Men’s sheds, Men’s toys

How's this for a shed.

How’s this for a shed.

Just posing!!!

Just posing!!!

Excuse the expression, but Paul’s as happy as a ‘pig in mud’. I think it has something to do with men’s toys and men’s sheds. There is one huge shed here with 4 roller doors, and behind each roller door there’s more than enough room for a full sized caravan. That’s just one of the sheds. Currently it has a big bale of hay for feeding the cows, a tractor and all it’s attachments, and Paul’s moved our van in there where he’s giving it a good cut and polish. The shed’s more than half empty…..

There’s also another huge shed with two big roller doors on it. This one houses all the quad bikes, motor bikes, ride on lawn mowers, normal lawn mowers and loads of other stuff that only a man could understand.

Men's toys, no wonder Paul's happy as a 'pig in mud'.

Men’s toys, no wonder Paul’s happy as a ‘pig in mud’.

There’s more out buildings too, but those are the two that are like candy to a man.

And what does a man do with a shed like this, he attaches the trailer to one of the quad bikes, Abbey sits behind him with her head resting on his shoulder, Riley sits in front of him on the seat. Then he drives from one shed to the other and loads the trailer up with hay, and drives out to the paddock to feed the cows. Result – happy cows, happy dogs, happy man!

Heading out to the cow paddock

Heading out to the cow paddock

Feeding the cows

Feeding the cows

Housesitting a hobby farm

We’re now house/farm sitting in Elland on 120 acres, and I can tell you, dreams are on fire – what an inspiring experience so far. There’s a property similar in size nearby, with a nice house and outbuildings on the market for just over $500,000, so by WA standards, very affordable. But that’ll have to wait for another life-time, we already have other plans for this life-time. The dreams are pleasant enough though, and our short month stint here so far feels like it’s going to be an unmissable experience.

King Parrots.

King Parrots.

There are 21 cows which we feed, three chooks and a stunning rooster than looks out for them, a kelpie cross and a foxy cross. Along with the domesticated animals, are dozens of wild birds, king parrots, lorrikeets, magpies, butcher birds, babblers, white cockatoos, pink and grey galahs, and honey eaters. There are four bird feeders for all the wild birds in a huge poinsianna near the patio.
Charlie the Rooster

Charlie the Rooster

There’s a big fire pit behind the old shearing sheds with seats around it for night time fires. We lit a fire there our first night here and watched a full moon rise over the trees, and watched the stars come out while we slurped back a couple of bottles of red. More than we usually drink, but the atmosphere seemed to demand it, and that’s the story we’re sticking too…. A story we’ll be sure to repeat several more times too, I’m sure.

The dogs sat next to us, and it just felt like a ‘me and my dog’, experience. It felt like the way life’s supposed to be.

Each morning a small amount of dog sausage is cut up and scattered along the grass for the dogs, chooks, magpies and butcher birds. They all forage together in relative harmony for their breakfast.

The menagerie breakfasting on the lawn.

The menagerie breakfasting on the lawn.

The dogs appear to want to stay near us for the morning, but in the afternoon they take themselves off around the farm for a ramble. Abbey, the kelpie seems to like to go for a daily swim in one of the many dams on the property and always comes back wet for her dinner. They’re probably the healthiest and most content dogs I’ve ever encountered. But then, why wouldn’t they be, living the ‘life to Riley’. Which incidentally is the name of the foxy cross – Riley, after the type of life they owners knew she’d be living.
Abbey and Riley

Abbey and Riley

Cheap beer, free food and Jon English

We’re a little blown away by the clubs and pubs on the east coast. It’s hard to believe we’re in the same country. Perth and the west coast are so, so different.

This afternoon we joined three others from our caravan park with whom we’ve been sharing happy hour. We phoned the local Grafton District Social Club and arranged their courtesy bus to come and pick us up at noon to take us to the club.

While there we drank $3.40 schooners of Carlton Draft (or beer of choice), and dined on free sandwiches with a choice of fillings. There was hot tender roast beef and gravy, sausages, fried eggs, and fried onions. We could have any, or all in between slices of fresh buttered bread. Not gourmet by any means, but it was all nicely cooked, plentiful, and absolutely free.

While there we had a bit of a flutter on a few races and watched the races on TV. No wins though. Then we went into the entertainment room and watched the football. There was only the five of us and one other woman there watching the football, along with tonights backing group for Jon English who were in there tuning their instruments and setting up for tonights entertainment. We’d only been in there about 15 minutes when Jon English arrived. After checking in with the band he came over to watch a bit of the footy with us and to check out how the game had progressed since he’d left his hotel. Now you wouldn’t get that in the West, you just wouldn’t.

When we were ready to leave we arranged the courtesy bus to bring us back to the caravan park. So, free transport, free food, cheap beer and a brief chat with Jon English. How good is that!!

Damn, though I wish we’d realised the concert was on tonight. We knew John English was coming there, but we’d thought it was last week when we weren’t here. We still could have got tickets at only $35 each, but being out at mid day we didn’t like our chances of lasting until nearly midnight (yes, we’re that old!!!!).

The Black Sorrows played at the club last week. Apparently well known acts are common place, and once you have purchased your ticket, it’s much like going to the movies. You sit wherever you like, and first in gets best choice of seats. It bought home to us how the isolation of the west coast contributes significantly to not being able to experience a small venue concert with a well known artist at an affordable price, and on a regular basis.

Back in Grafton

Our first house sit in Inverell is now completed, and I’m pleased to say with no breakages or any other disasters.

It was a pleasant 10 days, and it took us again to another part of the country we otherwise would have been unlikely to visit.

