Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Mt Hay Ride

With Christmas on our door, and some time to myself, I chose to ride to Mt Hay. In a previous post ( and others) I have mentioned Mt Banks, Mt Tomah, Perrys Lookdown, Victoria falls and Pierces Pass. All lead into the Grose Valley, and this is no different. Lockleys Pylon is the walking track that leads off the Mt Hay road and will take walkers into the Blue Gum forest.

The ride itself is not difficult, with only a few steep climbs and a fire trail that is well cared for and constant. However, for someone who has had little training, maintaining a steady pace was the order of the day. Mt Hay is accessed off the great Western Highway at Leura. The day was not hot but humid, and New Holland Honey Eaters were a welcome site as too were Yellow Tailed Cockatoos and Rosellas. The bush smelled sweet with a comination of Tea tree and Eucalypt.

After about an hour I was greeted with magnificent views of Mt Banks, Mt Tomah as well as Perrys Lookdown. To the east, distant views of Sydney and Cumberland plains. The weather began to turn and it looked like storms so after a light snack of sutanas, and an apricot bar I set off back. I was greeted by a couple of other mountain bike riders and walkers, keen to take advantage of the Christmas break.

I have to confess the ride towards the end was not easy. I was tired and clearly lacked stamina as a result of a lack of training. All I could think of was Christmas puddings and Turkey.

I was relieved to see the Troopie and load up and return. It was a great Christmas ride. Peaceful and quiet.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Here is a treat. Me, singing a lesser known christmas song...

Thursday, December 18, 2008


Black snake on our deck

Last night I came home to discover a 5 foot black snake on the back lawn. Whilst poisonous they are a slow killer and generally quite timid.

The "Red Belly" hence its name "Red Bellied Black Snake"
Sadly it had been killed by our two terriers. Even more sadly it had bitten one of the dogs which is now at the vets under going anti venom treatment. The needle is $1200.00 plus the vet bill itself.
Small fangs but can be deadly.

I am advised that there is no guarantee the dog will live. If my daughter was not with me at the time I would have advised the vet to put the poor little fellow down. But its Christmas, and he is a great little dog.

I am awaiting the news from the vet either way as I type. The fact is- no poisonous snake is ever 100% safe.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Jeep update

Troopie and Jeep loaded up.
Yesterday I decided to take the Jeep home. I borrowed a car trailer, strapped the jeep to it and away we went. The Troopie towed it well, although the climb up the mountain was slow and steady.

Once arriving home, the trick was to get the Jeep off the trailer. you see, the driveway slopes down hill, and the Jeep has no brakes, so giving it careful consideration I decided that I would use an old technique that is used in very rough terrain.

Reversed into the driveway.
In extreme off road conditions if you lack braking or the terrain is too loose or steep you can turn your engine off, and use the starter motor to turn the engine over.

It kinda goes like this:- 1. Select 4 wheel drive. 2. Place the transfer case in low range. 3. Place the gearbox in 1st or reverse. 4. Do not touch the clutch. 5. Hit the starter motor.
This allows the vehicle to move slowly by using the engine compression as a brake, hand brake and brakes (if you have them).

David learning how the Jeep works.

Hey presto! One Jeep off the trailer safely! What is amazing is just how many people really love the vehicle.

The Jeeps new home.
My neighbours all came over for a few beers and the children really enjoyed it. It even brought a smile to people who don't usually smile! over the Christmas break I will pull the brakes apart and restore them. Stay tuned.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Jeep Update

I got a phone call from the mechanic. " Come and get her, she is ready for rego and you can drive her home..." I have to admit I was very excited, raced over, fitted the trade plate and started her up. She was a little reluctant to crank, but 6 volt systems are like that. However, she soon started and purred smoothly. I thanked the mechanic and drove slowly out onto the street. People seem to like Jeeps, they wave and laugh. I guess it makes them feel good.

As I got more confident I increased the speed and entered the main road. I approached a set of traffic lights and other vehicles. I applied the brakes- nothing. I pulled the handbrake- nothing. I hit the pedal again- nothing as it remained on the floor. Fortunately I had the sense to crash back through the gears, swerved to avoid the cars and stalled her onto the footpath. Needless to say the mechanic has not returned my calls. I am thankful no one was injured. The mechanic? He will no longer receive any business from me.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

A day on Sydney Harbour

40 Baskets Beach. Sydney Harbour.

Every year I invite about 20 of our corporate guests to have a conference and discuss the fleet market. We have lunch at Nicks Seafood restaurant at Darling Harbour and then spend some time on the boat.

