To Queensland and Back
- Thursday 23 May: We left Porepunkah, Victoria, for Temora, NSW. The journey was uneventful.
- Friday 24 May: Travelled from Temora to Dubbo. Weather perfect, journey uneventful.
- Saturday 25 May: Dubbo to Narrabri. Weather still perfect, journey uneventful. The temperature increases daily.
- Sunday 26 May: From Narrabri to Goondiwindi, now just in Queensland. Weather again perfect, journey uneventful.
- Monday 27 May: Goondiwindi to Miles (Possum Park). Journey uneventful. See below for developments at Possum Park.
- Tuesday 28 May: Miles to Banana. A continual succession of roadworks, each monitored by two self-important lollypop men.
- Wednesday 29 May: Finally, Banana to Emu Park in pouring rain.
Everything went well; we arrived in Emu Park three days early.
Possum Park, ever innovative, has a novel development.
This wonderful caravan park is quite unique. We described it on Page 155 and probably elsewhere too, so I won't repeat it all here.
I'm going to have to ask you to cut me some slack, as the Yanks would say. I promised you this would be an aircraft-free page but I can't show you what's happening at Possum Park without - sort of - breaking my word.
Way back in the 1950s, Vickers Viscount VH-TVL looked very different in her T.A.A. livery.
Since we were last at Possum Park exactly a year ago, Julie and David, the park owners, rescued this Viscount fuselage and tail fin from a Toowoomba scrapyard and transported it 200km to Possum Park. They had prepared a site for it and cradles to support it when the crane
lifted it from the low loader. They plan to paint the cabin roof white, repaint
the blue stripe and buff up the aluminium below the stripe. The tail fin will
receive similar treatment and be remounted. The windows will be
replaced as necessary and the inside fitted out as accommodation. The flight
deck may become a tea room. So if anybody has a spare pair of Viscount wings, engine nacelles, undercarriage and tailplane, here's your chance to make a buck.
The Vickers Viscount was the world's first gas turbine powered passenger aircraft to enter service. It's hard to believe, looking at the picture above, but this very aircraft, VH-TVL, set a speed record (4 hours 25 minutes) from Adelaide to Perth on July 23rd 1957. Then a few weeks later set another record flying from Longreach to Brisbane in 1 hour 52 minutes.
Those Damned Roadworks
There was millions of dollar's worth of graders, rollers, water trucks, etc scattered along the verges. There were dozens of smaller vehicles with flashing amber strobes parked around the place. There were red and white cones everywhere. The men all wore high visibility jackets and hard hats with little cloth rectangles protecting their necks from the sun. Most were leaning on utes, talking to the drivers. One man stood at either end of the closed section of road holding a lollipop sign indicating 'Slow' or 'Stop'. The lollipop men speak surreptitiously into walkie-talkies like undercover police. The one at our end looked very important and stared hard at me, perhaps planning what to do if I moved a wheel without authority. Another man stood behind him as backup. Eventually the lollipop was rotated 180° to display 'Slow'. The Traffic Control Officer took a pace forward, still staring at me, and pointed with his free hand towards the only open lane. Alternatives were non-existent; I was forced to obey. I raised a hand and smiled at him. He continued to stare, obviously regretting having to let us go. We trundled along the single lane trying to see if we could spot a man actually working. Apart from the lollipop man at the far end, we couldn't. That man too had the same stare; perhaps they teach it in lollipop school.
Soon we were back up to speed, trying not to hold up the mile of traffic behind us. We rounded a corner and there were more roadworks. Another lollipop man holding out another sign: Stop! And then again, and again, and again. The good old Leichhardt Highway.
I apologise for not posting new stories and pictures. The reason is that, being back in Emu Park for the winter, there's not a lot that we haven't previously explored. I am spending my time maintaining our equipment and upgrading this site. As you'll notice, this is Page 179 and much of what went before didn't comply with website standards. I am completely re-working earlier pages and so far have reached Page 60 (not completed yet). From Page 155 onwards all is okay so I have another 95 pages to do, then Pam's journal will need the same treatment followed by a dozen 'Miscellaneous' pages. Each page takes between one and three hours so I have plenty to do.
