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2011 Trip

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September 1

Another try out for the new camera - the first is the Curtain Fig where my old camera gave up the ghost last Saturday! The others are at Henrietta Creek - a campsite in the National Park on the way to Innisfail. Quite a few people came to see me off this morning which was nice and we may all meet again somewhere along the way.  I stopped early today at this old favourite spot as there's no hurry as I'm not able to get to a site at Smalleys Beach until Sunday.

The weird piece of machinery reminded me of bagpipes in a very strange way so I'll send it to Drum Major Andy in Scotland. I found the bike will fit between the bed and the cupboards and left it in overnight. It was a pain! A struggle to get into and out of bed, hard to reach cupboards etc so it will come out at night in future.

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September 2

This morning I was on the road early and the weather was overcast with drizzly rain as I drove down the mountain to Innisfail. I'd been without mobile coverage yesterday but when I  came into a coverage area the phone beeped with a 'please call me ' from son Chris. Later in the day when I gave him a ring I found that he was in trouble with his car's lpg system and so I spent a fair bit of time trying to help him sort it out.

The weather improved as I went south and I'd thought of overnighting somewhere along the way as I didn't need to get to Smalleys until Sunday. However I gave my friends a ring at Smalleys and found site 2 - my favourite - was vacant and the people had paid till Monday. I did some shopping at Bowen, bought some prawns and bugs from the fishermen's wharf and then decided I could make Smalleys tonight. I arrived on the site at 7.30 having driven 670km!

The Sprinter is such a joy to drive and so comfortable that I didn't feel too tired although it was early to bed.

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September 3

It was good to wake up at Smalleys Beach. It wasn't a brilliant day for weather with a cool breeze and clouds at times but I put the solar panels down the beach to catch what sun there was and spent a pretty relaxing day - the first of many I expect.

It was annoying that I couldn't get any phone or Internet coverage at all so I used my Sat phone to tell the family that I'll be out of reach for a while unless I'm out and about. It's a shame as it's Father's Day tomorrow and I always enjoy them ringing me then. It does have a text facility so I sent them the number and a message saying to use that.

It was good catching up with friends Aub and Betty and we spent happy hour together catching up on old times and what's been happening these past three years since I last saw them.

I may go into Seaforth tomorrow where there's good coverage and post this diary and catch up with emails.

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September 4

What bird is this? He flew up on to the sink!            Blowin' Bowen at top centre and my site at Smalleys Beach

I was wrong! Fathers Day started with a text message on my Sat phone from Jackie in Port Hedland wishing me a happy Fathers Day before she went to work. Then I decided to go to Seaforth to the market, to get water and dispose of rubbish. I had good coverage and Chris rang from Adelaide. Great. Two out of three as when I rang Sue there was no answer. I tried again a little later and got her for a lovely Father's Day chat.Three from three - how lucky am I? I bought some frozen mango and a cantaloupe at the market but sadly the cantaloupe wasn't ripe.

I'll move to site 8 in the morning but doubt if my cable will be long enough to get too much solar as it's a very shady site.

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September 5

Well the move was painless and this isn't a bad site despite not being able to get my panels to the beach and there's not much sun available. Surprise, surprise, I can get phone and Internet here - not strong but usable. I'll get an antenna when I go to Mackay on Wednesday and that should improve things a bit.

I ran Yemmy's motor for a bit when I was using a bit of power charging things and the batteries are lasting quite well. I'll top them up when I stay overnight in Mackay. I get good TV reception from my little terrestrial antenna - far too many trees to use the sat dish.

The bike had another Murphy today. I decided on a quiet run up the track and lo and behold yet another puncture. I don't think I'll bother mending it this time but will get a new tube - or even bike - when I get to David at Noosaville.

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September 6

Today was a ho hum sort of day with not a lot to report. I was pleasantly surprised to find I could get an Internet connection  - a bit intermittent but usable. This allowed me to catch up with emails, do a bit of Skyping, etc. I was also able to make phone calls on my mobile and had a long chat with son Chris about his car and some lpg troubles he's been having

My external shower works well and I've discovered how to partly dismantle it to allow the sliding door to close at night. This wasn't important when the nights were hot but now it's a bit cooler overnight (say 17 degrees).

