Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

The Normanton Bush Races

On 24th September 2011, we managed to be in Normanton at the same time as the annual Stingers Bush Races (third time lucky, right?). The Stingers are the Normanton football team, and it is a massive fundraising day for them.

This humungus event sees everyone frocking up and heading into Normanton from all over the place – other towns & states, the Sunshine Coast :), and surrounding stations.

We didn’t pay too much attention to the actual horse races (which were 200m sprints down the track), as we were too busy socialising…and winning the prettiest hat award! Yes, you read correctly – I won the prettiest hat award. My prize was a $100 voucher, a purple sash that I almost wore pig shooting the next day, and some beautiful flowers. I ended up being happy that hubby bullied me into going up on the platform to be judged.

After the final horse race, most people change into something more comfortable (I’m talking jeans, boots and a shirt here!) and walk over to the arena for barrel racin’ and bull ridin’ events. We drove the 4WD up to the arena fence and watched the action from the comfort of our car, like a true local.

Hubby was asked to be the official photographer for the day, which he enjoyed. He even almost got knocked off his perched position on the fence by a wayward bull. The things he’ll do for the perfect shot. The locals only laughed. His photos will go in the paper and on the official website for the bush races. Here is a glimpse of his work –

A Brand New Invention!

I am so proud of my hubby – he has come up with a brand new invention!

While my sister-in-law and I were lying in our hammocks during a recent camping trip to Adel’s Grove, I started to whinge about the sun being hot and getting in my eyes. I whinge about the sun a lot. Anyway, hubby to the rescue with a bit of rope, a towel and some bush pegs (sticks broken into a Y shape). Look what he set up for both of us over our hammocks!

It was so handy when the wind picked up cause it caught all the sticks and berry-thingos. The sun stayed out of my face the whole time I was in the hammock (which was quite some time!).

Disclaimer: The bright light on my face is the flash – not the sun in case you think I am lying.

I came up with a name of the new invention too: ‘Hammock Shader’ but it is lame, so any other suggestions?

Shiny Sparkly Things?

Let me retell a little experience I had with shiny sparkly things –

Adel's Grove location

So, we have finally arrived at our camping destination – Adel’s Grove, in Far North Queensland. It has taken us a whopping five hours of driving from Normanton and most of the way it was on red dust, but we have now arrived in the night.  My hubby, his sister and I are spending three nights in this paradise just because we can.

The camping area is very bushy and beautiful with large shady trees and leaf litter on the ground. Seeing as it is night-time, we have no other choice but to set up camp in the dark. We collectively decide to go and look for some wood to light ourselves a toasty fire so we can see stuff around us and get ready for bed.

My hubby and sister-in-law head over to some bushes to my right with their torches, and I go in the other direction searching around for our fire-needs. While I am busy foraging something catches my eye. I spot the most beautiful, shiny beads of light flickering all over the fallen leaves on the ground. They looked just like mini twinkling fairy lights, and I presume they are just broken glass shining in my head torch. I make my way over to them curiously and bend down to have a closer look at this sparkling beauty of mystery, and what do I discover…. they are bloody spider eyes twinkling in my torchlight!  

I absolutely have the most unbelievably, ridiculous fear of spiders thanks to watching the gross movie ‘Arachnophobia’ when I was younger at a friend’s place. Since then, whenever I see a spider of any proportion I can imagine it crawling all over my skin.  So you can see how I am feeling at this moment in discovering that my shiny sparkly things are actually beady spider eyes – I am feeling the opposite of delight – I squeal, run and try to climb hubby’s back to get off the ground where all the sparkles are.  Both hubby and sister are having a bit of a giggle as hubby tells me that he saw me stop my search for wood and meander over to some leaves and he immediately thought, uh oh, here we go, knowing what I was about to discover.  He quickly asked me for my head torch. Of course, I refused because I was using it, but he was adamant that he have my head torch now. Little did I know that his insistence was actually for my own good…he was trying to protect me from the awful sight. He ended up leaving me alone while I went on to uncover this surprise while he just waited for my reaction.

I must admit though, I did get quite accustomed to the spiders after three nights when I was pleasantly surprised to see that I had indeed survived the first night without being attacked by a spider. I have a wonderful imagination.

I was also very thankful that I was not one of the two sleeping on the ground in swags.

What could these pretty, shiny, sparkly things be?

Here are some more! So beautiful.....

Those shiny sparkly things are spider eyeballs!!

Camping Etiquette

We have just spent the last four days camping at the gorgeous Adel’s Grove in Far North Queensland (near Lawn Hill National Park).

