Sunday, 23 September 2012

Lucked out on Lotto!

Our trusty picnic trolley on tour ...
Sadly, we didn't win the $22 million Lotto draw on Saturday, 22 September.  We checked our tickets first thing on Sunday morning though - just in case!

As Nick pointed out, it was probably just as well we hadn't won because the news would have made it difficult to focus on our day of cheapskate adventuring (and our picnic trolley was already packed)!  Given we hadn't become overnight millionaires, we drove to the nearest railway station (about 25km) and purchased four of CityRail's Family Funday Sunday tickets for $10 in total.  Bargain!

Back in July, I purchased a voucher for a discount family ticket for the Sydney Monorail.  Typically, the voucher was nearing expiry so after arriving at Central (Sydney) a bit over two hours later, we headed off to Darling Harbour to claim our day-tripper pass and "treasure map". A splendid day of adventuring was had, hopping on and off the monorail in the search for clues and enjoying the various sights of the City as well.

We parked the trolley several times en route for impromptu picnics and drinks - and again on the station when waiting for our homeward bound train.  Aside from our tickets we purchased custard puffs from Chinatown, a mango lassi, some very flash hand-made chocolates and donated to a couple of very good buskers.  Total cost of the day - $59.80!

Tuesday, 18 September 2012


Who needs power?!
The power failed - just as I had settled in with Nick to watch some of a 4WD documentary before starting the evening cheffing.

We quickly found torches, lit some of our many candles and Nick primed our fuel lantern.  He then set up our fuel stove inside and I adjusted my menu slightly to make a couple of vegie side dishes in our usual saucepans.  I had already measured all the ingredients for (my first-ever) corn bread, so decided to cook it in our small camp oven, over a low flame.  Nick BBQ-ed by candlelight and our impromptu camp cooking session was a success.  The corn bread actually worked, though was a little charred on the bottom (no doubt due to my impatience)!

Typically, power was restored - just as we finished eating! Vaughan was not greatly impressed and voiced his disappointment "I was enjoying that blackout"!  I think we all were.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Fire King! (8-10 September)

Fire King fun!
It had been a while since our last fire sculpture, so we planned another attempt as a finale on our last night.  Nick found a suitable log and transported it back to camp in three sections.

The afternoon was spent pleasantly, preparing our latest Fire King for firing.  Vaughan assisted by chiseling out the rotted middle of the log pieces and gathering some pine needle "hair" (for photographic impact).  At one stage our wooden monarch had a leaf tongue also.  He was lit in the early evening, when there was still plenty of natural light.  Initially he had wonderful flowing smoky hair but the flames established fairly quickly and he burnt very well for several hours (before partially collapsing over the cooking grate, which prompted detailed discussion of various fine-tuning needed for our next effort)!

When we returned home on Monday afternoon, we called into a service station for ice creams.  The attendant asked if we had been concerned about the bushfire which had closed the nearby freeway and we responded that we had been blissfully ignorant of any drama.  Back in the car, Vaughan ventured his opinion that there hadn't been a bushfire - just people confused by all our Fire King's smoke!

Feelin' Blue? (8-10 September)

7-year fully-fledged splendour!
We often see a few Satin Bowerbirds when camping in the Watagans.  On this visit we noticed one of the males had a new bower, still only a few steps from the road and easily visible on our walks to and from the loo.

I did a sneak one afternoon and stood for a while watching him weave more bits.  He had a very impressive collection of bottle caps and a few blue feathers also. (On one of our previous camping trips I had caught a glimpse of the male bower bird in flight, carrying off blue treasure)! Vaughan found some blue ribbon near our tent and wanted to take it over for the bower but we said the bird didn't need any decorating assistance!

Vaughan came back from a bike-ride the next day to see if the ribbon was still near the tent, cos he had seen a bit at the bower.  He was very chuffed when he realised the bowerbird had picked up the piece he had wanted it to have!

The bower bird seemed a lot more bold than on previous visits.  He actually came down when the currawongs were scrabbling for bread and biscuit pieces.  His family were more cautious but we caught glimpses of several "green birds" also.

The females and juveniles have similar plumage - the males take seven years to acquire their beautiful glossy blue-black feathers.  You can read more about them here and listen to a short sound file of their call.  On one of our earliest forest trips, Erin's cockatiels came camping with us.  By the end of the stay, the male cockatiel could do a very good bowerbird imitation!

Wat, again?! (8-10 September)

It was a weekend of simple pleasures
Nick's roster presented another camping opportunity about two weeks after returning home from the Warrumbungles.

We planned to head into the Watagans on Friday afternoon (even voting ahead of the local election) but the week threw a few surprises, which impacted on our enthusiasm for packing/preparing - so we left on Saturday morning instead.  It is only about a 50km drive from home to our usual camping spot, so we arrived around 11am and started setting up.  I had packed a thermos as well as some picnic lunch provisions - and the currawongs arrived in a gang as soon as I started making sandwiches. When our backs were turned a small group positioned themselves on top of the trailer and inside Elmer, no doubt on a mission to steal the bread!  (Nick nearly lost a sandwich later in the afternoon when he left it unattended)!

It was a laid-back weekend where we didn't do much at all really - just simple stuff quite close to camp, which suited our physical and emotional energy.  Vaughan was happy dip-netting in a nearby small dam, riding Harry Potter broomsticks (made from pine branches) or running on rolling logs.  Of course, making fire-king sticks is still one of his favourite activities - and he convinced Nick to have a go too.  We all enjoyed fire-gazing on a night, with torches at the ready to spot for small wallabies and bandicoots.  Simple stuff.