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: ).

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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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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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

Lake Awoonga – A ‘dam’ fine place!

Awoonga Dam is situated about 30 k’s outside of Gladstone and supplies our regions freshwater needs.  The dam wall is approx 40 metres high and holds back approx 7 to 800 000 megalitres of cool, clear water. 

Arial view of Awoonga Dam

Arial view of Awoonga Dam

The dam is regularly stocked with hundreds of thousands of fish, mostly barramundi, as well as mullet and mangrove jack (apparently!).  It’s a big drawcard for hundreds of anglers keen to hook a massive barra, but for most locals, it’s a nice place to visit on the weekend for a picnic, BBQ, or just a scenic drive.  I’ve paddled around on it a bit from time to time, in canoes, or on a surfmat, and on one occasion a windsurfer… never let speak of that time again. 

I’ve always wanted to explore the farther reaches and opposite shores of the dam, but for some reason have always put it off.  Until today.  Today my father and I took the tinnie for a run across the fresh water and had a bit of a look round. 

Well, the bird life is phenomonal, the scenery surrounding the dam, stunning.  What also surprised me was how rough it got in the middle of the dam when the wind picked up… I really wasn’t expecting to be slapping through white topped waves this morning! 

Dad and Dory

Dad and Dory

On the second attempt, and after a tussle with a large clump of hidden weeds, we found the water course that feeds into the dam (the Boyne River / Creek), and motored up it for a way.  Ours was the only boat this far up, and we passed several herds of cows who watched us slide by without much interest.  At the new Boynedale camping / picnic area we turned round.

On the way back we passed a large gum tree at the waters edge with a Tarzan rope dangling off it, and hanging at the end of the rope was the body a small pig that had been left to dangle upside down  over the water.  I didn’t have knife to cut it down, there really are some morons around. 

100_1865 (Small)Back in the main part of the dam we saw a large numbers of boats scattered around the fringe of the dam, but my main concern was the lowering guage in my fuel tank.  The wind had picked up and we were scooted over the small waves at a good clip, returning to the boat ramp without any dramas.  Some of the boats were amazing.  One we saw had about 5 inches of clearance out of the water and was powered by a 150 h.p outboard.  Move!  This thing was like a bolt of lightning over the water.  I’d love to have a go on one! 

Anyway, we made it back to the ramp without a hitch and I backed the trailer down.  I mention this, because the ramp to the water is a very long drive when you are doing it in reverse 🙂  We’ll be back again as Summer returns, next time I’ll bring the girls and we’ll have a picnic on the water, and maybe a little swim.  Can’t wait!

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Filed under Here In Gladstone, Out & About

Tired of Tyres

One of the things that I’ve grown used to over in the last couple of years of pedalling is fixing flat tyres. 

For some reason, the people of my town seem to like depositing screws, nails, or staples on the sides of our roads and byways and my ‘gift’ is finding them, then puncturing my inner tube with them 🙂

My puncture repairing skills went into overdrive after purchasing a set of mountain bike road tires, of the Maxxis brand.  Great tyres, increased speed, good grip, and pretty snazzy coloured lettering on the sides (no, I didn’t buy them because of the lettering… but it did help!) I was rapt with them.

A sight I've grown 'tyred' of seeing, another Flat Maxtor :)

A sight I've grown 'tyred' of seeing, another Flat Maxxis 🙂

The only problem with them was keeping the damned things inflated.  At least once a week, I’d walk out to my bike to find a tyre had gone flat, usually the rear tyre.  

I’d sigh, then fix it.  After several weeks of gluing patches onto my tubes, I lashed out and bought two thorn proof tyres.  They worked quite well.  I was only getting punctures every 2nd week now… 

Then one sunny morning I turned to my wife and said, “Today’s the day!  I’m pedalling to Tannum Sands!”  Tannum being our local beach some 20 odd klm’s down the road.

I gave Pubtruck a quick once over, tossed my puncture repair box, some snacks and a towel into the case on the back and set off.  11 klm’s later the inevitable puncture occurred.  I pulled over near a small bridge, and popped the tyre off.  Yep, a large piece of wire was sticking out of the tube.  No worries, I had my trusty repair kit. 

I popped open the kit, and noted that I had 3 patches left, plenty to get me to the beach, then back home again.  Popping the tyre off, I had the tube out in no time, and was somewhat dismayed to discover that the wire had created 4 holes on it’s short journey through my inner tube. 

Okaaay… I managed to stretch a big patch over two of the holes, and used the remaining two patches to cover the rest.  I put it all back together, had a drink, ate a small pack of sultanas, before having a little stroll around the tidal creek I had pulled up in front of.  Twenty minutes later, certain that the glue had thoroughly dried, I whipped out my little hand pump, and started to inflate the tyre.  It went up.  It stayed up.  I got on, rode another 10 or so metres down the road and got another puncture.  This time it was a small rusty screw.   

I was toast.   

