Australia Day Melbourne 26th January 2017

The fully laden train pulled into Flinders street station at 10.30 am, the street procession was in full swing with every nationality being represented in all their traditional costumes and music. The parade headed down St Kilda Road across the Yarra towards Government House. The crowds were 4-5 deep and all were in great spirit and as we headed that way also there was a volley of gunfire – a salute I believe.

The weather was cool with a misty rain shower early this cleared away to a warm sunny day, there were large crowds of people walking and sitting in the beautiful gardens. We were hurrying towards Government House which was open to the public and what a magnificent building with its historical paintings, cedar furniture huge ballroom and spacious gardens.


Overhead the Roulettes flew in a formation of 6 and passed in different formations several times some just above the tree tops. With Aussie flags in hand we headed back to the display of vintage cars supported by the RACV – what magnificent machines adorned our city streets of old. We had the privilege of meeting a dog sitting in a bike basket that had been to the last 13 Australia day ceremonies in the same bike basket.


Channel 9 had a female photographer on site she had a wedding veil and a posy of flowers and a bowler hat and we were invited to get remarried, much to the amusement of the on-lookers. We headed back along St Kilda Road and meet a true dinky die Aussie Donald Campbell McDonald with his cork brimmed hat, his great Grandmother was the first white born child in Tasmania as the ship was docked in Hobart when she was born, great story. We experienced three street buskers playing music on the footpath much to the delight of slowly moving on-lookers.


Outside Flinders St Station we meet the concrete man who gave Lady Florence a kiss on the back of her hand – it cost her “five bucks”! Then there was Meg in her invalid scooter playing the piano accordion, more money and a bottle of coke. Meg told us she was minister of the Wesley church in the City. We left Meg and headed to the Bourke St mall where five people where run down by a car on the footpath. There were volumes of flowers on the street and chaplains supporting the teary and shattered people. Down near Elizabeth St, on the Old Post Office steps, they were covered in flowers and Teddy Bears, people were crying as they tried to read the hand written notes of sympathy and grief from total strangers.


We Had some Macka’s and sat opposite mum and dad with their 4-year-old son who was playing on his electronic device and they were hand feeding him whilst he played with both hands, how parenting has changed.

Back on the train again heading home after an inspiring day with much to reflect upon. As we alighted from the train we realized how stiff and sore we were and wondered if the uphill walk to home would be too much, when a friend of Lady Florence offered us a ride home, how lucky.
Home and a Glass of cold Beer.

Make sure you experience Australia Day in the city next year.
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From the eyes of a frog

** Repost from June 2016

IMG_2232CRASH and vibration as the plough Ponds-lakes-Bulldozing_1059849_imagesank into the fertile mud of our home, a large swamp, all the inhabitants looked on in horror as the machine moved forward and we saw our life blood, water, starting to gush away. Our home had always had still water this allowed the reeds and grasses to grow and form a ring where the water and earth met and was where insects worms and aquatic life had happily lived. High in the rushes and reeds the dragonflies darted to and fro, spiders knitted together the swaying reeds and the water lilies seemed to float on the water and in spring would burst into the most beautiful yellow flowers. Speeding water beetles would dart in an erratic fashion amongst the humus which gave life to all the plants. From the treed forest around our water’s edge the fauna gasped in fear and shock the roos, wombats, rabbits , foxes, owls, kookaburras, swallows, so many more could be mentioned. All would have to move away, no more drinking water, food, shelter – nowhere to house their spring children no mud for the swallows to construct their nests.
33b345b03a23707d669f5df49c159ec1US FROGS had lived here for many generations in what was just perfection –  plenty of food and protection. We loved our neighbours and on moonlit nights we would put on a concert and sing to everyone and all around the swamp there were frogs who would join in. During the day time we would swim out to the floating lilly leaves to sunbake and smell the flowers sweet perfume. As I was growing up I spent many hours learning and talking to my grandparents, they had skills to pass on and I was eager to absorb their wisdom. My parents looked after me from when I was an egg waiting to be hatched and even more so when I became a tadpole, they taught me right from wrong, what was safe to eat and how to survive. Dad showed me his crippled leg where an owls claw had pierced the leg muscle, he was lucky to live. Mum always made sure I got the best food so I would grow strong and be able to have strong children when the time came.
PANIC everyone who lived here was dashing and darting escaping their destroyed homes. Mum and Dad said \”Hop away before you are killed.” I had never experienced fear before so I asked my grandparents what to do Granddad said when we were young disaster found us and we escaped to a little stream on the other side of this forest. We are too old to go with you and your dad is to crippled to go and your mum will never leave your father. Time heals everything and some day you may be able to come back, travel safely our future race depends on you.
Yes I was young and strong but with tears in my eyes I bounded into the unknown forest. It is much easier to swim than hop a long way over logs, bracken ferns and thick grass plus avoid the snakes and owls. I had hopped for two days before I found the little stream. I jumped in and relaxed my aching muscles then tried to find food and a safe place to hide – somewhere to be able to observe my new surroundings as I was scared and alone. It was not a place to be happy in, running water and very little still pools to relax in and food was very scarce also.
Two winter floods later as the last of the high water was subsiding, I was feeling very much alone when I saw some movement on the edge of the rushing water and heard a splash. I could not believe my eyes a beautiful green frog the same as my race slowly hopped towards me.frog1 She was so pretty, lovely big eyes, slim figure with long fingers and toes and  I could not help but fall in love with her. We talked for many hours, could have been even a day or two, about how she escaped the SWAMP disaster and somehow found the same little creek and lived alone for two years also. We spoke of our parents and grandparents and what a wonderful home we used to have. Yes, we were homesick so we decided to take the risks and hop back for a look at our old happy home.
Hop, hop, hop, back through the forest we went, being careful of the dangers of predators and injury. It was just on daybreak when we reached the edge of our old home. Across the swamp I could see the burnt out shell of the farmers log hut (home) a blackberry plant was strangling the remains as if to make sure they never returned. The plough was overturned and broken it would never destroy our home again. Many of the former inhabitants were there that morning rejoicing that our Swamp was returning to its former beauty. The man-made drain that let the water out had become soft and collapsed stopping the water from escaping and with man’s interference gone nature was able to resume. All the plants and animals could rebalance and live in harmony together as they did once before. I remembered what my parents and grandparents had said with the passage of time nature will restore what is good. All the animals and insects decided that day to stay and look after all the plants and with patience restore our struggling home. Katie my lovely soul mate said to me we are going to stay as well, look there is water and some lilies growing, we will stay and have our family here we owe it to our species and our parents to start all over again.
During the next spring there was immense activity the water was a full capacity all the plants had revived somehow. There were flowers on the lilies spider webs and reeds water bugs and beetles animals came to drink once again. Swallows were digging out the mud, kookaburras were laughing and Katie and I were swimming and diving off the lilly pads.
It was a full bright moon and I was singing my solo song to all my friends, but I was stressed as Katie was nowhere to be found. We usually sang a duet after my solo great sadness entered my heart as I sat alone every one tried to find Katie. We looked everywhere, as daylight started to break we gathered together with heavy hearts. Then, with a noisy splash, Katie jumped onto my Lilly Pad and called out to everyone the frog species is assured I have just laid our eggs to hatch in a secret spot so they will be safe until they become tadpoles. So life starts again.
I then remembered my grandparents saying, when our home was being destroyed, “Put your faith in nature to restore everything.”

It will try and try and try again, in the end it will succeed ……

…………………………………………yes,  LOOK IT HAS!
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16/June/2016

Pioneer trip into the heart of the Great Dividing Range.


