The Australian Outback, an ancient land where the red-parched soil is touched by an endless blue sky and where confetti flutters on the breeze.
Hang-on, since when was confetti part of our outback landscape…?
On a recent foray into the outback we thought we were travelling behind a bus full of Japanese newly-weds…
You know, the ones you see down at the Historic Rocks precinct in Sydney on a Saturday morning.
Lots of smiling faces, nodding as only the Japanese can in their most polite way, married in large groups on the steps of Mrs Macquarie’s Chair overlooking the magnificent Sydney Harbour, and more confetti than you could poke-a-stick at.
Strewth, and just to be clear, lest I be accused of casting a racial slur…
I love the Japanese people.
What would lunchtime be without sashimi – Nikon camera’s weren’t the only thing they shared with the world. And hey, I’m not suggesting there were busloads of them in the outback throwing confetti everywhere either.
I was speaking metaphorically…(okay?)
But crikey – somebody must have been.
There was so much of it you could be forgiven for thinking that it must have come from a mass wedding.
Now I get it, it isn’t the most popular dinner party topic, but thanks to the hilarious 2006 movie “Kenny” we have at least got a little more comfortable discussing the issue around the camp fire these days.
And let’s not beat around the bush here, we are talking about “Poo Tickets”
Crikey, I thought everyone has watched that movie?
Toilet paper, you dill…!
Oh, stop cringing and shuffling in your seat…
And spare us the protest, Kenny dispelled many of those urban myths about…
Mine doesn’t smell and I always clean the bowel…
As a kid I used to visit my grandmother’s home in a small country town and she had an outhouse down the backyard. Anyone from the bush will know what an outhouse is and without doubt they’ve been the butt of many jokes for time eternity.
In Nan’s outhouse there was always a small box of matches sitting behind the door and she insisted one be lit each and every time you arose from the throne!
I thought this was normal and I don’t recall anyone ever complaining about the need to do it, it was just part of the routine…
Although, Uncle Bluey did complain about it once, but that was when my cousin accidently set alight to his prized Playboy Mag he had tucked down the back of the seat that us kids never knew about.
And mum’s still the word on that one..!
So why a box of matches?
Well nothing beats a freshly lit match to kill all other lingering smells …
Come-on, you’re not still cringing, surely?
Needless to say, caution should always be exercised when playing with matches and there was the time Bluey sent the outhouse door over the back fence after a brekkie of Heinz baked beans…(thank God for flushing toilet’s these days, hey)
I’m not sure what was funniest, Bluey sitting there in his navy singlet with his Y-Fronts around his ankles, or the dunny door in the neighbour’s mango tree.
He had that “eyes rolled-up, embarrassed” look that dogs get when your eyes meet as they do their business.
Dog owners will know what I mean…
But, here is the thing, we’ve always carried a little box of redheads when we are Out and About.
In one bold strike you fill the air with the smell of a freshly burning match after a squat, removing the need to protest yours doesn’t smell, and importantly, you can use it to burn your poo tickets…
So, for those of you that head bush please take “Miss Redhead” with you.
She may not ignite your passion, but in the least, she will put a flame to your “poo tickets” and spare our wonderful country the indignity of the unwanted and unsightly “confetti” that has increasingly become part of the landscape…
Baz – The Landy
Ps: Seriously, this is a major problem these days!
Hey, did you notice we have created a new Facebook Page?
XPLORE – Out and About – it is in the sidebar of our blog…
If you are “Facebook Inclined” please like or follow us to stay up to date with our adventures…and if you like what you see why not share it with your friends!
The more the merrier we reckon…
Cheers, Baz – The Landy and Janet-Planet…
Photo: Baz – The Landy, Paroo River, Outback Australia
Rest assured I am not about to start throwing punches, but I came across this quote recently.
And it is quite sobering, especially given it was from Mike Tyson.
Could there be anything worse than being on the receiving end of a Mike Tyson punch?
Mind, you I suspect he is correct in the assessment he makes about plans and it got me thinking about the topic and how it might relate to remote area travel.
