Category Archives: Out & About

Fire Training In Perth

As a lad, I wanted to be a ‘firey’, and last week I was given a crash course in fire training at the ERGT training facility south of Perth ( web site:  http://www.ergt.com.au/ ).

The trainers, Gav, Nathan, Arek, Nathan and Ben were brilliant, and the course was more hands on than theory, which was a far cry from any other previous fire training I’d done, and certainly gave the training a ‘we don’t f*ck around’ element.  Particularly on the last day when we had to use all the skills we’d learned in the previous two days to enter burning buildings to fight fires and rescue victims (funny how light those rescue dummies became when the adrenalin was pumping!) 

Most of the other trainees were oil rig workers, and it was fascinating listening to their stories about life on the rigs during our breaks.  But after three days I decided on two things: 

1.  I don’t want to work on oil rigs, and,

2.  I no longer want to be a ‘firey’ 🙂 

These two shots were taken by my new mate Sam. 

For some reason I had an urge to pour a jug of water down the front of my pants then walk about flapping my arms crying "Wah, Wah, Wah!"

 

My 'Boys Own' adventure becomes reality...

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Filed under Out & About

Big Game in Bororen

A few years ago, as I was loading the car for the annual family holiday, The Littlest Princess announced that instead of driving us insane with a 5 hour game of ‘Eye Spy’, she would instead, make a list of animals, and as she spotted them, she would tick them off.

Ok, we live in a fairly dull part of the world, so I figured that the list would be microscopically short, eg: cow, dead roo. 

As we piled into the car, I asked her what she had on the list, and she read out the following:  Cow, horse, bird, kangaroo, lion, giraffe, hippopotamaus (pronounced hipponopotamaus… still is today in fact, the name stuck 🙂  )  I thought, well if it keeps her entertained, and above all, QUIET, then I don’t mind.  But I did mention that she may be a little disappointed. 

Blow me down, just outside of Gympie, guess what she saw… yep.  A lion, a giraffe, a hipponopotamaus, and a variety of other animals in all their concrete glory.  The list was duly ticked off, before being rubbed in my face… it still is years later.   

Just what every neighbour wants to see poking over their hedgerow!

Anyway, recently a group of artists in the bustling metropolis of Bororen (pop. 46, and still growing), approx 70 k’s South of Gladstone, began erecting animal structures, and in doing so have created another tourist attraction.  Well, it certainly pulled us up on a recent trip away, and TLP and I raced from the car and had a bit of a look around, while Mrs Gb sat fidgeting in the car, waiting for us to return. 

The animals are unbelievably life like, and inside the shop some of the displays are mouth droppingly brilliant.  All of it is for sale, and as tempted as I am to bring home a life size rhino, Mrs Gb isn’t so keen… now, if it was a hipponopotamaus… 

The little girl is eerily life like. I swear I saw her move!

One of the above has a thick hide, small brain and is pretty horny...

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Mondays’ Column – Prang Pranks 19.07.10

Big Mate rang me immediately after coming off his motorbike the other day.  As he is the only paid up member of our gang, the Staggering Vulture’s Motorcycle Club, and I was the person who had talked him into buying a motorbike in the first place, I popped on my thongs and headed off. 

Big Mates' bike... not looking this good now 😦

We ‘Vultures’ have a long tradition of being in minor bike prangs.  For a long time we were on a first name basis with most of the emergency services personnel around the district, but lately we’ve eased up on our stunt riding.  We’re more mature now, and so are our bikes, which means spare parts are getting much harder to find.  

Big Mate was being bundled into an ambulance when I arrived, and I gave him a quick nod as I dashed past to where his bike lay forlornly on the road.  A couple of Firies helped me lift the old girl out of harms way, before I wandered back to see how the big fella was.  Among other injuries, he had several cracked ribs, so I immediately started telling jokes.  He grimaced as he tried not to laugh, and called me several unkind names, many of which the young lass attending him wrote down, possibly for future use during her next argument with hubby. 

I was merely doing my job.  You see, if a bloke is lying in agony in a pool of his own blood, can’t feel his left leg and is pretty certain he’s short several fingers, but sees his grinning mates standing about cracking lame jokes at his expense, eg: “Get some butter ‘cause he’s toast!”, then he knows that he’ll be just fine; probably.  But if he hears one of them say in a calm, carefully controlled voice, “You’ll be right mate,” he’ll realise that he’s a goner, and react accordingly, i.e.: very badly. 

