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Page 36





Emu Park to Tamworth

Cania Gorge

It was quite a wrench leaving Emu Park where everybody had been so friendly and nice to us but we were getting itchy feet again. The journey to Cania Gorge was uneventful, even Alice behaving impeccably. We'd heard Cania Gorge described as the most beautiful place in Australia, and while it was certainly lovely, neither of us would go quite that far.

Cania Dam

Like so many dams in Australia, the water level in Cania Dam was critically low.

The Cania Gorge Caravan Park was large with plenty of green grass and trees. The park management was relaxed and friendly without too many restrictions. The park was packed with campers, mostly in tents, who had brought their kids away for the Christmas holiday. Oh, well, you can't win them all.

At five o'clock each afternoon the park manager fed the birds and this had become a popular attraction. Between one hundred and two hundred Rainbow Lorikeets had learned the procedure and would fill the surrounding trees as five o'clock approached, their screeching quite deafening. Park visitors gathered around the feeding area - quite a sizable crowd during our visit. The park manager first gave a short talk on the birds which few could hear because those same birds were making such a noise. He then poured some sort of sludgy porridge into dishes on the top of short poles and the lorikeets descended upon it like they hadn't eaten for a week - see photo below right. While they made short work of that, he brought around a bucket of mixed seeds which he tipped into the hands of anyone who wanted some. Immediately a lorikeet or two would land on your hand and begin eating the seed. Sometimes as many as four at a time would be feeding from one hand though that would quickly end in a fight. They had little fear of humans though, and thought nothing of sitting on people's heads.

Rainbow Lorikeets

The occasional bird would prefer the soft flesh on the palm of my
hand to the seed, and those beaks were sharp and powerful!

Ever heard of a Bettong?

Bettongs are small kangaroos which are also, rather unkindly, referred to as Rat-kangaroos. They are about the same size as large rats and they do look a bit like rats with their long tails. However, there any resemblance ends. Look at that pretty face and those back legs.

Bettong

One of the many bettongs living around Cania Gorge Caravan Park

The little bettongs at Cania Gorge had cottoned on to the fact that those over-fed lorikeets weren't too fussy about finding all the seeds that fell into the grass. At dusk every day they hopped out from their daytime hiding place and cleaned up after the lorikeets. Like the birds, they had become used to humans and were not nearly as shy as they would normally be. Thus they had become a secondary attraction and I was able to photograph this one using a flash without the bettong taking the slightest notice.

Ubobo

Have you ever listened to Ian McNamara (Macca) in his Australia All Over programme on ABC radio on a Sunday morning? If so you may have heard him mention Ubobo. You may even have heard him host his show from that small Queensland town a few years ago. To call it a town is stretching it a bit, it's really just a small village. Only about twenty people live in Ubobo though there's another couple of hundred in outlying farms. Macca commented that they didn't need the village hall, he could have broadcast the show from the one and only phone box which is situated outside the one and only shop in the village. That remark seemed to catch the imagination of the listening public and there have been many references to Ubobo in later programmes. We were still in Perth at that time and the name fascinated us so much that we went so far as to look it up on the map, though not without difficulty. While at Cania Gorge we discovered that this village was an hour's drive away so we just had to go and see it.

The road from Monto to Ubobo passed through some beautiful countryside. It was sometimes bitumen and sometimes gravel - there seemed no real logic behind it. About a dozen times it crossed the same railway and the crossings were always uncontrolled which meant we had to stop each time and check for approaching trains. The same applied on the return journey, of course, though we never saw a train all day. A more immediate hazard were the Brahman cattle which wandered across the unfenced road at will. This breed originated in India and are far more suited to Australian conditions than European cattle. They were cross-bred with European cattle to produce fine specimens which both tolerate the conditions and produce good beef. However, back to Ubobo . . .

On arriving in the village we found it quite charming. There were two pretty little churches, a general store with petrol pumps, a few houses and a school. There was no post office, pub or police station though the Country Women's Association did have a hall there, despite there only being about five members. Near the general store was the renowned telephone box.

Many years after our visit to Ubobo we received an email from a lady called Trish who took me to task for stating that there was no police station there. She pointed out that there is, in fact, a police station covering the area of Ubobo, Boyne Valley and Many Peaks which is manned by her brother. Thank you Trish, I accept your reprimand and will try to do better.

