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    > 2002





<!-- April 19, 2003 -->


Woke up to tea and pikelets (as they call small pancakes) and a houseful of rambunctious Plains and Pooles.

Slept warmly in the house, while others slept in the shed. And I was thankful for it, too, since my sleeping bag is NOT the warmest on the planet. But I even had a thick duvet cover on top of my sleeping bag. Ooooh, I loooove being warm.

Just as would happen at home, the respective mothers rushed around, getting everyone up and fed.

Then it was time.

Pete called everyone together with the plan. He assigned everyone their position, their method of transportation, their job. Then we were off to "muster" the sheep.

I started off in the 4WD SUV - a necessary vehicle out here - and ended up in the back of the pickup. I had to hold down the sheep in the back - the wayward ones they had to wrestle to the ground. I even "drenched" a couple!

Jan and her sister, Kathy, came with "tea" at noon. Fruit, cookies, tea, jam rolls. Yum.

Then we mustered the next round of sheep and I helped this time, instad of just holding them down. I was on foot, but the rest of the clan were on ATVs ("quads" they call them), motorbikes, push bikes, ponies, or trucks.

After going back to Turonfels for a proper lunch, Jan was determined to get me to Sofala, a small, old-fashioned gold mining village. Now, Sofala has a few antique stores, a sweet shop where we got lovely gelato, a slow cafe, a tacky tourist shop and a busy pub with all the locals lounging outside, staring at passersby. Jan took me for a peak at the pub while all the slack-jawed locals craned their necks for a glimpse of us.

Jan laughed, "It takes you back hundreds of years."

Reminded me of Cookstown, ON, a bit.

We got back to Turonfels just as the sun was setting. Pete pulled the pick up around and took me kangaroo hunting. We went out in the back, driving about, and saw about 6 or 7 hopping away. It was incredible! They're so fast! Pete also told me about the fir forest he'd cultivated and hewn down for money. He showed me a huge white ant (termites) hill. And finally, he showed me where he penned up the rams and hy they sleep at the highest point every night (it's warmer there; it gets very cool in the valley).

We headed back when it was too dark to see the kangaroos - just in time for dinner. Ate too much (again) and then went out to the huge bonfire they'd set and watched Greg Poole set off firecrackers.

Pete showed me the constellations; Southern Cross, Orion, Jupiter (he thinks). I know more about Australia's constellations than North America's.

The Southern Cross is interesting because if you can recognize it (and its pointer) and extend two lines from them, the meeting point shows you where south is. There, you learned something new.

Quite the Australian weekend.

More eating than I ever needed to do. Lots of writing in my journal. Lots of talking, feeling like a bother, but also like a member of the family. Laughing at the jokes about the forgotten meat, the lost firecrackers, the trouble finding easter eggs... family is the same everywhere, really.

my journal

Related stories: April 18th:
Eucalyptus trees

My idiocy that passed for "packing"

Bill Bryson's In a Sunburned Country