………….10 whiskery and wiry men saddled into 5, four-wheel drive vehicles, 80 series Toyota, Land Rover, Ford dual cab, Prado Toyota and a 100 series Toyota. With photos taken they left the Kangaroo Tower at 9.10am and headed through the green hills and valleys of Christmas Hills and turned left up the Melba Highway at Yarra Glen.It was a lovely sunny morning, low wind, farmers were baling hay and cows were being milked. Onward past Yea through the road works to Molesworth, a one pub country town, then on again stopping in Yarch a lovely little pit stop town. It was now 10.45am with no time to waste as the mountains were beckoning.

By 11.25am we were in Mansfield having passed through Merton and Bonnie Doon on the banks of Eildon Reservoir.

Early lunch and coffee was sought at Mansfield. With the excitement of the challenge in front we soon turned towards Mt.Stirling. The mountains had a blue aura about them backed by an inviting blue sky, this reminded me of the “story of the spider and the fly”. Reaching the foot hills we turned left at the fork in the road towards Telephone Box Junction. 3The snow field shop and change area was closed for the summer season.
In single file we headed into the forest of tall timbers now on a gravel road, lots of the trees had died having been burnt during the 2006 fires which burnt over a million hectares. Nature was re afforesting the lower stages of the mountain with wattle now in yellow bloom, but the floor was littered with thousands of fallen trees. Life and death hand in hand.

Down Western link track twisting and turning heading for a camp site by the river, when a warning came via the UHF grader on the track. These tracks are very narrow and graders are wide and big but with patience and skill we all passed unharmed.No one tooted their horn we simply waved thanks to the grader driver.

4Down, down we went and were then faced with a river crossing and a steep gouged bank to negotiate on the out ward side. Harry called “Quick Daryl, jump in with me and take some photos” as the others crossed. All crossed okay and we found a beautiful base camp to set up ready for the next few days of 4 wheel drive exploration.

This site is known as Pineapple Flat and is on the banks of the King River the home of the King Parrot with its crimson  chest and very friendly nature.In much haste these five vehicles spun around and around seeking out the best Real Estate sites for their tents encircling the camp fire, like a modern John Wayne western movie. With great speed and skill tents erected, camp fire started (poor wood), tables erected and chairs circled around the would be fire, men sat waiting for Lou to serve up our first meal. A small dead limb fell on to Marks 80 series and dented the mud guard, a warning of the danger of limbs falling. After a lot of chat, Marks homemade beer and some reds, we settled down for a very welcome snooze.


6th Tuesday (2nd day)
Up at 5.30 am (some of us) stirred the fire, wash, weeties, corn flakes and raisins and a cuppa. Half the crew packed and ready set out for Craig’s Hut used and built for The Man From Snowy River film. 12It was a grueling climb along Burnt top track from the camp, more evidence of the forces of nature and the devastation of fires. The ridges have dead trees standing after ten years and the thousands of fallen trees and many more leaning against those still able to stand. Still new beauty can be seen everywhere. We found Craig’s hut high in the mountain on a plateau. 8The weather was perfect and with clarity the view extended as far as the eye could see. The rest of the sleepy team caught up with us here. There was 1 bar of telephone reception to be had here. We had a nature walk of approx 1 kilometer.

We headed down the southern side of the mountain and climbed the Bindaree Water Falls and we were able to go behind the water fall itself which was like a see through sheer curtain. 9Some great photos were taken. After a count of 10 heads we headed to Bindaree Hut and had to do another river crossing of the Howqua river in the Alpine National Park.We had lunch there from our car fridges Greg brought all his bush fly friends along but they only seemed to like Mark’s and my sandwich – back across the river and headed back to Pineapple Flats Lodge.

We collected much better fire wood and were able to create great coals for cooking, much to Lou’s delight. Camp ovens came out from every tent, every would be cook gave advice, every man had a poke at the fire even when it was perfect. Lou cooked with Harry’s help (camp oven bread) a great roast beef and roast vegies all washed down with Marks beer and some fine reds. As we sat ringed around the warm campfire, Him Plurry Fine Fella Mark Dellar, started reciting the poem written by Thomas E Spencer – The Day McDougall Topped the Score. With animated enthusiasm and a captivated audience nearing exhaustion at the second last verse he swung quickly to his left and standing behind him were four travellers. He started to ask can I help you? And the good-looking blonde said please don’t stop now we were so much enjoying your reading, and without further ado Mark completed his poem to a hearty applause. The travellers were from Germany, USA and? 4 in total they wanted help to cross the river to set up camp and yes they had 10 helpers – Aussies are good.

Another great day was discussed around the fire and a good night’s sleep was had by all except at about 3 am as Jim was sitting on the throne, a long hearty bellow was heard, was this relief or an animal warning.

Wednesday 7th Dec (3rd day )
Up about 6.30am, nearly a full house for brekky when a King parrot 17sat on Harry’s car near our tables H slowly walked over with a cracker in hand and fed the parrot. It stood on one leg and held the food and fed itself with the other, many photos taken. Sunny skies and low wind favored us as we had wood fire toast and peanut butter with Billy tea. We were all off again across the King River up the mountain twisting and grinding away and onto Speculation Road down to the river where a herd of Angus beef were crossing the bridge. We stopped as they drank and ambled across toward us. I got to talking to the owner, a Mr Bruce McCormack 11and his dog Tully, he spoke of the 2006 fires, the permits needed to graze cattle and the bond of generations of cattle families some who ride the horses to muster the cattle when needed. I was sad to have to leave Bruce and Tully and the many stories I would have enjoyed.

We went on to King hut and the camping grounds then headed up the Stair Case Rd to Cobblers Lake. This road would have broken a black snakes back as it zig zagged back and forth climbing all the way over bare rocks. So steep with fallen timber left like discarded pole vaulting poles, the sideways thrusting tested the seat belts all the way it was with relief when we reached the top but still bumped heavily till we reached the heavily lake Cobbler and Cobblers hut. The water was mirror like very large and edges protected by bulrushes. We had a car boot lunch here and by now getting rather hot, we then headed back past some large water falls cascading down the cliff face from Cobblers Lake overflow. The road back was much smoother and we passed Rose River back to Pineapple Flats Lodge.

With lots more good wood the camp fire was creating very good coals for Lou to cook up his lamb stew and vegies and H’s bread. Phil said to try this drink, whisky and water, good for a woodsman. That was okay, later with our team bonding by then I had little feeling as I drank and laughing at the same time the straight whisky fumes stopped my breathing, I think I will stick to water for a while. Jim showing how much he respects cleanliness jumped into the river. On return and shivering he returned to our camp only to observe the two lady travellers in bikinis heading to the river for a tidy up, his remark “I landed to early.”
This Plurry Good Fella Mark Dellar came back into camp again and started raving about Mulga Bill’s Bicycle by Andrew B Patterson, again it captured everyone’s attention to the last line. Then a good night’s sleep, but again Jim at 3.00 am –  yes on the throne again, heard this loud chesty noise in his haste to seek the protection of his tent his torch battery went flat, he was a trembling wreck by the time he found his tent again. By morning the travellers had packed and gone onwards trekking around Australia.

8th Dec our last day
Up at 6.30am and looking around the camping circle with no one to be seen only Peter the Great’s Akubra hat hanging head high on the tent pole, waiting patiently for Pete to arise. Then slowly each pioneer emerged from their warm beds to welcome the dawn to the music of several Kookaburras and the smoke of the camp fire and a face wash in cold water.
A hearty breakfast was devoured expanding our ribs for the energy needed for the days challenge ahead. 4 from the team of 10 were heading home today, tents being folded. Mark gave his demonstration saying it only takes 5 minutes or 20 if being watched – yes it took 20 minutes. Cars were packed securely and a quick check around to make sure everything was picked up and including our rubbish so leaving the bush in pristine condition as we had found it on arrival. Those staying decided to escort us out to Telephone Box Junction and then explore more of this wonderful region.