My new camera has a choice of two lenses so I spent a bit of time experimenting with the long one today. Nothing much worth putting on here - I'll just use one -  but it's going to be useful in future.

I've now got all the details of the tagalong tour I'm joining after Brisbane and have booked and paid for some of the stops. It should be fun for the 11 of us taking part. I've arranged to stay at Anne's daughter's for a couple of nights so I'll be able to visit Anne and Don from there.

I'm out of a lot of things so shopping is definitely on my list of things to do in Mackay tomorrow.
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September 7 & 8

I'm putting these two days together as there was no time yesterday to put the7th on separately. I decided to pack everything up rather that leave stuff on site as I'd be gone overnight. I made a list of things to do in Mackay and by about 11am I set off . First stop was Nixons who speciatise in CB radio etc. They tested my antenna and although continuity was OK one connection wasn't making contact as the little wire was too short. A new adapter for $8.80 soon fixed that. Mission 1 accomplished.

Next a visit to Clark Rubber. The springs in my inner spring mattress have been annoying me and not comfortable to I bought a foam overlay. It was too wide but I was able to cut it down to size when I got back to Smalleys. It feels great and I used some of the surplus under the cover on my seat so that's more comfortable as well. Mission 2 accomplished.

My mobile phone plan ran out a few weeks back and I wondered about a new one. There's a new Telstra Shop in Mt Pleasant shopping centre so I spent time there getting a replacement phone. For an extra $5 a month I get the phone and the same benefits as before so I signed up. Mission 3 accomplished.

While at Telstra I was able to see across the way to a barber shop and noticed the chairs all empty. I've been meaning to get a trim up so in I went and the girl soon had me looking like a shorn sheep with the No3 clipper over head and beard. No maintenance haircut! Mission 4 accomplished.

I had some Internet stuff to do and the connection at Smalleys is hopeless really so I went down near the harbour and set up the modem. It was lovely looking out over the sea and off-shore islands and I spent a nice time there before heading to my Caravan World friends Tony and Denyse for the evening. A great reunion, a lovely meal and then into bed inside. Poor Yemmy thought I'd deserted him but I made up for it by charging his batteries. Mission 5 accomplished.

The two foam mats have been good so I had in mind to get some more and today went back to Clark Rubber where they had a set of four for $29.95. Separate ones were $9.95 each so I got the four pack In K Mart a little later I found the same pack for $12! Murphy! Mission 6 accomplished.

Then a big shop in Coles before returning to Smalleys. Site 5 where I move on Saturday was empty but a search showed it booked on Friday or I would have gone straight there and saved a bit of work.

Altogether a very satisfactory two days.

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September 9

Not a great deal to talk about today except the weather was perfect. I walked on the beach and the sun was warm and the slight breeze felt lovely. Aubrey was fishing but there will be no fish for tea today.Those are his reels in the pic.
This is the view in the other direction - no crowding on this beach! And this is a message scratched out in the sand: 'J loves V' - I think.

When I checked my bookings again today I saw that I should have moved today but never mind I'll do it in the morning. What a mess I made using the new booking system.

The new mattress overlay was lovely and comfortable last night - a good investment. My new phone is no better than the old one for reception here I'm afraid. A short walk up the hill does get a stronger signal but all three calls I made from there ended up as messages asking them to call back.
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September 10

This is Yemmy's new resting place for a couple of weeks and it's nearer the beach with a view to the sea.

The panels have not been working as they should so I'm modifying the output and eliminating the magic box that shows state of charge as I already have a monitor for that. Tomorrow will tell.

Sunsets can be quite spectacular here as tonight's pic shows.

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September 11

Well the modification to my solar panels wiring certainly did the trick and they have charged all day - often more than their claimed max output. One for me but I guess Murphy is dreaming up something else to destroy the peace and tranquility of this lovely spot. There was a bit of noise from neighbors this afternoon but nothing to be upset about.

I wrote my November 'On the Wallaby'  today and this is the pic I sent with it of me riding my bike at Walkamin a couple of weeks ago. I also sorted out some questions and answers for magazine.

It doesn't seem possible that I'll be writing for the December issue of Caravan World just a month from now - how time flies.

As I'm camping without mains power, I tend to go to bed early and my new mattress overlay encourages me to climb into bed earlier than usual. I'm often amazed to find it's not even midnight when I wake up needing my first comfort stop of the night.

