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Goondiwindi

We’ve been in Goondiwindi for 2 weeks now.

Chris has been putting in as many hours as possible, working on the program for the Tuscon Arizona company, before we head out to the cotton farm.
We haven’t ventured anywhere except out to the farm to have a look and just around town. There isn’t much to do here for tourist’s. This is a stop over for visitors from south heading north and visa versa. A half way mark so to speak.

That doesn’t mean it isn’t busy. Stand on the side of the highway for just 5 minutes and count how many trucks pass by. There’s a constant stream.

There’s a conversion of 4 highways at Goondiwindi. The Leichardt Hwy, Cunningham Hwy, Barwon Hwy and the Newell Hwy. All heading to different parts of Australia.

The trucks never stop coming. Add to that two huge grain stores in the town and you can imagine how busy it is during harvest season. The locals in the van park here where we’re staying say that in what they call the silly season, (May-September), the place is booked out every day with travellers heading north and workers here for the cotton harvest.

There’s a bloke in a caravan behind us who pilots a crop spraying aircraft. He lives here in his van while working. His wife is back home in Armidale. He was telling us how everything is sprayed today, every gram of food we eat has been heavily saturated with fertilizers to make crops grow, poisons to slow paddock growth (so they can coordinate paddock harvest) and a myriad of herbacides and pesticides. He said if you took seed from wheat and tried to grow it at home it just wouldn’t grow anymore. All the chemicals are needed for it to even germinate.

Sad thought.

I remember growing Uncle Charlie’s wheat outside our old cubby house at home one year and had a bumper crop. Not any more. What a world we’ve turned this into!

Goondiwindi as everyone knows, is famous for “Gunsynd” the grey racehorse purchased in 1969 for $1,300 by four gentleman from Goondiwindi.

Gunsynd raced from 1969 to 1973 when he was retired with 29 wins from 54 starts 7 seconds and 8 thirds, but his affect was more than just that as this peice written about him states:

“He had been receiving fan mail for some time but at Caulfield they announced each runner in the Cup as the horses stepped onto the track. This fascinated Gunsynd. He was the second horse onto the track for the race and the huge applause rang out as he was introduced at that moment Gunsynd stopped and pricked his ears as he looked up into the grandstands.
It is said that witnesses believed they saw the grey horse acknowledge the applause by bowing his head before being urged to move forward by jockey Roy Higgins. This was fine until they announced the next horse and the applause rang out again. Gunsynd again stopped and nodded his head but refused to move on. The crowd loved his antics and just cheered even more.
The following Saturday Gunsynd went to the Cox Plate for his 6th race in 6 weeks. Again he was fascinated with the public adulation. He strode out from under the tunnel towards the track and then stopped to look up at the stands, but they remained quiet. Finally he was announced to the crowd who went mad for the favourite and it was only then that Gunsynd moved out onto the track.
At Goondiwindi despite never setting foot in the town until 1973 Gunsynd had his own window at the TAB whenever he raced, a life size statue was built as a memorial and the town became a household name.”

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Gunsynd memorial beside the "Macintyre River"

Gunsynd memorial beside the “Macintyre River”

 

Gunsynd was put down April 29th 1983 suffering inoperable nasal polyps which had been making breathing difficult. He was 16 yrs old. He won races from 1000m to 2500m retiring with record total earnings of $280,455.

Goondiwindi is built on the banks of the Macintyre River which is the boarder between NSW and Queensland. The boarder between Queensland and NSW follows the Dumaresq and Macintyre Rivers from the top of the range between Stanthorpe and Tenterfield in the east to Mungindi in the west.

I'm in QLD but walk over the bridge you would be in NSW

I’m in QLD but walk over the bridge you would be in NSW

Here the river, now called the Barwon, leaves the boarder and flows south-west just above Bourke, the Barwon becomes the Darling River which eventually joins the Murray and flows out to sea south-east of Adelaide.

