Saturday, 8 December 2012

Irashai Mase

Life with the Tigger is never dull. Especially when I travel. Leaving my two, precious, four-legged daughters behind with a mate, I hit the road through heavy rain and headed to Darwin. My dramatic change of plans meant that I was now going to be flying to South Australia rather than driving. I stayed with my friend in Humpty Doo that night and we stayed up for hours just chatting.
The following day it was another friend, Stace, that I was going to catch up with and she was going to take me to the airport. Both of us being hungry we decided lunch was on the cards so off we went down to the Wharf and dined at Ocean Fresh. There were things on the menu that we had never seen nor tried before so we selected 4 things on the entree menu and decided to share them.
After spending the morning talking oysters with my friend in Humpty Doo then watching a cooking show featuring oysters on the television not even an hour later you can imagine what I was craving so first up it was Oysters Vinegarette. They went down well... just like the Gazpacho Oyster Shots (sadly non-alcoholic so lucky we had a glass of white wine).
Next was Buffalo Mozzarella and Pickled Octopus. The Buffalo Mozzarella was not anything we expected it to be. No buffalo beef at all! Just chunks of mozzarella on slices of tomato with balsamic vinegar drizzled on top on a bed of rocket. The octopus on the other hand, I didn't mind it, but Stace couldn't even finish her tentacle. God bless her she tried but with me red-faced from laughing at her gagging, she spat out the last piece into a napkin while I laughed at her more.
When the waitress asked if we would like more wine we declined, then realised the time, paid our bill and scooted off in the pissy, little hire car so I could miss my flight to Adelaide. This put me in a fantastic mood of course.
After being miserable and unmotivated and Stace feeling fluey and headachey in the motel room for an hour or so we decided to get out and do something. So we went to Crocosaurus Cove on Mitchell Street and scored a Locals Pass for being Territorians. We were kept amused by the various reptiles, amphibians and fish especially by one pissed off goanna. One of the handlers fed a rat to a Woma Python and we watched mesmerised as it tried to consume the rodent. The same handler brought out a Bearded Dragon that we both held, now I want one as a pet. Originally the dragon was named Brock till one day it laid eggs and now it is known as Brooke. She was off to a kids function to be tormented by various, over-excited children.
When we finished poking at perspex we headed off further down Mitchell Street to Go Sushi which boasts the largest sushi train in the Territory.
"IRASHAI MASE!" I had the absolute life scared out of me when we stepped through the door. Every employee yelled out "You're very welcome" in Japanese.
Stace and I sat down at the train and looked at all the Japanese goodies streaming past us. Thankfully, a large pamphlet told us what each dish was. One by one we pulled down a plate that interested us and by the end of the night we had eaten between us Smoked Eel, Inari Tofu, Seaweed Salad, Seafood Syumai Dim Sum, Crab Avacado Sushi, Vegetarian Sushi, Prawn Parcels, Lobster Mornay, Tuna Nigiri, Beef Nigiri (the beef needed shooting because it was still running around the paddock), Green Tea Ice Cream and Daifuku Rice Cake which was gluggly and despite it's pretty pink appearance was not near sugary enough. To top it off was another glass of wine each and a shared bottle of Asahi, a Japanese brewed beer.
The following day I made my flight. We made a point of having lunch at the airport so that I wouldn't miss it. I got grilled at security by a a pimply, scrawny up-start because I had forgotten about a pair of nail scissors in my toiletries bag and a knife in a corksrew that I never knew I had. But I didn't miss my flight and after a while of dordling around the terminal I was on my way to Adelaide via Sydney.

All that we ate!

Saturday, 1 December 2012

The Habits of Nocturnal Wildlife

Everyone has their little falling-asleep nuances. But none I have found more strange than the one that I am currently experiencing. Some people turn on night-lights (but they wouldn't willingly call it that). Some drink a warm beverage. Some people, like me, have a teeny-tiny background noise. I play a movie on my laptop but have the volume so low that it can only just be heard.
Helping a friend move into the home of a bachelor that works away saw me temporarily staying at the same residence as was offered by the man himself. It was quiet and peaceful and we went to sleep early so we may feel refreshed for work the next day. Then the bachelor went on his fortnightly break...
He cracked open cans early in the morning and got around all hours of the day or night in his vehicle or on his quad bike. He had sessions with the neighbour and fixed flat tyres at 7am. But at night, when he went to bed, he did what I thought was rude and strange. He turned the stereo up. And I don't just mean up a dash, I mean up alot. Whatever was on the radio be it ABC or Hot100, it was blaring out of the speakers at goodness knows what decibel! And here were my friend and I, lying in our beds, wondering 'what the hell, could this bloke be serious?'
I slept one night with the pillow wrapped around my head, window and door closed and I could still hear that racket. The following night I just bailed. I'd fallen asleep but around an hour later the bachelor cranked up the radio and hit the hay. I was wild. I felt like tearing out the radio from the shelf and throwing it in front of my car and running over it a few times. Instead I grabbed my swag and threw it in the tray of my toyota and drove out the gates to camp further down the road, away from the din, so I could get some sleep while being attacked by mozzies.
I returned the next morning to find I should have been a little more patient. At some point during the night the power had run out (the solar panels charge batteries which provide electricity for the house. If it's too overcast during the day or too much power is drawn then the batteries run out of power therefore so does the house). I should have waited out for the power outage. I would have got alot more sleep. Instead I camped up down the road to the sound of frogs and crickets and cattle in the scrub. When I woke in the morning everything was soaked in condensation. When I returned to the house, he didn't even know I had left until I arrived back.
But seriously, who does that kind of stuff? Who turns the radio up before going to bed rather than down or off like most normal people would? I know who. They don't have to work (they're on break or have no job). They drink when most people are at work. They come in at all hours and wake everyone up with their noisemaking and their cooking of strange concoctions they regard as dinner. They watch their movies loud or play their music loud and keep everyone else awake. Yeah, I know who. I've lived with a few and I am definitely more than over it!

