86. Pre-Christmas Camp – Journal Entry 13th December 1981

We are at camp. Most of the family are swimming in the creek while I sit at the campsite watching the kettle of water I just placed onto the fire. Breakfast was at 6:30 am and Johnny and Gareth cooked an enormous meal of porridge, fried slices of canned ham, baked beans and fried rice; our typical camping food. For lunch, we shall have canned fish, spam, processed cheese and bread or biscuits. Last night for dinner we ate “hearty beef soup”, corned meat with fried onions, corn and beans. There was no pudding this time; I refused to buy the yucky instant puddings sold in supermarkets. Why does all this canned, freeze-dried and processed cheese taste so good when we are camping? Apart from baked beans and canned fish at home, the family would never eat the food they eat at camp.

We haven’t camped for at least two years and are thirty or forty miles north of Emu Park, not a serious camp by any means. There are miles of wild and empty beaches, mostly Army Reserve land, with great fishing. We used set off in the early morning in our trusty four-wheel drive Rover and spent leisurely days eating oysters off the rocks and many hours trying to catch fish. Marcello was the only one who had the patience for fishing. Occasionally we would find the odd treasure here and there, much to the delight of the children: rusty anchors, blue and green glass floats encased in heavy macrame mesh, Taiwanese oil jars and a few beautiful shells.

16 Dec 1981

This week I shall get on top of the mildew in the bathroom and mend the fences and coops. On Thursday we have planned a trip to Rockhampton where the family will swim, rummage around the shops, have lunch in the park, spend a few hours at the library, swim again and return home.

In the garden, the banana trees need attention, as do the okra and bean plants. I will have to plant more okra and beans and make sure that the lawns are mowed; everything grows so fast in summer.

I must finish Gellner’s Legitimation of Belief and press on with my studies of Pascal and Functions, however, that will be after I make mango pickle.

33. Christmas Holidays – Journal Entry 24th Dec 1978

There is a slight air of excitement about the place. Would be more if the weather was less humid and there wasn’t so much tidying to do. Marcello went mowing today and Gareth and I hung around filling sacks with grass clippings. Good stuff for the chickens and the plants.

Jobs to be done today:

  1. Fridge to be cleaned
  2. Bottles to be taken under the house
  3. M.O.W rosters to be delivered
  4. Clothes to be washed, sorted and put away
  5. Stay at desk as much as possible
  6. Bills to be sorted and paid

At 3:10pm Gareth and I went out and delivered the M.O.W. rosters. We worked efficiently, I thought, and were back home in 30 minutes.

Johnny is cooking dinner – garlic soup, bread, Christmas cake and ice-cream. Later in the evening we are going to Yeppoon to pick up Monika.

The black cockatoos are leaving the pine trees for home. Where is home for them? They were here all day, large, raucous, destructive black birds, almost unlovely if it wasn’t for the flash of red feathers under their tail.

I have to structure my life, Johnny tells me, rightly of course.

11pm We’re waiting for midnight. There was no late night shopping in Yeppoon. Maybe the shops stayed open later than usual but they were shut by 9:30pm. So we drove home through Tanby. We were in Yeppoon, where Monika’s mum lives, to drop Marcello off for their Christmas gathering and opening of presents. What a lot of presents there are under our Christmas tree.

So midnight came and the family had a drink of Vermouth on the rocks and fruitcake before opening the presents.

Christmas Day was quiet and enjoyable. We also tidied the house in preparation for leaving on camp the next morning. I will tell Trudy what to do about the chooks. My desk was tidied and also part of the bookshelves. The evening was spent in front of the TV with the kids. Read a bit of Schumacher.

31st Dec 1978

The last day of the year. Will have a do a review of 1978 and a rough plan for 1979.

To W. J. Cass,

Thank you very much for making it possible for us to receive the rates discount. Your allowance for our error is much appreciated. If more bureaucrats adopted the attitude that systems should serve people and not vice versa the life of the common man would be more pleasant.
May the Livingstone Shire Council have a trouble-free and joyous year in 1979.

