October 29 -
November 4, 2001
(Week 6 Continued)
It's a pretty gray and drizzly day, and there haven't been many of those, but the drive from Melbourne to Geelong is not the most scenic today anyway, because of a great deal of road work, mixed in with the rain. However, all of that changes after you arrive in Torquay, just south of Geelong, and on down along the coast, rain or no rain! We are now on The Great Ocean Road, and Patty and I just drove and photographed this gorgeous coastline back in January and I really took a lot of pictures then. However, I can't help myself, and snap more (besides I have to shoot a few with the digital camera so that I can share the experience with you folks!). It continues to rain, and it's blowing between 25 and 35 knots along the coast, which not only means a little salt spray haze, which you'll see in some of the pictures, but a little lens haze as well! Even so, the drive along the winding roads that go along the cliffs is so special that I'm as taken with it now as I was just 9 or 10 months ago! I'm also getting pretty good at keeping Tony on the right (as in correct) side of the road!
While I didn't stop to photograph it, and it is a pretty normal spring time occurrence in our country as well, it's apparent it's spring in the farming areas north of the coastal road. Lots of lambing and calving with some obvious recent drops as mothers are licking their calves clean. (Brett, do calves in Australia call their mom, MUM?)
The next spot I just had to photograph again is Apollo Bay -
I pretty well zip thru all the rest of those handsome coastal towns that Patty and I enjoyed earlier, but you really can't get enough of "The 12 Apostles", so I did stop there. (Patty, you won't recognize the new entrance that takes you under the road, but the scene is the same, and you'll sure recognize that!)
I estimated that it was blowing close to 40 knots when I was out on the platform (you can see the salt spray here, and Tony was covered when I got back to the truck!), and I wasn't far off, because on the radio about 10 minutes after I left here, they announced gale warnings just south of us!
The farmland and grazing areas are spectacular, and all of a sudden I begin to see pastures just carpeted with a yellow flower, and it isn't canola.
Being the curious guy that I am, I begin to look for a farmer, and I actually went about 10 kilometers before I found someone out working, and who would identify the yellow cover as a weed, called Cape weed! Actually the two teenage kids were really doing the work with a post hole auger, and their dad, who is a dairy farmer (Jerseys) was supervising! What a great family they are!
Meet John, Andrew, Kate, and Maureen. Can you imagine, they even invited me to stay with them for "a few days". I think John thought I could handle some posts! Really would have loved that experience. This was just a great family, but I am on my way to Mt. Gambier where I'll be hooking up with another great Aussie family, The Quicks! Now, you may recall that I made an attempt to pull Patty's leg about a fix-up property back in the Snowy Mountains. I was just kidding about that one, and Patty showed no interest anyway. This time I've really found one that has possibilities. They're already grazing sheep on the property, so there's obviously an income stream. It does need some work, so that I'm pretty sure I can negotiate a good price, -- but it's a great layout, and has real potential. What do you think about this one, Patty?
I move on to Mt. Gambier, check in, make contact with Brett's good mate, Neil Quick, and learn that he's going to pick me up at 4:15 AM so that we can be on a Cray fishing boat at 5 AM. What the hell kind of fun is this? Brett, didn't you tell Quickie that we're dealing with a fat, 65 year old guy, who needs his sleep, in addition to a lot of other things? I'm really trying to be a good tourist, and not give Yanks a reputation for being wimps, so I manage to meet Quickie at the appointed time. Not a bad bloke!!
We're aboard the Lar-K, skippered by Jeff Feast --
-- and during the next 7 hours, Jeff, and his very capable crew, Paul Tilley, show Quickie and me what a day on a cray rig really involves! Just so we all are up to speed on this business, let me give you a little data. If you've got $3 Million (AUS), you might be able to get started. The rigs we're seeing cost between $800,000 and $1,500,000 (AUS), and that's just for openers. Your quota will be established on a per pot basis. You might want to start with the average of 50 pots. The licensing for those will cost you $1,750,000! That's right -- $35,000 per pot goes to the government to give you the privilege of getting out on the water in tough conditions to TRY to get those crays (lobsters). You can pass your licensing on to your children, and many do. Jeff bought them from his father ("That was his retirement program"), and he's hopeful that his two boys will want to follow in his boot steps. Why not? It's a tough business, but it can be very lucrative. The market price can vary from teens to $40 per kilo (2.2 lbs), and right now that price is $36/kilo. In a good year, Jeff can get his full annual quota in a few months, and he'll let the market price dictate as much when he works, as weather. LET'S GO GET 'EM !
