Thursday, 8 October 2015

Carol in Oz - Berri, Renmark, Mildura

Today we crossed the border back into Victoria on the homeward stretch of our journey. First we drove from Lyndoch to Waikerie and had a look at the river foreshore.

Then onto Berri where we had frittata and salad for lunch on a cafe balcony overlooking the Murray River.  It's wider and tidier around the edges at this end compared to Echuca.

Next was Renmark where we bought a takeaway coffee and sat at a table on the wide grassy river edge. We watched a duck family with 15 youngsters. Mum and dad clambered onto the bank followed by the bigger 10 or so of their large brood. The last few struggled and struggled with mum's encouragement to get out but they were just too small. Eventually the walk was abandoned and everybody returned to reunite the family in the water.

On the road again I had a moments panic when it became apparent there was absolutely nothing between Renmark and Mildura and I had slightly underestimated the petrol usage.  I slowed down to 80km an hour and hoped we would find petrol before the centre of Mildura. All was well. 150km without a shop or house!

We are spending our last night in a Mildura motel.  First we had a little drive around to check out my childhood holiday location.  Its changed a bit in 30 years. I took a photo for my mum of the little beach where we spent so many Summers. On the way we had a large goanna cross the road.  It was the biggest I've seen in it's natural environment.  Shame we couldnt get a camera out in time.

Tomorrow we will be home again and I will post some photos of our trip.  It will be great to see Mick's progress with the house.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Carol in Oz - Clare & Barossa

We've spent a lovely couple of days driving around the Clare and Barossa Valleys, sampling wines as we went.  Yesterday we drove to Clare and checked out the Seven Hills winery.  The lady there suggested a tapas bar for lunch in Clare.  It was called Mr Micks.  Delicious!

We made our way back to the Barossa in time for a visit to Jacobs Creek.

Today we went first to a cheese shop and then on to Maggie Beer's farm shop where we had lunch.  We wandered around the farm filling in time until the 2pm cooking demonstration which we enjoyed watching and tasting the results.  We tried wines at a few wineries on the way back to Lyndoch.  First Wolf Blass, Bethany, Schild, and finally Keller Meister.

I have loved seeing the stone built houses that abound in the region and know Mick would want to see them too.  We will have to come here together sometime.  The views are pretty amazing too with some of the vineyards boasting grape vines that are 150 years old or more.

Carol has enjoyed her evening spa and we have played Canasta each evening in lieu of the terrible tv channel selection.

Tomorrow we start our journey home with one overnight stop along the way.  It's been cooler the last couple of days but it sounds like it will warm up again tomorrow.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Carol in Oz - Barossa Valley

Leaving Robe we had an interesting stopover planned on our way to the Barossa Valley.  I had always wanted to visit the little town of Hahndorf and this was the day.

First we had a couple of rather boring hours drive across salt flats. It wasnt pretty countryside and we were glad when it began to change. The temperature had been steadily increasing before peaking at 39 degrees.  I got out of the car to get a cold bottle of water and Carol jumped out too to experience the heat.

I was pleased as we reached Murray Bridge that the temperature was on its way down again and the scenery was improving.

We reached Hahndorf at 1pm in time for lunch and it was 33 degrees.  The town was throbbing with tourists.  We decided to go with the flow and have a German lunch at the Inn.  It was booked almost solid but they did have a just vacated table for two...... or should I say a wine barrel for two.  We shared a platter with a pork chop, pork knuckle, sausages, mash and sauerkraut.   It was delicious but way too much.  We also had two large pretzels. We were presented with a takeaway container and took away enough for another dinner.  The pretzels reminded me of my dear friend Claudia, in Germany.

Out in the street there were heaps of great little shops.  German music blared and dancers entertained the crowds.  Turns out it was an Oktoberfest celebration.  It was pretty hot out on the concrete and Carol and I each went our separate ways to look at shops for an hour.  I just managed to do the full length of both sides of the street with a brisk walk.  Back at the car Carol had checked out a couple of shops and then propped in a bar with a glass of wine!

