We're very happy living on the
road, but it's nice to have a piece of land to call one's
own, and we're also happy to sit on said piece of land for
Which is exactly what we are doing
at present, we're not settling down, just resting, so don't
think that we've deserted the nomadic lifestyle.
In fact we have a huge trip in
the planning, and part of the reason for staying on the block
is to prepare the Cruiser for that, but more about that some
Meanwhile we're happy to veg out
and smell the roses, after all we have just held jobs for
six months, that takes a bit of getting over.
Till next time then, and remember,
Don't Dream it, Be it!
Mon 19 Dec 2005
We move out to block today, but first I'm taking the truck into
Bundaberg Truck Align to check out the springs. We've developed
a list to starboard which I'd like to get fixed.
I was blaming the front springs, but when we get
the truck on level ground and have a good look we realise that it
is in fact one of the rear spring packs that has sagged.
There's no way to get anything done this close
to Christmas, so I book it in for the new year.
Our first night on the block. Boy it's good to
be in the bush again, and to hear nothing but the insects and birds.
Sunset from the top of our hill
We spend quite some time sitting in the dark just
watching the antics of the insects on the rear window, under the
Then we notice a flashing light, it's moving at
about the same speed, and flashing at about the same frequency,
as an aeroplane at 30,000 feet. Trouble is it's in the lounge room.
I get up to investigate and find a tiny insect
with a luminous bum which it is turning on and off, like a glow
worm except it looks more like a beetle. It's actually a firefly.
We've never seen them before and it's fascinating to watch it. Occasionally
we also see them in the bush outside.
Wed 21 Dec
Except for the occasional inoculation and whatever I haven't been
to a doctor since I was asked to leave school (true genius is always
misunderstood), over 30 years ago, and I'm happy to keep it that
way really. However "they" are constantly saying on the
TV that over 50s should be checked for diabetes, prostate, blood
pressure etc, so the other day I let them suck a few millilitres
of blood from my arm to be tested.
Today I get the results.
I'm happy to report that, with the single exception
of a slightly high cholesterol level, everything is normal.
The doctor says I have to cut down on fat, "But
I don't eat any" I reply. He doesn't seem that interested,
and launches into the standard spiel...
"Cut the fat off meat"
"Don't eat the skin on chicken"
"Stay away from fast food"
"Never touch the stuff"
Eventually he shoves an "Eat well" booklet
into my hand, thus signaling the end of my audience, and tells me
to make another appointment in three months.
Pig's arse! I won't be back. He obviously has
no ideas, just knows how to bill the government for my visit and
hand out brochures.
Thu 22 Dec
We've decided to paint the container green so it blends a little
better with its surroundings. I originally planned to use a brush,
but when you can buy an airless spray gun for about $40 why muck
around doing things the old-fashioned way?
I have painted only a square metre or so of the
container's side when the paint bowl falls off. It hits the ground
and its contents explode upwards, all over me, including into my
Maybe I should have spent $50.
With tightly closed eyes I replace the bowl while
Chris runs for some water and a towel. It's not long though before
the worst of the stinging abates and I can gingerly open one eye.
I walk up to the truck and look in a mirror to
see my face covered in green paint as if I had applied full camo
makeup. I would not look out of place on an SAS mission.
Some bugs that I was able to get close to, must have been the
green camouflaged face, they didn't see me
Fri 23 Dec
We've been parking at the top of the drive since we got here, but
the best spot is near the container, it just needs a little work
first. After removing the rocks and pruning some trees we move the
truck to its new home.
Now we have a great view through the rear window.
Chris is chuffed and actually sits on the deck, for the first time
I think. It must be good to prize her from the recliner. We have
a few drinks while the sun sets, yep, we could live here. We don't
plan to, at least not for many years, but when/if the time comes
to settle, we would be happy here.
Some interesting foliage.
A crown spider.
Sat 24 Dec
I ride into town to buy a newspaper, just before I reach the intersection
with the highway I encounter a police breathalyzer. I blow into
the tube, no problems, and he doesn't even worry about me not having
my licence on me, or the fact that the bike is not sporting its
There's two roads leading to our block, one is
short and bitumen, but very steep, the other is longer, dirt and
not so steep.
We've taken to coming and going via the longer
road. It's a very pleasant as it winds along the creek bed and over
some low hills. There's a couple of houses, a horse, a donkey, and
a derelict shed, the whole feeling is that of a quaint country lane,
which I suppose is exactly what it is.