We discovered Copeton Dam, which is the dam that supplies Inverell’s water. We were told it holds 2 1/2 times the capacity of Sydney Harbour, which caused a chuckle from both Paul and I. It appears there are many, many bodies of water throughout Australia, and the benchmark to compare them all to is ‘Sydney Harbour’. Sydney Harbour always comes off second best, and is leading us to believe that Sydney Harbour is a very small body of water indeed! One day I may start up another category called, ‘water sources bigger than Sydney Harbour’. I can guarantee it wouldn’t take long for there to be more than a few posts…

But I digress – Copeton Dam covers a huge area and gives the locals from Inverell and surrounding areas a fabulous water body at which to camp and enjoy fishing, water skiing, canoing, boating, swimming and a multitude of other nature/water based activities. It’s a massive area with several different bays and camping areas, and one that will certainly tempt us if and when we’re back in this area.

Other surprises in Inverell – the size and facilities of the town. Compared to WA, which for anyone who is familiar with WA, apart from a small area in the south west, once you leave the coast line there are virtually no real towns apart from mining towns. And mining towns are sparsely located, and with limited facilities. I guess so much of the population in those areas work on a fly in, fly out basis, so they can pick up what they need when they’re in the fly out part of their working cycle.

The east coast is so, so populated, and each town is well serviced with most needs being catered for. We’ve concluded the amount of good sized inland towns and cities can probably be attributed to the amount of accessible water. It’s hard to travel more than 100 kms without crossing another river or seeing a large inland lake. With such an abundance of this natural resource, it’s not hard to see how so many towns have thrived.

We enjoyed Inverell, but we found ourselves a little lost in the large house, and were pleased to get back to the confines of our little van. We missed our little home on wheels.

Our next house sit is for nearly a month and is nearby. However, we’ll have our van with us at the next one. Not sure if we’ll be sleeping in the van, but if not, it’ll still be nice to have our belongings on hand with nothing having been forgotten or left behind.

For all the unknown people

Hi to all of the unknown people who have come across my blog by perusing the internet.

Whilst I understand you have the best of intentions by offering me advice on things like how you could help me correct my spelling or get more people looking at my blog, perhaps I’d best explain my reasons for blogging.

This blog hasn’t been set up as some of you seem to imagine, in order to get a large following of people. It’s been set up so as my family, friends and acquaintances can keep track of where we are and what we’re doing, and in the case of acquaintances, know a little more about us if desired. We didn’t want to bore the pants off them with constant emails, or by filling up their face book pages with all of our details.

You are welcome to read through it of course if you happen to come across it, and hopefully, if you’re looking at doing something similar yourself, or are thinking of visiting one of the places mentioned, this blog may give you another’s insite into what we found attractive or otherwise. Please realise though if you are offering me constructive criticism on how to make my blog more readable or reach a wider scope of people, you’re way off the mark in your idea of what this blog is about. I should imagine my friends and family can excuse me the occasional spelling error, and I doubt they’re interested in reading your blog as well as mine. If they are, they’ll no doubt come across it while doing a google search.

No offence meant of course, but I generally won’t respond to any comments that suggest ways to correct my spelling or offering links to your websites to increase my following. If however, you want some additional information or have questions on places we’ve been or our experiences, I’ll most often gladly respond.

First House sit – Inverell

Well here we are in Inverell doing our first house sit. We’re looking after two lovely Cocker Spaniels, Bella and Buster, a home, plants, a couple of budgies and two gold fish. I’m sure both Bella and Buster miss their owners, but I’m also sure being in their own home with all the things familiar to them is much preferable to being placed into kennels.

Bella and Buster have a good routine which they know
well. They seem to have a good idea of time, and remind us if we’ve forgotten their morning tea treat, or if it’s getting near their dinner time. They’re good company.

Inverell is on the western side of the Great Dividing Range. Before we came to the east coast, the Great Dividing Range was something we hadn’t thought about. It’s amazing! Very steep in places and the most beautiful rain forests, palms, trees and ferns near the highest parts.

Rather than tow our van across the range we left it in storage at the caravan park in Grafton ($1 a day to store). We packed the things we thought we’d need into our car including emptying our fridge. However, we have left some things behind that we wish we had here, one being our camera. All a learning curve.

A couple I meet a few years ago have been house sitting full time for many years now. They say they always try to leave a house better in some respect to how they found it. However, this house is spotless, so that’s not going to be so easy. Paul did take the light shades down and washed them, but that’s something that would hardly be noticed. I’ve trimmed the dead growth off a couple of ferns and am trying to encourage some new growth on all the pot plants and also the lawn. However, as we’re only here for ten days, I doubt we’ll make a noticeable impression. Just hope we don’t make a negative impression by leaving any thing noticeably unclean. That would be easy to do in such an immaculately clean place.

Grafton meets The Waltons

Apologies for sounding like a broken record, but Grafton amazes me yet again. Being here feels like being in a chapter of The Waltons. Perhaps preserving old buildings and trees helps preserve some of the values that were around at the times those buildings were erected, and the trees planted. Food for thought.

Our neighbours are in a motor home, so they take the bus into town when they can, rather than packing up their motor home. Yesterday, they went into town to see the midday showing of, The 100 Foot Journey (Helen Mirren movie), which we saw the day before – great feel good movie.

After watching the movie in the lovely old world type movie theatre, they waited for their bus. Ten minutes after the time they thought it should be there, they checked with a bus driver on another route. They had read the holiday time table by mistake, and in fact it was almost another hour till a bus was due.

Whilst still in front of the bus driver they discussed getting a taxi. The bus driver wouldn’t hear of it, telling them to get on and he’d take them home. He went a round trip of over three kilometres off his route and took them to the entrance of the caravan park. They had stood ready to exit the bus on the road opposite, he wouldn’t hear of that either, and insisted on doing a U turn so as they could alight right at the entrance.

Where does that happen! And in what era?