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

The Tee-Totaller (An Apology)

I wasn't sure if the invitation to the party extended to me so I gate crashed. I rushed to get ready when a lift to get there was offered to me. I met some people at the party that I was neighbours with for some time and never even knew it. We hit it off and next minute the girl was offering me a rum. I wasn't driving home this evening, someone else was, so I accepted.

Next thing I know I'm yelling and laughing and having a good time. A bit of a blow out after such a long time of being the good, well-behaved, responsible one. When I discovered one of the party guests had snuck away I staggered off to find him to drag him back. I got pulled up halfway to one of the houses by one of my friends who, in her own drunken state, tried politely to ask me to curb my swearing as best I could.

"There are children around!"

I couldn't find the missing party guest and on my way back to the soiree I found some members had moved to the staff verandah. One lady was trying to teach us all to whistle loudly with our fingers in our mouth. A skill I have always been envious of. But I gave up when my bladder started screaming at me.

While I sat on the porcelain throne I was suddenly attacked... by a broom. After a while the broom wielder gave up and I finished I my business and walked outside. But all was not right. The world would not stop twisting and twirling and I headed straight for the edge of the verandah and heaved up a technicolour explosion. And that's where I stayed. Lying in the one spot, for anytime I moved I would throw up again. People checked on me. And had a giggle as I did at myself. Someone tied my hair into a messy bun. Soon my ride was ready to return home but I turned down the lift.

"I don't want to throw up in your car" I mumbled.

Hours passed on the edge of the verandah. At one point someone rolled me on my side. Eventually I got too cold and moved into one of the bathrooms. I laid out a bath mat and wrapped a towel around me and went back to sleep. Not long after I heard doors being opened and closed. Someone was checking on me again. My alarm went off on my phone at 5am and moments after I was being scooped up and carried off to a room in the quarters because apparently I can't sleep on the bathroom floor.

What little sleep I got in the room was interrupted by my friend ringing me to say she was ready to head in to town. Nevermind that it was a quarter to seven! I climbed over my still drunk friend in the passenger seat and off we went to spend the day in Katherine chasing and talking horses and cattle.

Tee-totaller me regretted accepting those few but very strong rums that night. It was shame job that it took me only two hours to go from perfectly sober to hobo drunk. I went down as quick as a wimp in a cage fight. It was embarrassing that I had to buy a new shirt in town just to look and feel even remotely acceptable the next day. And to all those children that I swore in front of: I'm sorry that you heard some words that you weren't suppose to know till you were just that little bit older!

Saturday, 16 June 2012



I have always been known for having long hair whether it be when I was a child or now as an adult. Some people though don't realise how long my hair is as it is kept in a permanent bun.
Sometimes I let the length get a little ridiculous. When I was 8 my Nanna struggled to brush my long hair one school holidays and I decided that it was time to cut it despite a competition I'd been having with another girl in my class to see who's hair could grow the longest by the end of the school year.
In 2007 whilst on Kidman Springs Station my hair was so long that the weight alone pulled it out of a bun especially when riding horses. It was so stupidly long that when it fell out of its updo the tail of my hair would get caught between my butt and the saddle and would jerk my head back if I was trotting or cantering. A visit from my mother in early 2008 sorted that out with a big chop. The Rapunzel look was over.
My hair grows at such a fast rate that it doesn't take long to get back to an obscene length. These days I have resorted to cutting it myself. After washing my hair I lean over, flip my hair over, comb it a bit and snip, snip, snip then ask the nearest person for their opinion on whether it is straight or not.
It takes alot of work to have a head of hair like mine. Just not mine in particular. It gets washed once a week or when it feels gross. It gets brushed even less. It can take anything between half an hour to an hour to brush out the rats nest. Over the last month I have done it twice. Once for the races. Once for an up-coming engagement party. Surprisingly though, after brushing my hair this time round, my hair managed to stay in a bun all day. Normally it doesn't if my hair is brushed so that's why it doesn't happen all that often. As per usual though I managed to put together a hair ball that would put even the hairiest cat to shame. The hair balls get so big that it's hard to even see the bristles of the brush.
I must sound terribly feral, but there's a few people out there that already think I'm a bush pig so what do I care. As long as I don't have any dickhead princes trying to climb my golden locks, all is well. 

