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Down Under

by wilvir

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"Take only memories, leave nothing but footprints"

Chief Seattle (1786–1866) leader of the Suquamish and Duwamish Native American tribes

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The Cart Without a Horse

(viewed 1672 times)
My thoughts were taken back to times past by this old cart come trailer left standing, almost posing, in its abandoned state of proud neglect on the edge of farmland where Lynn and I assumed it once served its purpose. The workmanship of the various trades involved in the building and assembling of this sturdy horse-drawn flatbed stirred my nostalgia for a bygone age when farms almost teemed with the life of people who once worked the land using tools and implements, horse and oxen, long retired in favour of modernity requiring little manpower. Farm and homestead are whisper quiet these days, deserted even. Vast swathes of this immense country without a living soul afoot, barbed and plain wire the only tell-tale guardian of property ownership.

Those that made and built this trailer, Wheelwright, Carpenter, Blacksmith and Mechanic, each with their apprentices, are long gone and so is the bustle of work. To build this bespoke trailer today would cost much in both man-hours and materials, whereas a modern-off-the-shelf replacement would rot out in the time it took for the tyres to deflate and perish. The wooden friction brakes, steering rack, iron-clad wheels, timbers and fixings are all there for the enquiring mind to wonder at the skill and ingenuity that has brought us the computer reliant mass machine production of today, but at what cost? At another time in the future those purposeful manual labour skills, craftsmanship and people the farmer invested in all those years ago to ease his workload might be needed again; we may be left wanting, who knows?

For now all I know is this tired old workhorse brought a smile to our faces with its craftsmanship, colour and textures that made for an interesting photograph or two. I hope it survives for a few years or more yet, so that others can lovingly appreciate it as we did.
17th Jan 2017, 03:08   comments (0)

Sun, Sea, Sky, Sand and Us

Drifting from one location to another as we make our way further West along the coast of Southern Australia I’m struck by the expanse and the distant horizons of this great continent and the refreshing, almost frontier-like, attitude that permeates life amongst the mix of people from all walks of life that we’ve come across living on the coastal fringes far from the urban sprawl.

The simple generosity, freely given advice and ‘can-do’ spirit of those we’ve met has made for a refreshing change. I’ve been hailed walking roadside back to the caravan with shopping by a complete stranger who offered a lift when the afternoon temperature was hitting forty degrees; we’ve been given a generous helping of fresh King George Whiting fillets by a guy I got talking to on a beach who even crumbed them ready to pan fry; freely shown various methods of filleting a variety of fish to be caught here; taken advice and, as a result, been pretty successful raking for crabs, catching enough to last us days at a time. I could go on………….my point being that I have been made to feel welcome here and I relish what further there is to come for Lynn and I as we travel, living on the road and free camping as much as possible while we try to provide for ourselves as much as we can by fishing and cooking outdoors.

Much of our time has been spent at beachside camp-sites, both free of charge and paid for, mostly amongst small communities or out on our own in the bush. We love the night sky revolving above us, hardly ever marred by aircraft navigation lights or anything else man-made, just the beauty and spectacular splendour of all manner of near and far distant celestial navigation markers.

The word ’beach’ here is an understatement. We’ve walked miles alone along vistas of sand touched only by the ocean as it rolls inexorably onto a landscape shaped by water over millions of years.  Our spirits lifted further by the joy of seeing a pod of dolphin, play-surfing waves running in on an incoming tide close to shore or, out in a bay, corralling and feeding on an invisible shoal of fish made visible by seagulls and cormorants profiting from leftovers.

Sand comets, lilac-red bunches of seaweed pushed to and fro by the action of a receding tide, lay embedded with raised tails of pristine sand trailing and flaring behind like some cosmic impressionist painting. Stands of rock lean against the tireless onslaught of the tides, eroded by sand, sea and wind, lone sentinels long abandoned by the receding dunes that bore the brunt of the weather. Elsewhere, long-brittled rock-cliff overhangs fall into the sea and onto the shoreline, no respecter of the flora and fauna they once supported as they crumble, crush and crash onto previous falls that may not have been disturbed for a millennia or more. A geography of geology that the first people here would still recognise.

