I have to confess it's been ages since I last updated this site and quite a bit has happened.
Firstly, ever since Pam and I received our flu jabs on 24th April, a month ago, we've cycled through constant flu, coughs and colds,
never being free of them altogether. We're hoping we are coming out on the right side now.
The Bright Festival was as good as ever. I won't show you all the floats and bands and sweet little children looking as if butter wouldn't melt in their mouths, they're much the same as at previous festivals. But . . . look at the expression on this character's face!
One difference at this year's festival was the inclusion of a Roulette, one member of the R.A.A.F.'s crack aerobatic team. The team specialises in tight formation flying and daring head-on approaches, neither of which can be done with a single aircraft. However, given the restricted air space in the Ovens valley, he (or she) put on a good display of low passes, loops and rolls, all with white smoke streaming behind.
Guess what? I have some great pictures of the Roulette over Bright. Who'd like to see one? What, neither of you? Well, okay.
But wait, I also have some pictures of the State Emergency Service boys and girls cutting a 'casualty' out of a 'crashed' car. Interested?
These wonderful people are all volunteers and are on call day and night to help others. They must see some horrific sights and become traumatised at times but still they give their time to train and be ready when we need help. Their blood's worth bottling.
The local historian, Diane Talbot, who is always good value, was conducting a lantern tour of Ye Olde Bright Cemetery and we wouldn't have missed it for the world. It had been organised as an evening tour but those damned interfering Health and Safety spoilsports put a stop to that. Too dangerous, they said. You might twist your ankle in a rabbit hole in the dark. Well you Health and Safety people, guess what? It's MY ankle and it's MY risk. When I want your interference I'll let you know - but don't hold your breath waiting. Until then, BUTT OUT AND STAY OUT!
So we started the tour in daylight and carried torches powered by electrickery, not lanterns. Now I initially thought that the tour would be ruined but when I later looked at my photos, a terrible shiver ran down my spine. Below is the first photo, taken in daylight, and I want you to look carefully at all the people in the picture. Diane is in the foreground with her notes, but look carefully at the rest.
As the sun set and darkness fell, I dropped behind the rest of the party. I felt safer, alone amongst the shadowy tombstones. Do graveyards always smell of dank earth? Was I imagining it or was that odour stronger near the group?
Thankfully the moon eventually rose above the mountains and, like Dracula at sunrise, the sense of evil dissipated and the tour members all laughed and chatted normally as we descended to the cemetery gates and the safety of our cars. However, I couldn't help noticing, Diane was not with us . . .
Yes, it's true. We didn't mean to, not at all. It sort of happened. Let me start at the beginning . . .
While in Albury another caravan hit our awning and damaged it. Being Easter it was impossible to get it fixed quickly and we didn't want to be delayed so we proceeded on to Bright. There was nowhere at Bright to get the awning fixed but we discovered a place in Wangaratta, about ninety kilometres distant. We arranged to stop off at Wang (as Wangaratta is known) to get the repairs done on leaving Bright. Researching the location of this caravan yard (wonderful Google Earth) we discovered it was very tricky to enter with a caravan from one direction. We decided to take a drive out and visit the yard without the 'van.
On arrival we took a walk around the 'vans which were for sale - as you do - and came across a six month old Jayco Starcraft which had only been used once and was absolutely pristine. Our Jayco Heritage had been all over Australia in full sun for eight years and was beginning to show it. There were some issues with it that were going to need attention sooner rather than later - expensive issues. One solution to that problem came in the shape of this Starcraft.
To cut a long story short, after a lot of haggling we came to a compromise solution and traded in the Heritage for the Starcraft. I'm not sure whether we came out in front or not but it's all academic, now. We have a fresh start with everything new. Pam is delighted; opening a cupboard door in the back reveals a washing machine! Guess it's time for some pictures.
All the lights on this 'van are LEDs, inside and out. There are fifteen internal lights varying from soft 'mood' lights to bright general purpose lights. Then there are bedside reading lamps, down lights and mirror illumination lights. (I'm not counting microwave lights, etc.) Unfortunately Jayco still doesn't install light switches that can be reached comfortably by short people, so if you see Pam jumping at the ceiling with a wooden spoon outstretched above her, that is what she's doing.
On our way north we stayed at Temora Airfield again. There's always plenty
of activity at Temora, especially on the Showcase flying weekends and this
was no exception. One evening the skydivers were free-falling from 12,000
feet. The Cessna they jump from is almost too high to see, but is still clearly
audible from the ground. When the engine noise suddenly dies you know the
pilot has throttled back and the jumpers, adrenalin pumping, are preparing
to leap into space. We watched as a tiny dot detached itself from the plane
and plummeted down, reaching a terminal velocity of 120 miles per hour. We
saw the parachute canopy open and heard the delayed sharp
Crack! as the
sound trailed the visual image to the ground. All's well, we thought, and
A little later I looked up again and saw, not only the descending parachute with the instructor and passenger dangling below, but a second object that resembled a very large twisted sheet. It spiralled down much faster than the parachute and disappeared behind a hangar. I thought it must have been a second parachutist whose canopy had failed to deploy. I thought we had witnessed the last seconds of someone's life.
Fortunately that turned out not to be the case. There had only been one parachute with an instructor and a paying passenger. We had seen the canopy open and looked away, not realising that some of the lines had looped over the canopy, preventing it opening fully. The instructor had released that canopy, fallen free, and then deployed his reserve 'chute which thankfully opened correctly.
I had walked across to their hangar and was amazed to find the instructor totally relaxed and at ease, as if this happened every day. His passenger was 'stoked' with the excitement and probably unaware of the danger he'd been in. Once the adrenalin rush had faded and he was able to think coherently, perhaps he would view his experience differently. Full marks to the instructor for remaining so calm and bringing about a successful outcome, though I doubt very much that he was half as relaxed as he appeared.
Who packed the offending parachute? I don't know, but almost certainly that same instructor. Did he do something wrong, or was it just 'one of those things'. Given that his life depended on his packing skill, I'd say he'd just been unlucky and his skill and experience had brought them through. But again, I'm only guessing.
Footnote: This re-working of Page 165 was completed on 4 April 2013. It conforms to HTML5 and CSS level 3.