And can I confess upfront, I’m a “planning nutter”…
Many of you will be aware we spend plenty of time Out and About in the great Southern Land, Australia, exploring its natural beauty and wonders and much of this is done in very remote locations.
And if it isn’t the Outback we might be on the side of a mountain somewhere in the world…
So what about planning and what considerations should be taken into account?
Whilst the degree of planning may vary from one person to another, I am sure that almost all of us have one in mind, whether committed to memory or in written form…
Mind you, everything has risk attached to it, right?
The question is whether the risk can be managed to a level that is acceptable, firstly to you and secondly, broadly acceptable to those who may be called upon to provide assistance if something goes wrong.
And I use the word broadly because it is subjective to make a judgment on what others might find acceptable.
To get around this, I use the reasonable test and ask myself the question – would, on average, reasonable people find this a reasonable assumption to make?
In my view planning is one of the most important aspects of any trip and should be approached as a risk management exercise. I put planning at the top of my list…
Whilst in the stress free environment of your living room at home you can assess all aspects of the expedition without the pressure of things crumbling around you out in the field and for which you have not developed a response.
When it comes to remote travel in Australia I find many place a lot of focus on equipment, and vehicles, communications; how much food and water needs to be taken along with the required fuel.
And for sure these are all important aspects to any trip planning, falling under the heading of trip logistics.
But what about your health and fitness and that of your travelling companions?
Are you in suitable shape both mentally and physically for this specific expedition?
What about expected weather conditions and how will you respond to changing conditions?
At what point do you call the trip off – what decision criteria have you established for this both in the time prior to departure and once it is underway?
This is an important one; more than one person has died from the “press-on-regardless” mentality.
We’ve planned this trip and we’ll complete it at all costs…regardless!
How can this type of thought trap be avoided?
…Establish criteria to prevent it from happening!
No one wants to call off a trip once under way, but it might be the best decision despite the disappointment. Having guidelines decided and agreed upon in advance takes much of the angst away from this type of decision making it easier to arrive at if faced with a particular circumstance.
And what about a point of no return decision?
How many people consider this when travelling from point A to point B in remote and arid countryside, crossing the Simpson Desert, for example or other remote areas?
Prior to arriving at this equi-distance point consideration should be given to whether the destination can still be reached, or might it be wiser to return to the previous checkpoint whilst you still have sufficient fuel and supplies to do so.
There could be any number of reasons that might affect your decision; weather would be an important one for example. But there could be many others that should be assessed at this critical point before continuing on your journey.
Once the point of no return is crossed the decision has been made and you are now committed to it regardless, possibly with dire consequences if not well thought out, or even considered.
Planning for a trip begins and ends at home…
By the time you head down through the front-gate you should be confident in your endeavours and that you have thought out potential issues and how you will deal with them. By now you and your travelling companions should have committed to some form of template as to how you will respond to specific and non-specific situations.
Once under way the expedition progress should be evaluated against what you expected and anticipated in your planning – and if it doesn’t align consider the impact it will have on your objective and how you should response to these changes…
And for sure, there may be issues that crop up that you didn’t have a specific plan for, but you can still have a response for these situations along the lines of how it might affect the successful completion of the trip and what is the implication of continuing or not continuing?
Consideration should also be given to the well-being of the group or others that may be called upon for assistance especially if things are going as planned.
Problems often arise not because of a primary occurrence, but the impact it has as it cascades down through a number of scenarios and usually we receive plenty of opportunity to address these before they manifest into a much larger issue.
Have a plan, have a plan, and have a plan – that is my pre-trip mantra regardless of the undertaking or where in the world I am planning an adventure…!
It is one thing to be confronted with an issue and making the incorrect assessment or choice, but it is almost unforgiveable to not act and make any decision at all when something goes wrong…
…History is littered with the deaths of people who simply failed to act, having a plan is a good way to avoid being in such a predicament!
And hey, planning needn’t rob you of the spontaneity that travelling can bring, to the contrary, hopefully it enhances the experience by giving comfort that you have considered how you will respond to adverse and changing conditions as the trip progresses.
