Sunday, 18 February 2018

February Rainbow Scrap Challenge Blocks

The Rainbow Scrap Challenge colour and block pattern for February were announced just after we left on our holiday, so I had to wait patiently until we returned to get started.

Firstly, I had to hunt out my purple fabrics.  Like so many others, there was rather slim pickings. I'm  sure I have more purples and am guessing I will find them now that the blocks have been made.  Who'd have thought there were so many types of purple and they don't necessarily play well together.

I'm making the Squared Away Quilt designed by the Academic Quilter and this month's block is "Wishing Ring".

This is the fabrics I ended up selecting.  There were a couple that would have been fine, but I didn't want to cut into a large piece - it is a scrap challenge after all.  The colours are a pretty good representation.  However, the tiny floral on the right has quite a lot of mauve in it, which isn't showing, as well as some blue.  It is a Liberty tana lawn that I've had for years and there were some small squares already cut which were ideal.

When I went to start stitching my machine was playing up a bit.  I thought I'd better have a look under the plate.  Oops!  My Mum taught me to always keep my machine oiled and cleaned, not that newer machines need oiling.  I think I would get a slap on the wrist if she saw this.  A few minutes with the brush and it looked much better and worked just fine.

So, to my finished blocks.  The middle one looks more brown than purple in this photo, but just refer to the photo of the fabric length for the true colour.  When I first looked at them I discovered that I had done the same as last month, I had one of the corner blocks around the wrong way.  Easily fixed.  Here's hoping I get it right first time next month.

My first six blocks have come together well.  Now to wait patiently again for March's installment.

Family and Friends

The beauty of a trip north for us is that we can visit lots of family and friends.  We are fortunate in that we both have family up that way and coincidentally that is where we have some good friends.  All in all a good excuse to go for a drive.

We had the choice of a few roads to travel south and we selected the main coastal highway to start with.  The landscape is so different to what we had been through on the way up.  There were a couple of spots with lots of palms growing wild in the bush.

It wasn't long until we started to see sugar cane.

We turned off the main highway towards our night's destination - Kingaroy.  On the way we followed some lovely fertile valleys with lots of food production.  There were several mango orchards.

Look at that lovely green grass.  There were lots of cattle.  Most were Brahmans, but this herd were Droughtmasters.

As we neared Kingaroy, our destination for the night, the soil turned red and we started to see the crop they are famous for - peanuts.

Any time we pass through Kingaroy we have to call in to the Peanut Van.  Apparently they have been trading from this site since 1969.  We have a few different flavours of nuts to test out.

Our reason to visit Kingaroy was to catch up with some more long term friends.  Mick met Tony and Noreen in the mid 80s when Mick and Tony worked together in a mine in Western Australia, so they have known Mick longer than I have.  It is always lovely to get to see them.

The next day we continued on south, having morning tea at Crows Nest.  We've stopped here on several previous occasions, but had not noticed this memorial in the park before.  Obviously, we hadn't parked on that street before.

The plaque tells the interesting story to the origin of the town's name.

We had lunch with my aunt, uncle and cousin, who live just north of Toowoomba, which was really lovely.  My aunt and uncle live in the retirement village where Kris from Tagalong Teddies works at her grown up job.

It was a very social day, as we had dinner that night with Kris and her beloved Geek Boy, Fiona from BubzRugz and her Dave and Chookyblue's Fairy Girl, who we broke out of school for the evening. It was nice to finally meet Fiona face to face. I had met Kris on a previous visit. Such a pity the evening went so quickly, as there wasn't nearly enough time for chatting.

We were back on the road the next day, heading down the Toowoomba hill back to the coastal areas.

Our destination this time was Kingscliff, on the New South Wales far north coast, where we had dinner with Mick's aunt and uncle.  We were lucky enough to also catch up with one of his cousins and his wife, who we haven't seen for nearly twenty years.

The weather was much more beach like here than it had been further north.

We went for a walk and noticed a fenced off area with this sign.

I was able to zoom in and get a photo of the hen and chicks.  They are bush-stone curlews, which are an endangered species, presumably as they nest on the ground.  It was fun to see them doing fine in the middle of town.

And that was the end of all the socialising.  It really was lovely to see everyone, but it means that our holiday wasn't just chill out time.  That will come another time.  I must say, we did eat VERY well.

Next it was just two more days drive to get back home.  More soon.

Friday, 16 February 2018

The Sunshine State

We've been back home from our trip for a few days now, so it is time to fill you in on the rest of our travels.

I left you last time when we were at Theodore.  As we were getting ready to leave the campground there was a fair bit of activity on the highway, with police cars going through.  We figured that something BIG must be on its way.

Yep!  That is just the cab of a truck on the low loader.  You can see the axles sticking out, so some very BIG wheels still have to go on.

A second truck had the tip tray.

Our destination was Rockhampton.  The photo is a bit foggy.

That's because our arrival broke the drought.  There had been next to no rain since last summer.

The reason for our trip was to attend a party.  It was very colourful, with all the fellows wearing Hawaiin shirts. 

Then to include the girls everyone wore leis.  It really made it fun.