1st Jan 1979

I didn’t get very far with my entry yesterday.

We cleaned another plot in the garden. The rains we’ve had over Christmas have made our weeding easier. Marcello did more mowing so we had a lot of mulch.

At breakfast Johnny, Ruth and I discussed ‘women’. I’m going to try to put down my thoughts on the subject:

More women are in the workforce:

  • Purely for economic reasons?
  • Because ‘housework’ and ‘housewife’ have been devalued?
  • A mixture of both?
  • A genuine desire to get out among people?

Women’s Lib. seems to have missed the main point which is developing or pointing to a better way of life. At the moment these women haven’t contributed anything new, they might even have contributed to chaos or an upsetting of the social patterns used hitherto i.e. full-time mother and hometender. Women’s Lib. wants a fair slice of the present cake, has no philosophy on how to bake a better and more humane cake. They are attempting to be breast-swinging men, jostling for an equal stand in a world created by men. What have they contributed? What have they to offer that’s of value to people, to the social system we’re in?

Random questions:

  • Why are women afraid of the dark, of isolated places?
  • Why don’t more women go off on their own camping and fishing?
  • Why don’t women do car maintenance, repair household equipment, design household machinery, indeed any type of machinery?
  • Why, in their own area – fashion – do men seem to do better than women?

What can women do better than men? Johnny questions the validity of the question and it’s relevance. It’s rather like the European attitude that because a race hasn’t produced an Einstein, they are somehow second-rate human beings.

Women appear to have a different perspective. They’re made differently, are capable of bearing young, their ambient is different, their perspective must necessarily be different.

If more women read Mareuse, Friere, Illich, Schumacher, would they be able to implement a new direction or philosophy which will make living more humane than it is at the moment? Will they be able to stop the suicidal trend of medicine, education and technology? Johnny is very depressed; the worst I’ve seen so far.

The weather is slightly humid and still. Not as bad as I expected. I must keep cool however, and not lose my temper. The urge to twist someone’s ear or squeeze an arm comes over me so violently I’m quite dangerous, not to mention unpleasant to have around the place.

The problem is Barbara, having one of her withdrawals. She saw Patty in Yeppoon across the road and she went white with excitement, nostrils flared as she said his name in a shrill voice. She saw him several times as we went up and down the street in our Land Rover, once to the sports shop, then to the veg shop and then back to pick up a member of our party. Barbara only needs a certain type of excitement to make her go inward, lose her appetite and start talking to herself. If left without attention, she does not sleep at night.

We have so many chicks and ducklings. The three Rouen ducklings have been promoted to the main pen – it must be rather frightening to be put in a general pen with so many strange adult birds they haven’t seen before. On the whole, the ducklings seem happy, especially with the large communal pool. They spend most of their time either in the pool or on the edge. A male Rouen died and was buried in the compost drum.

This afternoon, Johnny and I went for a walk on the beach. The cloudy weather kept most of the holiday folk away from the sea, so Nun’s beach was nearly empty. The wind was strong and small stinging showers of rain fell from time to time. We talked and laughed and at the end of the walk, Johnny declared he had got out of his depressed, hemmed in, state.

Dinner was good: mutton chops in marjoram, golden rice, chokos and a Provencal sauce from the book of sauces. The Provencal sauce was made from chopped tomatoes, chives and garlic, onion fried in olive oil and a little meat glaze. The special almond and chocolate cake was a near disaster. The oven went out while the cake was in it and it sunk horribly in the middle. Johnny was in despair. However, he served the cake stuffed with whipped cream. It was delicious.

Johnny has started reading The Lord of the Rings to the whole family. He reads extremely well. We stopped for a while to eat chocolates and cake. Had an excellent date later.

There have been sharp, scattered showers most of the evening. The wind sounds very loud through the pine trees.

Barbara is a little withdrawn after having seen Patty in Yeppoon on Saturday. She’s back on Melleril at night to get her over this relapse.

3rd Jan 1979

Gareth and I had to get fishing line in Yeppoon, to the replace the one we damaged while camping at Five Rocks.

