Page 152: bell park caravan park
     
  Phil Bale, Champion Can crusher  
 

I've told you about the 'happy hours' at Bell Park. Well, this tends to result in a very large collection of empty drink cans which are able to be recycled. An empty drink can's volume is disproportionate to its weight so recyclers will only collect crushed cans and that's where Phil Bale comes in. He voluntarily took on the job of crushing the cans, on one occasion until his hands blistered and bled.

Jim Waterman organises the sale of the crushed cans, the proceeds of which go to various local community funds, and Susie Waterman collects all the ring pulls from the cans as they contain a valuable alloy that can be reused in the manufacture of wheelchairs and prosthetics. What a team!

Of course, none of this would be possible without the happy hour drinkers, would it?

 
     
   
  Phil Bale crushing drink cans collected by the happy campers at Bell Park who put a special effort into their drinking because the proceeds are for a good cause. It's a bit like painting the Sydney Harbour Bridge for Phil - a never ending job. On ya Phil, mate.  
     
   
  Jim Waterman had a polished wooden shield made up to thank Phil for all the can-crushing work he does.
He presented it to Phil and his wife, Bev, at a special happy hour. Who is that little minx in purple behind Jim?
 
     
   
  Phil and Bev with the shield, the wording on which is shown inset.
Appropriately mounted on the shield is a specially crushed VB beer can.
 
     
  another special person in emu park  
 

Janet Kneebone is a lovely lady who spends her very active life doing voluntarily work for different community organisations. Janet works for the local State Emergency Service and is a volunteer Police Woman.

Together with all her other voluntary work she hardly has a minute to herself. She used to live in Bell Park Caravan Park so is a familiar face here, as is Bill, her husband.

Janet (right) at a recent evening dinner at
the local Bowling Club. On the left is
Joy, another of Emu Park's residents.

All in all, they are a really great bunch of people here at Emu Park. We have seldom, if ever, felt so relaxed and content in any caravan park.

Did I mention that, on a previous visit, we were invited to spend Christmas Day with Jim and Susie? It was a fabulous day.

 
     
  A very Industrious Australian Brush-turkey  
     
   
  In the yellow circle is an Australian Brush-turkey. The pile of leaf litter in which he is standing has been kicked there from many
metres away by the bird. His destination is a nest under construction in the scrub behind the caravan (centre top).
You can see the trail of leaves he has left behind, running from the camera to the bird.
 
     
   
  Only the males build and maintain the nests. This fine fellow is moving the leaves by standing in the pile, facing the way he's come,
and scooping the litter backwards with his feet. His left foot is in the process of scooping up more leaves to kick backwards.
 
     
 

Eventually a mound of organic debris up to four metres in diameter and a metre high will be formed by Mr Turkey. His next job is to regulate the internal temperature of the rotting mound to 33–35°C at a depth of about fifty centimetres. He does this by scooping matter off the mound to allow heat to escape or adding more on to build up the temperature. Several females will come to his mound to mate and lay their eggs which the male will cover to maintain the desired incubation temperature which affects the gender ratio of the chicks. The ratio is equal at 34°C but when cooler, results in more males and when warmer, more females. It is unclear whether the parents use this to manipulate the sex of their offspring by, for instance, selecting the nesting site accordingly. Warmer incubation also results in heavier, fitter chicks but how this is linked to gender is not known.

Since the incubation temperature is so critical, how does the male achieve it? It seems he burrows his head into the mound and takes a beakful of rotting litter. With his highly accurate heat sensors inside his upper bill he can tell whether he needs to do any adjustment to the mound. How do we humans know all this? Well I got it from the Internet; I've no idea who first discovered it.

The incubation period is about seven weeks. During this time the male guards the eggs and maintains the temperature. On hatching, the chicks dig themselves out and set about finding food. Within hours they are able to fly. However, they have many predators and with neither parent now looking out for them, as little as one bird in two hundred may reach maturity. (If you look at the picture below you'll see one of those predators.)

Note that the adult Brush-turkeys are well up with current fashion, wearing a yellow scarf to hide their turkey necks.

I want to know how Mr Turkey cools the eggs when the ambient temperature is up around forty degrees? I also want to know how Mrs Turkey has managed to achieve such a good life for herself. All she does is mate, lay eggs, then shoot through leaving hubby to do everything. I need to recognise the early signs in case Pam gets any ideas.