Our camping set up was simple – 3 chairs, cast iron plate to cook our bacon and eggs on, 2 swags on the ground, 2 hammocks, & 1 mattress in the back of our car.

While I was lazing about in my hammock soaking up some shade, I started to recall some of our previous camping trips and why this one was up there with some of the best. I think it has a lot to do with camping etiquette. Everyone at Adel’s Grove seemed to have some.

There are unwritten rules when it comes to camping. We all know that selfish and rude people can be selfish and rude when outside their house boundaries and mixing it up with society. I have listed my top four camping etiquette rules below, and I believe that by following these all the pretty places in the world can be enjoyed by everyone (and we’d be a step closer to world peace).

 

*don’t bring your stereo, radio and tv camping. Are you seriously telling me you cannot go without? Why must your DOOF DOOF bassy music drown out the quiet serenity around you and the rest of us? The majority of people go camping to escape the noise and get some peace and quiet…not so they can listen to your noise-mess all day and night, no matter how good you think your taste in music is. One word for you: headphones.

 

*walk AROUND people’s camp sites (aka their home away from home) not through them. Just because you think you can walk wherever you like cause it is a public place only means you are rude and a stickybeak. Hello stranger, why are you randomly here brushing against my elbow as I eat my Weetbix under my tarp, sitting at my table, outside my tent? That is just weird.

 

*if you are at a camp ground with lots of free space, never ever set up your camp smack bang next to someone else (unless they are family or friends, in which case you can feel free to ask them to shift their tent so yours is the one in the morning shade). It makes me wonder, are you afraid of the dark? Do you love reality TV and need your fix (cause of course you left the TV at home) and by camping on top of us you can monitor our every move? Pick another spot out of the 120 available that is not next to us. It is unnatural for our possessions to touch.

 

* on the flip side, if you do happen upon a camp ground that is chockers with people (school holiday season), don’t spread all your gear out to hog a few of the last remaining spaces. Again, you are being rude. Hopefully, by being nice and taking only the space you require, you will end up with a camp-neighbour who respects all these rules and everyone will be happy campers together. There is nothing worse than forcing people home from their anticipated getaway because there is no room and you have taken up a massive chunk of the camp ground.

 

So there you have my top four camp etiquette rules. Add yours to the comment section too! I know there are plenty more out there 🙂

Holding Crocodiles

This is my second post (first one here) from our adventures in the Australian outback while visiting my SIL, Deb.

Today we went with Deb’s housemate fishing in a tinny (tin boat) out on the Norman River.

The plan was to catch some fish, preferably Barramundi, and maybe spot a croc or two if we were lucky. The tide was high so we didn’t like our chances as crocs need somewhere to rest their bellies on the sand. The actual outcome was no fish biting while we were out but we saw some crocodiles – we even got to hold a wild one! Yes, a wild crocodile!

We went up a little off-shoot part of the Norman River and there on the bank was this Freshwater beauty:

As we got closer, it scooted into the murky brown water and just disappeared….eerie…..

Then just up a little further our guide found two baby crocs – a Freshwater crocodile and a Saltwater crocodile hanging out together with their mini-heads sticky out of the water.

Then our guide grabbed his net so we could have a MUCH closer look –

Once all this was over, we started back to the boat ramp and on the way I spotted a Saltwater crocodile on the edge of the bank. He had a white patch on his back, which I thought was a leaf, but as we got closer we noticed that the white patch was in fact a rather big gash in it’s side. Croc flesh is white (and yes, if you have ever tasted cooked crocodile meat it does in fact taste just like chicken).

And for a final shot – here is my very own Crocodile Dundee:

Outback Adventure

Hubby and I are on a two week stint out in the Australian outback visiting our beautiful sister (my SIL). She lives in an amazing part of Australia called Normanton. This will be the third trip to visit her and each time we have had a hard time leaving!

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The first year, we were novices and decided to fly to Cairns and then fly onwards to Normanton. This year, and the last, we decided to tackle the two and a half day drive…and loved it! The ever-changing scenery, the people you meet in dusty isolated towns, the incredible wildlife, and the quality time we get to spend together. Oh, the conversations and laughs!

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We like to drive the inland way, up through Emerald, Winton, Longreach, Clonclurry, etc and we stop off many times to take pics (I’ll post these pics in an upcoming post).

