Week 5 (Sun Feb 8 thru Sat Feb 14)
We leave Kangaroo Island wishing we'd allowed a bit more time, but then that's how we feel about every place we go in this great country! Besides, we're now heading for Mt. Gambier, and a visit with the notorious Quickie! (See Australia 2001 for the great Cray Caper!) But first, a bit about the drive from Port Jervis, where the KI ferry lands, to Mt. Gambier. The Port Jervis Windfarm, a good bit of vineyards, and more gorgeous farm country. A late breakfast at a cafe in Victor Harbor. At Wellington we take a small ferry, that runs 24 hours, across the Murray River. Patty tells the operator that we've driven across the Nullarbor. He just looks at her, deadpans, and says, "WHY?". On to Mt. Gambier!
Neil and Anne Quick are great mates of the slightly less notorious Brett Barton, and are the parents of Georgia and Alexandra. Fortunately, these girls got their Mum's looks!
See what I mean? And aren't you glad?
On Sunday night we all head for Sorrento's, a favorite spot of the Quick's, and I must say a favorite of mine, from my last visit, and it's owned by friends of Quickie and Anne. Guess you might say it's now a favorite of Patty's as well since she and I had both breakie and lunch there the next day while our host and hostess went off to tame the business world. Sorrento's also happens to be across the street from the beautiful Cave Gardens, and not far from the often spectacular Blue Lake. (These photos are untouched!!)
Tonight we dine at the Quicks, even in the midst of a major renovation project (which will be spectacular when completed), and Head Chef Quickie does amazing things with Flatheads (a great eating white fish) , stir fry, salad, etc. But a near emergency was averted:
The Propane Twins call attention to the empty tank.
Dad to the rescue!
A great evening with this wonderful family! In the morning, we leave Mt. Gambier, and South Australia, and venture into Victoria. We're heading for another of Brett's mates - Peter Miles, and his wife Trish, and their handsome family. I should mention that both couples, the Quicks, and the Miles, made the long haul to the states for Margaret & Brett's wedding back in December of 2001. They make light of it, but I don't -- and I know Brett doesn't. You may just recall that international travel was a bit "goosey" at that time, the Aussie $ a bit weaker vs. ours, young kiddos at home, businesses and farms to run, and yet they really brought "The Aussie Touch" to the festivities! But, then "that's what Mates are for"!! SPECIAL FOLKS!
A beautiful drive through The Grampians, through towns and villages like Hamilton, Ararat, Maryborough, Bendigo -- on our way to the Miles dairy farm outside of Kyambra. A few observations on the way: 1) Patty thought I should stop and eat here; 2) Another Uniting Church; 3) We thought, for a moment, that Jim Giddens was in residence here, as well!; 4) A school with personality; and 5) A classy rural mailbox!
Now you must admit ---- Aussies have a sense of humour!
We arrive at the Miles farm, and it's quite an operation. Approximately 1000 acres, a herd of 820, and a 62 stand rotary. Peter is a busy guy. Yet, after a great evening with this great family, he insists on taking Patty and me on a bush trek the next day through the high country of the northern side of the Alpine Range. It's a spectacular experience for us, and just great to get that kind of time with Pete. (I sure can ask a LOT of questions!!!) But first, here's that family -- and a few shots of the farm.
Pete, Ellie (9), Trish, Lawton (11), and Sophie (7) -- and what a great gang they are!
There's a bit of controversy in Australia these days between the cattlemen who've been grazing their cattle on the high plains areas for upwards of 120 years, and a few of the Conservation Department folks, prompted by what some refer to as "The Greenies". The latter would like to see all grazing in these areas eliminated. When you see the condition of the cattle currently up there (primarily Hereford, Pold Hereford, Angus and Black Baldies) you wonder why the issue. You also wonder how they are able to recover all of their cattle. It is tough country!
For those of you who follow such things, this is the country where they filmed the movie "The Man from Snowy River", and Peter took us up to the actual hut that was built for this film. We also were able to locate another of the drover's huts - known as "The King Hut".
What a terrific couple of days we had with the Miles family! They really are special. The elements haven't been kind to the farmers in this section of Australia the past 4 or 5 years, although this past one was a slight improvement. We wish them good rainfall, decent grain prices, and a couple of cents a liter improvement! Peter and his great gang will do the rest. Sophie woke us up --- we asked her to do that. Then those great kiddos went off to school. We had a great breakie with Peter & Trish. Trish sent us off with a goodie basket, and we felt a little twinge having to say goodbye to that gang. One of the more memorable things was when Lawton asked his Dad -- "Dad, Why don't we have an accent?" Ta Da !!
Oh, and here's another one of those "only in Australia" stories - - As we were getting ready to head out, I asked Pete if I could run my e-mail. I noted that Norton had spam blocked about 6 e-mails, and as I was about to erase them all, I noted the subject on one was "WA Eucla". Sound familiar? It was a great e-mail from one of the young WA State Patrolmen who had stopped Mema for speeding. He had enjoyed the website, and even offered to do a BBQ, and provide a glass of wine for us next time we came through. I suspect he meant I should drive if Mema had the wine! Anyway, just another example of why I can't get enough of this great country, and her people!
More to come on Week 5 Continued