 
     
   
 

In the middle of happy hour one evening Jim walked in with a python which he'd picked up somewhere.
Susie was less than impressed. Pam was severely unimpressed . . . as was the python.

 
     
  Future Plans  
 

We've decided to leave Emu Park at the end of October and head south to arrive near Temora in time for the Warbirds Down Under air show in November.

 
     
   
  This picture is really an exercise in improving my maps using multiple 'layers' as I'm finding problems with repeatedly
updating a single layer image. The red line shows where we will stop off on this 1,578 km trek south. We're in no hurry.
 
     
  Jim's lights  
 

Bell Park Caravan Park is a favourite winter resort for lawn bowling nomads from the southern states; Mexicans they get called. Just a few hundred metres from the caravan park is a nice lawn bowling club; an easy stroll for anyone fit enough to bowl. The club has a bar and serves excellent meals at $10 a time. However, strolling back after dark was something of a risky business as the bitumen path twists and turns and there are no lights whatsoever.

Jim Waterman decided this wasn't good enough so he raised funds and obtained a quantity of solar powered lights from China. Like many modern garden lights their photo voltaic cells charge a battery (or capacitor) during daylight then automatically switch on six bright LED lights as darkness falls. These, however, are designed to sit flush with the ground and, like highway 'cats’ eyes', will withstand vehicles driving over them.

Jim and some volunteers dug out around seventy holes on both sides of the bitumen track to the bowling club and concreted in the new lamps.

 
     
   
  I strolled down the path towards the bowling club and found I was almost too late to offer assistance.  
     
   
  I was almost at the bowling club before I came across Jim and 'Stretch', both dripping with sweat.  
     
   
  That evening I took the camera to try and capture the effect. It wasn't as dark is the picture indicates but even had it been,
I could have quite safely walked the path. Some lights look a little dim; in fact they are not, just sunk a little below the
level of the grass to prevent them becoming a mower hazard.
 
     
 

As I sat on a bench next to the track to await the passing of some cars on the road I heard steps approaching in the dark. Should I keep quiet or say something? It turned out to be a woman and I said "G'day". The footsteps didn't falter and there was a long silence then a mumbled something in return. I guess I gave her a bad scare but probably not as bad as if she'd noticed me sitting in silence in the dark, not a metre away.

I decided I'd best go back to the caravan park before the police or a posse from the bowling club came looking. Who'd believe I was innocently taking photographs in the dark?

But back to Jim's lights. He's done an excellent job and I just hope no low-life tries to wreck them. On ya, Jim.

 
     
  correction!  
 

I have, previously in these pages, stated that Mawson's Peak on Big Ben, situated on Heard Island in Australian Antarctic Territory, is Australia's highest mountain at 2,745 metres. It appears that honour actually belongs to Mount McClintock at 3,490 metres which is also in Australian Antarctic Territory. Just to confuse the matter further, elevations in excess of 4,000 metres exist in the western sector of the Antarctic Territory but these are generally not considered mountains. Ice mounds, perhaps?

Mount Koscuiszko, at 2,228 metres, is the highest point on mainland Australia.

I sourced this information from this Government web site which was last updated in April 2011. Look at the bottom of the page.

Also this link is on the same subject.

Apologies for the previous error.

 
     
  while we're in the antarctic . . .  
     
 

To the right is a map of the Antarctic. Shaded in pink is Australian Antarctic Territory, by far the largest slice claimed by any country. In fact, it was not initially claimed by Australia but by Britain and subsequently handed to Australia in 1933. Probably along the lines of: "Here you are, Mate, we can't find anything valuable there and it's too far away to defend so you mob might as well have it."

The Australian Antarctic Territory Acceptance Act 1933 acknowledged the transfer. The United Kingdom, New Zealand, France and Norway recognise Australia's claim but most nations do not. Japan, especially, rejects any claim that Australia has over Australian Antarctic territorial waters as that is where they hunt for whales. Purely for scientific purposes, naturally.

Did I say that France accepts Australia's claim? How unlike the French to do anything so obliging. Could it be, I wonder, because the yellow sliver on the map, known as Adélie Land, is claimed by France? I'm sure they feel more comfortable with a good-hearted neighbour like Australia snuggling up to them than a nation that doesn't like them. And God knows, they wouldn't have to look far to find one of those.

Anyway, who owns what seems to be very tentative in the Antarctic. If rich deposits of anything valuable are found it could be determined by who has the biggest guns.

Much credit is due to Wikipedia for the information in this section.