The Great Ocean Road:

We spent another night at the service centre so we could be back into Aussie Wide for the second stage of the repairs. We made a change to the water tanks so now we can fill one tank with pure drinking water and fill the other with creek water and not have the two mixed. It means we can virtually have a shower anywhere we are without using our drinking water.

It took longer than the boys at Ausssie Wide anticipated so we needed another day. This time we parked away from the trucks and the night was a lot quieter.

We had spent the time visiting the THINC project office as we are still owed some money from them. As usual the Uni owes them so the circle goes around. We caught the tram in from Coburg as we knew this traveled past the office. While we were in Coburg we stopped at our favourite bakery and picked up the fresh bread we got fat on while working here. It was still $1.80 and was just as nice as we remembered it. Luckily we are moving on again as we haven’t had bread for a couple of months now.

Along with the few jobs we had asked for they also redid the seals on the windows and gave us a new toilet as the float in the old one broke.

The Aussie Wide team were as good as ever and nothing was a bother to them.

We were good to go and finally departed Melbourne at 12 noon. It actually was a good feeling knowing everything was back to ship shape even though none of the small breaks particullarly annoyed us.

We passed Geelong heading towards Torquay to the start of the Great Ocean Road. We’d visited Bells Beach last time we were in Melbourne but this was all new territory now. It was cold and raining in Melbourne when we left but as we reached the Great Ocean Road the weather cleared for us to be able to witness the scenery  in all it’s glory.

Over looking the ocean at "Split Point Light House" Aireys Inlet. This light house was used in "Mad Max" and "Round the Twist"

Over looking the ocean at “Split Point Light House” Aireys Inlet. This light house was used in “Mad Max” and “Round the Twist”

Through the Memorial Arch which tells who and why this road was built. Winding around the coast line with plenty of places to pull over and enjoy the view and a coffee.

This is the third Arch due to the road being widened and the "Ash Wednesday" fires.

This is the third Arch due to the road being widened and the “Ash Wednesday” fires.

 

If you want to read why it was built click on the photo once, when it opens click on to it again.

If you want to read why it was built click on the photo once, when it opens click on to it again.

 

"Coffee breaks" with million $$ views.

“Coffee breaks” with million $$ views.

The towns along the route are very touristie and built up as you can see here driving through Lorne.

Driving through Lorne.

Driving through Lorne.

You can understand why this road takes you longer than going inland as you are constantly stopping to take photo’s and admire the view.

After looking forward to a "beach hit" this was a great way to have our fill.

After looking forward to a “beach hit” this was a great way to have our fill.

We stopped at a free camp spot at Johanna (incorrectly named) after a ship wreak the “Joanna” in 1843. This was a lovely spot with “drop toilets” and water right beside the ocean.

The camping ground is extensive and you don't feel closed in. We will have to come back one day to try the fishing.

The camping ground is extensive and you don’t feel closed in. We will have to come back one day to try the fishing.

We walked out to the viewing platforms over looking the beach and had this wonderful shot of the sun setting through the clouds that were now rolling back in. It was so soothing to go to sleep listening to the waves pounding on the shore.

It would have been a 5km cove with only the people from the park on it.

It would have been a 5km cove with only the people from the park on it.

 

Johanna Beach in the morning.

Johanna Beach in the morning.

 

Melbourne Once Again

After a wonderful night talking and laughing till midnight with Andrew and Gail (Kerrie’s Cousin) we woke on Sunday Morning and made the van ready for the trip to Melbourne.

It was a unique and interesting couple of weeks in Horsham and this clean and friendly town is another place we’ve found on our travels that we could easily live in.

We spent a full on nine days developing a management application for David, our friend with the huge grain farms. It manages every grain movement from his paddocks to his 60 silos and then to his customers which in turn links up to a cashbook for sales and invoicing.

It tracks the hourly grain price and tells him the value of every truckload out as well as the value of what he has stored. It analyses the quality of his grain, keeps track of every event that happens in each paddock such as harvesting, cropping or spraying and the cost of each and every event.
It keeps track of the makeup of soil on every paddock and all products such as fertilises or herbicides.
It also tracks paddocks and everything in them such as drainage channels and dams with GPS coordinates.
All his machinery maintenance and depreciation and every time each piece of machinery is used and by who and for how long is tracked.