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Flat Out With A Fascinator

During my time working on Mataranka Station there were many pheasants that inhabited the trees around my house. Sometimes they'd lose a feather and I would pick it up and keep it. After adopting Diamond, I kept a round, plastic trough for water in my horse yards and one day one of those pheasants came to an untimely end when it drowned trying to drink out of the trough. I was sad about the death of the pheasant, don't get me wrong, but when its feathers started to drop off its decomposing body I saw it as an excellent opportunity to gain yet more feathers for my collection and then decided to give all those feathers a purpose. Over a year and a half later, that idea became a reality.
Permission for the day off for the Saturday rather than the Sunday was a welcome one. After knock off me and my Canadian workmate headed back to Providence to start planning for the following day. When I got in the shower I cranked up the chainsaw and shaved my hairy man-legs ready for K-Town so everyone could see how pasty they were.
After loading Damians beloved petrol-guzzler-on-four-wheels in the morning with what was needed for the day we headed off to town. First stop: Pick up my precious, dearest Bruiser the Cruiser who had needed his alternator/regulator replaced by the auto-electrician so I didn't cook another battery. So glad to be back behind the wheel of the old boy again. After sorting a bit of other stuff out we hit the shops. We picked up insulators for the fencing we are doing, jumper leads and a tow strap from a auto shop where I also got to catch up with a friend who had followed me into the store, heel inserts for some shoes and after over an hour of umming and ahhing Nicky finally decided to buy a pair of boots (ones that actually fit her).
After popping into the markets for a mango smoothie, ice cream and sushi we headed off down to Chardon Street to start getting ready for one of Katherines biggest social events of the year.
We dropped the roller door on the storage unit for privacy as we donned our outfits for the day. Using the dirty mirrors of the Holden and the Cruiser we painted our faces with foundation, mascara and eye-liner that kept melting. I kept asking Nicky if my eyes looked like those of a transvestite or goth which she eventually got sick of being asked. But soon we were set to go.
We walked through the shopping centre, me with my shoes in hand already due to them being too big (story of my life), dressed to the nines, all for a couple of bottles of water.
We found a park at the showgrounds and the final element to my outfit went on. The crowning glory. The fascinator! In all its sticky-taped pride I slid the head band onto my head and off we set... with me carrying my shoes. The night before was spent painstakingly sticking on the pheasant feathers onto a flimsy headband with sticky-tape to create my cranial masterpiece.
Every male of cattle station relation thought it fit to tell me I have an endangered species on my head. I had no idea they were protected but if the Grim Reaper came for the bird then his physical body, found by me, was up for grabs. Amongst the informative jibes regarding a threatened avian taped to a hair accessory, I copped a bit of "Oh, look. It's Pocohontas" just to mix it up a little.
As per every year, the Buntine Pavillion was chockers. So many people and so many of them I knew and was eager to catch up with. In my head while conversing with a friend I ran through them all "I'll catch up with him, then her, then her if she sticks around..." I'm quite hoping that there was no one I missed out on chatting to. Nicky and I enjoyed laughing to ourselves at the girls whose buttocks hung out below their skirts and dresses giving the blokes an eyefull they liked and the more conservative girls an eyefull they didn't.
But as the day wore on we had to give in to the fact that we still had to drive two cars home that night, one of which was towing a horse float, so we could go back to work the following morning. After leaving the races (of which we only actually noticed one race) we went back to the storage unit to get all our gear organised and pick up the float. By 8pm we were sneaking out of Katherine with the hopes that I won't get pulled up by the cops for being a little naughty.
By the time we reached Willeroo, Nicky was knackered. So after a small stalling incident we pushed the little Holden Rodeo up to the front gate, unloaded a few important things out of it (ie: Damian's beer), put the keys under the seat cover and in true Tigger-style, locked it up and continued on our way home. It was at least an hour down the road before Nicky realised we left all the fuel in the back and it wasn't till I got to bed at 11:45pm that I realised I had locked the keys in the car.
It was a long, jam-packed day. The socialising got me pumped and the driving made me exhausted but it was definately not a day wasted.

