Sunday, December 9, 2018

Back to Woolooga Fires

The Woolooga camp was going to close on the 25th of November. But then a farmer offered his assistance with a place to relocate to.

After six weeks at the camp, this was a good time for me to take a break. So I'm back to Maroochydore to do all the stuff that backs up whilst being away. A couple of weeks later and I'm at a loose end. So headed back to do some fencing, for just for a few days, before Xmas.

Anyway, a fencing job falls through and we are at a loose end for a day. Offered an unusual job; 'can you get an old Komatsu D85e dozer out of a boggy spot on a farm?'. Nup, no experience with that. But hey that never stopped us before. A new experience... up for that? You bet!

Recent rain and the bottom of a very steep gully were the main issues. Lots of old sleepers were gobbled up under the dozer tracks before things got serious and tree trunks were chained into the tracks of the dozer. The dozer had heaps of power, just needed something to grab on to. Having a tractor and backhoe on hand also helped.

So yep, you got to love BlazeAid. Always a new experience to be had. You just need to stick your hand up.

Backing down to drop off the sleepers.

Yeah right!  

But persistence pays off.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Woolooga Fires - Lower Wonga Camp

After six weeks we are still working to lock up this one large property. It's very big and got hit hard. So hard it's best and quickest to just repair some fences at this stage. The bottom two wires are the worst off along most of the fences. Other fences are so bad there is no alternative but to rip them up. Where trees have fallen on the fence it's a case of doing whatever needs doing. Lots of chainsaw work every day. 'Do what you can where you can, we need to muster the cattle'. But the stockyards need lots of attention as well.

Before the fire and with the drought conditions some were bringing in feed for their cattle. Then the fire burns what little grass there was. Now the lack of fences is preventing the regular farm jobs like drenching. Mustering requires fences and yards.

Anyone with hay to sell can name their price. A lot of hay has been shipped out west by various charities, so just getting some is tricky let alone paying the price.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

BlazeAid - Woolooga Fires - Lower Wonga - Overseas Vanpackers

From time to time at BlazeAid camps, where I've been volunteering, overseas vanpackers have dropped in to help out with fire or flood recovery. It's a win-win as the tourists get to do something different, meeting and working closely with locals and going places and see things they would not usually get to see or do. For BlazeAid they are a source of young strong labour and are most welcome. A couple of days or a couple of weeks, it all helps.

At a BlazeAid camp, all the volunteers are provided with somewhere to camp, hot showers, toilet facilities and 3 meals a day. The work is usually farm fencing, either pulling down a fence or building a new one. No previous experience is required and all tools and safety equipment are supplied.

Of course, the camps are open to anyone fit enough to work out in a paddock from about 7am till mid-afternoon. It can be hot, hilly, dry, wet, dirty, but it's always rewarding.

The current camp at Lower Wonga Hall is here to help farmers recover from the Woolooga Fires. The camp has been going for about a month now and has done some great work already.

So if you are an overseas visitor or an Aussie touring about looking for a new experience stop into a BlazeAid camp and give it a go.

Was once a fence, a very long fence!

Cut it up, roll it up, cart it away.

A new fence, not always in a neat and tidy paddock.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Lower Wonga - Woolooga Fires

It's an easy drive from Maroochydore to Lower Wonga where BlazeAid has been given use of the Community Hall and rural fire shed to set up camp.

We are here to help rebuild farm fences after the September fires. Just a couple of teams went out on Monday but by the end of the week, the volunteer numbers had increased to about 20. The weather, storm season in the south-east Qld, is slowing things down but has not yet dampened enthusiasm. A benefit of this soaking rain is that those tree stumps still smouldering weeks after the main event will surely be out now.

The Woolooga fire ground.

Lower Wonga Hall.

RFS shed and some work trailers - early morning.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Cotton Tree

Came home via Boomi, Chinchilla Lake, Linville to Cotton Tree. Camping at places well known and liked by me.

Been here for several months completing domestic tasks and attending to maintenance issues so as to be ready and able to head out again. The thing most noticeable, after being away for half a year, is the skyline around Maroochydore, cranes everywhere, the building industry is booming. It's becoming busier, especially during holidays, but the sun and moon still put on a special show and if you have to be somewhere I think this is a better place than most.

The motorhome is now 15 years old and has done over 220,000km. Easy kilometers, mostly highway, no ducking around to the local shops for milk and bread but she is needing more and more attention. But finally, the maintenance is done! Annual inspection passed! Rego and insurance paid for another year, and we are good to go again.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Coonamble - Pilliga

Pilliga artesian bore was just too far, 380km to Coonamble showgrounds, then just 90km to Pilliga, but that had to be next day.

The last time I passed this way I stayed several days bathing in the hot spa waters. Talk about wrinkles. Rain and floods closed the roads so there was nothing else for it but soak in the spa for 3 days.

Fairly busy camp spot but managed some privacy in the farthest corner.

