66 shades of grey

66 shades of grey
66 shades of grey ... this pic of me was shot by Kim, of Kim Thomsen's Photography at Daly Waters in the Northern Territory. Kim just wandered over and asked whether it was OK to get some character shots.


The cross is in front of the church in Karumba and it seems TV antennas have a greater reach for the sky.


I went fishing out of Nhulunbuy on the Gulf of Carpentaria. We anchored in a bay about 10 hours from Nhulunbuy and went ashore. This poor fella had been snared in the locals' overnight net and then had a run-in with the resident 14-foot saltwater croc - named Nike by the local indigenous fellas - and came off second best.

the rock

the rock

oodnadatta track

oodnadatta track
What a tough place to live ... this is out on the Oodnadatta Track


My photo
G’day, I’m Michael and I have two fantastic grown-up kids. I’m a jeans and singlet/T-shirt, cowboy boot, tattoos sort of fella, who knows a bit about this and sometimes a lot about that. I'll have a crack at most things, although having a relationship? ... well that ship has sailed. I'm past my use-by date anyway, so I'm gonna make it all about me and surviving life as I know it ... or make it.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The French connection

Thought for the day: To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world.

So here I am, still at Skenes Creek, wandering up to the area at the front of the campground to get a morning coffee after a night of sleep that can be best described as fabulous, courtesy of the waves crashing on the foreshore complemented but a few buckets of cheap red and a healthy veg stir-fry for dinner. I’m in a good headspace.
“What a good day,” says Charlie as he fires up the espresso machine (his sign says “expesso”, but we all know what he means).
“Charlie,” I say, “Every day is a beautiful day.”
A tall skinny French backpacker, who is camping in a tiny tent across the way, says to me: “Pardon my bad English, but that was a beautiful thing to say.”
We introduced ourselves: his name was Jordain (OK, I think that’s the spelling … if not, sorry about that, young fella) and he’s travelling with just a small backpack, tent and a bicycle. There’s a lesson in that for me: less is more.
I ordered him a coffee too and we sat and chatted. He’d just made a beautiful day just that little bit better. What a credit he is to himself and his parents. He told me of his job picking fruit up near Healesville, other experiences he’d had and the people he’d met.
He also told me how a farmer he had worked for had taught him to shoot and butcher a rabbit and a kangaroo.
“I had never eaten kangaroo before. It was amazing. I am thinking I am the only Frenchman there who knows how to do it,” he said, again apologising for his English.
“Mate [doing my best Aussie accent],” I said, “I know a lot of Aussies who don’t speak English nearly as well as you. It’s your second language … you’re amazing.”
 We chatted for about an hour (and I bought him another coffee) before we headed to my digs to show him my blogs and check some photos … and, of course, being a good tourist he had to get a couple of pictures of his new hippie friend (yeah, he called me a hippie) to show the folks back home.
“I wanted to stay in Australia longer, but before I left France I met a girl. I now ’ave to see her again [I can relate to that],” he said, “I ’ave to go. Six more weeks and I will go. But please give me your email address. I wish to stay in touch with you and see your travels.”
Done. What a great way to start the day. As someone near and dear said to me: “Every stranger we meet is just a friend we haven’t made yet.” How right she is.
This trip is a bit like the last time I travelled (2010) because it is taking me months to actually get on the road. Yeah, I’m on the road and, yeah, I’m travelling … in 2010 I took about three months to get out of Skenes Creek. This time, it was almost a month, but the truth is that Liam and I will be heading back that way so that Liam can do some carpentry work for Charlie, who runs the campground down there.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that other than perhaps the fact that the weather has turned too often to be on the wrong side of 20 degrees.
It’s still a great campsite … right on the ocean and there are always people there that I know … and generally a handful of backpackers working there, who, often in the past as they do now, are on the receiving end of some largesse from Charlie and myself.
Yeah, we feed ’em and give them the odd drink or seven.
I decided, because two of them are Poms, that I’d make them a curry … something to help allay the homesickness. I ran it by Charlie, who said: “Shit, mate, I’ve got a leg of lamb that I need to cook.” OK, I’ll do the veg. Roast potatoes, onions, carrots and parsnips plus steamed cauliflower, broccoli, zucchini and bok choy. The girls, Rachael and Charie (reckon it’s pronounced Sherie although everyone calls her Kiwi) made the gravy.
Gotta say, there’s something good about sitting 50 metres from the ocean with good company (Liam had come down too), a big roast meal and several buckets of cheap red to wash it down.
A couple of nights before, we decided to have a barbie. Charlie got it fired up with beef ribs, burgers, snags and lamb chops while I provided potato salad and a huge tossed salad. We ended up feeding seven, including David, who plans to live there in his converted ambulance for the next year. He calls his vehicle the Arts Ambulance (painted appropriately) and he does all manner of arts-related stuff. He has a video and audio studio set-up and has promised to lay down a recording track of me singing a song for The One.
It ended up a huge night with matching hangovers for all concerned the next day.
The Labour Day weekend provided welcome respite from the rigors of life on the beach (yeah, it’s tough) and I headed to the big smoke and some time with The One.
It was a memorable reunion (we hadn’t seen each other in quite a while) and we kicked it off with a bottle of Verve Cliquot to celebrate. We followed up with a sensational Sancerre, a pinot gris and eased out of the night with some chardonnay, all of which helped wash down the pizza we’d ordered in. It was my first pizza in what seemed a very long time.
The next day, after an eggy breakfast, I was treated to the passenger seat for a tour of the Yarra Valley wineries, which included tastings (none for the driver) at Balgownie Estate, one of our favourite places in the world and the source of so many great and wonderful memories. The Balgownie viognier and sangiovese were super and both came home with us, as did some Allinda chardonnay. The tastings at Balgownie and Allinda put others such as Fergusson’s to shame … I reckon the days of warm whites in plastic tasting glasses does nothing for the brands. The only other real downside for the day was the slow (in the extreme) service for lunch at Dixons Creek.
We lifted it a notch when we got home and celebrated with a bottle of Moet followed by the Balgownie viognier and Allinda chardonnay and some (I forget the name) riesling.
All too soon on Monday afternoon it was time to say farewell and hit the road for the long haul back to Skenes, a drive that was made lots easier courtesy of the memories of the previous two days. Reckon I was glowing.
Fishing is always on the agenda at Skenes although the ocean is yet to give up any. The past two occasions that I’ve wet a line (and these days the lines and rigs are good because Liam has been giving me lessons) all I have managed to retrieve are three sand crabs, the last of which was a decent (hand span) size. And what a feisty bugger he was when I removed him from the bait. He had a red-hot crack at my digits but there was no harm done and I got him back into the water.
So, with fish not on the menu, Liam and I headed into town to shop for the night’s curry feast. I was kinda cooking it mainly cooking it for backpacker Lewis, who was in severe curry withdrawal. Sad thing was he was having the weekend in Melbourne and would miss the night.
It was a stupendous feed … lamb and spinach curry with rice, raita, apple and yoghurt, and banana, lemon juice and toasted shredded coconut on the side and roti … yeah, we ate very well. And the red wine played its part too.
Lewis didn’t miss out. Because we’re decent folk (that’s Liam and me), we put aside a huge serve for Louis, which he got as we were departing.
Colac beckoned to get some solar work done on the trailer … Ben, the mechanic, is a straight-shooting bloke who does great work. We’ll be back to see him for some last-minute touch-ups.

Beyond Colac, a home-cooked meal with The One beckoned. Be still my heart.

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