Monday, 5 March 2012

The Tear-Jerking Kind

There are alot of movies out there that can make people cry and for me a majority of them are animal movies. I've never watched "Bambi", wouldn't dare to, I'm sure I'd cry especially when Bambi's mum gets shot. I've watched "Milo & Otis", actually many times when I was a child. Each time I cried. I couldn't handle it when Milo got in the basket and got swept away in the current of the river. I couldn't handle the idea that Milo and Otis were going to be separated, perhaps never see each other again. What if Milo drowned when the basket capsized? What if Otis never found him in that hole? What if their friendship was lost forever from the distance? I could not bear the thought.
I cried during "Pippy Longstocking". Can't remember exactly when or why, I just did. So did my best friend.
I cried watching "The Muppets Take Manhattan" while Kermit was singing when all the Muppets separate after a failed theatre venture.
I can't quite remember if I cried during "An American Tail", the movie about a little mouse that gets separated from his family (there's a re-emerging and painful theme here) and washes up in America. My Nanna could tell you if I did or not. She could also tell you that I used to sing "Somewhere Out There" at the top my lungs repeatedly after she took me to see the film. She regretted it for weeks as I yodelled my way around her house. I don't see what she was complaining about, she could have just taken her hearing aids out.
The most recent film to make me cry was "Red Dog". Though forewarned there are sad parts I still watched it and bawled my eyes out for the entirity of the second half of the movie. I almost missed an afternoon tea with friends because I was too busy crying till my face hurt. The other night Damian saw that I had "Red Dog" amongst my DVD collection and asked to watch it. I brang it out for him and warned him that it's likely to make him cry. He point-blank refused to watch it purely on the basis that it was going to make him cry (neither of us like to be seen crying). I've caught him watching a movie that made him cry before ("Veronica Guerin" starring Cate Blanchett by the way). Big deal! There's only one person that I know that hasn't cried watching that film. But the discovery that Damian also cannot handle watching movies that will make him cry especially when they involve animals makes me feel so much better especially since he is not a child. Thank goodness I'm not the only sap!


Sunday, 19 February 2012

The Last Supper and The First Siren

So my time in town has ended prematurely. All for the better or all for the worst only time will tell. But there was no way I was leaving without having a Last Supper. So text message by text message I invited all of our little social group for my last town dinner down at the club for what may be quite sometime. Town has given me the opportunity to meet so many great new people and create new friendships. I reminded everyone that the gates to Providence will always be open for them and I hope one day that their tyres roll across our grid as they come visit and say g'day.
On the Saturday I headed North, instead of South-West, to Darwin to catch up with my best friend for her second to last weekend in the NT. We have known each other so long that we can't even remember meeting and neither of us were fully toilet trained at that point either. In Territory terms: We go way back! We dined out in the city at a resturant in Mitchell Street, picking up where we left off last time. With the food piled in front of us the conversation kept flowing. There seemed to be a steady stream of people stop to chat to the couple at the table next to us and one person in particular caught my eye. No, he was not tall, dark and handsome. He had big, sticky-outty ears and a short back and sides haircut but he chatted to this couple for a while and I had to do a double take.
"Lucy!" I tried my best to whisper which is a bit hard in a busy resturant. "Look to your left at the table next to us!"
And there he was, the face of the Liberal party, leader of the oppostition, Mr Tony Abbott. We were no more than 2m away from him!
As the night wore on and we could eat no more so we got a doggy bag and headed back to Lucy's apartment.
Earlier in the afternoon when I first arrived and I pulled my swag off the back of the ute a small cricket jumped on me and some potting mix sprinkled out onto the ground. I thought nothing of it as my swag had been parked next to two dead pot plants for months. When we returned from dinner there were two crickets hopping over the loungeroom floor till I ushered them out onto the balcony.
"Roll your swag out anywhere," Lucy offered so I unclipped the first strap and set free a dozen more crickets into her apartment. I seemed to have been harbouring gryllidae in my swag and goodness knows how long for. And that potting mix? I'm now more inclined to think it was cricket faeces...
In the end I didn't roll my swag out, it got banished to the balcony instead whilst trying to stamp on as many crickets as possible in an effort to get a good nights sleep and avoid the horrid chirping that crickets can omit. But that night I slept like a log in a double bed. I rolled over and discovered I had all this space I'm not used to having. Not sharing the bed with junk or Damian and his flayling limbs supressed my usual 'Princess and the Pea' sleep.
This Sunday though marks a dark day in the Northern Territory's history. On the 19th of Feburary 1942 Japanese Air Forces flew 242 bomber aircraft over the Darwin area and conducted two air raids which killed 250-320 people, wounded 300-400 people, destroyed 23 aircraft, sunk 10 ships and damaged a further 25. Japanese losses? Just 7 aircraft. The first warning came through over the radio at 9:15am from Melville Island and the message was disregarded as the return of 10 American Army Air Corps planes who had to turn back to Darwin after experiencing bad weather. The first air raid siren was not sounded till 9:58am when the Japanese bombers were first sighted over Darwin. The raid lasted 40 minutes, sunk 18 sea vessels in the harbour, killed 21 wharfies and did damage to the RAAF base, civil airfield, Army barracks and oil store.
The sirens were resounded at 11:58am for the second wave of enemy planes and in two formations they attacked the RAAF base again. Defective fuses prevented Australian gunners from defending the Darwin sky. 9 Australian and American aircrafts were destroyed, 2 badly damaged and 6 RAAF personnel killed. A smaller raid killed 11 people that were on board the Don Isidro North of Melville Island and 4 on the Florence D off Bathurst Island. The survivors of this raid made their way to Bathurst and Melville Islands or were rescued by HMAS Warrnambool. Half of Darwins population fled as a result of the raids including many servicemen who misinterpreted a command and looting occurred in the presence of chaos.
The exact number of deaths is still being disputed today, the highest estimate being 1500 people. The numbers of the wounded being less debated and as a consequence the 1000 or so people said to be dead as suggested by some is held in contrast with a low injury level. Australia's North coast was bombed a further 62 times by the Japanese until the 12th of November 1943.
I had slept in and missed nearly all of the commemoration events throughout Darwin so I decided to follow through with my idea that I had on my way up and that was to stop in at the Adelaide River War Cemetery on my way back down to Katherine. I stopped for maybe half an hour to wander through the headstones. To remember those fallen when the frontline was on our shores. Remember Great Grandpa George who enlisted in the RAAF building airstrips alongside the Stuart Highway in the Top End but was brought home by Great Nanna Wesley's constant nagging at the enlistment office in Adelaide (he served one year). Remember Grandpa Alexander who served in the Army as a Private in the 27th Battalion from March 1941 to April 1942. Remember Grandpa Haby who served from October 1942 to December 1945 as a Leading Aircraftman working on the PBY Catalina Flying Boats at Melville Bay in Arnhem Land, NT. Remember. Not only today but everyday in silence we remember.

