RESTLESS/Chapter 17

2017
On 16th January I received a specialist’s comment to my condition via my Doctor and a call from the Urology Department to say that I will be in consultation with a Specialist soon. But nothing happened after that. Then I had my now new doctor intervene as she had worked at the Lyell McEwin and knew the ropes. The result was that I was to have a meeting with the Registrar on 21st February 2017. So, everything seems to take two months or more at the Lyell McEwin.
In the mean time I had a biopsy done on a dark blotch on my left arm. It has been sitting there for a number of years now and then I imagined it started to grow. The biopsy indicated that it was a malignant melanoma but that the finding was inconclusive so a new biopsy will be performed on 23rd February 2017 to find out the real truth.
I am reading web pages on the removal of the Bladder and/or Radiation Treatment and Chemotherapy of the Bladder none of which sound very exciting. Where is this going?
I hope I get some answers on 21st February…………………
In the mean time I try not to think about it but it does sit there in the background. We all know that life is terminal. It is just the date thereof that is unknown. Many humans to not even make it to 50 years of age and so I a grateful to have lived into my early 70’s and to have been able to see the world evolve over the time from the mid 1940’s into the early part of the 21st Century.

State of health update: 21st February 2017

I saw Doctor Hoffmann, the Registrar, Urology Department, Lyell McEwin Hospital in Adelaide today.

My bladder cancer is aggressive and in the wall of my bladder and also possibly in the fat lining of my stomach

There are three options I can follow

1. Have bladder removed. It is a 5 hour operation. Complications are probable but not definite. It is a very traumatic operation to endure. Then that will be followed up by Radiation therapy. Outcome possible extension of life for 5 years but nothing is certain. I will also need to get around with a bag strapped to my body for urine excretion.

2. No operation but Radiation Therapy Treatment over the next 12 months. Outcome possible extension of life for 5 years or more but it depends on many factors and so nothing is certain. Chemotherapy is not an option as explained to me

3. Do nothing. Outcome possible extension of life for 24 months maximum. Life will become very uncomfortable after 12 months and further on.

I have chosen Number 2 for a number of reasons but most of all that I do not relish the trauma I will have to endure at my age for numbers 1 and 3

I shall be having a consultation with the Radiation Specialists within 2-4 weeks. That is the way it works here

While there is nothing to cheer about, I feel happy now that I have chosen a path into the unknown future
Update 22nd February 2017.
Doctor Hoffmann, the Registrar at Lyell McEwin Hospital rang me in the afternoon a bit apologetic stating that I will need to have Chemo Therapy after all, most likely by way of injection. This will be to combat the cancer coming back again. This again is a different department so I will need two separate appointments
Second biopsy on my left arm came back negative. Dr Sims took a large piece of skin off me that required 7 stitches which came out again on 2nd March and healed by 9th March
I have received notification that I will be seeing Dr Scott Carruthers for Radiation Therapy and Dr Patel for Chemotherapy at the Northern Adelaide Cancer Centre on 9th March
Update 9th March.
I had Round 1 of setting up for Chemo and Radiation in Adelaide and including a precise CT Scan. It was a big day and my mate, George, who was visiting from Darwin, accompanied me in what must have been a boring day for him. He did have a good book to read however. I was pretty tired by the time we got home after dark, but I did drive all the way.
I will have two bouts of week-long Chemo infusion but I will be free to move around. So. on 27th March I commenced Chemotherapy Treatment for one week and on 4th April I start with 15 minute a day Radiation for 6 weeks. The second week of Chemo comes up in week 4 of the Radiation Treatment. We have booked the van in to Windsor Gardens Caravan Park from 26th March until about 18th May. It is going to be a 40km drive there and back to the Lyell McEwin Hospital each day but that is our only option that gives a modicum of freedom. There are rooms and units available at two suburbs in the city especially for cancer patients and owned by the Cancer Council of South Australia but they are even further away from the Lyell McEwin Hospital.
By the time that is done it remains to be seen what happens next. I am staying positive and hoping that that will help with my recovery and that I will be able to squeeze a few more years out of this body
Update 19th March.
We have a week of reading all the paper work given to me pertaining to Chemotherapy, Radiation Therapy and the side effects. We also have a week to set the van up with all necessities for living away.
26th March
Well, tomorrow I start 7 weeks of Chemotherapy and Radiation Therapy, which will hopefully kill all the Cancer cells in my Bladder
The Chemo will be infused into my bloodstream for one week only.
Then I start Radiation on the second week for a total of 6 weeks.
On week 4 of Radiation I will also have another 1 week of Chemotherapy
I have done a lot of research with the material given to me by the Oncology Department of the Lyell McEwin Hospital and on the Internet. Each patient reacts differently to the two therapies and each therapy is done differently according to the patients condition
It remains to be seen how I will be affected by the therapy
Judith, my best friend and partner for the past 48 years will be accompanying me when necessary

28th March 2017
Yesterday was supposed to be the start of my treatment but due to monumental stuff-up by the Northern Cancer Centre, part of the Lyell McEwin Hospital, treatment won’t be starting until next Monday 3rd April ( the details of this will take more than one page to list and the person to blame went on leave yesterday….lol ). It is enough to make one angry…..but I just shrug my shoulders……
Incompetence springs to mind and I have to rely on this mob for my health and well- being!
What I did get was a tube that follows along a vein for 57cm from my arm to my heart where the medicines will be infused for 120 hours of next week. The tube will stay in for the duration of the treatment. This was done under the same conditions of having an operation where the doctor scrubs up and the area affected is isolated
So after I get a new dressing on the insert today, we are going home and will be back in the city next Sunday evening. We are leaving the van and one car down here in the caravan park
Before we left for home I had an audience with the Registrar of the Oncology Department, Karen, and received an apology for what it is worth.
Friday 31st March This morning my urine overnight has the dark colour of blood and so there must be some haemorrhaging inside the Bladder.
Why has it taken 11 months to get this far? I realise that as a Public Patient I have to wait my turn in the queue. But why does it take so long? I am going to write to the head of Oncology and ask the question. (I did not write a letter in the end deeming it as a waste of time).

New Year’s Seclusion 2017

The older you get the more peace you want in your life and noisy parties and drunken behaviour are things to be avoided. And so we always aim to go somewhere quiet for our New Years camping trip although these days we travel in sedated luxury and can hardly call it camping.
Our Northern Neighbours, as we call them, Ian and Chris, had just acquired a Winnebago Motorhome powered by a Fiat Ducati diesel engine and a short camping trip was on the cards to test and explore the new dimensions they have created for themselves, and so we conspired to go camping together as soon as possible

