90. Queensland – Toogoolawah & Yeppoon

Our arrival in Queensland coincided with a bout of cool weather (of course we were blamed for bringing it over from NZ) and instead of T-shirts I found myself wearing light jumpers, even indoors. I was grateful for the wonderful wood burner which Nic and Mick have installed since our last visit, and enjoyed going out into the paddocks to collect more of their unlimited supply of timber. It was good to be back on the property which has had plenty of rain recently. The huge new dam was full, the horses were all looking sleek and well-fed, there were lots of roos around and the 2 dogs Pirate and Rascal were just as lunatic as ever (!).



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It was fascinating to watch the dynamics between the horses. Who to put with whom and where – a never-ending juggling act.


Mick’s Richie was shifted to another paddock and the horses already there rushed over to check out the newcomer. There was immediate recognition between Ritchie and Nic’s retired Buddy.




We “helped’ wean spunky colt Aidan from his mother, not very complicated as it merely involved leading LJ the mare away to a far paddock. Mother and son called to each other intermittently over the next few days but both had other horses to keep them company. LJ did not know it but after producing at least six foals, the last 3 for Nic and Mick, she is now entering honourable retirement.



One day we all drove to Esk for lunch at an old wooden Queenslander full of quirky objets d’art and old photographs as well as great food. This is fast becoming a family tradition.

One of the objects of this Queensland visit is to search for a caravan and tow vehicle. We’d heard that they are often to be found in northern Queensland towns towards the end of winter, when southerners who have spent the winter in the tropics decide it is too much trouble to drive all the way back down south again. So we had planned to spend some time in the north. But the most suitable caravan rig we have heard about so far is in Coffs Harbour – on the NSW coast! So our plans may change.

On our last evening, as the sun went down and the sky changed colours, we met with Nic and Mick’s wonderful neighbours Pam and Mal for a champagne toast around the grave of N&M’s first brood mare Rosie who had to be put down some months earlier. Pam had planted it with a number of pink geraniums. (Next 3 photos by Dave).DSC02375

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All too soon it was time for the next stage of our caravan search “holiday” – the tilt train to Rockhampton. it was interesting to note that some of the movies on the small overhead TV screens were subtitled, but the frequent announcements re travel times, next station, etc were not. If I’d been travelling alone it would have been a bit of a worry as the train was half an hour late reaching Rockhampton.

We were met by a Darchy cousin ‘Darch’ and his wife Jan and driven to their retirement village at Yeppoon, about half an hour further north. The village is HUGE and attractive and has some unique lawnmowers – wild kangaroos which roam the streets freely. I was astonished to see so many in an urban area. Perhaps the lack of children and also dogs and cats makes it feel safe for them. Apparently they leave vegetable gardens alone and only occasionally feast on flowers.

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We had a mini Darchy family reunion in Yeppoon when two other cousins and their wives arrived in their caravans – Jaycos of course. After an all-morning session at a cafe, we went to inspect the new Emu Park war memorial overlooking the Keppel Islands. Having explored those islands fairly extensively by boat in years past, it was quite strange to see them from quite another viewpoint.


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From the Memorial a walkway led around a little beach to an imposing structure in the distance…. a memorial to Captain Cook’s arrival in the Keppels, designed by a woman artist. With a reasonable wind blowing, the structure ‘sings’.


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Yeppoon was indeed a Cousin paradise for me. Apart from the Darchys (my mother’s father’s family) a Hunt cousin (mother’s mother’s family) also lives there. We spent a great day with Arthur and Laurel. First we were shown around the Yeppoon coastguard station and their latest addition to the small fleet of rescue boats by the Commodore (Arthur).


The Coastguard station is in the middle of the next photo which also shows part of Rosslyn Bay boat harbour. The bird was entertaining us while we had coffee at the yacht club.



We climbed the steep hill overlooking the port and admired the Fan Rocks….


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The boat harbour is protected by a huge man-made wall, but during the February cyclone waves broke right over the wall.

