Time Out

September 8, 2017
A couple of weekends ago Kim and I took the opportunity to slip away to the East coast of Tassie.  We have wanted to see Wineglass Bay for a while now, and it seemed like a good opportunity since Lydia had some time off and could help look after things at home.  We stayed (another winter 2 nights for the price of 1 deal) at the Lodge in Freycinet National Park and arrived late afternoon on the Friday.

The Hazards certainly stand out when you drive into Coles Bay, with their rocky faces above the trees.

The cabins looked rustic but were nice and comfortable inside.  We had a family cabin which had the benefit of having a tiny kitchen so we were not reliant on buying meals.

Inside the Lodge itself was warm and spacious,

and had a wonderful view over Great Oyster Bay.  The sunset on Friday night was pretty spectacular starting off yellow then going orange and finally turning pink.  The creator God can put on an amazing light show!

Saturday broke cloudy but dry, however Kim had a headache and I spent the day snuffling and sneezing with a head cold!  We decided we were not up to the Wineglass Bay walk, but contented ourselves by driving around doing some sightseeing on smaller walks.  This is Kim at Friendly Beaches.  It brought back memories of the beaches in Albany with it’s squeaky white sand.
Our favourite walk of the day was a boardwalk near a lighthouse with spectacular views of cliffs and over the ocean.

They had a telescope set up so you could view these rocky islands that had seals on them.

Zoomed in on Kim’s photo you can see the seals even better than with the telescope.

Bennets Wallabies seemed fairly common in the area and fearlessly put on a show for the tourists,
and we saw wombats at Friendly Beaches too.
One feature of the whole area are the pinky coloured rocks.  They definitely stand out and are moulded into lots of interesting shapes.

Sunday morning we awoke feeling somewhat better, and decided we would make the attempt to climb to the Wineglass Bay lookout.  The track to the bay itself was closed for upgrades, so we didn’t have to feel guilty about not going the whole way.  🙂  The weather started sunny and windy, though it had deteriorated to rainy periods by the time we got back to the car park.  Kim’s chronic fatigue has been pretty bad lately, but there were seats along the path so we just took the walk slowly and rested whenever he felt the need.
The track itself was easy to walk on with some interesting boulders along the way.
Towards the end of the track we had been warned there was about 300 steps to climb, which proved pretty accurate.
It was a cold and very windy trip, but we finally made it to the lookout and could cast our eyes on Wineglass bay itself which, despite the wind, looked pretty calm.
Given that it was winter and not terribly accomodating weather it was surprising how many other folk were in the area and making the climb.  Even the lodge would have been at least 3/4 full.  I think the place must be frightfully crowded in Summer, so we were just as glad to be there at a quieter time of year.
Finally we headed back home via St Marys.  We drove through Elephant Pass, which I remember petrified me when we visited Tasmania 25ish years ago.  This time I drove it without any concerns at all – I guess I have adjusted to Tassie roads – plus I was not on the cliff side which definitely helps!  We managed to arrive in Launceston at 4pm so could go to the afternoon service of our favourite church “The Branch”.  All in all it was a nice trip away, and some time out that we rather felt we needed.
Just around the corner from our place there is good progress being made in building a replacement bridge over the Mersey River.  The old bridge is still in use with the new one being built alongside.  It is interesting to see them working on it, they have a large pontoon in the river that they can take the big machinery down onto.  They have been working for a few months already and will be a fair bit longer still before they are done I would think.
And that is enough news for now!  Take care all.

Snow Among the Gum Trees

September 5, 2017

We thought we had missed out on snow this year, but Spring has brought us a lovely surprise.

Just a light crusty layer of snow, but we are enjoying it anyway.  To be perfectly honest I was just as glad it was not a heavy covering as I very much doubt my plastic caravan roof would have survived that!  Somehow doing the chores is more fun in the snow.

Josiah had fun making a snowman for every car!

Or a snow figure anyway.

And I enjoyed wandering around looking at the scenery.

Looking down the road at Roland from the front of our property


Frosty wattle blossom


A frozen puddle with a smattering of snow


Snowdrop bush in the snow


And finally – Snow among the gum trees!


Conglomeration of Car Complaints

July 28, 2017

Well, July has been (and continues to be) a difficult month!  Kim’s health has been very poor and his Chronic Fatigue has been greatly exacerbated by various wogs and also kidney stones. What he needed to recover properly was rest and a lack of stress, but that has not been easy to come by.

Firstly our brand new and very expensive fridge has been playing up – it just stops cooling every now and then despite the fan going and the lights being on.  Kim thinks it is a computer fault as if you turn it off for 10 minutes and then turn it back on it starts to work again.  It has had one part replaced but the fault continues!
Then we had our steer, Stu – the big brown and white boy, butchered at home which is a full hands on event for everyone, and of course half of us were sick and miserable at the time.  We managed to get the job done though with the help of extended family and friends – who were paid for their efforts in delicious fresh beef!  It is lovely to have such a variety of cuts of meat to use again, and it tastes wonderful.

Smokey, Twindles and Straight-Line-Stu

Lydia booked her cat in for sterilising the other week, only to have her come on heat before we could take her in.  Now we have to put up with yowling and crazy cat antics for a week or so until she can get taken safely to the vets.  We are very glad that Lydia bought a huge cage for her as it means we do not have to have her loose in our sleeping quarters – instead she gets evicted into the cage on the veranda each evening.