We had an easy run down the valley to the Southern Flinders Ranges and Horrocks Pass which brought us out over the sweeping plain to Port Augusta and the coast. The pass is named after John Ainsworth Horrocks, a gentleman from England, who came to South Australia in 1839 at the age of 21 together with his 16 year old brother Eustace. He brought with him a family servant, a blacksmith, a shepherd, four merino rams, sheepdogs, tools, sufficient clothing for five years, and a church bell. He set about establishing pastoral holdings, farms and is reputed to have started the first vineyard in the Clare Valley. He was a restless fellow (like me) looking for more adventure and in 1846 he travelled through the pass now named after him and arrived at Depot Glen, a camp site of Edward John Eyre.
Horrocks had imported a camel to help with his exploration as the camel could carry great loads. The camel had a nasty nature and would spit and bite people and domestic animals alike. On the 1st of September, whilst reloading his rifle in close proximity to the camel, the latter moved forward and set off the cock. The resultant explosion took off the middle fingers of Horrocks’ right hand and a row of teeth. Horrocks was transported back to his home at Penwortham where he died of his injuries on 23rd September. He was 28 years of age.
At Port Augusta we refuelled and then went to the bird hide area and had some lunch. There was a foul smell about and we later learned that the ash dump from the old disused coal-fired power station, had dried out and was being blown about by the wind. Later reports showed angry residents of Port Augusta giving the Minister for Utilities a hard time on TV
There was quite a bit of traffic on the road as most were scrambling to get to their destinations before the New Year celebrations. We cruised long nicely and spoke over the radio occasionally. At Cowell we refuelled and Jude bought 3 dozen Cowell Oysters while Ian bought a dozen as only he was partial to them. We made our way in the late afternoon to Yeldulknie Weir, the turnoff being just 5km short of Cleve along the Birdseye Highway ( Our Garmin Lady kept on pronouncing it as Birdsee…..lol).
And we had the place to ourselves as we set up camp. A few locals came and went. The weir was constructed in 1912 to supply water to local farmers, Arno Bay township and Cowell Township but not Cleve. The camping area is an initiative of the Cleve Lions Club and it is well maintained with flush toilets and picnic tables. The restored wheelhouse is state heritage listed, and is open for public viewing of the blueprints.
We pigged out on Oysters that night and had a combined supper with both Jude and Chris contributing their cooking creations. Ian tried out his ‘quiet’ generator but our frowning faces at the noise intrusion soon had him putting it away again. We all slept like babies that night. I woke up when a vehicle drove in and out again at 1.45am. I figured it might have been the local Police doing their rounds.
The last day of the calendar year and we left Yeldulknie and made for Port Neill initially via Cleve and Arno Bay. We stopped at Cleve for munchies from the bakery and hardened tennis balls for Blaise (who has a habit of destroying them). Port Neill was as pretty as ever with its long jetty piercing out into the bay. Ian, Chris and Jude went for a walk whilst I kept Blaise company.
From Port Neill it was a 10km gravel road trip to Cowleys Beach free camp. There were three other camps there but well spaced so as to be out of each others way. The girls and Blaise went for a long walk on the beach whilst I read a book and Ian played with his Satellite TV. There is no phone coverage or ordinary TV signal out at Cowleys Beach. The beach area is on private farmland but the cocky allows visitors to camp there for free. He came over on his quad bike in the late afternoon for a chat and remembered us from two years ago
We were about to commence our New Years Eve Feast when a bitterly cold south easterly wind came across the bay and we were scrambling for warmer clothes and hoodies. Eventually Ian decided to pull the Winnebago in behind the caravan so as to block the gale from blowing our Baby Q’s out. We settled down to a great meal and including more oysters and finished off with some wine and a port. We were in bed by 9.30pm as the weather drove us indoors. So we listened to the radio and drifted off to sleep blissfully missing the bewitching hour.
As Ian and Chris had family commitments down on the Yorke Peninsula and some work to do along the way, they left us by 8.30am on New Years Day. We set off south looking at Lipsom Cove and Tumby Bay. I managed to get down to the sea with my walker at Lipsom Cove as the sand was quite hard. The day was overcast and I only dipped my toes in the water.
We hauled out the heavy Camps 8 book and started looking for places to camp on the way home. I spotted a Conservation Park by the name of Carrapee Hill a way northwest of Cleve and dogs were allowed to be there. And so we set off in that general directionvia Cummins, Lock and Darke Peak.
Upon arrival at Carrapee Hill we found the place very overgrown and the track I took got narrower and narrower until I found a place to turn around. Luckily the undergrowth was soft and just brushed the side of the car and van. Then we found the information board which stated No Pets and so we decided to give it a miss and head back to Yelduknie Weir. The dirt road took us to the Kimba/Cleve road which is sealed. IO was happily cruising along at about 90kmh when without a warning sign we were is a very tight S Bend. The weight of the van pushed the MUX across the white lines on to the wrong side of the road. I applied the caravan brakes as soon as I could get my hand there and the rig pulled up on the opposite road verge. We were just lucky that there was no oncoming traffic. Phew! A bit of an adrenaline rush there ! There was no traffic until we arrived in Cleve. Back at Yeldulknie we made camp again. A number of tourists and locals came and went. One lot came in a brand new Range Rover and hung about for a while and then left albeit slowly as they could no get the car turned around in the narrow road. We had the place t ourselves for the night.
Upon leaving in the morning I spotted some glasses lying next to the logs where the RR people had stopped. They were plastic wine glasses but with nothing wrong with them we claimed our booty. They have now replaced our old plastic ones.
Jude wanted to buy a new Jockey wheel for the trailer but most businesses were closed as it was a public holiday on the Monday. Supercheap in Whyalla was open and they had the right jockey wheel but only the front part. According to them the rear clamp and bolts and nuts come as an extra purchase. What a rip off. We slunk off in disgust.
By now we were starting to think of the next camp for the night as we wanted to be out for the four nights. There is nothing in our area of any value but then we remembered Appila Springs, a short way north of the village of Appila and about 45km from home and we did just that. The springs have quite a bit of water in the creek from the recent rains and we found our usual campsite free and stopped for the night
It is always good to take the back roads more than the highways as there is little traffic out there and the gravel roads through the wheat growing areas are generally in good repaiSo that was it for our first outing for 2017.
Where to next?

February Heat 2017

Last year we did long term travelling leaving home for three months at a time but circumstances have changed and this year we are looking for short getaways to hideaways within a comfortable distance
How we picked going away in to a heat wave is above suspicion. We gave it a scant glance as this week was the only one totally free in an otherwise busy calendar. I was insistent that I wanted to try out my old Nissan Patrol GQ lovingly known as The Datto, with the condition that if it did not work out we would come home and hitch up to the Isuzu MUX again as this our regular tow vehicle
And so this happened. We were travelling well until we started negotiating the Oodlawirra Hills in the middle of the day heading towards Broken Hill in New South Wales, when the temperature guage started rising. Now we have owned Nissans for some years and we jokingly say that they do not like hills. Once out of the hills however the temperature guage still reached up towards the ‘H’ and I decided to turn back 60kilometres out from home. Now, we had a full compliment of fruit and vegetables on board and to save an argument and aggro at the Fruit Fly Gate at Oodlawirra, we took a by-pass dirt road back home.
The Datto was bedded back in its own garage, the MUX hitched up, gear and tools changed over, and off we went for a second time. Driving with the sun to our back it was a pleasant drive east. Jude wanted to do some shopping in Broken Hill and as it was now Sunday afternoon late, we decided to camp at our usual spot at the old Mingary Railyards.
This camp is only about 300 metres off the highway but traffic noise is faint and after nine o’clock at night, the traffic slows right up so that we could get a good nights sleep. Of course a game was necessary with Blaise and she chased the ball in the low scrub losing it at times. We sat in the shade of the van until the sun went down and after a bite to eat and we went to bed.

Pulling tree branches away from the duco
After shopping for various goods including much needed beer and wine at the Woolworths Complex in Broken Hill, we set off towards Menindee Lakes. Jude took the wheel for around 100 kilometres to get in some practise and I took over again at the lakes. We scouted around and found shaded place to park the van only ten metres from the water’s edge with a bit of manoeuvering around trees.
It was a hot day and we spent some time sitting in the water of the main Menindee Lake. We passed the time reading books and in the very late afternoon a game with Blaise was insisted upon. Our small battery operated radio comes in to play when we are travelling and we listen to various stations of ABC Radio.

During the night it did not cool down much either. Luckily we have an electric fan which I connected to our 240 volt inverter and we were able to get a good nights rest with cool air blowing over us. With the weather forecast advising all and sundry that we were now in for a number of days of extreme heat we decided that we should travel during the day, find a caravan park and have the luxury of airconditioning in both vehicles. And that is what we did.
Menindee Community Township is a neat little place with a number of houses, shops and a pub. We did a drive a round but there was nothing of interest for us and we moved on.
The road south started off with a speckled bitumen appearance which seemed that cracks in the road surface had been filled each and every day. The bitumen ran out at the council boundary and from there on it was gravel to Pooncarie and beyond. We stopped at the Post Office at Pooncarie and made enquiries about a mates children who live there and with the right information we caught up with Emma and Tony for a cuppa and a natter.

From Pooncarie the countryside flattens out along the reached of the river and a wide expanse of wheat fields are seen along the way. Mallee Trees and River Gums line the fridges of the fields the last remnants after land clearing.

The gravel road was quite good and I sat on about 70kmh and before long we had arrived in Wentworth and booked in to the Willow Bend Caravan Park and were given a site right by the Darling River. The next four days were either spent driving around in the morning to visit eating houses or merchants of quaint attire (Pet Stuff), sitting in the river till our fingers crinkled or spending time hiding in the caravan. The van’s air-conditioning was our saviour and we kept it running 24 hours per day. The area where we were camped experienced two days of 45C and two days of 46C with a minimum temperature of 30C at night.
Come Saturday and we got away early, having hooked up the night before when it was cooler. We took the Perry Hills Road north and west of Wentworth towards Renmark. The first 24km was sealed, then there was good gravel road for 98km and thereafter 3o km of corrugations. Close to Renmark we came across the Calpernum Mallee Supersite on the side of the road. The Calperum Mallee Supersite has established and reinforced research infrastructure that can measure and monitor the condition of a nationally iconic region. It is linked to the Australian Supersite.
We caught up with our friends Glenn and Sadie in Berri. Blaise was invited into the house and disgraced herself. Never done that before. Glenn was very forgiving. After leaving Berri we swung in to our favourite Fruit and Veg stall on the Sturt Highway and stocked up on goodies for the next week. We bypassed the need to cross the river again by backtracking towards Monash and then taking the top road to Morgan.
After home made pies for lunch and other refreshments from the Morgan Bakery we were heading home along the straight run to Burra. Jude took over the wheel here as I was feeling sleepy. Near the Burra Hills we remarked that the rain forecast looked thin on the ground as there were only one or two clouds about but by the time we had crossed the range the clouds were more plentiful and the closer we came to home the clouds took on a rain bearing appearance. By this time I had taken over the wheel again and it was only a few kilometres north of Mt Bryan when I saw a Road Train approaching in the distance.
Then on the bend this Toyota Ute overtakes the Road Train.
200 metres…we are both doing over 90 and a decisions must be made and fast
Luckily there was a wide entrance to a farm house on my left…I braked hard and then left the road. I had a tail as well and I could hear his tyres squeal
Whoosh and the whole moving mass passed us safely
Phew!!!!!
Physically drained by our adrenalin rush, we steadied the wheel and made for home. Once I had the van parked in its usual spot, we left the rig hooked up and ducked inside to the air-conditioning as the temperature was still a steady 42C. Unhitching could wait until later when it was cooler.

