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Posts Tagged ‘Patchegal’

I could trace the lines of the fences that crisscross this land with my eyes closed and listen to the sounds of the pink and grey galah’s as they sit amongst the stubble paddock, feeding on dropped wheat grains hidden in the dirt and basking in the evening sun.

I have committed to memory the roads which lie within these fences.  The rustic red tracks that are the veins of this land.  Roads that can be seen covered in footsteps and hooves or imprinted by the tyre tracks of the farm vehicles – utes, motorbikes, tractors. Each impression recalling a story of history past. Yet often too they are manicured by the blowing winds, erasing all traces, as if nothing has ever passed. Tonight is one of those nights.

The wind overnight has blown away all impressions of yesterday and our tyre tracks from last nights drive have disappeared as if it had never happened.  Tonight is a new night and I get to create a new story.

With one foot in front of the other my journey begins.   The sun is still high and with my sunglasses on I begin my brisk walk.

The first hill is always sandy and I leave divots where my shoes have broken the wind swept earth. I can’t say that they are footprints, my toes have sunk too deep as I push back into the sand causing more of a stepping stone effect.  Beyond the first hill, the double iron gates leading into the tank paddock, known simply by this name due to the concrete cement structure that stands proud on the hill in the distance.  It feeds water via the underground pipelines to the water troughs in this and the neighboring paddocks. Standing tall and watching over the once golden paddocks and knowing too that they need rain. The gates signal a change in the ground and road becomes more compact. But it is not for long.

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My iPhone app tells me it’s time to jog. It is not something I normally do, preferring more to walk, but its a New Years resolution to learn to run. Slowly at first the road appears to disappear beneath my feet, and then slightly quicker.  This road runs parallel with the fence line to my left and I keep my eyes straight on the road ahead, seeing only as far to the sides as my preferential vision will allow.

“And brisk walk.”

My heart rate is up but the land before me still amazes me.  The gateway leading into Lynch’s paddock is open to my left and a murder of crows scatters from around the water trough at the sound of my footsteps..

“Lets jog.”

The 90 second intervals of jogging amongst the two minutes of walking are beginning to become routine after almost 10 nights.  Again the road passes beneath my feet. This time the hill is barren and windswept. It is good because it is hard, but difficult because the wind erosion has caused numerous potholes, large and small and the wrong placement of a foot could result in an rolled ankle.  Just one more hill and then it will be flat ground.  I can see it in the distance.

“And walk”

I love the blueness of the sky. It is bright and a stark contrast to the red dirt and golden stubble that lies beneath. A single jet stream leaves two lines across the blue canvas, a simple reminder that our lives carry on unknown to many, both near and far.

“Lets jog.”

With each jogging step I’m aiming for those next gates. For the road that is flat. For that road which is harder under foot. It gets closer and closer but with the words ‘“brisk walk” I fall 10 steel posts short of the gates.  I will walk through them.

The steel posts that hold up the wire fence to my left have become my distance gauge.  The fewer there is to the intersecting fence line that meets the road, the more distance I am gaining with every training session. I know it’s mind over matter and my app tells me my stats at the end of the session, but it’s simply my competitive streak.IMG_3548

Through the gates and into Kingies.  The site of the old house block is still peppered with cactus plants and the tall gum trees line the old house yard.  Across from it a broken down windmill stand.  It’s spokes all long fallen off and the tank that it once pumped water to, a bent and corrugated mess below.  This is my half-way point goal. But I’m not there yet.

“Lets jog.  Congratulations you are halfway there.”

With the windmill still ahead of me I turn my back to it and begin my journey home, retracing my steps from not so long ago.  The sun has now begun to set and it’s warm rays beat down on my back allowing my shadow to run in front of me.  Now I have a running partner I can keep up with.

“Brisk walk”

I know that my running distances are becoming shorter as the session wears on, but it still feels good.  How could it not? I am surrounded by fresh air and the only sounds are those of my breathing, my feet pounding the ground and the chatter of the birds as they too enjoy the evening sun.

“Lets jog.”

This is it Janine.  This is the last run session of the program. You can do it. They are the words I tell myself as I push on.  The crows that I scared earlier have returned and are now sit on the barbed wire fence, just up from the gate into Lynch’s paddock. They are all facing away from me and now with me running into the slight breeze they do not hear me until I have passed.  With a flutter some of them fly off but the remainder realise I have gone and no longer pose a threat to them.

“Brisk walk.”

The setting sun creates a golden glow across the paddock and its like it has become alive. It’s a beautiful time of night. A couple of  rabbits dart from beneath a clump of straw and head straight through the larger squares at the bottom of the fence and under a peppercorn tree, presumably back to its burrow for the night.

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“Time to cool down.”

That’s it almost for another session.  Now just to pass back through that first set of double gates and back over that hill to the barn where I started.  To my left now the tank on the hill is casting a long shadow as the sun dips lower into the evening and the colours of the sky turn to red to match the dirt beneath my feet. Ahead of me the final hill and beyond that the trees surrounding Mum’s house.