At 10.00am, with motors warming up, we were heading out when the rain started plus the temp dropped. In single file we crossed the King River climbing upwards toward Circuit Road when the lead car radioed back tree across road. Well, Whisky Phil with white flashing eyes unraveled a chain saw just ahead of Miss Daisy Greg with his chainsaw. It was raining heavily by now and Peter stood with camera in hand. Under the shelter of his Akubra hat he recorded this event with helping hands clearing the logs off the track.
After that we soon passed Fork Creek with Mark D and O Wise One following. As tail end Charlie’s we followed on and by 11.05am we all arrived at Mt Stirling café (closed for summer season) being 1230 meters above sea level. It was very cold now, raining with possible snow predicted by Jane Bunn 5 days ago. We left 6 tough guys all waiving to us and wishing us a safe trip over their UHF’s as we headed past Mt Stirling café to Mansfield where we stopped for a pie and coffee before heading towards home. Before Bonnie Doon the rain was so heavy that driving became difficult but it cleared away and the rest of the trip home was very pleasant.

A hot welcome shower and first shave for 4 days and a couple of hours sleep and ready for a home cooked meal  to reminisce with Lady Florence over this great adventure. All of the remaining 6 made it safely home the next day; they went to Mt Bulla but were clouded in.

………………They should have listened to O Wise One.

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Cast:-
Jim G……….Swimmer
Harry M… …Team leader
Gordon B… B and B
Leon H…… Swag Man
Greg M…… Miss Daisy
Phil D. …….Whisky
Peter T. …..Akubra
Mark D. ….Plurry Nice Fella
Lou F. …….M.K.R (cook)
Daryl M…..O’ Wise One

*** Written and reported as experienced by Daryl Morrow  – circa 2016

Benalla Trip 2nd November 2016

Sharing three learned days with Mark Dellar

 The V8 Toyota Cruiser backed into my drive way, the sun was shining with the promise of a great day ahead, Mark stepped down with a beaming smile c’mon Daryl get your gear ready, stash in the back but be careful of Chloe she is asleep on the back seat, with gear secured and the good byes and a hug for Lady Florence who had baked us an apple pie, we were on our way, out through Research then Kangaroo Ground, through the farmlands to Christmas Hills descending down into Yarra Glen, which has a horse racing track.This reminded us of the Melbourne cup ran yesterday where Almandin owned by Lloyd Williams and ridden by jockey Kerrin McEvoy, won the coveted Melbourne Cup. Here we turned left onto the Melba Highway through the grape and wine making farmlands heading north towards Yea. We marveled at the high hills that had been cleared mostly by hand and horses to grow pasture for grazing sheep and cattle.

Farmers were starting to cut grass for bailing hay, everything was green, dams and streams were full of clean water. Road works were excavating the embankments and cutting down red gums to straighten the busy northern road. We entered Molesworth, a small town of a dozen homes and one pub. We travelled further north and saw a sign saying where the F**K is Yark and shortly after that we came to the 50 km township sign saying this is F**king Yark, toilets turn left near footy grounds.Well, this location was busier than the  main street. Mark explained as we pulled up that I have to give Chloe a chance to have a drink and a pee. Some other travellers stopped and pulled out there picnic basket and a thermos of tea and chattered to us about what they were planning to do, by this stage Chloe has settled herself back on the rear seat and had dozed off again.

Onwards through the rich farming valleys past Merton to Bonnie Doon over the bridge that spans the southern arm of lake Eildon past the empty pub to Lima South. It was getting warmer and it was noted by Mark again time for Chloe to have a drink and another pee so we crossed our legs and raced onwards to Swanpool toilets on arrival we marveled at the picnic shelter with it laser cut design of swans in sheets of rusty steel. It’s obvious that this little town was very proud and was  making visitors very welcome and comfortable, sorry we could not stay to investigate more but you guessed it Chloe was anxious to get to the farm.

Onward through Tatong with it classic white pub and well-spaced tree-lined street a quick right hand turn and we were on the red gum lined country road heading for the Dellar Ranch in Upper Lurg.

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Tatong Pub

Chloe sat upright as if to say we are here and I want another pee quick. We stopped at the front cyclone gate and were welcomed by a swarm large black mozzies that filled the car, Mark yelled quick Daryl make a run for it I jumped and we sped up the drive over the angry sugar ants nests to the safety of the long tin weekender making a run inside leaving Chloe behind to bring in her own swag and aeroguard. It was about mid afternoon when we arrived and after scratching and spraying we settled in to unpack and start the job at hand, slash all the long grass before the fire season starts, with the hand slasher brought out of retirement, oil checked belts tightened and blades sharpened, time to start the willing 11 horsepower Honda, Mark hanging on for dear life let out the clutch and away he went grass flying everywhere propelled stones banging against the tin walls Chloe and I hid in the shelter of the shed and peered through the cracks around the door to see if Mark was okay whilst we were under attacks from those persistent B51 mossy bombers. With the front area mowed like the botanical gardens and Mark out of sight over the embankment Chloe and my self-ventured out and found the famous Fire Pit, a large dug out area to contain a big fire, after collecting a stack of dry firewood we lit a big fire and stacked on some freshly cut grass to smoke out those mossies, this worked a treat.

After a couple of hours with the mower at rest we settled down with some beer and stout, dry bikkies and cheese in our deck chairs in the smoke trail watching the sun setting listening to the farmers kids extracting the last out of the day laughing and playing. We even heard the birds saying their prayers and giving thanks as they settled down for the coming cold night.

Mark heated up some stir fry and chicken and we had a couple of bowls full each as the flies went to bed and before the mossies renewed their night attack. We had a few beers and those mossies that bit us were then too pissed to find us or to tell their mates. We even managed a few yarns and rearranged the world as we sat around the open fire and stared at the star covered sky.

That was the end of the first day. Chloe slept with Mark he claimed it was for the warmth.

Day Two
7-30 am

Mark beat the birds up had the Honda humming away and more grass was being laid level, in and out of the trees, he been for a walk, lit  the fire pit and fired up the slow combustion stove and had the kettle singing ready for brekky. Upon seeing me greeting the day he bounced up to make toast, a bowl of weeties, corn and raisins.We sat in the sun sipping tea as Mark told me that Chloe had slipped down the side of the mattress during the night against the iron shed wall and was wedged there. Never a complaint from her. He called, no answer. Panic set in. No torch, no power, no Chloe. He was starting to panic big time. What would Daryl say? Then as day broke and as he was making his bed he discovered her stuck between the mattress and the tin wall. I suggested that from now on maybe I should look after Chloe.

Mark got back into slashing again, the day was heating up. I went around collecting fire wood and tidying up, doing dishes and keeping an eye on Mark to see if he was okay. Come lunch time and we had a reverse lunch. Lady Flo’s apple pie and cream then salad buns and tea after which we had a siesta for an hour or so. Then you guessed it, Mark was back into the mowing, he is a joy to watch like poetry in sweet motion. Poor Chloe after a freezing night she was still curled up in front of the wood stove sound asleep and even missed lunch.

The vivid blue sky allowed the late spring warmth to heat the ground and start drying the mown grass. It also allowed us to see the vapor trails of the big passenger jets high above us as they headed for Sydney and beyond.They were almost noiseless and barely visible except for that white vapor trail.There seemed to be one every 10 minutes, all travelling in the same direction.