It compares his paddock yields and costs so he can see which part of the property is most productive and why and it manages multiple properties.

It does a heck of a lot more as well.

We were very pleased with the end product though if he decides to use it we’d like to spend a season with him to get it fine tuned. Not sure at this stage if that will happen.

Gail and Andrew were wonderful company and we spent many hours with them on drives to Mt Arapiles and Halls Gap and on their lovely property or sitting by the river outside the caravan.

We’ll miss their company.

We headed off late morning down the Western Highway through the Goldmining town of Stawell to Ararat.

I couldn’t resist taking a tour through the infamous J Ward that was built as a prison in 1859 but from the mid 1880’s until 1991 was used as an asylum to house the criminally insane and consequently held the most depraved and violent criminals in Victoria.

The Bluestone exterior gives a hint of what lies within

The Bluestone exterior gives a hint of what lies within

This is a remarkable tour and is a must when in the area.

J Ward is a place that causes a great range of emotions. Revulsion at the sheer depravity of some of the long list of past inhabitants, sadness that so many people lived their life inside constant mental horror, amazement at the escapes, the conditions and the difficulty of managing and constraining the most violent and evil of human beings.

The journey through this awful but interesting place gives a glimpse into a world that is secreted away from “normal” society. It’s as if the reality of the existence of evil and depravity is removed as far as possible from us, hidden from a society that loves its accepted daily social routines; work, play, pretty houses, pleasant yards, shops, outings and lots of nice things to play with.

Sometimes we can’t see the other rhythms that make up a society just below the surface of our neat, tidy and ordered world. We don’t see nor want to see the results of man’s sin nature that is an inherent part of each of us played out in the extreme.

When we are protected from society’s extremes we find it much easier and more pleasant to live our ordered existences.

Walking through J Ward changes all that and makes one confront the existence of good and evil in an “In your face” kind of way. Its real, it happened. It’s still happening.

J Ward may be closed but depravity and evil did not stop with its closure. Other more modern institutions have simply taken over its role.

Can many of us imagine the horror of being straight jacketed, unable to move while undergoing extreme shock treatment without anaesthetics?

Shock treatment

Shock treatment

Can we conceive of a life lived in a tiny cell devoid of decoration and with a minimum of natural light from a barred window?

Straight Jacket with pants legs sewn together to prevent kicking. Leather mittens to the left

Straight Jacket with pants legs sewn together to prevent kicking. Leather mittens to the left

Could we understand the locked leather mittens enclosing our hands to prevent us from gouging our own or someone else’s eyes out?

What would it be like to walk out of our tiny cell each day to catch sight of the beam in the roof where the hanging of condemned prisoners once occurred?

Tiny cell with shutters that can be locked over the windows

Tiny cell with shutters that can be locked over the windows

"Normal" cell with suicide blanket to prevent ripping into strips to commit suicide

“Normal” cell with suicide blanket to prevent ripping into strips to commit suicide

Lower floor corridor of cells

Lower floor corridor of cells

Each cell has these lockable shutters

Each cell has these lockable shutters

The old and new dead body removal trolleys

The old and new dead body removal trolleys

The top floor cell block where executions took place when J Ward was a gaol

The top floor cell block where executions took place when J Ward was a gaol

How many of us have sat to dine at wooden tables and chairs bolted to the floor to prevent them from being upturned or thrown across the room or eaten with only a spoon to stop us having access to the lethal weapons of a dinner knife and fork?

The daily existence of living inside this hell hole of stone and bars amid the constant screams of violence and terror surely must have prevented the transformation from mental depravity to mental health.

Disturbing are the stories of inmates that once lived perfectly normal lives until an accident or other situation occurred that plunged them into this world of darkness.

How normal are we really?

Who among us can be so certain that our orderly lives will always remain pleasant and pretty?

