We have a good drive down to Melbourne, and then on east to Korumburra, where we will spend the night with the Lew Fishers. (Anyone who's been following the WHUdunit jaunts to Australia in 2001 and 2004 will reckon that the Fishers are a great and sizeable Clan! They are -- and you'll learn more here shortly.)
On the way south from Kyambra, we stop at the Australian Military base at Puckapunyal, and after checking out the facilities, and the Armor Museum there, I have the opportunity to meet a great unit of Aussie soldiers. It's a chance for me to thank at least a few of the young men who defend this great country, and who have always remained so steadfastly loyal to the US. These young men would make you all proud!
Lew Fisher greeted me in October 2001 at his plant in Morwell, where he was flying both the Australian and U. S. flags -- a real nice touch, particularly given 9/11. That same little touch was apparent when Patty and I reached their home in Korumburra. Note the flag, and then enjoy the same gardens and views that Patty and I saw when Elaine greeted us! What a beautiful home they have, and what a gracious hostess was Elaine - - - but then, she's an Aussie!!
Lew has already headed up to the "block", taking his tractor up there in anticipation of the work to be done. So, Elaine, Janny, Patty, Geoff and I head for the local hotel in Leongatha for an exceptional pub meal. (For those of you Yanks that plan to get outside of Sydney and Melbourne when you next go to Australia -- here's a tip! The best food, and at moderate prices, is found in the older hotels and pubs! ABSOLUTELY!!) After a wonderful night's sleep at the most comfortable Fisher home, we're on our way. Now a little background, as well as definitions and explanations for you Yanks who don't know what a block is! A "block" (as opposed to a "bloke") is a piece of property --- anywhere. The particular piece of property we're referring to here is one jointly owned by Lew and Elaine, along with Janny and Geoff Allen in the high country of the southern side of the Alpine Range (Remember? We were on the northern side with Peter Miles.) Now, you may need your scorecard here, or please refer to Australia 2001 for deer farming in Leongatha! Anyway, The Allens and the Fishers have been good enough to take us along on what figures to be a work AND fun weekend in the bush well north of Dargo. Are you still with me? These guys don't muck around (a widely used, clean, term folks -- in case you started to think I've gotten a bit blue in my language!), and it appears I may have to do some manual labor if I want to hang around with these blokes! We load up the OKA, at the Allen farm, and the 5 of us (Janny & Geoff, Elaine, Patty & I), along with their german shorthaired pointer, Kaiser, head out to join Lew at the block. We're towing the Fisher's new camper, so that Patty and I have the most luxurious sleeping quarters. AND we do. They treat OLD Yanks great!
The first 250 Km are pretty much highway driving, and then we head north of Dargo for the high plains. This trek soon turns into a very winding, narrow dirt track that is suitable only for a good 4 wheel drive vehicle, and a couple are sufficiently steep that it's doubtful all but the OKA could handle it. The OKA can climb the side of your house!
We arrive at Howittville, the name of the original old station (and by the way, if you note in the picture that there's only one T in Howittville, I'm told it's because the bloke who made the sign just missed it! Ain't no big grammar and spelling checks going on out here -- this is for hunting, cattle raising, and just generally muckin' around!), and the site of the camp of the 10 blokes (including Geoff) who turned this into their hunting, and upland cattle grazing area. It's rustic, but provides a great place to hunker down while Geoff and Lew prepare the block where they will build a slightly more modern structure - - like a great house! (Some of these shots are a bit blurry, and I apologize. When I get back to the states, I'll scan in some better APS shots, but in the meantime I wanted you to at least get the feel of things!) Here's where we (Janny!) cooked, had cocktails (please note cocktail table which is not used in winter!!), and some sacked out in their swags. Australia would not be Australia were it not for corrugated iron, and Howittville has it's share, as well.
But, before we go any further, let me introduce you to the 3 great sheilas who keep Geoff, Lew, and me in tow. (L-R) Janny Allen, Patty, and Elaine Fisher
--- enough of that BS (that IS the same in both languages!), when we get there, 1) Lew explains to Geoff how he's "buggered" the drive shaft when he dropped the blade in a wombat hole! 2) Geoff explains to Lew "that he's never buggered in the bush". 3) The rest of us kibitz! and 4) Kaiser takes a rest!
Geoff does his magic, Lew is back on the tractor, mowing, and this gives us time for a little more of a look at the area. First, just a look at the building site where the new home will be located. Then Patty finds the necessary room, loo, or long drop! Finally (and I hope Bill Weir is watching), a Nehmar Camp shower look-a-like, if I ever saw one!
I call this one "Don't bother us, we're heading for cocktails". Then Janny does her magic, and a great meal appears, starring some fine Allen venison.
Saturday sees more of the same -- a lot of site preparation, both down at the Allen-Fisher block, and at Howittvile, where Geoff, Lew, Don and Trent have given Andrew a BIG hand with the footers for a new large shed! These are not only great guys, who are a lot of fun to be around, they're also talented, hard working blokes!! These guys didn't sit very often, but since the temperature was 43.5 C (that's only about 112 F), an occasional break for a glass of water was allowed by the straw boss, and labor leader, Lew. (L-R Lew Fisher, Trent Allen, Don Allen, Trent's Dad, and Geoff's brother, and Geoff Allen) Both Don and Trent are contractors out of Inverloch, and they KNOW house construction! Trent tried to take me on as an apprentice, but - - - - truth be known, here's the guy who can really make it happen! Then there's Lew -- my guru, confidante, motivator, and source of all knowledge regarding wombats!
Carrying posts and other lumber, trying to avoid breaking an ankle in a wombat hole, digging holes, filling holes, watching for snakes at every turn -- this is really fun!! These guys are back again next weekend! I have an appointment!
Saturday night cocktail hour is outside, and we're looking for a breeze -- any one will do! Janny, with an assist from Elaine and Patty, does it again, and manages to make a bunch of hot and sweaty guys very happy with a great meal done without the use of the wood stove -- there's a total ban on fires today! Then, Home Sweet Home!
Wait 'til you see what's accomplished tomorrow! For that you're going to have to go to Week 6 - because tomorrow is Sunday, February 15th!