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This beautiful old yacht caught my attention: IMG_2581

After a great lunch Arthur and Laurel lent us their car for the rest of the day to explore caravan possibilities in Rockhampton. We did find one we both liked but far too pricey at a dealer’s, and no tow vehicle. That dealer did say he had several buyers waiting to trade in older for new caravans, but they were all waiting to see what happens with the (Australian) budget. So we may have to wait too.

We attended a local Choral Society performance of ‘Cats’, produced and directed by Laurel, and that night the Darchy mini-reunion continued at a theatre restaurant . ‘Cats’ was most impressive for a small country town, and it was interesting to walk through the entire cast on the way out of the theatre and be able to admire their elaborate costumes and make-up. The Theatre Restaurant was small and involved audience participation, which usually makes me cringe. However, I was pointed out as the grandmother of a particularly glamorous young actress and everyone told she had got her good looks from me, so I wasn’t too unhappy! Dave escaped notice apart from being dobbed in as a New Zealander and Darch had the glamorous actress collapse in his lap. The other Darchy boys similarly attracted some ribald attention. Apparently the theatre people have experienced Darchys in the audience before.

Next stop is Bowen where I spent six years living on the boat “Cornelius” (see her story on another part of my website at nancyvada.me). My daughter Nicole was born in Townsville and we returned to ‘Cornelius’ a day later, just a week before a very hot and steamy Christmas.

89. Winter 2015 – Christchurch

All good things come to an end and so it was with our second winter 2015 homesit at a dairy farm near Rakaia. Our charges the dog Ally and cat Marvi were a joy; after some initial hesitation even Marvi was happy to accept Penny as another animal with which to share their home.



I took lots of photos of sunsets and snowy mountain ranges, both clearly visible from the homestead. It was lovely having a full-sized oven although it took me a little while to get used to it after my slightly temperamental smaller sized oven in the caravan – in fact it fought back, giving me a small burn and scorching a tea towel.



We had several visits from friends and relatives and made a couple of trips into Christchurch including one special one to inspect a brand new baby, and enjoyed exploring the countryside around. But more often we just relaxed  ….


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The day the owners were due to return we shifted back to T5, where we were visited several times by Ally and Marvi who must have been a bit bewildered by this turn of events. I was sorry to leave them but I think Penny was happy to be the subject of our undivided attention again!


One thing marred our leaving, it seems a small mouse must have taken the opportunity when the front door was open to zip inside the nice warm house and into the bedroom nearest the door, or perhaps it was brought inside by the cat. At any rate the day after we left a peculiar smell started in that bedroom, and it was not till several days later that it was traced to one by then very dead mouse hidden in the bedclothes.

So now we are back in the chestnut orchard in north Christchurch where we will stay till it’s time to hop on a plane heading for a relatively warmer place – Brisbane. The orchard looks so different …. bare trees and a huge amount of leaf litter and soggy chestnut husks on the ground. Some of our old friends are still here and we were delighted to find a Photographic Society member here too.


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A lone black alpaca romps around in a paddock at the back of the orchard and bounds over to say hello when Penny and I go for a walk.

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We have shifted to another site in the Orchard so we now have power and can run the small electric heater and use the electric toaster and microwave. As quite a number of other caravans/motorhomes have the same idea, it is necessary to limit ourselves to one appliance at a time or else the main fuse blows out – as happened several times on a very cold night!

We discovered a small leak in a water pipe in the bathroom, of course in a difficult place to access, but it was very lucky we did discover it or else we might have been returning from Australia to a caravan with a soggy mildewy carpet. Luckily Dave was able to replace the pipe without TOO much trouble. (Try lying on the cold wet muddy ground under a caravan).

We’ll be away in Queensland for a month and after a week with Nic and Mick intend to travel up the coast. At Yeppoon we hope to have a mini-reunion with several of my Darchy cousins plus a cousin from another family, then on to friends at Bowen and perhaps Townsville and Cairns. We will be looking for a suitable caravan and/or towing vehicle and by the end of our Australian trip we should have a better idea of what our future plans are (!). We also hope to fit in a Motorhome show at Maryborough just before we leave.