Our boat- 50 ft Key West Moored on the far left.
At high tide, it will not fit under the Pyrmont Bridge because of the communication aerials and fishing out riggers.

Its a pleasant way to spend a day. But rather than show you the photos of a sunny Opera house I thought I would show you a different perspective on the harbour. At sunset.

Even at night in unsettled conditions Sydney Harbour is a beautiful place to be.

Sunset, as a storm approaches, just prior to all the lights being switched on.

Cockle Bay.

A few minutes later, same buildings but with the lights now on taken from the back of the boat. I always look forward to this day each year as we get busier heading towards Christmas.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Caterpillar D7G

This is a Caterpillar D7G Track Loader, (Bull dozer), fitted with ROPS, rear rippers and a coal blade. If you look carefully around you can see the other equipment I have for auction. Part of my job is to keep the machines running and I enjoy having a coffee whilst warming the engines up. This unit runs a 3208 Cat diesel, and is quite powerful. As a government unit it is well serviced and would make an ideal machine for a large farm or as a tidy up unit. AS you can see I enjoy my job!!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Jeep Pt3

This week, with a fresh battery,fuel, oil and grease it was time to see if she would start. I had no expectation when we hit the ignition. The Jeep sprang into life immediately! Amazing! She simply sat there purring away as if she had never been silent for all those years.

The clutch was a bit "sticky" and the starter motor "lazy". We switched her off and have taken the starter motor out to be reconditioned...

Stay tuned, as there will be a video of this historic event. Then I can dress up like these lunatics and drive to the bottle shop/cafe!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Mountain Ride

Having not ridden for 3 months it was time to dust off the bike and head out for some fresh air and exercise. The ride? Familiar. How did I fair? Not too bad considering the lack of fitness.

The trees and shrubs were in full blossom and the track was hard and quick. It was not too long before I was enjoying an energy bar at my favorite look out. New holland honey eaters, and black faced couckoo shrikes flitted amongst the tress whilst bell minors echoed in the cooler sections of bush.

The whole atmosphere reminded me of this poem

Bellbirds by Henry Kendal 1869

By channels of coolness the echoes are calling,
And down the dim gorges I hear the creek falling:
It lives in the mountain where moss and the sedges,
Touch with their beauty the banks and the ledges.
Through breaks of the cedar and sycamore bowers
Struggles the light that is love to the flowers;
And, softer than slumber, and sweeter than singing,
The notes of the bell-birds are running and ringing.
The silver-voiced bell birds, the darlings of daytime!
They sing in September their songs of the May-time;
When shadows wax strong, and the thunder bolts hurtle,
They hide with their fear in the leaves of the myrtle;
When rain and the sunbeams shine mingled together,
They start up like fairies that follow fair weather;
And straightway the hues of their feathers unfolden
Are the green and the purple, the blue and the golden.

October, the maiden of bright yellow tresses,
Loiters for love in these cool wildernesses;
Loiters, knee-deep, in the grasses, to listen,
Where dripping rocks gleam and the leafy pools glisten:
Then is the time when the water-moons splendid
Break with their gold, and are scattered or blended
Over the creeks, till the woodlands have warning
Of songs of the bell-bird and wings of the Morning.

Welcome as waters unkissed by the summers
Are the voices of bell-birds to the thirsty far-comers.
When fiery December sets foot in the forest,
And the need of the wayfarer presses the sorest,
Pent in the ridges for ever and ever
The bell-birds direct him to spring and to river,
With ring and with ripple, like runnels who torrents
Are toned by the pebbles and the leaves in the currents.

Bell Minor (Please note:- not my photo)

Often I sit, looking back to a childhood,
Mixed with the sights and the sounds of the wildwood,
Longing for power and the sweetness to fashion,
Lyrics with beats like the heart-beats of Passion; -
Songs interwoven of lights and of laughters
Borrowed from bell-birds in far forest-rafters;
So I might keep in the city and alleys
The beauty and strength of the deep mountain valleys:
Charming to slumber the pain of my losses
With glimpses of creeks and a vision of mosses.