There are some bad guys! An Octopus can clear out a trap full of cray in a hurry. The value of this guy to satisfy you calamari fans is mighty small versus a pot load of Cray. As Jeff said, these guys are to Cray fishermen what dingoes or coyotes are to cattlemen.
--- and even though this gal may meet the minimum standards (close to 4 inch carapace), those are 10s of thousands of eggs you're looking at, and a female with roe, of course, goes back!
This one's OK ---
-- this one goes back!
Jeff really has all the latest electronics, and uses his GPS to record trap location, records waypoints of particularly productive spots, plots his track, as he's running, etc. Really impressive!
Some traps bring bigger smiles than others -
These two guys are really quite a team --
Quickie is hangin' in there ---
The 21 stone guy in the middle was doing well, too, until a rogue wave (!) tossed him into the cabin door, and he cracked the window! Welcome aboard, Fat Boy!!
About 140 kilos for the day, which is certainly not a record for this skipper, but not a bad day, either! The mate, Paul, gets a % of the take, and it's very fair. (That's my opinion, it may not be Paul's, but although he REALLY works, I'd be surprised if he'd disagree)
Here's the gang, and here's the Lar-K
A Yank couldn't go to sea with a nicer bunch of Aussies on a more seaworthy craft. A great experience!
Now I want you to meet Georgia and Alexandra!
Aren't we all glad that they got their Mom's looks !!!?
Not a bad bloke among 3 roses! Anne is a real sweetheart, and I knew that going in, from what I was told by Brett. I did not know that in addition to being a dynamite Mum (you absolutely would not believe how well behaved, yet good fun, those two little gals were all the time we were in that restaurant), Anne also is a Mortgage Specialist, and has established a very nice career for herself. I am REALLY looking forward to seeing Allie, Joey, Tommy, Natalie, Jackson, and the new additions -- but I sure have fallen for a lot of special young folks I've had the good fortune to meet on this trip, and I think that Patty and I had better come back often to insure that their parents continue to give them the proper counsel and direction!
Hey, Savannah Leon Quick, you'd be proud to call this handsome family kin!
I head out of Mt. Gambier the next day, and meet another family just outside of town --- and their Mama was a Llama!
----- but, again I ask my Aussie friends, is a Llama's Mama a Mama, or a Mum?
As I head north toward Adelaide, again I'm tracking over some of the same areas that Patty and I visited in January --
-- now this IS canola, and the black swans of Robe.
-- and then the Coorong National Park, just south of Adelaide, that stretches 100 KM from Kingston SE to Goolwa, and is just an expanse of sand dunes, scrub, gum trees and water. Beautiful!
Springtime in Coorong National Park !
I slip through Adelaide, and head north for Port Augusta, where I'm hoping to have a great experience with a leader of the Aboriginal community there. More to follow in Week 7, but for now, a few shots of the topography, and as you'll note, it's beginning to transition back to the more arid cover that we experienced in the outback of the north.
Still gorgeous country, just more variety, and to think that yesterday we were chasing crayfish. There are probably a few things you could die of around here, like snakes, spiders, scorpions, overeating, etc., but never boredom !!
No particular reason for tossing this one in here (I actually took this over near Leongatha), just thought it was interesting. Usually they show one or the other, but this was the first time that I saw all three on one sign. Quiz: Know what they all are? What you do if you hit one, or find one injured??
(We call that a jump shift in terms of content/thoughts!)
So now we're in Port Augusta, and staying at an interesting spot!
The Standpipe Inn was situated at the end of the pipeline for water to the west end of Port Augusta, and in 1883, a bloke by the name of Charles Chapple decided that the teamsters who came to water their bullocks and camels, needed another type of watering hole. (In view of the current situation, the plaque is particularly interesting!) Today The Standpipe is owned by a very nice Indian family from Punjab.
A little dusty --- but for a few nights, it's home!
SEE YOU IN WEEK 7 !