The Snail Trail

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


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Tagging Along

I have recently participated in a tagalong of motorhomes as we made our way to Blackall in Queensland for our Solos Rally. I started my journey to catch up with the tagalong in Melbourne on the 13th April 2019 and it finished at the Blackall Solos Rally on the 10th May travelling just under 2,500kms.

This poem is about some of our adventures along the way. Sometimes there were only a few of us and in other places the group grew to just under 100 motorhomes and campervans. You can probably imagine it was a lot of fun!

Tagging Along

The aborigines have their Rainbow Serpent that travels across the land
And it gathers tales and legends of inland seas and sand,
And lofty mountain ranges and fertile camping places,
And they tell the stories of its way in dance and painted faces.

The Solos have their tagalong that travels across the land
And it gathers tales and legends of their happy nomad band
That met the Man from Snowy River and in Wagga Stoned the Crow
And everywhere it travels, the stories tend to grow.

I caught up with them at Wyalong out at the Poppet Head Mine
Where they started their morning with yoga, and then danced in a line.
At Bogan Weir we dressed the part in our daggiest bogan wear,
Then it was off to dusty Nakadoo and a wonderful campfire there.

The camp was split in Lightning Ridge and our growing tribe was scattered
But we made the most of the tourist sites and saw the ones that mattered.
Some of us went to the opal fields and dined at the Pub in the Scrub
While others enjoyed Mel & Suzie’s place and savoured their camp oven grub.

We camped along the Minor Ballone just out of Dirranbandi
And discovered the showers at the truck stop, and boy, did they come in handy!
The bakery was popular, with vanilla slices and pies,
The coffee was good and the jam drops were huge so we feasted with more than our eyes.

Each night we entertained ourselves with happy hour till late
Gary would often bring out his guitar, and Jean would bring us all up to date
With what was planned for tomorrow, and  “Will we go to the pub for tea?”
Ad the numbers would be counted to warn the next town what they might see.

The cook at the Bollon Hotel walked out when he heard there’d be 80 or more
But the publican rallied the staff around and provided food galore,
So we all turned up in our Op Shop Glam looking so gorgeously fine
And the locals came out to gawk at us – and we drank the pub out of wine!

Well, the word got passed on the bush telegraph of this mad solo crowd on the move
So Wyandra planned a night on their town and the locals all got in the groove
They bought in food and closed the road so we put on our dancing shoes
But what the pub forgot to do was buy in more supplies of booze!

So the pub ran dry by half past five, they were out of bubbles and wine
But how could anyone get upset when they’d looked after us so fine.
Our travelling band was rolling along with Charleville our next port of call
And a fancy dinner was held in the Bush Camp and more fun was had by all.

See, we all wore our undies as ‘overs’, like Clark Kent when he becomes Superman,
And just like super heroes, raised money from an auction we ran.
On our last big night together, the sausage sizzle added some more
$500 was raised for the cancer ward, now that’s worth raising money for.

The muster begins on the weekend and our tagalong comes to an end
We’ll have one final night in Tambo, camped out at Stubby Bend
For months we have travelled together making memories and friendships to last
Thanks to Jean and her Adventure Team, this whole journey has been a blast.

Rosemary Robinson 2019

 


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The Aussie Salute

The Daily Snail

Were all doing the Aussie Salute, waving away the sticky little bush flies! They just don’t leave you alone here in Blackall.

Nets for Bush flies in Blackall

We’ve bought every fly net available in town and they’ve had to bring in more supplies. People that swore they’d never be seen dead wearing a fly net are sporting them like the latest fashion statement.

I absolutely swear by my ‘fly ointment ‘ that I bought in Alice Springs in 2015. A little dab around the ears and the flies literally buzz off!

Natures Botanical Fly ointment

And the gifts for the volunteers at our rally here was this very handy little fly switch.

Fly switch souvenir from Blackall

Everyone is doing the Aussie Salute!

Now I find out from Wikipedia that it is also called the Barcoo salute! Where are we? At Blackall on the Barcoo River! We’re in the thick of bush fly country!

Wikipedia excerpt about the Aussie Bush Salute

Here’s my poetic comment about flies …..

