Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Wood-fired pizza!

We'd made pizza to celebrate the start of the school holidays, on our nifty Cobb Cookers.

I've since run out of heat beads, so have used the outside fuel stove to make hot cross buns, ANZAC biscuits and cakes.

We've also cooked pork chops with roast vegetables and some chicken wings - all with good results, though our roast dinner timing was a bit optimistic and we didn't eat till 10:00pm!  Tonight we made fan-tas-tic pizza.  It was possibly some of the best pizza we've made - and we've made some great batches! 


We've driven up to (or through) Quilpie on a couple of occasions - with a gap of over three years between trips. 

It's a nice drive but I expect the novelty would soon wear off if we were making the 650 kilometre round journey every week, as Col does!

He's been keeping a tally of how many times he's travelled to Quilpie, since taking over ownership of the caravan park - and today was his 100th mission.  We felt that milestone deserved a medal, so we made him one and then performed a quick presentation ceremony this afternoon!

Fueling the fuel stove

It was a cooler day, our third-last before departure. I've been checking the fridge, freezer and pantry - trying to use up as much as we can before leaving, while ensuring we have enough food for the two-day drive home.

I'd already decided to make a chocolate cake but I can't eat that, so I was pleased to see various dried fruit that "needed" using.  The boiled fruit cake recipe yielded enough mix for two shallower tins.

We tasted the cakes this afternoon.  I did good work!

Nick cut enough wood to last all day, so I could make pizza for dinner.

Monday, 28 April 2014

Bluff drumming

When my very dear friend Kerry visited me last year, she and I bought matching long leopard-print dresses. We planned to wear them for our sunset drinks. Sadly the weather changed that same day and we didn't get a chance to flaunt our fabulous fashion.

I brought my dress with me to Yowah and wore it for the first time this evening, toasting Kerry on the Bluff!

Vaughan was a bit puzzled but I'm sure Kerry will enjoy the sentiment (now that I've found a couple of photos where I don't look like a stunned mullet or a spotted sea-slug)!

We took a few nibbles up to the Bluff - and a couple of drums also. 

There was a time when I would drum regularly as part of a dumming circle and when my girls were with me, they would join also. 

I've drummed on the Bluff other times - in 2000 and then again in 2010.  I wasn't expecting my family to drum tonight but it was very pleasant to play together while watching the sun go down, lighting a golden path from it to us.

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Paroo picnic

We picnicked on the banks of the Paroo River, just outside Eulo. I don't think we've stopped there before and it was a pleasant spot to sit.

Vaughan ate quickly then spent time at the water's edge while we finished our lunch.  I joined him afterward, to take some photos. 

Eulo Queen (kitten)

After our wonderful bathing and a few purchases to take-home, there was still no sign of Nick and Vaughan. Ian very kindly drove us back into Eulo.

We sat on the verandah of the Eulo Queen Hotel with our cans of lemon squash, watching the world go by.

Most of the cars had left, the BBQ was being packed up and the town was returning to it's usual quiet state.  A young kitten came out onto the verandah and when Nick and Vaughan arrived a little while later, the kitten gained a new friend.

I'd asked the barman if lunch was being served but he seemed doubtful and directed me to pose my question to the cook, who was sitting on the verandah.  At that stage I wasn't sure which lady was the cook - or how much later Nick and Vaughan would be.  Once they arrived we walked the short distance to the Eulo general store but they weren't serving lunch either, though Emily offered to make a sandwich.  It seemed an impromptu picnic was warranted so we bought some bread and cold meat, before heading back out of town.

Mother's Day Mud-bathing!

Do you know the old cliche, as happy as a pig in mud?  That was Erin and I, a couple of blissed-out piggies enjoying our extended wallow at Eulo's Artesian Mud Baths

We'd been before, with Nissa, during our July 2010 Yowah trip so knew we were in for a treat but this time we had a room with a view out as well as up! Gorgeous!

I wasn't sure we'd get to go mud-bathing this trip but then Erin had the brilliant idea of treating me to an early Mother's Day present!  What a wonderful gift!

You can see a short (g-rated) movie of our bathing here.