At the end of the slashing day with the oven heated up, Mark the Melbourne Che,f put some Lasagna in the oven whilst we sat down by the fire pit in our deck chairs with dry bikkies, cheese and chips. Mark said “beer and stout” –  there is still some left I will get it out of the caravan fridge.There was cries of “no, no bloody NO! – it’s all frozen” – so we sat in front of the fire trying to thaw out enough beer and stout to wash down our bikkies. To no avail, beer and stout does not make good tasting ice blocks either.

At least the slightly singed lasagna went down very well followed by Lady Flo’s apple pie and beer flavored ice blocks. Chloe chose not to partake with us but stayed in warmer quarters with a large plate of canned stuff. Chloe refused to sleep with me, indicating she thought she should give Mark a second chance to make up and do the honorable thing?

It was getting late when we decided to go to bed. We were all tired but very happy. No phones, no tele, no traffic. But we had achieved our goal and cleaned up most of the grass to improve the fire safety aspect.

Day Three

Up at 7 am the sun was already up and shining as we prepared to tidy up ready for the return trip. But first a great breakfast and toast from the wood fire, weeties and corn and coffee. A quick tidy of the kitchen wash the dishes pack up our gear make sure the fires are safe. Wait, we have to empty the doorless dunny, out with the spade and electric drill, down on the hands and knees and unscrew the front panel so we can extract the can, quickly run over to the soft soil dig a hole and bury the Treasure, back to the dunny put the can in again and screw the front panel on ready for the next trip up here.

9am and off we go heading for home, down to the road and shut the cyclone gate. I asked Chloe if she would like the front seat on the way back but she seemed happy to stay stretched out on the back bench seat. A couple of k’s and a right hand turn towards Benalla Township, but before that Mark pointed out the turn to Winton where they have a motor rally car track an event worth seeing so they say. Before long we were heading towards Melbourne on the Hume highway, by-passing Benalla, we were making very good time then Mark suggested we take a scenic detour from Euroa to Merton. As we headed down the Merton road it said ‘road closed’ car rally ahead.Could not be, it was Friday, must have been left there from last week. We travelled on for some more k’s and guess what the road was closed so back we went to Euroa, looped around found the highway again. It was pisso time again but nowhere to stop but, as Mark observed, there are toilet stops for people with weak bladders along the highway. Alright for men, we can cross our legs but we had to give Chloe a plastic bag just in case. We both rang home to tell the ladies of our lives we were safe and should be home around 11-30 am. We passed a couple of highway toilet stops. They come and go quickly at 100km/per hour. Now things were getting serious. Just then we saw a sign one kilometer to toilet stop Mark pulled out to pass the longest semi-trailer ever built. We just passed the truck and realized that we were half way past the pit stop, a quick left turn, no smoke from the tyres but brown skid marks on the our undies! Mark calmly stated it’s okay as we backed up the exit lane from the Hume highway to the toilet. Time for Chloe’s pitt stop. After looking around seeing how noisy and busy a highway is we headed to Wallan. Another scenic detour was decided upon towards Whittlesea but more disaster at the railway line. A hold up as they were erecting two concrete poles. Yes, time is being eroded. Thru Whittlesea and the traffic just got thicker. Another detour to Doreen and YanYen road which was blocked for some unknown reason. Time was ticking away fast and Mark had to be home by 11.30am. A quick look at my watch said we would just make it but as we turned into Dudley St Eltham signs up, road closed all day another detour into various street and into Bible st at 12 bells. Unloaded the swag and gear. I gave Chloe a hug as she and Mark headed off home like frustrated rabbits.

Later, after all that it was revealed, Mark went home, fell asleep on the couch and missed taking his grandchild to his new school orientation day in Doreen. The very reason we had to be home by 11.30am.

Daryl Morrow – November 2016

**Editors note – just to allay any possible confusion, Chloe is a dog.

OMNI men showing the older you get the better you become.

TV threatened rain and storms for today but us, 10 OMNI men from Diamond Creek and Eltham would not let that stop us from our planned trip to the mysteries hidden behind the bluestone walls and brick architecture in the gold laden streets of the city called Melbourne.
8.34am, the packed electric train pulled into the Eltham station and disgorged lots of human cargo, mainly children heading for the Eltham College, as us 70 plus year olds boarded we found enough seats close to each other to be able to excitedly chat amongst ourselves like escaped convicts on our first trip into the big city some 45 minutes away. We left our homeland of trees and open spaces and travelled along the ribbons of steel over polluted creeks and graffiti painted walls and broken timber fences. We could see into the backyard of homes through the scratched windows as we speed past, some were tidy many had old rusty car bodies, rubbish and struggling vegie patches.
Trees were displaced by homes and commercial buildings being built wall to wall, the further we go toward our destination the higher and denser they become with total disregard for any other persons light, sunrays and views, this is no doubt an artificial way to live, may be in 20 years’ time we will grow long ears and look like rabbits living in concrete burrows.
We headed south past the MCG into Flinders St and onwards through the tunnels of the loop and with excitement flowing through our veins we alighted at Parliament Station heading up the very steep mechanical staircase to the bustling and noisy throng of Spring St, down past Parliament House to the Princess Theatre and a lovely coffee shop where we stopped for coffee and cake. Our hostess was a delightful lassie from Vancouver she enjoyed our Aussie crappie jokes and took photos of us together and also the cook. The theater is a magnificent building.
Leaving there we crossed the road past Parliament House to the busy intersection of Collins st where a skyscraper was being built it seemed to disappear in the fog clouds above it glass walls reflecting the struggling sunshine, an outside lift was racing up and down the skyscrapers ribs as if in a frantic endeavor hoping not to come adrift.
We crossed the very busy intersection with crazy taxi drivers seeming to be competing for the next Mad Max movie role plus fire trucks all lights flashing ,horns screaming and a beautifully dressed woman eating a sausage roll calmly ducking and weaving amongst it all against a red light.
emcm0014_1As we crossed the street we were confronted with our destiny “The Old Treasury Building “ a 3 story bluestone government building with the lower level used to store gold back in the 18th and 19th century.
This building was designed by a 21-year-old Englishman and built in 6 years, on inspection the foundations of heavy bluestone and curved brick ceilings makes you wonder how this building was constructed so quickly, the levels above ground encompass many offices for the government, there is one office the Victorian Governor attends once a week to sign official papers.
The walls are very thick even the inside walls, high ceilings, very ornate wood work all made in Australia from local cedar includes doors and furniture. Great display of early household goods and many documents mostly hand written, lots of photos and stories of First World War, farming and industry difficulties. We were ably guided by Lynne around the building with knowable descriptions on all subjects including the development and layout of the city streets.
After the tour of the Treasury Building we headed back along Spring St opposite Parliament House where a protest was in process, there were many police in attendance but it seemed peaceful and ok.
With rumbling tummies we headed down to China Town for a tasty lunch, we had been there before, we had made contact with a Chinese food store owner two years ago who looked after us very well , we approached him again and he gave us a meal as much as you could stack on a plate for $8.00. We were looked after by an Indonesian waitress she was so lovely we took a photo of her, Les jumped up and gave her a hug just as the shutter did its job, what a lovely photo and moment (see photo included at end of story). It was a large food hall nearly all tables were occupied, I would say he is a great business owner.
After a filling lunch we headed back to Parliament station, down the scary shiny metal mobile staircase, all the OMNI pioneers landed safely at platform one where we waited for our silver train to safely return us all back home again there was much chatter and discussion about our day of enlightenment, we realized that when you have retired you have time to explore and pursue history of your local area and country. We are so lucky to live long enough to see and enjoy evolution.
Well they were wrong about the rain and storms again, luck favors’ the brave and the dills.
We started to disperse at different stations, three of us left the train and walked together to the top of the steep hill, we stopped, shook hands and went our own ways. Like 10 puffs of smoke we separately disappeared and as darkness sets in you stop to wonder did this day really happen?
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Another Day’s Aventure on the Streets of Melboune

*A story by Daryl Morrow.

