Category Archives: Working for a Living

Springtime in the Valley :)

The weather has warmed up and the flowers are blooming! Finally!!

Springtime in the Clare Valley is beautiful. The canola fields have just lost their yellow tinge, the buds on the trees are all out, the succulents & cactus flowers are blooming – it’s the best time of year!

We finished the reno on the Mintaro cottage and have returned to a friends farm north of Clare to organise a few things before moving on. We’ve been back in the Clare Valley since end of April this year.  Now we have lived through the full four seasons! Yes, and this winter in Mintaro had to be the coldest we’ve experienced living in the van. Autumn & Spring the best.

I have posted some photos of the blooms around the farm area, the day out at the local Clare Show & general farm stuff! We also enjoyed Celebrating the 175th for Bungaree Station a couple of weeks ago (next post).

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Spring has Sprung!?

First day of spring according to the calendar….the calendar can’t read as it’s windy and cold here in Mintaro today!! 😦

We are nearing the completion of the renovation of the cottage here with only a small number of jobs left to do, but we are leaving the biggest till last….stripping, sanding & oiling a huge deck…as long as the rain stays away!

We are still enjoying frosty mornings but earlier this week we had sunny, windless days so busy building a bay window! As I write this it has started raining!

In between I am restoring some dining chairs I bought on a local buy & sell site. Love them, I think they are quite old as taking a lot of work to remove the old varnish!

Still Winter…Still Cold…Must be crazy!!

Yes, we must be crazy!! Who in their right mind would voluntarily stay in this cold country through winter?? Really!!? Yep, that would be us! 😛

We are into Week 7 of our work here in Mintaro….I reckon the days are wetter, windier and colder than we ever experienced in all our days on the road. A local recently told us “wait till the winds come”…Newsflash: they’re here!!!

Anyway, we are progressing slowly with this reno. The sanding down & oiling of every door, screen door, window, sill is taking a long time. We have both learnt at least one thing: NO wood framed doors/windows in any future abode! The kitchen is in along with dishwasher plumbed in by B, the fiddly bits n’ pieces are done throughout, now the big job of laying a slab for foundation of extension & moving some doors….when the rain & wind stops, that is!!

I managed to get B to have a morning off and we drove to the nearby Saddleworth Country Marketplace. The weather was shocking (really??!) but the market went on. I purchased a lovely platter made from wine barrels by a couple from the Barossa – perfectly useless when you live in a caravan, but whatever. We also enjoyed a lovely morning tea put on by the local CWA. Good value hand made goods and friendly local people. What else would you rather do on a cold, wet & windy winters day?

The forecast for the next couple of days is partly cloudy with little to no rain! Yep, heard that before!!! 🙂

Historic Mintaro, SA

We are now camped up on a property in Mintaro, 1/2 hr south-east of Clare. For anyone interested in history, just an exert from local website http://www.mintaro.sa.au/:

“Mintaro’s historic character was shaped by two important mining industries in nineteenth century South Australia. In the 1840’s and 1850’s it became an early staging point for transporting copper from the Burra mines to Port Wakefield and from the 1860’s onwards, it was South Australia’s leading producer of high quality slate.

The surrounding farming districts of the fertile Gilbert Valley were able to reap the rewards of excellent wheat and wool prices during South Australia’s rural boom of the 1870’s and early 1880’s. This wealth was reflected in two large pastoral properties near Mintaro. Both Martindale Hall, built in 1879-80 by Edmund Bowman, and Kadlunga homestead, purchased in 1881 by Sir Samuel Way, the Chief Justice, reflected a way of life akin to that of the English gentry. Mintaro, like rural village counterparts in England, provided these properties with a ready source of local labour. 

Archive Photo: Kadlunga Homestead 1901
Archive Photo: Building Kadlunga Homestead
Archive Photo: the men who built Kadlunga

The Mintaro quarry is one of the oldest continuously producing quarries in Australia. As you stroll around the town, you can see slate buildings, chimneys, tanks, wash troughs and paving. They show how widely slate has been used as a construction material and give a special character to Mintaro.”

We are doing some work on an old stone cottage on acreage. The faithful grapevine & word of mouth is how we found ourselves here. It’s been freezing cold, windy & frosty. At first we weren’t impressed, but then some days are beautiful (as long as you can make it through the nights!).

B has been turning his hand at stone work (he was lackie to a local stonemason recently so that has helped). Pulling out an old Metters Wood Stove to clean up the fireplace, render and get a slate hearth ready for a new combustion heater. A bit of a learning curve for North Queenslanders!!! This week we’re installing a new kitchen!

I’m B’s lackie! General dogsbody (hold this, sweep that) whilst he’s organising quotes for building jobs, orders for materials and doing the ‘manual labour’ etc. He’s looking a bit weary but I secretly think he revels in it! It’s been over 12 years since he’s had to make so many decisions!! 🙂

I’m on local buy & sell & Gumtree sites trying to move the leftover equipment & furniture in the house. It’s slowly looking good. It should be beautiful when complete – nothing like the old Queenslanders we know. Have put a few pics of Mintaro and what we do when we aren’t ‘gallivanting around Australia’.

Life on the farm….Clare Valley Style

Winter has definitely set in people!! Windy, cold & frosty. Whilst we were on our friends farm we did enjoy being surrounded by the new lambs and the changing colours of the trees.

Daily walking the dogs (hail, wind or shine) and watching the crops spring up, if ever so slowly due to lack of sufficient rain. Lots of kangaroos unfortunately eating those crops does not a happy farmer make!

Now we have moved ‘house’ and enjoying the difference in not just scenery but weather (only 1/2 hr away mind you) of Historic Mintaro…..

Winter has come to the Valley….

When you hear the words “experiencing the coldest start to winter since 1889” you tend to feel torn. ‘Wow, aren’t we lucky!?’ And, ‘no wonder I’ve got no feeling in my fingers & toes!’. Yep it’s been frosty for a week or so now. -3 degrees has been the worst so far….it was after 10am before the frost & fog lifted that day.

Our poor old Ford sits out in the frost each day wondering what hit it. Our tinnie is iced up (at least it might kill the mice). Living in a caravan in cold weather isn’t the greatest. Condensation is the main enemy. We have a diesel heater running mostly as well as the roof air heater. Our cattle dog Jeda loves it, she gets to sleep inside at the doorway, way better than outside.

We are staying on a friend’s farm near Clare. B is working nearby as well as helping out when needed here. I am the Domestic Goddess of Dog Whispering (at the moment), chook feeder & weeder/leaf sweeper! Those autumn leaves don’t pick themselves up!!

So a few more photos to show how our area of Southern Australia is enjoying? this winter….

Hay Cutting comes to an end

It’s been a while but I’ve finally sat down to post what has happened since leaving the Wheatbelt farm.

The hay was all cut, baled, stacked and ready to store. That was it for us as we decided to move on. I’ve put up a few pics from the farm – we loved our time there – it was a great experience and I urge anyone travelling to give it a go if you are looking for something different for a while instead of always being a tourist.

pano-heaps-of-hay
So many hay bales too much for shed
pano-super-moon-behind-silo
Sunset over the silos
super-moon-over-top-shed
Super Moon over hay shed
unloading-stacking
B in truck stacking hay in paddock