As I start to climb the hill I follow in the earlier foot divots, they make it easier to push through the sandy track and I leave only a single track behind me in the sand. It reminds me slightly of imprints on a sandune, just on a much smaller scale.

As my session comes to an end and the trainer on my app announces “Congratulations, I knew you could do it.” I have circled back past the barn happy to have completed another session and happier still that I have managed to run/walk a further distance than the last session.

Now to enjoy this sunset.

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Bush fires have been burning in the Grampians 3 hours south of us since the weekend, but with a slight northerly wind overnight on Monday, you wouldn’t have been alone thinking that fires were burning a lot closer to home Tuesday morning.

As the haze crept over Hotter’s hill and towards our house early in the day I admit I was slightly paranoid given recent events and did undertake a couple of drive-by’s to make sure that there wasn’t any closer fire activity that we had to worry about.

With the smokey haze still hanging as the sun set, my niece and I took a drive around the farm in an attempt to capture some of the eeriness of the day…  At times the Sun blazed red and then it suddenly disappeared and only the haze remained………..

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I have come to realise that sometimes you just have to stop.

You have to stop living the fast paced life that you live. You have to cherish every moment and you have to live. You have to take the time to ‘smell the roses’ as they say.. take the time to enjoy.

Recently I was in Las Vegas for the wedding of my friends, Tannis and Dave (watch for post to come) and decided that sometimes there is more to Las Vegas than just the neon lights and high rolling gambling tables (yes there is also awesome premium outlet shopping too).  But the ‘more’ that I’m talking about is the beautiful nature that lies within the desert not to far from Sin City.  The beautiful, amazing ‘Valley of Fire‘.

I won’t lie.  When most people think of Las Vegas they think of The Grand Canyon and I did too the first time I went there.  But some other friends had also told me about the Valley of Fire.  A smaller park not to far from Vegas that was full of stunning red rocks and simply one hell of an amazing drive.

Given that I had been to Vegas twice before and this time I was staying for a week. I didn’t fancy my chances of enjoying the full week on the strip so I suggested to Fi that perhaps we get out-of-town one day and take a road trip.    Well, plus there was the added incentive of this:

Living Life

Who says you can’t live the life of luxury in Vegas.. after all, what happens in Vegas…..

Quite simply our day was truly amazing. I flick back over all the photographs and am still amazed that I have been lucky enough to have witnessed such amazing scenery and I live in awe that landscapes such as this. In such an unknown place exist.

I am simply grateful for the opportunities, the sights and the ability to be able to enjoy such amazing landscapes..

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Enjoying the ‘Bubbles’ within Lake Minnewanka

Winter.  What an amazing time of year to be in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Lots of snow, plenty of ice and amazing frozen lakes.

Apart from venturing onto Lake Louise on Christmas Day (very cautiously too I might add), I’ve always stayed away from frozen ponds, lakes and rivers for the simple fact that ‘you just never know’.  But last year after a morning cross-country skiing a friend of ours told us about the amazing beauty of Lake Minnewanka (pronounced Minn-a-wonka, by all Canadian‘s) and how the majority of snow had been blown off the top and you could clearly see the bubbles frozen in time.

It’s amazing how something so simple can be so beautiful and amazing, and yet so terrifying at the same time.

Coming from a country that could quite possibly boil water on a hot day, you must forgive me for being a tad resistent when it comes to stepping out onto the ice, even if it is 12-14 inches thick!

The cracks that criss-cross across the face of the ice and the ‘warbling-cracking’ sound that can be only described as eerie and daunting almost cause you to hold your breath.  Knowing that the further you step out, the further you are from the shore and the further you are from safety.

But it truly is amazing.

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Ink Pots, Banff National Park

Without doubt I think that the self timer on a camera is the BEST invention.  Without it I would not have a million photo’s of me in random, beautiful places.

Living in Calgary in summer is the best of both world (if I could ski or board.. it might almost be the best of both worlds in winter too.. but alas, I am destin to have BOTH feet planted firmly on the ground).  Monday to Friday, 9 – 5 you have an awesome job, the city is alive every night with people on patio’s socializing and when Friday comes, it’s only 20 minutes and your out of the city and into the beautiful rocky mountains and the millions of hikes, trails and spectacular views.

I admit, my hiking experience is less than high.. and definitely on the shorter side as far as trails go, but I’m glad to say that there have been a couple that I have managed to conquer whilst I have been here, and MANY more that I will have to come back and do.. By far one of the best was definitely the Ink Pots at Johnson’s Canyon.

I was first introduced to Johnson’s Canyon on a cooling spring day in October 2010 by my new-found Canadian friend, Lori, and her husband Mark (and beautiful daughter Ellie).  It holds a very special place in their hearts and I was honoured that they wanted to share this with me.  So in July 2011 I decided that I wanted to explore further past the touristy lower falls.

Simply being away from the millions of tourists visiting the lower and upper falls at the start of the trail is blessing enough, but when you find yourself finally through the trees and into the open field, surrounded by spectacular mountain views.. and of course the ever-changing colours of the ink pots.  The 5.8km hike is so so SO worth it.. and once again I was in awe..

how could you not be?