The car was scorching for the first time this season and we had the airconditioning cranked up as we drove on.  We thoroughly enjoyed Hahndorf - the first German settlement here.  I also loved the countryside in that area.  Very pretty.

The day was over by the time we reached our cottage in the Barossa.  It's fabulous value with two double bedrooms, an outdoor spa shared with the other cottage, very generous breakfast provisions.  Carol has been in heaven wallowing in the spa for an hour before dinner each evening.

Monday, 5 October 2015

Carol in Oz - Robe

Our next port of call was Robe in South Australia. We weren't away too early from Port Fairy.

I think the hour lost to daylight savings made it harder to get up for some of us. I didnt sleep particularly well in a single bed on casters that rolled away from the wall every time i turned over. I was wide awake at 5.30 and eventually just got up and went for my morning walk on the beach. Its beautiful in the morning light with it all but desserted.

On the way to Robe we stopped first to check out the Umpherston Sinkhole which contains a lovely gatden inside. There were bee hives on the walls and we even saw a possum clinging to the rock walls. Thanks Anthony, for telling me about it.

Next was a look at Mount Gambier's Blue Lake.  Not yet turned the bright blue it is known for but still blue enough.  We had lunch in a cafe, sitting outside.

By the time we reached Robe it had been a long day but we drove up to view the obelisk as suggested by the girl at check in. We got chatting to a nice couple with a young Rhodesian Ridgeback. It was an hour before we returned to our little apartment for a cheese, veggie and cracker dinner.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Carol in Oz - Port Fairy

Carol and I have embarked on a road trip. We headed off on Friday morning to Port Fairy.  On the way we visited the 12 Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge and London Bridge. It was a glorious day and the carpark at the visitors centre was full to capacity.   We enjoyed the view, took many photos and then headed off to Port Fairy.  Throughout the drive Carol kept commenting on how straight the roads were and how few cars we passed.  In the 3 1/2 hours we only passed about a dozen cars.

We stayed in a lovely little cottage in Port Fairy which was right in the centre of town.  We thoroughly enjoyed checking out the shops, early morning walks on the beach (me), and sitting on the beach reading a book (Carol).  The first morning we found ourselves a spot on the rocks right at the waters edge. It was lovely with the last trickle of each wave lapping over our feet. Carol had an aborted attempt at a swim - that water is ice cold. As we sat there chatting the ocean played a trick on us, as it often does, and sent a huge wave that washed up onto the rocks soaking us and our belongings. Lucky we had cameras in our hands and not in the bag we brought.

Saturday night we had fish and chips at The Wharf Commons.  It was idyllic sitting outside under the strings of lights with the sound of the surf in background.  Best fish and chips ever. Carol even decided she would ask for the manager and tell him so.

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Carol in Oz - Happy Birthday!

Carol had an Aussie birthday. There was no sleeping in though. We had the electrician arriving at 7.30am to sort out the old wiring in the shed. I cooked  Carol breakfast and we sat in the morning sun. My mum came over as planned to take Carol out for a birthday surprise lunch at Lavandula lavender farm.  Shame the sun had disappeared and it was a bit early for flowers but we had a lovely lunch and wander around the gardens. We had a good look around the little shop and Carol had a decent attempt at a selfie. Lovely day out.

The day before i had my car booked in for a service so Carol took the train from Bendigo to have a look around Melbourne.

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Carol in Oz - Lake Cairn Curran

It was glorious weather today.  Each day the temperature has reached a little higher.  We had a barbeque at Lake Cairn Curran with my mum and her partner, my sister and 3 kids, Carol and I.  We took Klara with us as she hasn't had a chance to swim since last Summer and she was a little young then and didn't seem too keen.  Today she had a fantastic time splashing in the water with the kids.  I kept her on a long lead so she couldn't run up to other people and splash water on them or jump on them.  She gets so excited running around with the kids and I certainly don't trust her to come back if I call her with such excitement around.

