Urangan, Hervey Bay, Queensland – May 9, 2015

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Another perfect day in Hervey Bay!  The weather here remains lovely in the mid 20’s.  No news on the baby front and we all wait patiently for a development.  The midwife predicts no action for the next couple of days which is concerning for us as we are scheduled to depart Hervey Bay on Tuesday.  It is looking like a delay in our departure date if we are to see the new baby at all!

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Today we took the girls down to Urangan and walked out on the pier which is over 800 metres in length.  The seas were glassy and calm once again as they have been since our arrival – quite a difference from the seas to which Dallas and I have become accustomed in Bass Strait and around coastal Tasmania.

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Hervey Bay, Queensland – May 5, 2015

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Since arriving in Hervey Bay last Friday, in torrential rain, the weather has abated and we have enjoyed ideal weather conditions here on the Fraser Coast.  Staying with our younger son Tim and his family, we await the imminent birth of Tim and Jodie’s new baby son.

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Our grand-daughters have kept us totally occupied and we had the joy of spending a lovely three day weekend with the visit of our older son Liam and his family.  Our entire family spent many happy hours on the beaches of Hervey Bay swimming and playing on the sand.  Jodie is doing her utmost to convince the baby to join us with long walks on the beach and building a sand castle city for the children.

Feeding the turtles, ducks and eels in the local lake was a huge hit with our grand-daughters and grand-sons – they went through four loaves of bread!

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Having the whole family together in one place gives Dallas and I such pleasure, especially to see the grandchildren all playing and laughing together.

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Each day we wonder if the new baby will be born – but, as we all know too well, babies have a mind of their own!  More news on that front soon, we hope!

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Moreton Bay, Queensland – April 39, 2015

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Several days spent with our son Liam and his family have been a wonderful catch-up, especially with our two little grandsons Tyhnan and Aidan.  They both have such a vibrant interest in life and so full of fun!

IMG_0511Time for three generations of Baker Boys to go fishing, to visit the Redcliffe Markets, to eat out at seafood cafes and to enjoy ice-creams.  Just over five days of magnificent Queensland sunshine and temperate conditions.  Lovely times, and more to come when we travel north to Hervey Bay tomorrow to son Tim and family where Liam and family will join us for the weekend.  Grandma’s dream to have entire family together.

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Unfortunately, today a low pressure weather system is bringing rain, rain, rain.  All is wet and much more to come tonight and tomorrow.  So, another wet drive (3 1/2 hours) to Hervey Bay tomorrow.

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ANZAC DAY, April 25, 2015

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Today began at 3.45a.m. when Dallas, myself, our son Liam and grandson Aidan rose early in order to attend the ANZAC Day Dawn Service at Bellbowrie.  The Bellbowrie/Moggill/Kenmore area is where the Pacey/Baker Family find their roots.  William and James Pacey, brothers to Dorothy (mother of Dallas) joined  the Australian Imperial Forces which departed the shores of this country in 1914 to fight on the Western Front.  James, who was seriously injured when kicked in the head by a horse whilst training in Egypt, spent three months in hospital in Cairo and was repatriated back home. James passed away seven years later.  William (Billy) set foot on the Gallipoli shore on the first day of landing where he lived and fought in horrendous conditions for four months before he was mortally wounded.  Their mother and young sister Dorothy were grief-stricken by the loss of these two vibrant young men.

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Dallas, Liam and Aidan  attended the Dawn Service and then marched in the Kenmore District ANZAC Day March in memory of and tribute to both James and William.  Today’s Dawn Service was attended by 3,500 people – a record attendance for the area – it was held in the park at Bellbowrie by the banks of the Brisbane River.  As dawn broke, the aroma of the eucalypt trees was pungent and the river shrugged off its shroud of darkness.  A lone bugle rang out the notes of the Last Post and prompted the unmistakable call of Kookaburras and Magpies. The atmosphere was proudly and patriotically Australian!