The main issue of the month has been cars!  You would think that with 6 cars we should be able to keep on the road quite easily, but we do a huge number of kilometres each week and it has been a constant challenge to keep the cars going for the last couple of weeks.  Poor Kim has already been struggling to just get by with his shocking health, and he really isn’t helped by all this urgent mechanical work which often only he can deal with.  Firstly the two Citroens had their alternators fail within 2 days of each other.  The Xantia stopped when it’s battery went flat in the dark in the mountain range near home and Lyd had to walk up to the top of the pass to get enough phone service to call for help.  Kim took a battery out of another car which managed to give it enough power to drive it home that night.  We took the Xantia to an auto electrician a couple of days later and he fixed the alternator but reported that the cause of the problem was a leaking pump situated directly above the alternator and which had filled it with oil and gunk!  The leaking pump is still awaiting fixing as it requires various parts to come from an online order.

Kim had a spare alternator for the C5 and he managed to put new bushes into that and installed it himself.  That got the C5 going for a week or two until Muggins here (yes, me), thick headed and in recovery from 2 nights of toothache agony without sleep followed shortly after by a tooth extraction, filled the car up with unleaded instead of diesel!!  It got towed home by the RACT the night before last and is awaiting repair.  That means pumping out 60L of mixed fuel and then flushing diesel through it all and hoping no permanent damage was done to the injection pump.  At least we do have access to second hand parts if needed.

Sam’s lovely new little convertible was going well until it’s accelerator cable broke.  Kim, our hero, managed to drive it home through the mountain pass just by adjusting the idle speed.  Our mechanic advised that we should just remove a cable from one of our spare parts cars – but two cable removals later we find that they don’t fit, so now we have to order a part online and wait for delivery.  Kim attempted to get creative this morning by joining two separate cables, but the attempt failed as the join interfered with the proper working of the cable.
Our lovely old Caravelle got pressed into action, but shortly afterwards it started to fill with steam.  Looking at it this morning we discovered a coolant leak dripping onto the heater core.  It looks like we need to source a new O ring  to stop the leak – hopefully that is all!
The good old reliable Peugeot 206 GTI has been the mainstay of our fleet, however even it has not been trouble free.  One morning when Kim had taken Lydia to work the exhaust fell down.  Thankfully Kim heard it hit the ground and stopped immediately.  With the help of a friendly passer by he managed to jury rig it back up and drove straight to a workshop to get fresh mounts put on.  After that I sadly hit a wallaby one morning on the way to Lydia’s work, that broke one of the fog lights and/or its mount.  Then yesterday Kim thought the power steering was not working as well as it should and when he went to check the power steering level this morning he found that it was just fine – but the alternator belt was only half the width it should be.  We assume something got tangled in it and caused it to fray and it must have been slipping sometimes.  He is worried that if we use the car then the belt will break, so it is best if we do not use that either.  He picked up a new belt this afternoon when he collected Lydia from work.

So, to pick up Lydia from work today – out came the old VW beetle!  Even it is not without issues as it has been waiting for it’s brakes to be done up for months, Kim tells me they are worn down but still working.  Perhaps fixing it will become more of a priority now!  Of course tomorrow is forecast for pouring rain, so I don’t see us fixing anything then.  Good grief!  It has got to the point where the multiple car problems have actually started to become a cause of amusement in the family now.  🙂

The good news for the month is that we did manage to find, purchase and get delivered (just yesterday) a bunch of 9m long 5” aluminium irrigation pipe, 57 of them in fact.  $5,200 worth!  This will be the piping for the micro hydro system.  We will need to get a couple of fittings and a few replacement seals but then should be able to start running the pipe down in the pre dug ditch.  It is very exciting, but I am sure is going to take us many months to do.  🙂
At the end of June we fitted more solar panels to the roof of the caravan’s annexe.  The fork lift on the tractor was a wonderful help!

Solar Panels being lifted onto the Annexe roof by MB Trac

Cathy fitting solar panels to the annexe roof

Solar panels on annexe roof

Despite taking care to use seals etc, we found that the ceiling was leaking after rain.  It always has leaked to some extent because of the poor design of the annexe which has a flat roof and water often pools on it and finds its way inside instead of running off, but now it was even worse.  The best solutions would all take lots of time and money and were not feasible in the middle of winter with rain forecast in the near future.  However, we have temporarily solved the problem by making a sloping raincoat of greenhouse plastic.  It is great to lie in bed hearing the rain and look up at the dry ceiling.  Amazing how little things can give a lot of pleasure.  🙂
Lydia had her birthday this month.  She organised the day off and spent many hours making sausages!  She made some basic beef ones and also an adjusted recipe of kase krainer sausages which had different spices and chunks of cheese in them – she smoked those ones the following day.  We learnt a lot in the process and will probably do better next time – but it was a VERY time consuming job.
Anyway, I best move on.  I am currently suffering from a mild stomach wog, caught no doubt at the hospital where I went on the weekend in desperation for some pain relief from the toothache.  In the end I found the most effective thing to be keeping my mouth cold by constantly sipping iced water.  Didn’t get much sleep though!  I’m very glad that is over.
*****ADDENDUM Monday 31/7/17******
I am pleased to report that the rain held off the following day (Saturday) until the afternoon and Kim managed to find a new way to join the convertible’s accelerator cable, which worked, and Caleb got the 206 most of the way through changing the frayed belt.  So things were looking up.  Then on Monday Caleb finished repairing the 206 and Kim managed to flush the fuel out of the tank of the C5, started it up and it worked just fine!  Every time one of the cars has an issue now we all start to giggle – somewhat maniacally perhaps – but we find it funny none the less!