On my return from buying the paper I decide to
say g'day to the fellow living in the shed. We've waved a few times
and he seems pleasant enough.
Two hours, and a couple of beers, later Bob and
I are still chatting. I'm just starting to think that Chris will
be wondering about my whereabouts, when we hear the Cruiser approaching.
We stay a little longer, but my stomach is rumbling,
it's after three, and I really have to eat some lunch.
With most of the day gone I decide to do a simple
job, jerry rig one of the new solar panels to the Cruiser. We are
running a fridge in the car constantly, and because we're not driving
it much, the battery is going flat and the fridge is getting warm.
We recently purchased two 120-watt panels for
this purpose, they are supposed to be mounted on the roof, but for
the time being we'll just prop one up on the ground with a stick.
While reading the TV times Chris starts laughing.
She has just read the description of "The Grinch", one
of the movies airing tonight. As I still haven't been able to get
all the green paint out of my beard, she sees a similarity between
me and the movie's main character, "A green, hairy, Christmas-hating
Sun 25 Dec
I'm not a big fan of Christmas, my family has
never had the big Christmas dinners, with all the relatives dropping
in, dozens of kids playing with their new toys, 1000 cards on the
I was more likely to grab a sandwich on my way
to the beach. But let it not be said that I am totally devoid of
Christmas spirit, I've always liked the idea of receiving presents.
We spend the day clearing a small area next to
the container. This area will be eventually have a roof and be used
as a workshop. As to when we get around to doing the roof I'm not
sure, but for the time being we stretch a tarp between some trees.
At around 4 Bob drives up, he's installing a pump
into his bore, but at 18 metres long it's a bit of a handful for
one person. Can we lend a hand? We are about to explore some of
the nearby bush trails on the motorbike, so I say we'll be down
Half an hour later we ride through his gate. The
assembly that is to be lowered into the bore consists of a one-metre
long brass tube (the actual pump) connected to 18 meters of PVC
pipe. Down the centre of the pipe is a length of steel rod which
will be used to activate the pump's piston.
After much ado we get the pump and the pipe into
the bore. The steel rod stands proud of the pipe, normally this
would be connected to a windmill, but Bob plans to build a simple
lever, a la the old-fashioned town water pump.
For the moment however I am keen to see if it
I grab the steel rod and start pulling it up and
pushing it down. With each cycle the pipe is primed with another
couple of litres of water, and the load gets heavier. After a minute
or so Bob joins in. I had placed myself on the side opposite to
the outlet spout, so when Bob takes a position the crouch-height
outlet spout is facing him.
A few more cycles and the water gushes from the
spout, all over Bob. It doesn't matter though, it's 37 degrees here
today, getting wet is not a problem.
I must say that this simple act of getting water
from the ground is extremely satisfying. With a hole in the ground,
and a piece of 18th-century technology, Bob is now completely independent
of outsiders for his water supply.
In the evening we sit on the deck, there's a storm
brewing but we ignore it for the moment. We've taken to eating dinner
out here and watching some TV before it gets too cold, at about
27 degrees we normally move indoors.
This we do tonight, but the storm drives us indoors
a bit earlier than usual.
Chris has been drinking Tawny Port of late, and
tonight she's had quite a few, in fact she's quite...how should
I put this...pissed, yep that's the word.
She goes to bed early but I stay up to watch some
TV. Of course being Christmas night there's nothing but unmitigated
crap on the box, so my attention is drawn to the sky.
The storm is still here, and the lightning is
illuminating the entire landscape, it looks fantastic, I kill the
TV, don a jumper, and move back out onto the deck.
For over an hour I sit watching the display. There
are no spectacular claps of thunder or forks of jagged lightning,
it's more subtle than that. The thunder is a constant rumble that
surrounds and resonates right through me. The lightning has no obvious
source, it just seems to come from everywhere, and illuminate everything.
It also is constant, to the point that if there are no flashes for
a second or two I wonder what's wrong.
Wed 28 Dec
A Little Red Frog sitting on one of our plastic chairs
Thu 29 Dec
At 7:30 we drive down to Bundaberg to buy some materials for the
jobs at hand. We need steel, shelf brackets, timber, deep cycle
batteries, jerry cans, 12-volt plugs and sockets, and a thousand
other things. After a full day we have most of the items, however
many shops are still closed, so we may have to come back next week.
We don't get home until about 5 o'clock, and after
the hustle and bustle of the "city" it's very relaxing
to sit on the deck and watch the sunset.
Fri 30 Dec
I spent most of the day adding two solar panels to the Cruiser.
