Can’t wait to get back on the road again….

Well, its been an interesting start to 2016, but from now on the real adventures begin again.

A short recap of the past few months:

On the 7th January Brian had his triple bypass, from which he has fully recovered!!  I have to keep telling him to slow down now when we are out walking, and if hills are involved, he beats me hands down!

In late February we headed off to Kingaroy, Qld and I became a “Real Nurse” again. I worked for 10 weeks at the local hospital. Boy! At times this was really hard work, both physically and mentally, but I am so pleased I did it. It really is like riding the proverbial bicycle, most of it came back to me easily, but I am deeply indebted to the friendly staff at Kingaroy Med/Surg ward who steered me back in the right direction when the old brain was just a bit too rusty. No work landed in Brians lap, so I sent him off to volunteer for Meals on Wheels so he something to do while I was working. He learnt how to prep all the veges, and says he almost enjoyed doing it!

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View from our van at Kingaroy showgrounds, before the show arrived
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A lovely spot under the trees was ours until the Showies kicked us out
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Our $10 fire place. A BBQ plate and an old rim, from the dump recycle shop

We had a pleasant stay at the local Showgrounds in Kingaroy, we lived in our caravan the whole time. It got more interesting for the last 2 weeks when the annual show came to town. We were moved into the “permanents” area, and what was previously our front yard turned into side show alley!!

We popped back to the Sunny Coast a couple of times to see the kids and help Christine with some planning for the wedding, also for some post surgery specialist appointments. Then mid May my contract was finished, we left Kingaroy, and got caught up in a whirlwind frenzy of last minute wedding plans and dress alterations. Wow, a DIY wedding certainly is a lot of work.

But, it was all worth it, 2 days ago we had the privilege of being part of a true fairy tale wedding in Maleny. All the effort and plans came together for a perfect day. Congratulations Christine and James.

So, whats next…

We already have a job lined up at Lawn Hill National Park (Adels Grove) for the winter high season (north west Qld, about 4 hrs north of Mt Isa). Both Brian and I have positions as “general hands”. We will see what that actually means when we get there. We are due to start around the end of June.

For the next few weeks Brian and I are heading north along the coast, stopping in at some beach camps along the way. We figure it’s time for a bit of a beach holiday before we both start work again. We will head all the way up to the Atherton Tablelands to visit my parents for a bit, and then head onto Lawn Hill from there.

I have decided to start a new “Blog”. I feel we are no longer Newbie Nomads considering we have been on (and off) the road for about 18 months now, so from now on we will be “ExploringOz.com” I will post a link here when I get it up and running. The focus of the new blog will be working our way around this great country, and all the fun and fabulous times we are going to have along the way.

 

Waiting is over, rehab begins.

Thought it was time I updated everyone on where and what the Farrellys are doing now. My last post was in November when we were waiting for an angiogram at Nambour hospital to investigate Brian’s supposed “heart condition”.

We had a marvellous time whiling away a month at Mooloolaba caravan park. Spent many a day  working on our tans and having long afternoon (or morning) walks. Brian continued to do all sorts of improvements on the van or Nissan, and I did a few hours each week back at Bromilow. (My old job)

The date for the angiogram came around (1st Dec) and the news was not good! “3 badly blocked arteries, and recommend a triple bypass rather than stents”

HHHmmm… another curve ball. So we moved out of the van park (no room over the Christmas holidays), parked the caravan up at our “real home” and moved into Brian’s brothers very comfortable granny flat to wait some more. (We didn’t move back into our home because we reluctant to throw out Emmas flatmates and ensconce ourselves back into the real world as we might just get too comfy and not move on again!) At least this way we were around for a family Christmas, an unexpected (but expensive) treat.

We got the date to have the bypass operation at Prince Charles hospital in Brisbane on January 7th. Must say the public system was pretty good to us, 4 weeks wait for the angio, and only 5 weeks for major heart surgery. We had let our expensive Private Hosp insurance go at the beginning of our travels (never used it in 20 years, we’re not going to get sick now are we?!)

Poor Brian, what a horrible, harrowing experience it was, but he is a STAR!! Back home on day 4! It’s 2 weeks post op now and he is already walking 3kms daily (walking slowly, and not up any hills), minimal pain and doing so well. So well in fact, that we have started to plan the next ADVENTURE!!!

