October 22 - October 28, 2001
I start Week 5 with none other than Des & Rags!
A little background on Rags is in order (and I can't believe that I don't have a picture of his wife, Shelley, who is a gorgeous gal, and a sweetheart! This could give me an excuse to go back again!! ) Anyway, Rags is Darryl Raggatt, and he's the Head Ranger at the Hinze Dam Park area, and a great mate of Des. I also consider them both great mates of mine. These are two guys who are about as much fun to spend time with in the bush as anyone you'd ever find. Just great guys. Now having said that, and having already told you that Des is regarded as the best in the fishing guide business, I feel as though I have to let you in on a secret. Des isn't going to like this -- but. Des took Monday off so that he and I could go over to Clarrie Hall Dam (one of his personal favorite spots) and do some real fly-fishing for Australian Bass, and possibly hook up a Saratoga. When we all (Des, Vi, Rags, Shelley and I) had dinner at The Woodchoppers Inn on Sunday night in Mudgeeraba on Sunday night (and I was introduced to Moreton Bay Bugs, and will NEVER be the same!), we convinced Rags to take the day off, too, and come with us. A good move! Look, I won't drag this out and make it more painful for Des, in the event he checks out this sight, but we couldn't even get the boat in the water, because of the depth at the ramps. If we'd gotten it in, we'd never have gotten it out! Now when the best guide in the area can't even get his boat in the water, it presents some problems for catching fish, and it presents the Hinze Dam Ranger with a real opportunity to work over that guide. We repaired to the pub. We repaired to several pubs -- in Uki, in a couple of other small towns, and the day was about as much fun as a day can be in the bush with two great guys! Ask me about "jumpin ants", or the disease prevalent in these parts, called "Craft"!
We are in the shadow of the spectacular Mt. Warning
Des checks out the merchandise!
Clarrie Hall bush
Clarrie Hall impoundment
Clarrie Hall Lily pads - everything but CH BASS!
We kiss the day goodbye from a pub in Tumbulgum, on the shores of the Tweed River!
Des and Vi have been the most incredible hosts, and have just made my trip! I head out of there at 5:30 AM on Tuesday morning heading inland a bit to visit the Wrights, in Coonabarabran. Bruce and Mary, and their daughter Tabitha (just over 2?) are a great family that Patty and I met when we stopped at their motel when driving through the outback in February. It ends up taking about 12 hours with some delays for roadwork but mostly slow truck traffic in the winding mountain roads soon after entering New South Wales from Queensland. Once again, (for you regular viewers) as was the case in Canada earlier this year, I was so pleased by the welcome road sign for B. Ulmer. The period seemed to have worn off this one, but it was a nice welcome all the same!
-- and speaking of nice welcomes, what a treat it was to see that handsome Wright family when I finally got to Coonabarabran!
All the way from Nerang to Coonabarabran I had been searching for a live Koala for Tabitha, but had to settle for a Pooh Bear from that great Country Western music center of Tamworth!
Makes you kind of miss those grandchildren!!
Off I go the next morning, taking a great shortcut, thanks to Bruce, and on my way to Sydney. It starts to rain, there are already a couple of swollen rivers, and I stop in the tiny town of Binnaway, to check on the condition of the road ahead. I begin with an apology to the guy who owns the fuel station, since I'd just filled both tanks in Coonabarabran. "No worries, Mate -- ya lost?" "No", I responded, "not lost, just a little concerned about what this road may be like down the track with this rain - these dotted roads aren't always sealed". "Ah, ya got an old map, matey -she's a good road --- long as you don't make this turn (I don't think I would have) -- you take that one and we'll never hear from ya again -- she's a goat path!" I love it! Off I went, and got through just fine -- even without any 4 wheel drive. Really the first real rainy day I've had, and things were even pretty in NSW in the rain!
The Warrumbungle in the rain!
Then the Wollemi farmlands, and then horse country, possibly the Lexington, Kentucky of NSW, the area near Jerry's Plains.
Before you know it, I'm heading through the stone cuts on my way in to Sydney!
Sydney, now with a population of 4 Million appears to be more than Tony and I want to handle, so after picking our way through a bit of North Sydney traffic, we head for the barn (in this case a very nice BW called the Twin Towers in Artarmon).
Alan & Betty Johnston, friends who we met last year while in Sydney, through our mutual friends, Joe & Jeannie McGowan, have been kind enough to invite me for dinner this evening at their home in Cremorne, just north of the city, and very close to where I'm staying. (I must admit that was a plan!) I arrive at the appointed hour - 6 PM, and after a greeting they both said "where is your camera?" They had been following my antics on the web, knew I was into pictures a bit, and from their condominium on the very top floor of this 14 story building, had arguably the best view of the city, and the sunsets over the city, of any place around! The early sunset was already showing signs of being incredible, and here I am with neither my digital nor my handy little Canon Elf. Unbelievable. I'd left them on my bed. Talk about a penny waiting for change. Alan said "let's go", and off we went with his best imitation of a cabbie who knew every nook and cranny of the city. He got me back to my place in Artarmon, and back to Cremorne in about the time it took the taxi to take me one way -- and his fare was a whole lot less! I did manage to get a few of the dying rays of sunset, and also got a couple after dark that I think may show up on here all right. The most important picture, though is of the great host and hostess that made me feel so welcome, and provided me with a superb lamb roast dinner!
No sunset ever looked more radiant than these guys!
Kicking myself, but those were the last rays!
Wish these shots did justice to their view. It is really just very special --- and they get it every day!
It was a wonderful evening, with some wonderful people!
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