Lighthouse, Wetlands and Spencer Gulf

Benji at the lighthouse.

Friday 22nd. Just after lunch I  put a blanket over the front seat in the car, strapped Benji in and off we went to the Lighthouse. It was a lovely day, warm but not hot, so it was a comfortable ride for the 24 miles. Of course, with the air conditioner on it would have been a comfortable ride anyway, but he did what he usually does, curl up facing me and  have a nap. We spent some time wandering about and it was good for us to be out and about again after all the hot weather we have had recently.

We came back home by way of the town center and I  went into the lolly shop and bought 250gms of sugared almonds, because I knew she had them in for the first time in a long time. I know, but it’s my indulgence and they remind me of my childhood in Scotland – every lovely crunch of them. In the evening, after the news, I took Benji down to the wetlands. It’s been a while since we were there. To say I was shocked is an understatement. The amount of water loss is incredible. With the continued drought and the fact that there is no

The loss of water at the wetlands

water going into the system, this, plus the water going out to water the trees, lawns and plants has really taken its toll. Having said that, it did rain for a bit last night and although it rained for several hours, it was fairly light rain and didn’t make a lot of difference to anything.

Today both Annabell and I are  exhausted.  The family at the back of us were having an 18th Birthday Party. The father came around and told his neighbours  what was going to happen and said he would try and keep the music to a reasonable level. Well, that was a lie right there! He did  indicate that they were going to play music, but they didn’t. I don’t know what the heck it was they played but music it was not – it was just a thump, thump, thump. My son follows Iron Maiden, and some other sort of heavy metal and though I  don’t like to admit it, it is music – of a sort – but this last night, until 2am was just a continual thump, thump, thump. I almost took a serious dislike when the alarm went off at 6am. I did not have

The Spencer Gulf at the Lighthouse.

a good night, but Benji and I went out for our walk in the calm,  early, cloud covered morning. Today was the Congregation Annual General Meeting, so  church was well over two hours long. I think Annabell is resting – good for her. We go back to the doctor this week and we expect he will increase the  amount of her insulin again. At the moment she is not too bad, but  the readings are still higher than he would like.  ( He did increase the  level to 17ml.)

The drought continues to bite in the north of South Australia and over in Victoria. There has also been high and strong winds that have  turned the bare paddocks into dust bowls and animals are starting to perish for lack of food and water and the dust that gets everywhere – into the animal eyes and mouth. There’s not a lot of help being handed out. Must have looked away for a moment and when I looked back, March is just about finished and we are rushing towards April. Today – Thursday 28th –  Dougal is coming to stay for a little while. I have no idea how long this time as Ina is still in a Respite Center outside of Adelaide.

Under our system, you can qualify for traveling assistance if you have to travel for treatment.  The hospital at the Port does not have Nuclear Medicine facilities – our hospital does. So  this lady had to travel from Port Augusta to Whyalla for treatment –  a distance of 80 klms. ( 160kms round trip) She does not quality for assistance because the cut off point is 100 klms.  This lady is traveling 160 klms twice a week for treatment but does not  receive assistance. This was highlighted with the  Minister for Health and he  agrees that many of the  rules were made to  apply to Adelaide not the country areas. He has promised to have a look and overhaul where necessary.

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Australia – Frying tonight!!

Thursday 24th Jan. This morning I took Benji out for his walk at 05:30. I thought I might as well, I was awake anyway. Actually, I had been awake since 3;40 – it was a very hot, sticky night and I

Our little corner of the Universe

didn’t sleep too well.  We saw quite a few Kangaroos and when I got back I made certain my water container – a big blue bucket – was full. I also filled the bird dish.  Annabell and I had to go out since we had an unplanned medical appointment for Annabell. We moved across to the shopping centre and got her medication, the supermarket for milk  and a few things then we came home.  On leaving home this morning to take Annabell for her appointment, I did something I don’t usually do – I left a fan on for Benji so that he could stay cool until we got back. We didn’t waste time,  got what we wanted and headed home. Inside and put the A/C back on again. The temperature climbed to an “official temperature” of 48.6 but my monitor read 50c and the reason it read 50c is because it couldn’t go any higher. At  even the official 48c, the reverse cycle A/C had  difficulty trying to cope. The government  were noted and warned that the  electric system was “struggling” so for the first time ever, the massive generators were switched on  to help the  grid. Despite this precaution Adelaide and  some districts around, suffered power blackouts – and this on the hottest day ever.   Around 8pm it had cooled down a bit so we went out for our evening walk.  I was outside a short while ago and felt that it was warmer than when I took Benji out earlier, I checked the monitor and found that it was sitting at 36c and it is now 23:05, Might not be the best night for sleeping.

