April 12, 2013

Living with the wild life

Living in the bush and especially running a cattle enterprise, changed my perspective. This might sound really basic, but it made me realise that humans rule this planet. We are at the top of the food chain. Yes, there are some species that still give us a run for our money (lions, sharks … etc.) but for the most part we keep the wild life at bay. We are in control.

This is harder to do when you live in the bush. Thankfully we don’t have many life threatening predators in Australia, though I have learned, of course, to be snake wary and am always conscious of foot placement when out in the paddock, particularly near water sources.

Unfortunately, some of our favourite Australian icons do get in the way. Even though we love them of course, the kangaroos can be a jolly nuisance at times.

The Garden Gate

The problem becomes exacerbated due to the proliferation of the ‘roo colonies, loving the conditions we create for our stock – open grazing lands, permanent water sources. They thrive, they propagate … and at times they plague the landscape. For example, they love to jump in front of the car when you are whizzing down the road, particularly at night. “We hate those kamikaze ones,” my neighbour said once. I know just what she means.  No matter how hard you look, how much care you take, you can always be taken off guard by a kamikaze wallaby or kangaroo determined to put themselves under your car.

I was woken around 4am the other morning to a strange sound. It took me a few moments in my sleep drugged state to realise it was two massive male kangaroos going for it … just outside the garden gate. I could hear them spitting and bashing the crap out of each other. It was a real contest and it went on for a long time. (Next time I’ll pull out the video, if I don’t scare them off.)

Another much loved icon is the goanna. I don’t mind them really, though of course I don’t want one to run up my leg so always approach with caution. But they make a ruckus when they get in the chook pen and can’t get out! The poor chooks get very upset and I don’t want to share the eggs with them … their mine!

Goanna holes

Keeping the wild life at bay can be challenging at times. But when all things are considered, I’d still rather listen to a couple of ‘roos in a street fight, than listen to the yells and fights of humans when the pub shuts.I can’t keep the goannas out of the garden. We are very diligent about keeping the garden gate shut to deter them but they can just as easily shimmy up the gate post. Why do I care do you ask? Because they dig great big holes in the garden beds and in the lawn! They have favourite spots where they will return again and again … such as under the rose bushes. I guess they dig for roots or something.

I guess that’s why I’m still here, ‘roos and goannas despite.

March 25, 2013

The Candle Party

Folks in the bush sure know how to party!

I’ve been here full time for five years now and we are really starting to feel like we belong (as much as you can for a new comer).

When you live on an isolated property you gain lots of benefits – privacy, peaceful bush setting, sense of autonomy … the list goes on. But one thing you lose is company. Of course there is always hubby to talk to but, lively stimulating conversation not withstanding, sometimes we just need more … being the fundamentally social beings that we are!

So when an opportunity presents to socialise, graziers are usually quick to respond … even if it maybe a fairly traditionally feminine-ish type occasion.

I had the opportunity to organise such a fortuitous event on Saturday night – a PartyLite Candle Party.

Sound possibly a little Ho Hum? No way, not in the bush and ESPECIALLY not in the Traprock!

About twenty graziers (husbands and wives) graced our verandah last night for a serious shin ding!

Elaine our gracious CandleLite hostess (who drove all the way from Toowoomba) presented the product range and facilitated the more formal part of the evening – though it was a bit hard to hear her at times due to the ruckus on the verandah as the boys downed a few drinks in apparent quite quick succession.

The girls held their own in the lounge room though, I might add, enjoying a few vinos. Unfortunately they may have been a little less fortunate in sharing the hot snacks circulating as they pondered their purchases. The meat balls didn’t seem to get very far from the kitchen!

The presentation concluded, orders secured … it was time to party.

The lights were dimmed, the candles burning, it was time to up the playlist tempo.

Shaz and I took to the dance floor first but it wasn’t long before others followed and things heated up.

The party was raging and so it did for hours until exhausted, hot, spent but glowing, we emerged for a quick cool down on the verandah.

Then just a few more golden oldies were played and it was on again.

The last guest left about 3am and Chris and I lingered a bit longer for that one last drink, chatting and musing as we reflected on the evening – great company, great conversation, great fun.

Who would have ever thought from a simple Candle Party!

Can’t wait for the next Traprock social opportunity … whatever it may be.

March 17, 2013

Tassie Adventures

The start

It was a perfect day when Chris and I set off to climb Cradle Mountain after a lovely restful night at the Lodge. I was really excited about this challenge because the track to the mountain is the start of the Overland. I wanted to re-live the excitement and apprehension I had felt in 2009 setting foot on the boardwalk, fully decked for six days hiking in the wilderness. We came across other hikers, struggling with the steep climb to the Cradle plateau, the weight of their backpacks dragging. I could sense their fear and trepidation as they wondered what the hell they had got themselves into.

I also wanted to take this challenge because Birgit and I had decided not to climb the Mountain (an Overland side trail) and I held some regret about that. The weather closed in that day in 2009 and you couldn’t see the top of the mountain so we rationalised the climb would not be worth it as you wouldn’t be able to see the view. Deep down, if I’m honest though, I was terrified about the Overland challenge before me and I was just too darned scared to give it a go.

Not today!

