gambier Part 1

I was reading up about the wawa recently in the  and the page on the History of the breed began with the words  “If you have ever had a Chihuahua then you know that they are not hard to love at

Almost like brothers
Almost like brothers

all ” and I couldn’t help thinking to myself – Not this one – this is the sister of the wawa from Hell who currently resides in Arizona and who had another go at me last night. Fortunately I got my fingers away in time.  I tell you, it’s going to be a long four/five months. On the other hand, Yogi goes home tomorrow and I will be sad to see him go – he has really been no bother at all to look after and as I said before after a few territorial adjustments Yogi and Benji have got on very well these last two and a bit weeks.

Talking to Andrew last night and some things have been sorted out at Arrium.  Andrew is back in there again to continue on with the original contract,( which has been restored)  but the  Administrator is really going to have to do something about the management culture at Arrium which uses all sorts of tactics to avoid paying bills for as long as possible. This, in part, accounts for the fact that suppliers are owed so much money and some of these supplies are vital to the continued operation of the plant. If the administrator does not sort this culture out then it leaves the door open for this whole drama to repeat at some future date. I also think some members of the management have to realize that SA stands for South Australia, not South Africa.    Today is ANZAC Day and  for the first time in many years I did not attend the Dawn Service. Yes, I set the alarm; yes I did get up and dressed, but two faces looked at me expectantly and were quite excited because this was the time I usually take them out. My logic was that the  Dawn Service will be crowded, no one will miss me and I really should not be going to MacDonalds for Breakfast afterwards, and I delivered the ANZAC Service at Church on Sunday;   so yes,  I put on my jacket, put on the leashes and the three of us went out together and I thought, “that’s as it should be!”

Tomorrow will be my last morning walk with Yogi and when I come home I will have to gather all his gear – bedding etc., and have everything ready when he gets collected. It has been interesting with the two dogs walking and tonight it will be just me and Benji again.

Urgent email arrived late last night to inform all members of the Commission that there is no accommodation  within 50K of Mount Gambier. This is due to the ANNUAL Jazz Festival which takes place on that weekend. I put the word annual in capitals to emphasise it since the Mount Gambier people who arrange all this should have known that the Jazz festival was on that weekend and

The Lady Nelson - Mount Gambier
The Lady Nelson – Mount Gambier

either changed the venue or  altered the date of the meeting. There is nothing in Penola and I am not going to Naracoorte (109K). I have tried a number of places and I still have two to answer this morning – Dartmoor and Nelson. both across the border in Victoria. Heck at this rate I could have just about driven to Melbourne and back. Nothing available at Nelson but I  seem to have managed to get accommodation at Dartmoor Vic., which is about 55k from Mount Gambier. That’s not too bad. I can still visit the  Sailing Ship The Lady Nelson and the Umpherston Sink-hole Gardens on the way through to Dartmoor although I am so glad it’s Dartmoor Victoria and not Dartmoor England. However, if I get there and I meet anyone called Baskerville I’m out of there !! As far as I can see for a small rural settlement it has a lot of interesting things to offer and I hope my camera is kept busy


Could we start again, please?

The first creditors meeting was held the other day and the term “Business as usual” was challenged with one supplier suggesting that  means  he keeps suppling to
Arrium and Arrium continue  not to pay him. Already he is owed $700,000 and on these figures he wont survive for much longer. He was only one  creditor and there are many that are owed a lot of money by Arrium and if the company is to survive the suppliers have to keep up with supplies, but still not get paid – yet.  One supplier has said that he will supply until he reaches the stage where he has to borrow money to pay his people – then he will pull out because he is not going to allow his business to go under for Arrium.  On the other side there is  a suggestion that with  profits of over $35 billion a year, the Robber Barons could write off the $1.8 Billion owed by Arrium. However,  taking into consideration the  Bank love of money ( we only made $6 billion this half year ; we’ll have to increase charges and close down a branch or three), this is unlikely to happen.  There will be another Creditor Meeting in four weeks and that will be the crucial one – at least that’s what the  talk is.  There is still a great deal of uncertainty and some people have lost jobs due to a downturn in sales as people are restricting their spending.

The WaWa we are looking after for a few months
The WaWa we are looking after for a few months

This is our last weekend with three dogs. Friends return on Tuesday so we hand Yogi back. It’s been a good two weeks and after a bit of initial territory disputes, Benji and Yogi have got on very well together. It has been interesting to take them out walking and watch them walk side by side – like brothers  :o) We had Benji at the Vet the other day. Nothing serious;  just that I noticed him limping when we were out walking so I wanted it checked out. I  sort of knew what the problem was and really I just wanted it confirmed. He’s fine but we believe at some stage  a toe on his back right paw was damaged or broken and this has caused the nail/claw to  grow at an odd angle, which, as he fills out is causing a bit of discomfort when he’s walking. We will keep a close watch on that nail/claw and ensure that it is cut often and if it gets too much then we can think about surgery and have the claw/nail removed. And yes, he is a tad overweight – 600gm. With Yogi gone, this will bring us back to two dogs. If anyone has any ideas about  what to do about a  constantly yapping  wawa, my nerves and I would welcome your suggestions.

