From a hot & sweaty summertime we have graduated to a cooler and a bit windier autumn. The trees are turning bronze & gold letting us know the cool weather will be on it’s way! Exactly what I love! The vineyards look beautiful now vintage has finished, autumn colours abound.
Excavations on Da Block went well: the new septic is in, heaps of plumbing trenches, installed two cattle grids, digging some tree holes, solar panels installed and much more. We were able to setup a rock garden on a long bank with beautiful huge Bluestones and the Yuccas & Agaves I’ve been nursing and cuttings from friends. Unfortunately the pumpkins & rock melons I grew from seed didn’t survive – I’ll have to watch more ‘Gardening Australia’!!
I’d like to give a plug (for any local’s reading this) to Terra-Firma Earthworks & Contracting based in Clare, SA – brilliant job and attention to detail.
B painted up the inside of a container to be his ‘tool shed’. It’s taken time but we are seeing progress week to week. We moved the van for the 3rd time to the container pad (better for when the rain comes). We’ve just had a couple of dust storms when it was really hot which was a new experience.
Today I have the heater on!
Looking forward to a break. Heading north to the Big Red Bash (www.bigredbash.com.au) in July as B volunteering setup/pack up. We are able to take Jeda to the concert in the desert as dogs are allowed. John Farnham is headlining with Hoodoo Gurus, The Angels, Daryl Braithwaite, Jon Stevens, Kate Ceberano, Russell Morris, The Black Sorrows and more…..
Western Queensland here we come!!!
Starting the excavations
Aerial of work in progress
Big Hitachi awfully close to the van!
Lots of rubble extended the block
Finished drain outlet
Digging the huge hole for septic tank
Septic in trenches being dug
Installing cattle grid #1
Grid #1 done
Grid #2 nearly done
Moving the huge Bluestones in place
Jeda thinks it’s all good!
B painted the interior of container
Septic irrigation area done
Start of leaves turning in driveway, Japanese Elms
My post this week was going to be the nice things we’ve experienced on our block, but the fire outbreak last Friday put me orf!
But I will post a few pics of what we’ve been doing. Lots of cleanup work – chainsaw massacre of gum branches for firewood and rubbish piles for next winter. This week we are getting some of the land excavated – leveling, creating a bank (for my Agaves & Yuccas I have been nursing), and maybe creating an area for a future orchard!
B purchased an old Massey Ferguson 35 tractor so he can do some smaller excavating jobs himself (once he gets it working properly)! It should come in handy! We’ve had many Happy Hour evenings watching the sunset over our piece of land – tired but happy (I think) that we have a patch we can call ‘ours’ finally.
B cutting up dropped dead branches
The sheep single file on evening walkies
Happy Hour with Mad Bastard Wine & nibblies!!
Loading the Massey on trailer
The Massey at it’s new home!
Artists impression of Farmer B
Jeda mouthing off in arvo walkies
Alpacas & sheep in paddock
Some of the ‘lawnmowers’ keeping our block cut
Well what an introduction to Clare Valley! With all the hot dry weather we’ve been having this summer I guess it was inevitable…but I wish it wasn’t so close!
About midday last Friday (2nd Feb 2018) B was on his way to Clare, but turned back up the driveway to me. I asked what he’d forgotten to be told to turn around…..there were huge plumes of smoke behind us!!! Then the sirens started, then the planes, helicopters and phone calls…I got my camera and proceeded up to the highest point on our block to get pics of ‘flames’ licking the dry undergrowth of bush land on the next ridge.
Then we decided we might hitch up the van (JIC-just in case) we had to make a run for it! Got the lot done in about 20 mins! Bushfire record!! We chose to wait it out (JIC) and keep an eye on it, plus we have a CFS app to check on updates. It was a tense day, with hot winds thankfully blowing away from us and Clare township. It did ignite again in the late afternoon and during the evening we spotted embers on the ridge with flashing CFS lights over the hill tops keeping an eye out overnight (JIC).
The job the CFS and local farmers & property owners did was truly amazing. Only one shed & tractor burnt, lots of scrub land and farm land, over 10 hectares. Makes you realise how vulnerable we are to ‘Mother Nature’ when a fire takes hold. We heard later a mower or slasher started it. Unfortunately we are on a ridge and the neighbour has trees & bush all over, whereas ours is fairly cleared.
Have attached some of my pics and some from the Northern Argus (local paper). Today we are in the very high 30’s-low 40’s degrees….so every so often I take a peak out of my air-conditioned caravan to the sky and pray I don’t see smoke!
My first sighting of flames on the next hill
Van hitched up ready to evacuate!
‘Elvis’ – this Helitank did a great job
How far the fire came to a home – Photo Northern Argus
Elvis in action – Photo Northern Argus
View from Lookout in Clare looking west – Photo Northern Argus
Driving thru area afterwards
Burnt out farmland
Christmas and New Year came and went in a blink of an eye. We are now settled on our block in the Clare Valley of SA! Yes, we have our own block!
It’s been a long process but some land we first saw in June last year finally became available….so now it’s ours!! After 12 1/2 years on the road we now can use this as a base….that’s all, as we still wish to travel Australia as much as we can…before we can’t!!