The first part of the day’s hike was enjoyable though challenging at times due to the ascent. But I was not really prepared for the clamber to the summit! The track disappears and markers, peeping out of strewn boulders, show the way. It is a scramble on all fours more than a climb and even using hands, arms and legs, sometimes it was a stretch to find a suitable line. All the while my heart was beating in my head such that I thought it might burst, with rests needed more frequently, the higher the ascent. Yes, I made it but it was a push and at times I was left wondering why the hell I liked to take on such challenges! I was glad Christopher waited and stayed with me through the most difficult sections. But what a view at the top!

We returned to the Lodge after 6.5 hours climbing, walking and descending. Everything hurt. Why had I thought that I didn’t need to prepare … that I was fit enough???  I wasn’t and I knew the next day’s challenge would be even more demanding. Thank God for a glass of wine … a justified reward.

Next …

I have to admit I was rather nervous when I awoke the next day. We prepared ourselves for the hike into the Walls of Jerusalem to camp and take a look around. We were delayed entering the park until the heat of the day, fully decked carrying 15-16 kilos each. Unfortunately we had no track maps and no idea what to expect.

It was worse than I anticipated. The first two hours were a sustained, steep and quite difficult climb. Was my heart thumping again? You better believe it! At times the pain in my chest had me wondering … my heart and lungs were working so hard. Chris was ahead and out of sight. He made it to the Trapper’s Hut in about an hour but retraced his steps to help me with my pack for 300 metres of the climb. I was slow and needing to rest more frequently trying to keep my heart rate manageable. Why did I think I didn’t need to prepare????

Two hours sustained climb and we emerged within the Walls. The track was easier  … pleasant even, except for our fatigue and the need to lug our packs to the camp site. We arrived at the Wild Dog camp ground in just under 4 hours! We were exhausted, me more so.

We had the camp to ourselves and ventured no further, electing to setup, rest and eat. It was a beautiful night though cool. I do love the isolation of camping in the wilderness. It is something special … makes you appreciate your surroundings in a way nothing else can.

Despite this, I did shed a tear that night as I went to sleep, wondering again, “Why the hell do I want to take on such challenges?” To make our haul into the camp site worthwhile, meant hiking around the Walls in the morning. But my fatigue and energy were such that I wasn’t sure I could manage it. I just wanted to hike out and have the adventure behind me.

Chris survived the night with no mattress. He padded the wooden platform with clothes and seemed to manage better than expected. No doubt the bottle of wine he’d carried in his pack helped!

After a good night’s rest, I managed to muster the courage to take a look around. We left our camp to explore the Walls. I’m glad I did, despite my reservations. The walls were spectacular imposing structures. We followed the Western Wall for a couple of kilometres. The track was easy and we had no weight bar water and light refreshments. We explored for several hours and as we returned to camp to pack up I marvelled at the scenery around me. I remembered why I made myself take these challenges. In making such an effort, I had been able to see and experience things beyond the reach of most people. Putting in some real work and pressing through some difficulties was the only way to experience some of nature’s majesty.

We packed up and hiked out. Yes of course it was easier going down hill but a sustained descent presents its own challenges and is hard on feet and knees. My God, we were glad to get back to the car, take off our packs and boots and move onto the less challenging aspects of our holiday!

Would I do it all again? Yes I would and will! I’ve learned that some rewards are only found by pushing through to new thresholds but next time I would definitely prepare myself with suitable training! The whole experience made me reflect on something my girlfriend Susy Goldner shared with me once. She believed such a physical challenge was fun in the preparation and planning and wonderful to share and brag about with friends and family afterwards but considered that the doing was not necessarily the best part. Maybe she’s right, but I do love being in the wilderness.

Though I’m tempted at times, I can’t stop pushing and trying. That would be like giving up … and that would be like getting old!!

   

 

January 14, 2013

You just never know what will happen next

Michelle and Matt’s unexpected visit to Spring Creek was most welcomed. Having to attend a funeral in Gatton, they took the opportunity to come and visit us. As they are living in Mackay at the moment they borrowed a friend’s Mini Cooper S. A cute little car but with some major design defects that we were about to identify …

On the way out to take a look around on Day 2, they noticed a flat tyre. But, to their dismay, they discovered the Mini Cooper S does not have a spare!! Instead it is supplied with a tin of tyre seal which is intended to get you to the nearest fix-it-up place within 10ks. Not an appropriate solution for Spring Creek! As the tear in the tyre was not repairable, this left us in a serious dilemma.

Switching to problem solving mode, we eventually decided on a course of action. As all the tyres on the mini were dangerously bald, we decided to plug the hole as best we could and limp the little car out to the Gore shop before replacing the ripped tyre – in case we needed to repair any others.

Cautiously, we made it to the Gore store without incident, parked the vehicle around the back of the shop for safety (ha ha) and removed the wrecked tyre. As we prepared to set off to Stanthorpe, where we knew (unusually) of a tyre shop open on Saturday afternoon, that’s when the unexpected happened!

A large box gum nearby the parked cars, decided to take that second to throw a huge branch. It crashed down on top of the two vehicles!!!! Michelle was standing near the Navara but it luckily missed her. I was sitting in the back of the Navara with the door open.

The force of one branch pushed the door shut. I sat in the vehicle stunned and rather shocked. The windscreen was smashed.

Matt could do nothing but laugh as he watched, amused that this could happen after all the care we had taken to this point. It took Shell and myself a bit to stop trembling and regain our normal levels of adrenalin.

No one was hurt but the back window of the mini and our windscreen were smashed and both vehicles had sustained numerous dints and scratches.

What a day.

Time to go home for a few Magaritas and a nice cold beer!!

1 8 9 10 11 12 17
>