CANCER TREATMENT

Sunday 2nd April. My urine has cleared up. My walking seems more fluid but I do remember taking an additional Lyrica 300mg pill. I am still on my Walker however and that is probably not going to change.

Day 1. Monday 3 April. My first sensation with Chemotherapy. I have a bottle attached to me for one week. The bottle works on body temperature and infuses Fluorouracil in to my bloodstream via my heart. I carry the bottle in my shorts’ pocket.
Day 2. I am feeling good after a shower and breakfast and 2 trips to the toilet. Information supplied suggests that I may get diarrhoea. Start Radiation Therapy today. Wearing Men’s Pads for the first time today
First day of Radiation. All the nurses are very nice, one nurse looks just like my late Mother-in- Law. You have to lie very still and it can be uncomfortable. The process takes about 20minutes all up. 15 minutes of organising and 5 minutes of radiation
Day 3. Felt a little bit nauseous earlier in the day. But after ablutions, shower and breakfast I am feeling good if sleepy. Yesterday we bought penis pads for insertion into underpants as I often have little leaks. It is a bit cumbersome but I will use them for the week and then see again. Information supplied by the Cancer Council states that I may get diarrhoea. As I am taking other pills for back pain that bind me up the diarrhoea is not happening, which is a blessing. Maybe it will come later. Radiation at 12.25pm. Judith has gone bargain hunting
Day 4. Feeling better each day. Had to have the PICC taped up again as the connection had become sloppy. Nurses told me to go to the toilet to empty bladder and rectum. Easier said than done. Jude and Blaise went home in the MUX. Took two sachets of Macrovic to lighten up the bowels.
Day 5. Nurses now worried about the rash in my groin which is as a result of a Fungus I have been carrying around for 6 years. Still no toilet results. Some results came in the evening. Took another sachet. Hope we get more fluid movements soon.
Day 6. Feeling woozy this morning. Prepping the van so that I can leave it for the weekend. Chemo therapy bottle gets disconnected at 2pm and then I have a two and a half hour drive home.
I had the Chemo bottle removed at 2.15pm today. Had to go to Ward 1 D…….down this corridor to the end, turn left….down that corridor for a looong way, then veer right and then turn left. This hospital is like a Rabbit Warren. I was pretty exhausted when I got back to the car an hour later. I still have the PICC in my arm and the pipe in a vein to my heart. This will all come out at the end of my second Chemo session which starts after Easter on the 24th
Drove home in 2 hours and 10 minutes listening to TripleJ Radio and had the doof doof on real loud whilst sticking to all speed limits. Pretty tired tonight so will turn in early
Day 7. The weather turned cold. Judith was barking this morning so I ordered her to stay in bed but that is easier said than done. I accomplished some computer work, transferring documents and saving them to a new external hard drive. Wrote letters and sent PATS forms off. Washed my groin area with a salt solution to try and curb the incidence of the fungus that has been living there since 2011. Turned in at 9.30pm but sleep was only in two hour sessions as that is what my bladder allows. And if I drink two mouth fulls of water then it reverts to a one hour sleep session.
Day 8. Groin fungus is rife and wet this morning and will need another salt dabbing. I have to see the nurse again this morning. Judith is staying home while I go back to the caravan in Adelaide for this short week before Easter. Next Radiation appointment is at 11.50am and an appointment with the head of the Urology Department at 2.10pm to check on progress I guess. Yesterday my radiation went OK and also the meeting with Dr Brien at the Urology Department where we talked about how I was progressing with my treatment and how things may pan out on the months ahead. Other business dealings dragged on at Munno Para Shopping Centre and I only arrived at the caravan park at 5pm.Yesterday my radiation went OK and also the meeting with Dr Brien at the Urology Department where we talked about how I was progressing with my treatment and how things may pan out on the months ahead. Other business dealings dragged on at Munno Para Shopping Centre and I only arrived at the caravan park at 5pm. My radiation went OK and also the meeting with Dr Brien at the Urology Department where we talked about how I was progressing with my treatment and how things may pan out on the months ahead. Other business dealings dragged on at Munno Para Shopping Centre and I only arrived at the caravan park at 5pm.
Day 9. Cool night. Another two appointments today which will take up the whole day in the Northern suburbs. I have some new medicine for the groin fungus and will follow instructions.
My Mobility Issue resolved.
My Neurologist at the Lyell McEwin Hospital also, gave me the answers I have been waiting 3 years and 8 months for and after seeing various Doctors and Specialists.
1. My fall in 2013 dislodged soft tissue in my neck which in turn hit the spinal cord and damaged it. The tissue between the vertebrae then retracted. One can see from the MRI where the damage was done. This in turn damaged a nerve which operates my left leg and that is why I drag my leg. Is it operable?…..maybe, but he states I might then be permanently paralysed….Is it of benefit to me have an operation = No
2. My back has Spinal Stenosis, which is damage to the soft tissue between the vertebrae due to car crashes in 1980 and 1981, one not my fault and the other my fault, and the onset of older age in 2013. Is it operable? Probably but it will be of no benefit if things go wrong as with nerve damage at an older age. Will it be of benefit to me = No
Answer: Keep on taking your painkillers and keep on moving
Back to my cancer reports;
I had my Radiation and also spoke with another doctor about the Fungus and told him that I am experimenting with different kinds of gel and will report back. The staff are nervous of any changes to my skin in the radiation area
Day 10. The phone rang at 7.30 as I had slept in and as I regularly ring Judith at 7am, she was getting worried. I returned the call. I have a midday appointment today so I will do some housework to start off with. I am feeling relatively good today. I was lucky to get a disabled parking spot right outside the Cancer Clinic and so I did not have the long walk from the car park. I was in and out quite quickly and back on the road back to the caravan park where a prepared meal had defrosted and all I had to do was to put it in the microwave and push some buttons. Thanks Jude. Tomorrow afternoon I drive home for the Easter Long-weekend and make for the Boro.
Day 11. Slept most of yesterday arvo then watched telly till 10.30 and had my usual sleeps until 6.30am when I rang Jude for her morning wake-up. I am feeling a bit woozy today but otherwise good. Cleaning up behind me as I take stuff back home for the 4 day weekend. Radiation at 12 and Chemo doctor at 2 and then home
Day 12. Easter weekend. Slept in late. Body especially knees very stiff and sore. It is muscular pain. I had a rush of toilet visits and seem to have cleared my bowels.
Day 13. Feeling a bit better today.Went for a drive with a friend out to one of the stations nearby and did a bit of sluicing in a creek looking for colour
Day 14. Another relaxing day. Walking getting worse
Day 15. Today my back is really giving me a hard time. No pain but no strength at all. I am now literally a cripple and walk bent over sideways. We dropped the Xtrail off at a friends place as his brother -in-law is buying it. We have three lots of friends call around. Jude went and collected her paintings from the Art Prize as it is winding up today.
Day 16. We drove to Adelaide in the morning as I had Radiation at 2.20pm and PICC change of bandages at 3.30pm. Then on to the caravan at Windsor Gardens.
Day 17. Aches and pains this morning ….all skeletal…..should be OK when I warm up although the weather is still quite warm deep into April. Have lost some taste buds but generally taste is still OK. Radiation at 1.05pm. In other respects we had a good day solving some money matters with registration of vehicles. When the mood is good it helps with the treatment.
Day 18. Up just past 6am. Feeling quite good this morning. I sleep well in 2 hour shifts as my bladder controls the urine excretion. Some rain about. Still reasonably warm. Radiation mid morning. I had a blood samplw taken as I start Chemo again next Monday. Felt crook all afternoon so had a lie down. Perked up in the evening.
Day 19. I discovered why I was feeling crook all afternoon. I had forgotten to take my morning pills yesterday. I discovered this in the evening so took the morning dose anyway. It is interesting how dependent one becomes on the regular pill. It rained last night. After Radiation session we are driving home as we have some business to attend to. I was out of the Radiation Theatre by 12.50. We had done our other jobs in the morning before radiation and we were on the road by 1pm. I drove all the way as Jude prefers me to drive as she gets nervous with me as a passenger. It isn’t what I say, it seems, it is what I am thinking. We has lunch and the lovely Bakery Cafe at Riverton and had two relief stops on the way home and clocked into Peterborough at 4pm. Went to sleep by 10pm but it was a rough night with recurring dreams and leg cramps and the last thing was the feeling of something hanging on to my foot. But this was at 6.30am and Blaise was up and lying on my foot ! Over the past 6 years I have had a fungal infection in my groin which comes and goes. I have seen 3 different doctors about it but to no avail. No one has an answer. The nurses at the Cancer Centre suggested a Gel which did not work either and the seeing a different doctor about my progress with the radiation and mentioning this to him he stated that the area must be kept dry as the fungus thrives on heat and wet areas. So off to a Chemist I go and there I had to ask what to do mentioning the embarrassing places to a young lady chemist and she suggested a Spray on Powder. Tolnaftate. And it seems to be working. Hope so!
Day 20. Jude did the washing. The Datto would not start. Will need a new starter motor I think. Jude then cooked a beautiful lunch and we slacked off for the rest of the day. Cramps have gone and I am feeling OK.
Day 21. Sunday and we left home around 10am and did a slow drive back to Adelaide via Clare and Auburn. We had a great lunch at the Sir John Franklin Hotel in Kapunda and then drove to Tanunda, Williamstown, Chain of Ponds and a very twisty road back to our caravan at Windsor Gardens. It is a very pretty drive, mostly through wine lands and picturesque little hamlets or small country villages. I drove all the way but was tired by the time we got back to the van. Had an early night and slept through most of MKR !
Day 22. I had my new bottle of Fluorouracil attached for the next week of Chemotherapy. Felt a bit woozy to start with but came good after about half an hour and then took over the city driving again. After my Radiation session we made for Modbury and the Service SA Centre where Judith handed in her Vehicle SOLD paper. I went to sleep in the arvo and woke up to have a bite to eat. Another gourmet meal from my mate. Watched some telly including MKR and the slept my usual sleep in two hour shifts
Day 23. Tuesday and ANZAC Day so a public holiday and a celebration for those who are interested in war. Feeling a bit stiff in my back this morning. Chemo is going OK and I feel neutral. A slow day ensued with reading novels and bush ballads. The weather chased us inside early with some showers about,
Day 24. At 12.45am the wind picked up with stormy weather about. The annexe was flapping rather hard and I decided to fit the annexe flappers, clips that hold the annexe steady. To get them I had to wake Jude who was not amused at my antics. However she produced the flappers and then took Blaise for a walk whilst I fitted the flappers. Feeling good this morning but after wearing closed in underpants the heat build up in my groin produced the wetness again. So out they go. A quick spray and the itch settled down. There was some confusion about my Treatment for the day as we received a phone call at 10.00am whilst driving to the northern suburbs to ask where I was. I knew I had to be there at 11.00 am but they thought it was 9.30. Anyway we did the treatment at 10.30. The staff were concerned that I had n0t cleaned out my bowels as they can detect gas (commonly known as a fart when it exits) and some solids in the rectum cavity. I explained that I had purged my bladder and rectum 20 minutes prior to the scan. I could feel that gas wanted to exit but it was physically not possible at this time. Then we did shopping at Aldi and then home. Jude went and had a haircut. Blaise and I stayed in the van. A cool drizzly day.