How much time do you put into trip planning and would yours withstand that…
“Punch in the face”…?
Photo, Baz – The Landy
Crikey, it is Christmas day in Australia…
Janet, TomO and I would like to wish all our friends around the world a happy festive season however you may celebrate it.
And if it isn’t something you usually celebrate, that’s okay, just give your family and friends a big hug, or something like that and have a little sing-a-long with us anyway…
Jingle Bells – The Aussie Way
The Shed…a place where tall stories can be told, a few laughs had, where you can grab a “coldie” out of the fridge to share with mates and if you are motivated it can double as a training gym.
Since arriving home from the Outback a few weeks back I have been heading up the driveway to “The Shed” in the pre-dawn darkness to exercise on my rowing machine and lift a few weights.
Don’t worry, I’m an early morning person…
Over the coming months my exercise regime in “The Shed” will involve high intensity workouts on the rowing machine and weight resistance training in preparation for my expedition to Papua New Guinea early next year.
And rest assured, there will be plenty of hill climbing with a 20 kilogram backpack and I could never go a week without getting in a couple of paddles on the surf ski.
And this weekend’s weather in the harbour city is set to be perfect for all kinds of outdoor pursuits…
Crikey, bring it on!
Baz – The Landy
Wow, 7-weeks in the Australian Outback, travelling this wonderful country of ours in a customised four-wheel drive may not be everyone’s cup of tea – but hey, for the adventurous, you’d love it…
And for the less adventurous amongst us, crikey, come on get on board, it is about time you got out of your comfort zone and gave it a go.
My recent adventure into the deserts of Western Australia involved a return journey of over 10,000 kilometres into some of the world’s most inhospitable country, crossing vibrant red sand dunes where no roads or tracks exist…
But don’t be put off by the remoteness and harshness of the Australian Outback as the rewards for the traveller, the adventurer, is a landscape more bio-diverse and fragile than the Amazon rainforest.
The contrasting beauty of a rugged landscape, the colours that you will see can never be replicated in a painting or photograph, but the memory of a setting sun, the golden hue it creates as it gently slips below the distant horizon will imprint a lasting memory that will have you longing to return to this place…
My journey took me across Australia’s interior on a quest to assist a group of like minded people construct a shelter and other buildings for the Birriliburu people, the Traditional Owners of the Little Sandy Desert and Gibson Desert region of Australia…
Mind you, it is also about the journey and there was plenty of opportunity for me to explore and photograph other parts of the Australian Outback as I made my way westward…
Now let me say, shovelling sand and gravel into a cement mixer, on a clay pan and under a scorching sun is hard work and won’t necessarily count as a highlight of the trip. But the opportunity to spend time with the elders of the Birriliburu mob in their country, on their lands, was well worth the discomfort – it will leave a lasting impact on my life!
Crikey, don’t get me wrong, it was a pleasure to assist, I’m just complaining about those aching muscles that were antagonised in the process…
Amongst the aboriginal people I spent time with were a number of elders who were born to nomadic parents in the desert, first generation desert people who lived, hunted and sheltered on the very lands we were on and without any contact with Australian’s of European descent.
One of the elders, Geoffrey Stewart, was born to parents Warri and Yatungka, a couple who engaged in forbidden love under tribal laws and whose story is recounted in the book “Last of the Nomads”.
Another, Georgina “Dadina” Brown, took us to the place where she and her family were discovered by Stan Gratte, an historical enthusiast, in 1976. At the time Stan was retracing the route of a 19th century explorer.
Georgina is an accomplished artist with work on display in the Australian National Gallery and her story is recounted in the book Born in the Desert – The Land and travels of a last Australian Nomad.
All were willing to share their country with us, showing where they roamed the desert with their families and explaining how they captured food and travelled from rock-hole to rock-hole to find water.
Geoffrey shared some “Dreamtime Stories” and permitted us to view some magnificent rock art located in a gorge not too far from where we were based in the desert.