What happened?

I had snagged my hook on an oyster shell on the rocks. Gareth came to help me and dropped the yellow plastic reel over the edge. “Not to worry,” he tells me with a grand gesture holding my line, “I know a way of getting the reel back.” So he starts pulling the line off the reel. The line curls up in a tangled mess at his feet. Then he reaches the end of the line, but it’s not tied on, so the yellow reel bobs further down near the water. Gareth has the line to sort out.

Meanwhile, I climb down carefully, holding on tightly. A wave hits against me as I reach down to get the fishing hook. I can’t pull it up. It’s caught inside an oyster which grips it’s shell tightly. I break off the line, asking forgiveness of the oyster, for any damage the hook might do to it, and then I go lower down the rocks near the crashing waves to get the reel. I move cautiously. The rocks and waves together can do considerable damage to me. I have to go around some rocks into a gully to get at the moving reel. I almost reach it when a large wave whacks me from behind and lifts me back onto the rocks. Another wave crashes and pushes me further up. I flop flat onto the rocks, barely scratched, with the reel.

Feeling a little sore, I take the bream I’ve caught and Gareth takes his trevally and we go back to the others to get a hook. But the line is too tangled to use. We’re told the reel was not ours. It belongs to the neighbours.

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23. Three Rivers Camping – Journal Entry 12th Aug 1975

Muchlater

The Three Rivers is a camping area located 18 km north-east of Byfield. It was only accessible by four-wheel drive. Byfield is 67 km north of Emu Park.

Tuesday, 12th Aug 1975

We set off for Camp 5 at 4:30 am. Got bogged at 3 Tracks. Chopped down a stump that was in the way and then got bogged at McNevin’s Crossing. Winched ourselves out; then the winch broke or maybe it disconnected. Made it to 3 Rivers by 9 am.

Carried our stuff over rocks to Camp 5. The packs were heavy and it took 45 minutes. After a quick rest, we returned to the Rover and had lunch while Johnny packed more gear – mainly food and utensils. I had thirty pounds of canned food in my pack, just part of the week’s supply for five.

The tide was high so we had to go over the hills. It would have been a pleasant walk but for our heavy packs:

Marcello had a surfboard.
Gareth had fishing rods.
Karen had kerosene and fishing bag.
Johnny had a very heavy pack of food.
Gita had a heavy pack of food.

Crawled to camp at 1 pm.

Johnny had to make two more trips. The rest of us set up tents and had the fire going for coffee and evening meal.

End of the first day at camp.

Oh yes, I was given a piece of driftwood for my birthday by Johnny.

Wednesday, 13th Aug 1975

Decided to spend the day at camp recovering. It was an ideal camp – low, well-vegetated hills and a medium-sized waterfall with lots of pools at the bottom; lots of firewood nearby for the campfire; many Pandanus trees and three coconut trees. The sand cliffs to the north of us were many coloured – white, orange, yellow and cream. There was a family-sized beach, about ¾ mile long, with rocks at each end.

Went exploring the rocks on the north end of the beach to see what the next bay looked like. Discovered it would have taken ¾ to 1 hour to walk over the rocks. Returned home over the hills because the rocks were too slow to cross.

Attempted a rather steep climb, almost came to a bad end. A gnarled casuarina tree saved me; crawled up the hill and headed for home camp. Crossed wooded areas, dark and mysterious and still; expected wild people to tear me apart. Returned in time for breakfast.

The family went fishing after lunch. Caught the evening’s meal, and a few oysters.

Thursday, 14th Aug 1975

Went to 3 Rivers to repair winch. Washed my hair and explored rivers while Johnny worked. Located ferns, eucalyptus and banksia to take home. Collected driftwood and soil. Ate oysters after lunch.

Returned to camp at high tide. The waves were white and rough against the dark jagged rocks. Many of the rock shelves looked like sets from a spooky film, they had holes, and streaks running out of the holes – as though something horrible had dripped out.