We plan to be back here on the Sunshine Coast in May for Christine’s wedding, so we have decided not to venture too far afield. I have been trying to find the right time to get back into hospital nursing, so I have applied for a nursing position at Kingaroy. A small 30 bed rural hospital, about 2 hours from here,  who will take me on even though its been about 10 years since I have done anything other than aged care. I have an interview in a week or so, and if that goes well we will head out there for around 3 months. As Brian recuperates fully he can look at getting some work locally as well if the opportunity arises. Hopefully, all going to plan, it will mean I can pick up more rural nursing as we continue our adventures across Australia. It will always pay better than fruit picking!

So for the time being, we are still resting up (well Brian is) in Buderim, staying at M&Ms place (or should I say Palace), but plans are afoot to be moving on soon. YAY!!!

A waiting game….

Well, here we are, temporarily back on the Sunshine Coast, waiting for a letter from Nambour hospital. (more about that later)

To keep things chronological, I will start where I left off last time, on our way to Bathurst. What a beautiful “hinterland” behind the Blue Mountains. We spent 3 delightful days exploring around the Oberon area, and visiting the fantastic Jenolan Caves. Both Brian and I had never been to this well renowned tourist mecca, and we were a bit sceptical that it wouldn’t just be touristy and tacky. What a lovely surprise to find it was another fantastic highlight in our travels. Well worth the visit, definitely one to put on everyones bucket list!

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The “broken pillar” just one of the many fastinating geological wonders…
the caves were full of amazing limestone patterns
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The lovely old hotel is open to the public to just wander around.

On Monday the 5th we were able to “check in” to the Bathurst camp site. For some reason we scored a volunteer camp spot right on the edge of the campground, on what can only be described as a “precipice”. I guess the newbie volunteers don’t get the choice spots 😦

Note the jacked up back end!! (the front was actually ON THE GROUND!!
Note the jacked up back end!! (the front was actually ON THE GROUND!!

We had a couple of days up our sleeve to explore Bathurst, do a couple of circuits of  the race track, and watch the event set up. On the Thursday we reported for our volunteer duties, and worked our little bottoms off for the duration of the 4 days of racing. Brian didn’t mind too much as he was working on a grandstand, where he could watch the race on a huge TV screen. I ended up on the front gate which was fun, but we didn’t get to see much racing (and my feet got very sore!!) When we put our names down to do this, we had no idea they work you for 10 hour shifts! But for this we did score free admission and camping, 2 t-shirts, a jumper and several caps.  We are still debating if we put our hands up again next year.

Doing the obligatory circuit around Mt panorama
Doing the obligatory circuit around Mt Panorama. We cycled around the first time, and retrospectively I have realised I literally nearly killed Brian doing it!!

So, after a fun (but tiring) week we packed up and headed for home. We detoured via Miles to visit Brians mum, and via Caboolture for a 2 day horse event I had agreed to first aid for. The very next weekend we headed to the Gold Coast to enjoy the V8’s again. For the 3rd year in a row we were fortunate enough to stay “on track” at a unit belonging to a friend who always vacates during the Gold Coast race as she hates the noise!!

The awesome view of the race track from our apartment on the Gold Coast.
The awesome view of the race track from our apartment on the Gold Coast.

We then settled in to enjoy a visit with the 3 girls and do some medical/dental check ups while here. I insisted Brian tell his doctor about the “strange feeling in his chest” that made him need to stop and rest when we would be slogging up a hill during our long walks (or when cycling around the Bathurst track!) One Stress ECG later, and it became obvious Brian has been dealing with a blocked coronary artery, which sent him into nasty cardiac arrhythmias when I insisted he “stopped being a wuss, and just kept up”. So now we wait till we get a spot at Nambour Hosp for an angiogram and a possible heart stent. (because of course we cancelled our hospital insurance because of the cost when we headed off in Feb !!)

a horrifying run of VT when they made Brian work too hard on the treadmill. Supposedly this is a drop dead type rhythm!!
A horrifying run of VT when they made Brian work too hard on the treadmill. Supposedly this is a drop dead type rhythm!!

We have decided to spoil ourselves and have settled into Mooloolaba caravan park for the waiting time (which they assure us should only be 1 month, but when in that month they just can’t say) I have picked up a few days of work with my previous job, nothing too difficult, just helping out in the office. Brian will spend some time fixing a few things on the car/van and when I am not working we can enjoy an enviable beach lifestyle….

Sydney, Blue Mountains and now Bathurst bound….

At the risk of repeating myself, what can I say, but, LIFE IS GOOD!!!

We had a fabulous week living it up in Sydney. Thanks Donna and Peter for your wonderful hospitality, and a fantastic place to stay.

