The Snail Trail

Travelling with my home on my back and in no hurry to get anywhere


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Not All Who Wander Are Lost – Part 1

Have you seen the bumper sticker that says “Not all who wander are lost” ? How true that is for me and my lifestyle!

My wandering this year took me a distance of 11,572 kms, spending a total $2536.45 on 1745.6 litres of fuel (ULP). Age crept up on old Brutus the Beast and he also cost me about the same amount in repairs and maintenance ($2,591.75) but I have to say that he hasn’t missed a beat since Johnno in Cunnamulla gave him a thorough tune up. (Well, we did have a bit of a hiccup in Mudgee but that’s another story!)

In January I ‘wandered’ from Bundaberg to Bingara – a distance of just over 1100 kms – to look after a dear little dog, CJ, while his owner went overseas.

 

I loved my time in Bingara looking after CJ and I met some lovely locals that I enjoyed Wednesday coffee mornings with and also Aqua Aerobics at the pool next door.

I took a different route back to Bundaberg, covering some roads I hadn’t been on before.

 

There was time for a quick trip to Gladstone to catch up with a friend I used to play trivia with before I was due back in Bundaberg for my next house sit. What a contrast Gladstone is – from smoky industry to pristine bush and beaches.

By the end of April I was back to Bundaberg for my house sit that took me through to almost the end of June. I looked after 2 dogs – a rottweiler and pomeranian, and 3 cats, one of them being a 5 week old kitten. What a time waster that little kitten was, but I sure loved her, little Daisy Mae.

After a couple of days at home with Simon & Sandy I was off to the Sunshine Coast to house sit for relations, Larissa, Walter and their 3 boys. They have a beautiful property in the hinterland and I had cats, dogs, chooks and sheep to feed. It’s here I had a disagreement with a ram and ended up with a black and blue thigh where he butted me to the ground! I called him Rambo after that and kept my distance! The other animals were a lot friendlier.

In this first 6 months I spent a total of $141 on accommodation – caravan parks, showgrounds and freedom (donation) camps.

My next 6 months took me much further afield and was one of the most enjoyable trips I have done in my 5 years of travelling…… but more about that, and a further breakdown of expenses, in Not All Who Wander Are Lost – Part 2.

Stay tuned ….

DISCLAIMER: The motorhome in the featured image is, unfortunately, not mine – but I did take the photo 🙂  Perhaps a bit of wishful thinking??

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Falling in Love Again…

What am I to do? I can’t help it! So sang Marlene Dietreich many years ago, and many times over the last 12 months I have felt exactly the same. Unfortunately – or fortunately – however you might look at it – it’s not been with a fellow human but with my fellow humans’ pets.

I have been ‘off the road’ for  much of the last year as I have been pet sitting to give others the chance to ‘hit the road’, and me a chance to consolidate my finances for future travels.

All this began in October 2017 on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland when I looked after Chai, a dear little Milky (cross between a Maltese terrier and a Silky terrier). What a sweetie! Couldn’t help but fall in love with this darling.

Then over Christmas I kept Lily the cat and Lucy the dog company in Bundaberg while my nephew and his family had a well deserved holiday. Loved these two for a long time – and you can tell they made themselves right at home on my bed!

No sooner were the family home I took off to Bingara in New South Wales where I looked after a this delightful little doggie, CJ, for my friend Janet. As I was there for a couple of months I also got to know some lovely locals and share their Wednesday morning meetups for coffee. Thank you ladies for making me feel so welcome.

 

It was a quick trip back to Bundaberg and my next pet sitting experience – and what an experience it was! Two dogs – a Rottweiler called Cujo and a Pomeranian called Bella – talk about from one extreme to another! And both lovable and cuddly…

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Two cats, Millie and Columbia …. neither of these two were cuddly and Columbia could be downright nasty (and I have the scars to prove it!)

And then this adorable baby, who was very, very cuddly ….. DaisyMae …..

A few days later and I was in Image Flat near Nambour on the Sunshine Coast while my cousin’s family were away for some school holiday time off. Such a magical setting that I forgot to photograph all the animals but there were three cats, two dogs, four chooks and about 20 sheep. Unfortunately Wylie, the new dog that hadn’t been raised as a farm dog, spooked the sheep as I was trying to pen them at night and old Rambo took a dislike to me and knocked me off my feet, leaving me with a massive bruise on my thigh – and a bruised ego! Not only that, when cousin Geoff came to visit the next night Rambo did the same to him! (There is a poem in there I am sure!) Anyhow, it was all an experience that I wouldn’t have missed for the world as it also gave me the opportunity to get to know Larissa, Walter and their three wonderful young sons Clinton, Christian and Keegan. And the view was pretty good to wake up to everyday, too.

So with my house sitting and pet sitting stints at an end I am, in the words of Willie Nelson …. ‘On the road again’…..

 


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Gone to the Dogs!

After Pit Ponies in Collinsville I’ve continued the animal theme and have been dog-sitting in a couple of locations for fellow Solo travellers. My first jaunt was to Buderim on the beautiful Sunshine Coast where I looked after this little cutie, Chai, while her mum was in hospital. Chai is known as a Milky – a cross between a Maltese Terrier and a Silky Terrier.

She’s pretty cute, isn’t she? It wasn’t easy to leave her when Lesley arrived home but she left me for dead when her mum walked in the door!