Flies! The Aussie…

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The Corryong Sound

I was fortunate to attend the Man From Snowy River Festival at Corryong this year. The Festival is inspired by Banjo Paterson’s poem, The Man From Snowy River and now the Festival has inspired me to write about my experience there. I’ve called it The Corryong Sound!

The Corryong Sound.

The sound of the whips as they flick and they crack,
The whinny of horses that are camped out the back,
The smoke from the campfires that light the campground
And line dancing music, it’s the Corryong sound.

The cooking of damper, each one its own taste
Some made with cheese, and others port laced.
The rain’s getting heavy and sogging the ground
And I’ve looked for a raincoat – there’s none to be found!

So it’s out with the brolly to view the events
And feel sorry for campers who are only in tents.
There’s a chill in the air, and the atmosphere’s damp
It’s not the best weather to enjoy a bush camp.

But the company’s friendly and the programme is good
And the truck comes around every day selling wood
And they’re re-enacting Jack Riley’s great ride
That chased the rogue colt down the steep mountainside

Where he ran with the brumbies, so wild and so free
But this kind of life was not meant to be
He was cut from the run and forced to the stockade
And this story was how Riley’s legend was made

Then Banjo related the story in rhyme
And the legend lives on long after the time
That the word went around that the young colt had gone
And the horsemen had gathered to chase him down.

Now each year in Corryong there’s a great celebration
Of the ride that has captured the heart of the nation.
It’s open for all, we’re all welcomed to town
And the campground’s abuzz with the Corryong sound
Of whip cracking, whinnying, country music and fun
So for four days we’ll party until the Festival’s done.

By Rosemary Robinson April 2019


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Silos in the High Country

I’m still on the Victorian Silo Art Trail but this time I’m in North Eastern Victoria, roughly in the area from Benalla to Yarrawonga and bordering the High Country.

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I based myself at Broken Creek Bush Camp, about 15 kms to the west of Benalla (more about that at the end of the blog).

GOORAMBAT

There’s double value at Goorambat because not only are the silos painted but the little Uniting Church has a beautiful mural behind the altar.  As part of the 2018 Wall to Wall festival, Goorambat silos were painted by famed iconic Melbourne Street artist Dvate, and Sophia at the Uniting Church was painted by Adnate.

Goorambat Silo Art, Victoria

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Wall Art by Adnate

DEVENISH

Continuing along the Devenish Road we do in fact arrive at Devenish which features my favourite silos on this particular trail. The artwork is of both a First World War nurse and a modern day combat medic.

Devenish Silo Art, Victoria

At Devenish Silo Art, Victoria

 

The Devenish Silosartwork was unveiled on Anzac Day Eve 2018 and coincides with the 100 year centenary of the end of the First World War. Fifty young men and women from the Devenish community enlisted in military service for the First World War.

 

ST JAMES

Well here is a bonus I didn’t expect! The little town of St James is in the process of joining the Silo Art Trail and I happened to pass through when artist, Tim Bowtell, was working on his massive painting of G.J Coles, who opened his first store in the area which grew into the huge Coles Supermarket chain.

St James Silo Art

I’m not sure what he has planned for the adjoining silos but he is working on them until the end of April so if you are in the area pop along and see him at work.

TUNGAMAH

Tungamah was the first of these north eastern Victorian towns to sponsor Silo Art and here it is the last on my trip along the Silo Art Trail.

I’m so sorry that Tungamah doesn’t promote itself apart from the silos because it was a pretty little town with some wonderful historical buildings, green parks and gardens and well maintained homes. It is nestled on the banks of Boosey Creek and you can camp there, only a short walk to the General Store and pub. It’s a place I’d like to go back to and explore further.

Happy Campers:
The Broken Creek Bush Camp is a fabulous place to base yourself to view this particular Silo Art Trail but personally I don’t need an excuse to go back there – the hosts, the facilities and the size of the place make it a winning combination for a few days camping. It’s $7.50 per person per night, $1 for a shower, there is a massive camp kitchen and water and toilets are available. There is no power for RVs but there is power in the camp kitchen if you need to charge up the phone or computer. Friday night is pizza night and Doc and Cathy, the hosts, will be selling their delicious wood fired pizzas for $10. Yum!

A couple of weeks before arriving in this area I went to Rochester, which also boasts Silo Art. This was very special to me because the Motorhoming Club I belong to  (CMCA – Campervan and Motorhome Club of Australia) has a chapter called the Kingfishers and it is my home chapter. The Azure Kingfisher is our symbol as depicted on this silo.