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It is really nice to stop and enjoy the surroundings instead of just whizzing past in our car. We like to get out and struggle up craggy rock formations in plastic bright-blue crocs (so hard…and yes, I did think of going barefoot but too many negatives for that option to happen). We love to sit somewhere where there is no human-made noise and just appreciate our breathtaking landscape.

We saw our Australian coat of arms, in the wild, right next to eachother. A massive dead red kangaroo (hit by a truck) and an alive emu pecking its way around the bushes looking for whatever emus like to eat.

Ahh, Australia.

‘The Cove’ – Saving the Dolphins

Tomorrow morning I am leading our staff devotions where I get to share something that means a lot to me. I had already prepared something before the weekend, but after watching a documentary last night I decided to base my devotion on that.

Here it is – – – –

My devotion is on something that will not make you happy. In actual fact you will probably leave here this morning furious, disappointed and so angry your blood will boil – this is a GOOD thing. This may be an uncomfortable devotion for you and very upsetting and you may not want to know cause it is too distressing, but I think everyone should know about it. We need to open our eyes to what is happening in our time – after all we are required, under God’s instruction, to be responsible.

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” Genesis 1:26

The word dominion means authorization, management, privilege, property, reign, rule, sovereignty, territory

In other words, we are responsible and held accountable by God in the way we rule over the fish of the sea, the birds of the heavens and the livestock and all things. Accountable to God.

I am not a greenie…I think, I am not a vegetarian and I don’t have a problem with those who are. God does allow us to benefit from the animals. Bible principles allow us to kill animals to provide food and clothing or to protect ourselves from harm. (Genesis 3:21; 9:3; Exodus 21:28) However, life is sacred to God. Our dominion over the animals must be exercised in a balanced way that shows respect for life. The Bible speaks negatively of a man named Nimrod, who apparently killed animals and perhaps humans for the sheer thrill of it.—Genesis 10 . Jesus spoke of God’s concern for animals in these words: “Five sparrows sell for two coins of small value, do they not? Yet not one of them goes forgotten before God.” (Luke 12:6) Obviously, God does not regard animals as just disposable items, to be thrown away at will.

When giving the Israelites laws, God taught them proper care of animals. He required them to return a stray animal to its owner and to help animals in distress. (Exodus 23:4, 5) Animals were to benefit from a Sabbath rest, just like humans. (Exodus 23:12) There were laws governing the proper treatment of farm animals. (Deuteronomy 22:10; 25:4) Obviously, animals were to be cared for and guarded, not exploited.
Proverbs 12:10 explicitly states God’s viewpoint: “The righteous one is caring for the soul of his domestic animal, but the mercies of the wicked ones are cruel.”

True, God’s original purpose was that man have “ dominion over the fish of the sea and the flying creatures of the heavens and every living creature that is moving upon the earth.” (Genesis 1:28) Cruelty to animals has no place in that purpose.

God created many intelligent and unique animals at the beginning of time, and one of those that have fascinated many are dolphins.  We have all heard the recounts of surfers being saved by dolphins during an impending shark attack.  There was one guy who said he was with a mate out surfing when his friends face went completely white. There was a Tiger shark targeting them as it came towards them – 2 metres off, a dolphin appeared and intersected the shark making the shark hit the side of the dolphin. The dolphin kept at it until the shark went away. There are so many accounts of these kinds of things happening in the surf.

People have said that when they have been sucked out in a rip, or in a boat wreck, dolphins have come to the rescue. There have also been many stories of dolphins healing many people who can’t walk and so on it goes.  Dolphins seem to understand….and trust humans.

Dolphins have super-sonic hearing which they use to communicate with one another. Their ears are 7 times more sensitive to sound than human ears. They are an extremely social animal that stick together at all times – a pod of dolphins. Using their sound, they know about our bones, organs or even if you are pregnant. They can actually see through us.  They are extremely sensitive to sound. It has been proven that dolphins can comprehend things and understand complex language patterns, which is incredible for any animal. They are classed as the most intelligent animal on the planet and they can live up to 50 years of age!

On Sunday night, Kirk and I watched a documentary called ‘The Cove’. Did anyone else watch it? It is about a team of people who undertook a secret mission to expose what is happening in Japan with dolphin slaughter.

the team.

This team are serious, with night vision goggles and video cameras hidden as fake rocks, and sound recording devices to go in the water to hear what the dolphins are saying. The team snuck into the cove at night in the pitch black and set up their gear ready to film the daily massacre of many, many wild dolphins. This mission was crucial in exposing the unknown killing of these animals.