Christmas was spent in Bundaberg, my home base on the mainland – with nephew Simon (I call him my surrogate son as I never had children of my own – fortunately my sister is happy to share him with me), his lovely wife Sandy and their daughter Lauren. As they had booked a holiday to the Gold Coast I looked after the pets while they were away. Lily the cat and Lucy the dog let me know who was in control by lolling on MY bed, although they did leave just enough room for me to squeeze in too!

By the way – Lily the Cat is a male but that hadn’t been determined when he was named! Anyhow, he doesn’t seem to have a personality complex about his sexuality.

And now I’m at my third dog-sitting venture looking after this cheeky little devil, CJ! Once again, whose bed is it???

I have been looking after CJ for a month now and have another month to go before mum, Janet, returns from her trip to India, Vietnam and Cambodia. This house/dog sit is in a cabin in the Bingara Caravan Park in New South Wales. In my first year travelling (2013) I attended a Solos Rally in Bingara and loved the little town then and particularly the fantastic camping beside the Gwydir River.

I’ve thrown myself into what Bingara has to offer and have been going to Aquafit classes 3 times a week at the swimming pool next to the Caravan Park and last week CJ and I visited Touriandi Lodge, an aged care facility on the other side of the CP to the pool. CJ was cuddled by everyone and fussed over and slept for hours when we came home. The next day we visited the hospital where once again he was made to feel very special. Funny about that, CJ was supposed to be making the residents and patients feel special! I’ve also been going to Wednesday coffee mornings with some of the locals so all in all I feel like I am a little part of the community.

There’s some really interesting information to tell you about Bingara and surrounds so I’ll do several short posts over the next couple of weeks. I’m looking forward to telling you about Sawn Rocks, Cunningham’s Track, the Roxy Theatre and the Myall Creek Massacre along with a couple of other quaint local customs.

PS: Thanks to an old friend Sam (Rudi) for prompting me to switch my brain back on and get back on The Snail Trail.


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Hard Times – Underground at Mt Isa

I was warmly welcomed by Paul and Shirley when I arrived in Mt Isa – they are the people I am house sitting for while they go off on their caravanning holiday. We spent 3 days together before they were packed and ready to leave. What luxury! A real bed, a warm shower every day, running water, a proper flushing toilet –  and all the other things we take for granted. I don’t know how long I’ll be here as Paul and Shirley don’t know how much they’ll enjoy their nomadic lifestyle. As they left they said it could be 2 days, 2 weeks or 2 months!

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View of Mt Isa from the lookout

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Looking across the town to the mine

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Laurance at the Lookout

I spent my first few days settling in and finding my way around the town and then Laurance, a fellow Solo traveller, arrived. He was born in Mt Isa, although left here about 60 odd years ago and was taking the opportunity to re-visit some of his memories. He’d left his campervan in Townsville and caught the train out – a 20 hour trip! I really enjoyed seeing the sights with him, and we drove all over the place as he tried to remember where he had lived and gone to school.

Our first adventure was to do the Hard Times Mine Tour. This is a mine that has been constructed at a cost of about $10million just to show tourists what it’s like below ground. I can’t show you my photos of this as we weren’t allowed to take cameras, but we looked a sight in our orange overalls, miners boots, hard hat with miner’s light and a big belt that carried our battery pack for the light. Here’s some pics I found that show a little bit about it. The guy on the right in this photo is Bill, who is a retired miner and was our guide for the day. We looked like the guy on the left in our mining gear. (although I didn’t have a beard!)

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View of the mine at the ‘Outback at Isa’ centre.

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We all got a turn at the air drill, which drills out the holes for the explosives to blast through to the next stage of the mine. At 8 o’clock every morning and night you hear the real mine blast through to the next level.

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At one stage Bill got us all to turn our head lamps off and I have never experienced dark sooo dark. You couldn’t see your hand in front of your face. If this happens to a miner they have to stop where they are and sit down because their supervisor knows where each of them is in the mine and if they don’t come back to clock out he knows where to go to find them. It would be impossible to find your way out without a light.

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This was a fantastic experience and if anyone is heading out this way I would definitely recommend that you spend the $49 and do the tour. It lasts for about two and a half hours and was fascinating from start to finish.

Our next trip was to the Underground Hospital, built during WW2 in case of bombing. Mt Isa felt threatened because of the lead mining here that was supporting machinery and transport needed during the war and felt the mine could have been a target. This didn’t happen, and everyone forgot about the underground hospital until 1977 when they found it by accident when the hospital was being re-built and expanded. It was declared unsafe so sealed again for another 20 years and then some of the miners took to repairing the timbers and making the structure safe again. Everything that was in this hospital during the war was still there and intact, so has been left in place. Smaller items were recovered and there are bottles of chloroform and other medicines looking just as they must have in 1945.

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Underground Hospital, Mt Isa

The hospital museum was part of the original hospital and this is where Laurance was born.

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Hospital museum, Mt Isa

He’s a little bigger now than he was when he left this maternity room way back then!

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Maternity room in the Hospital Museum, Mt Isa

Recently they moved the last remaining tent house to the hospital grounds and are in the process of restoring it. Tent houses were built in the 1930’s to cater for all the miners coming to town and Laurance had lived in one of these as a child.

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Tent house, Mt Isa, being restored

It made it really interesting for me to visit these places because of Laurance’s connection and it was a bit like a treasure hunt discovering the stuff of his memories. I’m sure he also enjoyed his few days here, but I’m not so sure he was looking forward to those hard seats on the train for his 20 hour trip back to Townsville!

I was glad I was going home to a hot shower and a comfortable bed.