Friday, December 29, 2006, 03:10 PMJust a little post to say the boys have arrived safely at Makki with the plane touching down on Boxing Day. The repaired landing strip worked just fine & it was reported to have been used unexpectedly the following day when a flight diverted to Makki when their destination became clouded in.
The Lukins were expected to fly in yesterday the 28th
Tim David Rohan & Tristan now working on Road repairs with the tractor....Please see Ethiopia website link in Christmas Entry below for futher updates as & when they come to hand.
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Tuesday, December 26, 2006, 10:22 AMI hope one & all had a very happy & safe Christmas Day & as I can no longer send wishes for yesterday I will say Happy New Year & Wish everyone all the best for 2007.
We shared our Christmas Day with Jen the wren's sister Pamela & husband Gene who are here from Alaska. Jenny's Mum Julie who is from Canberra was with us so it was only a small gathering. I suppose if anything we were rather quiet as each have children in many far flung places of the world to whom our thoughts turn. I know we were most anxious to hear some word from our two Sons who were arriving in Addis Ababa Ethiopia on a journey that is to take them to join Julie's son, Jonathan & family at a remote outpost in the Omo Rift Valley. I must say it was with some alarm we heard that a war has erupted with Somalia but are thankful this is over on the Eastern border which is the opposite side of the country to Makki in the South West where they are located. Jonathan had spent 13 yrs earlier at this Outpost amid the Mursi People with his family when serving as a Missionary & Vet for the Sudan International Mission. They have returned in recent weeks with a group from the Brindabella Baptist Church to man the Station while existing staff are away over Christmas New Year. One task at hand for them was to repair a tractor in two halves to make repairs to a grass landing strip for the light plane carrying the Good boys to land. We were pleased to learn that Steven from Brindabella the principal Mechanic had repaired this tractor & work was underway on the air-strip....The only concern now is rain as there has been a lot of it & some water was running over this grass air field in the bush.
Pam & Gene have two daughters Sally in Anchorage & Niki in San Francisco who spend their own Christmas with thoughts turned in the direction of Down Under.
We were just about to sit down to our Chrissy lunch when a telephone call was recieved saying smoke from a bushfire had been seen in our area. Fortunately though this was a false alarm caused by a large cloud of raised dust which looked like smoke.
So it was our Christmas day with the fellowship of family, wind blowing a gale & low temperatures for this time of year heralding some snow falling on the high Alps, an unusual event for Xmas in Aus.
Our Christmas Eve as when shepherds watched over the flocks by night
Behold through out the heavens there shone a holy light
Go tell it on the mountain, over the hills & everywhere that Jesus Christ is born.
To Learn more of why our Australians are in the Omo Rift Valley of Ethiopia please see : http://webcaddy.com.au/ethiopia/
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Wednesday, December 20, 2006, 10:47 PMIt was half way between Hay & Deniliquin that I first noticed in the rear view mirror that Mo was looking about a lot more than usual. He often stands in the middle of his back seat box to make the most of the air conditioning & to see where we are going. I see his eyes through this letter box view looking around most times we go on Adventures & in this way I can often gauge whether he knows where we are or not. This time however he was looking around somewhat anxiously which I put down to the fact that he not seen the Plains before... That is where it is completely flat without any trees. I think he was worried with this foreign scenery or just where we were.
This Adventure Farm Stay to Elmsleigh between Hay & Deniliquin owned by Bill & Mary-Anne Butcher came about sooner than later with the hot summer due mainly to a window of opportunity with a few cool days arriving. I was therefore grateful to hear from Mary-Anne to say come on down.
As with Mo I had observed my landmarks pass by on the 3 hr drive like Mnt Arthur where we had been on another outing, the ridge over the river at Narrandera where in the past Aboriginies long stood gazing out over the sea of river gums below to their own landmarks of the Galore Hill & Kengal on the distant horizon.
We passed by the running tree I look for at Tubbo Station & Ron Clarkes Metal Scultpures at Waddi where I wanted to stop & enquire for Mary-Anne to see if Ron could make a flat metal cut-out of a Headless Horseman.
In the early years of droving cattle along the Long Paddock the Legend of the Headless Horseman was born. At this time in the 1860's a lone horseman would spook drovers cattle at night into stampede. News of these events spread quickly considering eye witness accounts claimed the horseman was headless.
No one was ever identified as being responsible but rumour had it in later years this person was suspected to be a butcher from the Moulamein area who hoped to collect strays after the nights work. To conceal his identity & further the legend the rider apparently rode with his coat collar high about his ears & lantern atop his head giving the ghostly appearance of a Headless Horseman...Later with my farm stay at Elmsleigh the Mystery would deepen when Bill explained to me that his family being Butcher were in fact butchers in earlier times...I wondered ! Could it be ...2 & 2 make 64
Turning East at the Royal Mail Hotel at Boorooban to leave the Cobb Hwy I notices several houses, a closed down School House with a Public Hall as is often the case in rural communities, along with conversely a shiny new Rural Fire Service shed.
Almost at once the Adventure began as just a short distance in on the dirt a group of Emus ran across the road in that swaying gaiting motion they have, a motion we might be more familiar with in Walking with Dinosaurs.