Let me give you an overview of ‘The Cove’:

There is a little village in Japan called Taiji (map).  Just off the coast there is a passage that dolphins swim through 6 months of the year. The dolphins have been passing by Taiji for hundreds of years.

Starting from the 1st September (tomorrow), Japanese “fishermen” will get into boats and wait for the first lot of dolphins to pass through. 

The boats at Taiji, Japan.

The fishing boats have big steel rods off them that stick into the water, which they loudly bang using hammers.  The noise from this creates a frightening soundwall for the dolphins and they try to flee the area by swimming as fast they can into the cove, away from the boats, but into a trap.  Once the first hundred or so dolphins are in the cove they put up nets to trap them and then leave them there overnight. The next day, dolphin trainers from amusement parks, including Sea World in some countries and zoos come by and select which dolphins they would like to keep for themselves – the pretty ones usually.  The others are taken around the corner to a secluded and top-secret cove that is sheltered from public eye with barbwire and fences, where they drive steel rods into the dolphins bodies to kill them all.

The cove at Taiji, Japan after a day of killing dolphins.

It is not a quick killing, but a slashing. The water looks just like red paint…..it doesn’t even look watered down. They kill the entire lot, including the little babies.  In the documentary you can see the dolphins trying to jump out of the water onto the rocks while the others are being stabbed.  It is a mass of panic and you can see the fishermen laughing as the dolphins are bashing their tales and bodies against the boats trying to get away. The fishermen then scuba dive for the dolphins bodies and collect those that tried to escape.

Taiji, Japan

They hook the bodies up into the small boats and then sell the dolphin meat, usually labelled as whale meat. People do not realise what they are eating.  After this, they then get ready to do it all over again the next day.

dolphin meat

I am going to show you two videos. The first one was used to publicise what is happening in Taiji as hardly anyone knew until recently what was going on at the cove…even the townspeople. Of course, they have used celebrities to promote this one. There is one point in the footage where you see a baby dolphin that has been stabbed, fleeing around the hidden corner and out into the open, away from the massacre. Somehow it gets through the net and makes its way straight for a few people standing on the shore (the people on the shore can’t see what is happening to the other dolphins around the corner, but they do know as they are part of the team trying to save them. They are there scoping the place out and preparing to get  in to film it for the world to see. The people are surrounded by Japanese ‘buffers’ whose jobs are to move people away from the area and cause as much hassle as possible so they would leave). You can see this baby dolphin struggling to swim and then it lifts itself up struggling to get its last few breaths and then it just disappears never to resurface. This footage was taken from The Cove documentary.

The second video I am going to show you is all taken from the documentary. You can see for yourself what is happening. It is very, very, very difficult to watch, but I think it is important to stick it out and watch, and for us to feel the injustice and angry that God must also be feeling for his animals – the ones we humans are supposed to be accountable for. These documentaries are made so we can be informed of what is happening, and then do something about it. I for one do not want to be naive about the situation.

Video One

Video Two

So, after we have seen all that, what can we do?

If you can stomach it, I really recommend watching the whole documentary, The Cove.  It goes into all the logistics about the mercury poisoning, dolphins in captivity, the movie Flipper and more.  It is very insightful.

There is a website called Save Japan Dolphins where you can sign a petition or send a letter. It goes straight to President Obama, the Vice President and the Japanese Ambassador to the US.

You can also make a donation so this brave team of people can continue their work in getting dolphin killing banned, buy a T-Shirt to wear and heighten the knowledge of what is happening to the dolphins, buy other merchandise, and most importantly of all – PRAY. Pray that these fishermen will have their conscience take over and they will clearly see what they are doing. Pray that the people who are fighting very hard to have this banned will be successful. Pray that God will show you away to keep his command for us to be responsible for the animals He has given us.

Since the movie, the Solomon Islands have signed an agreement to stop killing dolphins which they have done traditionally in the past, and no dolphins were killed at all in the Solomon Islands last year. The Solomon Islands were after Japan for the amount of dolphins they killed each year.

Signing the agreement with the Solomon Islands.

People are not visiting Sea Worlds around the world and places that promote capture of dolphins. People are making sure the meat they eat is not hidden dolphin or whale meat.

 Here is a quote from the man who started the mission of the cove, Ric O’Barry – “Before The Cove came out, I was beating down the doors of media in Japan begging them to cover the story. After The Cove, they met me at the airport and followed us to almost every location. Our press conference was attended by over 100 media representatives, including every major broadcast outlet. We still have a lot of work to do, but the secret is now out!’

Getting the word out to the world.