I have been travelling Australia’s vast outback region for many years and have always recognised it has a “spiritual beauty” to it. But this trip has been special in a way that I never thought possible and has helped me view life through a different lens, putting a different perspective on life…
We live in a society that insists we plan our lives away, where we have an insatiable appetite for instant gratification, and need the latest gadgets, where we are able to visit a supermarket for our daily food needs with little thought as to how it arrived there…
It was refreshing to observe another perspective on life from people whose ancestors’ have inhabited our sunburnt country for over 40,000 years – a people whose philosophy of living in harmony with the environment is the pathway to ensuring a sustainable existence.
No, not necessarily an easy one, that’s for sure!
Most importantly, this trip and time spent on country with the Birriliburu mob has reinforced something that modern day living often has us overlook and that is the only moment you can live in is the one you are in.
Such is the life of a desert dweller…
Baz – The Landy
As a footnote:
The Birriliburu Lands are an Indigenous Protected Area not open to the general public. I visited at the kind invitation of the Elders of the Birriliburu People.
Who remembers the days of real milk bars and real milkshakes – milkshakes made with malt and filled to the brim with real milk and dispensed in the traditional metal tumbler?
As a young lad growing up in Far North Queensland, FNQ to the initiated, I can remember my father taking me on a Saturday morning ritual to check the mail at the post office followed by a milkshake at our favourite milk bar.
I suspect Dad was never interested in what the mail brought, in fact I don’t ever recall him opening it, but boy did we savour those milkshakes.
So it was to my great surprise that I discovered Bell’s Milk Bar in our iconic Outback town of Broken Hill. Now I have written often about the rich history of “The Hill” and on sojourns to and from the Outback we always take the time to stop over, if only to stand on the western edge of this great town as the sun cast its last rays on a red ochre coloured landscape.
But somehow I had overlooked this gem that is caught in a 1950s time warp.
Needless to say I wasted no time in ordering a chocolate malted milk which I savoured with great pleasure as Janet and I wandered around looking at the memorabilia that has been collected over the years…
Plastic tables, plenty of chrome, even the old heavy black phones!
Without a doubt it is now on our must-do things when passing through “The Hill” in fact we’ve made a mental note to ensure it is the first thing we do as “The Landy” heads into town…
Crikey, I’d drive the 1,200-kilometres from Sydney any day to fill-up at Bell’s; to reminisce of days long-gone, of those moments with the “Old Man” in downtown Townsville drinking our liquid gold through a paper straw, the silence punctuated only be the slurping sounds of a quickly disappearing shake.
So take my tip and be sure to include Bell’s on the itinerary next time you are passing that way, you won’t be disappointed!
Photo Baz – The Landy
“A Yarn Around the Camp Fire” is an opportunity for you to take a front-seat ride in “The Landy” as it heads into some of the most remote parts of Australia, for that matter – the world.
After all, Australia’s remote location on the globe is matched equally by the remoteness of its sparsely populated outback…
It will be a journey that will take us across our sunburnt land towards Uluru and beyond to the Central Deserts of Western Australia…
We’ll travel to a place where time has forgotten, where the hot scorching sun parches a landscape that is as beautiful as it is rugged. A country inhabited over the millennia by Australian Aborigines and crossed in more contemporary times by explorers’ who challenged themselves to discover what was in the Australian interior.
You will get a camp fire view of the setting sun as it slips gently below an orange tainted horizon, and if you are an early bird, watch a rising sun cast its first rays of light over the windswept land, a mug of piping hot tea in hand.
But for sure, you’ll get to experience the teeth shattering corrugations of the Great Central Road as “The Landy” makes its way westward, and at day’s end, quietly slip into a deep slumber under “The Milky Way”.
During the next few weeks “The Landy” will cover over 10,000-kilometres across a landscape that will transport me from the urban living of Australia’s largest city, Sydney, across the Australian Bush and into the vibrant and colourful Australian Outback.
Now perhaps there will be some who are thinking, is this city slicker meets the outback?
Crikey, who knows…
Mind you, I’m as comfortable in the outback as I am crossing the Sydney Harbour Bridge on the daily commute to the office, having travelled to many remote parts over the years flying light aircraft or driving “The Landy” – our mode of transport that has morphed as time advanced.