The walk back over the hills was most pleasant this time. Many shrubs were in flower; such strange shrubs with such strangely beautiful flowers. There were many cow tracks – most useful if you don’t know your way over the hills.

The day ended with a rowdy game of Brag and garlic fried peanuts.

Friday, 15th Aug 1975

The kids decided they’d like to spend the day at camp. We had planned a visit to the next beach – possibly an hours walk over the hills.

The sky was overcast, a wind was blowing and so the trip was postponed. I went oystering for two hours, determined to give the family a feast. What a lunch today – oysters fried in oil and vinegar, canned ham, cheese spread, jam and biscuits.

It rained from lunch onwards. So we stayed in the big tent, and read, played cards and had dinner there too. 10 pm and it is still raining, lightly now.

It is a pity it rained all day. Found some white clay and yellow clay. Would have liked to have looked for the sources. Finished book on Coasts & Life on the Seashore.

Saturday, 16th Aug 1975

Found large quantities of grey, white and yellow clay – mainly grey. Looked for four-wheel drive tracks on the hills behind camp. Found them, so Johnny and Marcello brought the Rover to Camp 5! Tremendous, we won’t have to carry our things back to 3 Rivers.

Wildflowers were in bloom on the hillsides’ hardy vegetation, they have to withstand wind and grow in relatively poor soil, so they are low-growing and they flower early.

Didn’t catch fish – caught oysters though; discovered a bed of large-sized ones. Gareth and Karen picked smooth pebbles and bits of glass.

Sunday, 17th Aug 1975

Set out, after an excellent breakfast, to explore the next beach that was ½ an hour over the top of the hills.

Passed a creek with palm ferns growing by the sides, a bush turkey’s nest and Queensland umbrella trees.

So many different trees and shrubs, cool glades of low-branched trees and springy grass. Good cattle tracks to follow. Had to climb one steep hill.

The beach was exciting because it was there, uninhabited and waiting to be explored. Marcello found a glass float straightaway. We picked a ferny coppice, with a creek running through, to have our lunch. In the meanwhile, there was plenty to see and possible treasures to be picked up.

Quite excited by the beauty of the beach and the blue-green glass float. So we decided to press on to the next beach which was another 30-minute walk over the hill. The rocks were impassable in parts.

This time, Karen found a small stoneware jar; shipwrecked with a small mouth. And Marcello found another glass float (a small clear glass one), a cow skull and a wooden packing case. Gareth found a tube that he used as a telescope and a small plastic fishing reel. We returned to the first beach for lunch. After lunch, Marcello caught two big bream. A third, enormous,  according to Marcello and Karen, got away with his line.

The return journey took a while because we went well out of our way. It was slow too because we had no cattle tracks to follow and so had to crash through bushes and over fallen dead trees.

Hot fish curry and oysters for dinner.

Learned many games of Patience over freshly fried peanuts.

Monday, 18th Aug 1975

Took some stuff to Rover. Collected ferns, pandanus, banksia, yellow sand and a few pieces of driftwood. Marcello found another glass float, his 3rd. Shifted more stuff to Rover in the afternoon. Kids played ball near Rover while I collected more plants.

Usual game of cards in the evening. High and dramatic tides, up to edge of beach, lovely moonlight. Cold.

Tuesday, 19th Aug 1975

Packed. Left at 8:30 am. Rough journey to 3 Rivers. Riding along paths at an angle.
Bogged in one of the 3 Rivers!
Water gurgling away, Rover at 45 degree angle while we winched it.
Winch broke, but Rover was out by then.
After several tries, we make it over the sand dunes.

Next excitement was a fire. Right at McNevin’s Crossing where one could get bogged very easily, and where we wanted to have lunch. Fortunately, someone had laid branches to make a neat road across the bog. So we crossed easily and drove fearfully away. The fire was too sinister to encourage loitering.

Oh yes, between Camp 6 and 3 Rivers we had a flat tire. Had to stop several times to tighten the wheel.

A mile away from home, we ran out of petrol. Filled up from the jerrycan and cruised home at 3 pm.

Lots of mail and eggs to greet us.

 

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