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
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).
Citrus trees in flower
Flowers on succulents
Jeda & mate smell sheep!
Beautiful Wisteria flowers
Clare Show – yard dogs
Clare Show – jumping dogs
Clare Show – Shearing demo
Clare Show – ute muster
Pigface & resident bee
Don’t know, but it’s interesting!
Wisteria canopy (g8 for hayfever!)
Moving the sheep up the driveway
Flowering cactus near our van
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…..
Dropping hay for hungry sheep & lambs
Some of the new lambs
Feeding the sheep & lambs
Spreading out hay bale
Jeda trying desperately to get through the gate
My stick not yours!
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….
In the paddock….
More frosty webs
Jeda gives stink eye cause she’s in the back of a ute!
Frost on the paddock weeds
Ice in the dog water bowl
John Horrocks Cottage circa 1839 first stone building north of Gawler
Succulents in the garden
Farm work in the paddock
Sunset on afternoon dog walk
Poor tinnie frosted up
Vineyard at Reilly’s @ Mintaro