One aim is to improve the pictures as I go wherever I can locate the originals. I wish I'd stored them in an orderly manner but didn't anticipate this situation arising. For every picture I use on this site there are often ten more that don't get used. Most are stored on discs but not in any really organised way; many are duplicated and doubtless some are missing.
Who determines what is right and what is not on a website? An organisation called the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). Quoting: The World Wide Web Consortium is an international community where member organizations, a full-time staff and the public work together to develop Web standards. Led by Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee and CEO Jeffrey Jaffe, W3C's mission is to lead the Web to its full potential.
I just hope they don't move the goalposts as soon as I finish complying with present standards 'cos I'm NOT doing it all again!
A nice picture of the Bell Park Caravan Park
Taken from a DJI
Phantom model quadcopter.
Now you can see what attracts us back to Bell Park in the winter. Apart, that is, from the lovely people here, the social life, the warm sunshine and the little village of Emu Park.
I could tell you about the very intelligent GPS guided quadcopter but, although a model, I suppose it still counts as an aircraft and I pushed my luck by showing you the Viscount (above) after promising NO AIRCRAFT on this page. I'll just tell you that it's battery powered, super quiet and only about 50cm wide and long. Amazing!
Hey ho, we've been having computer problems. It's all Pam's fault, of course. She plays some game that uses so much of the CPU's capacity that it gets very hot. I would hear the cooling fan running flat out and kept warning her, "You'll cook it!" but to no avail. Then it happened. The temperature problem had been exacerbated by the cooling air from the fan being blocked by fluff and dust in a place that you can't see, let alone access. Worse, the whole laptop has to be disassembled to open the fan casing and clean it properly. My laptop was exactly the same. Bad design.
Anyway, to cut a long story short the problem was on the motherboard and I bought a reconditioned one from China, new ones no longer being available, and installed it in my 'poota which then refused to start up. I disassembled it all again to check all connections. It did start eventually and has behaved impeccably for the last ten days but I don't trust it
Preparing to move after 20 weeks on the Capricorn Coast
As I write this we are 48 hours from leaving Emu Park and tracking south. One of the more arduous tasks that we do before leaving is clean the caravan awning, upper side and lower side. The air is clean on the coast and the awning didn't look too dirty - not until I'd washed some of it.
Not dirty? It was filthy.
At least there's satisfaction in washing something when the difference is so marked. It dried in no time in the hot sunshine and stiff breeze so I rolled it in and secured it for travel. That way the flying foxes have less chance of pooping on it. There were only a few hundred of them when we arrived but now I estimate there must be five thousand.
Dusk and thousands of fruit bats stream away to raid somebody's fruit trees.
These little critters are protected and all attempts to relocate them have been
thwarted by 'greenies'. The plan was to lop the trees in which they roost.
A permit had to be obtained from the Queensland Government and that was conditional
on the lopping taking place only after the bats had left for the night; the
rangers cropping the trees would have to work in the dark. A vet had to be
on standby in case a bat was hurt. No mention, you'll note, about a doctor
standing by in case a ranger was hurt. Anyway, the 'greenies' claimed that
there were young bats in the colony and the work was postponed. By the time
the young bats were old enough to fend for themselves the permit had expired
- no extension was allowed.
Another permit was obtained from the Government and the same thing happened, only this time the 'greenies' claimed the female bats were pregnant. The work was cancelled. Now here's the rub; there are pregnant females in the colony for six months of every year and the resulting young are dependant on their mothers for the other six months. The 'greenies' have it all neatly sewn up.
The excrement of the bats is very corrosive when it lands on a car or caravan; it needs to be removed as soon as possible. When 'fresh' it has the consistency of black treacle. It dries quickly in the hot sun and sets like concrete. The smell of the bats is pretty powerful when a colony numbers in the thousands and the noise of them squabbling all day can be quite irritating, although I find it similar to the ticking of a clock or traffic on a nearby road in that your brain programs it out after a short time.