`The Hay Convoy at Iron Knob SA. * Photograph by Angel Giles *

Did sleep reasonably well. Took Benji out this morning and was very surprised to see that many of the places on our walk had also put out buckets of water. I thought this was great. One place had a cleaned  rubbish bin filled with water.  I have increased the size of the container I use.

One of the incredible things that happen here  are the Hay Convoys. Much of New South Wales and most of Queensland are in drought. Thus farmers cannot feed their  animals. The farmers in Western Australia donated about 3500 bales of Hay – enough to fill 50 trucks and these are being trucked  from Western Australia to New South Wales. The convoy was passing through South Australia on the Inter-State about 30 miles away. A number of people  were going out to the Iron Knob truck stop to greet the trucks and the truckers and wave them on . I was invited to go with them and I really wanted to, but I had an unplanned medical appointment for Annabell and that was at the same time as the trucks were going through. I did ask my friend Angel to take lots of photographs – which she did

Daddy wasn’t using it so I was keeping it protected for him.

As I said before – the weather is strange and very unpredictable. From the hottest place in the commonwealth to being really quite cool when I was out a little while ago with Benji. It was ok, but  really cool  (17c) considering the temperature over the last few days. I  did, however, remark to Annabell the other day when we were having these rolling power outages, that it was a bit sad when you have to walk about the house with a torch (flashlight) in your pocket and candles  placed around the place – just in case, you understand. I have faith in Power Networks, I mean who else can tell over 100,000 people who have just lost power of the hottest day ever, that it was a blown fuse – and tell it with a straight face? That takes talent..

When I was growing up in Scotland the early days Fish & Chip shops sometimes put a notice in their window ‘Frying Tonight” That’s what it felt like here.

And they call the wind — Annoying.

Thursday and the  heavy  winds came and with the winds came  a health warning that the heavy winds – gusting at around 60kph, – coupled with the dry conditions, are likely to create dust storms. The Health Dept. issued a warning that people with asthma or breathing difficulties are strongly advised to stay inside until the wind storms have passed. The Chief Medical Officer

Dust Storm on the Eyre Peninsula – 250 klms long.
*photograph: Tim Phillips*

was featured on the news explaining the problems of dust storms for people with any breathing concerns. The high winds continued throughout the day and in some parts of the State, gusting at 100+kph. The wind continued  into the night and was followed by  heavy rain.  The dust storms were pretty heavy and covered an area of 250 klms. We did get some but nowhere near as much as the lower peninsula.   It is now am Friday and I have been awake for much of the night. The rain stopped at 4:15 then started again  at 04:50. I am not certain but I think this just might have broken the drought  at least in South Australia.  The worst of the drought was inter-state in New South Wales, so I hope that the rain bands are moving in that direction.  As far as I am aware, more rain is on the way. The seriousness of the drought has caused a backlash against the government – particularly the Foreign Affairs Minister, Julie Bishop. Our farmers are struggling, there is no feed for stock, sheep and cattle are dying in the thousands and Julie Bishop announces – with a smile – that the Federal Government have donated $68 Million to assist farmers in Vietnam and another $20 million to Indonesian farmers but it

seems there is not enough in the Federal Purse to assist drought stricken Australian farmers. It’s a worry…

It is now 05:55 and the rain has stopped. I hope that’s it for the morning and I can get out with Benji. We didn’t get out last night – not

Benji at the Port.

even for a short walk. Well,  we did get out for our walk at 07:20. The rain had gone and the heavy wind had gone. Still a bit of a breeze – and cold with it – but the major wind had died away. A temporary respite before it started again.

Finally staggered into bed at 23:30 and went out like a light. I didn’t set the alarm so it was 06:45 before I said good morning to the world.  I pottered about much of the morning trying to tidy up before the forecast wind started again. I took  Benji for a walk around the Wetlands. It was quiet and I was fortunate to have a chat with the manager of the new Kiosk. She said that it’s progressing but slower than she would like, but she should, all being well, open in September. Just a mere three weeks away.      The wind has started up again so I’ve given up trying to clear up leaves that just keep  being blown about. Ah, only 24 days until Spring.