 File:Darwin 42.jpg

Oil storage tanks exploding from the first Japanese air raid. HMAS Deloraine unharmed in the foreground.

Photo from the Australian War Memorial Collection Database Image Number 128108.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

The Kamakazee Roo

During our usual phone chats during the week Damian informed me that the NT's biggest fire for Feburary was sitting just over 10km north of the station. On the drive home Friday night down the Buntine Highway I could see its glow illuminate the smoke. As I turned onto the beginning of the driveway I kept my eye on it so I could get an idea of the front on it. By the time my tyres rolled over the first grid onto Providence I had begun to think it was alot bigger then I had first imagined as straight ahead of me was a massive orange glow. All I could think of was "Oh no, Calvin's Paddock is on fire!". The last thing I wanted to do after working all day, running errands all afternoon and driving for three hours back to the station was fight fires all night. As I continued past Bob's Paddock turn-off it became apparent that the orange glow ahead was not a fire but in fact the moon. Set so low in the night sky it radiated the colour and intensity of the fire. It was absolutely mesmering. I was hooked on it... till something else caught my eye.
"JESUS!" I slammed on the brakes and "BANG!". I eventually came to a stop. I had hit a roo and he wasn't little either. The bullbar took the impact as he jumped straight in front of the car. I turned the toyota around to look to see if he was dead or alive and there he was in my headlights trying to get up. I'd paralysed him. I uttered another curse word as I turned back and kept heading for the station.
5 minutes later I pulled up at the house and marched inside to the bedroom and flicked the lights on.
"What?" he whinged, trying to get used to the sudden, rude light.
"Is the gun loaded?"
"Yeah, what do you want the gun for?"
"A buck"
"A what?"
"A buck, a big f*** off roo!"
"Yeah, alright, be careful," he said as he rolled back over to sleep. Umm, whatever.
I went to the gunsafe to find only cobwebs. Well, that was money well spent. I figured since the gun wasn't in the safe it would be in the station toyota so off I went back down the driveway in a car a little more comfortable than my own. By the time I reached the kangaroo again he was already dead. No need for the gun after all. I dragged him off the road and apologised to him for hitting him. When I got back in the toyota Lacey was very enthusiastic about my testosterone scented, bloodied hands.
The next morning Damian inspected the damage and reported to me "You're not going to like what you see". The roo had smashed my dodgily installed bullbar into the bonnet in two places, he'd smashed off my main indicator on the drivers side and the indicator on my bullbar on the passenger side.
'Good timing you prick of a roo', I thought. Registration was due to come up on my car and in the NT with a car older than 5 years it involved a roadworthy inspection. This WAS the one year I thought that I didn't need any work done on it till now. I've got dents to smash back out and two indicators to replace. Thanks alot you kamakazeeing, death-wishing roo! It's times like these that I'm glad I drive a Landcruiser!

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Smell That?

Smell that? That's the smell of the campfires lit by the Longrasser's on the banks of the town's river. Reminds me of dinner camp on mustering days. Horses hobbled and tied to trees. Maybe waiting for the first mob of coacher cattle to come in and the billy's on the boil or maybe it's just lunchtime and everyone is starving enough to hook into yet another corned beef sandwich.
See that? That's a piccaninny sunrise.Someone's ordered concrete early and alot of it across a good distance. Reminds me of a 4am wake up and breakfast of a nosebag for your horse before breakfast for yourself. By the time the sun is emerging you're out in the paddock, horses already saddled, waiting for the cattle, throwing your jacket in the toyota and braving the cold morning wind while fighting for a spot in the small amount of sun.
Smell that? Sitting behind a fully loaded road train of cattle at the lights, poking their heads out over the top deck while kicking out poo onto the road. Reminds me of weaners drafted off their mothers, living in a big yard, getting fat on hay, pellets and copra till they're tailed quiet and branded and ready to leave the yards for their new paddock at the end of a week. The smell of the yard while they're in it, sloppy poo from a sudden change in diet.
See that? Red dirt road that the council hasn't got around to bitumising yet. Reminds me of my driveway home...