Well, I’ve seen the Silo Art of Victoria! There is so much more to look forward to in other parts of the country and I know they will become magnets that will draw me in their direction. I look forward to you joining me on that journey, too.

 

 

 

 

 


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Not All Who Wander Are Lost – Part 2

I did some serious wandering during the last half of 2018  – and I may have been lost occasionally – but I justify that by saying I find a different way :)!

From my base at my nephew’s home in Bundaberg I looked at my options to arrive in Mudgee for a Solo Traveller’s Rally that I was attending in late September. One option was a pretty straight line south – a total of about 1150 kms.

But I found the other option a lot more interesting! I had nearly 3 months, after all! 🙂

 

This was a fabulous trip out to Western Queensland and New South Wales. The map shows my campsites and the times I stopped in caravan parks. As many place names aren’t on the map, my stopovers included Moura, in Queensland, where I camped at the Dawson River campground for about a week while I waited for a new tyre to arrive and be fitted. I did a really good job shredding one as I was coming into a little town called Banana of all places. What’s the saying – If you’re going to do something, do it well? I did! It was no hardship being at this camp ground, though, which had toilets, water and hot showers all for a donation to keep the facilities serviced. Moura has a mural on their water tower and as I left to head further west I came across the first cattle I saw on the long paddock. The drought situation only worsened!

 

My first caravan park stay was at Rolleston to do the washing and also catch up with a travelling friend, Rosanna, who I had met at Boulia in 2013. Other stopovers were Emerald, Jericho, Barcaldine, (to see the Tree Of Knowledge) and then Longreach where I indulged myself with some touristy things which were the subject of an earlier blog called A Tourist in Longreach. 

After a few days on the Barcoo River in Isisford I made my way to Yaraka and a catch up with a friend I hadn’t seen for 35 years. That is also the subject of an earlier blog – Yaraka the End of the Line?

I had a wonderful week with Gerry (pictured above) and her husband Chris, who are the publicans at the Yaraka Hotel- and Chris does a fabulous trip up Mt Slocombe at sunset, which is not to be missed. Then –

  • Blackall – claims the original Black Stump of the Australian outback and is the venue for our Campervan & Motorhome Club of Australia Solos Rally next May
  • Tambo –  home of the world famous (and very expensive hand made!) Tambo Teddies
  • Quilpie – a must visit to St Finnbars Catholic Church to wonder at the opal altar, font and lectern
  • Eromanga – the Natural History Museum is home to Australia’s largest dinosaur discovered on a property nearby
  • Thargomindah – where Brutus pulled up on the side of the road and refused to go any further until he was rescued by my favourite mechanic, Johnno, from Cunnamulla, who worked his magic and Brutus hasn’t looked back since.
  • Cunnamulla – home of the Cunnamulla Fella and, as I said, the best mechanic in the world (in my humble opinion)
  • Barringun, on the border of Queensland and New South Wales,where the old pub burnt down and there is now a pop-up pub
  • Bourke – a nostalgic visit to the place I first visited in about 1970 with my then husband, Rex, whose family owned the North Bourke Hotel – another pub that burnt down, although some years ago now
  • Trangie – who would have thought a little place like Trangie would make it to my list of memorable places, and it was a caravan park to boot. But Andrew, the host, made it a wonderful week, made even better by my sister joining me there

 

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A couple more lovely bush camps and it was time for the rally in Mudgee. I was pretty busy with committee work throughout the rally so didn’t get to enjoy a lot of the activities but there were about 300 motorhomes and a similar amount of people who attended and the program was chock full of activities. At the Poet’s Breakfast I recited my newest poem, Dry as Dust, for the first time. It was written as a reaction to the devastating drought throughout Queensland and New South Wales. Absolutely heart breaking scenes for mile upon mile of travelling.

With the rally over I was off to my next house sit in Casino, looking after a little dog for a fellow Solo when she went overseas. It was only a couple of weeks but gave me a great opportunity to see some of the New South Wales coast, an adventure I hadn’t had before.

