Towards the Final Curtain F

The Blue Lake, Mount Gambier

Well, that’s Mount Gambier over for another year. The trip was interesting, to say the least. There was a fatal car smash at the dreaded junction of the Inter-state Highway and the Copper Coast Highway, with the rescue helicopter called in. The traffic was backed up for miles in all three directions.  The elderly female driver died at the scene with the husband air lifted out by the Rescue Helicopter. He died a few hours later in the Royal Adelaide Hospital. This is a dangerous intersection and I have had a couple of near misses myself with drivers coming off the Copper Coast Highway and either not seeing or ignoring the give way signs. The Inter-state has “right of way”.  The State Government and Federal Government have allocated funds to try and fix the problem but there seems to be no sense of urgency and the construction wont start until

You can see the buildup of traffic. The only alteration to this photograph is my erasing of the reg, plate

“sometime” in 2020. Still, as it’s not in Adelaide, no one worries much.   Between the detours and the delay, I was about two hours down.  Generally, I shop off for a break at Port Wakefield, but considering the volume of traffic going through because of the accident, delays and diversions, I decided against stopping and carried on to Adelaide. Thursday was not too bad with regard to the weather. I was able to get some shopping done in town and at the Central Market.

At about 10:30 I started to get a bit weary so to bed I went, only to be rudely wakened at 3am with thumping, banging and loud, continuous screaming. Next thing I saw the flashing blue and red reflection on the window blind (police car) – more banging- bit more screaming – a female screaming like a banshee, lots of voices, some sharing their innermost thoughts, then quiet. By then I was wide awake and although I sort of dozed off in fits and starts, I never really got to sleep again. It was either a domestic thing or a sex thing. Don’t know and never asked.  At 6am I was showered, dressed and booked out. By 6:30 I was on the road again – and it was raining.

The drive on the freeway to Tailem Bend was not one of the best drives I have had recently – it didn’t just rain, it poured, with the windscreen wipers sometimes having difficulty in coping.  Fortunately, there was not a lot of traffic on the freeway at that time in the morning, which was just as well, considering the conditions. First time I have ever driven in the daytime with headlights on.  By the time I reached Tailem Bend the rain has eased off – not stopped, just eased off.  I did, however, get my usual photograph of the River Murray. The Murray is looking ok,

The River Murray

but the dull overcast conditions gives you some idea of what the weather was like. More rain on the way to Mt. G. but at least  it was a lot lighter than on the freeway.   Mount Gambier was not so great this trip.  The cold and the rain caused a few electrical failures in Mt. Gambier, one of which was the heating in the hotel. Second concern I have had here, one last year and not another one this year. Perhaps time for a new hotel. One of our members is in Hospital and is not expected to survive. It is really a waiting period. All of his family are there, and no visitors are allowed, other than family. It has been a week since I returned from Mt. G. and I really expected to be called down to  Adelaide.

Fires continue to rage out of control in New South Wales and Queensland with five lives being lost. Here in South Australia we had a bush fire  in the bottom area of the peninsula outside Port Lincoln which was bad enough to put Port Lincoln  under threat.  Fortunately, that one  was brought under control and extinguished reasonably quickly.

The weather here at home has been cool to cold but that is about to change as the forecast is a rapid climb in temperature to 43c on Thursday.   Joy!!!

Towards the final curtain D

Whilst the good people of the Northern Hemisphere wax lyrical about Autumn – or Fall, here in this little corner of the Southern Hemisphere, Spring has  Sprung and Dear Mother Nature has

Rawnsley Bluff – Flinders Ranges

given us a reminder of who is really in charge. The temperatures this week have steadily climbed to 41c, with a  high North Wind. In this corner of the planet a North Wind is a hot wind coming off the desert. It was not the most pleasant of days to be running a fundraising Barbecue for the RFDS , but never the less, we did it anyway. Given that it was the middle of a long weekend and  many people were away, if we  made more than $150, I will be very surprised.  Why did we do it- we were asked to – that simple. And, of course it was for the Royal Flying Doctor Service.  However,  we have a policy  that if a trader asks for the RFDS to do a fundraising venture, I will do my upmost to get a team together and accept on the  belief that if we refuse, they may ask someone else next time. LOL, I have even organised a fundraising event from one thousand kilometers away when I was in Mount Gambier – and yes, I have had my head examined –  several times!!  Most of the time it’s good fun – we work and chat with customers and when it comes to the RFDS, people are very generous, and they were this weekend too – even although there were not all that many –  and I  expressed the belief that there was more money put into the donations tin than there was to the cashbox. Anyway, it’s funds that we didn’t have at the start of the day and that’s what matters.  Having been through an early 41c on Saturday,  the temperature crashed overnight to be 24c on Sunday – Monday wasn’t too bad and today (Tuesday) I was feeling very cold when I took Benji out for a walk at 6am. I guess I was too pig-headed to go back for a heavier jacket, so I just continued with the walk, but it was a cold morning.