Monday, 6 February 2012

Motiva... Nah, Can't be Bothered

Motivation fades in me quickly. On the Wednesday I was really keen to get to Providence and run the station horses in and trim their feet. By Saturday morning when it came to the crunch all my eagerness had faded away to "Oh, I'll just check on them and see which ones actually need doing". Turns out two should be done within the next couple of weeks while the other two will get by for at least another month. On the list for next weekend...
Thankfully though, I gained motivation to get other jobs done. A visit to Capone who was chilling in the opened yards with Hoppy under the shady trees brought my attention to all the gamba grass that had sprung up from unclean hay. This particular grass is the one in which Professor David Bowman has suggested an introduction of elephants and rhinoceros to the Top End to control it as they are accustomed to African Savannah grasses such as gamba. Quite frankly I love elephants and I would think it pretty cool to see them thumping around the NT but not so much thumping down fences and such and becoming unmanageable. Back in the day when Africa was becoming "colonised", the elephants would trample buildings if they were in their migration path. Imagine them trampling kilometers of fencelines that backed onto no-go zones like a national park or untrustworthy neighbours? A whimsical idea but not a practical one. But at least, on Providence, I decided to do something within reasonable means about the gambe we had. After finishing mowing the lawn (my usual weekend task it seems to have become) I headed off back down to the yards with a garbage bag and pair of scissors. Capone, his usual friendly self, came up to me as what I initially thought was to say hello but instead he decided to make it known to the garbage bag swinging off my arm that it was not welcome on his turf and proceeded to try and headbutt the bag but unintentionally me as well. I've never felt the need to run away from Capone before as I had hand raised him and he knew who is mummy was and that I gave him pats and scratches and cuddles but on this day I did my best duck-back-suck-back to get away from him before he unknowingly did do me some damage. Seems it was safest to ditch the bag at which point he gave up trying to kill it and sat down under the tree to chew his cud. I then went about peacefully cutting off the seed heads of all the gamba, making trips with handfuls of it back to the garbage bag. But my rounds of the yard revealed another pain-in-the-butt weed. Sida. And this stuff is not easy to kill! So in addition to cutting off the seed heads of the gamba I went around chopping off the sida at the base... till I became a little overwhelmed. Different inexpensive, organic measures need to be taken so I decided that before my next trip home out to Providence I will go to DPI (the Department of Primary Industries) and see if they still dole out Calligrapha Beetles which eat the leaves of the sida. Sida needs its leaves to go through photosynthesis to be able to grow. The Beetle eats the leaves and the plant cannot grow and therefore prevents flowering, seeding and spreading. A nice, cheap and organic way to control sida considering that herbicides only seem to hamper growth but not stop it and $1000's can be spent trying to control it to no avail.
That's not to say that I don't want to spray the weeds that I do know will die from a bit of herbicide. After finishing off the gamba I dosed up the spray unit and Damian reconnected the lines on the pump and I set off to the Cooler Paddock ready to get trigger happy with the spray gun... till I discovered the pump wasn't working. Motivation... FADE! Even though Damian tried to figure out why the pump wasn't working I had already reached the point where I just didn't care anymore. Another task for next weekend...
But to prevent anymore spread of gamba I took the garbage bag of seed heads back to town with me along with kahki burr that was growing by the back verandah (without the burrs thank goodness) and put them in the wheelie bin where they will be smothered by 5,000 other peoples rubbish in a dump that already has these weeds and then some.
What really worries me though is if we keep getting unclean hay then the weeds are going to keep popping up to the point where every morning during the Wet in following years will be spent spraying just to keep it under control. We're also getting the dozer in sometime this year so I'm really hoping that it gets cleaned before it arrives or the motivation for a hissy fit will be high!

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Are You Girl Enough?