Sand flies have put in an appearance this past two days and although they are annoying I find I've built up an immunity to their bites over the years and the itching goes away quite quickly thank goodness.

The days here are lovely and warm but the nights are a bit chilly - down to about 12 degrees last night and I had to use my dressing gown as an extra blanket. My doona is under the bed and I'd hoped I wouldn't need it now that it's Spring. Might have to get it out tonight.

A few people have told me they can't access the diary after Sept.5th. I don't know why that might be as I've posted all the other days and they all come up on my browser - Firefox.

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September 12

I believe we have all the Internet Explorer people back with us after being stuck on Sept 5 for a few days - sorry folks it was a little glitch that didn't affect Firefox and other browsers.

I don't think I've shown you Yemmy with his shower enclosure erected - it works very well although this morning I was all stripped for action and found the water tank needed filling. I stand in a bath that catches most of the water and that saves making a muddy mess where I shower. I have to partly collapse the shower enclosure if I need to close the sliding door but it's a very quick job.

Tomorrow or Wednesday I'll have to make a visit to Mackay as I'm running short of essentials like wine. Also bread and milk but you have to keep your priorities right.

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September 13

I thought you might like this shot of my early morning visitor - really just showing off my new camera! I left it as a jpeg so it looks better than a gif.

I went to Mackay again today and achieved most of the things on my list including getting a new high gain antenna. It seems to be working OK tonight but I think it will still be iffy during the day when the phone says ' Emergency calls only'!

One of the things I was after was a non-return, or one way, valve and I got one from Reese Plumbing together with the reducers for fitting it to the inlet of my Hot Water on Demand unit. Hopefully this will save the delay between turning it on and it delivering water as it all drains back into the tank each time.

I found a fish place down along the river and bought some Coral Trout that was yummy. There's a little left for breakfast as well. I also bought some prawns that I'll have for lunch tomorrow.

My old multimeter was getting tired and needed a new battery so I shouted myself a new digital meter from Dick Smith. Despite driving almost an hour each way the alternator didn't put in as much charge into my house batteries as I believe it should so I'll investigate that in the morning. It was charging well when Eric wired it but now tails off quite quickly.

I heard from my No2 grandson tonight - he has passed his exams to get into the Victoria Police. He'll make a good copper if his VFL umpiring is anything to go on - he rules with an iron fist.
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September 14

A maintenance day today. I mentioned I was unhappy with the alternator output to the batteries so today I changed the lead back to a direct connection instead of where Tom had put it into the smart charger. That made a huge difference and I ran the engine for about a half hour and increased the state of charge nearly 10%. Next time I go to Mackay I'll expect to see a big increase in the state of charge.

I also assembled and fitted the non-return valve to the hot water inlet and that seems to work although I probably should get some little hose clips to make sure it's all watertight.

The phone's still no good so I went up the road in the dark to talk to daughter Jackie at Port Hedland.where the sand flies are as bad as here! I did spray tonight and they are not biting as much.

The prawns were nice with bread and butter for lunch and I cooked a chicken casserole type thing in a saucepan for dinner. There's some left for tomorrow's lunch.
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September 15

Today was very similar to yesterday - a bit of maintenance, a walk down to the beach to adjust the angle of the solar panels, a bit of reading my Kindle, a chat with fellow campers, a couple of frustrating Skype calls that were hopeless including one from South Africa and the Happy Hour with Aub and Betty at 4pm. Happy Hour starts early around here!

I did manage a call to Chris on Skype and another to Sue. She had opened my mail but there was nothing very important except a book order an a couple of cheques for fairly small amounts.

Lots of you are following this diary and I'm flattered. One lady wrote today telling me her class at school were doing research and had come across my 'Links' page. The children had suggested another link to be called, "Dogs like frisbies too!.'  I added the link for them - I was flattered that they liked my website and wanted to help me improve it.

School holidays start in Queensland tomorrow so I imaging there will be lots of children here from then on.

Although I boobooed and double booked on site 2 for a week at a cost of $5.30 a night I've been lucky to have two separate couples pay me to stay on it so I'm not out of pocket at all.
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September 16

Another day with little to report although the weather was perfect after a cool start - not Victoria cool but about 14C.