One of the drawbacks of living  “in the sticks” is the fact that I miss city shopping. I don’t mean that the shops here are not good, they are, but there are things  not available in the country that are commonplace in the

Fires NSW & Queensland

city. For example, I want shoe polish, not the common  New Zealand (Kiwi) Shoe polish but a polish that is produced here in Australia and is not petroleum based. Decent size Australian Company but products not available here. We really only have one shoe shop here and that’s  “Spendless” with   small shoe departments  in Harris Scarfe and Target. The shoe shops we did have have all gone. How can you survive in a place where 60% of the population wears flip-flops or no shoes, 35% wear sandals or sneakers and only 5% of us wear  actual shoes.

Over many (Too many) years I have  gone from paper organisers, to electronic organisers ( Palm Pilot ) and finally back to paper, Filofax, Van der Spek, Mulberry and  my current Kikki.k. I have gone from Personal, to A6, back to personal and finally to A5 and Kikki.k. It was all so very easy once. I was in Adelaide fairly often so was able to buy what I needed in either David Jones or Borders, and in a few of the stationers.  Not so now. David Jones no longer stock much  in the way of Planners/Organisers and I think has only one Filofax in stock and Borders closed down. Now I have to order on line from China, Hong Kong,  or,  if it is from the UK or the USA,  I  practically have to donate an

Benji on the Hill; We were just up there again this afternoon.

arm or a leg to defray the postage costs. For other things I  have a supplier in Perth, Western Australia, and she’s very good.  For my inserts these days, I download  a system that I like in the size I want, copy it to a USB and take it to the local printer who will print everything for me in an A5 size — I supply the paper, which is great because it means I get the paper quality that I  really want.. And yet, it would appear that  paper-based planners and still quite popular, but in South Australia it certainly doesn’t feel like that.

 

Towards the final Curtain?

Before

The new floor was laid over two days and I am quite pleased with it. It is not quite what I imagined but  I am happy with it and I think the Tasmanian Oak was a good choice.

After

Well, here we are in September already and only three month to go until the end of the year. All in it has been an interesting year with a number of medical concerns with Annabell.  Fortunately she is well at the moment

Fires continue to burn out of control in New South and Queensland but the 100kpm winds that have fanned the flames has started to ease. Thus far no lives have been lost but there is considerable property destruction and damage.  We have had a couple of days of high winds up here but no fires just dust and  a fog that closed down Adelaide Airport for several hours. We did have a few warm and sunny days as a “Welcome to Spring” sort of treat and I took advantage of them by getting out to the Lighthouse Area with Benji. This weekend is the Grand Football Final and we (RFDS) will be running a Fundraising event. Son John and I will have a team in the morning and there will be a further team take over in the afternoon. The following week,  we will be working at the  Hardware store and the weekend after that will be a Special Church Service to  celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the Ladies Organisation and the weekend after that I will be heading off to Mount Gambier again.  Annabell has had another operation on her eye so I am  looking after her for the moment, not that I don’t look after her normally. I was just thinking of the last time she was in Adelaide with me (Before she became ill) and I asked her where she wanted to go. She said that she didn’t mind and I should surprise her – so I did. I took her to Bunnings. I know, I’m just a romantic at heart  :o)

We are beyond the green belt.

I took Benji for a wander around the Wetlands. The pools are still looking good and the geese are in fine form, but I would like to see a lot more rain to overflow the ponds. The reason for this is to give some hedge against the evaporation that will occur during the summer heat. I think the evaporation that we saw last year is only a foretaste of what is to come. Everything thus far is pointing to a really hot summer and more fires.. On the subject of fires,  units and volunteers have left South Australia to help fight the fires in New South Wales. On the map of the Eyre Peninsula we are beyond the green belt. Any fires that occur here are in the South East of the State, the Adelaide Hills or in the lower Eyre Peninsula. Any fires here

Fires NSW & Queensland

are  wild grass fires and are controlled fairly quickly. There’s nothing much to burn here except wild grass and saltbush.. However, the concern is that it is only really early spring  and already we have fires of this magnatude.  Today, for example, here in  the Arid Lands, the temperature is forecast to reach 32c. The beautiful thing is that it turns out I am not on duty for this particular fundraising at the Football Grand Final – young John is, but  I am not. Anyway,  there have been no lives lost but there has been considerable land and property damage. Two teenagers have been arrested for lighting one of the fires that destroyed land and property ( a house and garage) one is 16 the other – a girl – is 14. Don’t know what we are going to do,  the law calls for 10 years, but this is South Australia and you barely get that for murder, so no doubt a slap on the wrist and a suspended sentence. Currently a hit and run killed a child. The driver was arrested at his home. Judge gave him a discount for pleading guilty so he will walk free in about 22 months. We don’t have justice in South Australia – we have the rule and application of law  but not justice. People protest outside the court but no one inside takes the slightest bit of notice.