No, not a Silo. Coonamble water tower.

Pilliga spa campground.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Weethalle - Silo Art

Directly north of Narrandera and via Barellan is Weethalle. Just a small town, as most are, but big enough to think of painting their silo about 12 months ago, nice job too. Very popular these days. Draws the tourist. They just need to convert the visits into revenue for the town.

Stopped for the night at Tullibigeal, just a bit further north. Great free camp with (donation) power, water and hot showers. Just me and one other tonight. A route less travelled it would seem. Except for me, I've been here a few times. The quiet town and the quiet roads appeal. Easy, just cruising. Might have seen half a dozen cars today, in 170kms.

Before leaving tomorrow a walk through the Co-Op general store is always interesting.

The sad part is that Weethalle is the last of the Silo Art, it's a southern thing apparently. 

Weethalle Silos.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Wagga and Coolamon

Stopped at Wagga Wagga for two professional appointments. Back on the road by early arvo with green elephant stamps (all good) and heading out of town after dumping at Wilks Park. Nice to see the toilet block now has a mural and a bus stop as well as the dump point. Possibly not the best mix, bus stop and dump point?

Headed to Coolamon for the night.

Coolamon CP used to be $10/night with power, water and hot showers. Not a big park, maybe 25 sites. Popular, usually need to be early to get a site for the night. Recently the local Council has spent big bucks pretty much ripping out everything. Everything new and clean, grass, roads and office. Now they have an onsite manager and are charging $20/night. Only problem, just 25% of the sites occupied. Less income - more expense, hmm.

Interesting article from ABC news about Silo Art and small towns

Bus stop and dump point.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Walbundrie and dragons in Lockhart.

Tungamah via Yarrawonga to Walbundrie is just 125km.

Crossed into NSW at Yarrawonga where Lake Mulwala is all but empty, must be hurting the tourist operators. Apparently, the lake has been having a weed problem.

Nice camp at Walbundrie for $10 you get power. Means no need to run the generator at night or more importantly first thing in the morning to get warm.

Went via Lockhart next day to check on their street art. Lots on display here but nothing new from my previous posts. Well other than the dragon finding a new home. He is now welcoming visitors into town from Walbundrie.

Lake Mulwala.

The Dragon at Lockhart.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Tungamah Silo Art

It's on the way north, in a zig-zag sort of way. Tungamah. Nice little town. Nice little free camp on the Boosey Creek. And best of all - Silo Art.

One of the volunteers at BlazeAid Terang, a Tungamah resident, at dinner one night mentioned he had a painted silo in his town. So here we are checking it out. A Kookaburra and Dancing Brolgas no less.

The Lions Park is right in town and is available for free camping so yep that's where I stopped. Just me by the creek, nice, nice spot.

Goorambat Silo - Barking Owl

Here is that better shot of the Barking Owl at Goorambat.
Click this link to hear the bird call.

Jimmy D -

Monday, June 25, 2018

Rochester - Silo Art.

Lived in Melbourne for 50 years and toured the state extensively during that time, getting about is easy. Victoria is a compact state. The good things come to mind travelling about. Like the crisp mornings and clear, still, windless days, in central Victoria during winter.

Woke this morning to -1deg. Ice on the ground and crunching grass. The landscape is frost covered but the sun is bright. Driving in the early morning sees golden pasture one side of the valley, frosty white the other. It won't last long.

Stopped at Rochester, yep another silo. This one in the final stages of completion. Ambushed Jimmy DVate (the artist) and had a chat. Got his business card and his website: He also did the Barking Owl on the Goorambat Silo, my fav.

Not finished yet.

Viewed from the park next door.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

On The Road Again - Fyansford Silo Art

Much deliberation as to which way to head from Terang but as usual it comes together eventually. Silo near Geelong, at Fyansford, was hard to pass up.

After negotiating the ring road around Melbourne went on and stopped at Broadford, at the Bowling Club in the Lions Park, been here before. Nice quiet spot even with the trains.

The silo at Fyansford is interesting in that the viewing area has been fenced off. Must be an issue with public liability insurance or the like. Anyway, still an acceptable view through the fence.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

BA Terang - End is Nigh - Warrnambool Street Art

It's been ~15 weeks since the St Patricks Day fires in March and when the camp was originally set up. Dribs and drabs of assessable fences are still being done, in between showers of rain, but the end is nigh. The total to date, of fences rebuilt, is nearing 300km.

Some farmers are saying there is no way we will be able to get on their paddocks now, or in the next few months. So the camp, here at Terang, will start closing at the end of this month.

It's hard not to look at the roadmap and start planning the trip north, route, stopovers, towns not visited before, and maybe some silo art along the way. Ah, the anticipation of a road trip: nearly as good as the real thing...

If you live in Terang serious shopping is done in Warrnambool and the place is not without street art.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Rosebery, Lascelles and Patchewollock - Silos

Six silos sites complete the trail with between 30km and 50km between sites. Rosebery, Lascelles and Patchewollock are the last three today.

