The “Old Girl” resurfaces

What a wonderful surprise it was to read this comment on one of the blog posts.

12 months since deciding to live “on the road”

It’s been 12 months since we made our “Big Decision” to stay on the road and to upgrade the caravan from the Old Girl to the Aussie Wide.

We can honestly say we’ve never once regretted that decision.

We do however often think about the happiness and contentment of our life in the “Old Home”.

The Old Girl

The Old Girl

There’s a multitude of precious memories that feature the old 71 Viscount, many of which we’ve tried to share on this blog, but most are day to day ones that are locked inside of us for our own fond recalling.

The “Old Girl” has new owners

When we made our decision to upgrade to the Aussie Wide we gave the Old Girl to a lovely young couple in Melbourne who have used it regularly since.

Wayne and Karen have now acquired her.

They were researching 1971 Viscount Caravans on the internet when (imagine their surprise) a photo of the Old Girl popped up leading them to this blog!

The twists and turns of life, aint they marvellous?

Wayne and Karen comment on the blog.

Wayne and Karen subsequently made a comment on one of our blog posts letting us know how they found the blog and how excited they are to have acquired the Old Girl.

The comment made us very happy to know that once again this amazing caravan has found its way into the lives of people who will receive untold enjoyment from her.

I can imagine the joy that this story would have bought to Perc and Gwen, Kerrie’s parents.

Encouragement to keep the blog going.

The comment was also quite timely as I was contemplating stopping the blog.

It sometimes seems a bit of a waste of time to put so much work into something that is of interest to such a very few people.

The thing is though, even if the readership is small it consists of people we love and care a lot about.

We also get enjoyment out of rummaging back through old posts and the flood of memories that result.

Its’ been two years on the road

Wayne & Karen’s blog was also timely as it coincides with the end of our second year living on the road.

When we first “shoved off” we intended that this adventure would have an 18 month lifespan.

So, at the end of two years is it time to rethink?

Is it time to get back into “normal” life?

Do we want to do get a house in the city somewhere and “settle down”? What does that even mean?

Honestly? We couldn’t imagine doing that at this stage.

We adore life in the Aussie Wide, the freedom of living simply and the excitement of moving to different locations.

We love the release from the pile of material bits and pieces that we once thought were so valuable, but that at the end of our lives would be dumped or sold for pennies.

No, we’re not stopping anytime soon!

A year since we swapped homes

It seems a long time ago that we had the Old Home and the New Home parked side by side at a van park in Melbourne while we transferred our stuff.

The Old Home and the New Home in Melbourne

The Old Home and the New Home in Melbourne

I’ll never forget the strange feeling of going back into the Old Girl after she was cleaned out ready for her new owners.

It was like saying goodbye to an old living, human friend while at the same time knowing that ultimately it was just a collection of bolts and nuts, timber and sheet metal. She had kept us safe and comfortable across thousands of kilometres and I couldn’t stop myself feeling a sense of sadness.

This feeling was tempered by the excitement of the New Home.

I’ll also never forget the pleasure of our first night in the Aussie Wide and I can honestly say that the same pleasure is repeated every night when I go to bed. I know that Kerrie feels exactly the same.

Our hope for the next segment

We hope we’ll one day spot Wayne & Karen and the Old Girl on the road somewhere. It’ll be a wonderful thing!

In the meantime we’re happy to be at Koramba Cotton Farm until the run down to the Ayr Peninsular in February which we’re really looking forward to.

I need to be in Brisbane on the 5th of December for some surgery on some rather big skin cancers. I’ve just had a “burn off” of about 20 of them on the last Brisbane visit.

I’ve promised Kerrie that I won’t be so slack on applying the Black Salve to them in the future. She’s forbidden me from getting sick, having an accident or dying until the programmes are finished.

The last word goes to a wonderful woman

I never stop being thankful for the amazing woman God has teamed me up with!

As I work in my air conditioned office I’m looking out over the garden. There she is – crouching down in the hot sun, fly net over her face, weeding and digging.

She’s already cleaned the kitchen, tidied the Aussie Wide, written up the time sheets and meal sheets and probably fifty other things that I don’t even know about.

She’s a total giver; always fussing about making sure I have everything I need as well as trying to ensure the farm hands are happy.