Erin mentions eating mud during the "footage".  She's referring to a mud fight at the nearby mud springs. Of course, bathing is a far better way to experience the therapeutic benefits of the ancient artesian mud!

The bathing process is to soak in the muddy water for 30 minutes. After patting dry, wet mud is applied to slightly damp skin. It takes about ten minutes for the mud to dry. It's then washed off in the bath or under the shower - or both. The finale is to apply a lovely, rich moisturiser, based on date palm extracts.

Reptile Awareness

Vaughan wasn't keen on the official aspects of the unveiling ceremony. You can just spot him behind the statue, quietly watching a wasp.

At the conclusion of the speeches we were invited to watch a reptile display - far more Vaughan's thing!

We see a lot of these displays, so often what we hear is revision.  It's always good when we learn something new.  Allan spoke of the small field of vision common to all snakes, which was interesting.  After the show Nick and Allan were chatting. Allan remembered Nick from a previous event at Gosford, four and a half years ago!  How's that for a great memory?!

Diprotodon unveiling

Erin was booking an early Mother's Day treat when she heard of Eulo's diprotodon unveiling.

We decided to attend because it's not often those opportunities are available - so Erin scheduled our other appointment to fit.

You may be wondering why there is a diprotodon statue at Eulo. It's likeness is based upon "Kenny" a diprotodon skeleton discovered in the area, one of the largest and best preserved mega-fauna skeletons ever found.

"In 2011 a new site was investigated in Eulo shire. It represents the most highly concentrated accumulation of megafauna discovered anywhere in Australia."

Usually when we stop at Eulo, there are two or three cars about - at most.  It was funny to see so many parked along the main road this morning!  We found a spot for Elmer and then headed over to the action.  The Outback Gondwana Foundation had set up a small display of three diprotodon vertebrae and a fibula.  In chatting with the representative we learned the bones were mineralised, not fossilised (which is a much longer process).

The Paroo Shire Council Mayor and the Member for Warrego were both in attendance to conduct the official unveiling - and then the statue was "open for business"!

Blackgate billies

We were on Blackgate Road fairly early (after first dropping off yesterday's annex poles). These billy goats dashed across the road quite soon after we started the drive and we saw other wildlife too.

We didn't spot any more annex poles, although we were constantly looking. In fact Nick and I were both watching one "pole" on the road but as we got closer it wriggled and then snaked off!! Our only other find was a horse racing form guide by the roadside.  Vaughan observed "it's no wonder they discarded it, there's only one horse in town"!  (Tis true, there is one horse kept at Yowah, near the fossicking area).

Friday, 25 April 2014

Who's there?!

This barn owl was standing on the road, on the way home to Yowah.

He remained in the same place when Nick stopped and I took a few photos before he (or she!) flew further away.

Nick drove slowly up to the sign-post and we were able to admire the owl for a bit longer before he/she flew off and we continued driving home - arriving around 8:45pm.  It had been a huge (ANZAC) day of adventuring, which will be long-remembered!

Winding home from Currawinya

It was around 5:30pm when we left Hungerford. We drove back through Currawinya as the sun was setting.

The golden light was beautiful on the sculptures, so we stopped for a few photos before heading off again.

There was so much wildlife on the road! These cockies flew ahead of us for several minutes before finally wheeling off at a water crossing - and we saw many roos also. As the twilight faded to darkness we all watched for cows and kangaroos wandering too close to the road. We slowed to a stop on a couple of occasions and Nick got out of the car to check on a snake. It was so long and fat he assumed it was a python but at closer quarters he saw it was a mulga snake!

Hungry at Hungerford!

We travelled down to Hungerford, hopeful of an afternoon ice-cream - and a look at the NSW/QLD dog-fence border gate!

There is no general store at Hungerford, just the pub.  I felt a bit odd walking in and asking for ice-cream, so poked around a bit first.

There were lots of wildlife posters and historical photos in the bar as well as a few souvenirs. I still couldn't see any groceries (as per a sign in the street) but one of the locals assured me there was a box of ice creams in the freezer (behind the bar). 

He then walked into the kitchen to fetch the bar-tender and we were given a choice of three flavours!

