Walking the Wetlands

Benji at the Wetlands
Reduced water levels

Have been down to the wetlands the last few days and found the water level has really dropped. So much so that the bottom of the main pond is visible in one area. Still, walking around is not any different. Well it is a bit in that the Benji has a sore paw and walking on gravel hurts him, so I have to carry him over the gravel parts. Well, ok – I guess that’s part of the job description.  The work on the Cafe/Kiosk seems to have come to a halt for the moment and I am not really expecting much movement until next summer. See, I am optimistic! The Whyalla jetty was damaged in a storm last year and closed down for safety reasons. It was popular with  fishing people and people who just wanted a walk along its length. However,  it has taken council until now to decided to replace it. The new jetty will be twice the size of the old jetty and will have a circle in the middle. They say that this is the design that was voted on by public  consultation but I don’t remember being asked. I suspect that it is one of these things you never hear about unless you follow the daily “doings”of council.

The reason for us being down the wetlands these last few days has to do with Benji.  I normally set the alarm for 5:45 and by 6am we are on the road.  The last few days he has been very reluctant to go out in the morning and the other morning when we did go out, we had only gone about 100 yards when he came right to my side and sat down and his demeanor made it clear that he really didn’t want to go. So, I turned round and took him home. Later on in the morning he was a bit more lively so I  got him into the car and we drove to the wetlands. He was quite

The new cafe under construction.

walking and checking the p-mail – except with the gravel area. Age — well I was told he was about 5 when I adopted him and he has been with me for over two years so he’s about 7(ish) – not really old at all.

The little jetty behind Benji – in the photograph – is used for launching boats. No, not boats for people, since that’s not allowed, but radio controlled boats. While we were down there one of the boats that had been sailing suddenly stopped and refused to move. The radio controller having no effect. Since it was too far out to reach he had to telephone the council and explain and they reluctantly allowed him to put a real boat into the pond to retrieve the  radio controlled boat, which had now floated over to one of the islands. He was allowed to get the motorboat but to remove the real boat as soon as that had been done. The water is ‘run-off water” not suitable for animals nor humans and, of course, the lack of rain has meant no run-off water, or very little.

Our Wedding “a few years ago” Me. Annabell and Rev. James Currie

Recently I was reading a post about “How we met” which I found interesting. How we met… I had decided that I was not going to a retreat, since I had already been at several, and stay home. One of our Collegiate Ministers, decided  I must have made a mistake and picked me up in the morning.  It was there at the Church of Scotland Conference Center, Carberry Towers, that I met Annabell. The following August we were married with both ministers conducting the service – Alex Keith and James Currie. That was a wee while ago !! Can’t remember the piper’s name though. Actually if we want to be correct her name is not Annabell, it’s Annabella, named  after Queen Annabella,  Wife of Robert III, King of Scots.

The Port and the Arid Lands Gardens.

Looking toward the Joy Baluch Bridge

Talk about “Back to the Future” as once again I made the journey out to the Port for the same reasons as last week. I was supposed to head out on

Big W. Department Store.

Tuesday but late Monday afternoon I received a telephone call from the Doctor Surgery reminding me I had an appointment on Tuesday afternoon. I probably could have still  gone to the Port and been back in time, but I decided to leave it until Wednesday. So, Wednesday morning I headed off to Port Augusta and the Bank.  My business at the bank was completed a lot quicker that I had anticipated so I was able to spent some time at Big W, then The Office Shop before heading to the Arid Lands Botanic Garden.  I bought three new native plants before heading off for a wander at the Lookout area. There are some really nice walking paths and they would be great to take Benji, but as I said, dogs are not allowed. Yes, I agree they could make a ruling that dogs have to be kept on a leash at all times but there will always be the drongo(s) that believe that rules don’t apply to them and put the native wildlife in danger. I have to say that the weather was lovely, but too warm to leave Benji in the car for any length of time. The Joy Baluch Bridge is the main crossing point of the Upper Spencer Gulf but there is another crossing a bit further up. This is Yorkeys Crossing and is supposed to be the route for heavy vehicles, which are reluctant to use it and instead use the main bridge. There was a pedestrian bridge but due to structural damage