Okay, I do agree, the good old ‘Fender hasn’t changed much in the past 50 years, seemingly, so we’ll just say I use the term “morphed” sparingly.
And despite the opportunity to view the magnificent Sydney Harbour each day, I won’t miss that daily dodgem car run!
But I am digressing…
Along the way I will be travelling with a group of like-minded people, sharing a few laughs around the camp fire and I’m sure, fixing almost as many punctured tyres as there are flies buzzing around. Importantly, I will be spending time with the Traditional Owners and Elders of the Birriliburu Country to assist them in building some “back to country” infrastructure.
Our travel will be along remote tracks that are covered in spinifex grass and frequently travelling where no tracks exist, where a never ending blue sky caresses the ochre-red earth on a faraway horizon.
And don’t go worrying if you haven’t heard from me for a while, rest assured, I’ll be around the camp fire at day’s end, recounting, laughing, and dreaming!
Whilst we live in a modern society with plenty of gadgets to keep us all in contact, sometimes they just don’t work in the Australian Outback – well that is what I told my boss anyway, so best I continue to run with that story…
I’ll welcome your company in the front seat of “The Landy” as the journey unfolds and don’t worry about long lapses of silence, it’s okay – the sounds of the Australian Outback will more than compensate for the lack of chatter!
And if you are stuck at home in-the-armchair, be sure to drop by every so often, I’ll be updating the blog as the journey unfolds and you can check out where I am as “The Landy” rolls along the bulldust by simply clicking on the “Map – Where is The Landy” tab at the top of the page.
Anyway it is almost time to get under way, so buckle yourself in and give Mrs Landy and the Crown Prince, TomO, a wave good-bye…
Photos: Baz – The Landy
In three weeks I depart for the desert areas of Central and Western Australia to travel into some of the most remote and inhospitable areas Australia has to offer.
“The Landy” will be pointed westward on what will be an epic journey taking six weeks to complete and covering over 10,000 kilometres in distance.
Travelling with a small group of like-minded people we will make our way towards the Gibson Desert in Western Australia where we will be assisting traditional landowners built some infrastructure, including shelters to use when they visit this remote part of Australia.
I have always been fascinated by Aboriginal Culture and the Australian Aborigines have a rich heritage and association with our great sunburnt country that dates over 40,000 years. Mind you, it was only in the late 1970s that an old couple, Warri and Yatungka, came in from the desert not too far from where we will be travelling, having lived a traditional lifestyle with no European contact.
You can read more about their remarkable story in the book “The Last of the Nomads” by WJ Peasley.
Our travel will be along remote tracks that are covered in spinifex grass, and much of it will be in areas where no tracks or roads exist. In fact, our main role is to mark a route into the area where the infrastructure is to be built enabling a group of people from Track-Care in Western Australia, who will be towing trailers with the construction equipment, an easier run into the region.
Whilst in the region we intend to do some off-track exploring of the travel route of some of Australia’s early explorers, and more specifically, the Calvert Scientific Exploring Expedition of 1896-1897.
Our small team is being expertly led by someone who has travelled extensively in the region over the past decade and it is due to his experience and familiarity with the region that he has been called upon by the Central Desert Native Title Services and Track-Care to assist in this undertaking.
As you would expect there is a reasonable amount of planning that goes into this type of expedition, including water and food supply, as well as vehicle preparation.
The typical choice of vehicle, and one well suited for Australia’s harsh outback, is the Toyota Landcruiser in its various forms. “The Landy” has been specifically modified, including upgraded suspension, specific tyres, and additional fuel tanks, to enable long-range travel in the outback.
On this trip I will be carrying 400 litres of fuel for the remote area work we will be undertaking, which will total near to 2,000 kilometres, and will consume a total of around 2,000 litres on the trip by the time “The Landy” arrives back home in Sydney.
So be sure to drop by every so often to “Check out Where I’m travelling” (on the tab at the top of the page) and I will update on the adventure as communications permit!
Cheers, Baz – The Landy
Have we gentrified our pubs so much that the life and soul of “the local” has all but disappeared?