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Later, at 8.15a.m., Dallas, Liam and Aidan joined the Kenmore District ANZAC Day March along Moggill Road to the Kenmore Cenotaph where a memorial service was held.  It also was attended by a record crowd of 6,000 people.

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Once the service was complete and commemorative wreaths laid at the Cenotaph, Dallas revealed that today, on the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landing, he had brought along the diaries of Uncle Billy which are beautifully hand-written and record his days of service with the Australian Imperial Forces.

An added level of pride for us is that, in Harvey Bay, our two young grand-daughters, Mackenzie and Alexis, marched with their school in the local ANZAC Day Parade.  Such pride I have in knowing that my husband, sons, grandson and grand-daughters have all paid tribute to the enormous sacrifice and bravery of Australian Forces, not only in the Great War, but in serving and defending our nation in so many arenas of conflict.

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Today was completed with a visit to Toowong Cemetery where we visited the graves of (Uncle) James Pacey and my parents Elvon and Agnes Bingham.

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Scarborough – April 23, 2015

To-day, for us, is a maintenance and rest day.  Time to open the van and car up to allow the warmth and sunshine to dry everything out.  Also two loads of washing happily drying in the Queensland sunshine.

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A nice long walk around the foreshore of Moreton Bay to stretch our legs following four days of sitting in the car.

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Armidale to Brisbane, April 22, 2015

Armidale conditions were a cold 6 degrees, foggy, overcast and mizzle as we departed.

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Up onto the New England Tableland proper, and conditions grew considerably foggier.

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The drive through the town of Glencoe was colourful with a lovely display of autumn leaves.

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How we longed for blue sky and sunshine when we crossed the border into Queensland.

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However, it was a little north of Stanthorpe before we were treated to sun and blue sky – the first we had seen since leaving Lachlan, Tasmania last Saturday morning.  We have driven 2,000 kilometres in rain!

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It was a joy to stop for lunch in the park in Warwick with the warm sun on our backs.  The Darling Downs is look resplendent with the black soil plains under crop.

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Back in very familiar territory for us we enjoy the trundle down off Cunningham’s Gap to the glorious sound of the gentle call of Bell Birds!

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Our Tom Tom Navigation Device “James” successfully guides us across Brisbane (how it has changed since we left ten years ago) ending each of his instructions with a catch-cry of “Too easy mate”!

IMG_0401How quickly that rain and fog fades as we and our little Avan sit at rest beside glorious Moreton Bay, lapping up the warmth and sunshine and looking forward to dining tonight with our son Liam, his wife Brooke and their three gorgeous boys.

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Moreton Bay with Glasshouse Mountains in background

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Moreton Bay Yacht Club

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1400 Kilometres in the Rain – Dubbo to Armidale, April 21, 2015

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Departing Dubbo in the rain
Steady rain fell on Dubbo all through the night and we departed this morning in the same conditions with a temperature of 9 degrees.
Although the wet conditions made for difficult driving, it has been an absolute joy to see this parched country soak up the much needed rain.  Many farmers have paddocks ploughed and ready to plant – the stock we see in the paddocks are living on what remains of dried and dead fodder.  This rain will be a God-send to so many.
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Land lies fallow waiting for rain

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Sheep are grazing on sparse and dried grassland

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Weather reports this morning are telling us that Gilgandra and Coonabarabran were deluged by storm rains last night.  As we approach Gilgandra we see detour signs due to local flooding.  Aside from the difficult driving conditons due to the rain and low visibility, there is the added problem of approaching transport trucks which create intense “road spray”  blanking out our windscreen each time they pass.
We reached Coonabarabran around morning tea time so opted to visit a coffee shop rather than sit in the wet park to enjoy our vacuum flask coffee.  It was a fortunate decision as I scored some lovely recipes from the young woman running the coffee shop, and also had a great conversation with a group of women who were having a “meeting” in the shop.  I noticed a box next to one woman’s chair and, low and behold, sitting on the box was a magnificent set of brand new wool combs.  Of course, the chance of an exchange re wool combing, spinning and shetland knitting was just too good to pass up. I have been invited to their spinners group which meets on a Monday should I be passing through Coonabarabran on a Monday!
Next door to the coffee shop was the most wonderful, fabric, wool and haberdashery store owned and run by a 94 year old lady who found me a supurb 3mm wooden circular knitting needle to replace the nasty one I have been using to knit a matinee jacket for my expected baby grandson.  It was priced at $3.00 – I think it has been hanging on the wall of her shop since 1979.  The dear lady could not quite come to grips with why anyone would choose to use a new-fangled circular needle!
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My “drive” knitting project – matinee jacket