I think my love of the mountains is summed up in those last few lines.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Jeep Pt 2

The work has begun! The boys washed, polished and cleaned the Jeep today. Its looking very good. A few things are missing, small items that will be easy to find and replace. For example, the eyes that are used to secure the windscreen in the down position. Its only a minor detail, but its in the detail that makes all the difference..

As you can see from this shot, the dash is quite original too, with only the blinker switch and choke knob are later additions. If you look closely at the floor on the passenger side, you will see some surface rust on the floor. Again with modern rust killing agents and a coat of paint, it will be back to original.

One of the good things is that the manufacturers plates are still located on the glove box lid. This gives you the year model and who made it... Either Ford or Willys.

She has not been registered since 1976, and not driven for 5 years. Today I found that the original plates, (which are still on the car), were available for re- registration and so I placed the order. These will be ready in three weeks. A rare find after 30 years in hiding....

On Monday it will be taken by Tilt tray to the mechanic who will perform a full service, and provide the safety inspection report for registration purposes. It will seem funny to drive a car with no seat belts, no air bags, no doors and no roof! fun in fact!

I hope, that over the next few weeks I will locate the roof and she will look like this one:-

This is a full winter roof set up. There are many variations eg canvas 1/2 doors and a roof with no curtains etc...

So after a few weeks of stress I am finally enjoying the Jeep as a distraction...stay tuned!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Is it getting better?
Or do you feel the same?
Will it make it easier on you now,
If you got someone to blame?

You said:-One love(hate), one life (death),
When its one need,
In the night.
One love, we get to share it,
Leaves you baby if you don't care for it.

Did I disappoint you?
Or leave a bad taste in your mouth?
You act like you never had love,
You want me to go without.

Well its too late, tonight,
To drag the past out into the light.
We are one but we are not the same,
We get to carry each other, carry each other.

Have you come here for forgiveness?
Have you come to raise the dead?
Have you come here to play jesus,
To the lepers in your head?

Did I ask too much? More than a lot.
You gave me nothing, now its all I got...
We're one , but we are not the same,
We'll we hurt each other and do it again

You said "Love is a temple",
"Loves a higher law."
Loves is a temple,
Love the higher law.

You ask me to enter and then you make me crawl.
Well I can't be holding on,
To what you got,
When all you got is hurt.

One Love, one life.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


Look at what I have just bought! A 1944 Willys Jeep. Fantastic History. Belonged to a well known car dealer for 30 years and sat in his Ford showroom on display, moving later to his Jeep showroom.

It is complete, and very original. I am going to spend sometime preparing it to drive again. This will require and oil change, and freshening up the engine with a service..I think it will be both exciting and fun!

Sorry for the lack of posts but I have been flat out....

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Perhaps one of the most beautiful places I know is Paris and I try to visit it as often as I can. I love the food, the buildings and its "feel". For such a major city it seems to have a laid back approach to itself. Shops open when they want, and people seems to be on "afternoon shift", Life revolves around food, wine and shops.

I like this. This trip was about living as Parisians do, visiting my doctors and exploring new and interesting places, as well as catching up on friends.

Now I have a confession:- I love the film Ratatouille! AND I was surprised to find a window exactly as it is in this film. You see its a window of a rat catcher!! Amazing!!

BUT, not only did I find the exact window which exists, but I also found a guy sitting alone in a Brasserie, that looks EXACTLY like the food critic in the film!

On a serious note there are some really attractive buildings and places in Paris too.

Sadly this trip was far too short. I hope that I will be back sooner rather than later!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Melbourne Botanical Gardens

Melbourne Skyline

Another feature of Melbourne is its Botanical Garden. Generous in size, it has a number of features and walks that are enjoyable. On this walk I spotted Common Blackbird, Red Wattlebird and Bell Miner. Soon the path descends towards the lakes and swamps. These were a part of the Yarra river system and still provides a haven for bird life. Dusky Moorhen, Chestnut Teal and Australasian Grebe were found.

Common Blackbird

Further on I spotted Eurasian Tree Sparrow, Basian Thrush, and Superb Fairy Wren. The park is never crowded and there is always a sunny spot to sit and enjoy the views and trees. Each corner unique.

Purple Swamp Hen on the run

After about 5km and a few hours I returned to the apartment.

