GRAYnomad Nature Photography :: The GRAYnomad Chronicles :: #089



At 67 I suppose I could be excused for spending a lot of time looking back, and I do occasionally play some Moody Blues, Beatles, Bob Dylan, Cat Stevens or whomever from back in "my day" and reminisce with a beer.

But most of my time is spent thinking about what I plan to do in the future, whether that be tomorrow or in 20 years. Yes I plan for what I hope to be doing in 20 years. That may be a little optimistic but with some good luck and a tail wind I could easily be out here at 87 splitting firewood and walking the land. Heck, maybe even 97.

When you only have memories and no longer have plans you are stuffed in my opinion, you're ready to pack it in and I for one will never be ready to pack it in...unless maybe if I get some dreaded chronic and/or terminal agonizing lurgy.


Till next time then, and remember,

Don't Dream it, Be it!

Thu 12 Aug 2021

I've been building a frame for 12 of my solar panels, I've had most of the steel for months but in seeing the almost-complete structure I got the bright idea to clad the frame with some of the 100+ sheets of corro I've collected. This required the purchase of two more lengths of C100 purlin so I headed into town.

They know me pretty well down at the steel suppliers and we got chatting. There's a price rise coming in Sept and another 16% in November. Just under a year ago we had a similar discussion and then steel rose in price by nearly 30% over the following three months. Dec (8%), Jan (12%) and Feb (8%) if I remember correctly.

To give you an example, I use a lot of 75x75x2.5x8000 RHS, they used to cost me $135 per length, today they are $199, and in a couple of months it sounds like they'll be pushing $250.


Even builders can't keep up, the guys said that some are walking away from houses at slab level because that's a smaller loss than completing the house and paying way over the price they quoted 3 months ago to build it.

So buy any steel you think you'll need before September if you can but certainly before November. I've got another solar frame, a carport, and a gazebo to build sometime this year, I'll be buying for those jobs soon.

Meanwhile at Wallaby Ridge.

As mentioned the 12 solar panels that have been lying on the ground for about 3 years are finally getting a proper frame. It is west facing so these will be mostly for afternoon sun. I have another 12 that will be east facing and they will need a frame as well. Then there are another 17 already on the roof. Plus I have another 14 (I think) stored away, hey, you can get good panels for as low as $20 these days, so why not?


Here's a video showing the job, and a scaly visitor.

 Old mate in the carpet, dust bins to keep him in while I have lunch

Also the pumpkins are coming along fine. We get 14-20 meals from a single pumpkin depending on the size (we don't eat much), so that's at least a week of dinners for the two of us from ONE pumpkin. Even if we buy them for $3 that's pretty frugal, if they are free from our own garden that's even better.


Sat 21 Aug 2021

Over the last few days I've had to evict 2 large pythons, all just part of living in the bush. I don't mind them being around but they eat my possums and I won't be having that.

Fri 27 Aug 2021

The new solar "shed" is finished, in fact it was at this stage several days ago and I got some of the wiring done as well.


Then I did something to my back, sciatic nerve I think, and I've been a basket case for three days now.

Overall that's meant I've been able to goof off and sit in my recliner all day feeling sorry for myself and being waited on but we still need firewood and with our current JIT (Just In Time) supply line that's been a drama because I normally head off and cut some every day. So Chris found some small fallen branches and dragged them up to the house where I cut them with the chainsaw while sitting on a log to take the weight off my legs.

As it happens even though the problem is sourced in the lower back the sciatic nerve goes down the legs and apparently it affects one leg or the other, the left one in my case, and it's bloody agony at times.

Here's hoping it fixes itself soon, I'm not a fan of going to a doctor, haven't done so in years, but this could escalate to that point.

Sat 25 Sep 2021

I normally go to the range once a month t get my required number of shoots up for my handgun license. The club has two shoots every month, an informal one and another that has serious competitions. I'm not interested in the serious comps, so I normally go to the informal meet, we still have a competition but it's more laid back.

That said, this weekend is the AGM and a two-day shoot so I figure I might go for a change. It will give me a chance to use the camper as well.

 The camper is not finished by a long shot, but it is usable.

Sun 26 Sep 2021

Yesterday's shoot and this morning's shoot went well, and I plan to shoot in a comp this afternoon as well. After lunch we have the AGM. over an hour of waffle that I have no interest in, still but about 2 o'clock it's over and I'm just about to stand up when

"And now we'll have the monthly meeting"

Oh for Chrissake.

Another hour of waffle and by now it's 3PM and the targets haven't even been set up for the comp I thought I'd shoot in.

I'm outa here.