Benji managed to  cut his paw when we were out walking. I carried him home and took him up to the Vet. There was a little bit of glass but it was all cleaned out – not without some trauma from Benji – and he was given medication. He was also fitted with a “Medical Collar” to make sure that he didn’t lick off the medication.  Goodness the  performance we have to go through to get the cream on his paw –  honestly, you would think I was trying to murder him.

 

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.

Walks, Fete and and second dog.

Best I could do
I thought it was funny

Getting much lighter in the morning, but not all that much warmer. The days, however, are warmer and we had a little taste of summer when the temperature climbed up to 35c. That was exciting!! The following day it was 28c then fell back to  normal early spring temperatures of 20(ish). However, high 20s – low 30s and the flies are out in force already. One of the advantages of the light in the morning is that a number of Kangaroos have been gathering at the far end of the fence line. Not that we get anywhere near them as they bounce off before we get even close enough to take a photograph but, still, it’s nice to see them and take what photograph we can. I carry a Nikon with me, it’s not really up to serious photography, but it is easy to carry around. When I go to Mount Gambier I generally take the larger camera with me..

Our clocks went forward an hour so it’s back to dark in the mornings. We had a few days of really nice spring weather then back to sort of late winter – cold, wet and miserable. Today (Saturday 7th) it had been raining much of the night and it’s still raining. We did not go out for our walk this morning, but he still got his morning treat – which I thought only fair because he was up and ready to go. The church mini Fete took place today and given the early heavy rain we were concerned that it might have to be cancelled again. However, by 7:30 the rain cleared and the sun shone brightly. The Fete was well attended and overall we raised over $1400. I paid for it in that I was on my feet for much of the day and my knee has been playing up something shocking. This evening I lay down and read a book – vegged out I think.

A recent comment mentioned the surprise that Mount Gambier is over 1000 miles round trip. This is part of the problem living in South Australia and partly why it continues to be

Towards the Flinders
One of the gorges through the lower Flinders

underdeveloped – the tyranny of distance and a lack of a major water supply. Just driving to the Lighthouse and back is nearly 50 miles. This distance will take you from Glasgow to Lochearnhead or from Edinburgh to Callander ( give or take a couple of miles)  Some of you may remember that one of our elderly ladies was moved from here to Quorn Hospital because there were no beds at any of the aged care facilities here. I visited her several times as did some of the other ladies – a round trip of 145 miles. For me the problem is that we here are “inbetweeners” too far north to get the benefit of the rolling landscapes of the south, and not far enough north to get the benefit of the rugged  mountain country of the Flinders Ranges. To get to either means several hours driving and of the two I prefer the Flinders Ranges.

For the next three days I will have two dogs. When Ina had to go down to the hospital in Adelaide, Irene – a mutual friend – looked after Dougal. Irene is not in town any more so when I was round there the other day getting some things for the Fete, Ina  talked about her need to put Dougal into care for a couple of days. I said she was not to do this and she was to bring Dougal round to me and Annabell and I would look after him for the two days. I went home and told Annabell what I had done and she said “good, Dougal is a lovely Shih-Tzu and should be no problem”.  Ina brought the dog this evening and after she went home, the three of us- Benji, me and Dougal went out for a walk. Dougal and Benji hit it off and currently they are wandering around outside like old pals.

 

Salt Lakes and Camels

The Foreshore Cafe and the Umbrella
The Foreshore Cafe and the Umbrella

After the week out and about with Benji it rained most of the day Sunday and almost all day Monday. Today (Tuesday) wasn’t too bad and we were able to get out to the beach this afternoon. I love  this since it’s a school day and the  beach is  empty – not a soul – well a few teenagers in cars but no one walking along the beach and I discovered that the Benji doesn’t like the sand – He Loves It ! He loves running on it and he loves exploring the seaweed. Once we got away to the very far end of the area where there are never any people, because it’s too far away from children play areas, I took him off lead (leash) and let him romp around on his own for a little while. Playtime over we made our way back to the main area again and went to the

Not the best because he was pulling
Not the best because he was pulling

Foreshore Cafe for  some Ice -Cream.  After the cafe we drove to the Wetlands and had a short wander mainly to get to the cold water fountains – the Boy had a drink and I had a drink from the peeps fountain. By then I felt that it was  starting to get a bit warm so we cut over the bridge and back to the car and home. I did notice on the bridge that some people have started this French thing about  locking padlocks on the  bridge  sides. I wonder how long that will be allowed before the Council get out the Bolt Cutters. I also took some photographs of the Black Swans and what I thought was a baby swan. However, when I looked at the photograph later you can clearly see the markings that it is a small black duck who just happened to be close to the black swans.