Friday, 25 September 2015

Carol in Oz - Echuca

Last Friday I collected Carol (nb Winton's Folly) from the airport.  It was a chilly start to the day and I scrambled about in the car looking for a scarf before walking across to the airport building from the carpark.  I called Carol the week before to warn her that the weather was still cold only a couple of weeks into Spring.  "Bring a warm pair of shoes and long pants".  We had to laugh when we discovered she'd brought a suitcase full of Summer clothes and not a single pair of closed in shoes or long pants.  She's been shopping since then.  We've had frosty mornings all week.

I think she got a bit of a shock when she saw where we are living now.  I'm not sure what she expected when we said "an enormous shed" but it obviously was something smaller than she was looking at.  I can't recall a single time I've seen Carol speechless!  We've given her our tiny bedroom and bought a large tent to put up in the open space of the shed.  It's dusty and draughty in the shed itself so we figured the tent would resolve that.  It's been fine sleeping in there, especially as we have our own bed now.  We had to buy a smaller one for the little bedroom (once an office of the factory that operated here) where Carol's sleeping.

We have a few road trips planned for while Carol is with us so the blog will be a bit of a journey around the South East of Australia for a while.

We spent Carol's first night in Oz on a houseboat on the Murray River in Echuca.  She was called The Mayflower.  When I tried to make a booking many weeks ago this was the only weekend we could get on a boat that wasn't enormous and ridiculously expensive.  As it was we had 3 bedrooms so we asked if my brother Anthony, and his wife Leanne, wanted to come along.  They had to work the Friday and Monday so only came for the weekend.  We went up Friday afternoon and returned home Monday.

We took the boat out on Saturday and moored up a couple of hours cruise down the river.  It was a bit of fun trying to moor up such an enormous boat when we're used to a narrowboat but we got there.  The Mayflower had a telescopic "plank" that rolled out from under the boat.  It was five metres long but was just a tiny bit short for where we moored.  Mick put a large log under the end of the plank and the problem was sorted.  As soon as we stopped Carol was off the boat in a flash - shoes off and moments later she was kneeling in the sand in her knickers and t-shirt building sand castles!  We do have photos but I won't embarrass her.

Echuca is one of our favourite Victorian towns with an interesting history of paddlesteamer transport on the river.  The wharf was once hundreds of metres long until the river trade declined when the railway arrived.  Just like the canals in England it is now a holiday makers playground.  It was nice to be there early morning before it was busy with tourists.  We've stayed in Echuca many times before and decided we much preferred being right there on the river in the centre of the historic port.  Much better than a motel.  We even had a barbeque on the houseboat and a fantastic deck on the roof, complete with television.  With the sun shining we had a lovely few days.

There's The Mayflower below in the centre.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015


It's been a while, so here's a bit of a catchup.

The house is coming along nicely after a delay waiting for the windows to arrive.  Now the windows are in and the outside cladding is in progress.  The electrician has been to rough in the wiring which now dangles all over the place.  It's exciting to see it looking like a house!

Another exciting thing coming up is Carol's arrival in 3 1/2 weeks.  It seemed like an eternity to wait when she booked her tickets but the time really has rushed by and before we know she'll be here.  We've made lots of plans for while she's here and she's going to blog about her trip.  She'll be here for near on 3 months.

I had a lovely weekend away with some of the girls in my sewing group.  We went to Yarrawonga, staying in a couple of timeshare units.  I had to return for work but the rest of them are there til the end of the week. 

I came home a little earlier than planned after Mick had a bit of an accident.  He turned his ankle while working on the house and stumbled into a sheet of corrugated iron face first.  It's a nasty injury across his face and  I suspect he'll have a decent scar to show for it once it's all healed.  We're lucky with our local hospital.  He was back home with the wound stitched up 1 1/2 hours after it happened.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Narrowboat Klara

I just have to show you the stunning new paint job on narrowboat Klara. Paintwork by Andy Russell.

When we first met Roly and Bev and their boat, I knew I wanted to call our next dog Klara.  I loved the name.  I'll never forget Mick walking around our boat calling "Klara!  Klara!" to make sure it sounded right for a dog.

They're even moored right beside the slipway at Aqueduct Marina where the boat was painted and in the spot where Parisien Star was moored for our first week afloat.  She looks stunning guys and we're so glad you finally got your long awaited new paint job.