I actually started the job a couple of days ago but seem to have
The panels are now mounted to the roof, tomorrow
I'll do the wiring, or maybe put up some shelves in the container.
Graham is back. Who's Graham? If you've been paying
attention you will know that Graham is a gecko that hitched a ride
south with us a few weeks ago.
We haven't seen him for ages, and thought he may
have perished, or walked back to Dimbulah. But tonight we see him
hunting on the inside of the shutter.
I turn my reading light on to attract some bugs
Sat 31 Dec
I've completed most of the wiring for the solar panels, we can now
use the Cruiser-mounted panels to help charge the motorhome house
batteries. Because the new panels are 120 watts each, and the existing
ones are only 64 watts, with the addition of just two panels we
get about 50% extra power in theory, in practice we seem to be getting
almost double the power.
While sitting on the deck we notice a wasp drinking
from Chris's mug. Every few minutes it returns, so, to allow Chris
to also get a drink we fill a glass and place it on the floor.
Wasps getting water from a mug and a crystal glass.
We later find out it is in fact several wasps,
and for days they drink from the glass. Presumably they are building
a nest somewhere close by.
Sun 1 Jan
We got the extra solar panels working just in time, because today
I'm putting up some shelves in the container.
What's the connection? I hear you ask. I don't
want to breach the container side with screws or bolts, so I plan
to weld the shelf brackets to the inside walls. Plus I have to cut
some steel to make a mezzanine floor to store the larger items.
Welding and cutting metal uses a lot of power,
and normally we could not do that much work without running the
generator for ages or doing nothing for a couple of days to let
the batteries recover.
NOTE: We only have a small generator (1000 watts),
it is not powerful enough to run large tools. The inverter can
supply a constant 3300 watts and surge to 8000. Thus I normally
work off the inverter, then recharge the batteries with the generator.
With the new panels however we are getting about
30 amps (at 24v) into our batteries. After a full day of drawing
large amounts of current from the truck's power system we still
have fully charged batteries.
A couple of years ago these 120-watt panels cost
over $1200, we just bought them for $975. The technology is both
changing and getting cheaper.
And speaking of changing technology, when we hit
the road four years ago there was no way to MIG weld directly from
12-volt batteries. Hence I have been carting my 240-volt welder
all over Australia. About a year ago I saw an advertisement for
a tiny MIG welder that connected to a battery. And today I've ordered
one. If it works as claimed I'll be a very happy chappy.
Sat 7 Jan
Late in the afternoon it became obvious that we were in for some
weather. We batten down the hatches and watch the show.
Amazing light just before the storm.
Lighting and our new TV aerial
Wed 11 Jan
Tomorrow the truck is booked into Bundaberg Truck Align to have
the left-hand rear spring pack reset. The truck has to be at the
workshop first thing in the morning so, rather than be up at the
crack of dawn, we drive it down to Bundy this afternoon and camp
on a grassy area about 100m from the workshop.
Procession caterpillars on the march.
Thu 12 Jan
While the springs are being reset we head into town to buy some
more bits for the Cruiser.
By late afternoon the truck is ready, we pick
it up and return to last night's camp site.
Sat 14 Jan
We go for a walk around the block, looking for insects.
Various insects found on the walk.
Sun 15 Jan
We go for another walk looking for insects.
A plant hopper, cocoon, and two praying mantises.
A ridge backed grasshopper.
Shields bug and a lynx spider.
A huge stick insect.
A huge mushroom.
Another stick insect.
Native cotton seed pod.
Tue 17 Jan
We go for yet another walk looking for bugs. I'm enjoying myself,
I hope it's not too boring for you.
A robber fly and a built-like-a-tank beetle.
Shield bug on a dead leaf.
Wed 18 Jan
Chris is going away for a couple of weeks to visit friends, and
she wants some photos of the block to show them. So we go for another
walk, but this time I try to ignore the bugs and just photograph
The truck parked at the top of the ridge.
One of the steep ravines.
Looking from the top of the hill.
Thu 19 Jan
For some time now Chris has been hankering to go and visit Tom and
Nick, the two boys we looked after at the Tyrconnell mine. They're
holidaying near Adelaide at present, so tomorrow she is flying out
of Brisbane to stay with them for a while.
It's an early flight and we don't trust ourselves
to wake up in time, so today we drive down to Sandgate, a suburb
just north of the city and very close to the airport.
We find a park and camp for the night.
Fri 20 Jan
After seeing Chris off I head to Steve and Madeleine's, old friends
of mine who moved from Canberra a couple of years ago. They are
working today but if I get there before they leave I can get a key
to the house.