My mother has always had an expectation of me that I have never been able to live up to... Being a girly girl. Sadly for her I was a tomboy. Always have been, always will be. Though I reflect now: Is it time I was a girly girl? I've had a few dreams in my sleep lately where I have been in surroundings of pink or in a group with other girls mucking around and giggling. I discovered a website called which I spent nearly all of Saturday evening being glued to. It was very girly with blogs of girls in the same generation as myself with everything from cute craft ideas to reflections of their own childhoods. I found myself watching PopAsia on SBS waiting for the female popstars coming on with their glitzy, girly video clips. "Top Girl" by G_NA being my favourite. What the hell is happening to me?
I have always felt slightly envious of girls that are comfortable wearing dresses everyday and matching outfits with cute shoes. Their nails and hair done impeccably. I get by with owning a handbag dog who has a bling collar. My childhood pink bedroom unchanged as an adult with posters of cute animals, stuffed toys, dolls and fairies scattered about the place.
I have a rule for myself that once year... at least... I must wear a dress. For 2012 I've already obeyed that rule and wore a white dress with a sparkly, silver trim and sparkly, silver peep-toe ballet flats, carrying a glass-beaded clutch to a dinner party. Unlike my mother would, no one made a fuss but did comment that they were surprised to see me in a dress all the same.
I think what may have sparked my anti-girliness was of course... my mother. I don't mean to sound like I am running her down but she really does misunderstand me at times. Whilst recovering from two operations at my Nanna's when I was 10, my mother visited an op-shop (opportunity shop or rag trade shop). When I went up to visit her and Nanna during the school holidays she excitedly told me that she had bought something for me. "When I saw it I straight away thought of you". She pulled it out of a bag and revealed it. A fluorescent pink, layered, white polka-dotted skirt. When she saw it she thought of something she'd like me to wear but not something that I actually would. The skirt horrified me and I told her so. She was devastated. She had raised me in dresses and pig tails. A little girl that older women would think was cute. By the time I was 5 years old I was in scruffy clothes and head to toe with dirt. And it's stayed that way to this day. I'm still scruffy. Holes in my workshirts and rips in my jeans. I come out of the cattle yards looking like I've rolled around in the dirt but there's a satisfaction to it. A hard days work could be seen and felt and there was nothing better than watching all the dust wash off in the shower at the end of the day. I don't get that sitting behind a desk answering phones.
Yet there's still that little need in me that needs to glam up and feel feminine. A ball was held on the weekend and I spent Friday and Saturday tossing up whether I wanted to go or not. If certain friends were going to go I had one condition for myself about going. I had to be the Belle of the Ball. I wanted a certain look, certain hair, certain dress. I didn't end up going. The cost of being glam and girly would hurt the bank account way too much. It was a whimsical notion left to sit with the others at the back of my brain... neglected.
I wear the odd pink workshirt to work and get regular comments from people who are shocked to see that it's a girl that has just jumped out of the concrete truck. People blown away that me, as a girl and a small one at that, does the job that I do. Shock sometimes is followed by "So you're truck is an auto then?" Certainly not. It's a synchro gearbox by the way. When coming to town I wasn't interested in a retail or admin job. My first cold calls were to a roadworks business and the local quarry. Despite my mild discontent with my job I couldn't imagine myself in any other here in town and to that extent I don't think I will ever be girl enough.