Benji & Yogi out together

Yogi came this afternoon (Saturday) and will be here at least until next  Friday. If not Annabell will have one night of looking after both as I head off to the quarterly conference. Fortunately this one is in North Adelaide, so I will only be gone overnight, plus driving down and back. I have been asked to go out to the RFDS Main base at Adelaide Airport to collect some merchandise  that needs to come up here. I was going to Adelaide, so I’ll end up out there. Oh well, didn’t want to go shopping anyway. Despite what we thought the rain was not nearly enough to break the drought, and there is talk that the Goyder Line could be moving more to the south, which will have the effect of a good chunk of the state being dropped back to the “Marginal Lands”designation, which is a worry. Adelaide is being rained on and subject to strong winds. There is even talk about flooding. So very different from up here.  I think that is part of the problem. It rains a fair bit in Adelaide so they really have no idea what’s like to have no rain up in the farming areas.  Many Adelaide people  have no idea what happens in the 85% of South Australia beyond Adelaide, which in usually the norm for country sv.  city. With us it’s a bit more extreme  since we have a state bigger than Texas and only really one city.

Parks, Birthdays and Shows

Artists impression

I am happy to say that Annabell is very much improved and  has started going back to the coffee evenings. Have no idea why they call them coffee evenings – most of the ladies drink tea. Oh well. I took Benji down to the Wetlands to see  the progress on the new Kiosk. It’s coming on well and should be opened soon. The electricity had been cut off to the area whilst work is being done on the  kiosk. There doesn’t seem to be much happening on the outside so I suppose it is all happening inside – well I hope that’s the case. But really,  some form of kiosk  here is well overdue and this one is close to one of the three barbecue areas which should increase the traffic on warm days. I have come down here on public holidays and being family friendly the whole area is well patronised, so the kiosk should do well. My concern is that some “couldn’t care less” dog people are not cleaning up after their dogs and it is becoming noticeable. There are  dog bag  dispensers  situated all over the park, plus there are notices but neither seem to help. I don’t know what the answer is. So, a small minority, not doing the right thing, give us all a bad reputation.   When we came here at first  there was,  on the outskirts of town,  a Fauna and Reptile park and an animal sanctuary. Again this was well used and I took a number of visitors down there. There was a Snow Tiger  that was no longer able to perform at a circus. The circus people were going to have it put down so the owners of our park bought it and brought it to  the Fauna Park where it lived in peace and quiet for its last years. However due to financial problems the Park was closed down about 14 years ago.

The Mini-Godfather and his minder

Recently a local business family have expressed interest in opening the park again and work has already started on cleaning it up and getting it back in shape. A lot of people and businesses have donated time and equipment to help get it up and running again. Most of us remember it from when we took our own children there.  It is believed that the park will be open in time for the September school holidays.

Wilson Park is a family friendly park not very far from Andrew’s house. This is where they held Connor’s birthday party. However, it has drawbacks in that there are no Barbecue facilities there so in order to have a Barbecue Andrew and friends loaded a Barbecue onto a trailer, moved it down to Wilson Park and then manhandled it

Magpie at the Dog Trough.

off.   Just off the designated playground, Council in its infinite wisdom have decided to construct a second skate park. It’s about 30 feet away from where we had the children on Sunday, so that should be “interesting”.

Going back to the Wetlands again – when I was down there with Benji the other day, I took this photograph  of a Magpie drinking from the dog trough. Not spectacular, but I thought it was interesting enough to share as something you don’t see very often,

Denver held a Pet Expo and I said that we never held anything like that here and that’s true. However, I did discover that  in April of this year there was a two day  Animal Expo in Adelaide, billed as the biggest in South Australia, which is really not all that difficult because I don’t think many country towns can afford to run such a specalised event. It is also unlikely that many traders would attend such an event in a country town because of the costs involved – and really not a great return on outlay. Sad but true. However, and this is the thing, until I read the Denver information and started looking at this area, I had never heard of the two day event in Adelaide – which indicated how widespread  the advertising for the event was.  On a final note – it has been raining off and on – heavy and light – for the last 24 hours. I guess that means that the drought in this area has been broken and that the Emus population that  invaded the town, can now go back home.