One of the Guard's Towers

One of the Guard’s Towers

From the guard's tower

From the guard’s tower

Part of the excercise yard

Part of the excercise yard

Old Bill Locked in here for 63 years and died here in 1989 - Killed a fellow in Melbourne for not putting out a cigarette

Old Bill Locked in here for 63 years and died here in 1989 – Killed a fellow in Melbourne for not putting out a cigarette

J Ward also has it’s success stories and none is more moving than this heart wrenching story of Tom Varney.

Tom Varney, writer of the book "From Gutter To Glory" - A rare J Ward success story.

Tom Varney, writer of the book “From Gutter To Glory” – A rare J Ward success story

I was reflective and locked in my thoughts as we left Ararat and pointed the Nissan toward Melbourne again.

We caught site of Melbourne again about 5:00pm and headed out to a roadhouse in Campbellfield where the Aussie Wide factory is. Tomorrow we’ll get the van to the factory by 8:00am to attend to the few warranty jobs that we’ll get attended to.

We spent a comfortable but cold night at the roadhouse with the comings and goings of the trucks hardly bothering us. Melbourne turned on its famous weather change as we transformed from the 40 degree heat at Horsham and Ararat to 9 degrees and rain in Melbourne.

Australia Day 2012

The Horsham Rural City Council put on the annual Australia Day Ceremony in the Soundshell-Sawyer Park. Our neighbours, Noel and Betty from Horsham, who have rented out their house while they travel in their 5 wheeler invited us to attend the free breakfast at the park.

Australia Day 2012. Proud to be an Aussie

Australia Day 2012. Proud to be an Aussie

It was just an easy walk along the river, discussing the damage and the advantages that came with the flood of last year.

A pleasant walk along the river to the park.

A pleasant walk along the river to the park.

The temperature was still cool as we stood in line for our Bacon and egg on toast, orange juice and a tub of fruit, add a nice flat white and we were set to sit and watch the program of events on the stage. The presentation of Australian Day Awards and the Australian Citizenship Ceremony.

It was good to see so many people.

It was good to see so many people.

 

Chris with Noel and Betty.

Chris with Noel and Betty.

It was nice to see so many people attending, as plenty of volunteers had put together a beaut morning.  Unlike the Sunshine Coast, Brisbane and the Gold Coast at this moment the day is cloudless and will probably hit the high end of the 30’s. They have such a wide change in temperature here 13-37c. It’s not until about 3pm that it gets so hot the air conditioner goes on, then it peaks between 3-6pm, then drops off to a cool evening with you needing a blanket on. Actually it’s quiet pleasant as we seem to get a breeze most of the time from the river.

I’m sorry our blog is only short pieces, with Chris back working 12 hour days on program development, I’m the one writing the blog. As David commented last night when he rang “About time he got back to work”.

Chris working hard.

Chris working hard.

 

Watching the races:

You are never too old to see something new. We can find interesting and a lot of the time, educational life experiences everywhere. Well this might not be up there with educational but it was one thing we had never seen in real life, “Greyhound Racing”

We are staying in the showgrounds and the “dogs” race here every Tuesday.

With the race track just behind the van we didn't have to go far.

With the race track just behind the van we didn’t have to go far.

So why are we still here you ask? A phone call to Aussie Wide had us extending our visit to Horsham for a few more days. They only opened this week after the Christmas break and are shut Thursday and Friday due to Australia Day. So we won’t be going into Melbourne until Monday morning.

Now I have done my share of attending horse racing which I find exciting. I loved going to Caloundra races, taking the kids and even once took Mum and Nola. Mum was 72 and it was her first time seeing a horse race live. We were never statistics people and usually  “Guessed the winner” Mum and Nola’s way was to choose the jockey with the prettiest colours. As you can guess we weren’t gamblers.

Walking around the enclosure before the race. At this stage everybody is still a winner.

Walking around the enclosure before the race. At this stage everybody is still a winner.

