Saturday, January 06, 2007

At Loggerheads (in a manner of speaking)

Wow – it has been a very full-on year so far (well, on the me-scale it is very full on. For super-achievers my accomplishments rate possibly lower).

I have spent some quality time with my daughter and my darling. I have had guests – although they did have to make their own beds and get their own towels on arrival. Another resolution that would have failed had I made it. I have attacked the garden (and it didn’t attack me back too badly).

Anyhow, although I could fill the computer coffers with plenty of drivel about it, I have to be mindful of my time and effort (daughter and darling still available for love and companionship, although former is finding it with Round the Twist and latter is finding it through tidying – mmmmmwwwaaahh gotta love that man), and also mindful of your attention span – so I will try to include brevity (ha ha ha ha ha ha ha). To this end, I will only give you 3 highlight of the year this far.

Loggerheads: Nature at its most wonderous

On Wednesday, our guests Nicole and Don shouted us a visit to Mon Repos to see the turtles. How ashamed am I that I now live 12 minutes from a turtle rookery, in a house that has been in my immediate family since 1982 and this is the first time I went there?

Anyhow – not sure whether it was because Nicole was thoughtful enough to pre-book or the fact that we had a 7 year old with us, but we were in the first group. That gave us about enough time to put on insect repellent and jump the long queue snaking towards the carpark.

Turtles are wild animals that do not perform on demand, so if a turtle doesn’t come up to the beach and lay for you in a timely manner it is your own bad luck. Perfectly understandable, but they must have had enough irate tourists to reiterate that several times, both on the tickets and verbally while we were waiting.

I don’t know whether it was because high tide was at 8 that evening or it was full moon, but we had to wait (from 6.30pm) only 20 minutes before news came of the first turtle and we were ushered to the beach. (Apparently, the week before, the wait had been until 2am. They have a stage show with the rangers lecturing to entertain should that happen)

We learned many amazing facts while she dug the nest, about the procreation and lifestyle of turtles – I am sure many internet patrons would wish for a turtle’s life. Those who surf for sexual favour would appreciate the copulation procedure, those with infertility issues would love access to the reservoirs that a female turtle can use to fertilise her eggs, and no doubt those of a literate bent would appreciate how delicately our guide, Jimmy, negotiated such questions with a front row audience of the under 10s!

The back flippers digging the nest were awesome to watch – turtles have similar bones in these as in the human hand, and the scoop and deposit is choreographed wonderfully. She took a while to dig, so we also learned about the turtle constellation that appears over Mon Repos for the season and what measures practical conservation has been implemented.

Some other advice (apart from the ticketing). If your baby is screaming before we go to the beach, chances are it won’t enjoy the experience of coastal wind whistling around its ears. If your child doesn’t have the patience to sit still and watch nature unfold, wait until another year, find a babysitter or have one of the adults sit out – not a good experience for the child or those around it. If you are warm enough waiting in the queue, have another jacket as the wind can be cunning. Dress for comfort – and if you have wheel or joint requirements you may be in trouble, as the beach and dunes are not designed with ability or style in mind. If the ranger has told you not to use the flash yet, don’t use the bl**dy flash yet!!!

Then K53106 laid her 4th clutch of over 100 eggs for the season, relaxed in hormonal bliss as 30 odd humans all sat around her in awe. Nature is incredible.

At 9pm, those who chose to leave early (ie us – 7 year old had almost had enough and I know the nature of that overtired beast) snuck back, trying not to spook any turtles wishing to surf ashore for their own clutches (unsuccessfully, it turns out). On the way, I was bitten by an insect of indeterminate origin in the waist of my pants. Bugger.

Bubbles at the Barrel

Another touristy thing we decided (okay, our guests dragged us) to visit was The Barrel. A kitsch establishment celebrating one of Bundaberg’s beveragical contribution to society (the other is more costly, stinky and frankly, of no use to the party concerned.)

It was quite quaint. We propped up the bar and did the taste testing (know well their Ginger Beer, Lemon Lime Bitters and Sarsaparilla due to family history, was very impressed with Lemon Ale – less so with the sweeter Peachee and Apple Ale (as I do not have THAT sweet a tooth) and took one look at the Burgandee and sprinted!!!

The lasting feature for me, however: while our tourists were being interviewed by the local newspaper (page 5 pinups the next day) my 7 year old became hot and thirsty. Now, I know from practical experience that giving her softdrink is not the answer but no water was available so I purchased a mixed ½ dozen at the outlet.

She didn’t react too dramatically, unlike me when I reached the next shop and realised I had failed to collect my change. I got home after their closing hours, so left a rather pathetic message rambling about my dilemma.

They rang me the next day, had a laugh about it and the money was waiting for me to collect at my convenience. I like that – people can be great creatures!

Bush Mechanics

Just have to do a little rave about small town mechanics, and mine in particular. When I first came here, I followed the advice of a family friend and booked my car’s service at a large, well-known garage. They were good, I will give them that, but getting in was akin in timeframe to medical establishments and they consulted and charged in the same manner.

When I hit a mechanical emergency, Wednesday next week was not good enough, and so I found the local bloke – and I cannot sing his praises higher (well, I won’t anyway, as my darling may have a problem with such extoliation of another male!)

At the last service, I outlined one problem that I was having with the car. It sort of felt like it needed to fart and got the chugs occasionally, which was a problem when driving the distances I can on occasion through terrain that is far from the local mechanic (or mobile range). He fixed that problem and charged me a very reasonable price.

Unfortunately, it turned out that, after 150km, it was not fixed. That was okay, as our next family trip could be done in my darling’s car and I could deal with that problem next year (or this, now).

Which, too, would have been foolproof, had not something gone wrong and darling’s car would not go. At all. In the local grocery carpark as we were all set to head. My darling has been discussing the virtues of rejoining the RACQ for several months now, and we realised the futility of merely talking about it.

But then, one call to my mate the mechanic and he came and fixed the problem pronto – no charge.

And yesterday, I took my belching beauty back to him, and he found dirt in the carby, which he fixed in a backfire and handed back to me working fine – again, no charge.
Of course, he is probably relying on my repeat custom and word of mouth I can do for him – which he will get!