We sat at the table outside to eat, admiring the simple sculptures while Vaughan played with Tilly the cocker spaniel(ish) dog!

We took particular note of the name because we know Tilly the boxer!

Nick found this huge weevil and showed it to Vaughan, who was very impressed by it's size!  We've seen other weevils at Yowah and while bush-walking other places but they were all midgets in comparison with this fellow!

Currawinya Lakes

When chatting with Peter, we asked what we should see after lunch. He suggested heading down to view the lakes - and we're glad we did!

"Currawinya wetlands are Wetlands of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention. The Currawinya lakes are among the most significant wetlands in Australia, supporting at times more than 250 000 waterbirds on fresh and saline lakes, waterholes and claypans. No other wetland in arid or southern Australia is thought to support such a high number of waterbirds consistently."

Erin was familiar with the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands through her TAFE studies (and used to volunteer at the Hunter Wetlands Centre, which is another Ramsar site) but it was a new concept to Nick and I - and made for some interesting reading.  There is a wealth of information about the lakes here.

Meeting a movie star!

I have previously mentioned watching "The Bilby Brothers" documentary last year. It impressed all of us and prompted our Charleville visit, especially to see the Bilby Sanctuary.

While we were at the sanctuary we caught a glimpse of Peter McRae (one of the "bilby brothers") who waved to the group from his truck as he was departing the complex.  Erin was particularly disappointed not to meet him more closely.  Soon after our arrival a truck drove into the park headquarters but I was pre-occupied by hunger and didn't give much thought to the ranger's identity.  Nick set up our dual-fuel stove on the picnic table and set about BBQ-ing our sausages. 

We hadn't long started eating when the ranger came over to chat - and Nick addressed him as Peter the movie star!  Peter looked a bit taken aback and said that the world was obviously hard-up for movie stars!  We chatted for a while, offering a sausage sandwich and an ANZAC biscuit - though we forgot to introduce ourselves!  We mentioned almost meeting him at Charleville and how our visit to the sanctuary had been prompted by his "movie". 

He was a lovely man and we thoroughly enjoyed meeting him, so were very happy when he agreed to pose for some group photos - and hugged all of us, too!

Seed the sculptures!

It wasn't long after the netted dragon encounter that we arrived at this set of fantastic sculptures, marking the turn-off for the park head-quarters.

The sculptor was Chris McKenzie (who also carved the giant wooden bilby at Charleville) and you can view a Flickr photo series of their construction here.

Vaughan and I enjoyed exploring the sculptures. 

We were interested in the C-shaped "seeds" also.  Some were fully enclosed, like dough-nuts and plants seemed to emerge from the centres.  I need to research them a bit more to confirm!

Fancy fellow!

Vaughan had already missed out on catching two lizards - the super-quick goanna near Eulo and a faster than expected bearded dragon on Hungerford Road

He was therefore very keen to catch this fellow - and we all admired the gorgeous captive.  From a distance, I had assumed he was a small bearded dragon and seemingly Vaughan thought it might be a very young goanna. We later spoke to a ranger, who confirmed the lizard was a central netted dragon, which had been one of our thoughts after closer examination, though the orange head tricked us!  (The males develop the orange colouration during their breeding season).

Corni Paroo

We took our time exploring the Caiwarro ruins. Erin found an unfired rifle shell. Vaughan found several car parts - as well as his usual grasshoppers. (Erin had already spotted a newly moulted locust).

It took a while to round everyone up for a short drive to the Corni Paroo Waterhole.  (I'm not sure what "corni" means but the waterhole is fed by the Paroo River).

There was a reference on the information stand map to a "Chinese garden". 

I said I would like to see it, knowing it would be a historical site.  It seems Erin was expecting something more like the Chinese Garden of Friendship at Darling Harbour.  She was obviously disappointed, though Nick and I were highly amused!

Days past

Currawinya National Park was gazetted in 1991.  It covers an area of 151,300 hectares, based on two of the oldest pastoral properties on the Paroo River - Currawinya and Caiwarro. Both leases were taken up in the early 1860s.

The Caiwarro homestead was built in 1891, to replace an earlier building on the banks of the Paroo River.