So just like the horses the dogs would come out just before the race and walk around in the closure. Now I didn’t find this as exciting as the horses. The horses are spirited, brushed to a glimmering shine and then the jockey’s come out to find their mounts. They are in their silks of many colours and you still have the expectation of everybody is a winner. Last minute techniques are being passed on to the jockey’s before they lead the horses on to the course. The grounds are usually green and well fertilised with roses or some other flowers in abundance. I find the whole picture mesmerising.  With the announcement “They’re racing” the thrill of hearing the thundering hoofs on the ground coming closer, of people cheering and hearing the race caller tell the unfolding story of how each horse and rider are going I find electrifying. How they can remember each horse’s name or even keep track of where they are amazes  me.

So the dogs in the closure weren’t as exciting. I did wonder if they got last minute tips from the owners or just the tip “You better win or you’re Thai food.” I’m not even sure they were the owners as the group that took them out wore green coats for “GO” maybe? And the ones who caught them wore red for “STOP”?

Notice the "green" coats for go.

Notice the “green” coats for go.

The dogs were lead out on to the course, once they were past the catching area the gate was shut behind them. They took off with the usual “They’re racing” but there was no thundering hoofs, just silence, as these dog’s, bred for speed, chased this orange fluffy toy tied on to the mechanical arm. I did notice that the speed of the “rabbit” depended on the speed of the dogs. It would slow down a bit if they lag behind, but usually the race was over before you had time to blink. The commenter had called the race in less than 30 sec.

"And they're racing"

“And they’re racing”

 

Ever wondered what the dogs are thinking?

Ever wondered what the dogs are thinking?

Then the dogs ran into the closed gate as another gate shut behind them. You could almost hear them saying “Where did it go, where did it go?” as the Red coats went out to catch them.

The "red coats" catching the dogs after the race.

The “red coats” catching the dogs after the race.

There wasn’t the crowds and I didn’t notice anybody dressed up for the occasion. I don’t think any anybody would go and spend 100’s of $$$ on a hat to wear to a race meet. But like everything in life, you are never to old to learn or do something new. So this was my new…Greyhound racing in Horsham.

Halls Gap

Halls Gap in the Grampians, is the Wimmera version of Montville.

It’s greener and several degrees cooler than Horsham due to the trees and the higher altitude. It has a couple of caravan parks and holiday homes, as well as the usual tourist shops. The best part is that it’s only an hours drive from Horsham.

It is also the start of the Wimmera – Mallee pipeline system that supplies about 9,000 rural properties and 36 towns with fresh water. The piped system replaced the open earthen channels where over 100,000 megalitres of water was lost to evaporation each year. This dam, the Bellfield Dam, looked a very different place 2 years ago because up until the floods last year, you could walk along  it’s floor bed and see the remains of the town that was flooded with the construction of the dam wall.

Lake Bellfield is the start of the pipeline system for the Wimmera Mallee Area.

Lake Bellfield is the start of the pipeline system for the Wimmera Mallee Area.

It seems so strange to hear how much rain they had here, enough to filled all the dams, rivers and lakes of the entire surrounding area. The areas wettest month on record was January 2011 with 152.2mm for THE MONTH. Horsham was flooded transforming the lakes and rivers from bone dry to over flowing.  Maleny, in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland received 108mm in one night last week and they don’t think anything of it.

The Boroka Lookout gave an amazing view of Halls Gap with the dam standing over the town. It makes you hope the engineers knew exactly what they where doing and that the dam wall is strong enough.

Lake Bellfield Dam with the rest of Halls Gap beneath it.

Lake Bellfield Dam with the rest of Halls Gap beneath it.

The people of this country are a tough lot. And we often wonder at the strength of the modern farmers as well as what their parents and grandparents had to endure.

The whole area has extremes of hot, dry weather. The dry wheat fields with thier golden stubble, the dead fire wood along river beds and ground cover (against the law to remove thanks to greenies) are hallmarks of the area. The hot winds are normal for this time of year prompting the council in Horsham to think of shutting off the electricity supply in the hottest parts of the day in, particularly on extreme heat days, to stop electrical fires caused by the power lines sagging in the heat.

We enjoyed lunch in town at Halls Gap and had a quick look around the gift shops and then it was off to Lake Lonsdale. With the rain the water sports are back in full force. Water skiing and fishing are now available on once dry lake beds and everyone is making the most of it.

Lake Lonsdale draws skiers, as well as fishermen. This area was very popular at Christmas and New Year.