Day 25. I had agreed at Reception at the Cancer Centre that I would swap times with another lady as she was unavailable early in the morning. So we were out of bed early and got there in good time after the usual morning stuff. Then I went to the Service Centre in Modbury and I renewed my Disabled Parking permit, then shopping and then home.
Day 26. Another drizzly day. I am feeling good coming in to the last 36 hours of my Chemotherapy Infusion. I have not encountered any of the side effects that have been listed, so far. Radiation was good and I had some banter with the staff as usual. Afterwards we went to Beacons Lighting and found a new light for my desk. Then Super Cheap for car smellies and Dan Murphy’s for a wine cellar top up. Its going to be a late lunch.
It was a late lunch and I had two glasses of Sauvignon Blanc which put me to sleep fpr the rest of the day waking up in time to see the early evening TV shows that Jude follows. We skipped supper but I had some slices of toast and Vegemite Cheese at around 10pm.
Day 27. Blaise wakes Judith up every morning around 5.20am by pummeling her paws on on her arm. Judith gets up, does what she has to do, dresses warmly and takes Blaise for a walk outside the caravan park. At home Blaise has a Doggy Door so getting up is not necessary. I rise, do what I have to do, take my morning medicines, make the coffees and get on the internet to check for emails, the weather, the bank and Facebook!
I am feeling good this morning despite my mobility problem in the early mornings when my knees buckle when I put weight on them. I am going to see if I can do some sort f exercise to build up leg muscle strength.
Today the Chemotherapy bottle got removed from my arm and Monday the PICC and vein pipe will be removed. That is the end of Chemotherapy and of Fluorouracil infusion which eases the Radiation burns to the cancer cells on the walls of my bladder.
Day 28. Sunday and a free day. Groin fungus irritable during the night. Used spray-on powder twice. Feeling good this morning especially after being freed from the Chemo bottle. We went for an exploratory drive in the Adelaide Hills after breakfast and got home at 3.30pm. It was a lovely drive over twisting roads and hairpin bends through beautiful autumn colours of vineyards and fruit farms. MKR Final cook-off
Day 29. Monday May 1. Weather forecast is for rain. Feeling good. Radiation first and then my PICC and line came out. I did not feel a thing. 14 days of Radiation left. MasterChef starts!
Day 30. An afternoon appointment. I had to see one of the Doctors too. He said, ” Good to see you around” and I said, “Me too” and we both burst out laughing. I had to be weighed. Wow 131kg.”…sheesh ! Going to be diet coming up, soon.
Scan seemed to take extra-long today and I fell asleep and dreamt weird dreams. The radiation left my skin feeling hot.
Day 31. Feeling OK but walking with difficulty. Groin fungus is back and making scabs. Will see if I can get appointment with my doctor on Friday. Radiation is at midday. The days of winter are setting in and the temperature is dropping below 20C. After radiation we went and organised some new tyres for the MUX and fitment tomorrow. Then we dropped in to the Bookworm Shop in Valiant Street at Holden Hill. A seriously full Bookshop. And there we discovered some Di Morrissey books. As we had decided to buy her whole collection we found more to add. But in the mean time I needed a toilet and the shop owner gave me directions but they were wrong and I got lost and so as the situation was becoming serious I high-tailed it back to the caravan about 4km away. Just made it and then had to ring Jude t find out just where this shop was as we do not know the suburbs. Good fun.
Day 32. Winter is here and we slept with the electric heater on for most of the night. Feeling good this morning. Radiation at midday. Well sort of/ They were behind but I was out of there by 1. Later we had new tyres fitted to the MUX and then we hit the traffic in to town after 3 arriving at the caravan at 4pm.
Day 33. 8 am appointment this morning by request so that we can get home and do some business. I also have a doctors appointment at 3.15pm. Left my medicines behind, eh?
Day 34. Painful rise. Now I know why I take painkillers. Drive to Burra to see Antique Fair and do Whole of Town Garage Sale.
Blaise was going barking mad today…
First of all, my medicine box was left behind in the van. So, by mid-morning I was stressed out being without my pills since the day before and had some near misses going to the toilet.
On our way back from Burra I once again was uncomfortable and had to pull into a small forest at Farrell Flat. After reorganising my life we hit the road with me still driving and getting crankier. So I took off a bit suddenly and accelerated to get up to speed on the highway. I noticed a door light had come on and pulled over to fix it. I thought that it was the rear right passenger door. No light was still one. So Jude got out and said through the open back door “There’s no dog here” Nothing else had fallen out.
We sped back to Farrell Flat at around 150kmh but couldn’t see Blaise on the highway but found her where we had turned in to stop, befriending a man who lived there. She hopped in to the car and did not bark for the rest of the trip.
Near Tarlee I gave the wheel over to Jude and we made it back to the caravan just in time for the toilet and my pills and a rest
Blaise is sulking on Mum’s bed….LOL
I have taken my pills, had a mini sleep and a bit to eat. Feeling better now
Day 35. Sunday. I forgot to add that when back at the van yesterday and upon exiting the toilet, my shoe somehow hooked on to the door frame putting me off balance and down I went like a ton of bricks. It hurt for a while and I will most likely have some bruises
So trying to work out what happened I found that my usually swollen leg is now almost back to normal size again and that pair of shoes are loose. So I think that that is a plus for the radiation.
Feeling good this morning after popping pills and taking anti-biotics.to clear up another affliction. It never seems to end, I had a good day today. I have been feeling good and walking better. A friend of a Facebook friend came to visit me. Les Skinner is an avid bush walker and desert traveller and we have much in common. So we had a cuppa and munchies provided by The Cook and an hour long chat while Jude disappeared into the shopping centre nearby
Day 36. Early rise at 5.45am when the furry child needs to go for a walk. Feeling good this morning. Had a glass of wine with dinner last night that resulted in 5 P in the bottle events. But I slept well. Fa bit woozy early on as I took the last of the anti-biotics and that made me crook. Radiation in the middle of the day. Waited an hour for service. Got cranky but joked with the staff and all settled down. Feeling good tonight.
Day 37. Another early rise. This time at 5am. Had a disturbed night with waterworks every hour due to a wine with my meal. Apart from that I am feeling good this morning. Did some shopping and buying a 70th Birthday present. Blood test after lunch, then radiation and then the Doctor.
A good day.
Day 38. 5am rise again. I slept 5 hours straight but that took me to 2.30am. Then I dozed for an hour and then I got my phone and went on Facebook for an hour and then slept half an hour before Blaise woke us up again for walkies. Radiation at 11.10am. Feeling good despite the lack of sleep. Radiation was late again but I let it slip by. We drove to Gawler to talk Solar with a panel supplier. He was not in but we received some paperwork and a promise that he would call. Then Munno Para to buy shoes for me and to have some lunch and then home. Feeling good but a tad tired.
Day 39. Blaise slept in this morning and we all went through to 6am. I had my normal nightly 2 hour sessions. Feeling good this morning but had some serious leg cramps last night. May be the two Tim Tams I ate before bed? Radiation and Doctor Patel after 1pm. Doctor reckons that I look good and that my blood count is good too. He will need to see me in August again after I have been scanned. Bought new shoes after driving the shoe sales lady nuts!
Day 40. Up before the magpies in the dark and after doing all the morning jobs and following up on this and that we got away at 7.15am for my Radiation at 8am and a car wash thereafter. We had a pie at Tarlee and arrived home before midday. Then there were various jobs on the list to do. Its quite cold in Peterborough and in the afternoon I chose to wear slacks again
Day 41. Upset tummy last night but that was more about eating licorice. My bed is warm without a electric blanket. In bed early but many wee dribbles though the night. Brain was working overtime and so I got up at 4.30am and went on the net. Fungus still prevalent and now in my bum-crack too. Not sure how we are going to fix it. Today is party preparation time. Food for the birthday tomorrow is catered for. We are only having a few friends around. Today we had visitors and Jude cleaned the BBQ area and patio and the two of us blew up balloons and put up bunting
Day 42. 14th of May and Jude turns 70! We had a lovely day with friends coming around to celebrate Jude’s birthday. I had organised for Julie Atkinson o cater pizzas, pavlova, birthday Black Forest Cake, fruit salad and Ice-cream. 13 humans just about polished the lot. Birthday started at 11.30 and ended at 3.30 and a jolly good time was had by all. After doing a million dished I ended up falling asleep in front of the TV
Day 43. Woke up with a real pain in my back but after doing some exercises and taking my pills I came good. We tidied up the house and left Peterborough around 10.30 am and then drove all the way to the van, unloaded all the gear and then drove back to the hospital. One of the radiographers has been reading my website and asked questions. Back home after 4 for munchies and a glass of wine outside under the awning
Day 44. Feeling better this morning. Radiation after lunch at 2pm so will go do some jobs at Munno Para. Saw Dr.Ben. Lovely young bloke. So enthusiastic. I told him that the Radiation seems to have shrunk the bloated left leg. He was amazed. Not so cold in town. Cloud cover and rain expected. Relaxed back at the van. Early to bed and I fell asleep during Masterchef and woke up during Jenny Brockie’s program on Rescue Paramedics.
Day 45. It rained during the night. Very stiff this morning and back hurting in early morning as do my knees. Have to move back around to warm up and wait for pills to kick in. Need to talk to Doc about painkillers. There was a small bingle in front of us on the way in. We got to the hospital in time. Radiation at 9am this morning. Rest of day free. Went to Aldi and fund some biskuits and Truffles as gifts for the Nurses. Drove down to BCF to look at stuff for camping but came away without anything. We had lunch at home and Curry and Rice which was delicious. Loafed after lunch. We had a shower of rain and snoozed the rest of the day away. Feeling quite good
Day 46. Radiation in middle of day again. Jude did a week’s washing and when we got to the Lyell McEwin Hospital I was called in just as I sat down on the waiting room. After Radiation, we went to Munno Para to conclude some Telstra business which did not eventuate even after waiting for some time to be served. On the way home we bought a PLB (Personal Locator Beacon) as insurance for our trips out in to the desert regions and some car polish for a job I was working on. Feeling good tonight. A bloke we know from Broken Hill came to visit. He is deaf so he shouts all the time. Luckily he didn’t stay long
Day 47. Feeling good this morning. Blaise slept in so its a late start to the day. Second last Radiation Day. Overcast with drizzle here and there.
Got our money back on PLB and then went looking for others. Seems like an EPIRB with GPS is more what I want. Same sort of money. Still looking.