On the way home I take the dirt road that bypasses the town of Mt Perry, and find this nice rural ruin.

#35070 - Abandoned farm detritus, dunny & horses, Mt Perry, QLD

#35071 - Abandoned farm, Mt Perry, QLD

Tue 28 Sep 2021

Meanwhile back in the Wallaby Ridge lab, the design for a new version of the QUUB PCB is almost ready to ship to the fab guys in China.

It should be much more better than V1.0 as I've tried to think of every probable way it will be used and added connectors and features to accommodate that.

I've never done a white circuit board before, always preferred the more standard green or blue solder resist, but I saw a white one the other day and quite liked the look, so I'll give that a try.

Sun 03 Oct 2021

Meanwhile, still in the Wallaby Ridge lab.

Here is a follow up to my post from the other day about that little circuit board I'm working on. A short video showing some of the features.

In a nutshell —

The QUUB is an open-source, micro controller system based on a core processor, addressable daughter boards, and remote IO modules.

It uses an off-the-shelf Adafruit M4 ARM processor module and as such is Arduino compatible at the software level, plus Adafruit are very good at providing example code.

The QUUB will eventually have libraries written to support it's unique features as well, including a custom RS-485 network to allow multiple QUUBs to be connected for a monitoring and control system. This network will be based on one I wrote for an Australian company a couple of months ago.

And on another note...

Two years ago almost to the day I was approached to design the hardware and then write the embedded code for a new product, also they wanted 10 prototypes to be in trial shops before Christmas, just two months hence.

I responded that there was no way to do that in a couple of months and gave a guestimate of the cost if I did the job.

Well it seems they didn't like my answer so they got a Chinese company to do it. I don't know about the cost but I do know that a year later they were still working on the prototypes.

Well today I get the email in the photo below.


And part of my response was this...

Back in the 80s we use to do this, we'd get a program called a "dissasembler" and run the binary through it. That would produce a human-readable file in assembly code and because the original was written in assembler the result was something that looked almost identical to the original minus the comments and sensible labels. From there you could pretty easily figure things out.

These days I doubt they even have dissassemblers as there are too many different processors, but mostly because all the code is written in high-level languages now, even if you could recreate the assembly-level code it would be totally unintelligible to a human because it was written by a computer.

When I write programs for people I provide the source code at regular intervals, you should have demanded that because that was your intellectual property.

In my opinion they are in deep shit, after two years and (I think) millions of dollars they have a product that needs modification but they have no means to effect that modification. And if there is a real bug in the code one day they are royally screwed.

This is what can happen when you outsource anything, especially to a foreign country and even more especially when that foreign country is one like China that will not only rip off your design but even worse, not let you use or change it.

Now we can't all to everything, but you should strive to do all the things that NEED to be done in order to survive, at least some of them, reduce your dependence on other people, organizations and governments. I'm guilty of this as well, there are many things I can't do, but there also are a lot I can do.

You don't need to be the best, you just need to constantly strive to be better than you were.

Tue 26 Oct 2021

I bought a few lengths of steel today, ¡Ay, caramba!, I nearly died when they told me the price.

Yes I mentioned this the other day but it's gone up again.

Thu 04 Nov 2021

I've finally started the frame for the panels that have been lying on the ground for about three years.


I have a few spares so even though there were eight on the ground there will be 12 on the frame. Every little bit helps eh?

Fri 05 Nov 2021


I've known about this bloke for years and there's a good doco about him that's worth watching.

There's another bloke I saw a doco on that lives up in the Daintree rainforest, he wanders into town a few times a year but apart from that nobody ever sees him. At least it's warm up there, not like where Proenneke lives (or lived).

I've always been this way inclined, never actually done it of course but you could argue that our current lifestyle is part way there, 'Er indoors hasn't left our property since last year sometime.

But the way things are going, with an ever-oppressive Government and looming medical apartheid, I could easily go the full feral. I have the mindset to do so, that's not the problem, what I don't have are all the necessary skills.

Even feral hermits have to eat.

Sat 06 Nov 2021


Finally an EV I can get excited about. What a beautiful design, if they bring out a model that looks like this I'm in, sign me up for three of them.

Wed 14 Nov 2021

One of the main things I do here on Wallaby Ridge is clearing the Lantana, as a fuel reduction measure for bushfire mitigation, but also if I don't do this most of the block will become all but unusable in just a few years. For example the area shown here had no Lantana 4-5 years ago, it seems to have migrated up from the gully just out of shot to the right.

I don't get it all so some does grow back, but if pull the regrowth for a year or two it's all gone and doesn't recover. It's just a matter then of pulling the occasional straggler when you see one.