Lake Lonsdale draws skiers, as well as fishermen. This area was very popular at Christmas and New Year.

We hope one day to repay Gayle and Andrew for their hospitality in showing us areas that we might have missed. We wouldn’t have learned about the finer details of some of the spots we have visited if it wasn’t for them. It was wonderful to spend the weekend enjoying their company.

 

On tour with the relatives:

This afternoon we met at Andrew’s & Gayle and with Aunty Lorna went for a drive through Nutimuk to Mount Arapiles. Mount Arapiles is renown as one of the world’s best climbing area’s with about 90,000 people visiting the mountain each year.  It has more than 2,500 climbs varying in degrees of difficulty, including those among the world’s hardest.

There is a drive up to the top with the last 50m requiring walking up steep steps but the view is worth it. Apart from the Grampians in the distance the surrounding landscape is flat.

The 50m climb up is worth it.

The 50m climb up is worth it.

 

Wheat farms with their GPS computerised machinery give the amazing uniform harvesting straight lines.

Wheat farms with their GPS computerised machinery give the amazing uniform harvesting straight lines.

Most of the wetlands on the plains are naturally salty and as you can see the Mitre Lake is no exception.

The salt plains of Mitre Lake easily stands out.

The salt plains of Mitre Lake easily stands out.

We moved on to an easier lookout that even Aunty Lorna was able to explore.

Gayle, Aunty Lorna, Andrew and Chris

Gayle, Aunty Lorna, Andrew and Chris

Afternoon tea was at the bottom of the mountain in the camping ground. This we thought was busy, but they can have around 3000 people camping here at busy times and Andrew said you can hardly see the mountain for climbers.

Out of the sun the breeze is wonderful with Aunty Lorna telling stories of visit's with Mum & Dad.

Out of the sun the breeze is wonderful with Aunty Lorna telling stories of visit’s with Mum & Dad.

We took a walk looking for climbers but with the heat of the day we didn’t think there would be many up there. Even with the help of binoculars or the naked eye, you really just have to stare at the mountain and hope for some movement. It wasn’t until I got home and downloaded the photos that I realised we had captured a girl on the rock. I had taken a photo of a plane’s jet stream against the rock face and just happened to capture this as well.

Luckily Chris saw the jet stream and said that would make a nice photo.

Luckily Chris saw the jet stream and said that would make a nice photo.

 

A tiny dot on the photo.

A tiny dot on the photo.

You might have to click on the photo once, then when it opens, click onto it again to enlarge it, so you can see her properly.

After a BBQ dinner at Gayle’s we then planned another outing to the Grampians for tomorrow.

Work, work, work

For the last 2 days we have been catching up with work. Chris is also developing a program to show David (the farmer) because with all the technology on the farm, David still keeps his book work on paper and blackboards.

The blackboard of information.

The blackboard of information.

He even said he doesn’t know what he would do if someone rubbed off the blackboard. This was of course, a red rag to a bull with Chris. David has 3 nephews who are associated with the farm after a tragic shooting accident took his brother (also his business partner). He has everything in his head  and he knows he needs to get everything he has learned into a format that can be passed along to the next generation.

Horsham is a wonderful city set in the Wimmera district. It has all the shops you need (visited most of them) with about 18,000 people. It’s easy to get around and being flat, is a great place to cycle or walk. We had Gayle and Andrew over for dinner last night so they could check out the van. Andrew said that the Wimmera river that we are camped beside has only been full since the flood. It had gotten so dry that they had walked along the river bed to the weir. This old road had been uncovered during the drought.

Old river crossing.

Old river crossing.

They then had their 1 in 200 year flood that has brought new life to the once barren river banks. So again we are seeing the area at it’s best, without the floods, mice and locust plagues of last year.

We are seeing the river it at it's best.

We are seeing the river it at it’s best.

 

Wow what a day!

We packed up the van this morning still using the water and power with last minute clothes washing, vacuuming and cleaning the shower before we headed off to David’s farm to have the van weighed.

Unhooking the van at David's weigh bridge.

Unhooking the van at David’s weigh bridge.