The Silver Train speeds from Diamond Creek and Eltham to the Flinders Street Station at 8.30am carrying part of the human race to many of the days diverse activities. They sit back placing wire leads into their ears as if to charge their batteries for whatever the day’s activities may bestow upon them. Only the oldies talk now it seems.

But we older blokes travelled to attend the COTA (council of the aging) meeting in Elizabeth St.

COTA is the umbrella for OM:NI (Older men new ideas) this is a discussion group for men over 50 years of age who are seeking new friends who respect them after retirement or are disconnected and lonely.


This COTA meeting finished at 12.30pm. After our lunch most of the group dispersed in many directions, some shopping others catching the trains back to their home. But not Ken and myself (Daryl) we teamed up to enjoy walking through the laneways and narrow streets observing the building facades of the 18 and 19 centuries. The bluestone foundations of the high rises the size of the stones and how level they are even today, even the plumbing. Ken being a retired plumber would explain to me about the tunnels under these high rises the various plumbing techniques and materials used, cast iron, copper, plastic and open drains. We found  narrow cobblestoned laneways where now people sat eating their lunch and drinking coffee where 60 years ago horses pulled their delivery carts to the back of shops to stock their shelving. We saw arcades with lead light panels and boutique shops that catered to the eccentric. Some with orange hair, loads of beads and the clothing must have come from their grand parents wardrobes, but they are an essential part of the city’s colour and culture, we love them, they treated us with respect.

thumbnail_P1000518 We met Louise she said standing beside us as we looked skyward I have walked this street for many years and I have never looked up until I saw you two looking up. She is 61 years old and a volunteer and a brighter more loving soul you would never wish to meet she worked as a volunteer in a genealogy shop in the very same street, she is a walking encyclopedia.

Tearing ourselves away from Louise (after taking her photo with Ken), we headed through the arcade of the Nicholas Building we headed down Swanston st onward towards the Flinders St station passing two street beggars asking for help and food but people walked on past almost standing on them as if they did not exist. Close by was a horse and carriage taking visitors for rides around our icons.

thumbnail_FullSizeRenderTwo more volunteers Laurie and Michael dressed in red stood on the corner opposite the historic façade of Flinders St Station. We decided to put them to a test, and they came up A1 with knowledge and mannerisms. They even knew that St Paul’s Cathedral now faces north south the previous church faced east west and previous to that was a weather board shack.

We also meet an Indonesian family here on holidays and we tried to converse with them but had no hope, so more photos were taken as they wanted to show their village what true Aussies look like.

thumbnail_FullSizeRender1Onwards to Federation Square looking at children’s art especially the bubble wrap art and photography Ken showed me the glass concert room overlooking the Yarra River. We inspected the structure of sandstone tiles and pressed tin that looked like bluestone tiles. In the open air area with its large screen that shows you walking and looking around, a big circular sand pit with rock edging housed an open fire with red gum blocks emitting a welcome spread of warm air.

Back across Swanston St and into Flinders St station, our plastic cards opened the gates and we headed to the moving staircase to our arriving transport, we hurried in hoping to find a seat to rest our weary legs. As happens many times with public transport you have to sit beside a total stranger Ken and I were conversing and our fellow traveller was playing with his smart phone. He was waving his fingers in front of the screen …. he then explained he was waving to his children overseas. He was very open to us telling he was part Aboriginal and part Irish he also offered he was managing two farms up north growing coffee and coco and manufactured chocolate. I immediately recalled the advice and words of our COTA facilitator who said “whatever you do, never underestimate anyone when you first meet them.”

The train seemed to get us back home quickly and as I walked up the hill home I reflected on what was one of my best days on this planet.

Oh yes the roast dinner was equally as good. Thanks Lady Florence.

Daryl Morrow
4th July 2016

THE LONELY BLOWFLY AND EMPTY JAM TIN

In my sparsely furnished hut, the lonely blowfly’s wings made pleasant music to my ears as he flew from one end of the single room to the other never touching either wall, it’s kind of strange how something you have never liked becomes a comfort as you grow older and live alone.

I sat shadowed inside and gazed through the open door out across the shimmering red dusty landscape, sparsely dotted with dwarfed trees and struggling shrubs, even the cruel 45 degree temperature winds had stopped blowing as though exhausted and feeling remorse for the destruction and cruelty it had created to the animals, birds and flora.
Dust was rising slowly far to the left of my view, like a ribbon it was heading my way, could this be a visitor? The dust grew closer I was too far from the road to see any vehicle, the dust trail got closer and closer, my heart lifted, but the dust moved on past my disused driveway and headed towards the distant low hills, where the blazing sun rose each morning bringing hope and heartache to all forms of struggling life in this thirsty land.
Once again I walked the long and rough driveway to the gravel roadway, the mailman has not stopped now for several months and the grocer never sends any supplies now. Some tea, flour, sugar, matches and jam would have helped a lot but you can’t expect credit when you have not payed your account for several months. They may even think I had moved on.
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The battered four gallon Ampol drum I used for a mail box lay on the ground full of bullet holes and squashed by a large rock. I used the same rock to beat it back into a usable shape again hoping to find a letter or a paper someday.Well used rusty rabbit traps now hang immobile on the side of the weathered timber hut, no use setting them anymore the rabbits have either died or moved on trying to find water they are tough critters but the end is the end, the kangaroos left a long time ago but the sheep and cattle were the first to suffer getting bogged only to die in the muddy water holes.

Some evenings promising black clouds rim the horizon; during the evening darkness you can see lightning. As the crimson sun rises slowly over the distant rim of hills the next morning the clouds are not to be seen, no rain again, its sheer torment.
Midday and it’s hard to breath the oxygen seems to have left the air and no where can you find relief from the searing sun, but there is always beauty to be seen in this land as the Willy Willies gather speed and suck up any loose leaves, twigs and dry grass in a whirlpool and dance across the dry dusty plains on some mysterious distant voyage supported by the swirling water-less red dusty air.
2015 may trip to central goldfields 031Bluey my black healer dog had been with me since a pup. His barking and insistent growling had me witness him defending his water bowl from an angry yellow bellied snake looking for a drink of water. Bluey snarled and bit the snake and shook its writhing body, shaking his head from side to side in a whipping action, Bluey and the snake were in a death struggle. I grabbed the long-handled shovel and with several desperate strokes I managed to kill the snake, but to late, Bluey was in pain, the snake had bitten Bluey on his soft nose, several minutes later he died in my arms. With a breaking heart and large tears in my eyes I buried Bluey on the shady side of the empty wood shed, that was over a year ago but the agony and pain is still within my broken heart.

Long ago the white cockatoos left and headed south to the red gums forests along the Murray river but there where to many of them to stay, so the stronger birds flew further south to the red gums along the banks of the Yarra river and the Diamond Creek, I don’t think many will return to this barren land even when it rains, all the undertakers (the black crows) have gone to nothing to clean up or eat now only dry white bones getting covered with the red dust each wind gust covers them more and more, soon you will see very little evidence life ever existed here at all.

