Farewell to 2014

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    It’s been an eventful year, with one thing and the other. There seemed no better way to end it than up in some of the most spectacular real estate in our land – the high country up around Kosciuszko. It’s quite a hike up to the lookout from Thredbo, but worth every minute. Quite a way to end the year, overlooking Australia from on high. The wildflowers are at their peak currently and a stunning foreground to the layered blue of the mountains in the distance. A magical place at this time of year and highly worth the huff and puff to get up there.

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Jindabyne Rodeo

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Last December, we watched our first rodeo. The first thing you notice when you walk in, is the hats. Big hats… everywhere, on everyone. Even the babies wear 9 gallon hats. Then, you notice that smell. It is the scent of unbridled testosterone. I mean, this really IS the land where men are men (and the sheep aren’t nervous anymore – they’re used to it). Honestly, these people are tough, honest, no nonsense hard and tough. It’s like stepping into a different world, a world of miller shirts and muscles, whips and embroidered denim. They have to be tough to do what they do. The animals they ride are serious amounts of muscle and animosity. The sole intent is murder, and these men (and women) play with them like they are poodles. They have events for 6 to 11 year olds. They put them on angry animals that are many multiples of their size. It was great to watch, but the men I admired the most for their bravery were the distraction clowns, who put their bodies in the way of these monstrosities after the riders has been unceremoniously “dumped”. And also the rounders, two very serious looking mountain men on horseback who gather up the still bucking horses after each ride. They do it with no fuss, no fanfare and an amount of skill that would make Clancy proud. I came away feeling quite inadequate.. (But unbruised, which is more than I could say for most of them!)

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A Different Christmas

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For the first time ever, Glenda and I spent Christmas day not surrounded by family. It just felt plain weird. Sure, there wasn’t the panic of getting everything ready, making sure the house was in a fit state etc etc, but we really did miss the hurley burly that is such a part of the Christmas day process. That being said, we had a lovely roast lunch, a few wines, joined the family for a while on Skype while they celebrated and had the traditional post Christmas snooze. We tried to get the animals into the spirit of the thing, but they just didn’t seem that keen.

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An Unexpected Fog

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Nothing is likely to get me out of bed in the morning like a good mist. This morning was no exception as a lovely, unexpected fog rolled in, deadening the sounds and softening the scenery. We took the dog for a walk in the dank mist. There is nothing quite like Australian rural scenes when it’s foggy. The gumtrees melt into the whiteness and the animals seem a little calmer and of good humour.

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We came across a few cows and their young along the way and they were just that little bit curious but unconcerned. A little later in the morning, I headed down to our creek at the bottom of the property. The mist had risen considerably at this point, but was still lingering a little in the background. It’s a beautiful setting and I hope to stagger down there one evening when the light is golden..

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First Days

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The start of our discovery year began with us finishing up our employment. Both of us felt a certain sadness about this. For me, it’s the people I will miss. They are a great bunch at Millennium and I have known most of them since they began there. After nearly 10 years, I have strong friendships with many of them which I hope will continue on. My last night was a great night, with all the interstaters down for the Christmas do. The was lots of toasts and hugs, not a little wine and cheer and finished off with espresso martinis in the wee hours of the morning. Bliss. Thanks guys!!

The next morning, bleary eyed and not a little hungover, we packed the car to the hilt (I refuse to travel light!) and headed off. First stop Lakes Entrance in a charming, and charmingly named, Warm Holes Cottage. We didn’t see much of Lakes given we both fell asleep upon arrival.

Next morning, early, we headed off to Ingebirah, which is about 20Km from Jindabyne. We had a choice of routes… the long sealed road or the shorter dirt road… no real choice in my book.. the shorter road it was. And what a choice! We headed up the Snowy River Road through Buchan, after which it become very narrow for a period. No room to pass an oncoming car or any areas to pull over. It would have required reversing. We didn’t meet any other cars though. I have to say, this is probably the most beautiful road I have driven on, and I have driven on some wonders. The scenery is just wonderful – Mountain ash trees, vistas of the layered snow mountains with the shades of grey and blue and the fast running snowy river wending its way through. Very distracting when you are trying to keep four wheels on the road!.

We arrived at our new home in Ingebirah around lunchtime. They are about 1Km up a dirt track. Rob and Donna, the owners, are a lovely couple with a young lad, Ryan. The property is amazing. Five acres spotted with gnarled and twisted snowgums. About 3 acres is mown and manicured, with a variety of cubby houses, sheds and chook pens around the place. The bottom part of the property is natural bushland which slopes down to a fast running rocky creek. The house is large and modern, with all the modcons, including a gym (oh well) and games room. There is a huge decking with uninterrupted panoramic views of the snowy mountains.

I woke up on the first morning and headed onto the deck. There were a few cockies and galahs in the trees (not making a noise surprisingly), the chooks were pecking away around the grass and a big grey kangaroo came bounding up through the back yard from the creek. The kookaburras were singing in the morning. What can you say really… it’s somewhat pleasant!

We have in our charge a lovely old staffie called Oscar, a very aloof old cat called Scooter who seems to sleep almost all the time and our five plump ladies, the Isa Brown Chickens. These girls are VERY productive giving us 5 eggs every day and sometimes a sixth! We share these with our neighbours down the road.

We walk Oscar first thing every morning. It is so good to walk a dog without a lead! He loves to chase the rabbits and kangaroos, which of course he never catches. I believe he also likes to take on wombats. Very brave! We haven’t come across that yet.

On our first day, we drove out to the trout farm and sorta got conned into catching fish there. We caught a couple of big rainbow trout, which of course we then needed to pay for. Most expensive trout EVER! But they have been and will be delicious.

Yesterday, we drove out to Charlottes Pass up in the mountains. This is the gateway to the walk to Mt Kosciuszko, something we didn’t want to attempt on the day. We are both still a little lethargic after the last few hectic months plus the altitude is taking some getting used to. We hope to get up there later on. The drive through the mountains is again, sensational. The flora is at its peak at the moment with carpets of yellow, white and orange covering the rugged rockscapes. There is still snow on the upper peaks which makes a great backdrop.

Enough for now. I will post some photos up in the “jindabyne” gallery soon. I have been a little lazy with the camera while I get a feel for the land, but I do hope I can get something worthy of this amazing place.

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Elwood Blues Club last of 2013

OK, I admit it. I am a sucker for female vocalists belting out the blues, so what an extra special treat last night with 3 of the very best giving their all, and then some. Fiona Boyes headlined the night with her amazing variety of sensitive and sensual melody, contrasted by some real in your face, raucous power. Next up was one of my all time favourite stage presences in Christine Manetta with an all-to-short set which included The Doors “Roadhouse Blues” … *swoon*!! Thanks so much for that Christine!! Finally was the newcomer to the EBC in Nicole Nehemia, a real bundle of personality, style and talent – totally infectious and utterly engaging. So, what an end to the year – three beautiful ladies hammering out great blues supported by the incredible talent of the EBC allstars and the likes of Jesse Valach, Rod Paine and sooo many more amazing musicians. All I can say is “roll on 2014!” Have an amazing Christmas and New Year everyone and thanks!