Brian and I spent days exploring this beautiful city. I never knew the harbour was so huge and so beautiful, and so accessible by foot (around the edges, I don’t actually walk on water)

The public transport system was very easy to negotiate, we did not touch our vehicle the week we were there. Tip number 1 for doing Sydney on the cheap – Be a Pensioner!! Brian’s newly acquired status meant that all he paid for trains/ferries or buses for 1 day was $2.50. Some days I spent $15 with all the trips we took.

Our itinerary looked something like this:

Day 1 – We took a ferry all the way up the harbour to Paramatta. This was one of our few sunny days, so we saw the harbour in all its glory.

Harbour Cruising
Harbour Cruising

Day 2 – took a ferry out to Watsons Bay (south head of the harbour) and walked from there around the cliff walks to Bondi. By the time we got to Bondi the weather was cold and windy, so we were not tempted to try out the icebergs pool, a beer in the clubhouse was good enough.

At famous Bondi Beach, sitting in the comfort of the icebergs club. Freezing cold and blowy outside.
At famous Bondi Beach, sitting in the comfort of the icebergs club. Freezing cold and blowy outside.

Day 3 – We headed to the city and all its wonderful history. We just wandered where our noses took us, the Rocks, the Opera house, botanical gardens and everywhere in between.

The obligatory wander around the SH Bridge. Brian made me do this pose so you could tell how big the nuts were!
The obligatory wander around the Sydney H Bridge. Brian made me do this pose so you could tell how big the nuts were!

Day 4 – A day at the city shops, and the glorious QVB, city Paddys markets (yuck, like being back in Asia) and Darling harbour

Queen Victoria Building
Queen Victoria Building
Always worth a wander through
Always worth a wander through

Day 5- Resting our feet a little we only walked to the local Orpheum theatre, a lovely restored cinema, and watched a daytime movie. How decadent it feels to spend time watching a movie, on a weekday afternoon… We topped off the afternoon with a stroll around Cremorne point, (another glorious harbourside path) and took in all the posh waterfront houses and gardens.

Sydney is riddled with harbourside walking track and trails.
Sydney is riddled with harbourside walking track and trails.

Saturday morning we went to the “real” Paddys Markets at Flemington, a very interesting glance at Sydneys fresh fruit and veg industry. (and fish, and flowers) We even got to see our own packed  oranges/lemons and avos being sold.

Paddys Market - The boxes of oranges and lemons packed by our farm
Paddys Market – The boxes of oranges and lemons packed by our farm

I would thoroughly recommend everyone take a week out of their lives and take the time to explore Sydney properly, and we still have more we want to do next time! Had planned to do Manly National Park walk on the weekend, but the weather was just too cold and miserable, a session at some of the local pubs with Donna and Peter won out!

So then onto the beautiful Blue Mountains.

WOW!! What an area. Glorious views at every turn, and then the walks!! So many walks it was difficult to chose. BUT, our highlight was the National Pass walk, which had originally been carved out of the cliff face in 1908! The steps wound down the cliff face at Wentworth falls, then hugged a cliff edge for about 1.5 hours, and we climbed back up beside another beautiful waterfall. This has got to be the best walk I have done so far on our travels!

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Stairs cut out of the rock face!
A 1908 photo of the same steps
A 1908 photo of the same steps
our walk along the cliff edge...
our walk along the cliff edge…
this is a view of where we walked. See the green belt between the two rock faces, the path is cut along there!!
This is a view of where we walked. See the green belt between the two rock faces, the path is cut along there!!

We scored a fantastic free camp for 3 days, and were able to leave the caravan there while we went off exploring each day. We camped where they had cut the original pass down the Blue Mountains to the West in 1815. Full of interesting history, and fascinating to see the actual pick marks in the rocks where the convicts cut the road through.

This is the view from the rocks near our 3 day camping spot.
This is the view from the rocks near our 3 day camping spot.

And now we are whiling away a few more days free camping west of the mountains to wait until we can “check in” at Bathurst on Monday, ready for our V8 adventure.

So long Peats Ridge, hello Sydney…

Well, our time Picking lemons has come to an end. It was a great place to work, both Brian and I are thinner and fitter than when we started, and we saved some money for our next lot of travels. Our original plan was to break the stay on the farm with a week in Sydney, but that fell through, so we ended up staying for  8 weeks in total. No one wanted us to go, but it is time to head off for more adventures.