Had a good Radiation session with songs and jokes with the Radiation technicians. I am going to miss them.
Drew no joy at Telstra but received late afternoon call from Telstra with better news and a promise on Satellite phone connection. Jude went to Op Shop and bought a book of Pam Ayers Poems

Traffic hideous and especially in large car-parks and I nearly swallowed a Suzuki. Doing stuff over the weekend but not going far

Monday is last Radiation and I am feeling surprisingly good. Quite against the norm and as the Doctor said to me, “A rare occurrence”
Day 48. 4am disturbance with Blaise jumping from bed to bed. Turns out it was the beep of the Fire Alarm Battery going flat. Jude took her for a walk anyhow made coffee took the battery out and we all fell back into a sleep. more hunting for stuff today. Feeling good this morning despite nightly disturbance. Did shopping of needed items from BCF store. Feeling whole body skin burn this evening. Can’t work it out
Day 49. Sunday. Body skin burn gone for the moment. I must have touched a nerve somewhere. However, groin fungus has re emerged. Groin very wet and with skin abrasions I can feel but not see. Sitting over electric heater to see if I can dry it out. No matter what has been tried the fungus is winning. Have tried Psoriasis creme, Salt dampener, Achilles Heel Powder, other cremes, Spray-on Tinaderm powder. Otherwise, I am feeling good. Overcast but predicted to be sunny later on.
Day 50. My last day of Radiation. 9.45 and then a de-brief by Nurses afterwards. Then it is 6 weeks till the next appointment which I suspect is an appointment to arrange another internal test to see how the treatment has killed off the cancer cells. Generally with my type of cancer two months is allowed for the treatment to take effect.
Visited the toilet no less than 10 times yesterday evening and through the night and I did not have must liquid intake apart from coffees and cool drinks.
I must say that I am a bit tired today.
Although I still have a way to go with my cancer evolvement, I am going to shelve daily writing until we start back at the hospital in July
Thank you for following my journey of discovery with cancer so far. I hope that my blog might be of help to someone out there.
UPDATE July 2017
The specialists agree, although they cannot say 100% for sure, that my Chemotherapy and Radiation Treatment has been successful mainly due to the fact that I have not been affected by the treatment and that I am looking well. have a sun tan and have gained weight which is against the norm.
The process now is going to take another 9 months of scans. It takes that long for the body to recover from the treatment to make doubly sure that the cancer is gone
So we are having a wine and snacks as a celebration tonight in the motel room while it is bucketing down outside
Tomorrow I have a scan and then we can go home. I will only know the results of this scan when I see the Oncologist on 3rd August 2017
The News of 3rd August 2017 could not be better. I am completely clear of cancer cells. I even saw the MRI scan myself. I am over the Moon and so are my friends. It is such a relief to know that I am clear. This is not to say it won’t come back BUT it is to say that I am clear for now
The bladder is acting normally and has settled down to 3 to 4 urination per night. The bladder however becomes very active if I consume cold beer. The more I drink the more it develops urine.
So this chapter of my life I now closed and I can concentrate on my other ailments….LOL
I have bought myself a Hospital Bed which is electrically operated. Makes me sleep well.