All the newspapers have been used long ago to light the fire, so I am pleased I kept the empty 5lb fig jam tin, it is a large one a half-gallon can in size. It’s label is all I have to read now, it has a beautiful picture of three figs surrounded by their green leaves, I have read it so many times that I nearly know every word by heart. It was produced and packed by the Goulburn Valley Canneries in Victoria. I have never been there, but it must be a fertile area to produce such great fruit. The recipe on the label tells how to make a jam tart with a pastry base. I made one when the can was new and loved every mouthful. How I would love one now. Jam lasts a long time in the dusty outback; just pull back the lid and dig some out when you have toast or Damper with a cuppa tea. The label is brown now and threatens to crumble and fall away from the rusting can unless I use very gentle hands.
Magpie
The friendly black and white magpie “Winston” came to the door every morning and I would give him some bread crumbs and he would warble a long song to say thanks and cheer me up. For two long days he did not turn up, I found him lying lifeless in the sticky mud in the smelly drying water hole, I picked him up and carried him to his favourite bush near the hut where he often perched and waited for me to come outside, I buried him under his favourite shrub which is now also lifeless, dry and brittle above the dry hot red sand. The wind has blown a lot of the sand away now. Sometimes I can see some of his wing feathers waving in the wind as if beckoning me over to sit awhile with him. I do go and stay awhile because we are still friends.

White gum trees are very rare in this harsh country and how this one got to grow here over a hundred years ago only God knows. It has seen and helped many generations of Cockatoos and Grass parrots live and breed in its hollow limbs and provide me with firewood as various limbs died and fell to the ground, but not anymore, not many limbs carry any life to the leaves now, most are dry and brittle, just one struggling branch with green leaves begging for rain, after all the years it had helped me, I feel it is asking me now for help, share some or your tank water with me please. If only I could, but there is only two rungs of water left in my storage tank and still no sign of rain, will this cruel drought ever end?

You do a lot of thinking of times gone by when there is little to do, boys think back to their father, how he taught them the skills of life, how to love and be strong, how to be friends with animals and to have the wisdom to kill some in times of survival. I was young and full of magical spirit I could do anything, I had no fear. I remember dad’s balding head and I said with magical assurance your hair will grow again and each night I rubbed baby oil into his scalp and with great patience he sat there as though enjoying our time together, he never went completely bald, and he always told me he was 42 years old even up to the day he died. He lived a full life and somehow he is living a second life through me as I carry his wisdom and spirit within. I wonder if my son remembers any of my wisdom and skills and will he carry me in his spirit until he too has time to sit back and look back upon our lives.

There is only a small amount of flour left for black jacks and Damper. I am feeling the many days of pains of hunger, if only I could muster the energy and gather some firewood and start the fire with the magnifying glass before the sun goes down. The lighting kerosene has all gone and all the candles except for a two-inch butt girthed by melted wax and two matches I have carefully guarded for emergency. I go to bed early these dark nights and only sit up late now when there is a full moon to see and play my home-made game of drafts. You need a mate to help play this game properly but when you are on your own you always win somehow.

Mid afternoon and the sun was shining brightly not a cloud to be seen anywhere it was very hot and I sat on the corner of the rough bunk bed again reading the label on the fig jam tin listening to the musical wings of the blowfly circling within the walls of the hot hut. Why is it growing dim? the sun is still well above the horizon, as I stared out towards the white gum tree it became dimmer and harder to see, it’s almost black now and the blowfly still flying around was becoming more silent now, I dropped my beloved jam tin and the label now separated from the rusty bent tin, the label fell and broke into several fragments on the floor. I fell gently backwards onto the bunk bed in pain from hunger, weary and tired, as I started to drift away, laying there I saw a bright light and a GOLDEN TRUMPET at the end of a long dark tunnel and my mind drifted back over my life’s journey from childhood, ending suddenly at this present day, I now feel very relaxed and at peace.

Is that rain falling on the rusty tin roof?

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Desert Trip 10 Pioneers of Eltham Men’s Shed and OMNI

9th November 2015
Day one

It was 8:45 am and the sun had just risen above the Eastern ranges in Eltham as a 1980’s series 60 turbo charged Toyota Land Cruiser driven by Mark Dellar and Peter Thomson picked up Old Daryl, to meet up with seven other adventurers on a five-day trip through the deserts of north-western Victoria, Australia.
1We met and grouped together at the perimeter of Calder racetrack at KFC’s roadhouse. We had to wait for the Captiva driven by Leon Higgins and Lindsay Clark – they were held up by an accident on the M80 Freeway but we believe they were tangled up in their brides’ nighties. At 10:05 we headed off in Indian file – a Toyota Prado driven by Harry and Jim then Greg and Lou in their Range Rover Discovery, next the Captiva followed by our classic 60 series Toyota Land Cruiser. It was a cool day; no rain and we were all cheerful and excited as we headed north on the Calder highway – our kilometers read 1398 as we took the Bendigo Mildura turnoff.
2We headed left at Bendigo through Lockwood South, Marong, Bridgewaters, Inglewood and passed the Major Mitchell monument as we headed further north to Wedderburn speedo now read 1480 kms
We arrived at Charlton at 1 pm where we stopped at a lovely café and had coffee and various cakes and pies. It was heating up so off with the jackets. The toilets on these trips are always an adventure in themselves – the urinal was so high up that various nameless members had to stand on a stool!!
On the road again and at Wycheproof the railway line runs down the centre of the main street . . . . don’t ask me why. We were now in the heart of grain growing country; the crops were very poor but ready for stripping, some headers were working leaving a trail of dust and chaff drifting into the atmosphere. Then onto Birchip by 2:30pm where a two storey pub, built in 1927, seemed to be beckoning us to stop awhile, but on we travelled to Beulah then turned up the C227 highway to a town called Rainbow on the edge of the desert.
We stopped here for fuel. Our vehicle took 53 litres and the kms now showed 1671, it was 3:50pm.
I stopped at the top on the main street at the railway siding to take some photos of a painted advertising shed, also a centenary rail painting and two lovely old two storey pubs, one being the Eureka Hotel with the food banners on the verandah and the other one being The Royal Hotel. I was the only person walking in the town’s main street, so I thought, until I heard a footstep behind me. Turning I saw a man in a hurry but I still said G’day to him – he replied “I’m in a hurry, can’t talk, have to wind up the bus and take the kids home from school”, and like The White Rabbit he was gone.


I was invited to drive the classic Toyota towards the start of the Desert as the sun was now getting low on the horizon on our first day. What a shock – it was like driving my Massey Ferguson tractor! After two laps of the main street we headed out along a narrow strip of sealed tar road towards the desert – everyone in our car was hanging on grimly calling out Jesus as we went sharply from side to side along the road. It took 5 kilometers before I went anything like in a straight line.
And there it was, a welcoming sign to Wyperfeld National Park. We travelled along a Mallee scrub lined track to a lovely camping site provided by Parks Victoria; tables, chairs, toilets and fire pits. We unloaded the camping gear from the four vehicles and set up our tents, swags, comfy chairs etc as Leon and Lindsay prepared a grand meal for us all – spaghetti bolognaise. Drama struck early as Mark realized he’d forgot to ring his wife and, with trembling lips and quivering of body he headed back toward Rainbow – he travelled some 27 kms before he got phone reception. 5With tents erected and beds made we played a game of Bocce with steel balls while waiting for our first desert meal. We had to wait for the flies to retire to eat and before the mozzies arrived. It was dark now and when Harry produced a bright light, so we could see our way around the camp and tents, we were invaded by swarms of migrating flying white ants – they were so thick and attracted by the bright lights we had to turn them off and converse in the dark.
10 tired pioneers then retired to bed and snored their way into the dawn of day two.