Brian and I certainly know more about lemon farming than we did before!! About halfway through the saty we moved lemon patches and we discovered that “Lisbon” lemons HURT, their thorns are brutal, and picking them can be a painful experience.

they pruned branches attack unsuspecting pickers!
the pruned branches attack unsuspecting pickers!
the thorns look evil even against a beautiful blue sky
the thorns look evil even against a beautiful blue sky
long sleeves just are not enough protection
long sleeves just are not enough protection
even Brian rhino hide copped it!
even Brian’s rhino hide copped it!
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Me emptying my bag into the bin. Note the leather welding gloves!!!
A hard days work, 6 bins of lemons...
A hard days work, 6 bins of lemons…

But it was not all work, we made sure we still did fun stuff. We took off to Sydney for the “Muscle Care Masters” which Brian throughly enjoyed.

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Trans Am class. The green car in the middle is a Sunshine Coast car.

We had a round of golf at the local (but very nice) Springs golf course. And ate that night at the restaurant, all very posh for Peats Ridge.

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When the weather was bad (can’t pick lemons in the wet) we made sure we went exploring the local area. Makes for pretty drab photos unfortunately, almost every time our comments to ourselves “Gee it must be nice when the sun is out!”. But when the weather was good, we got busy picking!

Bush walking at Somersby falls
Bush walking at Somersby falls
Wonderful coastline around Terrigal Beach
Wonderful coastline around Terrigal Beach

So that chapter is over, the bank balance is healthier, and we are now in Sydney with our friends Donna and Peter. This week we will explore everything Sydney has to offer for the budget conscious travellers – I figure on LOTS of walking and public transport.

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Unfortunately the weather is still a bit sad…. But Sydney rain, hail or sunshine, here we come.

Work, more work and a just little bit of play….

Well, we are still here at the lemon and avocado farm. This is the longest we have worked anywhere so far. We are staying around for a number of reasons.

1 – we are due to volunteer at Bathurst V8 supercars in early Oct, and need to be around NSW somewhere.  2 – we know October will be busy (and expensive) so want to “make hay while the sun shines”.  3 – we actually like being here and lastly, they don’t seem to want us to leave!

We did get to move our van to a much better (more permanent) spot. No more farm machinery, just a orchard of lemon trees for our view.

our new set up next to the lemon trees, much more picturesque.
Our new set up next to the lemon trees, much more picturesque.

The work continues to be as hard as it was at the start, but apart from a bad case of carpal tunnel (for me) we are coping much better with it now. And, we were even seconded along the way  to “fix irrigation lines” on one of their other farms. What a harrowing few days that was!! It was a relief to get back to the hard yakka of picking lemons!!

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This bloody tree actually had 2 leaks!!!
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This one wasnt so much a leak, as a major blow out!!

Most of the day was spent on our hands and knees, in the mud, finding and fixing water leaks. I almost feel like a plumber now!!

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This is what I looked like at the end of the day fixing irrigation, thank god for “disposable” Op Shop clothes!!

Quite a lot of our time is also spent working in the packing shed. We first pick the fruit, then we pack it for the markets. The hours in the shed are thankfully getting easier as we get used to the fast pace, and can now actually keep up with it most of the time. Though there has been the odd time we have “pulled the cord” to stop the machine when the fruit piles up too high!

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Packing avocados. The lady in the foreground is Cossie, the “matriarch” of the whole show. A funny, down to earth typical italian “Nona” who would not look at me for the photo.

We also have days of packing lemons (the ones we pick) and oranges (bought in from the Riverena somewhere) Oh, and the odd few hours of mandarin packing that we also pick here on the farm.

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Brian gets a bit of a buzz driving the VERY OLD tractor around hauling our bins of lemons. Note the picking bags and the big loppers we need to get through the overgrown trees.
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Lots of time is spent up the ladders!  Somewhere in front of those lemon bins is our tractor! Hence the loppers to chop a path through the trees!!

When we are not picking, packing or recovering, we spend some time relaxing, and driving around the area, exploring a very lovely part of NSW. We are getting to know our way around a bit, we have our local shopping haunts, and know where to head for a lovely coastal walk or “coffee and cake” by the sea.

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Berowra ferry crossing – a gorgeous “hamlet” only 20mins from where we live (and only 1 hour to Sydney). This same day we also crossed the Hawkesbury river by ferry at Wisemans ferry crossing.

I also volunteered (but did get some  $ compensation) to sew some curtains for the new ‘donga” they have just put up for their transient workers. It was actually quite relaxing to get the old Bernina out again for a bit.