I arrived in Patchewollock, my camp for the night, just in time for gridlock with a very large funeral procession headed out of town going to the cemetery. Later the pub was hosting the wake. A big night in a small town, always interesting.





Saturday, June 9, 2018

Brim and Sheep Hill - Silo Art

Picked up a brochure detailing Silo Art in this region of Victoria - Silo Art Trail. The Silo Art Trail has its own website, Gmail, and Instagram (@siloarttrail) accounts.

Seems this all started here in Brim in 2015 and continues to gather momentum. At each silo, several other cars or caravans are there. It's a weekday and it's a miserable day. Silo Art viewing appears to be very popular at the moment!

The Trail.

Sheep Hill.


Thursday, June 7, 2018

Rupanyup - Silo Art

Time for a break from the fences, it's been 7 weeks. So a road trip is the best way known to rejuvenate enthusiasm.

Headed north via Ararat, Great Western and Stawell bypassing the Grampians National Park; a bit cold for camping. And on to Rupanyup.

Rupanyup is a small town with pulse, in the Yarriambiack Shire. The pulse they are referring to are crops of lentils, chickpeas & beans. They also have a painted Silo and that's what attracted me.

It would seem the next big thing for a town to have to attract tourism is not a big banana, or this case a big chickpea, but a big bit of open-air street art. You don't get much bigger than a grain silo as your canvas.

Rupanyup is no different from other small regional towns being bypassed commercially. Is it now too easy to drive to the big town and spend your money in the big multinational chain stores? 

Depicts local youth.

A railway station without rails.
Now owned privately and currently for sale.

In this group, only the pub remains open.

No trains in this town since 1983.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Terang: cows and poo

So BlazeAid's main focus is the boundary fences. Got to keep the cattle in. Got to keep them off the roads. But when the boundary fences are done it's time to consider getting the farm back to normal operations.

It's dairy country down here and the farmer tells me he needs to separate his herd, milkers and dry as well as other cows: all too technical for a city kid. So we are rebuilding some essential internal fences.

The downside is there are cows in the paddock we work in. They are curious animals and are attracted to the tractor that usually brings the fodder. So they traipse around following us. They lick and scratch their heads on the car, trailer and tractor. They are always where you next need to be. They are tame and sometimes need a nudge. And they poo and pee everywhere.

Putting up a new fence usually goes in this order. Run a sighting wire to align the new fence posts: a straight fence not only looks better but is stronger. Drop the posts down the line at even intervals. Back the tractor up to the post position. Stand the post up and drive it in. If there are cows in the paddock: check for poo, pee or snot on the post and be careful to avoid it when standing the post up. When the ram comes down on poo on the top of the post it goes everywhere: usually all over you and your face! Gumboots are essential as are gloves and a sharp eye. 

Shares in the local laundromat would seem a very good idea. 

Thursday, May 24, 2018

St Patrick's Day Fire

Local newspaper article describes the fire.

A couple of months on and Terang BlazeAid camp has built about 150km of new fences. It's now very wintery here, rain and showers happen just about every day. The ground is softer for the auger and post driver but the grass is constantly wet. The burnt black paddocks are now nice and green again.

Shares in the local laundromat would be a good investment.

These photos courtesy of Moggs.

Gumboots under the wet weather gear keep your feet dry.

But some days the drizzle just doesn't stop!

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Terang - Stark Reminder

So we are out and about driving posts and running wire for new fences, locking up paddocks bit by bit, when we get a new assignment. Fence a driveway, laneway and home paddock.

Yep, no problem. Didn't give it much thought. Posts burnt, ground burnt and scarred, situation normal. Until we notice the kids swing and clothesline.

Looking more closely it's clear there was a house right here. And the home paddock no longer has a home.

A stark reminder of just how devastating this fire was.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Terang - BlazeAid

Now in Terang Victoria, helping out after the mid-March fires. The local community has been very supportive of their farmers with local clubs and organisations clearing most of the burnt fences, and trees, just days after the fires were out. Now BlazeAid has set up camps and is working to restore the fences.

It's different work this time. Mostly the fence line is already cleared, so no chainsaw work other than putting points on the new pine post and building timber box-end assemblies. The fences are mostly plain wire on pine posts with hardly a steel picket to be seen. This requires lots of tractor work with the post rammers mounted on the back, driving the post into the ground. Then running the wire and stapling the wire to the pine posts, with a hammer and 40mm staples: definitely not one of my fav jobs.

The losses on farm, machinery etc are huge. Burnt farm buildings and equipment everywhere you look.

Each night the fencing teams return to a comfortable camp set up at the Terang Race Track. Local clubs from the district come in to help out with some of our meals. So the community helps us and we help the community, nice.

Driving new pine posts.

No trick photography here just melted plastic and metal.


One of the farm kids wrote this whilst the guys were working, nice.

Stacks of timber everywhere waiting for a match.