 

A lot of farms have their own weigh bridges to maximise their haulage without going over the legal limits.

A lot of farms have their own weigh bridges to maximise their haulage without going over the legal limits.

We weighed both the van and the caravan separately as well as together and YAH!!!! UNDER WEIGHT! I can keep the foot massager that Chris had spied when I went to get something else hidden under the dining seats.

I can hide things all over the van in little nocks and crannies, but I was concerned I had over done it. But all is good. Phewww…

He drove us around his property so we could get a better understanding of what they do.

He drove us around his property so we could get a better understanding of what they do.

David then gave us the most amazing tour of his property. He explained everything in detail for the layman. We never felt like idiots and he explained it until we understood what he was showing us.

This machine was "adjusted" by David and Andrew. "Gason" the company even came up and took hundreds of photos for them to improve the machine.How would you feel about cutting up a new $375,000 piece of equipment?

This machine was “adjusted” by David and Andrew. “Gason” the company even came up and took hundreds of photos for them to improve the machine. How would you feel about cutting up a new $375,000 piece of equipment?

Farmers have to be the biggest gamblers on earth. The precision of planting to maximise growth, why they leave the stubble in, why are some trees left in the middle of fields, what he does to improve his soil, how they build run offs to put the excess rain water/swamp into his dams, hy he has so many silo’s and all the different grades of cereal. We even heard how during the locust plague they had to clean their canola.

Every piece of equipment has a story.

Every piece of equipment has a story.

 

60 silo's for storage.

60 silo’s for storage.

 

Even a quick look at some of his sheep.

Even a quick look at some of his sheep.

WOW, our heads were spinning. David spent 4 hours of his time for us to learn something that you would never get out of a book. We are so grateful for the time he took out of his busy schedule.

Over a late lunch we decided to head back to Horsham again. We were still waiting on Chris’s licence that Lacey had sent on, as well as Aussie Wide who are still on holidays until next Monday. If Aussie Wide can’t fit us in for a few weeks it’s silly to go to Melbourne and pay large fees for van parks. I had heard about camping in the showground but it’s not in the Camp 6 book, so we gave the council a call and they were very helpful and informed us that there was a number on the fence to ring. On arriving there are two sections one near the agriculture area that has electricity and you cart your own water, but if you drive around further to the Greyhound section there is electricity, taps and sullage right on the very same river, 500 metres down from the caravan park we were, in at $10pn with toilets and hot shower, compared to $30pn at the van park. So this is where we are for the next 5 night’s, after that it’s anybody guess.

Quite and walking distance to shops.

Quite and walking distance to shops.

 

Please note the bike out. So yes it has been used.

Please note the bike out. So yes it has been used.

 

Catching up

We are staying in the council caravan park on the river in Horsham, something we do very rarely.

This time last year we'd be under water.

This time last year we’d be under water.

The last caravan park we stayed at was Charleville back in Oct.  The benefits of having water on tap and electricity is being able to wash EVERYTHING and have the air conditioner on, at 38 deg and 45 knot winds is was a welcome relief. The washing was drying instantly in this weather and so when the house work was done it was off to visit Aunty Lorna, Dad’s sister.

Lorna Cowan Dad's younger sister.

Lorna Cowan Dad’s younger sister.

Aunty Lorna moved from Rainbow about 8 months after Uncle Charlie’s death 5 years ago. With most of her children and grandchildren here it was easier for everyone. She misses her garden and her tank water. Her skin isn’t the same washing in “this garbage water with all the chemicals” and she misses a descent cup of tea made from rain water. At 92 she is in amazing health. She is getting around with the help of a walker… just to steady her. I think it’s more likely been given to her  to slow her down!

She was up out of her lounge chair to greet us, doesn’t want one of those seats that helps you out like Dad had, as she believes it makes you lazy. “Use it or lose it!” Again she jumps up to show us the photos of her family on the wall. Aunty Lorna’s mind is still as sharp as ever and she had no problems answering my questions regarding Mum and Dad.

Andrew and Gayle

Andrew and Gayle.