Beanie Festival 2017

She started on me as early as last year, as we were planning more things but not knowing where our lives were going to take us as my Doctor had blurted out to me during our home visit in May, that I had cancer. “I would like to go to the Beanie Festival in Alice Springs next year”. I suppose this is how all adventures start but now was not the time to think about it
My visits to specialists and the number of tests and invasive probing into the affected area started in September. It took a while to realise that the hospital worked in batches of 8 weeks between visitations and further tests.
My chemotherapy and radiation treatment took 7 weeks of intense streaming of chemicals and radiation rays but to everyone’s surprise, I did not suffer any side effects which is the lot of many cancer patients. I mooted to the Doctors and staff that I was going bush when I was let loose again and they all agreed that it would be a good idea
We were supposed to leave at first light on 3rd of June but upon finishing all the jobs on the Friday 1st June I suggested that we could leave then and by 2pm we were on the road.
I thought that we may go and camp in Parachilna Gorge that night, by going through the National Park to Blinman and then turn west along the gorge road, but by the time we got to Hawker I decided to head straight up to Parachilna and then head east from there to the gorge. When we pulled up on Surveyors Hill where there is a covered picnic seat and some interpretive signs, for a glance at the scenery of the Flinders Ranges and the rear wall of Wilpena Pound and decided to stay there for the night. The cold southern wind blew all night and woke us from a fitful sleep every couple of hours. The first night’s camping is always like that. Getting your brainwaves to die down and to get used to the new order of caravan life.
Sunday morning and we refuelled at Leigh Creek and bought a pie. The town has lost most of its inhabitants due to the power station closure and there for the coal mine closure and the future seems to be rumours upon rumours. We drove by Copley, a sleepy little village, some 6 kilometres from Leigh Creek. with some businesses still trading. Then just north of Lyndhurst the bitumen ran out and we were now on a good gravel road and the road was busy.
At Farina we called in to the Underground Bakery where we bought fresh bread and tarts. The bakery had just opened for the season the day before. A group of self appointed volunteers are rebuilding the town little by little every year when winter sets in. The bakery was a triumph that was funded by a government grant and the ovens get fired up during the tourist season and qualified bakers apply their trade to bring delicious bread to some locals, the tourists passing by and the surrounding stations.
There are two stretches of bitumen between Lyndhurst and Marree. One 17km and one 12km in the 80km stretch of road. About 25km from Lyndhurst you turn off to Farina, once the hope of many farmers ,but their crops failed and they moved away. Later Farina became a railway siding but eventually the railway moved to a different location and all the sidings eventually fell into disrepair

We refuelled again at Marree and then made for Claytons Bore on the Birdsville Track where we sat in the hot spa chatting to other travellers.
The artesian bore water is pumped from the station well to the camping area where there is a bush spa, showers and toilets. Judith did the washing( she loves doing the washing) and hung it up on the new washing line which fell over a couple of times until she tied it to the van. We put the annex out so that we could keep the washing and chairs out of the night air. We had a little fire to warm our hands and feet. Before sunset I played BALL with Blaise. Later on I overbalanced inside and fell against the hot stove with a tender part of my thigh…man, did it hurt! Now I sport a serous burn mark on my bum. We were in bed by 8pm listening to some 60’s music on the radio.

Day three and we stayed in bed late and loafed around and although Blaise had us up at 6. It was a bit cool in the van and I found out why. I hadn’t closer the ram air cover. Had showers and did camp cleaning and other things before pulling out at 11am.
We chuffed along at 60km hour. Talked to truck drivers on the UHF radio along the way. Stopped to take photos and to pick up wood before making a dry season camp on Coopers Creek. Total distance driven for the day was 57km.
Day four and we managed about 250km. We saw Cockatiels, Corellas and some kangaroos and four emus and some cattle. The countryside was green up until Clifton Station and then it dried off severely. We collected wood along the way in the morning and turned in to Mulka Ruins for smoko. Then it was on to Mungerannie where we refueled at $1.90 Not bad we thought. Then we had two $15 Hamburgers a wine and a beer that cost $44 but it was worth it.
We meandered along to Tipiolio Campsite at the turnoff to The Inside Track but it looked stark on the Gibber. The Inside Track has been flooded for the past 18 months. So we crossed over the road but that did not seem good either and so we pushed on. Then we got stuck in the roadworks and whilst passing a real big tractor the driver pointed out to us that our door was open. It turned out to be the outer door skin but after that it kept on opening and ockey straps did not work until Jude decided we should use some Hundred Mile an Hour tape and that worked. We had some dust come in through the door but it wasn’t too bad.
Sunset was upon us and I found an old graded road heading off somewhere and so we ducked down there for about 100 metres, did a u-ey and settled for the night. The wind was bitterly cold so we decamped inside after a short ball game. As the sun was setting I took a brilliant photo of it shining up against the cloud cover. I had a snack but Jude just had a cuppa. Pretty tired tonight. We should make it in to Birdsville tomorrow.
Car and van are travelling well and my stone guard seems to be working.

There must have been some rain about 140km out from Birdsville as there were sheets of ponded water in small indentures on the gibber. We spied some Brolgas right on the side of the road and probably less than 100 metres from us and quite unpreturbed by our prescence. The van door opened again and we had to use more tape.
We arrived in Birdsville and our friend Ian wasn’t home. We found out later in the day that he was on his way from Toowoomba. We booked in for two nights next to the people we met at Claytons Bore. I had a trip over Blaise’s caravan lead and fell heavily on my knees on the gibber. A bit of blood and other oldies fussing over me. Jude got some dettol and dabbed the broken skin. I will live to fall another day. Then, the Ram Air hatch broke when I closed it and we were fussing about fixing it. I managed to tek screw it back on to the lid but then had trouble with the spring. Phil from next door came over and did a quick repair for us improving on the work I had done. I received word from Joe who was out in the Simpson Desert that he hoped to be in Birdsville on Thursday and I replied that we would wait to catch up with him and his crew.

Wednesday June 7th and I had my 74th Birthday. I got a scarf and warm gloves and a bright torch which had already been bought. Jude did the washing and then I suggested that we go for a picnic on Big Red. That was organised and off we went for some fun. I discovered that Low Range was the powerful gear after three crosses and two failures at Big Red sand dune known to the aborigines as Nappanerica. Other travellers pitched up and we watched their antics. We crossed over Big Red, turned left and then eventually drove over Little Red and after that I spent some time pumping the tyres up again to 30psi.
Later in the afternoon Judith posted a card to her friend Heather and we took Blaise for her evening run with the ball game. Social media was very busy with many well wishes and lovely thoughts for my birthday. When we were young who would have thought that we would be in touch with friends all over the world and even in Birdsville.

On Thursday we caught up with Ian and Joe who is coming out of the desert. We we went to play ball with Blaise in an open area near the park and it was there that I noticed that the nut and spring washer was missing from the MUX’s tow-ball.

So, the hunt for a new tow-ball nut was on. The Hardware Store didn’t have one, the servo workshop couldn’t care less, the rubbish dump drew a blank and our mate Ian said he’d seen one somewhere but he thought that it might be somewhere in his shed in Toowoomba. We drove off wondering.
And then I saw this old blue Landcruiser sitting in a yard looking forlorn. It had a tow-ball. I saw an old bloke in the yard, his name was Sonny and he was born in 1944 and called me an old fella and Jimmy in the shed, who owned the two properties of undeterminable age, both indigenous to the area. No worries mate, if you can get it off you can have it.
Well Sonny came to help me and he was quite strong for his age. I held the ball with the Stilson while Sonny worked the nut with my shifter and plenty of WD40. After about half an hour we got it off. Then we went to Ian’s place to get him to help us put the shebang together cos the shaft of the old tow-ball was quite burred. We needed the Stilson. I went to borrow it from Jimmy.
Eventually we got the whole lot together. I returned Jimmy’s Stilson, gave him my tow-ball and a small contribution for his help and then told him I was from Peterborough and of course he knew a whole lot of people I didn’t but that didn’t deter him from talking, We finally got away from him and returned to the van
Now where was my mini file? Back to Ian’s but drew blank. Scoured the toolbox but could not see anything/ Oh well, will have to buy one in Alice Springs
I had a good sleep in the arvo ………
In the evening we caught up with Joe, Trevor, Les, Dennis and Bob at the Birdsville Hotel and had a great time. Bob we had know for some years before and Joe also an internet friend and someone whom we had met before and Les who we had met in Adelaide.

The next morning the blokes all hit the road early without saying goodbye alth0ugh Les had told me that he and Dennis were leaving early. Bob Young came around to say goodbye
After getting rid of our black water sullage we hit the road. The countryside is extremely flat with sparse trees to be seen on the gibber plains. The road surface varied from being sealed to being gravel and vice versa. At the shoe sign we stopped to hook up a pair of unwanted shoes.

At Cuttaburra Crossing on Lake Machattie we stopped for smoko around lunch time and then got lazy and stayed the night.

I worked on the stone guard and read my book and threw a Yabbie net in to the billabong.

The Yabbie net delivered ten good size Yabbies, 3 little ‘uns and one small Inland Perch fish, the latter being returned to the billabong to live another day. We devoured them this evening in a Pasta and Mornay sauce deliciously cooked up by Judith
There was some traffic heading north the next day but few and far between. Two road trains from the front and the second one kicked up a stone which chipped the windscreen in the bottom right hand corner. I got tired of driving and took a rest for an hour about 100km from Boulia. At Boulia we refuelled, did some shopping and Jude bought a brand new stainless steel tow-ball as a back up.

Whilst reversing back and forth in the campsite I turned too sharp and the back light lens cracked under pressure from the stone guard. I was going to remove it next!! Angry with myself. The lens replacement cost $175 in Adelaide from the wreckers which was better than the $435 from Isuzu.

We were tired out and after doing some internet stuff we fell in to bed
We slacked off for two days. Played Ball with Blaise, the latter disappeared a few times but always came when called. Another traveller started up a generator close by but turned it off after about an hour.