The thought came to mind recently as I sat in the bistro of our local, a typical suburban pub in Sydney within walking distance from home.
I lamented that there wasn’t anything as simple as bangers and mash on the menu as I drank a beer served in a glass that would look more at home as a vase…
Let’s face it, there is nothing better than the company of friends and good pub food washed down with a couple of schooners of Fourex. Not some beer brewed with water taken from a stream on the eastern side of a mountain in some place I couldn’t pronounce even if I wasn’t into my third schooner.
I mean, what’s wrong with a good old Fourex? Okay, VB or Carlton Draught if you prefer and a Chardy for the girls…
Perhaps I’m showing my class here, (I did say class) but one of the things I truly look forward to is a trip into the bush, the outback, down a dusty track where you are likely to develop a thirst that can only be quenched with a schooner or two at day’s end in a pub that is most likely called “The Royal” or maybe “The Railway” or “Tattersall’s”.
Crikey, even Janet (Mrs Landy) has been known to down a beer or two in these revered establishments!
It’ll be nothing fancy mind you, a few bar stools here and there mostly occupied by Bluey and the boys who’ll tip their hats and give you a G’day as you step through the door. The menu simple, but tasty and its okay to toss your dog a couple of scraps to clean off the plate when you’re done…
The conversation is typical, but mostly amusing, no-one is taking it too seriously, or concerned that you are wearing the right clothes, after all shorts and singlets are the go, if you like, and you’re not going to need to mortgage ya’ house when it comes to your turn to shout!
Crikey, Mrs Landy and I have enjoyed some great moments in some out of the way places in the Australian Bush, The Outback – and we might have had just that one too many on an occasion here and there, but that is usually because our classic pubs in the bush are timeless, especially when the amber fluid flows and the banter ramps up!
Over the next couple of months “The Landy” will be pointed westward towards the remote Gibson Desert region and I’ll be making sure the route to get there is long and dusty as there is nothing better than dropping into a “real” pub at the end of a day’s drive just to say, G’day!
So where is your favourite “watering” hole?
Cheers, Baz – The Landy
As regular visitors to the Darling River area in western New South Wales it was hard not to notice on our most recent visit how much the river level has gone down over the past few months.
Many Australian outback travellers will be familiar with the section of the river from Bourke to Menindee which is an enjoyable drive and a great way to spend a week or two. Just meandering across the far-reaching plains on the dusty track that follows the Darling…
Recently we spent a few days alongside the Darling at Trilby Station, a large sheep station not too far from the river port of Louth. Its owners, Gary and Liz are welcoming hosts and the Murray family can trace their settlement on the river back six generations to 1860 – truly, a pioneering family!
In days long gone river boats gently steamed their way from the coast to Bourke, their owners’ plying trade and carrying much needed supplies to the small communities that were established at varying intervals along the river. On the return journey, loaded with bales of wool, the boats were gracefully navigated to the sea port situated a long way from the dusty and, at times, desolate interior.
I am sure many will remember the Australian mini-television series “All the Rivers Run” that was based on the novel by Nancy Cato. Whilst it was centered around the Murray River, daily life on the Darling would have been much the same.
As my kayak gently rocked in the shallow waters on a cooling breeze, the sound of the rustling leaves on the river gums transported me to another time as I drifted downstream from our camp. I could hear the laughter of people long-gone, the toil of the boat crews ensuring the boiler had a head-of-steam, and the gentle sound of the paddle on the steamers as their river boat captains navigated their way along the river, skilfully and carefully avoiding hidden and submerged obstacles…
In times of drought and lack of rains further north many boats were trapped as the river turned into a series of water-holes as it dried up. Although in the days of the River Boat the Darling flowed far more freely than it does today as there were no weirs to hinder the gentle flow of the water, no cotton farms sucking the life from it or the surrounding country that depends on its precious water for survival.
Cotton farming arrived into the region in the 1960s after the Boon and Buster families established themselves in and around Bourke.
The fifty years since that time has seen a steady decay of the Darling and the greater Murray-Darling basin. One has to question the wisdom of growing cotton on the world’s driest continent at the expense of degrading the water in our rivers – some will rightly call it vandalism.