I spent a bit of time getting my drill out, charging a battery because they are always flat when you want to use them, and drilling a couple of holes in my shower frame to make it easier to put down when I wan to close the sliding door  that side. The holes are for screws to slide in and make it temporarally joined together. For permanent packing up the screws just lift out and it becomes three pieces again. I'm sure you needed to know all that.

It was wash day and I did a bit of laundry and rigged a temporary clothes line from some spare co-ax cable I had lying around.

The days are always good when 4pm comes round and I head next door to Aub and Betty for Happy Hour - they leave here on Monday and I'll miss them. Then at six it's back home and start preparing dinner. Tonight was pretty ho hum with sausages, scalloped potatoes, eggs and tinned spaghetti. The black pepper grinder stripped a thread and peppercorns made dinner interesting when the top came off.

The Internet connection was better today and I was able to answer a few emails that had been waiting for a reply. I had a Skype call from friend Ian who was ringing from 200km south of Johanisburg in South Africa.but unfortunately bad reception spoilt it. It will be good to get somewhere with normal reception - it's the only drawback to this lovely spot. Plus the sandflies! They are not often here but have been a nuisance for a few days now.

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September 17
What a day!

I have been having a lot of pain in my groin and Friday night it kept me awake most of the night. It was so bad today that I hobbled up the track and rang my friend Dr Denyse for advice. Although still a doc she cant practice so advised me to go the the Mater or the Base Hospital in Mackay. A quick pack up with most stuff left on site and I roll up at the Mater before 11am. Two hours later they have sent me to the Base as I need a scan etc - they thought it could be  a hernia.

Arriving at the Base there's another wait and then I see a dark doc called Ben. He has a push and poke, sends blood for testing, can't do scans on Saturday so I'll have one Monday or Tuesday. His boss comes for a bit more poking and prodding and says he thinks its a sprain. The blood test results eventually arrive and everything is fine so I get scripts for anti-inflamitories and Panadene Forte. I was going to the Allsops for coffee but it was now getting late and I had to go to a pharmacy so I rang and took a rain-check on the coffee till next week.

I drove home in pain as I didn't want to take the pills and drive.

When I got back to Smalleys I made coffee and swallowed the pills. Then had a bite to eat and went to bed. I'll tell you tomorrow if they worked or not.

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September 18

My mother would have said, "Praise the Lord"  but I prefer to thank the doc who prescribed the pain-killing tablets. I was in bed by 7.30, read a little and then slept like a log all night with no pain. Even this morning the pain wasn't there so I delayed taking more pills till it came back.

I went to the market at Seaforth and this is the sort of scenery you have to look at on the way. I bought a thing called a mango melon - it turned out to be very similar in taste to a cantaloupe although it looked different being round and smooth.
I never tire of looking at the beach from the bottom of my pathway.
It's interesting even when the tide goes out and the mud  flats stretch way out before reaching water. Sometimes a wallaby comes down to the beach and Aub had a visit from a large goanna the other day.

The mobile worked fine tonight when I rang Sue - a tip I read said to turn the speaker on to increase reception so I did that. I don't know if that was why it worked so well.
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September 19

Another early morning visitor was this Thick Knee - it used to be called a Curlew. They make a shocking cry in the evening - a real screech.

Aub and Betty left today - they had packed up ready to leave in the morning but changed their minds and went this afternoon. No Happy Hour tonight! They have been such good company and we have been together here at Smalleys many times over the years.

I've decided to pack everything up and stay with Tony and Denyse tomorrow night and then start south from there. My scan is booked for the morning after I told them I'd be in Brisbane by the 29th when they wanted to do it. When they found I wasn't coming back they found a spot for me at 10.30 tomorrow.

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September 20

I was up, packed up and on the road by 8.45 and got to the Mater Hospital before ten. I had a bit of time to spare so went to the cashier and paid the $120 I owed from Saturday when I walked out without paying. My mind was on getting to the next hospital!

The scan took a while and the operator called in a doctor to look as well. His report was sent to the Base Hospital and after doing some calls in Mackay I fronted back there after lunch.  The report said I had a small hernia but it wasn't at the site of my pain. I had two choices - see Mackay surgeons and get it fixed there or risk it and get it done after I get home. I chose going home and the doc agreed that was a sensible option as she didn't think things would get any worse on the way home.