The bats are said to benefit the environment by pooping seeds everywhere. I don't know where they feed every night but if it's on fruit grown for the market, somebody at their destination must be tearing out their hair. Apparently bats don't eat a whole fruit, they take a bite from one then move to another.
I was right not to trust my 'Poota
It appears that the computer motherboard I purchased from China had an intermittent fault. The vendor wanted me to return it before a replacement will be sent out so that's what I've done. The current situation (as at 11th November 2013) is that the motherboard has arrived in China and its replacement should be shipped today. In the meantime we're managing with one computer between us, swapping over the hard drive each time the other needs to use it. Fortunately Pam also has an iPad so she can send/receive emails from that and browse the internet. She can't delete emails though, so when she has a turn on the Compaq she has hundreds of old emails waiting to be trashed.
Where are we now?
This site is becoming terribly disjointed. At the top of this page we were leaving Porepunkah in Victoria to spend the winter in Emu Park, Queensland. We did that and then returned to 'Punkah in the spring. On the way south we stopped off at Tamworth in New South Wales to meet up with many old friends which was lovely. Well, it was lovely for us - can't speak for them.
While in Tamworth there just happened to be an air show one weekend. I could tell you that we didn't plan to be in town for that event but I don't suppose you'd believe me. Anyway, it was badly organised and short on exhibits. At the opening of the show the local Federal Member, Barnaby Joyce, parachuted in. I never saw such disappointment in a crowd as when his parachute opened. He took the seat that the ever-popular Tony Windsor held until he recently retired. Worse, the air show commentary was given by the local State Member who didn't seem to know one end of an aeroplane from the other. Oh well, can't win them all.
After Tamworth we headed for Temora, also in New South Wales, and this time we did
know that there was to be an air show and what an air show it was! It was the Temora Aviation Museum's second Warbirds Downunder Show. The first, in 2011, was so good that sites in the caravan park (adjacent to the airfield) were snapped up as soon as the date of the second show was announced. We booked our site back in 2011 and we were almost the first to arrive being a week early. We were asked to park our 'van as far back on the site as we could as each site was to hold two caravans. By the eve of the show the park was jammed solid with caravans and motorhomes, most of them having no connection to power or water.
We had arranged to meet some good friends from my gliding days at Temora. Bernie and June had travelled from Perth with a tiny caravan that Bernie had bought and restored. They call it The Hobbit.
Bernie and June's 'Hobbit'.
Natalie, the lady who manages Temora's caravan parks, agreed to them sharing our site which was great. Very convenient for staggering home after Happy Hour.
All through the week preceding the air show, aircraft were flying in and pilots polishing their routines. We sneaked around to the Aero Club where there were seats in the shade and watched the practising from there. Nobody seemed to mind. Several times we saw David Lowie doing aerobatics in one of his Spitfires. David is the son of Frank Lowie, the Westfield Shopping Centres billionaire. Without David that wonderful museum and all that goes with it would not exist.
The Warbirds Downunder Show was, to my mind, fabulous. It even included a Lockheed Super Constellation which justified its presence there by being an example of a military version (C-121C) ordered by the U.S.A.F. in 1955. I took over five hundred photographs but, honouring my word to you, I shall not reproduce a single one on this page. Instead ...
Reflections in a glass of white wine on a not-so-level table.
On leaving Temora, which is a nice, friendly little town, we carried on south to Porepunkah in Victoria where we were warmly welcomed by Jenny and Marshall, the caravan park owners. Jenny had reserved our requested site in the far corner of the park for us. I made a hash of reversing the caravan in but Marshall came to the rescue and we were soon straight and - sort of level. Near enough, anyway. It is a lovely spot with a lovely view ...
Our outlook from the Porepunkah Pines Tourist Park. The Ovens River flows past amongst the trees.