You may be stunned to learn that they don’t teach this sort of stuff to medical professionals.     

Anyway, since Big Mates’ prang I’m taking extra care on my bike now, and I’d heartily recommend other motorcyclists around town do the same.  Not because accidents are painful, expensive, embarrassing, and generally bad for you, but because the last thing you want to see after your crash, is a couple of Staggering Vultures hovering over you cracking jokes, while the rest of them scavenge bits off your fallen bike.

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Filed under Columns, KLE 500, Writing

Agnes Waters / 1770 Dreaming

You know, I’ve been thinking lately…

On Saturday, the Littlest Princess and I drove down to Agnes / 1770.  Great day; beach, sun, fun, dolphins playing, laughing and yakking with the Littlest Princess, and me sneezing my head off… ok, the sneezing bit wasn’t too great, but the rest of the day was pretty good 🙂

I saw a wide range of folk on the sand. Backpackers, tourists, rich, poor, surfers, caravanners, day trippers, etc. All of them stripped to the bare minimum of clothing, and all having fun… even the bloke sneezing his brains out 😕

As humans, we need so little to have fun. To be able to share, talk, touch, walk, think, sing, and sit. I saw old beach shacks which you couldn’t give away when I was a kid, now you couldn’t afford them, (or the yearly rates $5000 plus!!!), and I remembered visiting folk who lived in them. 

They had kero fridges, an old radio propped up in the corner near an open window to get scratchy reception, wood stoves, a bed each, and a comfy chair to read in, or, have a long nanna or poppy sleep in each afternoon.

Mornings were spent doing chores, afternoons were for resting, then evenings were for long strolls along the beach, catching up with the neighbours, then playing some board or card games before bed. Papers were delivered weekly, if you were lucky, and time was measured by seasons, not 15 minute increments.

Food was grown, caught, or bartered. Water was delivered from your own water tank, and the lawn was mowed by a goat. Chooks provided eggs, and the odd roast. You fished, crabbed, prawned, swam, read, cycled, hiked, or explored in your spare time.

Money was something you had a little of just for emergencies, but didn’t rely on. Instead, you had neighbours, friends and family who helped you, and you happily helped them.

Many of them didn’t own a car, they relied on sharing a ride into Bundy or Gladstone. But most of them owned boats. Row boats. Didn’t need to go too far, so you rowed, and thought, or hummed a tune to help keep time.

Kids were involved with everything you did, working, playing, talking. Life was pretty simple. A lot of those old places are for sale, or boarded up now, awaiting demolition for the newer, improved, concrete, steel and glass dwellings that are being built. Few water tanks, no kero fridges.

How far have we come?

I think I’m starting to go all Zen here, but when I got home I walked inside, and thought, ‘Geez we’ve got too much stuff here!’ Which immediately put me in a bad mood 😯  I immediately calmed down, then thought, ‘Ok, you have to start somewhere, start with yourself.’

A garden starts with 1 plant. Diets start with 1 food choice. Fitness starts with 1 walk. Friendships start with 1 conversation. All these things start with 1 decision, the next one you make, then the one after that…. yeah, I’m definitely going all Zen now!

Man, I loooove visiting 1770 😆  It’s good for the soul.  And the best part of my day?  As we drove off the headland aiming for the road back to the highway, the Littlest Princess said, “I like it here Daddy, can we come back and stay a bit longer?”  

Another convert. 

If I hadn’t already had tears in my eyes from the non-stop sneezing…

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Filed under Life & Thoughts, Out & About

Emerald, Capalaba Trip

Last week I bumped into an old mate and he asked, “What are you up to?” 

My standard reply to that question is to look panicky and say, “Nothing!  Why? What have you heard?”

We had a laugh, then he said, “I’ve got a couple of jobs out Emerald way, want to come for a drive and stay overnight?” 

An hour later we were on the road.  But before we left town, we bumped into a couple of young ladies decorating a workmates car; in revenge for some drinks spilled down a dress during a workday race meeting!  

As we drove further west I was struck by how everything was so green!  The creeks were running!  There was water in the ponds, and they teemed with bird life!  In short, the scenery was absolutely magnificent, and all thanks to an unexpected, and exceedingly large amount of rain which has inundated the entire Qld coast this year.

September 07

2010 - a marked difference!