This is truly present day Walking (or running ) with Dinousaurs as those long legs stride out. Blind Freddie can see the similarity to Tyrannosaurus Rex even....The thing is, untill you see a mob of Emus running you don't know or make that connection that birds evolved from dinosaurs. Mo jumped to his window with an urgent look to put it down, I was already on the button & obliging but leaving a safety margin of glass so he would not fall out. I was not ready myself however, as the camera still lay in the bag on the front passenger seat. To late even then as they looked back down one side then the other before disappearing into trees of the nearby creek.
I arrived rather timely to find Mary-Anne at the homestead taking in the washing. There is still something I think very pioneering about rural scenes involving women collecting washing from lines out the back. She had come home from out in the field where she had been helping Bill silt scoop mud out of a dry Tank...This is after already spending a day working in town some 80k distant.
Tanks is a term used to describe the damming of water into large holes dug in the ground to provide stock with water. In times of drought when they go dry it is an opportunity not often presented over many years to clean out accumulated mud which may be up to 8' deep. A silt scoop essentially is a large 3 sided heavy metal box with a metal tail on the back something akin to a scorpian. The scoop is pulled along by an A frame on the open front, attached with heavy cables between 2 tractors. When this scoop is pulled through the Tank it fills up with mud which is then delivered away over the banks, the tail side tractor then pulls it back for some more lifting the scoop on its return due to the scorpian tail now being pulled down flat to the ground ....Savvy !
Mary-Anne showed me the Shearers Quarters to settle in before dashing off to feed hay out to hungry cattle. Mo took to looking about our new surroundings with busy little legs. I took it in to remembering & making similarities to the Ponderosa.
The Banked creek & dam at Elmsleighs homestead provided what can best be described as welcome relief to summer conditions & in particular this year of severe drought. I fore went the available kayak & boat to stretch my legs along the grassy bank to take some photos I could see happening of the setting sun bathing Pelicans making ready for the night.
Over the next 2 days I spread myself over visiting the variety of bushlands that existed consisting of the adjoining 4,000 acres of Boorooban Nature Reserve to the Sandhills & property where Bill & Mary-Anne have over the years planted many thousands of trees.
I even helped Bill to do some farm work with silt scooping of Tanks.
I ventured into the Enclosure as it is called being some 20 acres of bushland Bill fenced off that excludes rabbits to let native species re-generate.
It was here that Mo gave up on walking in the grasses of this new place because of the ongoing problems of prickles. He did the usual thing of stopping holding up a paw & giving me the Prickle Look ....Tis a very sad picture !
I then normally take care of the offending item with many consoling words & he proceeds on but not this time. The only thing I could do was carry him in my Back Pack, it must have been a bit warm in there but still he had his head & front feet out & didn't seem to mind one little bit. I sure noticed the extra 10 k though & by the time we made it back to the vehicle was glad to tip him out. I will have to make up a platform to slide in the back pack that he can stand on with maybe some shade cloth over the top for any future prickle ereas. In relating my idea to Jen the wren, she with a roll of the eyes thought that this was Yes, way over the top.
Elmsleigh held many attractions even at the farm level where not to say the least were the Sheep yards & Out Buildings. One old Shed in particular held many treasures for a photographer despite the fact that there is a resident Carpet Python which I was pleased not to find dangling overhead.
Late on the last night I ventured out onto the distant plains of Elmsleighs far flung reaches in search of the elusive Plains-wanderer bird. None of which were found due mainly to what was believed to be the sparse grass conditions of drought, but that did not matter as many other interests happened with this Farm Stay. I stopped by a Tank to listen in the silence of that midnight to perhaps one of these birds calling. The Heavens shone brightly & a soft cool breeze was caressing on the cheeks, but not a sound of the Gondwanaland bird could be heard. I could hear though Mo sniffing at my side so I turned on my Spotlight to see him facing into the breeze taking in the air with nose held high. In swinging the light out in that direction there appeared a number of kangaroos passing by in single file, they appeared as ghostly apparitions whitish in colour bouncing along in silence against the blackness. With no alarm or urgency they continued the journey with one being little taking longer hops. I switched off the light & moved away a little, there came the clanking & rattles of steel at work within the Windmill pumping water up from deep underground. One can see a long way on the plains at night & there on the horizon I caught the faint flicker of a light. My mind turned from a car to nights such as this when the Headless Horseman applied his business, I pondered about this remembering again what Bill had said about how it was thought he was a butcher....I wondered !
Perhaps, just perhaps somewhere in the dust of that old shed is an old old lantern...Just then on that dark night if a horse had snorted over my shoulder so help me I would have jumped clean out of my skin.