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The rain and cold temp in Gunnedah was so miserable that we opted to eat lunch in the car!  So, on with the drive to today’s destination, Armidale.  Today the maximum temperature has not exceeded 9 degrees.  It is a relief to reach Armidale and for the first time since we left home on Saturday we see a patch of blue sky in the distance, although it continues to rain in Armidale.  On hearing reports of the super storms on NSW coast we are just pleased that we are not travelling the coast road.  We are hoping to see some sun when we cross the border into Queensland.  It has not stopped raining since we landed in Melbourne on Sunday morning – we have driven 1400 kilometres in the rain – extraordinary!
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Monday April 20, 2015 – Wagga Wagga to Dubbo

Leaving Wagga Wagga on a crisply cool morning (9 deg) we headed north where, just south of Junee we found ourselves driving into a broad weather front.

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On the road south of Junee

Not long after, we drove into rain squalls – it was encouraging to see the rain falling on such dry and parched earth.  I’m sure the farming community have been praying for this for a long time.

As we drove into the town of Canowindra it was a sad reminder to see all the yellow balloons tied to the bridge, and also throughout the town, in memory of their favoured young teacher who was recently murdered.

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Yellow balloons in memory of a favoured daughter of Canowindra

A stop in Cowra for lunch where the lovely autumnal colours of the local trees and fallen autumn leaves were quite beautiful.  Not quite so beautiful was the local temperature of 8 degrees which felt more like 4 degrees with the wind chill factor.  Needless to say, lunch was a speedy event!  I have packed warm weather clothing for this trip with just a light jacket – since I usually overpack I decided to be more frugal this trip.  I will be buying a thick polar fleece before the afternoon is out!

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Lunch in the park, Cowra beneath autumn leaves

The road into the town of Orange is quite beautiful with all the trees changing colour and making quite a spectacle.  We also noted that the orchards of apple trees were still bearing their big red apples.

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Driving into Orange

Tonight we stay in Dubbo which is quite cool and with rain squalls continuing.  Radio reports that wild weather is being reported across N.S.W. and especially toward the coast.  Time for us to feel glad that we are not travelling the coast road!  We are warm and comfy in our little Avan with the sound of rain pattering on the roof.

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Derwent Valley, Tasmania to Harvey Bay, Queensland, Return

Our first Day on the Mainland – Sunday April 19, 2015

After tossing and bumping across Bass Strait on the Spirit of Tasmania last night we were greeted by a bleak, windy, rainy Melbourne Sunday morning.  The blessing was that ours was the first line of vehicles to disembark.

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Disembarking from Spirit of Tasmania into Melbourne this morning

The drive out of Melbourne was amazing due to the early hour and it being a Sunday morning – hardly saw a car on the road.  Driving north through Victoria took us through country which is looking sadly drought ridden – the same sight met us once we crossed the border into New South Wales which is looking terribly dry.

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Northern Victoria

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New South Wales near Wadonga

Hard to believe it is the same country we traversed last September when it was looking magnificent under wheat and canola as far as the eye could see.

An uneventful drive found us in Wagga Wagga before 1.00p.m. which allowed us ample time to wander the banks of the Murrimbidgee River which runs by the rear of the caravan park – our home for tonight.  Presently the river is looking most tranquil – some desperately needed rains may put a change to that!

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