Most of today (Saturday) I was involved in a fund raising event for the RFDS. We did fairly well I thought. No idea how much we raised but

The front just about finished
The front just about finished


The toy at the bottom of the steps behind the wawa is the hand puppet
The toy at the bottom of the steps behind the wawa is the hand puppet

it was a reasonable day and I was glad to see that people are still supporting us.  However we were steady but not as busy as we have been in the past.  My son is still continuing with the Local Office and at the moment things are being sent up to him, but the long term outlook is that he will have to move to Adelaide, although the major problem will be his house. The chances of getting it sold are remote at the moment – and probably for some time, so Adelaide could be problematic.

I have been “playing”with the wawa – sort of. Sooha left a whole bunch of toys, one of which was a hand puppet. I was able to put that on and play with the wawa for a while until Benji thought  enough was enough and I was paying too much attention to this female “it’s my daddy – not yours” She is still yappy but she is starting to settle down a bit more now but still very  “protective”of Annabell, and that’s probably a good thing. I can touch her and scratch her ears, ( the dog, that is!!)  but I am still very wary of her.

I have just about completed the front area with the 20mm Tregalana stone and the two raised flower  beds. There is an area behind me (where I took the photograph) that is under the shade of a tree and I’m thinking it might be a good place to put in  a third raised bed with ferns. I think there is enough shade for them to survive. I need to be sure because ferns are expensive here. Going through my very strange mind  this last little while has been a song from J.C. Superstar and the words:-
“I’ve been very hopeful so far,
Now for the first time I think we’re going wrong
Hurry up and tell me, this is just a dream
Or could we start again, please?

Our woes continue

Do not believe anyone who tells you that small dogs – such as a small  Chihuahua (short coat) are a push over. Having had this little one for 36 hours I can tell you that her teeth are like needles. I am just praying that  a) she settles down soon and b) that we don’t run out of bandaids for my poor fingers. I understand – it is scary for her, her momma has gone, she is with strangers and they have a great BIG dog ( well to her he’s big) and this is a scary big place. I  did feed her this morning and although I got a ‘back off’ kind of a growl, I did managed to scratch an ear without having my fingers covered in blood again. No they are not big bites, her teeth might be as sharp as needles but fortunately they are not big and besides I bleed a lot.

Sunday and she is starting to settle down and perhaps tomorrow I might remove the bandaids. If nothing else it will help in not having to type  words twice due to the mistakes I am making because of the bandaids on the tops of my fingers- and stop laughing, this is serious!! Anyway, from one to three dogs in one fell swoop. Benji, Kongsoon and now Yogi, Benji is, of course, our boy, Kongsoon is the little one that we have taken in and Yogi is a friend’s dog we are looking after for a week or so. I hope I survive. It’s just unfortunate timing. We had arranged to take Yogi months ago, but the collapse of Link Engineering and the problems with Arrium meant that people lost jobs and  we took in Kongsoon because her family has to go back to South Korea and re-apply. Link Engineering was their sponsor and their employer.  They could have re-applied here but the danger with that is that if it was refused they would have to leave the country and be unable to reapply for three years. By going back to South Korea on their own and re-applying there, if it is refused, they can apply again in six months.  Immigration rules I do not understand..

Some of the subcontractors and suppliers are back in the plant but others who have biggish projects  have had their contracts terminated by the Administrator because in the present climate he cannot justify the expenditure.  Logicamms is one of those.  Logicamms have  contracted for a new large project in Adelaide and Andrew will be doing work for that. At the moment  material and design specs will be sent up but that’s only short term – long term they want Andrew to consider re-locating to Adelaide. There has been what has been called a Bloodless Coup at Arrium.  The Company (Arrium) appointed its own Administrator  and he has been working with the  the government, the local community and the creditors to stabilize Arrium and see what can be done to  keep the company operating.  The banks and the AWU (Australian Workers Union)  were unhappy with this and, despite being warned by the government to stay out of it ( which they ignored) moved in, sacked the  Arrium appointed Administrator, appointed their own Administrator and, in essence, seized control of the company.  Robber Barons – generally known as Banks – and a Union working together – that’s scary.  The contractors are still in limbo and some are owed many thousands of dollars. Everything is an absolute mess but the new administrator is moving to reassure everyone that the intentions are good and they have the future of the company and the city as their foremost concern – but it’s still a mess and the creditors, mainly the banks,  are pushing for a forensic investigation of the Arrium Board’s  financial accounts.

**  Arrium’s wrathful lenders are working to convince the steelmaker’s latest administrator to bring forward a forensic investigation of the company’s accounts to assess whether or not there are grounds to pursue its past management or board of directors. The agreement between “incandescently furious” debt and bond holders and The Australian Workers’ Union that resulted in Monday’s change in administrators is said to include a concession that will bring forward a forensic assessment of the Arrium accounts.**  From the Financial Review.