Tuesday: Took our time to get going. Did the toilet, filled up water, bought gas and groceries, took photos of tame Brolgas in Main Street and then took to the Donohue Hwy.
The first 60 or so kilometres are sealed and then it is dirt with the road deteriorating the closer we nudged to the NT Border. We has a tailwind all the way.
We crossed the NT/QLD Border and refuelled at Tobermorey at $2.05 per litre. The camp sites had lawn but at $25 for a site with no power we were not interested.
Just on then Plenty Hwy and the MUX dashboard says that we are out of fuel. With 112litres of diesel and no leaks we wondered where it had gone. Decided to ignore it and off we went. There were some bulldust patches but nothing serious for now. We started looking for a campsite at around 3.30 and at 4pm Jude spotted an old quarry and we camped. Had a lovely stew tea and a great fire but we were in bed by 8.30
Wednesday: Awake at 3am then slept till 6am. Started the car. No worries, Today the road was particularly bad with lots of bulldust holes. A bloke in an 80 series and van overtook us and then stopped. So, we stopped. He came over and said that we had dropped some liquid. We said thanks and then found water leaking from the front tank. Decided to look at it at Arthur River. We collected some wood along the way. We made camp at Arthur River and then played ball and helped setting up the camp. Just before we found our camp my new GPS enabled Tablet ran out of battery. It turned out that the DC charger was only a 1 Amp charger and I needed a 2.5 Amp Charger. I remedied that in Alice Springs

Thursday and I found a leak from the inlet pipe to the back tank and taped it up. Tripped and fell hitting my head on the caravan’s doorstep and I cut my ear. Much blood and unhappiness. Read books and did camp fire cooking. Took photos. The camp was a bit dusty and prickly but we still enjoyed it.
Friday: Back on the road. Refuelled at Jervois station and got some water there too. The road improved slightly. Came across a roadworks crew and whilst passing oncoming cars a voice came over the uhf “Is that you, Willem” It was John and Adele Machin from Brisbane. What a coincidence. We had a short conversation about the Dulcie Ranges National Park which I had done a write up about some time before. Going off in opposite directions after our chance meeting the road improved somewhat and we passed another road crew. Then we hit the mother of all cattle grids which bounced the car and then we were plunged into a bulldust hole on the other side of the grid. Leaving the hole the car’s front wheels left the ground. It was quite a serious bounce but nothing touched the ground. I drove down the Binn’s Track road to have lunch at the Plenty river but could not remember if it was 2km 7km or 22km/ At the 9km mark we turned around. At last we found the bitumen a little way past Harts Range Community and after that it was plain sailing to Gemtree. We booked in for three nights and took part in Friday night Padymelon Bowls with our hostess Kate and her son Tom, at the helm. Judith received two points for having a melon in the circle. A girl of 9 won the nights competition and a free nights camp for her family. Kate and her husband Aaron and their children run a very slick operation at Gemtree, and give their all during the winter months of the tourist season. Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights usually have some kind of entertainment on.

Saturday: And I discovered what looked like a leak of some sorts under the car as the splotches could be seen on the van. I jacked the MUX up and crawled under the car to find that there seemed to be a cracked brake hose leaking brake fluid. Hopefully we will make it to Alice Springs. We had visitors to our site by White wing Wrens and a little black male. They were so tame they even hopped on our feet. . I took Blaise for Ball throws and fetch outside the park but she picked up a few prickles in her feet. Saturday night was Roast Night in tthe Pit and 69 attended. During the day we read books, tried to get on the Gemtree Free WiFi and fiddled with things doing a bit of cleaning.

Sunday:Decided to leave water tank hose until we get to Alice. Had some other campers join us by the fire and even bring some wood. Slept in fits as I had rolled up my sleeping bag and put it behind my pillows making me uncomfortable. Took my socks off as I got too hot in bed.
Monday: A coldish morning heading to Alice Springs. Stopped at T junction for leg stretch and doggy stuff and stopped again at Tropic of Capricorn.
Booked in to Heritage Caravan Park. Set up camp. Went to Isuzu to talk to them. They were not interested and suggested it may be an ARB problem. Pet shop said no fleas here at this time of year so don’t worry about buying stuff. TV was on again and Masterchef filled the night before we went to sleep. Then Jude watched early morning cooking shows again. Just my lot, I guess.

Tuesday: Shopping and had Windscreen fixed at Windscreens O’Brien. Great stuff Cost$135 though. However, they told us we should make claim to our insurer. Massive washing day. Bought proper charger for Mapping Tablet. Played with Blaise on the banks of the Todd River.

Wednesday: Doing stuff. Balance of washing. Had dinner with Dorothy and Jack Grimm at the Juicy Rump Restaurant at the Convention Centre, Alice Casino. Ouch, those prices hurt but it was Jack’s shout. He insisted

Thursday: Had the tyres swapped around at Bridgestone. Great service. Bumped in to our friend, Ianne, at Maccas and she volunteered me to work at the Beanie Festival. We went to Araluen at 4.30pm and listened to the Beanie Festival Convenor speak and then registered for some bits of work in the Gallery and Tea Shop.

Friday: Emptied toilet at first light. Went to Beanie Festival Central. Bought some Beanies and Volunteered to work Saturday and Sunday and Monday in Gallery and Tea Shop. Jude did a workshop.
Sunday: Alice Markets were on and we found shady parking closeby. I walked the lenght of the Mall and back and we had the best Thickshake ever at Uncle Eddy’s Icecreamery at the end of the Mall.

. That night we had a free roast dinner compliments of the Beanie Festival at the Gillen Club.
Monday: Odd jobs, washing and Jude does another shift at the Tea Shop. We hooked up ready to head south in the morning to the cold country, Brrrrrr.

The trip south was uneventful although we had our 48th Anniversary Breakfast at Cadney Park Roadhouse. We had a night’s rest at a quarry just off the highway and the next night we spent at a favourite stop for us at the salt Lake Hart. Recent rains had the lake covered in water.
The fuel light stayed on all the way home.
We had the fuel light repaired under warranty in Port August at Emmanuel Brothers. It turned out to be a loose connection and the same for the airconditioning. But to fix the latter they had to lift the body off the chassis at the back of the car. It was done over two days and they gave us a Lend Car Suzuki Avanti just big enough for the two of us and Blaise!
I had a trip coming up in to the Simpson Desert. Ben Hodgkinson came up from Ballarat to be my co-driver and we met Marla and Neil at Farina. I was testing out my newly bought camp stretcher. I woke up at 2am with a terrible cough and congestion and got Ben to drive me to Leigh Creek Hospital. The Night Nurse was not too impressed but she gave me medicine to combat the perceived Flu. She also advised me to go home and I did just that. Marla and Neil went on their own Simpson Desert crossing and I ended up in the Peterborough Hospital for four nights.

I could not shake the cold and Dr. Walker told me to go and find some warm weather.

Feet up at Innamincka 2017

Out of nowhere a week appeared between social engagements and medicalappointments and we packed our Crusader X-Country Caravan, hooked it up to the Isuzu MUX, and sped away with only a loose idea of where we were going.

The first thing that strikes you as you move further north of the Goyder Line, is the stark grey to black colour of the foliage. The bushes look like they are totally devoid of any moisture and twigs snap with ease if you fit them between your thumb and forefinger and apply pressure. We are now in the 5th year of our 6 year drought cycle and south of the Tropic of Capricorn the drought is taking its toll.

 

By my own research we have a 6 year drought cycle followed by a 3 year rain cycle followed by another 6 year drought cycle and so on.

In 1865, George Goyder, Surveyor General of the new Colony of South Australia. came up with an imaginary line which he drew on a map as he suggested that anything north of that line would be outside of a profitable agricultural business. And he was right as the Goyder’s Line snakes past the south of our town of Peterborough and this is where the wheat and canola fields end. 250mm of rainfall per year is the average for profitability…..so said Goyder.

The road kill of animals is amazing. In 300km of driving we saw around 100 dead animals. It reminded us of our travel through Tasmania where the same thing happens. Not a road is left unscathed as roadkill is the number one factor of the route though Tassie. The same applied for the Silver City Highway as we moved further north from Broken Hill. It is sad that so many beautiful animals end up being run down at night,
Having spent our pension money at Woolies and Bakers Delight in Broken Hill, diesel and also on a new shovel as we were counting the stuff we had left at home, it was getting late in the afternoon as we drove out of town. At The Springs signpost I turned off onto a narrow bush track across a dry creek bed and after about 500metres I saw a clearing in the scrub and pulled in to set up camp for the night. There was enough wood lying around to have a fire and we sat around the fire having late afternoon drinkies and then decamped after dark to inside the van for something to eat. During our meal a ute pulled up alongside us. It was a local and a mate of the land owner just checking up on what we were up to. When he saw that we were only a couple of geriatrics with a jumping up dog he relaxed and we had a yarn. We promised to leave the site unmarked except for tyre tracks when we left in the morning.

Saturday morning we tackled the Silver City Highway. The road to Tibooburra over the years has been sealed every 20 kilometres and then gravel for the same amount more or less but last year they started to work in earnest to seal the road to completion in Tibooburra. There is about 70km left to seal of the 306km road.