I had planned to spend some time in one of the
nearby parks, but the weather is terrible, so instead I drive over
the Brisbane's largest camera store, Photo Continental.
Talk about a kid in a candy store, trouble is
the kid has no money. Still I do get to play with some nice equipment
and there are a few things here I can afford, like that nice Gitzo
tripod for example.
Sat 21 Jan
Steve is an old photo crony of mine from Canberra, and Gary, another
old photographer mate, is flying up today to stay here as well.
Unlike me, these guys can afford the latest camera
gear, and it's great to catch up on recent photo goss about new
lenses and bodies.
The three of us also know the owner of the Tweed
Heads Fletchers Photographics shop (another Canberra expat), so
we drive down to see him. While in the shop I spot a panoramic head,
now there's something else I could possibly afford, and it would
look so good on the new Gitzo tripod I haven't bought yet.
I'll be back.
Mon 23 Jan
I drive back to Bundaberg, it takes me all day to do the 350k trip,
but I do stop off at my favourite duck pond at Gympie.
Up close to a swan.
The geese start fighting.
Then have a bath
I'm giving a talk at the local camera club tonight,
and I have nothing else to do beforehand, so there was no hurry
to get into town.
The meeting doesn't finish until after 10PM so
I camp overnight in a park. It's a spot we've used before, out of
the way and nice and quiet.
Tue 24 Jan
Nice and quiet on the days when the council is NOT slashing the
grass that is.
I have an early breakfast then notice a gazillion
ants at my feet. Closer inspection reveals that it's time for the
queens and males to take flight and start new colonies.
Queen ants fight for the best take off positions on the top
of anything higher than the surroundings
I plan to have morning tea with some of my Dad's
friends (who I also know pretty well) and they usually meet after
the computer club meeting. That's not until about 10, so I hang
out at the rock pool killing time.
This seed pod really hurt when I stood on it with bare feet
Having spent a couple of hours chatting with my
friends I finally head back to the block, stopping for a brief chat
with Bob, one of our neighbours. He has had an immature butcher
bird take up residence in his tree.
Immature butcher bird
Wed 25 Jan
I go on another bug hunt, with some success.
Golden orb spider.
Camel backed spiders share a web.
Dragon fly up close.
Insect eats an aphid.
How cute is this jumping spider?
Thu 26 Jan
While sitting in my recliner, working on the computer, I happen
to look up and through the rear window, something I do quite regularly
because the view is great. This time however the view is a little
Imagine my surprise to be staring straight at
a snake, about to enter the lounge room through the half-open window.
I'm sure you will agree that one's first reaction,
when confronted with a snake in one's lounge room, is to grab a
camera. This of course is what I do.
I get a quick photo, but as I move in for a closer
shot it retreats and disappears below the window.
I quickly move out onto the deck, this should
be great, I have a captive subject. Oops, not quite, I forgot about
the hole in the rear wall.
In the couple of seconds it takes me to get onto
the deck the snake has found the hole and has started to disappear
There's only about two feet of tail protruding
when I arrive on the scene. What to do? I really don't want a snake
living in the wall, from there it could get anywhere in the truck.
I decide what on an action plan with one foot
of tail left. I grab the tail and pull.
There's a lot of resistance, but I'm stronger
than my reptilian stowaway, and out it comes. As its head emerges
from the hole I fling it overboard in one sweeping movement, so
centrifugal force will keep it from striking back at me.
The snake flies through the air, lands on the
ground, and scurries away unharmed.
Well, that was fun, but I only got a single, photo,
and not a very good one at that.
Snake under glass
I think it was a harmless green tree snake.
I have a lot of work to do on the Cruiser, so
spend the afternoon tinkering with the old Toyota.
Working on the Cruiser
Fri 27 Jan
It's raining so I can't really do any work, what a shame, still
there's plenty to photograph.
Ants and plants hoppers.
Plant hoppers share a leaf.
Another cute jumping spider
Sat 28 Jan
Some of my new photography mates from Bundaberg are coming out to
the block today. We'll chew the fat, take a few photos, it should
Caterpillars in a huddle.
Crane fly caught in a spider's web
Mon 30 Jan
Tomorrow I drive back to Brisbane to pick up Chris at the airport,
meanwhile I thought I'd go for a wander and see what I can see.
Shield bug eating a wild cotton seed.
I have no idea what this is, some sort of cross between a
caterpillar and a fancy dessert I think
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