Yorkeys Crossing Bridge

this was closed,  so pedestrians are forced to use a narrow pathway on the main bridge. The Federal MP has highlighted this and shown how close  the trucks come  to people using the narrow walkway, but nothing was ever done.  The reason drivers are reluctant to use Yorkeys Crossing is that it is a long detour and the road between the crossing and the main highway, is an unsealed, dirt road on either side, so for big vehicles it can present problems. It also puts added pressure on the main bridge, which, because it is now used by pedestrians, the speed limit is 40KPH over the bridge.  The Port Augusta Council have been asking for the State Government to seal the road, and repair the pedestrian crossing, but the previous  state government was more concerned with extending a motorway in Adelaide to get people home by cutting four minutes off the traveling time. We really hope the new government can do something about the problems around the state outside of Adelaide.

I spent much of the morning walking the trail towards Yorkeys Crossing and up to the top of the escarpment. I find the view quite pleasant with

Looking back towards the Shop and other buildings

the Flinders Ranges in the distance. Looking back towards the Gardens and the Shop area is quite interesting. Way beyond the hills in the distance  is part of the way home. and between where I am standing and where I am going there is nothing – no houses nor people – mind you, there’s no water either. Coming back down from the escarpment to the carpark I had a chat with some visitors from Germany. Driving back to the main road I stopped and pulled off road as best as I could so that I could get out and photograph a family of emu. In the early paragraph of this post I mentioned the problems with allowing dogs in the area – even on leash – because some people would believe the rules don’t apply to them – this was brought home to me as I was photographing  the Emu. For obvious reasons, the speed limit in and around the area is 40KPH with restrictions that the wildlife has right of way. As I was parked a white sedan came from the opposite direction and  passed me at about 60+, despite the fact that there were Emu in the area – rules didn’t apply to him.

Anyway, I have decided that I need a new camera. My Nikon is getting old and is really overdue for replacement. Think I might have to talk nicely to “She who must be Obeyed”.

Part of a family of Emu at the Arid Lands B.G.


The Bank and The Port

The Flinders Hotel/ Pt. Augusta

Today (Wednesday) after the ladies had gone, I drove Annabell  to Port Augusta. Since we were both going to be away for quite a few hours, I decided that we should take Benji with us. I felt he would enjoy the trip. Difficult to tell, really, since he curls up and goes to sleep. The

Not the greatest photograph, but best I could do.

reason for the journey was that Annabell needed to go to the bank and sort some things out.  Unfortunately, the nearest branch to us is 80 klms away in the Port. Whilst she attended to what she needed to do in the bank, I took Benji for a walk around the main street. Yes it was a bit warm but not too bad and he did his bit for the environment by watering a few trees. Annabell wanted to transfer money to Scotland but she had been having difficulty on line, so we came here to sort it out. Back at the car Benji and I had a drink of cold water and then shared a Hot Dog – not my first choice but easy to get fairly quickly.  Annabell came back and we headed off to Better Homes and the garden center. I was able to get some plants to replace the plants burned.  I actually wanted to go to the Arid Lands B.G. but with Benji that was not possible. The drive home was quiet and we did take note  that the long promised passing lanes on the Eyre Highway are finally under construction.

Well there you are, I survived another week of the ladies being here. Only six weeks to go!! It’s not too bad and I get out in the evening with Benji and in the morning- if I remember to get the car out of the driveway in time – we go to the wetlands. If not, we just go for a district walk.

