Another Marvelous day in Marvelous Melbourne

The threat of rain was passing and the sun was venturing out as several OMNI men sat at the Eltham station waiting to catch the 8.32am train into the city to participate in COTA’s 3 monthly meeting at 9.30am. As we chatted and laughed away the back yards and homes slipped quickly by as the sun sent search lights and flashes from the high rise windows as if saying “come on the suns up.

We stepped out onto the platform at Flinders St. Station and quickly crossed into Elizabeth St heading to Block Arcade – 98 Elizabeth Street, passing some homeless people asleep on the footpath, it was only 8 deg c. Up the lift to the 4th floor of this iconic building that was sold last year for 110 million dollars. There was a buzz of activity as men jostled for coffee and biscuits. We sat around the large board room table and listened to the reports the reps gave from the various Victorian groups.

The success was applauded with great enthusiasm plus some laughter here and there, biscuits and tea for morning break followed by a video of promotional activity created by the skills of older men with ideas. Followed by a lovely lunch of healthy rolls and more coffee, mixed with exchanges of ideas, hand shakes and we vaporized into various directions and modes of transport with the exciting thought of all meeting again before Christmas. BUT NOT AT THIS VENUE.

We were informed that COTA was moving to a new address because of the rising rent required, so we are going to a lovely spot in Little Lonsdale Street near the Flagstaff Gardens and the underground station.

So guess what, the three Omniteers Ken, Nick and Daryl went exploring again along Elizabeth St., left turn into Little Lonsdale St and there was a high-rise crane suspended above the traffic lifting huge buckets of concrete several stories above extending the height of the city’s skyline whilst a man suspended from a single rope and a small platform was painting the outside of a skyscraper with a roller some 10 stories above where we gazed in awe.

Onward to the future home of COTA, Council On The Ageing, and as the photo will show this high-rise dwarfs the single level brick dwelling beside it, which has a brick front, lane-way down one side revealing a long blue-stone wall, very mysterious perhaps it was a Cobb and Co station when Melbourne ran on horsepower.

We met three lovely ladies having coffee on the sidewalk they took our photos and helped us with our iphones and enlightened us with the current history of our new meeting home.

We dared each other and went up by lift to have an optic and were invited in and given some lovely biscuits by a very sweet young lady. There is a nice coffee shop on the ground floor of which we partook and a blackboard therein chalked a message “what did the wig say to the bald head?” …….. I will leave the answer up to you!

Around the corner down the steps that lead below the foundations of Melbourne’s sky scrapers and onto the City loop train heading back to Eltham and Diamond Creek. We engaged in conversation with two Ivanhoe school kids on the way and asked them how many times can you fold a piece of paper in half. After a guess of 7 times we gave them an OMNI brochure to fold but the best they could do 6 times. We asked if they could recognize any one the OMNI brochure and in a flash the boy pointed to me, asking in a cheeky manner we said and what’s his name the reply was Daryl. This set us back a yard or two asking how did you know my name? The answer, he said – “it is on your name tag in the photo!”

His said his father is aged 45 so we gave him the brochure to give to his Dad with an invitation to join OMNI when turns 50.

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Austin Hospital Holiday

The pain struck around midnight but, like most tough stupid Aussies, the comment was “she will be right mate”, it will pass over.

Doactor! Doctor! What’s that growing on my face?

Well by daylight it was not all right. Lots of nausea made my wife Lady Florence call the ambulance via triple 000. What a great service, arrived within 20 minutes and into the Austin emergency hospital within 30 minutes where a doctor from an overseas origin attended me he talked for a short while then by observation alone. He stated correctly, I believe you have a bowel blockage. He was 69 years old jet black hair, he spoke of life and how to live properly and left a lasting impression upon me.

Up to the eighth floor bed 16 ward E west, with a pent house view of east Melbourne, this was to be my home from 2nd April till 12thApril.

Many x-rays, tubes and blood tests proved the old doctor correct and an opration followed leaving a long stapled pattern from sternum to bikini line. I learnt not to be afraid but to put my faith in the surgical team who calmly went about the task before them and it seemed in next to no time at all I was in bed awake feeling no pain at all .

The nursing staff was from many corners of this planet. Each and every one lifted my spirit and enlightened my knowledge and acceptance of the many struggles, losses and true grit that has taught them a new language, their pursuit of knowledge through university studies, finding a new home without families. They had the most reassuring smiles and one nurse on night duty would sing and hum Indian tunes to us during the early hours before dawn.

One patient Rosa told me both her and her husband with a small family had to leave their home in Cairo, Egypt. They had no work were very hungry and feared for the well-being of their children, somehow they got to Australia learnt English got jobs educated the family and bought a home. I met some of this very fine family now calling Australia home. Her husband died 20 years ago and now she has terminal cancer – she was the nicest person I met there.

Thanks to all the OMNI and Men’s shed members who visited and supported me.