We called at the store, there being nowhere else to go, and had a chat about the village with the owner, a very pleasant lady.

Ubobo Store

The Ubobo General Store and THAT phone box. This photograph was taken by a local
lady, Barbara Bowman, for a picture postcard. Having forgotten our cameras that day
we bought a card and 'borrowed' the image. We acknowledge her copyright.

Ubobo had a sleepy ambience with countryside stretching away to distant mountains. During the time we were in the store, many of the village residents called in, the store being the hub and communication centre of the village. Naturally everybody knew everybody else, and doubtless their business too. We suggested that they should commission a sculpture of Macca to erect opposite the General Store since he had put Ubobo on the map. This idea was accepted with enthusiasm though only time will tell whether anything comes of it.

On the way back we wondered whether a round trip of two hundred kilometres to see Ubobo was justified. For us it was, but you may think we are totally crazy.

To Towoomba and a Couple of Mishaps

Leaving Cania Gorge after six days we travelled on south to Toowoomba where we were to meet up with our old travelling companions, Ross and Jan Taylor. On the journey we stopped for a scheduled break at a place called Dalby. As usual, I walked around the caravan to count the wheels. They were all present but one of them was not where it should be. Ho-hum, here we go again.

It was the same problem that had occurred in Pine Gap in 2005 but this time it was a different wheel. When we rectified the problem last time we bought four of each of the bits we needed on the assumption that if you have what you need, you'll never need it. However Murphy isn't that easily fooled.

We jacked up the caravan, took off the wheel, removed the U-bolts holding the axle to the springs, re-assembled the springs which were all out of line and fitted a new bolt in place of the broken one. We then dragged the axle back to where it should be and bolted everything together with new Nyloc nuts on the U-bolts. With assistance from my Trade Assistant (T.A.) and her glasses (Does it say 18 mm on this spanner?) we were back on the road in two hours. However, Murphy hadn't quite finished with us.

The caravan park at Toowoomba provided two concrete pads on which the caravan wheels were to be parked to ensure the 'van was laterally level. Pam reversed us onto the pads and stopped exactly where I asked her to. We then proceeded with the routine of unhitching the car and stabilising the 'van. As the ground sloped down I decided to support the front of the 'van on stands. It was when I removed the jack supporting the drawbar that things went pear shaped. The front of the caravan suddenly lurched to the right, then paused but kept making ominous groaning noises.

Pam, who was inside the 'van, came to the door to see what had happened. I was yelling at her to keep still, or to get out, I can't remember now. Then the front of the 'van swung more to the right, tipping over the stands that were supporting it and bringing the front of the caravan crashing to the ground. As it started to go I shouted, Pam, brace yourself.

Pam didn't hear me and wouldn't have had a clue what I meant if she had. We later had a good laugh about that - it was the first thing that entered my head. Anyway, nobody was hurt and nothing was damaged. It transpired that the right rear wheel had been poised on the very end of the concrete pad and as I removed the jack it started to roll off, causing that side of the 'van to pivot backwards. Pam was shaken but not stirred. Righting the 'van was not going to be a problem, we carry three jacks. What did concern me was that I had not checked the wheel positions before unhitching.

We jacked up the 'van but as it was now totally out of line we had to reconnect it to the car and start over. It was about then that the rain started to fall . . .

Next day Ross and Jan drove over from Brisbane for the day and we had a very enjoyable time with them. We only stayed two nights in Toowoomba then set off for Tamworth, a long trip of 500 kilometres.

Tamworth

We were pretty damn tired by the time we arrived to find our chosen park practically full, there only being three sites remaining despite the Country Music Festival not starting for another twelve days. However, one site was all we needed so we soon got sorted out. We were now in the state of New South Wales which was on 'daylight saving' time and so was an hour ahead of Queensland. This caused some confusion as some clocks have to be manually changed while others (the GPS and the mobile phone) are supposed to adjust themselves automatically. Well, the phone did, the GPS had a tantrum and the satellite decoder box required either:

Tamworth was extremely dry and brown after Queensland and due to water restrictions the caravan park management was not allowed to water the grass. We were camped on the banks of the Peel River but, although there were pools along the river bed, there was no discernable flow.

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Footnote: This re-working of Page 36 was completed on 20 April 2013. It conforms to HTML5 and CSS level 3.