"In 1906 at Caiwarro alone, 60,000 sheep were shorn by 20 shearers and at shearing time there were over 100 men on the place. They produced a record 101 bales on a single bullock wagon. There were three cricket teams, which played matches on Sunday."

The Caiwarro homestead remained in use until 1971, after which both properties were managed from Currawinya.

"When Caiwarro homestead was closed it had a fine garden of tall palm trees, shrubs, rose bushes and lawns and an orchard. Caiwarro was also able to maintain its own farm, flood irrigated by a steam pump from the river and a homestead vegetable garden."

You can read more about the history of Currawinya National Park here and here.  It's interesting reading and gives far more information than the park's website.

Go, go, Goanna!

Vaughan was keen to catch this goanna, so enlisted Nick's aid. It was looking good for a very brief moment - and then it just looked funny as the two of them took off, trying to chase down the rapid reptile!

He/she got away, finding sanctuary in a large hole.

Surely you joust?!

We packed our ANZAC Day picnic, which as a change included Charleville sausages rather than those won during the raffle! We also took some of our ANZAC biscuits, then set off down Blackgate Road.

We've been listening to a lot of "Ranger's Apprentice" for the past couple of months. It was a few books back that we encountered a baddie knight who would challenge others by saying "Ah am coming to slay you"! Vaughan and I still use the phrase on occasion (with fake French accents), so when we stopped to collect these annex poles scattered along the track, it seemed a good opportunity to present lances!

We've since dropped the poles to the caravan park at Yowah, in the hope that their owner might return to collect them.

ANZAC Day dawn service

We were all up at 5:30am today, so as to assemble near the caravan park shop by 6:00am for the ANZAC Day march and dawn service.

We were offered orders of service. As a former member of the armed forces, Nick was given a wreath to carry (and later place on the memorial).

We then "formed up" in rows of three and the leader of the march carried a beautiful kerosene lantern to light our way along the road.

Nick, Vaughan and I were in the second row, so couldn't see what was going on behind us but every so often there was an instruction to "slow down" and we did our best to pace ourselves between the leaders and the followers!  We gathered at the memorial and I was surprised to see so around thirty people in attendance (as Yowah's resident population is "about 60", according to the Paroo Shire Council).

It was a good service.  Vaughan and his teacher represented the school - and laid a wreath that the students made yesterday.  One of the local station owners did a fly-over at the conclusion of the formalities - then we shared a tea and toast breakfast.

Very generous "tots" of rum were served and we chatted for a little while before heading home to pack up for our day's adventuring.  

Thursday, 24 April 2014

ANZAC Biscuits

Vaughan helped me "build" ANZAC biscuits this evening, after we'd cranked Louie's fuel stove into action!

We made a double batch of the mixture and created many, many biscuits. I didn't bring any baking trays with me - and they are not an item that Louie uses, so I improvised. 

I'd bought two cake tins at Charleville, which provided enough space for five biscuits at a time.  I also used our enamel camping dishes, which worked well for four biscuits per "tray".

A couple of batches were a bit over-done but not many biccies were wasted.  We've each sampled a few and I've packed a generous dozen into a plastic container, for our ANZAC Day picnic tomorrow.  There were more than two dozen biscuits left.  They've been sorted into smaller piles and packed into freezer bags, to give away.  I only have one large plastic container, so our sample bags have been stashed in one of our large billies, ready to gift tomorrow.

Thursday treat!

Erin and I went up to the "day spa" this morning and spent an hour or more soaking/wallowing in lots of warm water!  I can't speak for Erin but my bath was full nearly to the brim - wonderful!

We have a bit over a week left of our extended holiday.  I'm making the most of endless water, while I can. Once we are home again, we'll be using tank water - which is either limited by rainfall or boosted by small amounts of bore water, in the hope that it will rain.

In both cases, huge baths are really not the done thing!

Erin had a few mozzies in her yellow cubicle, so finished her bathing more quickly than she had intended.

By that stage I'd washed my hair and washed off my face mask.  Even so, I took a bit longer to extract myself from the water.  Once we were dressed, we called for Nick to chauffeur us home!

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

More sprouts!

