australia general moosling trip reports

Australia Part 4: The farm and the beach

The stay at my parent’s farm was only a few days. But we got the proper Coleambally experience, with a 38oC day.

The boy was well impressed with fresh peas. He’d even just eat the entire pod, not bothering to shell them first.

Evening walks, when it had cooled down to 30oC, and I could wear the unicorn mask without immediately dying of heatstroke.

We even went into town, where I got to meet up with an old school friend, and our kids were introduced to the joy of running through sprinklers on a hot day.

On the drive back to the farm from town, we came across a burnt out truck – trailers detached and safely unburnt though. I went to take a photo to show Dad, but he was out fighting the fire.

The stay at the farm over to soon, we were headed back towards Melbourne, although first with a detour to the Puckapunyal tank museum – the menfolk were thrilled, I happily napped in the van.

Dinner with old mountaineering club friends! All have offspring, and so they all went off and played together (they didn’t seem to be setting anything on fire at least) while we caught up.

Then it was down to Sorrento for our final night. Taking the boy to a proper beach was good, although it was a typical Australian experience, with the beach covered in bluebottles (aka Portugese man o’war) – a jellyfish-like thing with tentacles that can deliver a painful (and sometimes fatal) sting. Good old Australia.

And the cousins (and brothers) got to spend more time hanging out together, so that was good.

Wonderful, beautiful Australian coastline.

And then the next day was packing, returning the van, and back to the airport and on to the cold, dark Canadian winter.

bikes european bike epic general

the bike ride

The Surly LHT went out for a test ride today, from town back to the farm – a distance of just 45km which seems much further psychologically, but realistically is fairly similar in length to most other segments of 45 kilometres, and so didn’t take much more than two hours, even with my loaded panniers on and an unpleasant headwind.



In the end I got distracted with the riding and did not take many photos. Well, not only distracted with the riding, I also developed a gripping fear of getting catheads (or caltrops, or whatever you want to call them) stuck in my tyres, so I couldn’t leave the road to prop my bike up anywhere, as anywhere that wasn’t road probably had catheads. Not that the road was free of suspicion either. But the reason I was so anxious not to get a puncture is all due to the war of the wills I’m currently engaged in with my cantilever breaks, which I’m learning to hate with a vengeance. Yes I KNOW they’re simple. So simple that the relatively obvious act of un-doing them so you can get the wheel off, or re-connecting them so you have brakes again, seems almost impossibly for me and invariably ends with me wanting to kick them in frustration, but instead I just glare and beg a passer-by to help me.



So all photos were taken while standing over the bike, or while holding the bike with my spare hand. Combined with a fixed 50mm lens to shoot with, photo opportunities were rather limited.



I rode with both front and rear panniers on for the first time, plus the handlebar bag which is really really handy, and I’m not sure why I as so keen on avoiding getting one previously. Probably the fact they tend to look quite dorky, and my bikes have always been far too fashionable to stand bearing such a thing.


the farm





The internet is as slow as the tractor (which doesn’t go at all currently).


they’re selling my town!

Well, not exactly. But sort of.



Currently the government is buying back the water rights from irrigation farms in bits and pieces, and more and more people are selling up their permanent water rights and leaving. Selling water has become more lucrative than farming.

According to a statement, the Prime Minister also recently announced the Government’s intention to work with irrigation communities to buy out water entitlements from areas willing to move out of irrigation, facilitated by a price premium reflecting the value of water savings from closure of infrastructure such as supply channels.

The current chairman of the Irrigation Area has made the suggestion to the Australian Minster for Water that for a grand total of $3.5 billion the government could just buy back the whole town: all the water rights at once combined with compensation to allow everyone in town to take up and leave (now there’s no farming community to support them – which is what’s happening anyway). Part publicity stunt, to point out the affect that the continual loss of water and people is having on farming communities, but also a reasonable suggestion that the government may need to make some difficult decisions about what areas should continue irrigation, rather than allowing the de-irrigation to occur in a random patchwork fashion.

Water scientists, including the late Peter Cullen and Wayne Meyer, the professor of Natural Resource Science at the University of Adelaide, have criticised the piecemeal approach to the water buyback.

Professor Meyer said governments should take the hard decisions to take some areas out of irrigation “and concentrate on making the other areas work very, very productively”.

In the late 1990s, the majority of their income for most people in the area came from rice farming. With 100 percent water allocations that might still be the case. But years of drought have led to seven years of reduced water allocations, hovering around 13 percent now. Not enough to grow rice. Enough to struggle along growing bits and pieces, and spending a lot of time hoping for rain, and having bores drilled so you have enough water to keep your livestock alive.

In the newspapers:
Stock and Land
The Land
The Australian
The Australian (2)


wee cow beasties

visited parents on the weekend. photos from then…