In all, the Macintyre-Barwon-Darling-Murray is 3,370 kilometres in length, making it the longest continuous river system in Australia. So no wonder that when Queensland gets it’s flood rains the rest of the country further south knows about it.

The Macintyre River

The Macintyre River

It’s been a very pleasant stay here in Goondiwindi. We’ve met some lovely people, got some work done and even taken a trip home. We’ve also been to Ballina and Stanthorpe during this last couple of weeks but we’re looking forward to the new chapter in our lives which starts tomorrow morning as we pack up the Aussie Wide and head for the Koramba Cotton Farm.

What awaits us there?

This chapter involves doing physical work again for the first time in a while so we’re thinking it’ll be a bit of a shock to the system at first. However we’re both really excited about it.

The new direction revealed

After turning our future and all our plans over to God we slept that sleep of pure peace that seems to come when you “know that you know” beyond doubt that you’re in good hands and He’ll never leave you nor forsake you. Some people will no doubt be puzzled by this habit of trusting in a Being you can’t see and who most of the world doesn’t even believe exists. We understand that – but we’ve always lived this way and we are more sure of God’s existance and His guidance that we are of any other thing in this world.

The previous day I’d happened upon a website that I’ve never seen before called Grey Nomad Employment and I spotted a job for a cook on a Cotton farm feeding 30 cotton pickers, (mostly backpackers), for 6 weeks. I had emailed an enquiry about the job.

Awaking early Saturday morning I had received two emails; one from Tucson Arizona which confirmed that the desire for the new program was still there. This was a huge email for us as it confirmed that whatever we did we needed to continue to work on the programs.

The second email was from the company advertising the job for a cook.

The pay was fantastic for such an easy job and it was on a farm an hour away from Goondiwindi starting early March, which would put us just 5 hours away from Brisbane at just the right time for the birth of Ash and Felicia’s baby.

I phoned immediately, even though it was Saturday, and got such a positive response that we decided to head for Goondiwindi forthwith! We were told they had no objection to Kerrie sharing the work and that we could park the Aussie Wide on the farm free of charge.

This was a fantastic answer for us.

It means I can still complete the program while doing a job I know so well and not only will we be earning some great money we’ll be spending nothing at all, not even for food.

Kerrie will get the chance to chat with people again, something she’s not been able to do as much as she likes with me absorbed in concentration with the program for long hours.

We had already entertained the possibility of working our way around and we’ve had many conversations with people who live permanently on the road and work as they travel. There’s no shortage of work out there.

Just as we were packing up another van rolled up with a couple about the same age as us and they told us how they had lived on the road full time for the last 6 years and how they worked all over the country from kitchens to cattle stations. They are never without work that pays well. We‘d heard this before of course but these people were so similar to us and our situations were so much alike it was uncanny.

The conversion of the computer programs and the contract at La Trobe University are the only reasons we’ve not worked while travelling as yet.

We decided to hook up and leave for Goondiwindi immediately.

We finally got under way and pointed the Nissan North and headed towards Balaklava and from there North East towards Broken Hill. We spent yet another day in awe of the scenery we were passing as it changed constantly and turned into the now familiar grain fields we were used to.

Saturday night found us at a peaceful rest area beside the Highway at a little place called Mount Bryan.

Mount Bryan was one of those towns where we wonder what people do there and how much longer the once prosperous town will exist for.

The backdrop of the town was the huge array of windmills on the hills to the north of the town.

Many thousands of these huge windmills line the hills for miles

Many thousands of these huge windmills line the hills for miles

It's hard to appreciate the size of these mindmills till you're up close to one

It’s hard to appreciate the size of these mindmills till you’re up close to one

Small towns came and went as the Nissan purred along past beautiful grain fields and many ruins of farm houses that had long since hosted the laughter and tears of families. We’d like to know why there are so many of them.

There are a great many of these ruins of farm houses in the Mt Bryan area. Why? What caused their abandonment?

There are a great many of these ruins of farm houses in the Mt Bryan area. Why? What caused their abandonment?