Further along the road I spied a road crew.  Minutes later my wife was winging her way to my rescue as I sat staring at my bike.  It was a nice day, the weather was perfect, the birds were singing in the trees, and I felt like kicking Pubtruck to pieces.  I decided against this course of action.  I would take it apart, put it in the car, then take it home and set to work on it with some of the more serious tools in my shed. 

I didn’t of course.  In the end I persisted with the tyres, but as well as carrying a fully stocked (jammed packed with patches) puncture kit, I also carried two spare tubes with me wherever I went.  The number of times those tubes came in handy over the last couple of years are beyond number.  One tube was retired a few months ago because it was literally covered in patches, and almost double its’ original thickness. 

But this morning, I strolled out to the shed, and found the rear tyre flat again.  This time I didn’t repair it.  I took both tyres off, inserted the two spare thorn proof tubes, and replaced the tyres with my old knobbies.  I have officially given up. 

'Pubtruck' sporting knobbies... and a super-handy, but terrible looking milk crate.

'Pubtruck' sporting knobbies... and a super-handy, but terrible looking milk crate.

The knobbies mean my top end speed will be approximately 5 kph slower, but they should provide me with the reliability that I now crave.  And as an added bonus, on the odd occasion when I’m pedalling on wet surfaces, they won’t spray a constant line of muck directly onto my face.  In addition to this, I’m now dirt track capable again.  I’m back baby! 

Tomorrow is another cycling day and I can hardly wait to hit the trails out the back of our home.  With a bit of luck the ol’ tyres will still be up when I stroll out to the shed…

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Filed under Mongoose Pubtruck, Out & About

Home to Gladstone

Time to go home. This morning I wake early, and go for my last walk through the village.  I am the only person alive this morning.  I see a small group of guinea pigs nibbling the grass on a nearby lawn.  There is no cage, or any need for one.  The village does not allow cats or dogs within its’ borders, so these little animals, and other like them, are free to roam.  It’s another reason I like this place. 

At the creek I sit down on a rock and ‘just be’.  It is so relaxing and peaceful listening to the burbling water that I nearly fall asleeep, but I am startled out of my meditation by a middle aged bloke who is swimming upstream.  He sees me and smiles, I wave to him and he nods his head and swims off.  Nice.  Both of us are enjoying our own company too much to ruin it with meaningless conversation. 

The sun rises higher in the sky, and I stroll back to The Hermits’ place.  He’s up and about, feeding his chooks, and watering his garden.  It is such a peaceful way to start the day that I am immediately envious.  Would he like to swap with me?  Nope.  Bastard 🙂 

After a quick breakfast I shake hands with my mate, and drive off in silence.  The sound of the bush birds are loud in the cool silent air.  The country road that leads to Crystal Waters is empty, and the scenery magnificent.  The smell of the rainforest fills my car, all the windows are down and I feel so alive and relaxed that I am suddenly gripped by a sudden urge to turn around and ‘drop out’ for a couple of years back at the village. 

Harper Creek near Conondale

Harper Creek near Conondale

I fight down these feelings, and  with a small sigh, follow the road to the intersection at Conondale, and turn west.  If I have to go home, then I’ll take the long way, through the ranges and rainforest clad hills and valleys, following the languid Mary River all the way into Gympie where I’ll re-join the Bruce Highway. 

The drive is good.  There are plenty of protest signs about the proposed Traveston Dam.  It is a pity that the State Govt. wants to drown one of the prettiest areas in the South East, just to supply water to a grossly overcrowded city 200 klms away.  There’s a lot of pissed off people round here if the tone of the billboards is anything to go by. 

By mid-morning I’m back on the highway, surrounded by trucks, police cars, and Wicked Campervans.  The windows are back up, and the stereo is pumping.  Today it’s the Blues Brothers turn… Sweet Home Chicago! 

Just after lunch I arrive home.  The dog is so pleased to see me that he removes all the skin from my legs between my knees and ankles, and is squirting urine in his excitement.  I give him a couple of friendly kicks, unload the car, sling all my dirty clothes into the washing machine, check my emails, then wash and vacuum the car. 

At 3pm, I’m showered, shaved, and standing next to the front door to greet my children as they arrive home from school.  The oldest girls are pleased to see me (but pretend otherwise!), and the little one gives me a great big bear hug, the greatest gift of all 🙂   

I’m home again, and with a couple of weeks holidays left I’ve got some serious work to do.

The house needs some maintenance, and I’ve put on weight.  I feel ‘blah’, because I’ve been drinking too much.  Time to change. 

Later that night, I log onto the Craig Harper website, and note that a person called Narnie (from Sunny Mackay) has started a forum called, Want to Break a Habit.  I’m intrigued, and decide to sign up and commit myself online for the first time ever in a public forum.  

I’m inspired.  I want to get fit.  I want to stop buggering around. I want to be the best I can be…  but most of all, for some strange reason, I want to go for another drive! 

Wonder what's round the next bend...?

Wonder what's round the next bend...?

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