The next morning we made tracks for home with no eyes to be seen in the rear view mirror. Mo slept most of the way home so he must have had a good time. I know I did & wonder if he will know where we are when next taking an Adventure to Elmsleigh
If you would like to take a Farm Stay with Bill & Mary-Anne please see :
Following are Various Photos taken at Elmsleigh
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Tuesday, November 28, 2006, 10:17 PMI was late, like real late to make the famous Leeton Roxy Picture Theatre by 7.30 for the two movies on show. I was more interested in seeing the latter being Travelling With Birds so hopefull had more time up my sleeve. I had wanted to see this movie when it was first released at the I-Max Theatre Darling Harbor but of course that never happened. The Fivebough Fair had been running since the Friday afternoon, now here it was almost 7pm Saturday with me heading off in what was still very hot conditions for the hour & half drive to Leeton. I decided not to worry about it & that I got there when I got there which meant booking into the Motel first to have dinner before finding the theatre.
Luckily I did not have far to drive from the Motel as I made my way towards the Theatre at 9.30 which was about time to see my show. I surprised the girls in a side room to the left of the main entrance who quickly composed themselves to usher me upstairs with that down swept torch in finding a seat without disturbing the others.
I can report this movie is just fantastic & would say to anyone birder or not to go see it. I found it to be almost spell binding to watch....Just am amazing display of nature captured on film at its best in the world of migrating birds. One cannot but help think of what is to happen with Global Warming.
Later when admiring the Theatre with the Moon high over the Yard Arm from the within the Roundabout out front I was approached by the Projectionist who crossed over. He being a camera buff wanted to see what I was in possession of in taking photos & to ask very kindly "Would I like to see the Projection Room ?" Having never seen one before I took the opportunity & very interesting it was to along with a photo history of this Theatre from the 40's era.
My interest in attending this Bird & Nature Fair lay with an Address to be given Sunday afternoon by David Parker & Michelle Ballestrin from the Dept of Environment & Conservation. They would be speaking on Conservation of the Plains-wanderer bird within the Riverina.
On Sunday morning I found the Brobenah Park venue well set up with Marques & display tents of a great variety....Some of which were selling Organic drinks & Food.
I sat in on a very interesting morning Session given by Hollie Parsons & Kate Ravich from Birds Australia on a program being conducted with the Australian Musuem & Birds Aus on birds in backyards. This is an ongoing Study by Hollie of birds within the urban areas of the Sydney Basin.
If from the Sydney Urbans please see : www.birdsinbackyards.net
I had time to catch up on friends with the Murrumbidgee Field Naturalist display before my Session of interest but then sadly learnt it had been cancelled. I consoled myself with an intoduction chat to David Parker & then suddenly the tents began to come down. Not to return empty handed I got in quick to the Oranics Tent of "Ulandra View" who are located near Bethungra to get some lovely organic pork meat cuts. Having an Engel Fridge in the vehicle sure comes in handy.
Learn more of Fivebough & Tuckerbill WetLands Trust of Leeton
at : www.fivebough.org.au
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Tuesday, November 28, 2006, 06:05 PMJen the wrens parting words were "The Police will be after You !"
So I said in a flat tone on departing be sure to stay by the phone as I was going to grab the first kid I found on a bike.
It was a 3/4 hrs drive to Ganmain before dawn & the photos I had already invisioned. I had thought I needed to find a kid on a bike to ride along the St for me in some of these photos especially the Hotel scene. Surely one would go to the Paper Shop first thing & I could ask this lad to help out....My vision was a boy on a bike riding along with a paper tucked under is arm & with perhaps the family mutt trotting along in the dirt. Even better would be a kid on a horse or a Cowboy ! I had even asked Jen the wren the night before if she knew any teachers in town who could get some kids down there with their bikes. "Are you crazy she said even if I did know someone in town I would not would ask them to do that at dawn !" So, it was then she said the police would be after me if I were seen approaching children.
Mo & I arrived at the Main St of Ganmain with plenty of time to get a photo before the lights went out so then we stepped out to the middle of the road to take it all in.
It was silent with not a soul in sight as we walked down the middle of town. I just wished then I had spurs on to make a jingle jangle sound but then Mo stole the moment as the towns resident Jack Russel announced from ahead he wanted to know who it was that walked there.
The sun dawned & began to bath a history of Ganmain that belonged to another era, I savoured the moments as we sauntered along as if it were High Noon of a distant time.
It was about then we were rudely interupted by a vehicle coming along, so quickly getting out of the way I noticed the driver & only occupant of the ute was almost breaking his neck to see what I was doing. Moments later the ute came back & pulled in to the kerb & I felt a need to go over & say G'Day. I then had a great chat to Leo Corbett who I think must be one of the towns "identities" You know I never took a picture of him! However this Blog Program is very forgiving so I might look into doing that when next in town. Leo had a very photogenic face in tipping back his hat with a smile & telling me of when at the age of 16 he travelled to Hughenden Queensland shearing.
Time waits for no man & the light of the rising sun beckoned so I bid Leos Yarns farewell to jingle jangle back down the St to round the corner of the Ganmain Hotel.
I knew this would happen ....Not a kid in sight I mean wouldn't it just rot your socks ! I wondered what time the Paper shop opened & if I would get myself reported to the Police. We waited, I was getting desparate hoping for any early morning walker to appear. Mo then fronted up looked out onto the St & proceeded out sitting down just in about the right place ...I know we have an understanding but this was almost too much to believe as he sat there & looked down the St then up the St then at me as if to say "We did it !".
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