Our Grandson at 8 months

At the weekend we had the State Election. Australia has compulsory voting, so, if you do not exercise your democratic right to vote, you get fined. Of course, once your name is marked off on the roll, how you vote, or spoil the paper, is your business. I do know some people who have put  1 in every box, effectively, spoiling the paper – which is legal. Some time after the election the Electoral Commission will  announce the final voting figures including the number of spoiled papers. Anyway, that’s all over and we have a change of government. The Socialist Government had been defeated   and left behind $8 Billion in state assets, which it has sold off and spent as well as a $14 Billion State debt – and that’s interesting for a State that is bigger than most countries in Europe but  has a population of less than 2 million.. The new government is a majority government and will govern in its own right. The last term of the Socialists only happened because they bought off several of the independents- offering them a ministerial portfolio to support them and the independents sold out and sided with the socialists – keeping them in power for the last four years. To be honest the state is not a basket case case – far from it – but it does have a lot of problems and concerns, which the new government will have to address fairly quickly – particularly the loss of young people.

Our New RFDS Pens

Young people are leaving the state because they feel that there is a lack of opportunity here. That’s a worry.

A new fundraising venture by the Royal Flying Doctor service is that we have organized for pens to be created with the RFDS Logo and the quality is fairly good. I have bought a number and I intend to send them out to people. Not for sale but as a gift ( they are already paid for)

Tomorrow I will go through to the Port again for a similar reason we went through last week – it’s the nearest branch of our bank – 100 miles round trip for a bank visit. I have decided not to take Benji this time, which means that I can go to the Arid Lands B.G. I will just be going on my own this time – no Annabell. Some shopping and get back to help Annabell get things ready for the ladies tomorrow evening. Wednesday and Yogi goes home so Benji will be back on his own again.

Out and about

This is so true.
The Spencer Gulf (Beach)

It’s now into Autumn (Fall) and the days are still warm to very warm ( 28 – 37C) but it’s not too bad and we can still get out and about – just have to make sure the ground is not too hot. Message last week  suggested that I should be in Adelaide this weekend and I did try and comply – honestly. However, I did send a message and tendered an apology. I will not be going to Adelaide this weekend for several reasons 1) the Adelaide Fringe Festival – 2) Womadelaide – 3) the Adelaide Cup – 4) It’s a long weekend and 5) I really  am not going to pay the  inflated Adelaide accommodation prices this weekend. However, I am not alone in this in that the people from the South East ( Keith to Mount Gambier) will have a similar problem. Anyway, I can think of lots to do here rather than drive back and forth to Adelaide this long weekend.

It’s starting to get quite cold in the mornings and soon I will have to change from a middle weight jacket to a heavier jacket. In the summer the hot  north wind comes off the desert and pushes the temperature up. In winter the wind blows in off the  Spencer Gulf bringing cool to cold air from the Indian Ocean and right at the moment the wind is from the Gulf in the early morning and the late evenings. At the end of this month, the clocks go forward ( I think!)  and that will make a change. We will still go out at the same time – that doesn’t change. I had intended to take a run through to the Arid Lands Gardens to get plants to replace the plants the sun kindly burned to death for me. Annabell does not go out into the garden – too many hazards there for her –  fine for  us but not for her, so when I am away, I try to make sure that the plants are watered before I leave – but 47C was just too much and I was away for four days. Anyway, it’s not a total loss and I still have one single Mandevilla  remaining. Still, look on the bright side in that we have managed through the heat of summer without  any major bushfire. Oh, we have had a few fires  that were attended to, but nothing too major.

At the moment Annabell is hosting the Ladies Coffee evening and morning.  She (we) were only to do it for this month but she suggested that she (we) do it for the next two months –

Benji and his Hi Vis. Vest

March and April. This would mean that she (we) would not have to host it again for the remainder of this year  (barring emergencies/Illness) Why the (we) well, she cannot  carry the things – extra chairs, sort out the tables and set out the chairs and put everything away on the Wednesday afternoon- so in essence, she gets the credit, but it’s a joint effort given that there things she cannot do. Actually, I’m not altogether sure that she knows where the garage is  :o)  Benji does well and  he gets well petted by everyone, but I generally have him in the room with me. Barring emergencies or Special Purpose Meetings, I  should not be leaving for Mount Gambier until mid May.