So here are two pics of my latest clearing, taken 3 days apart from exactly the same position.


I pull it all by hand, it's good exercise and I can't get any machinery down in these places anyway. No tools required this time because we've had a lot of rain lately so the ground is a bit soft, but often I have to use a mattock and/or a crow bar. That's even better exercise.

Wed 17 Nov 2021

Yet another 12 panels mounted and hooked up (the left ones). With the 24 on the roof that makes 48 in total now, and another 12 to go for a total of 60.

These ones face north west, the rooftop panels face north east or are flat, and the extra 12 will be placed east-facing in a spot that is not shaded at 7/8/9AM to catch the early-morning sun. This will spread out our the solar capture nicely, certainly these ones give me a heap in the afternoon that I never got before. Not that we often need it as on a good day we're in absorption mode by 9 or 10 in the morning these days.

One side effect I didn't think of is that the high charging currents we now have (140A the other day) the batteries off gas a lot more and I'm having to top them up more frequently. This highlighted one of the (many) dependencies we have on the outside world, distilled water, and while I do have a solar still, it needs some work to setup so I've bought a still, and no, I don't drink spirits so it won't be used for that


Thu 18 Nov 2021

(Or what has our nation become?)

John Williamson's "True Blue" song is dead set one of the best songs about being an Aussie ever written.

One of the lines in that song is,

"Will you tie it up with wire, just to keep the show on the road?"

Let me relate one of my experiences where we tied it up with wire to keep the show on the road. From way back in the late 70s, 1977 I think.

My mate (Tony) and I left Darwin and headed south, destination the Gold Coast where we figured we would get work. Late that night I was driving, I don't know how fast but in those days it was normal for me to sit on about 80MPH (130KPH), I probably nodded off because the first I knew about a mob of cattle on the road was when they materialized out of thin air about 50 yards ahead of me.

I did brake, but no way to stop in time and BLAM!

Tony was asleep in the back of the van but the impact threw him forward into the foot well of the passenger's side, head down and arse up.

I had hit a steer full on, the beast landed about a 100 yards down the road. Dead as a door nail, as was my car which was covered in shit, mostly on the outside but quite a lot inside as well I think ??

So what to do? Nothing right away, it usually pays to sit and think about a problem, not rush into fixing it. Luckily we had plenty of beer on hand so the rest of the night went quite well all things considered.

Next morning we surveyed the damage.


"We can fix that with a few parts" said Tony. So I hitched into town (Katherine) in the back of a ute with a heap of blackfellas to get a radiator, water pump, fan, battery etc etc. While Tony stayed with the car to remove all the broken bits.

It took all day but eventually I returned with the parts, some food, and more beer. It was too late to work so we settled in for another night on the side of the road. Tony says that the cops had stopped to check. They said they'll be back that way in a few days, if we were still there they'd give us a lift.

"What about all this junk?" Tony asked them, "Just chuck it over there out of sight" was the reply.

Next day we set to fixing everything. I could only get a radiator from a Landcruiser (I think it was) but the input and output ports were in roughly the same place, close enough to bend the hoses and make it work.

After many hours it was time to see if it would start. Yep, first time. Too late then to travel so we camped another night. I shoulda bought more beer.

Next morning we drive back to Katherine so I can phone my Dad to get him to wire me some money, as buying the parts had cleaned me out. While camped in the caravan park the town cops spotted us, there was a bulletin out on the car (and it's occupants) from last week, a little misunderstanding back in Darwin that we easily cleared up because we had an iron-clad alibi, on the night in question we were both in the Townsville lockup, 1000s of kilometers away (but that's another story).

Anyway after a few hours that was all sorted. The cops said that it was illegal to drive the car in that state but don't worry about it, they would phone down the track and tell their mates to give us a break. "But when you get into Queensland you'll be on your own" they said.

Next day we continued south, the car had never ran so good, apart from being lighter the engine no longer overheated. Go figure.


There followed a couple of days driving all the way through the rest of the Northern Territory and then outback Queensland. Towards the end I got food poisoning from a dodgy hamburger so Tony was driving, we were getting closer to the big smoke where the coppers aren't as easy going when bugger me we get pulled up, no idea why, I think they noticed that the headlights were out of alignment. I was in a terrible state and Tony said we just wanted to get to the Gold Coast then we'll put the car off the road.

Once again they let us continue.

We finally got into Burleigh Heads, pulled into the caravan park and spent the next few months living off the return money from garbage-bin drink bottles and playing the pool tables at the pub for beer. Eventually we found some casual work and started a business making burnt Spanish pine furniture.