Birds Spotted:- Common Blackbird, Red Wattlebird, Bell Miner, Eurasian Tree Sparrow, Dusky Moorhen, Superb Fairy Wren, Basian Thrush, Brown Thornbill, Chestnut Teal, Yellow Rumped Thornbill, Spotted Turtle Dove, Australasian Grebe.

Sunday, August 3, 2008


The Melbourne Skyline

This week I am in Melbourne, with its wide boulevard's, beautiful parks, fine restaurants and interesting buildings. It was fashioned after my favorite city, Paris, and once you know that, you can gain an appreciation for what makes it so great. Beautiful bridges, the river, the art gallery...I could go on.

Black Swans

Today I chose to do some bird watching around Albert Park Lake. Some of my overseas friends might know it- it plays host to the F1 Grand Prix. A very nice park indeed. It was once swampland and was reclaimed. On weekends you will find people sailing, at restaurants, jogging, picnicing, and biking along its shores.

Great Egret

The walk is only about 6 km from the apartment and around the lake. Immediately I was encouraged to find Black Swan, Coot and Swamp Hen. Walking in an anti clockwise direction I was further pleased to find Hard Head Duck, Pacific Black Duck and Little Pied Cormorant.

Hard Head Duck

A Great Egret was making use of a glass panel to be protected from the wind which was blowing quite strongly. Welcome Swallows flew in and out across the water and further on I spotted a Shell Duck, Little Wattle Birds as well as Noisey Minors and Rainbow Lorikeets. The Variety was impressive.

St Kilda Road.

Still further and there were Long Billed Corellas, and Black Winged Stilts, Plovers and Pied Cormorants. It is clear to me that the lake is alive and very healthy. Tomorrow I will walk to the botanical gardens for more bird spotting. Who Knows what I will find!!

Bird list:- Australian Magpie, Australian Magpie ( southern form), Grey Butcher Bird, Pied Butcherbird, Common Bronzewing, King Parrot, Galah, Currawong, Noisy Minor, Crested Pigeon, Wedge Tailed Eagle, Little Eagle, Nankeen Kestral, Australian Hobby, Straw Necked Ibis, Royal Ibis, Sulphur Crested cockatoo, Pee Wee, Willy Wagtail, Black Swan, Coot, Swamp Hen, Silver Gull, Hard Head Duck, Pacific Black Duck, Little Pied Cormorant, Great Egret, welcome swallow, Shell Duck, Little Wattle Bird, Rainbow Lorikeets, Pied Cormorant, Long Billed Corella, Plover, Black Winged Stilt, Little Raven, Australian Raven, Common Starling, Common Myna.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Tip.

Troopie loaded ready for the tip

Having received some emails from friends asking me what I did on the weekend, I thought I would blog about the "dull bits." Saturday I worked ( yawn), and Sunday I went to the tip. Where I live is right next to a National Park, and our home has large turpentine trees, tree ferns and a large garden. Every 4 weeks I have to clean the gutters, trim, rake, and take a trailer load of clippings to the tip. The garden produces SO much clippings I have run out of space to mulch.

The garden

One of the things I enjoy about the garden and this time of year are the birds. We have a new pied Butcher bird in the area and watching them fight is amazing. Exactly like eagles! They lock talons and fall to the earth! The new one is a rusty colour and quite a personality.

Mr Kookaburra looks on with disgust as I clean the gutter!

Anyway, after working all day, I load the trailer and we are off to the tip. The trip is uneventful, but is is VERY important when you arrive at the tip that you can reverse a trailer properly. Of course we did so....

The tip face.

After unloading, its thumbs up and we are off back home.... where I spent 2 hours cleaning the BBQ. So, it's 10 hours all up.....no wonder I feel rooted.

Dave gives the thumbs up....

Anyway, the BBQ looked SO clean and new but it was TOO cold &I did not use it!


And thats all

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Coolah Tops National Park

One of the most pleasant parks in NSW is Coolah Tops. Gazetted as a park in 1996 it was once logged for its timbers. A pleasant 3-4 hour drive via Mudgee/Gulgong and the township of Coolah, it sits high in the ranges west of Barrington Tops. For others, a drive north to Singleton/Merriwa is ideal and again the country side is stunning. A rich sheep grazing region and either direction will take you through wonderful wine making regions of Mudgee or the Hunter.

