Thursday, August 21, 2008

Bunya Mountains

Not quite like the mountains of New Zealand, these were created many many years before and as such are slightly more eroded now. Large mounds of 'hill' in the middle of some very flat and depressingly dry land. Its amazing how soon after leaving the flat plains that the vegetation changes and becomes greener and lusher, the southern side, away from the harsh sun, tending towards rainforest in its appearance. The bunya trees, once harvested for their timber are part of the monkey puzzle family - real prickly and with cones reaching 10kg, dangerous to be underneath in October.

Tons of wildlife, an amazing variety of birds of all descriptions, plenty of signs describing snakes, lizards and spiders, though thankfully too cold to see many of them about at the moment!!! And wallabys that graze the campground grass keeping it neat and tidy, these two were outside my van when i got up this morning and were later joined by several others.

Am glad to have left the last helpX place, it was rather strange to say the least. I thoroughly enjoyed the luxury apartment living and views of the river, but missed being involved with the rest of the inhabitants of the farm. Its just how that place worked i guess - an experience. Now in Dalby, inland from the Sunshine coast by several hours. A couple of people have already asked me why i have come this way, so they probably don't get many tourists here. Will stay a while and see what i can.

Thanks for the messages and olympic updates.... its cool to hear all your news too.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Essential Oils

Is what tempted me here. A new experience linked to horticulture and the opportunity to learn about plant oil extraction but unfortunately it is the wrong time of year. The winter cold has slowed the plants and they won't be processing for another 3 months.

The rows of euclayptus, tea tree, bamboo and bananas surround the farm in neat rows, grass neatly trimmed and an occasional view of the river mary at the end of the property. Don't swim in the river, there have been shark sightings fairly recently!! Its tidal and only a few km from the sea which is good for the afternoons off after the seemingly never ending task of clearing the 1/4 acre veggie plot by hand. The weeds have been burned off and now the root stubs and remaining runners dug out in preparation for a thorough dig.

I do, however, have the most plush accomodation i have stayed in yet, a newly refurbished and completely private apartment, until other helpers arrive. Polished wood floors throughout, a new kitchen and bathroom, everything clean and shining, views out down the jetty to the river and sugarcane fields beyond. TV to watch the Olympics, how is Britain doing by the way? We only get to hear how wonderfully the home Oz teams are faring here, all those gold medals..... and interviews with proud parents, its quite different from the coverage i remember back home.

Have come into maryborough this afternoon to see the old buildings, quite wonderful and very well preserved. Unlike other places where they are often gathered together miles from the original place they were built, here they remain where they were constructed, lining wide open streets just of the river where ships used to moor, bring produce from elsewhere in the country and around the world. Even more interestingly, this is the town where Mary Poppins was born!!

Quite enough history, you'll think i've gone a bit mad........and no pictures again. THey dont have usb ports in this library!!

Friday, August 08, 2008

Nursery Work

A week of potting up plants, weeding and fixing new irrigation. Not particularly what most folk would consider part of any holiday, but thoroughly enjoyable from where i stand.
Rossmount Nursery grows tropical fruit trees, most of which i have never heard of before. They have a vast orchard for collecting cuttings, grafting material and seeds on the side of a very steep hill above a large dam, so no water problems here. It has affected them in the past when the country was banned from any garden watering, but the restrictions are reducing all the time as water use is becoming more sustainable.
The owners, David and Jeanette have travelled extensively, mainly through asia, venturing up into eastern europe and the old soviet union. Some fascinating stories and amazing recollections of places they visited and folk they met. Always a guide book available to check details and share their experiences. I have a great list of Hawaiian places to visit and more importantly to avoid, though i guess it depends on the sort of holiday experience that is required.....
They are nearing retirement and have employed a nursery manager to take over the day to day running of the place, it is all very exciting and hopefully about to take on a whhole new lease of life. I bet he has an interesting time with a constantly changing workforce, often with limited vocabulary and knowlege from all around the world. I was quizzed about retailing and marketing and hopefully have left them with a few good options to consider from a garden centre point of view.

After weeks of hunting i finally found a sugar cane processing factory that was open for tours. A technical insight into how sugar makes its way from cane to refinery. Noisy, hot and very smelly most of the time and with my ears plugged with 'Safety in the Workplace' regulation ear plugs, quite difficult to hear everything that was going on. Thankfully an explanatory video rectified that at the end of the tour and the group even received a complimentary cup of tea with pre refinery sugar as required!!!!