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Ree and Jono double checking the tubes to make sure we were all set to go!

Sept 2010 –

For some people being away from family can be a blessing.. for others like me.. it’s a tad harder.

Yes there are always exciting things to tell them, but it’s always hard being that person living so far away when something exciting (or mundane) happens back home that you miss out on.

Thankfully for me I had Ree and Jono just down the road from me in Florida.. ok, well it wasn’t ‘quite’ just down the road.  It was still 4,477 kms away (according to google maps), but it was definitely a lot closer than the family back home. So in September 2010 I diverted via Las Vegas to Orlando and was met at the airport by not only Ree and Jono, but also ‘bump’.

With only 6 weeks between us in age and being cousin’s, Ree and I were pretty much inseparable growing up. Plus being the only girl in my family and practically living at her house when Mum and Dad were in Melbourne for Dad’s treatment meant that Ree was the closest thing that I had to a sister – so really visiting with them really was being with family.

Ree and Jono had been living in Gainesville for a couple of years so it was good to have some personal guides for the 7 days.  Being a University city (Go Gators Go!!) there wasn’t too many touristy things to do ‘downtown’, so after exploring Paynes Prairie in the morning in search of Alligator’s on the Saturday, Ree and Jono decided that we should tube down the Ichetucknee River.

Yes.  Tube down a river in a state that is WELL known for its Alligators!!.. I was slightly skeptical to say the least, but they both told me that I had nothing to worry about and that it would be a relaxing afternoon.. agh they were so right (except for those damn water snakes!!).

So after stopping along the road to collect our tubes, we hit the Ichetucknee Springs State Park, untied our tubes from the roof of the car, walked to the river and launched ourselves for an afternoon of ‘floating ‘.  It is one of the many occasions that I wish that my small point and shoot camera was waterproof.  The water was crystal clear and you could see EVERYTHING .. small fishes, the protected reeds, fallen trees… and I swear (Jono) small water snakes.  Thankfully though no Gators!!.

I couldn’t think of a more perfect way to enjoy our surroundings and being together than simply floating down the river on a sunny day, catching up on lost time and being with those that you love.

Of course the true highlight of the trip was just spending time with Ree and Jono and getting excited with them about the impending arrival later that year of ‘bump’.. now known as Master Jedadiah James.

I can’t wait to get home to Australia and visit them again.. after all young little Jed will almost be two .. and two years  is just a tad too long not to see your bestfriend..

and yes.. I couldn’t write this post without adding a second photo 🙂

Ree and I in St Augustine, Florida

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Enjoying some quite time at Lake Agnes

May 22, 2010 – Rocky Mountain Road Trip Time!!..

Everyone loves a road trip.  Well I do and the May long weekend marked the first time that I would be hitting the road alone in Canada.

To me this meant hiring a car (yes, renting for all you Canadian’s – RAY!!) and escaping the rat race and seeing as much as my blue eyes would allow me  to take in over the three days.

Now I admit that my initial planning was a bit way-laid.  I’d had a thought that I might like to drive to Jasper for the weekend. Enjoy some of the stunning scenery and see just how spectacular these rocky mountains really are.  After all I knew that the short Greyhound bus ride from Calgary to Banff in late March was really only a teaser of things to come.

I arrived early enough at Lake Louise to be able to enjoy the sights without the flood of tourists.  It was still spring and a little bit of snow was still on the ground BUT the lake was pretty much still FROZEN!.. I admit I was shocked!..

a. it was May

b. it was a big enough lake, how could it be frozen!; and

c. I’d only ever seen the ‘beautiful emerald’ water that everyone raves about – again I have learnt something new.

I’d planned to walk the shoreline of the lake.  Enjoy simply being outside and being in this magical place, but en route I passed a trail head that said ‘Lake Agnes Tea House – 3.8km‘ and I knew I just had to do it. I’d grown up with the lure of ‘Lake Agnes’ being on my doorstep back home on the farm in Patchewollock.. the difference was that it has been dry for hundreds if not thousand’s of years, plus didn’t Catriona Rowntree from Getaway do this hike not that long ago.. it looked easy when she did it! So I saddled up my backpack and hit the trail.

The first couple 100m of the trail were steady-going, a slight incline all the way and spectacular views of the lake below.  It was beautiful.  After the first switch back the heart began to beat faster and the realisation that I was going 1,204 feet in 3.8km, with altitude hit me.. WHAT WAS I THINKING.. I was from the mallee and pretty much sea level.  But I had started and I wasn’t stopping.

The higher I got, the more snow on the ground and colder it become (a  lesson that I learnt very early on – always pack for every condition). But the views of the valley below were spectacular.. plus, when I got to the top I could enjoy a nice hot chocolate in the tea house, right.

Little did I know that the tea house didn’t open until June 1st!.. What.  I was like a week too early. So instead I enjoyed my lunch and nice cold drink on the rocks by a thawing Lake Agnes, simply staring at this amazing place and ‘Remember(ing) to Breathe’. It was only day one!.

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