I am a avid student of aboriginal culture and histories, striving to read, learn and listen to as much as I am able to absorb. In April 2010, aboriginal people whose traditional areas border the Darling, Macquarie and Bogan catchment areas formed a group to ensure their views on river management were heard.
The following quote from Phil Sullivan, an Ngemba traditional owner, struck a resonance with me and perhaps it will with others.
“Water to me is the essence of life. And I’ve got to respect life, and I’ve got to honour life. If I don’t honour it and look after it, then it’s going to take my life away from me. It’s going to take the very essence of who I am away from me.
So that’s why I honour the river, the water, and give respect to it. Because in the end if I don’t look after that… then me and my family and my tribe and the gift that’s been given to us is going to be whittled away.
The Darling River should be treated as a natural treasure for all, not dammed with weirs so the water can be whittled away on an agriculture crop that may have some economic value, but a huge environmental cost.
Whether visiting for the first time or returning to explore further, take your time and enjoy the Darling, a mighty river that breathes life into a parched and ancient land…
Cheers, Baz – The Landy
Do you ever get that sense that wherever you look these days something has changed, perhaps for the better, often for the worse?
Seemingly, technology has made life easier for us, if you know how to use it!
Crikey, I have just worked my way through that whopping big manual that came with the VCR recorder and now they tell me they’re finished, kaput, and useless.
TomO, the crown prince, said it belonged in a museum anyway, adding that in fact that most of the contents of our house were starting to resemble a museum collection.
Strewth, isn’t that something else that has changed, the cheek of the young people these days…
And how about fast food?
Hell, I remember when fast food was a Chiko Roll and a can of coke from the local fish and chip shop. These days we’ve got so many choices that a bloke would starve before he got around to making up his mind.
Hey, what about GPS and smart phones?
Talk about change, I never had any problem finding the corner store, but seemingly the young and not so young need one to navigate around the local mall these days. And besides what was wrong with the old paper maps that you could spread across the bonnet of the car and then spend an hour chasing across a paddock after that big gush of wind turned it into a sail?
But they call this progress, change…
On a recent road trip, dubbed “Ocean to the Outback” we visited my mother’s hometown of Bundaberg situated on the east coast to the north of Brisbane. Fay reveled in the visit and we spent time visiting the property that her Grandfather owned and ran cattle on when she was a young girl. “The Springs” as it was known due to a spring fed creek on the property is now a scout camp.
As a young adult she worked in the Metropolitan Hotel in downtown Bourbong Street, the epicenter of the town. Mum insisted we stop, have a beer and a good old-fashioned counter-lunch.
I remember as a kid having a can-of-lunch there. At least that is what I thought they called it. It was a few years later when a cute barmaid in a small country pub fell into stitches of laughter when I ordered a can-of-lunch that I made the discovery; it was a counter-lunch.
But I’m digressing and Janet is peering over my shoulder asking about the cute barmaid…
There was much reminiscing as Fay walked through “The Met” and we were fortunate to spend some time with the owner who loved to hear about how the pub was in the days gone by.
As we sat down to our can-of-lunch and a few beers, Mum looked around and said that it had all changed, it wasn’t the same anymore, she said. You couldn’t see the old stairs that took you up to the accommodation rooms and the old kitchen had gone.
Sometimes things have the appearance of having changed, but maybe when you delve just below the surface you see that nothing really has changed after all – maybe it is just a matter of perspective!
As I sipped my beer I looked around and thought…
“Surely nothing has changed”
After all the main bar was full of people chatting, laughing, enjoying a meal…
And of course, drinking an ice-cold beer!
I’m betting nothing has changed at “The Met” in the last hundred years…
Do places or life generally really change or just our perspective?
Photos: Baz – The Landy
One of the great things about travelling in Australia, apart from the wonderful colours of a never ending blue sky and the parched red-earth of the Outback, are the characters you meet.
And of course there is no better place to meet them than at the local pub.