Little black duck
Little black duck

The next week is not going to be a great week and I don’t think the Boy and I will be doing a lot of wandering and I think the picnic is out for the moment:

Wednesday  43   / Thursday  44  / Friday / 43 / Saturday 41 / Sunday 39 (Subject to change)- that being so I don’t think we will be out much. In the morning I will bring all the pot plants under the  extended carport and at least give them some shade and make sure that have water as soon as we get back from our 5:40am walk.

I did just that, gave the plants some water and carried them  to a spot under the  pergola. At least I have tried to keep them from  being burned by direct sunlight. Friday and I have to drive to Adelaide. Tomorrow (Thursday) I will check oil and water and make sure I have extra water with me for the car – and for me. At the moment the Benji is unhappy because we had to go out and we left him at home. I had to go to the optician for my new glasses and  to leave Benji in the car in this heat (42c) would have been a death sentence – but of course, he doesn’t understand that – he just knows that I am going out without him.

Well, Hi there Stranger!!
Well, Hi there Stranger!!

The drive to Adelaide was interesting in that I took a couple of photographs of some unlikely visitors to this part of the world. Yes, they are common  the further north  you go but not so much in this corner of the planet. It was interesting that so many people – me included – pulled up and got out of the car to take photographs. There was quite a herd of them scattered across the paddock. But that wasn’t the only interesting things this weekend. The highway passes through the small town of Lochiel then continues on to Port Wakefield. The industry of Lochiel is the salt lake. Normally these are covered in water but this time, perhaps because of the extreme heat, as I passed through there were people walking out on what was lake but now was dry land. The remainder of the lake was a bright pink – which does not show up too well. Some of the

Bumbunga Salt Lake
Bumbunga Salt Lake

photographs are not so good because a cool change was starting  to push through and the wind was fairly high. I tried to steady myself against a tree so some of them were not too bad. The lake, incidentally,is called Bumbunga and was part of the Micronation  “Province of Bumbunga” – which is a long story of recent South Australian History.

When the meetings are over I am always happy to get back in the car and head from home. After this meeting I couldn’t wait to get back in the car and get the A/C on full – the A/C in the church wasn’t working and it was pretty hot and sticky. By the time I reached Lochiel and Lake Bumbunga, the cold change was sweeping in and there was a fair wind.  The temperature crashed from 40 – 21 and it will stay down for most of this week.

Fires, Dogs and Thank you.

winmalee
Winmalee after the fire had passed

The situation in NSW is not getting any better. This morning a further 70 firefighters left South Australia to head to the  crisis center. There are additional fire units coming from as far away as Western Australia. We are fire free but we are back to Severe Wind Warnings again and at the moment it is blowing pretty bad – just keeping an eye on that other gum tree.

The military are believed to have been responsible for starting of  one of the larger fires through “live-fire” exercises. They are being very cagey at the moment. However – as I have said we are not really in a fire area but I also said that the military have taken over several stations (ranches)  – not too far from here  our emergency services were called out to assist in fighting a bush fire in one of the “training” areas. Anyway, that was put out.

Since starting this the fire situation has improved and the firefighters are starting to get things under control, but it is a concern that we have this kind of crisis and the fire season has not really begun. There is a very strong indication that the military were responsible for the  fires at Lithgow.

The dogs have been good. The Man sleeps a lot but  he seems to make up for it in bouts of high activity. He’s eating better since I gave up the chicken and rice and 20130723_114204started him on “puppy food” on the understanding that this should help to bring his weight back up again. I gave up on the chicken and rice because he just wouldn’t eat it – Strange dog!!  He uses a lot of energy during the high activity periods, then he sleeps. I also feed him treats and because I have two dogs and not one, Chienne also has to have a treat – can’t give to one and not the other. They have walks twice a day – morning and evening.

I am  humbled by the fact that a number of people thought of us during the height of the fires in NSW. We are  one thousand miles away from the fire front ( about 1700 kilometres) but as a friend said, all the rest of the world hears is that Australia is burning. Thank you for your concern – Herself, the Dogs and Me are fairly safe.