G.NA's "Top Girl" video

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Home Sweet Home

This is the place I grew up. This is the place I will always call home. During school holidays I would play with the kids in my street in the scrub that surrounded my house. That scrub's all gone now. It's been replaced with houses.
On my first day back on KI after a year I shake my head at the "progress". All chasing the tourist dollar. They thought it was alright to tear down a century-old house to make way for hideous up-market apartments that look like a bunch of cardboard boxes all jammed together. They forget that amongst the nature is a rich history carved out by many characters and that if it wasn't for them KI wouldn't be what it is today.
A few local artists are doing their best to revive some of the old stories that have shaped the main street. KI's most renowned artist, Jenny Clapson, has painted a mural depicting the Cook family. It took her a years research to create the depiction of the antics, adventures and milestones of the Cooks (they were the first people on KI to own a television). It takes pride of place inside the Fine Art Gallery, of one of the new galleries which was once the family's residence.
Jenny Clapson's daughter was featured in this weeks local newspaper. She says "When you grow up in a place you tend to take it for granted". I couldn't have said it better myself. I've only just begun to appreciate what I was constantly surrounded with 12 years ago.
Dad and I drove out to Emu Ridge Eucalyptus. My only intention before arriving was to purchase a large bottle of Eucalyptus Oil for a friend. I ended up spending $75 on a whole bunch of other Eucalyptus orientated stuff as well. Then I had the thought "Oh, while we are out here can we go to the Honey Farm?" So off we went so I could mung out on honey ice cream at Cliffords Honey Farm. I bought some jars of the different kinds of honey* and some gifts for a friend who is about to have a baby.
But here's another bit of the "Chase of the Tourist" dollar. The Cliffords have been plying their trade to tourists and locals alike for as long as I can remember but someone else doesn't mind cutting their grass. They've created a new establishment on the edge of town selling similar honey products but without the charm. They aren't surrounded by nature and hives, just bitumen and the relocated rural agency. Yet with a main road exposure I wonder how many tourists actually bother to go out to the Cliffords anymore?
The next stop was Island Pure, the Sheep Milk Dairy. Dad had suggested we buy some Haloumi for Christmas Day and the lady gave us some samples to try so I also bought a block of Manchego too. Can't drive all that way just for one type of cheese!
But my touristy day didn't stop there. Dad also drove me out to Reeves Point** to see the new boat ramp (which users now have to pay for but I wonder how many actually do) and the new playground, toilets and revamped picnic area. On the way back up the hill towards town some locals were scavenging in the low tide for crabs and perriwinkles. Some men had obviously been diving for their catch whatever it may be, dripping with water in thier wetsuits while carrying tubs of seafood. Summers of my childhood were spent doing the same thing. We'd sit on the big rocks by the wharf picking off perriwinkles to eat. We'd go down to one of the beaches to look for crabs under the small rocks that had been smoothed out by years of waves crashing against them. The crabs we left alone. We just liked to find them and watch them scuttle for cover after we'd exposed them.
Dad drove past the town pool. It's a tidal man-made rock pool that had 5 year olds petrified of swimming in it. We would get told horror stories of Blue-Ringed Octupus' grabbing hold of our legs while we swam and grabbing hold of a rock and not letting go till we drowned and no one would find us at the bottom of the murky pool. Then the shark eggs would hatch and we'd get eaten by a Great White and get digested into shark poo. All these stories from the older kids would get told to us, of course, right before compulsary swimming lessons began at the start of the school year. I wonder if that has something to do with the fact that I never learnt to swim properly, too scared a Blue-Ring might get me?
Christmas was spent at my sisters. My eldest brother came with his girlfriend. I'd never met her before and I hadn't seen him in 3 years either. My brother-in-law's younger brother was there too. We spent Christmas Eve at my sisters place and finished it off at the pub. Last drinks were called when we arrived at the first pub. Couldn't even bribe the bar staff for a drink! Caught up with a couple of old school friends though. So then as one pub closed we headed to the other where I caught up with more friends till Wayne started whinging that he smelt like lavender and his shoulder hurt. Well that's what you get for jumping in a lavender bush and completely missing it. He blames me for daring him!
I got to spend the day with my sister on the Wednesday. She works for Natural Resource Management and it's her job to help along rare and endangered plant species. I invited myself along to work with her and we drove out to Macgillivray to pick seeds off the side of the road. Her love for native plants had her wrapping stocking socks all over one plant determined to get every seed that bush produced. And then picking random seeds quite simply because she liked them.
Once she showed herself some restraint from seed picking we went out to Cygnet River where she worked to store the new seeds and transplant 250 seedlings of two different species. It was kind of relaxing picking seeds and transplanting seedlings and I can see why my sister enjoys it so much.
Thursday night of my week home we once again invaded my sister's place. My brother didn't want to miss out on pizza night so it got moved from the regular Friday night to Thursday night. I was glad because otherwise I would have missed it too. And then 10 minutes before 6pm my step-sister rang up my sister to invite herself around for dinner.
My last day was the Friday. I was so not interested in leaving. Dad and I drove out to Vivonne Bay so I could go to just one more gallery and then we went around and checked out the bay itself. Dad showed me where we used to camp. It's been fenced off now so no one can camp there anymore. I enjoyed the sea spray at Point Ellen as the waves crashed against the big rocks. We had a quick walk down the beach*** where a dog and his human friend enjoyed the water. We had lunch from the general store and a sticky beak around the township where we got to see everyones shacks had been replaced with fancy pants holiday houses. A quick nip into Little Sahara where the tourists enjoyed sandboarding on their hired boards where back in the day we used whatever we coud find. An esky lid perhaps? I am not one for walking far especially in dry sand so I made sure we didn't stay too long. Then back into town we went so I could slowly and miserably pack my bags to go back to the mainland again.
I swear it was so much harder this time than most times I've left as an adult. There's something drawing me back. Is it the sea? Is it my Dad and sister and her family? Is it the environment? Or is it just because I call the place home?
Halfway to the airport I realised I had forgotten my phone charger so after Dad dropped me off he raced back home to get it. But before he even could get back they announced the boarding of my flight. I missed out on saying goodbye to my Dad all because I had left my charger in the kitchen. I was nearly in tears.
My landing on the mainland had me crying too as a distraught message was left by my mother on my message bank. I rang her back and before she would tell me what was wrong she insisted I catch up with my brother while we were both in Adelaide. Then finally she told me. Our precious Tina Puppy had to be put down after it was discovered that she had advanced liver cancer. Mum had had to say goodbye to her four-legged daughter. What a way to end the year.
I got to spend that night and the next day with my mother-in-law (Mandy) and father-in-law and see Lacey's eldest daughter, Ethel, all grown up. I got to meet Mandy's horse, Jasper, and even to got have a walk around on him. He was so quiet and kind natured and willing to please. And he was very cuddly too, a big sook!
My brother and his girlfriend picked me up in the afternoon so I got to catch up with them and my nephew and we went round to my Uncle Garry's and Aunty Shirley's. I haven't had a proper catch up with them for nearly 6 years. Slack me! So it was very good to see them again. And I got to see my cousins Stacey and Josh at the same time.
But after a week of enjoying being back in SA it was time to go back to the NT and back to reality. I really felt like "missing" the plane. I really felt like going to my mum's to be there for her but that little bit of "sensible" in the back of my brain told me to get my butt on the plane and save up to come home another time. Bloody adult reasoning!

*[Ligurian Bees produce different flavours of honey depending on where they are getting their pollen from. David places hives around certain native trees which in turn affects the products taste eg: Hives around a Sugar Gum will create a very saccharine taste. There is also Stringy Bark flavour and Mallee Gum flavour available at Cliffords Honey Farm. The bee is originally Italian but now KI has the only pure strain of the Ligurian Bee in the world. They are also quite a docile bee and less inclined to sting.]
**[Reeves Point was the place of South Australia's official landing and first settlement in 1836. A Mulberry Tree was planted to commemorate the occassion which still grows to this day 175 years later. It still produces Mulberries too and they're picked each year to produce jam. Never been lucky enough to try the jam myself!]
***[Vivonne Bay was voted Australia's Best Beach by Sydney University's Professor Andrew Short in 2003 after evaluating 10,000 beaches nationwide.]