Day Two, 10th November 2015
Start 1747 kms

The early sun spread gold across our campsite where a mother kangaroo lazily crawled along the grass with its half-grown Joey keeping close by; slowly everyone emerged from their tents and swags eager to eat brekky before the flies gained formation and attacked us all over again. There was much laughter and anxiety as each group attempted to fold and pack their tents, cook bacon and eggs and eat burnt toast. It was about 9:45 when we headed out past a very large iron roof structure which is designed to catch rainwater and fill the two large concrete tanks nearby for fire fighting and wildlife.
We headed through sparsely treed Mallee scrub on a good sandy dirt track, stopping at a lookout we climbed on foot to this steep spot and climbed the steel lookout tower that gave us panoramic views of scrub, sand dunes; it was overcast with a light southerly wind. All through this country there were thousands of ant nest mounds; it is said they look after the Butterfly larvae and receive some nectar as a reward.
6We excitedly headed for an area called Snowdrop, which must have had the largest sand dune in all the desert. With cameras in hand and lungs full of oxygen, we started to climb this moving terrain. I tried to get some photos on the way up – this gave me a spell to gain more desired air. At last on top, most of we townies were gasping for air, but it was worth the climb and group photos were taken. I now know why it is called Snowdrop – if you look at Jim’s photo I am sure his white undies had slipped around his ankles.

7We then headed for O’Sullivans Track and another lookout – it was a 1.5 km walking track through scrub and with sharp grass seeds that anchored themselves firmly in our socks, however the view was worth the effort and climb. By this stage I started to be suspicious the other 9 were testing me out to see if this old bugger would last the 5 days.
We drove along Gunners Track and somewhere in this desert the track climbed some soft sand dunes and you guessed it – the Captiva threw in the towel.8 Out came the long-handled shovels and “digger” Lindsay moved more sand than a thousand kids on Bondi beach. Snatchem straps were attached to the old turbo powered Toyota – it took off at high-speed and when the strap ran out of slack – bang, Leons neck suffered severe whiplash. Stunned he held the wheel on full lock as he was dragged forward to safety with a wave of sand piling up on his bonnet. This event was to happen many times and thereafter Leon became known as “Sandman”.
Underbool was our next destination we arrived at 5:30pm, some vehicles topped up with fuel and I headed off to take some photos. The one horse town was deserted; the only exception, a large semitrailer which tried to mow me down as I stood in the middle of the highway taking a photo of the old two storey pub, with its gutters rotted out and dangling from the roof with one end resting on the barren ground. On the window it had a phone number painted in lipstick which said ‘for service please ring’, the main double doors said ‘push hard’ so I did; sticking my head in I saw 3 men sparsely spaced around the bar and a battle hardened barmaid with a long neck bottle in her callused hand; they were all watching TV so I called out in my best country voice “G’day what’s doing in this metropolis?” One guy replied in a slow disinterested way “we’re havin a beer” and turned to watch TV again. Where is the country hospitality these days? Never even offered me a beer, so I turned and jammed the front doors hard together again on my way out.
9By 6 pm we were in the Murray-Sunset National park on the banks of Lake Crosbie and the famous Pink Salt Lake. We set up camp here and some photos were taken of the sun setting across the lake. Mark “the Instructor” with his unmentionable apron cooked our second desert meal of chicken and stir fry veggies washed down with homemade beer, followed by Thommo’s famous red wine, then washed down by Greg’s red skin wine, followed by the best Port, followed by the best group bonding evening with jokes and full tummies. No one complained about how cold it was, but Mark highlighted and commented on the noise of the snoring choir as he stuffed in his earplugs and headed into a canvas pyramid.

Day Three, 11th Nov 2015 (Remembrance Day)
Start 1891 kms

Windy cold and cloudy – had two Weet Bix and a cup of tea for brekky. Others had eggs and bacon, toast plus coffee, again lots of fun folding tents, chairs and blankets ready for day three’s adventures. Left Lake Crosbie, passed Lake Becking and Mt Crozier by 11:20am. At 2pm we stopped for lunch at the T-intersection of Underbool Track and Pheenys’ Track. 10All sorts of lovely food came out of various fridges as we sat on the limbs of the twisted Mallee that made comfortable swinging chairs to eat from – it was so peaceful as we sipped our teas and marvelled at the wild flowers . . . . . all four of them.
Some drivers swapped around and it was great to see young Huon “lone Pine” at only 22, being accepted within the group of oldies and given the chance to drive various vehicles under trying conditions. He did better than yesterday in the Toyota with its hair trigger accelerator and stiff clutch as we entered the bumpy rough terrain. We gave those kangaroos an exhibition of how to hop high and shake up all the food in the different compartments – the upshot was we had great frothy beer at the end of the day.
The skies were darkening as we pulled into the Shearers Huts camping grounds. Here there were some quarters and shedding that had been restored with the assistance of the Sunraysia Men’s Shed.
With a storm pending and a structured fire pit we decided to gather some wood and have a campfire for us to sit around having our group meal. We set up our tents ready for a stormy night’s camping as Harry and Jim cooked up Rice and Tuna plus a lovely salad followed by apricots and custard. We were all thankful for such a hearty meal, Thommo provided digital music via Bluetooth from his iPod as we sat around the fire talking and joking well into the night as lightning lit up the sky; rain would be so welcome here. We retired into our tent with all windows and door flaps zipped up.
Lindsay tried to sleep in his bubble tent but later admitted he spent a lot of the night in the Captiva.
Lots of sand one day, water the next!

Day Four, 12th Nov 2015
We headed off from camp at 9.30 am.

11The three of us woke through the night to rain, thunder and lightning Mark “the instructor” stood straddled across Peter trying to close off the windows and stop the rain getting inside. He looked like a grandfather clock in loose undies with his pendulum swinging side to side as the lightning flashed intermittently. The ground was wet and sticky in the morning, we stoked up the fire and I saw Lindsay standing in the smoke like a fire warden surveying the situation, he then jumped onto the picnic table holding his mobile phone high above himself – claiming you get better reception up there.
Brekky was successful as the rain had stopped and the ground was drying up, but the tents were wet and sandy now. The Instructor had folded his tent and stood by Greg and Lou observing their efforts12 to fold their pyramid tent . . . . . . he soon became frustrated and threw his arms around stuttering “no, no do it this way and that way” he then walked away and took his blood pressure tablets!!
Harry the “Navigator” invited me to drive his Prado on day 4 of the trip . . . . what an impressive machine, we easily drove over the sand dunes only to hear “Sandman” again calling out “I’m stuck”. As we mounted the top of a sand ridge waiting for the Captiva to catch up we saw a large kangaroo stooping over a fresh water puddle in the track and I am sure she reached into her pouch withdraw an enameled pannikin, scooped up some water and had a drink, placing the pannikin back into the pouch before hoping away into the safety of the bush.
By 2:30 we were in Murrayville, we stopped for our fridge lunch in a lovely park opposite the two storey pub with a phantom sign on the wall that said “There are no Ghosts here but the spirits are good”.
13It is only a small town and the Fire Warden and I visited the local op shop, which was the original bakery, the wood fired oven was still there. It was here we met the lovely Christine who ran this shop, she told us just last week they had 86 mm of rain and it flooded the school and also her shop. I took her photo and we bought two books, a bottle of her home-made chutney, and 3 brass belt buckles with a camel on each one that I guess were worn by the Afghan traders as they brought supplies loaded upon the camels crossing the desert sands with their camel trains, to these remote settlements. All this cost us $6, and Christine invited us to sign her visitor’s book.
We headed off back into the desert and stopped at Big Billy Bore, (kms now 2139) there was a windmill pumping water and some holding tanks with water available to the weary travelers, we mostly washed our faces and filled our water bottles leaving there at 3.30 pm. We were heading for Red Bluff on the South Australian border road of the Big Desert. 14We stopped to load up firewood on top of two vehicles and on we went only to find the road some 20 kms along was flooded and the clay very sticky – with great disappointment we turned back and made camp on the road side between Murrayville and 70 kms north of Nhill. We could hear a cow mooing in the fields, reminded me of my Jersey cow back on the farm some 66 years ago. We dumped the wood for some other travellers to use at Red Bluff camp site and we set up our last camp on the road side amongst the Mulga.