A mate told me that there were big yabbies at Depot Glen Waterhole and the thought of a yabbie feed urged us on to reach our destination. But first we decided to have a steak sandwich at Packsaddle Roadhouse. Unfortunately we arrived there the same time as an Outback Spirit Tour Coach and our order was lost in the confusion of orders. We did eventually get our tucker which was a good feed amongst a host of apologies and then kept on going to our day destination.

Alas, the waterhole was bone dry! But I managed to park the van level in the small campsite and we settled in for the night. Just before dark a large old Labrador Retriever Cross Dog came to visit us from the Station as his people had obviously gone in to town for the Saturday night entertainment and he was lonely. He became infatuated with our dog, Blaise, who in turn just raised her hackles! He stayed the night but Blaise slept in the van!

 

The previous night Judith got cold as she was sleeping on top of her sleeping bag and got in to it on this night and was now too hot! We were heading north and the temperature was warming up.

The northern entry to Tibooburra welcome the visitor with these cut-out metal silhouette statues. Very impressive.

Our plan now was to fuel up in Tibooburra and head for Noccundra Billabong on the Wilson River, through the Warri Gate of the Dog Fence and about 200km on from there.
We found a lovely campsite right on Coopers Creek in the Town Common at Innamincka. There is an Honesty Box at $5 per vehicle per night. Long drop toilets are provided.
The river is low, and in the morning the yabbie yield was zilch! Oh well, next time.
The days were lovely and up to 30C and the nights were still cool enough to get a good nights sleep. At sunset all the birds chatter and come in for a drink of water before they settle down for the night and the Dingoes howl their mournful calls before they too go off on their nightly jog looking for food. We stayed 4 nights.

One morning we saw a Dingo come down to the water on the opposite bank for s drink, totally oblivious of our presence.
On three days there we had a quiet time but on the last day the wind sprang up and blew a stiff breeze with swirling dust and refused to lie down after sunset.

On the way out we chose the Moomba Road. It wasn’t too bad. About 20km plus out of Innamincka there is now Motel, Restaurant and Fuel outlet. The sign is too good to be believed. The Strzelecki Track(Road) has short sealed bits. Five of those are 7km in length and the sixth one is 8km. The road isn’t bad but care must be taken over grids. The SA Government has threatened to seal the whole road to Innamincka under a media fan fare but so far nothing has come of it

Along the way we saw two feral cats, one live Fox and six dead ones as roadkill and a Wild Dog. It has Dingo features but was much bigger with longer legs than a Dingo, We also saw two feral cats. They seem to survive in the most inhospitable places and Sturts Stony Desert is one of them!

An interesting observation is that there was no roadkill whatsoever along the 245km from Tibooburra to Innamincka.

Only two varieties of Cassia bushes had spring flowers in abundance and we marveled at the spectacle especially when approaching Hawker.
Starting from Leigh Creek any number of No Camping signs are seen. We were looking for a Free camp for the night and I was tired when I turned off the highway at Brachina Creek, having driven nearly 500km on gravel roads and another 150km on a sealed road. At the last moment I saw that the entrance had been ploughed with two small trenches facing me. Someone didn’t want campers on the banks of the creek anymore.
I managed to get over them in four-wheel drive high range and then drove rather blindly in the semi dark light over more obstacles before finding a – flat camp site albeit amongst the prickles! South Australia the Prickle State……We only noticed the following morning that I had missed a tangle of wires by millimetres!

The rest of the trip home was uneventful and we stopped at Orroroo for some supplies. This late in the tourist season and the Caravanners are still hard at it and the small towns are bustling with people looking for what is on offer.

Silo Art Trail 2017

 

The best thing to do during the week between Christmas and New Year, is to hook the van on the back of the MUX and go for a drive. This drive was to find and follow the Silo Art Trail in Western Victoria

Silo Art is a newish phenomenon of large art galleries and it is a tourist drawcard to small towns where the Grain Silos have been decommissioned by the Grain Corp, which owns five of the six silos. The last silo at Rupanyup is owned by Australian Grain Export and is still in use.

We had a beaut Christmas lunch with our Northern Neighbours at their house and returned home at about 3pm for an afternoon nap. We were going to leave the following day but on the spur of the moment, and as the van was packed, I changed plans (I do this quite often) and after consulting my other half we were on the road by 4pm. Everything in this family happens with both parties agreeing on what happens next. Only the dog has no say in the matter.

About 110km from home we pulled off into a Rest Area on the Burra-Morgan Road and spent the night there. Traffic was sparse and we slept well with only a couple of vehicles passing by through the night.

The following morning, we enjoyed breakfast on the banks of the Murray River and then later we took the ferry across to the other side and our journey took us through the towns of Waikerie, Loxton and Pinnaroo. Then we cruised east along the Mallee Highway and turned south on to a minor road at the small community of Walpeup and on to Patchewollock where we viewed out first silo painting.
The Silo Art Trail spans the open undulating country in a north/south direction in the Mallee-Wimmera regions of Western Victoria for around 200 kilometres, roughly between Ouyen and Horsham.
The northernmost art work at Patchewollock was done by Fintan Magee. Fintan Magee is an Australian Street artist who is known for his murals throughout the country and the world. Born in Lismore New South Wales he grew up in Brisbane, gaining a reputation as a graffiti writer before obtaining a Fine Arts Degree and basing himself out of Sydney. It features a portrait of wheat farmer Nick Hulland. On the second silo there is a dying tree which represents the life cycle of the bush.
Doing a dog-leg from Patchewollock to Lascelles via Speed, all small havens for country communities, we came to the next art work which features the faces of long term Lascelles couple, Geoff and Merrilyn Horman, whose families have lived and worked in the district for four generations, plying their trade as wheat farmers and being involved with this small community since birth.

The artist for this project is Rone, the nom de plume of Tyrone Wright, a born and bred Victorian from the city of Geelong who has become the well-known Stencil Graffiti Artist of Melbourne and has been gaining reputation as an influence in the scope of Street Art
By this time the hot day was starting to lose its strength and we made for Lake Lascelles for a possible overnight camp forgetting that it was school holidays. The place was packed with locals and their power boats were churning up the lake and so we opted for the quiet of the caravan park nearby.
Early in the following day we made for Rosebery silos which are adorned with station workers caring for animals on the land. The art work is by Kaff-eine, one of the more salubrious street artists of Melbourne whose art has taken her all over the world
A short way south along the Henty Highway lies another small community. Brim has attracted a lot of TV and other media attention. Guido van Helten, a Brisbane based artist, has turned the community of 100 on its head with the four characters depicted on the silo walls. He wants to keep the names of those characters kept a secret so that the art is in the eye of the beholder and so that the viewer might weave their own story into the paintings. It is the ‘Mona Lisa’ moment in Brim. There are three men and one woman in this mural
The town of Warracknabeal lies in the middle of the Silo Art Trail and it provides services to the whole Mallee-Wimmera region. I still have a hard time putting the pronunciation in the right accent of the name. Is it WARRACKNABEAL, WarRACKnabeal or WarracknaBEAL? The town has a love affair with the Kelpie Dog and two sculptures adorn the centre of the Main Street.
Next is the Sheep Hills silo artworks.
Sheep Hills is a locality in the northern Wimmera region, north-west Victoria. It is 271km north-west of Melbourne. The original inhabitants of the area are the Wotjobaluk aboriginal tribe and the silos depict the descendants of these people. A distinct reflection in the eye of one of the children can be picked up with a telephoto lens.
Starting his career as a graffiti artist, Matt Adnate moved into portrait painting as a way to raise awareness about Indigenous issues.
“The main drive behind a lot of my work is about creating awareness of Indigenous communities and Indigenous people as a whole”
“I create these massive murals in cities like Melbourne and Sydney and I end up travelling all over the world”, Mr Adnate said
The last of the Silo Art Trail is at Rupanyup. As of the 2016 census, it had a population of 536.
The name Rupanyup is an Aboriginal word meaning ‘branch hanging over water
Locals are attempting to reverse the rural decline. A number of entrepreneurs and including overseas migrants are throwing their weight behind a variety of new businesses in town and including a community supermarket where everyone in town is an equal shareholder.
Julia Volchkova, a Russian Street Artist, who was born in the city of Nizhnevartovsk in Siberia, said that she never imagined that she would be invited to paint the rounded walls of a silo in the country of Australia. Although she had painted many large art forms on buildings and especially in Malaysia, the silos were a challenge. She chose people playing sport and first up she chose 16yo student Jordan Weidemann, a footballer, and then 25yo Ebony Baker, a Naturopath who loves playing Netball
Each one of the art scapes has its own personal richness and it was hard to pick what we thought was the best one. The art at Rosebery was a favourite though.
Having done the Silo Trail in the short space of a couple of days we continued to our next adventure further south.

Posted in Life Stories.