We had been invited out to Gayle, my cousin, and Andrews place for dinner that night. I had been looking forward to seeing their place as Mum, Dad and Nola had often commented on how lovely it was and of Andrew’s shed that held every man’s dream of tools and toys.

Gayle and Andrew's home.

Gayle and Andrew’s home.

 

The side view. Agapanthus are out everywhere down here and make a wonderful colour scheme.

The side view. Agapanthus are out everywhere down here and make a wonderful colour scheme.

Andrew took us on a tour of the property, 17 acres. Two years ago bush fires had raced through the area and as Andrew and Gayle where away at the time only Byron, their son, saved not only their house and sheds but went on to save the neighbours property. Andrew never has trees close to the house so Byron just flooded the sprinkler system around the house and then went to neighbours houses, to literally pull out trees that were close to their homes by wrapping a chain around the trunks and then pulling them out with the ute. His mates arrived to help and informed Andrew that Byron just didn’t stop. He would go under trees that were on fire to wrap the chain around. They said the ute’s front wheels were lifting a metre off the ground, but apart from their closest neighbour’s place most homes were saved. Andrew and Gayle lost fences and their row of pine trees.

Fire damaged pine trees.

Fire damaged pine trees.

Bryon is now very conscious of fire safety and when the full fire ban comes into force (which is now) the water pump is mechanical checked and the trolley is left in the yard for easy access.

The water pump in the back yard.

The water pump in the back yard.

Andrew never stops and after work he comes home to his passion of building, repairing and making machinery work better. He has metal cutting and bending machines, welders and a whole lot more. He has an engineer’s mind and is constantly trying to improve machinery. He has successfully  designed work that companies have thought impossible.

A metal cutter

A metal cutter

 

Metal bender is probably not the correct term but you get what I mean.

Metal bender is probably not the correct term but you get what I mean.

Gayle had brought Aunty Lorna to join us for dinner, so it was a lively time catching up. Andrew told a story of Dad taking him to Ern’s place for the usual Wednesday night billiards. But he said “What happened at billiards, stayed at billiards” Yes…we can imagine. While Gayle took Aunty Lorna back to the nursing home Andrew showed us around their home. We were still on the tour when Gayle arrived back half and hour later. Time gets away when you are chatting. Then at 9pm a friend of theirs arrived. I love the familiarity… “Saw the lights on”, he said as he switched on the jug. David McGennisken of ‘Manooka’ at Wonwondah, south of Horsham is a grain and cereal farmer. David was a school friend of Andrew’s.

Between these two men, both “out of the box” thinkers, Chris had a ball. He was fascinated by how they ran their businesses. David was asking about our van and it’s weight and when we told him we had not had it weight yet he offered his own weight bridge at the farm. He uses the weigh bridge to maximise his haulage. He will transport many “Double D’s” a day of grain in harvest time, if you go light it’s a waste and will cut into your profit’s, if you go over, the transport dept will fine you. You walk a fine line.

I finally dragged Chris away at 11pm after a wonderful day.

Going back in time.

We left our very quiet spot by Lake Albacutya and headed into Yaapeet.

I would have been treading water last time I was here.

I would have been treading water last time I was here.

Yaapeet was were Dad’s sister Lorna and her husband Charlie lived on their family wheat and sheep farm. Its 20km out of Rainbow and is where we would go on holidays after Dad’s mum (Nanna or Carrie Wood) had passed away. The last time I visited Rainbow was for Gayle (Aunty Lorna’s youngest daughter) and Andrew’s wedding in Feb 1981. By this time Uncle Charlie and Aunty Lorna were living in Rainbow and their eldest son Stuart and his wife Joyleen had taken over the farm.

Unfortunately Stuart and Joyleen had sold the farm awhile back and the home is now looking the worse for wear.

The front lawn use to be manicured. But nature takes back what you don't look after.

The front lawn use to be manicured. But nature takes back what you don’t look after.

The side view.

The side view.

It was once an immaculatly maintained home with soft grass out the front and gardens out the back. There are many family photos from as far back as when my brother and sister (Morris and Nola) were children with Nanna and Mum on this lawn that now, sadly, is returning back to the Mallee scrub land it would have been before the farm was carved out of the bush.