No trip up that way would be complete without a visit to "the beach" as the locals refer to Yappoon.  Not really the usual sand and sunshine.  Due to the super moon they were receiving king tides.  That coupled with the wet, windy weather made it all a bit wild.  It rained out there for most of the time we were in the area.

We were lucky enough to get a break in the weather and get a coffee from "Ruby" the coffee van.  What a cute setting, complete with yarn bombing, bunting and vintage linens made into tablecloths.  Their coffee cups were even customised with artwork featuring Ruby.

There was a juvenile blue faced honeyeater in the trees.  I love seeing birds that we aren't used to.

The obligatory boat photo.

On our last day in the area the weather fined up and we were able to take a photo of the view of the hills from Gary & Linda's verandah.  It is amazing how the countryside responds to even a little rain.

Before we left I even remembered to take a photo of us with our hosts Gary and Linda, who have been friends for many years.  We first met in Sydney waiting to board the Spirit of Tasmania to go to the 2006 Ulysses Club AGM rally.  

Thursday, 1 February 2018

We’re Off Again

I’ve said it before, but we aren’t very good at staying home. Mick picked me up from work at lunch time yesterday and we headed north. 

Our plan, such as it was, was to get as far north as we could, which ended up being Narrabri. It was interesting travelling through the Pilliga Scrup and seeing where the huge bushfire had been. It hadn’t impacted the highway very much but apparently about 60,000 hectares has been burnt.  It is now under control but is not fully out. 

We campled at the Narrabri Showgrounds and arrived just on sunset, which was rather stunning. 

The evening was being built up to be interesting with a “Super Blood Blue Moon”.  “Super” as it was at about its closest orbit to earth, “Blood” because it was going to be a total lunar eclipse and “Blue” as it was the second full ominous in a calendar month. However, the pedants were announcing that daylight saving meant that it was not a Blue Moon in NSW.  Unfortunately, most of the country was under cloud, except the central parts of NSW. Early evening provided is with a wispy Moon.  Rather atmospheric. 

The eclipse happened around midnight with a partial eclipse either side of that time. I hopped up at about 11.30 and saw this much. It’s a poor photo as I had no tripod or stable place to put my camera, but you get the idea. 

We got a nice early start this morning and were greeted by this lovely sight of Mt Kaputar as we continued north. Once again our plan was to get as far as we could. 

There are some fabulous old farm sheds along the way. 

We don’t normally go north at this time of year, so saw some different crops. We are guessing this is milo. 

And the cotton was growing nicely. 

It was nice seeing the area with cloudy skies and the weather was rather pleasant, not nearly as hot as we had anticipated. 

Before we knew it we were in Queensland and made up an extra hour in the day as they don’t have daylight savings. We will have get used to the nights getting dark earlier. We had a nice break in Goondiwindi. 

Over the last several years there has been a huge build up of prickly pear in the north of NSW and well into Queensland. There is even getting to be quite a bit near home. It was a real problem in the early half of last century and seems to be getting that way again. To our surprise, this time when we came through, most of the plants are looking decidedly sick. I don’t know if it is due to biological control, which was used successfully in the past, or sprays. I’m guessing it is some sort of bug, as it is so widespread. 

As we were travelling along, there are long distances between towns and lots of trees beside the road, which are different from  those at home. I know the Myall, Wilga, Cypress Pine and She Oak, but most others are just “Gum Trees”.  I noticed a couple of road signs referring to Brigalow, which of course I had heard of but couldn’t identify, so out came Mr Google on my phone, in the middle of nowhere, and I learnt that we were entering the Brigalow Belt and found several pictures of them. They are the tall trees above with greyish leaves and rough bark and are a member of the acacia family. I’ll have to gradually learn some more, but many look very similar. 

It’s a bit hard to see here but the roads we were on today were in rather poor condition. The surface wasn’t broken, but the roads were very up and down, which was really noticeable when towing the van.  A lot of the way we were only travelling at about 70 kmh. You can see why some vans get out of control. It seems to be the black soil plains where it was at its worst. 

We had a quick lunch in Miles, which we had initially thought would be today’s destination, but we were travelling so well we kept going. 

I love it when we see bottle trees. It makes it feel like we really are in Queensland. 

We went past Wondoan with it huge windmill, we had to take yet another photo of it.

We went past Taroom with its windmill sculpture. This had been our second expected destination but we kept on going again. 

Eventually we even saw some hills and ragged rocks. 

We are now camped on the show ground at the little town of Theodore. We were through here in July and this site was chockerblock full of caravans. Tonight there is one old bus that has been here for some time, going on the grass growing around it, and us! It’s a beaut spot with great amenities. 

This is a great little town. It is well presented and very RV friendly. It is amazing how many cars driving past gave us a wave as we sat out beside the van. 

We decided to have dinner at the pub, which is community owned, and it started to spit rain as we left our campsite to walk to the other end of town (about 2kms). Well,  by the time we got there it was a tropical downpour. I had my brolly, but Mick got wet. At least it wasn’t cold. We had a tasty meal and the rain stopped....until we started to walk back. This time there was thunder and lightning but just steady rain, not a downpour......and as you can guess, it stopped when we got back to the van. I think we were the only two idiots wandering the streets of Theodore in a thunderstorm. 

Tomorrow we will head further north to our final destination.