One doctor gave me this parting advice…..

“Get out of here, go home, enjoy your life to the fullest and don’t ever come back.”

 I dedicate this story to all the staff, doctors, nurses, porters and cleaners of the

Austin Hospital

Australia Day Melbourne 26th January 2017

The fully laden train pulled into Flinders street station at 10.30 am, the street procession was in full swing with every nationality being represented in all their traditional costumes and music. The parade headed down St Kilda Road across the Yarra towards Government House. The crowds were 4-5 deep and all were in great spirit and as we headed that way also there was a volley of gunfire – a salute I believe.

The weather was cool with a misty rain shower early this cleared away to a warm sunny day, there were large crowds of people walking and sitting in the beautiful gardens. We were hurrying towards Government House which was open to the public and what a magnificent building with its historical paintings, cedar furniture huge ballroom and spacious gardens.


Overhead the Roulettes flew in a formation of 6 and passed in different formations several times some just above the tree tops. With Aussie flags in hand we headed back to the display of vintage cars supported by the RACV – what magnificent machines adorned our city streets of old. We had the privilege of meeting a dog sitting in a bike basket that had been to the last 13 Australia day ceremonies in the same bike basket.


Channel 9 had a female photographer on site she had a wedding veil and a posy of flowers and a bowler hat and we were invited to get remarried, much to the amusement of the on-lookers. We headed back along St Kilda Road and meet a true dinky die Aussie Donald Campbell McDonald with his cork brimmed hat, his great Grandmother was the first white born child in Tasmania as the ship was docked in Hobart when she was born, great story. We experienced three street buskers playing music on the footpath much to the delight of slowly moving on-lookers.


Outside Flinders St Station we meet the concrete man who gave Lady Florence a kiss on the back of her hand – it cost her “five bucks”! Then there was Meg in her invalid scooter playing the piano accordion, more money and a bottle of coke. Meg told us she was minister of the Wesley church in the City. We left Meg and headed to the Bourke St mall where five people where run down by a car on the footpath. There were volumes of flowers on the street and chaplains supporting the teary and shattered people. Down near Elizabeth St, on the Old Post Office steps, they were covered in flowers and Teddy Bears, people were crying as they tried to read the hand written notes of sympathy and grief from total strangers.


We Had some Macka’s and sat opposite mum and dad with their 4-year-old son who was playing on his electronic device and they were hand feeding him whilst he played with both hands, how parenting has changed.

Back on the train again heading home after an inspiring day with much to reflect upon. As we alighted from the train we realized how stiff and sore we were and wondered if the uphill walk to home would be too much, when a friend of Lady Florence offered us a ride home, how lucky.
Home and a Glass of cold Beer.

Make sure you experience Australia Day in the city next year.
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From the eyes of a frog