We found out later that many farmers are now buying or leasing existing  farm land to increase crop sizes. Appareantly its necessary to become larger to remain profitable in a very tough market where grain prices don’t make a sufficient return on the input costs of chemicals, fuel, machinery and time unless larger quantities are grown.

As the old farmers decide to retire and sell, or their farms become too much work for the return, other existing farmers take over who don’t need or want the old homesteads. They are surplus to requirements.  It’s the paddocks that are important. This was apparent as we past house after house left abandoned to the unforgiving scrub but with the surrounding paddocks still growing grain.

After a quick look around Yaapeet we headed back to Rainbow. With Mum’s map in hand we saw where Uncle Perc lived.

Great Uncle Perc's place.

Great Uncle Perc’s place.

This was Dad’s uncle who took over the partnership of Rainbow Motors when Dad’s father Tom died – “a victim of the influenza epidemic raging through the country at that time”.

You will have to enlarge the photo’s to read about Great Uncle Perc. To do this, click on the photo and then, when it comes up again click on to the photo once more.

Thanks to the Rainbow Historical Society for these. We happened to be able to talk to the local historians.

Dad's father's brother and his wife.

Dad’s father’s brother and his wife.

 

Second part of the story.

Second part of the story.

Dad did his apprenticeship at this garage which has long since ceased to be the busy motor workshop it was back then. It is now a private residence.

Rainbow motors. Not sure what year.

Rainbow motors. Not sure what year.

 

The garage still stands but is a residence now.

The garage still stands but is a residence now.

Nanna’s original house at 25 Cust St has been altered radically over the years but still has relatives living in it. (Nina’s Clugston’s family Nola).

It has changed a lot over the years. But the fruit trees are amazing. Wonder if they were the original trees?

It has changed a lot over the years. But the fruit trees are amazing. Wonder if they were the original trees?

The house that Mum and Dad owned, which Nanna later purchased after they decided to move back to Brisbane, is now badly in need of repair. My earliest childhood memory is of Nanna and I walking down the road and feeding the horse that was in the paddock next to the Uniting church beside the house. Mum told me that I would have been about 2yrs old as Nanna died in 1966.

Mum use to tell us how hard they worked to get this house into shape.

Mum use to tell us how hard they worked to get this house into shape.

 

Mum & Dad's house, then the Uniting church and then the paddock that held the horse.

Mum & Dad’s house, then the Uniting church and then the paddock that held the horse.

The shops in town once closed at lunch time and everybody would eat their lunch in the center park. That, like a lot of wonderful old traditions, doesn’t happen any longer of course.

Strauss's was the shop that had everything. Well now it's just the IGA store. The park area in the middle of the street was a great place to have lunch.

Strauss’s was the shop that had everything. Well now it’s just the IGA store. The park area in the middle of the street was a great place to have lunch.

 

Me outside the post office.

Me outside the post office.

They have 1 butcher, 1 bakery, and now even have a doctor. They haven't had one of those for a while.

They have 1 butcher, 1 bakery, and now even have a doctor. They haven’t had one of those for a while.

We visited  “Yurunga Homestead” at the end of Cust St. You can read about this impressive home here. Scroll down the page on the web site to find out about this homestead.

A facinating story behind this homestead in the middle of Rainbow.

A facinating story behind this homestead in the middle of Rainbow.

We then visited with Marie Clugston, a cousin. She is a true treasure and we caught up on all that’s happening around Rainbow.

Marie had a stroke 2 years ago but is in great health now. She really is annoyed they took her driving licence away and made her give up her chooks. Not really sure who “made her”, don’t know if it was the authorities or her children? We did have a look at her veggie garden which, even in the 36 degree heat and hot wind, was still thriving and healthy.

A cuppa tea, homemade shortbread bicuits and a good chin wag with a wonderful woman.

A cuppa tea, homemade shortbread bicuits and a good chin wag with a wonderful woman.

After saying goodbye to Rainbow, (maybe for the last time?) we headed towards Horsham where we’ll stay for 2 nights while we visit my Aunty Lorna before heading off to Melbourne.