The lads have now got a new saying – “Far Out”.

Philip, who is a master at voice impersonation, has taken to mimicking Kerrie’s often expressed phrase of “Far Out” and this is spreading to be a common place substitute for the more profound expression starting with “F”.

I am fully aware that the healthy level of high morale in the camp is due almost entirely to her; it’s nothing I’ve done. Sure, I cook a reasonable meal, but it’s her that interacts with the people and manages the camp.

Her attention to detail fascinates me as does her desire to mother the farm hands, young and old alike.

Her concern for me and my health goes far beyond what could be expected from a relationship but this is the hallmark of this woman; beyond expectation.

I love her more each day!

First Hand Experience Harvesting Wheat

The harvesting of the 6000 or so acres of wheat planted at Koramba Cotton Farm is almost over.

The Header in action

The Header in action

It’s taken 2 weeks and some of the hands have been working 20 hour days, especially Shannon (The Mechanic) and Dave (The Supervisor).

They’ve been driving the trucks from the paddocks as they’re filled by the Header back down to the wheat silos down behind the camp.

A couple of days ago we had to catch up with Dave to sort out some business on the camp.

We found him on the Corinda property way out on the western boundary. This was where the last few acres of wheat harvesting was underway and we got to experience it first-hand.

Dave organised for Kerrie to jump up in the cab of the header and see how the whole thing worked.

We’re told that the wheat harvested this year is of exceptionally high quality and as such should bring an excellent price.

A Beautiful Machine

The header was quiet, cool and comfortable as it chomped its way through the acres of wheat, cutting the plants off at just above ground level and funnelling it all into a central opening from where the wheat seed would be separated from the chaff.

Klaus, the operator is a Dane who is a helicopter and light plane pilot. His Danish licences don’t allow him to fly out here and it’ll cost him many thousands of dollars to change them so in the meantime he operates headers.

A flashing light on the roof of the Header lets the chaser bins or the trucks know it’s almost full. This is a sign for the Chaser Bins or the trucks to meet up with the Header so it can discharge the separated wheat from its bin.

Today the farms old Kenworth is being used instead of chaser bins.

Pigs and Roos have eaten swathes of wheat

As the header munched its way through the acres of wheat Kerrie could see the large areas that have been eaten right down to the ground by kangaroos and feral pigs.

Until we saw these large bare areas we had no idea of the scale of destruction these animals can cause and the cost in lost production.

The wheat sucks all moisture from the ground

Huge cracks have formed in the black soil paddocks that have given the harvest of wheat.

These cracks are caused by the wheat sucking every drop of moisture from the soil during its brief lifespan.

Dave told us that the farms moisture probes, which can descend 1 metre into the ground, will show absolutely no moisture left in the soil at all.

The Old Kenworth

The truck that’s used to carry the wheat from the paddocks to the grain silos is the farm’s old Kenworth.

Although old and unregistered this is the favourite truck of the drivers at Koramba.

She’s a faithful old workhorse that has really been through the mill.

It’s had the cab replaced due to a farm worker setting fire to it once and almost completely destroying it. It’s also been tipped over into one of the giant water reservoirs from where it had to be dragged out before almost disappearing forever, and it’s had numerous changes made to chassis and trailers.

This truck drags thousands of bales of cotton 24 hours a day from the paddocks at harvest time stopping only to refuel, transports numerous bits of machinery around the farm, transports wheat and fertiliser and never seems to break down.

Within a few hours of finishing dragging wheat it was transporting a huge excavator and other machinery to the workshop.

Within hours of completeing the wheat harvest the trusty old Kenworth is hauling machinery

Within hours of completing the wheat harvest the trusty old Kenworth is hauling machinery

The Buggy – another interesting machine

Shannon, the Mechanic, has acquired another machine which was built by his younger brother.

It’s a 4WD buggy for pig shooting and it can often be seen travelling at high speed down the farm roads with the trusty old black dog, Bing, sitting in the passenger seat on its way to shoot pigs.

Shannon stopped outside the kitchen the other day and loaded Kerrie and Lauren in to take them for a drive. They both ended up having a drive themselves and, although at a much slower pace than if Shannon were driving, they had a ball.