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Note the wine and chippies to go along with the sewing task!
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Enjoyed a bit of a sewing spree, might actually have to take on a craft project once we stop working so hard!!!

Our plans from here on are :

1 more week picking/packing before we take off for a week to stay in Sydney with our good friends Peter and Donna. We will leave our van here, and then come back and work for 2 more weeks. This will take us to the end of Sept. From there we will liesurely head to Bathurst for the motor race, and then after that, back up to the Sunshine Coast to catch up with the family. In my head I am already planning the next blog post “Exploring Sydney on a tight budget”. It will be fun (and a challenge) to see how we occupy ourselves for a week, without spending a fortune. Will keep you all posted…

The adventure continues….

Its been a while since our last post, so lots to catch up on.

When I last wrote we were heading our way to Jindabyne to meet Claire and Emma for a skiing holiday. The closer we got to the Snowys the more Brian whinged about “I am not looking forward to this!”. It got colder, and wetter and just plain damn miserable to be living in a caravan!

And we had our first major vehicle expense when the Patrol trailer braking system fried itself while Brian was “fixing it”.

A very expensive day at the Auto Electrician.
A very expensive day at the Auto Electrician.

We had to spend a day at the auto electricians to get our selves safe again. (But it was discovered that the original DIY jobs from the previous owner was the culprit, not Brians tinkering)

When we did arrive at Jindabyne everything turned rosy again. The caravan Park was just magic! We scored ourselves a spot right on the Lake.

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The weather cleared up the day we arrived, and this is the view from our caravan site

The weather cleared up, fresh snow had been dumped, and the kids arrived all in one piece after a long drive down. We headed off to the slopes for 4 amazing memorable perfect days skiing. With all the right snow gear none of us froze, and thankfully none of us sustained any major injuries, though we all managed MANY minor ones!!! It was awesome that 10 years on from the last time, Brian and I still could ski, just like riding the proverbial bicycle.

One of Claires many mystery bumps!!
One of Claires many mystery bumps!!
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Claire and Andi over for dinner, nice and cosy inside the annex (aka drying room) It was a bit squeezy but worked! (Emma stayed in the van with us, but C & A had a unit in town)
Emma wanted to ski
Emma wanted to ski “off trail” and fell into a soft snow drift . Watching her try to get up after this was hilarious.
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Our set up annex and all. We were very warm and cosy inside with 3 heaters running!!

Brian and I just could not believe how beautiful the weather turned out for us after all the miserableness on the way over. Blue skies and white snow…

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Perfection

After the kids headed back to the coast, Brian and I had a very sad couple of days while we adjusted to being on our own again! Missed our family so much! Even contemplated heading home with tail between our legs. Especially because we had no idea what was next! Browsing through Gumtree, saw a one lined ad for citrus/avocado workers near Sydney, and a few hours later scored the job and we were back on track.

Been working at the farm for 1 week now. We now have a new appreciation of the saying “Every muscle aching!!” Lemon picking is not for the faint hearted. And the packing isn’t much better! The bloody fruit just keeps coming down the chute faster than you can pack your box!! But we have settled in for a while, making a pitiful wage compared to our previous lives, but we are healthy and happy and know its only for the short term. (And I am sure we will be fitter and thinner at the end of it!)

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This is me amongst the lemons. the trees are so overgrown, we have to chop our way through to get the tractor/trailer down between the rows.
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A perfect “haul” of lemons, if only they were all this easy to reach. Note the protective arm sleeves (made out of old jeans) and gloves

The farm is a small Italian family run farm with only a few workers, very friendly and personal which is a nice change from previous farms we have worked on. All the family members are very hands on, and work along side us. I must admit we have had better places to park the van though, its not really that picturesque in amongst the old farm machinery!

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Watching the sun set over the derelict farm machinery after a hard days work.

The lack of decent phone reception is playing havoc with my social media addiction. Most of the time there is just enough “bars” to receive a text! The other morning I did discover I could get 3 bars (which is just enough to hotspot to the computer) by making myself my own mobile phone tower…

the things I do to fuel my internet addiction!
the things I do to fuel my internet addiction!

Being so close to Sydney we have taken advantage of our good friends Donna and Peter for the weekend. Gorgeous Sydney views from their Cermorne 13th floor unit, Brian went off to a very sad Broncos match last night, while I played Backgammon for hours!! A wonderful respite from the rigours of farm life!!