 

I got more – and also less – than I bargained for! The rain came down in torrents for days, making it impossible to enjoy all those beautiful coastal towns along the way. It also backed up in the gutter around my pop top and seeped into every cupboard just like house gutters overflowing into the eaves and ceilings …. what a mess. Sodden toilet rolls, wet clothes, and, disaster – my deck of UNO cards got soaked and stuck together. Well, they went straight into the bin and onto the “things I want for Christmas” list! (Thank you Marion for my new cards)

 

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The weather was fabulous after I left Casino so I really enjoyed the coastline, fell in love with Nambucca Heads, caught up with a mad bunch of Solos in Buladelah, had new curtains made for me in Maitland by Solo friend Ros, travelled with fellow Solo Lynn for a few days through Gunning and Jugiong, stayed with my cousin Gretchen in Wagga Wagga and finally arrived at Lee’s home in Albury, the site of my last house sit for the year. And then it was off to my sister’s home in Nagambie, Victoria, for Christmas and New Year.

 

We also shared an adventure when a winemaker friend of Marion’s asked if we’d like to go to McLarenvale in  South Australia to pick up a couple of barrels of wine. This was known as the Two Tarts Wine Run and was shared with a concrete meerkat from the garden next door! I wrote about it in my blog The Travelling Tales of Monsieur M Kat.

I’m exhausted just writing about all the places I went to this year …..  this blog has made me realise what a lot of ground I covered! But none of this was done in a hurry and I loved every minute of it – well, almost ….. I could have done without all that rain. Oh, and it would have been better if Brutus hadn’t broken down but the upside of that is I found a mechanic who finally got him running better than ever before. For the first time in 3 years he hasn’t got a miss in the engine so that’s a win! Unfortunately, Cunnamulla is a long way to go for a car service 🙂

For those interested here is my Expenses Summary. My only income is the Aged Pension which is just under $24,000 a year. Thank goodness I had managed to save some of that to meet unexpected car repairs. But I’ll have to cut back on the Coffee and Cake I think!

Car Expenses $6626
Petrol $2564
Rego & Insurance (inc Roadside Assist) $1420
Maintenance $2642
Food & Drink Expenses $6768
Groceries, Butcher etc $3354
Coffee & Eating out $2498
Booze $ 916
Personal $2152
Hair, chemist, makeup, clothes, shoes etc
Camping Fees $1014
   
Utilities $943
Gas Mobile Phone and Internet
Fun Stuff $2161
Touristy things gifts, newspapers, lotto, subs
Van Stuff $1686
New porta potti, new laptop, new curtains, fridge repair, etc
Miscellaneous expenditure $2336
TOTAL EXPENDITURE $23686

People often ask in Facebook Forums “Can you live permanently on the road on the pension?” Answer is “Yes!” My lifestyle has certainly changed – I value things of little monetary value, my pleasure comes from the places I go and the people I meet. It’s a simple life and one I thoroughly enjoy.

I also began another blog in 2018 called The Daily Snail. So far it hasn’t been quite daily, but it gives me the opportunity to do short posts about where I am or interesting things I have seen. It takes the pressure off these ‘bigger than Ben Hur’ blogs on The Snail Trail. I hope you have a look at it and click on follow for more regular updates from me.

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Xmas photo at my sisters with her dog, Jack Russell

So much to look forward to in 2019 – February, The Silo Art Trail in Victoria, The Man From Snowy River Festival in Corryong, Victoria in April, CMCA Solos Rally in Blackall, Queensland in May followed by the Guiness Book of Records world record attempt for the Longest Line of RV’s in Barcaldine, Queensland.

And after that? ….

Roll on 2019. May it be a great year for us all!

 


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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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Beyond the Black Stump

Beyond the black stump, the Never-Never, the back of beyond, the back of Bourke, the outback. These are all Australian expressions to indicate that point in the countryside that is the perceived boundary of civilisation. Wikipedia defines it as

….   the name for an imaginary point beyond which the country is considered remote or uncivilised, an abstract marker of the limits of established settlement.

The origin of the expression, especially in its evolved use as an imaginary marker in the landscape, is contested

I’ve spent a rainy afternoon in the library at Nambucca Heads researching all about the Black Stump, and I’m going to share that research with you in this blog  …..

but I know the true story!