Lou our chef and my Doctor Greg cooked our last evening meal – spaghetti and beef cheeks and we all eagerly sat around in a semi-circle and devoured this superbly prepared meal, everyone had bonded well, there were lots of fun stories about our adventure, we had all learned so much about our country and about each other. I went to bed early because of my infected eye, which Doctor Greg had helped me with so much. They all sat around my tent and I started snoring country music and humming in tune, but they complained that they could not hear each other laugh and talk, so they went to bed early also.

Day 5, 13th Nov 2015
Speedo read 2234 kms at start of day

We had a great tuition session from “The Instructor” and we filmed it all in motion (thanks to an iPhone6) as he gave more lessons on how to fold and pack a pyramid tent.
With brekky over we were all getting ready for our homeward bound journey, tyres getting pumped up for the highway and whilst this was being done we took lots of photos of the group around the sign of the BIG DESERT
We headed off at 8:30 am back through the wheat and grain farms, we passed through Yanac with its rail siding silos and the general store named Wheatons. Most of the land is flat with very spacious paddocks, then onto Nhill by 9:30 am, then Wail with more silos and a very small town 17called Pimpinio and then to Horsham for morning tea at 10:45 am where the parking meters were not working but they can still book you somehow. We are now back to civilization, warts and all, 11:33 and on the way again past the Deelea State school no 721, then past the outskirts of Stawell and arrived at Ararat by 12:33 where we stopped for lunch at the Leopold Hotel. We took a group photo and said our goodbyes. On leaving the pub I saw a painting of Chloe18 hanging near the front entrance, the only other one I have seen is in Young and Jacksons in Flinders St, Melbourne.
Passed through Beaufort at 2:30 pm and skirted around Ballarat heading down the Western highway toward the M80 and home.
We are now entering the uncivilized zone getting lost before the M80 but getting back on track was a nightmare once we entered the freeway it was bumper to radiator and at standstill many times. About Dalton St we heard and saw there was an accident ahead so we slipped across to Settlement Rd, Thomastown – which was no better. It took us over one hour to get from there to Eltham, now being 6:10 pm we were all pleased to arrive safely home and to get the first shower in five days and to shave off all that grey stubble.
End kms 2720, for a total trip of 1475 kms
The temperature was never above 30 deg on this trip, however since returning temperatures have been as high as 42 deg.

We had a very peaceful five days away only to come back to the horrific news of the bombings and shootings in Paris where 127 people were killed. I could only hear the words made famous by Peter,Paul & Mary in the early 1960’s ……………………

“When will they ever learn?”

Trip Vehicles and Pioneers were:
Toyota Landcruiser:
Mark Dellar – ‘The Instructor’
Peter Thomson – ‘Thommo’
Daryl Morrow – ‘Oh Wise One’
Land Rover Discovery:
Greg Mitchell – ‘The Doctor’
Lou Fazio – ‘The Masterchef’
Toyota Prado:
Harry Morris – ‘the Navigator’
Jim Gundrum
Huon Thomson (son) – ‘lone pine’
Holden Captiva:
Leon Higgins – ‘Sandman’
Lindsay Clarke – “digger”
Story by Daryl Morrow ©

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LARRY HAS GOT ‘HALF A ONE’

8 July 2015

Yesterday Daryl & Larry decided to go to Eltham OMNI on Wednesday for the meeting and the BBQ. Daryl and Larry are ya typical Aussies who just love a bit of roadkill on a BBQ. It was a  meeting filled with inspiring wisdom and good humour. Larry got quite excited about it. It was an uplifting meeting with a fascinating topic of “What’s Life All About”. There was one little hiccup in that the power was out so the twenty men sat in the meeting in the cold and the dark. Which also meant the BBQ was not working.

Daryl, being an Ideas Man,  suggested to Larry that they two go up the road a bit to Eltham Park and use one of their two BBQ’s.

Unfortunately they tried the first BBQ but sadly it was ‘out of order’ so they walked to the one on the hill. Unfortunately just before they got to it, two women and their children grabbed that BBQ.

So Daryl and Larry put both their eskies down waited patiently for forty minutes sharing a beer and a yarn, smelling the luring flavours drifting their way. They talked over the problems of the world including the Greek crisis and the USA decision to allow gay marriage.

Finally the women left the BBQ with their feast, so Daryl and Larry scurried over to claim it. They put their eskies up, turned on the BBQ and waited for it to warm up. Daryl got out his one sausage and carefully placed it in the middle of the sizzling plate. ‘I am starving mate’.

Larry opened his esky and moved his icepacks to one side and got out his tongs and the rolls. ‘Me too Daz … I could eat a horse, then chase its jockey’.

Daryl enquired “Larry did you bring the sauce?”

Larry scrimmages around his esky in disbelief and exclaimed to Daryl “You’re not going to believe this but I left the sauce at home in Greensborough, along with all my BBQ meat on the kitchen bench this morning.”

Daryl looked up in despair then down at his little sausage, then over at a visibly upset Larry.

‘Not a problem mate … we can share it Larry.’ Larry was touched by hungry Daryl’s generosity and thought it was the decent thing to do and say he wasn’t hungry. But desperate Larry didn’t … he gracefully accepted Daryl’s offer.

Together they took it in turns to carefully turn Da Sausage, treating it like it was their first-born .. oh so careful not to burn the only morsel that stood between them and starvation. But they did not realise that the BBQ light had gone out. Desperately hungry by this stage Larry quietly relight the BBQ … and the wait continued.

Finally the moment they had been waiting all their lives had come. It was cooked to perfection. Now came the hard part. Daryl had to cut Da sausage in half. He made the incision. Larry looked up at him in panic. Daryl had cut the sausage … but it clearly wasn’t even. One half was 3 inches and the other half was 3 ½ inches. Who would get left with the little one?

Daryl took a deep breath and forked the biggin. It wasn’t a particularly good forking and whist Larry didn’t say it they both simultaneously thought “What if this drops off into the dirt … what then? Will they then have to share half of a half?’

The pressure was building on Daryl … he nervously lifted the Biggin sausage into the air (as if to pay homage to the Food Gods) and placed it reverently in the middle of the roll (which was leaning precariously at an angle) and pushed it generously towards Larry. Larry was visibly touched and put his hand on Daryl’s shoulder ‘I love ya mate’.

Daryl unselfishly put his little sausage in his roll and they clinked stubbies and toasted the day. As you can imagine they scoffed it down in 30 seconds, finished off their larger and packed up their eskies and walked off into the sunset together, back to their cares.

One of the women who was standing nearby turned to her girlfriend and muttered ‘If Tony Abbot ever needed a reason for ‘same sex marriage’ … he need not look any further than that couple there’.

It doesn’t get any better than this.