I took two pills when I got to the Allsops mid-afternoon but none after that. I believe it's healing itself and was in fact a strained muscle - probably from stretching in and out of Yemmy without putting the step down always.

I had a lovely time as usual with Tony and Denyse and Bill and Heather from across their back yard came over for a drink - I hadn't seen them for years - I think only once since they sold their caravan park at Midge Point sometime ago.

These lovely flowers are in the Allsops' back yard - I'm expecting my friend Anne to tell me what they are! Let you know tomorrow.

Yemmy had a new resting place tonight - on the lawn and backed up so his batteries could be topped up.

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September 21

It was great to wake up to no pain so I didn't take any pills today except my usual medley of assorted things to keep me alive and well.

Leaving Mackay I filled up with fuel for the first time in two weeks - great saving staying relatively put and not covering vast daily distances.

I arrived at St Lawrence about lunchtime so decided to explore a bit. I've stayed here often before but apart from the main street haven't looked around further. A road pointed to a boat ramp so that's where I headed. It was mostly gravel but reasonably smooth and ended at the ramp - if you kept going you would have plowed through deep mud before hitting the water. It's obviously a boat ramp for hight tide launching only! There was an old decrepit boat pulled up by the side of the ramp but I'd think its seagoing days are over. I had my long lens on the camera and couldn't get far enough away to get a shot of it.

The rest area here at St Lawrence is as usual well maintained a a joy to use. With $1 showers, flush toilets, garbage bins, dump point and water available it's the best free stop I know.

I knew Anne would know about flowers! She says about the one on the right: "  It is Cordyline Fruticosa or common name Palm Lily". She also thinks the other is an orchid.

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September 22

Another pain-free morning - I really feel I'll get home OK!

There was a funny noise in the sky so I went outside and looked up and saw to my surprise a sort of powered paravane.

The pilot was suspended in a 'cage' hanging below the chute thing and the propeller was behind him. He came in for a landing and I was able to get the shot.

I was in no great hurry to get on the road today so took advantage of my next door neighbor's offer to have a look at his Toyota Coaster. It was a very drab greeny colour outside but he had made a very good job of converting an old school bus into a comfortable little motorhome.

I did a little shopping in Rockhampton and by lunchtime I was settled into one of the ACC's new Farm Stay locations just a few km from Rocky. The owner is away but told me it was ok to stay. I took quite a few pics for our Farm Stay promotion page on the ACC website.

There's good Internet coverage so I was able to catch up with a few things this afternoon.

My TomTom took me way past Glenn's place and along the gravel continuation of his road!

 I'll have words with Tom in the morning.

Yemmy still slips out of Cruise Control from time to time but I've found that if I push the little button that was fitted all that time ago in Kununurra, it works ok for another stretch. If that's all that happens I'll have got off very lightly although I must get it fixed when I get home.

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September 23

These cheeky monkeys were determined to share my lunch when I called in for a break at Lake Monduran where we had so many happy times years ago when it was a free camping spot. Then came the collection of the same fees as the caravan park down behind the dam wall and now there's no camping there at all - just picnics allowed. There were also a couple of magpies and a blue eyed honeyeater but they were not as daring. The noisy minors even hovered trying to snatch something from my bowl.

I'd intended going to Biggenden today but when researching it on the net I noticed that camping was allowed at the fairly new Paradise Dam so that's where I am. It's beautiful! No power or showers but what views.

There wasn't much in the way of a mobile phone signal here but surprize. surprize I managed to get on the Internet this afternoon. If I can get on again tonight I'll post this early - I can't imagine anything else worth reporting happening before bedtime.

I'm a bit tired - the highway was very busy and there were lots of hold-ups for road works. I was glad when I turned off onto a country by-way to get here.

Tomorrow will be an easy trip - it's not very far to Hervey Bay where Ray and Jeanette live
so I should be there by lunchtime.

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September 24

It was lucky I took the lake pictures last night as this morning there was thick fog although it cleared fairly quickly when the sun came out. The sites are right on the edge of the lake and most campers seem to have boats.

I got to Ray and Jeanette s place about 12.30 to find they had been expecting me yesterday - I got my wires crossed but never mind it was great to see them again and the many years since the last time we met seemed like just yesterday.