You see, when I was a little girl, a long, long time ago, our family lived in country Victoria. Over the back fence of our house there was a vacant block of land and in the middle of the trees there was a burnt out tree stump – The Black Stump. Even as a six year old I knew that if I went past that stump I would be lost in the never-never and no-one would ever be able to find me again. So Wikipedia and all my other information sources have got it all wrong …. but this is what they say anyway!

Blackall, in Queensland, claims the original black stump.

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Read all about it!

And here’s the iconic ‘stump’ at Blackall ….

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And an artist’s interpretation of the origin of the Black Stump.

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Mural depicting the origin of The Black Stump, Blackall, Queensland

Historically, though, the black stump was referred to in a land dispute in 1837 around the Woolloomooloo area of Sydney, so you can see this predates the 1887 claim of Blackall.

The term “Black stump” was used as land markers on a surveyors plan and was first referred to as a boundary marker in a New South Wales court case involving a land law dispute.

….. The case refers to vacant land at Woolloomooloo where a surveyor had difficulty in ascertaining the boundaries  “…and he pointed to some old stumps, which he said had been marked…..he said it ran to a black stump beyond the line, which he said had been marked…; utmost extent claimed by defendant was the black stump of which I have spoken...

As a traveller of the highways and byways of Australia there are rest stops near several Aussie towns called The Black Stump. Here’s one at Coolah, in New South Wales.

Black Stump Coolah

The Black Stump, Coolah, New South Wales

Coolah is one of several towns to claim bragging rights as the home of the legendary Black Stump. It was here that the colloquial saying ‘Beyond the Black Stump’, meaning ‘beyond the limits of civilisation,’ is said to have originated.

Supporting Coolah’s claim is a document showing land boundaries declared by Governor Darling in 1826. This boundary line passes through the centre of a property known as ‘Black Stump Run’. The local Aboriginal Gamilaraay people were said to have called the area ‘Weetalibah-Wallangan’, meaning, ‘the place where the fire went out and left a burnt stump’.                                 Information from Visit NSW

At Mundowran, in Queensland, there is also a rest area known as The Black Stump ….

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The Black Stump, Mundubbera, Queensland

Approaching Mundubbera, from an eastward direction, a large Rest Area emerges on the northern flank of the Burnett Highway.  The Rest Area signage reads:

“The Black Stump

Gateway to Mundubbera”

Directly under the signage, a concrete black stump is situate.

My grisliest find about the origin of the phrase, the black stump, is this tale from Merriwagga in the Riverina area of New South Wales.

The village of Merriwagga and nearby community of Gunbar, in the Riverina district of New South Wales, have strong claims to the origin of the expression ‘black stump’. Gunbar cemetery is the burial-place of Mrs. Barbara Blain, the woman whose accidental death in March 1886 possibly gave rise to the term.

When her husband returned to camp after a day’s work he….

found Mrs. Blain had been fatally burnt, probably after her dress had caught alight from the flames of the camp-fire. ……. an inquest into her death was subsequently held. James Blain apparently stated that when he found his wife she “looked like a black stump” . A watering place near where the tragedy occurred – roughly halfway between Gunbar and the village of Merriwagga – became known as Black Stump Tank.[6]

The Black Stump Picnic area at Merriwagga has a waggon and memorial stone, with an inscription which explains the details of these events.

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The Black Stump, Merriwagga, NSW Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

The Black Stump has also been immortalised in literature.

In 1956 British novelist Neville Shute published “Beyond the Black Stump”, a novel set in the 1940/50s, contrasting the social mores of a still remote Western Australian sheep station and a small town in Oregon, USA, which still thought of itself as a frontier town despite the Cadillac dealership and the fast food joint.

and

Robbery Under Arms, a fictionalised work by Rolf Boldrewood first published in 1888, refers to the Black Stump as an actual place “within a reasonable distance of Bathurst” and known to everybody for miles around. Boldrewood says it “had been a tremendous old Ironbark tree- nobody knew how old, but it had had its top blown off in a thunderstorm, and the carriers had lighted so many fires against the roots of it that it had been killed at last, and the sides were as black as a steamer’s funnel.”

And when you don’t have a Black Stump to claim, be like Boulia in Western Queensland and create a whole new myth with a Red Stump.

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This really is the end of civilization!

So there you have it! The  story of the Black Stump that’s put out to the world when the truth is the real Black Stump was over the back fence in Bittern, Victoria in the early 1950’s.