Although we grew sprouts successfully soon after arrival, our efforts failed repeatedly when the temperatures got hotter, so we set aside the sprouter.

Around the time of our Charleville trip, our Yowah evenings were becoming cooler.  The days are still quite warm, though not quite as hot as previously.  Erin started another batch of seeds a few days ago and the stir-fry mix was deemed ready for use tonight.  We enjoyed the sprouts as part of a very tasty honey soy chicken stir-fry.  The alfalfa is also doing well but needs another day or so before we eat it.

An outing!

Last year one of our friends extended an invitation for us to view his open-cut mine.  We'd been looking forward to going and today was the day for the tour. 

We enjoyed a lovely outing - sharing our sausage sizzle lunch, poking around while admiring the views and fossicking a bit.

It was a beautiful area and we definitely understood the attraction of camping out even if not mining (and golf by moonlight sounded pretty neat, too)!

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Yellow fellow

Erin and I spent a few hours with the craft ladies again this morning.

I'd made the blue owl through the week and cut out the yellow one late last night, using some of my Charleville felt. I put him together this morning, then started stitching my fifth (green) owl.

The craft ladies are holding a biggest morning tea event on 6 May (after we've left). They are putting together a basket of items to raffle as part of their fund-raising. The broad theme is yellow, so I'll donate today's owl and Erin is making a bunch of knitted daffodils (in keeping with the Cancer Council's symbol).

Monday, 21 April 2014

Blue door

We are conscious that we'll be leaving Yowah in eleven days. The weeks have flown by and while our remaining time is longer than many people enjoy as a usual holiday, we'll be sad to go.

We made a list today of activities still to enjoy - or enjoy again. With our list in mind, Vaughan and I headed up to the open-roof bath-house this evening.

He claimed the orange-door stall as it had a green bath and two skinks in the other one - so I tried the end blue-door cubicle.

I had a slightly different view of the tree-tops and enjoyed listening to some birds (and Vaughan's chatter) while watching the sky change colour.  There were a couple of mozzies about and Vaughan decided he'd had enough bathing about thirty minutes after arrival.  A few wisps of pink cloud were just becoming visible when we headed home again, admiring the sunset.

An afternoon at the races!

We were a bit sad to miss out on the Charleville yabby racing, so decided to hold some of our own when back at Yowah. Today was deemed a fine day for the event.

Of course, a race needs participants - and our first mission was to catch some! We bought two nets, made a quick stoop back at home for rope and a bucket - then headed off to a nearby creek.

We'd already packed up provisions for a late lunch BBQ (using some of our prize sausages).

At the creek, our two nets were baited with some YOMSCI sausage, which we hoped would entice good racing yabbies.

Nick lit the dual fuel stove, to BBQ the remaining eleven sausages. (We'd divided our meat tray prize into five manageable packs).

As we sat eating lunch, there was discussion as to the best method for conducting a yabby race - as well as guesses about how many yabbies we might catch.

Vaughan's net yielded many fish and one crab, while Erin's had less fish and one large yabby. (All the fish were returned to the creek, as quickly as possible).

We didn't have enough participants for a yabby race, so held six crustacean races instead!  Our contestants were named for Ranger's Apprentice characters.  Will Treaty (the crab) won three races and Erak (the yabby) won the other three!

Will and Erak had one last race, back into the creek!  We had a lot of fun and I expect we may well enjoy more yabby racing in the future because we far prefer catching yabbies to eating them!

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Sunrise, sunset ...

We started the day watching the sun rise over the Bluff, so it seemed fitting to end the day on the Bluff also, viewing the sunset.

Our decision was fairly spontaneous but I managed to chill our well-travelled bottle of bubbles and put together a good array of nibbles.

We took our picnic to the western side of the Bluff and set up in time to watch the sun, slowly sinking behind the tree-line.  It was a very pleasant end to our first Easter Sunday at Yowah.

My 2004 Tamburlaine bubbles have made various moves with us before being relocated to Melbourne. The bottle may have done a loop up to Wagga Wagga as practice for the long drive up to Yowah. Since our arrival, it's also journeyed to Thargomindah, Innamincka and Charleville!