Ruins are everywhere

Sunday morning found us seemingly alone inside a vast land of grain and rolling hills. Another enormous wind farm with the gigantic blades of the windmills slowly turning provided the only other movement save for the odd cow or sheep.

We rolled on as again and again the country offered up its variety of changing landscapes.

The closer we got to Broken Hill the sparser the country became and the road straightened into a seemingly endless ribbon stretching forever into the future, our future.

Ribbon of highway to the future?

Ribbon of highway to the future?

Vast plains spread to the horizon in every direction

Vast plains spread to the horizon in every direction

We finally made Broken Hill in the late afternoon, the home of the greatest and largest Australian Company and one of the largest in the world; Broken Hill Proprietary or BHP.

This is Silver town, founded on lead and silver.

We made our way to the Racecourse where we were the only other living souls for the night having power, water, beautifully clean toilets and green grass. What a great night. Kerrie got all the washing done and we were able to watch TV with unlimited water, microwave, jug, toaster, air conditioning – everything.

Broken Hill really is a town on a broken hill

Broken Hill really is a town on a broken hill

Broken Hill - Mines are in the centre, the town is built round them

Broken Hill – Mines are in the centre, the town is built round them

Broken Hill is a bustling, modern city mixed with heritage and history

Broken Hill is a bustling, modern city mixed with heritage and history

At the Broken Hill Racecourse in the shade and overlooking the racecourse - we had it all to ourselves!

At the Broken Hill Racecourse in the shade and overlooking the racecourse – we had it all to ourselves!

Early Monday morning we spoke to the company we were hoping to work for and again we got a cherry and positive response. The lady managing the Goondiwindi operation was efficient, encouraging and extremely easy to talk to.

Off we drove again and after a good look around Broken Hill we headed toward Cobar.

The same vast plains and dead straight highway stretched endlessly before but as we drew nearer Cobar the scenery became intermingled with rugged rocky hills that have sprung into the landscape from one of the cataclysmic ancient upheavals that formed this land. The dead straight highway once again accompanied us as the miles rolled by.

The seemingly endless highway again

The seemingly endless highway again

We made Cobar lateish in the evening and settled down for the night in a truck stop on the outskirts of town in the company of a few trucks and other travellers

Monday night was spent in Cobar

Monday night was spent in Cobar

We had a look around Cobar Tuesday morning before fuelling up for the final drive to Goondiwindi.

The scenery changed yet again this time reflecting the recent rain in the area by the appearance of much more greenery than we had seen for a while.

There was a proliferation of feral goats feeding on the green grass that was now growing along the roadsides. There were many thousands of them stretching for maybe 300 kilometres.

Masses of feral goats along the roadside

Masses of feral goats along the roadside

We pulled in to Goondiwindi in the late evening and headed for a Caravan Park. A Caravan Park! They’ve become few and far between for us. We just don’t need ‘em much anymore. It’s still nice to have the facilities and the power and water though and Kerrie loves to catch up on all the washing such as sheets, doona covers etc.

We were unable to see Michelle from the new company on Wednesday since she was out of town so we had a great opportunity to catch up and relax after traversing 3 states in 3 days and moving over 1740 kilometres.

Thursday saw us in the company office in Goondiwindi where we were immediately made welcome and were promptly offered the job.

The job doesn’t start till early March and Kerrie had just received some bad news from an old friend whose mum had passed away. This meant that we now had time to go to the funeral at the Sunshine Coast as we were only 5 hours away.

Michelle from the company kindly offered to let us keep the Aussie Wide on her 5 acre property for 3 days while we made the trip, all further displaying God’s wonderful promise of “All things work together for good for those that love the Lord and are called to His purpose”.

There’s a good possibilty that when we return to Goondiwindi there will be more work up until the job starts but even if not we are very contented and thankful for the outcomes of the last few days.

So here we are, once again on the Sunshine Coast at David and Lacey’s place. We never thought we’d see it or them again so soon but it was really wonderful.

We’ll use the few days after the funeral to catch up with our precious family before embarking on the next exciting stage of our constantly changing lives.