When the ladies were here this morning I took Benji for a wander round the wetlands. Still a bit on the sticky side, but not too bad. I think the temperature today was about 32C but the ground was cool,  so he was ok. It being a week day I was able to talk to the workmen down

Main Pond – Wetlands

at the Wetlands and I was correct in my assumption that they are preparing the foundations for a Kiosk/Cafe at the entry to the Wetlands. This will be a good move and will certainly attract more people to the area and that in turn will lead to the upgrade and development of the Wetlands. Sadly though, Benji is not good with other dogs – other than those he already knows, like Yogi and Dougal, so this means that once the kiosk is up and running and it attracts more people to the area, it could restrict our visits to the Wetlands. But for all that, it’s a good development.

Not my best days.

Every so often “one of those mornings” comes along. This morning was that morning. We went down to the church yesterday to photocopy the minutes of the Management Meeting ( Annabell is the Secretary)  and the Church Newsletter. Part of the way through that Annabell started feeling a bit unwell, so I took her home. I decided that I would go down  tomorrow (Saturday/Today) and finish off the photocopy.  So, today, I finished off her things and then started on the Newsletter (12 pages) only there was not sufficient A3 pape to complete the job. It being Saturday the two major stationery shops are closed but after running around I finally got a ream of A3 and started work on the newsletter. Halfway through doing this the toner

Things happen!

light came on and the machine ground to a halt. Too easy I thought, there’s toner in  the stationery cupboard. Well yes, there was a cardboard box and inside the cardboard box was a toner container, only problem was that the toner container inside the cardboard box in the cupboard – was also empty. No one, it seems,  had thought to order a replacement or even let me know that we needed one. When I got home and related all this to Annabell, her comment was “I did notice we were short on A3 and I meant to tell you” Oh well, these things happen!!

As we approach the official end of summer and the start of Autumn ( Fall), the temperatures, although still warm to warmer ( 28C – 37C)  at times,  have started to calm down. I really do hope that we are finished with the 46/47C. On the subject to heat, you may remember that I wrote some weeks ago about how the heat had burned up my plants and how the people at the garden center suggested that I keep on watering them because the  exposed  sections of the plants may be destroyed but the main plant  may still be alive and watering it could help to bring it out again. The dead leaves would act as a sort of umbrella for the new shoots —— well it didn’t work, the plants are well and truly dead. I had great expectations for the Mandevilla, expecting it to grow over the trellis, but now I’m not sure what to replace them with. I had a look at the Japanese Wisteria and I may take a run out to the Arid Lands garden tomorrow and see if they have a native Wisteria. The Bougainvillea was recommended but I think that has too many problems associated with it.

Ah! The Good Old Days —- not!

Monday and I took the toner box up to the stationery shop and they will have to order  from the manufacturer. Ah, there are times when I think the ladies of the early church with their Gestetner  Machines had it easy:::::  Well, no, that’s a silly thought, but it’s amazing the thoughts that run through your mind at times,  and all I can say is that this was in my mind when I walked out of the stationery shop   “Hmm I bet they  never had this problem when they were using gestetners”.

So much for my trip out to the Arid Lands Garden. I have been asked to drive out to Iron Knob to the tourist office and then to the Post Office. Both of those places have RFDS Donation Units and both are full. John Taylor, who normally does this is away,  and,  since no one else is available, I’m it. Still it’s  to be a pleasant day and since it’s  going to be reasonably cool, I’ll take Benji with me. He will enjoy the drive. Don’t see how really, since he simply curls up on the front seat and goes to sleep. Annabell says that doesn’t matter, he’s with his daddy and that’s all that’s important.

Benji and I had a nice, quiet drive through to Iron Knob to collect some donations for the Royal Flying Doctor Service. We went to the Tourist Center

RFDS Aircraft

and then to the Post Office. I bought some Postcards. First time in years I have been out there – it has changed. It’s 90 years since a Minister from the Presbyterian Church of South Australia had a vision to create a service that would provide a Mantle of Safety for people who worked, lived and traveled in the Outback. He was the Rev. John Flynn — Flynn of the inland — and the vision of 90 years ago is the Royal Flying Doctor Service of today.