And yes we did pull the front end off and put a new one on and respray the car, only to sell it for less than the value of the mag wheels.


Could you do that these days? Not on your life. We write off modern cars if they get a broken a tail light, no way to fix damage like that with a few tools and some wire (yes, a lot of that was literally "tied up with wire", just like in the song).

Would the modern cops give you a free pass like that? Not a chance.

And how many people can bush mechanic like this any more? I've heard of people that can't even change a wheel, heck I actually met a bloke up in the Territory that called the AA out 200 kilometers from town to change a bloody fan belt. Worse than that, he couldn't even diagnose the problem to forewarn the mechanic, so the poor AA bloke had to return to town to get a belt.

I miss most of what Australia was, and dislike a lot of what it has become.

We've turned into a nation of whining selfie-taking narcissists that get upset because our latte and smashed avo on toast isn't the correct temperature, that Netflix is not showing our favourite "reality" show, or over what some vapid, never-done-anything-useful-in-his/her-life-social-climbing-social-media "influencer" says.
Not everyone of course, and way less in the country, which is one reason I've sworn to never enter a city again unless I really have to.

Where's the stoicism? Where's the mateship? Where's the "true blue"?

I really hope the Aussie larrikin has just "Knocked off for a smoko, and will be back later on". Just don't leave it too long eh mate, or they will be nothing worthwhile to come back to.

My (English) wife married me because I was a bit of an Aussie larrikin, but also because when we got into strife in Africa I was the one that said "She'll be right", and then fixed it.

Well that and my scintillating personality and devastating good looks of course. Plus she needed to make sure I repaid the money she loaned me because my job fell through in Somalia and I was stranded in Kenya (but that's another, another story).

But I digress.

I hope the Aussie "She'll be right" attitude that I've always loved hasn't bitten us in the arse this time as we waste our energy barracking for the Blues/Reds/whoever while the ruling class are "selling us out like sponge cakes".
Hey true blue, don't say you've gone, we can still tie it up with wire, it's not too late.

Sun 21 Nov 2021

Chris spotted these today


They are Milkweeds and from what I've seen they are quite invasive. I go down to rip it out but no way, it has a truck about 2" in diameter that won't budge. I'll have to dig it out, but for now I just cut off all the seed pods so it doesn't reproduce, although it looks like some seeds have already flown the coop.




Date  ::   03 Dec 2021
Name  ::   Jerry
Location  ::   Northern Ireland
Comment  ::   Good to see you back mate. As I think I said before I have been following you since 2000? The early days of Wothehellizat. A long bloody time for both of us! LOL

Know just how Sciatica feels though. Regularly leaves me on my back for a few days and gets really bad when I get stressed. Spent a few times in hospital over the last couple of years and between the stress of being there and having to lie on my back for hours on end in theatre I have woken up with a completely locked up back and in complete absolute agony.

Madman with the snakes! No way would I go near something like that!

And in a way you are lucky living where you do, not many people about and a good few miles from anywhere where there is a lot of people. Unfortunately some of us do live in heavily populated areas in small countries where a virus such as Covid is not to be trifled with. So the "medical apartheid" you speak of really does not make much sense to me. Covid is nothing more than a virus but it is an extremely dangerous one which is regularly killing people in the country I live in and in Europe as a whole. The sooner everyone is vaccinated the sooner we can bring Covid to it's knees and treat it as nothing more serious than the flu which most of us don't care about getting and if we do get it we are normally up and about in a few days.

Having said that I do agree with you about the Australian Gov. But then the UK, Irish and American governments aren't much different.

I keep this page open in a tab in my browser and check in regularly every week for updates. Hopefully you will still be doing what you do in twenty years (you are way too damn stubborn not to) and I will still be living vicariously through your adventures while looking out the window at the miserable Irish weather!

All the best
Date  ::   04 Dec 2021
Name  ::   GRAYnomad
Comment  ::   Hard to imagine it's been 20+ years eh? Must be one of the world's longest-running blogs

Yeah that sciatica laid me out for about a week and I wasn't good for another week or more. Never happened to me before, never again I hope.

I guess that there aren't a lot of pythons in Ireland eh? I guess you can thank St. Patrick for that.

Yes we are lucky living here in many ways, especially with this CV thing. In fact there really hasn't been a CV thing here, life has carried on almost as normal. That might change on the 17th of Dec with new rules coming into place then, but personally I doubt that will affect me either.

Not to say it never will of course.

I guess your weekly check ins have been fruitless for the most part this last couple of years, I've been pretty slack posting here. I know I've said it before but I will try to post more frequently in future, partly because I want to start backing away from Farcebook.

Thanks for saying g'day.


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