The palette of colour used by the hand of nature to paint the ocean and the land that holds it back is impossible to mix as the hues alter under the changing light and shade of sun and cloud. Every twist and turn of the coastline reveals hidden, inaccessible bays of unblemished beauty, the ocean breaking quietly at low tide on a horseshoe-shaped screed of fine golden to near white sand; then, at high tide, waves pound the jagged scree at the cliff base throwing up spumes of salt laden spray tasted on the wind and felt on the skin. These living, emotive, forces, often destructive, yet always spectacularly spell-binding to the spectators eye, live hauntingly, like a shadowing past-life experience within me, drawing memories, an unfathomable empathy with the loss of life and endeavour that has challenged man’s attempts to tame the ocean in the days that sail was king unexplainably almost real. Maybe, just maybe it was.
16th Jan 2017, 01:50   comments (0)

A Remarkable.Place

(viewed 957 times)
Criss-crossing the York Peninsular and now working our way north along the East Coast of the Spencer Gulf towards Port Augusta, we have dropped in on some beautiful locations and 'frontier-like’ towns that both intrigue and interest in equal measure. Jetties reach out for long lost trade, almost appearing dejected in their wait for a ship, any ship, as they bare the bruising brunt of the oceans attempts to wash them away, their only custom these days coming mainly from anglers and crab fishers; small communities reliant, thankful, for any passing trade ‘their’ jetty attracts.

Long, empty, beaches draw the eye as they stretch away, white in the bright heat of the day, gently rolling surf, lapping at the extremities of this vast coastline. Sand, talcum-powder-soft, massages the soles of the feet, testing the ability to walk as it deepens.

Warily I ease our caravan-home around every bend, conscious of recent surprise encounters with Emu strutting casually along the roadside with as many as nine youngsters in tow, the land-cruiser, patient as it effortlessly puts up with our crawl-like progress. An encounter with the ever-present threat of a crossing kangaroo thankfully yet to be realised.Amongst the trees and bush further inland, but still in sight of the ocean from a lookout, Kookaburras vie for attention as they laugh at each other from a favourite perch. Here in the cool oasis of Mambray Creek in the shadow of Mt Remarkable, an Emu, almost the same height as me, makes eye contact as it haughtily passes by. A Kangaroo or two, sometimes three, hop past; stopping occasionally to forage.

A walk along trails both new and old reveals ancient red gum trees, hollowed by age, sometimes fire; the wood valued for its depth of colour and carving. The creek, just a trickle topping up and maintaining the standing pools of deeper water, provides the elixir of life to all manner of thirsty creatures and plant life. Always on the lookout for snakes amongst rocks almost oven-hot from the sun, I absent-mindedly walk into a spiders web spanning the trail before us. No easy giving way of the spider silk I was used to, instead, stretched taut it parted with an audible snap as I turned my back to it unsure of the threat its inhabitant might be. Thankfully no-one was home.A three foot Goanna lopes along the trail ahead of us, tongue flicking, tasting it's environment. Only this morning the tell-tale, almost imperceptible sound of dry grass and leaf litter being disturbed caught my ear, and looking out of our caravan window a Goanna appeared tail swishing, tongue busy, searching. I reached for an egg and rolled it gently, but blindly, away from the underside of the caravan, which the Goanna was now exploring, and within seconds was upon it, our cameras busy trying to take in as much detail as possible of this new experience. After a while, snout glistening, the Goanna made off, testing the air once more for the chance of another meal.

Tomorrow we move on, what next we ask ourselves?
2nd Jan 2017, 07:17   comments (0)

The Comfort of The Night

(viewed 1031 times)
The other night I awoke in the small hours and listened to the sound of waves breaking on the beach just a stones throw from the caravan, a myriad of other familiar, yet unfamiliar, sounds emanating from the bush that surrounded us. Lynn lay peacefully, almost silent, save for the whisper of her breath, cloaked in the depth of her slumbers as I made sense of all I was hearing, the moon shining bright above us as it passed across the skylight in the ceiling above, our window to the stars, a planetarium of our very own, Venus almost ever present as she shone torch-bright upon the landscape. Thoughts crowded in as my mind wandered……………

We’d arrived in South Australia in early October, a few, seemingly short weeks ago, yet crammed with so much to be done that we hardly had time to breathe. Lynn had arrived in London mid-August to ‘come get me’ as she put it, and as we wiled away the wait for my visa to arrive we buried ourselves in a confusion of detail that, at times, had us frazzled. A decision to give us some relief from what we saw as being on a knife edge of will-I-won’t-I be granted the visa I sought, took us to Spain, which neither of us had visited before. Two weeks of touring on a wing and a prayer exceeded all our expectations accompanied by the knowledge that the day before we left England my electronic passport visa for Australia had arrived by email……we were on our way.
21st Dec 2016, 01:53   comments (0)

An Adventure in Love

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The Southern Ocean rolls in on Moana Beach, South Australia, where Lynn Douglas and me are starting out on our new life together. To be continued................
7th Nov 2016, 05:01   comments (8)

We Are Family........

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16th Jun 2016, 11:25   comments (0)

New Builds Nestled in the Strines Valley

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15th Jun 2016, 18:16   comments (0)

Splashes of Summer

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15th Jun 2016, 18:11   comments (0)