The road in and feral goats!

The park itself is well sign posted, and the road is easy and pleasant. Dirt, and well maintained, a standard family sedan will do it easy in the dry.
The road climbs steadily through farmland. Here we were greeted by fox, rabbit, goats, (in fact they were huge!), sheep and a variety of Wallaby and Wallaroos. Wallaroos are not a Kangaroo nor a Wallaby. In fact they are black and very heavy set..More like a rugby hooker in dimensions!
A wedge tailed eagle was spotted swooping into the goat population. Clearly chasing a meal, and using the thermals to glide effortlessly above them.

Heavy timbered areas.

Bird life abounds- Turquoise parrot, Eastern Rosella, as well as Wood Ducks and the usual Australian Magpies were abundant.
After a few km you reach the top and enter the park itself. Heavily timbered, it is like an oasis in the middle of farmland. Sulphur Crested Cockatoos screeched overhead in response to Black Kites also rising on thermals.

The nice thing about this park is the camping areas. An abundance of fireplaces and fire wood PLUS the fact that you can park your vehicle right were you camp makes it fantastic. Most national parks have fencing, preventing the vehicles being parked in the camping areas...

Setting up!

We chose Coxes Creek campsite, and we had it all to ourselves. But there are plenty of other campsites to chose from.
We soon had a fire started and David and I cooked a meal of baked beans, frankfurters and grated cheese- camp food at its best! For desert, plum pudding with a cup of tea.

Plenty of fire wood and a warm fire!

As the sun set wallabies began to graze around us, and sugar gliders leaped from tree to tree. Frankly the bush was very noisy!
By 8.30 the temperature plummeted and even though the fire was roaring, its was not long before we got into our accommodation.

Wallabies abound! (get it?? a-bound)

At dawn and awakened by the parrots, we had breakfast and set out on the mountain bikes north to the lookout. A pleasant easy grade ride through tall timber, and tall grass tree forests.. These seemed a reminder of years gone by.
After a few km, we are greeted by one of the best views. David certainly said he added it to his list of "Best Ever." On returning we spotted White Browed Tree creeper, Eastern Yellow Robin and Yellow Thornbill.

David and the incredible views to the north!

On the other side of the park is a superb water fall, again an easy walk to the viewing platforms, we spotted White Throated Tree Creeper and Hooded Robin as well as hearing the sounds of tree frogs.
One of the other nice things about this park is that it is a clear example of just how well managed our State Forest regions are. A distinct lack of weeds and pests, well maintained roads plus all the wildlife is proof to me that they are in better shape than many of the parks under lock and key of NSW National Parks. However, Mudgee National Parks office continues to maintian the park to a high standard. My only concern was the feral goats right up against the parks fence line.. I phoned the office and they admitted that some of the local farmers were a bit of a problem.

Incredible Grass trees.

Later that day we returned to the troopie, packed and drove home, reflecting on a great weekend. I cannot stress too highly just how enjoyable this park really is, for walking, riding, birding and reflecting...

The falls.

Both bikes performed really well. Davids Giant Iguanna equipped with Judy front forks and the Cannondale Prophet were both reliable, fast and fun!

Birds spotted :- Australian Magpie, Kookaburra, Pee Wee, Pied Butcher Bird, Wedge Tailed Eagle, Wood Duck, Nankeen Kestrel, Grey Butcher Bird, Galah, Sulphur Crested Cockatoo, White Winged Chuffs, Eastern Rosella, Turquoise Parrot, King Parrot, Crested Pidgeon, Eastern Yellow Robin, Brown Tree Creeper (black backed form), Yellow Rumped Thornbill, Brown Thornbill, White Throated Tree Creeper, Hooded Robin (female), Welcome Swallow, Black Kite, Black Shouldered Kite, Straw Necked Ibis, Australian Pelican, Willy Wagtail, Noisey Miner, Bell Miner, Common Starling, Black Currawong, Australian Raven.

Wildlife spotted:- Sugar Gliders, Red-backed Wallabies, Eastern Grey Kangaroos, Wallaroos, Red fox, Rabbits, Feral Goats, Feral sheep.

Road kill spotted:- Wombat, Kangaroo, Australian Magpie, Kookaburra, Rabbit, Fox, Hare, Sheep.