We moved the van onto the ‘house site’ area next to the shed. The rest of the block is pasture for sheep. B feels right at home, but I’m having more trouble….keep thinking we’re doing another house sit for someone!! Jeda loves it. She’s used to sheep, but these big dogs called Alpacas that make a weird noise when she comes too close are crazy!
Over the next few months we hope to do some improvements: a septic, solar and some plantings. So travel is on hold for just a short while, but we have big plans for winter this year…..hint: BRB & Races….Birdsville, Qld…….wanna come???!!!
Our first sunset evening
Pre moving to the block, tanks & shed
A huge gum – great shade in summer
Earthmoving coy on site
Hot day, Hot sky
Jeda helping B dig a trench
Found this guy on base of elms in driveway
Jeda checking water troughs
Start of my collection of Alpaca Poo!
A few inquisitive visitors
The two sheep guards
More compost being made as I watch!
View from rear of property
Found many of these around
B doing some plumbing
What a brilliant encounter-Wedgetail in paddock tree
Early morning visit from Wedgetail
Wedgetails just passing through
View from house block to paddock
View from bottom of paddock
So long between blogs I didn’t realise. I have been putting bits & pieces on my Facebook site but neglecting here. Will amend!
We have been on a friends farm again north of Clare, SA after working in Mintaro for the winter. It’s been great to see the changes in the weather over the past couple of months – being from a humid Queensland background B loves the heat whereas I’m more happy with the cooler days, but at least it’s a dry heat. The garden on the farm is beautiful (have posted some pics) and is a credit to ‘C’ who has done a magnificent job over many years to produce such a joy to walk around. The serpents that live in the area in the summer do make it a hazardous duty to weed but that’s to be expected.
B has been in charge of artwork installations around the garden, welding & cementing in farm/artsy fartsy structures that ‘C’ has created. We also have an orphan calf who needs feeding twice a day as her Mumma went to Cow Heaven due to a brain disease.
Grain harvest has just finished here with not many dramas thank goodness (e.g fires – see drone pic) B & I had a day in the ‘Big Smoke’ and went to the Adelaide 4×4 Show to check out the latest in caravans and everything in relation to 4×4’s. It’s been 13 years since we’ve checked out vans and equipment – haven’t times & features changed! I thought it was quite ‘flash’ to have a little washing machine built in to the front of the van, now it’s a standard fitting!!
Christmas Day came & went. We enjoyed the company of friends for a big day of food, wine and snore-fest in the early evening!
In between we found ourselves a piece of land not far out of Clare! We do love this area of the Valley and had been looking for a long time and a block with a shed became available. It will be a place to ‘change over’ for trips as we still intend to travel as long as we’re able (especially in the cold winters) We have a few things lined up for 2018 which I’ll share in my next post…. hint – BRB!!!!
Have a safe & Happy New Year – bring on 2018!!
Day trip to Kadina market so had a drive on to Wallaroo Jetty
4×4 show – Mal Leyland
4×4 show – Love these Patriot Campers
Big C doing Bugger Dog
‘We can’t show you his face….’
Couple of Mummas having a dust up
Masses of cactus flowers
More cactus flowers…
Close up cactus flower
Foggy morning with a couple of calves
B feeding calf
Me feeding calf
Yes, more cactus flowers!
First Artichoke flower
Aerial of headers in paddock
Jeda keeping an eye on calves
Little orphan calf
Jeda…not sure what she’s thinking!
Mumma & calf in paddock behind our van
This Mumma not real happy about something
Visitors at gate near homestead
Baby orphan calf
Our new washing machine (our old one lasted 10yrs!)
B had new lid made to fit bigger machine
B installing new garden art
Big wheel too heavy for us to lift
That’s not a stick!
Strelitzia in flower (Bird of Paradise)
MORE cactus flowers…this time different type
Had a good show of these Bearded Iris
Bungaree Station, one of South Australia’s oldest family businesses celebrated it’s 175th year from 3-6th October.
We visited on the Friday to see the demonstrations from blacksmiths, stone masonry, wool spinning & knitting. Vintage equipment, tools & vehicles were also on show. A guided tour of the station by Sally Hawker in the morning or self guided in the afternoon was on offer.
Two vintage cars ferried visitors from the Station Store to the Shearing Shed during the week. Friends of ours had a display of what they had found on the property (detecting) which was very interesting, with some items being unknown.
We enjoyed watching the 175th annual shearing (in the shed built in 1842) making it one of the oldest working woolsheds. The station was established by George Hawker in 1841, and remains the home of the 4th, 5th & 6th generations of the Hawker family.
On the Sunday we were invited to attend the Blessing of the Fleece held in the shearing shed. The 50th occasion, it was a semi formal service followed by BBQ lunch at the shearers quarters. Many family, friends & people associated in any way with Bungaree attended. It topped off a busy week of celebrations for the Hawker Family.
If you are visiting the Clare Valley it is definitely worth visiting Bungaree Station to find out some of the history of this area and how important they were to the wool industry. We are able to attest that the Hawkers are an interesting & hard working family with amazing history that contributes to ‘Australia’s Story’.
The rear of the Station Store
Finds from detecting
Bungaree bale stamps
Marking the bales
Photo of washing the sheep
Classing the fleece
Waiting for their turn
Looking a bit skinnier now
Blessing of the Fleece Service