On our travels we enjoy dropping into the “local” as you’ll most likely find a warm welcome and usually the publican will be a wealth of knowledge on the area…
Shindy’s Inn, situated in the small township of Louth, is one place you are sure to get a warm welcome! Centrally located on the banks of the Darling River it is the focal point of this small community, and it is little wonder why. The owners, Dave and Cath Marett, make all visitors feel at home just like they would a local.
Founded around 1859 by Thomas Andrew Matthews, Louth was a stopping off point for the river boat crews plying their trade along the Darling River.
Thomas, or “TA” as he was known, was married to Mary who passed away at a relatively early age in 1886, and to mark her passing he commissioned a monument be made from granite and with a large cross at the top.
What makes this monument quite special is that on the anniversary of her death, the cross, when viewed from the home they lived in, shines brightly from the reflection of the setting sun. And at other times of the year this extra-ordinary phenomenon can be viewed from varying positions around the town.
Apart from being quite an engineering achievement and not to mention it had to be made in Adelaide, well over a thousand kilometres away and transported by paddle-steamer on the Darling River back in the 1880’s, it has an ethereal feel to it.
Recently we camped alongside the river just a short walk over the bridge to Shindy’s Pub.
Just ahead of sunset Dave took us to the place where we could view the glowing cross do what it has done every other day for long over a century – it shone brightly, so bright that it was almost difficult to look at it.
To see is to believe, as they say, and we stood quietly during those few minutes before sunset, seduced by the hypnotic flicker of light radiating from the cross…
Sometimes you just need to “scratch” the surface a little in these out of the way places just like a prospector would searching for those little glints of gold. And the rewards can often be far greater than a finding a nugget at the bottom of the pan!
So be sure to drop by “The Shindy” if you are in the area and say hello to Dave and Cath.
And perhaps in the golden hue of a setting sun you can drink a toast to a remarkable man, Thomas “TA” Matthews as the love of his life casts her eternal glow over an ancient land…
Photos: Baz – The Landy
(updates a previous story)
One of the great things about Australia, apart from the laid back nature of the people, is the diverse landscapes in our sunburnt country.
The beauty of our never-ending beaches where one can walk for miles and feel the golden grains of sand between your toes, to the ochre red colours of the Outback…
In a couple of weeks we will be heading off on our first trip of the year and themed from The Ocean to the Outback.
Starting close-by to the World Renowned Fraser Island, the largest sand island in the world we will make our way inland to Trilby Station, a large sheep property situated on the mighty Darling River in Outback Australia…
Hey, it will be great to have you along, so I’ll give you a shout as we are heading down the driveway in “The Landy” – strewth, if we’re lucky Janet-Planet might cook up some of those great scones of hers over a camp fire!
Photos: Baz – The Landy
Mountaineering is all about going up, and down mountains, and isn’t that a reflection of life in general!
There are the highs, and the lows…
As many of you will know I have been on a mission to climb amongst the world’s highest mountain peaks and this year I had two trips planned in Nepal. But isn’t it funny how priorities in your life can change!
Recently I wrote about my sister, Deb (Merle) and the illness she is courageously facing.
Well, I’m pleased to say that her treatment is progressing in line with expectations, but there are good days and not so good days.
But her spirit is amazing!
A couple of weeks back I was sitting on the couch, pondering life in general, as I am inclined to do, and realised that I no longer felt the compelling urge or need to head to Nepal this year, but I wanted to go touring the great Australian Outback with my family…
And yes, I’ve never needed any encouragement to get Out and About – my love of Australia and the Outback is almost as great as the love I share for my family, for Merle…
I know many of you have been “rooting” (that is the US expression isn’t it – makes me chuckle though! ) for me to get up the mountain and I appreciate the support, and who knows, the desire may return, but I have things that have far important to me as a person right now…
I know you will understand.
Hey, that doesn’t mean I can’t go climbing in the Blue Mountains, so there is still some scope for “More Dope on a Rope”.
But strewth, I love the Outback, so I have reset my website back to my other passion!
Photo: Baz – The Landy
The Bread-Knife, it would be a great climb, but I understand it is not allowed these days…
Photo: Baz – The Landy