It was all anyone we met could talk about.  One old timer had been out there for over 60 years and never seen the place so lush.  He spoke of digging post holes, and still seeing water at 1.8 metres down!  He couldn’t keep the smile off his face.

The Fairbairn Dam the last time we visited in 2007, was a mud hole.  A sight so depressing that we took a few snaps then got the hell out of there.  Last week we stood above the spillway watching water flowing over the barrage, on its’ way to Rockhampton, and the sight was uplifting.  Neither of us could stop smiling!   

Fairbairn Dam 2010

We stayed at the Maraboon Tavern, enjoyed a great meal, talked crap (as mates do!), and turned in.  The next day we cruised home, and the radio chatter was all about the police radars, and how great the west looked.  The only complaint came from one truckie who grunted that he had 30 tonne of timber to move, but the ground is still far too soft to get to it.  A problem unimagined this time last year! 

The last thing of interest we saw was the twisted remains of several coal wagons.  How no one was killed or injured in the wreck is simply astonishing. 

We got home late in the afternoon, and I felt invogorated.  In fact, I can’t wait to get my bike going again, and take a longer look at the miracle in the West.

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Boating on Toolooa Creek & Boyne River

Kids can come in quite useful sometimes... "We'll be back soon honey.  Just don't let go of the boat!"

Kids can come in quite useful sometimes... "We'll be back soon honey. Just don't let go of the boat!"

One of the good things about living in a place where it doesn’t rain (or rain much…), is that pretty much whenever you want to go fishing you know that the weather will be good. 

The only thing that can be a bit of a worry is the wind.  And last weekend the wind had picked up a little, so we decided to go for a run up the Toolooa Bends section of the Boyne River.   The Littlest Princess, Dad and I went for a bit of a tour to some of the prettier places on the river, including The Lillies, a little camping area, a mere stones’ throw from Gladstone, but standing there on a sandy beach, surrounded by sea, trees, and blue skies, you wouldn’t know it.

Sammy Sea Eagle: "Mate, can I have that mate?  C'mon?  Mate?!"

Sammy Sea Eagle: "Mate, can I have that mate? C'mon? Mate?!"

The few fish we hooked were too small (in some cases, only just) to keep, so they were returned to the water to grow a little more.  We slid up a couple of small inlets to have a bit of a look, and at one spot were keenly watched by a very friendly sea eagle. 

As the sun started to drop, the wind picked up, and we copped a bit of spray in the boat.  The water is still to cold for swimming…  Before heading back to the boat ramp, I took a run up the river to where the new wall for my factories dam had been built.  It’s an impressive structure, and behind it is contained all the slurry run off from the plant.  The idea is to allow the slurry to settle, dry and harden, then it will be covered by trees, grasses and shrubs. 

We returned home, happy and serene.  And that I believe, is time well spent. 

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Filed under Here In Gladstone, Out & About

Pedalling with Little Dog

Every now and then I get a flash of inspiration.  And so it was, last Friday, as I was lacing up my shoes in readiness to pedal up town to the library.  Little Dog was watching me with keen interest, because those shoes represent ‘walks’, one of her favourite things.  When she saw me walk to the pushie, her furry face dropped in disappointment… seriously, it did! 

So, for some reason, I picked her up, plopped her in the old milk crate on the rear rack, and sailed off.  She thought it was brilliant!  I did a couple of laps up and down the street while my wife watched on, smiling and shaking her head.  “How’s she going?” I called.  “Alright,” came the reply.

Little Dog on cruise control

Little Dog on cruise control

So I lashed her lead to the crate, and set off for town.  100 metres down the road she jumped out, and hung there patiently while I steered to the corner and hauled her out of the chain and rear wheel by her lead.  A quick check revealed that she was ok, but her feet were covered in chain oil! 

It was the last time she jumped out though.  For the rest of the journey, up town and back again, she was content to watch the world slide by, shuffling from one side then to the other to check out the views. 

 

Copy of 100_1872 (Medium)

Back home I tipped her out and she made a point of strutting about in front of Dumbdog (honestly, I’m not making this up…)  Dumbdog isn’t so keen to get in the crate, and is too fat to do so anyway. 

I managed to clean most of the grease off her legs, noting the small cut on the inside of her leg possibly from the spokes, but she is keen to have another go, so now when she sees me lacing up my shoes her tail starts wagging wildly, now it’s either going to be a walk or a ride. 

Just what I need, another rod for my back!

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Filed under Mongoose Pubtruck, Out & About