Of course trusty old Bing the pig dog ran nonstop behind them for fear he might miss the opportunity to hunt pig. Junior, the “Bing lookalike” puppy followed as well, afraid he might miss something.

 Machinery everywhere

The farm workshop currently has machinery for repair everywhere and it just seems to keep on arriving.

The big International tractor which tows the farm’s Laser Bucket awaits repair as it has numerous problems after Toby tried to shave 8 inches of virgin soil off a piece of land. Normally 4 inches would be more than enough. Among the multiple problems this caused was the shearing off of 8 x 1 inch bolts from a steel housing, displaying the tremendous forces at play during this operation.

Around the yard at the moment and awaiting repair are two International tractors, two John Deere tractors, a John Deere front end loader, the Excavator, our ride on mower, four Land cruiser utes and a few pumps and various bits of farm machinery.

The workshop yard is littered with machinery awaiting repair

The workshop yard is littered with machinery awaiting repair

The Laser Leveller has been torn apart by the rough land

The Laser Leveller has been torn apart by the rough land

Pumping begins soon

On the 15th of December the five huge diesel pumps down by the river will be fired up.

They’ll pump the farm’s water allocation from the McIntyre River into the reservoirs.

Pumping will go on 24 hours per day for 20 days during which massive volumes of water will fill the reservoirs ready for the next 12 months cotton growing and irrigation cycle.

Shannon won’t be able to leave the farm as it’s critical that these pumps don’t stop.

The new cook arrives

Gary, the cook we gave a trial to last week was offered the Cook/Manager’s job permanently and has accepted it.

He went home to the Gold Coast on Friday and returned to officially start work today, Wednesday.

I’m very confident he’ll work out great and he seems very enthusiastic about the job. His wife, Helen, is coming out next week to see where he works.

Lauren is still doing well

Lauren is still doing really well at the camp. She’s done a great job of painting the newly renovated rooms and has fitted in extremely well.

She even learned how to use slices of bread to get the horses back to Dave’s place when they escape and come over to the camp to eat the rare green grass.

Junior, the puppy still dotes on her and she obviously loves him as well.

She went out shooting with some of the backpackers the other night with George, the Pommie backpacker’s newly purchased bow and arrows. George, in his wisdom, told them they needed to roll around in the dirt to get the smell off them.

Well, Lauren, (newly dyed hair, painted nails and all), proceeds to make “snow angles” only in the dirt, much to George’s consternation, who insisted she “get serious about it all”.

I think possibly the pigs had a bit of a laugh at the site of this group of 5 young backpackers from the UK on a sortie to hunt in a Ford Falcon sedan with bow and arrows and rolling in the dirt to mask their scent.

Lauren learns how to lead the miniture ponies with a slice of bread

Lauren learns how to lead the miniture ponies with a slice of bread

An awful stench

Junior the puppy made his way into the caravan annex a couple of days ago for a sleep accompanied by the most putrid smell imaginable.

I made the mistake of patting him and the smell lingered on me for hours. No matter what I did I couldn’t completely remove it.

The next day we discovered the cause.

A snake had bitten one of Dave’s horses a few days earlier and Dave had to shoot the poor thing.

The job of burying it was given to young Nick from the workshop.

As the rotting corpse expanded Junior discovered this treasure trove and we found him proudly trotting around the camp with one of the horse’s legs, hoof and all!

It took two days after its removal for the stench to dissipate and a number of baths with the fire hose to get the smell out of Junior.

Junior - Very proud of his lovely new stench of dead horse and keen to sow it off to everyone

Junior – Very proud of his lovely new stench of dead horse and keen to show it off to everyone

A Full Camp

The camp is jamb packed full!

Today two couples arrive. They’re friends of Lawrie and Ingrid, who were the young Estonian couple that were here last time we were at Koramba.

Another couple, Paul and Jennifer, who left the farm a few weeks ago, are returning.

Also one of our very favourite workers is returning, Michael Duggan.

So by this week we’ll have four couples living on camp, 5 counting us, and a full camp of single men.

Back To Brisbane

We’re so excited about tomorrow!

We’ll clean the camp by 9:00am and will once again drive to Brisbane to catch up with as many friends and family as we can.