We spent the day reminiscing about all that's happened during those years and the times we had played trombones together in the Musicians Union big band workshop. This included catching up with news of other band members including some who are no longer with us.
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September 25

Today we went to the property owned by R&J's son Chris and wife Teena. It's about an hour and a half away. It's a lovely area near Biggenden and their land is 6,000 acres where they raise goats and cattle. It was a real family day as there were grandchildren and great grandchildren there.

Chris made lots of yummy pizzas for lunch .

They had killed a snake that morning so I kept a very good look out as I hate the things!

A granddaughter and great-grandson putting a quad bike through its paces while baby goats sleep the day away.

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September 26

This was a busy day.I'd intended leaving Hervey Bay around 10am but after breakfast decided to load Skype on Ray's computer. He been having trouble getting on the Internet and today it played up again. I'm no PC expert and far prefer my Mac but I tried to find the problem. Eventually I fired up my own wireless modem and connected to it on Ray's machine. It worked! Then I tried to download Skype. It took all his details but Internet Explorer prevented it from downloading the programme. It was getting late so I reluctantly gave up.

Despite a late start I was at the bike place at Noosaville early afternoon and David fixed up a new bike for me. He also fitted the little computer that tells speed, distance etc. I took it for a good spin and it worked fine. He told me to go down near the river to park but when I got to the area he had mentioned it was clearly signed 'No Camping'

I decided to drive a bit further south and even contemplated a caravan park as it was getting a bit late. However 'Camps' told me of this place - a rest area not far off the motorway on the Landsborough road. It's near the road and crowded but will be OK for a sleeping place. It has Internet and phone coverage so I had a nice long chat to Sue during 'My Hour' - free calls if you remember to re-dial every 20 minutes.

A short trip tomorrow and I'll be with my friends Anne and Don.

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September 27

An uneventful trip down to Slacks Creek where Don and Anne live in a Care complex. It was great to see them again and Anne was doing much better than I expected. I had lunch with them and later went down to their daughter's place at Yatala where Yemmy and I will spend our nights. It's only about 20 minutes from Slacks Creek.

Tomorrow I'll go earlier and go with them on their morning walk - Anne uses an electric wheel chair!

These two are my companions where Yemmy sleeps!

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September 28 & 29

I've linked these two pages together as they were pretty similar. Drive from Yatala to Slacks Creek, spend the day with Don and Anne and then drive back to Russell and Karen's place at Yatala.

I've been on their morning walks - Anne leads in her electric wheel-chair and Don and another two residents follow along behind. It's a nice area and we see lots of birds feeding in blossom trees along the way.

Today there were visitors for lunch - Anne's sister Helen and husband Ray and Anne's brother Rob and wife Jocelyn. It was lovely as we had the private dining room to ourselves and we covered a lot of ground reminiscing as I've known them for many years. Ray and Helen have a lovely property about 50km away and invited me to stay any time I'm up this way.

I didn't stay at ArCare for dinner today but came back here where Russell cooked an unusual and delicious dinner. To call the accompaniment to the smoked salmon 'Zuchinni Fritters' would be doing them an injustice as they contained lots of delicious ingredients including fetta cheese and grated onion. He followed this with eye fillet steak cooked just rights and with roast vegies. Yummy!

Tomorrow will be the last day here and I'll stay for lunch and dinner. Anne has promised a shorter walk - it's ok for her in her motorised transport.

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September 30


On the left are members of the walking group here at Arcare. I've been with them for three mornings and the streets they walk along are nice with lots of blossom trees including this lovely Bauhinia and birds of all sorts.

There are also plenty of dogs giving a barking serenade!

It's been good for me as I don't walk enough I'm told although it does make my hips and back ache after a short time. The bike will be better excercise.

It has been great being here with Anne and Don and sharing their life for a little while. It has given me a much better insight into their situation and really in the circumstances I don't believe they could be in a better place. The carers care! The surroundings are nice and they have what they need in their units. For any that haven'y been following my diary I must explain that Anne has Motor Neurone Disease - that's her on the wheel chair. Don is physically fine but has no short term memory since an operation a few years back. Anne and I have been close friends for many years. It was hard to say goodbye tonight!

New month tomorrow! I do the links then.

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