** Repost from June 2016

IMG_2232CRASH and vibration as the plough Ponds-lakes-Bulldozing_1059849_imagesank into the fertile mud of our home, a large swamp, all the inhabitants looked on in horror as the machine moved forward and we saw our life blood, water, starting to gush away. Our home had always had still water this allowed the reeds and grasses to grow and form a ring where the water and earth met and was where insects worms and aquatic life had happily lived. High in the rushes and reeds the dragonflies darted to and fro, spiders knitted together the swaying reeds and the water lilies seemed to float on the water and in spring would burst into the most beautiful yellow flowers. Speeding water beetles would dart in an erratic fashion amongst the humus which gave life to all the plants. From the treed forest around our water’s edge the fauna gasped in fear and shock the roos, wombats, rabbits , foxes, owls, kookaburras, swallows, so many more could be mentioned. All would have to move away, no more drinking water, food, shelter – nowhere to house their spring children no mud for the swallows to construct their nests.
33b345b03a23707d669f5df49c159ec1US FROGS had lived here for many generations in what was just perfection –  plenty of food and protection. We loved our neighbours and on moonlit nights we would put on a concert and sing to everyone and all around the swamp there were frogs who would join in. During the day time we would swim out to the floating lilly leaves to sunbake and smell the flowers sweet perfume. As I was growing up I spent many hours learning and talking to my grandparents, they had skills to pass on and I was eager to absorb their wisdom. My parents looked after me from when I was an egg waiting to be hatched and even more so when I became a tadpole, they taught me right from wrong, what was safe to eat and how to survive. Dad showed me his crippled leg where an owls claw had pierced the leg muscle, he was lucky to live. Mum always made sure I got the best food so I would grow strong and be able to have strong children when the time came.
PANIC everyone who lived here was dashing and darting escaping their destroyed homes. Mum and Dad said \”Hop away before you are killed.” I had never experienced fear before so I asked my grandparents what to do Granddad said when we were young disaster found us and we escaped to a little stream on the other side of this forest. We are too old to go with you and your dad is to crippled to go and your mum will never leave your father. Time heals everything and some day you may be able to come back, travel safely our future race depends on you.
Yes I was young and strong but with tears in my eyes I bounded into the unknown forest. It is much easier to swim than hop a long way over logs, bracken ferns and thick grass plus avoid the snakes and owls. I had hopped for two days before I found the little stream. I jumped in and relaxed my aching muscles then tried to find food and a safe place to hide – somewhere to be able to observe my new surroundings as I was scared and alone. It was not a place to be happy in, running water and very little still pools to relax in and food was very scarce also.
Two winter floods later as the last of the high water was subsiding, I was feeling very much alone when I saw some movement on the edge of the rushing water and heard a splash. I could not believe my eyes a beautiful green frog the same as my race slowly hopped towards me.frog1 She was so pretty, lovely big eyes, slim figure with long fingers and toes and  I could not help but fall in love with her. We talked for many hours, could have been even a day or two, about how she escaped the SWAMP disaster and somehow found the same little creek and lived alone for two years also. We spoke of our parents and grandparents and what a wonderful home we used to have. Yes, we were homesick so we decided to take the risks and hop back for a look at our old happy home.
Hop, hop, hop, back through the forest we went, being careful of the dangers of predators and injury. It was just on daybreak when we reached the edge of our old home. Across the swamp I could see the burnt out shell of the farmers log hut (home) a blackberry plant was strangling the remains as if to make sure they never returned. The plough was overturned and broken it would never destroy our home again. Many of the former inhabitants were there that morning rejoicing that our Swamp was returning to its former beauty. The man-made drain that let the water out had become soft and collapsed stopping the water from escaping and with man’s interference gone nature was able to resume. All the plants and animals could rebalance and live in harmony together as they did once before. I remembered what my parents and grandparents had said with the passage of time nature will restore what is good. All the animals and insects decided that day to stay and look after all the plants and with patience restore our struggling home. Katie my lovely soul mate said to me we are going to stay as well, look there is water and some lilies growing, we will stay and have our family here we owe it to our species and our parents to start all over again.
During the next spring there was immense activity the water was a full capacity all the plants had revived somehow. There were flowers on the lilies spider webs and reeds water bugs and beetles animals came to drink once again. Swallows were digging out the mud, kookaburras were laughing and Katie and I were swimming and diving off the lilly pads.
It was a full bright moon and I was singing my solo song to all my friends, but I was stressed as Katie was nowhere to be found. We usually sang a duet after my solo great sadness entered my heart as I sat alone every one tried to find Katie. We looked everywhere, as daylight started to break we gathered together with heavy hearts. Then, with a noisy splash, Katie jumped onto my Lilly Pad and called out to everyone the frog species is assured I have just laid our eggs to hatch in a secret spot so they will be safe until they become tadpoles. So life starts again.
I then remembered my grandparents saying, when our home was being destroyed, “Put your faith in nature to restore everything.”

It will try and try and try again, in the end it will succeed ……

…………………………………………yes,  LOOK IT HAS!
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16/June/2016

Pioneer trip into the heart of the Great Dividing Range.


………….10 whiskery and wiry men saddled into 5, four-wheel drive vehicles, 80 series Toyota, Land Rover, Ford dual cab, Prado Toyota and a 100 series Toyota. With photos taken they left the Kangaroo Tower at 9.10am and headed through the green hills and valleys of Christmas Hills and turned left up the Melba Highway at Yarra Glen.It was a lovely sunny morning, low wind, farmers were baling hay and cows were being milked. Onward past Yea through the road works to Molesworth, a one pub country town, then on again stopping in Yarch a lovely little pit stop town. It was now 10.45am with no time to waste as the mountains were beckoning.

By 11.25am we were in Mansfield having passed through Merton and Bonnie Doon on the banks of Eildon Reservoir.

Early lunch and coffee was sought at Mansfield. With the excitement of the challenge in front we soon turned towards Mt.Stirling. The mountains had a blue aura about them backed by an inviting blue sky, this reminded me of the “story of the spider and the fly”. Reaching the foot hills we turned left at the fork in the road towards Telephone Box Junction. 3The snow field shop and change area was closed for the summer season.
In single file we headed into the forest of tall timbers now on a gravel road, lots of the trees had died having been burnt during the 2006 fires which burnt over a million hectares. Nature was re afforesting the lower stages of the mountain with wattle now in yellow bloom, but the floor was littered with thousands of fallen trees. Life and death hand in hand.

Down Western link track twisting and turning heading for a camp site by the river, when a warning came via the UHF grader on the track. These tracks are very narrow and graders are wide and big but with patience and skill we all passed unharmed.No one tooted their horn we simply waved thanks to the grader driver.

4Down, down we went and were then faced with a river crossing and a steep gouged bank to negotiate on the out ward side. Harry called “Quick Daryl, jump in with me and take some photos” as the others crossed. All crossed okay and we found a beautiful base camp to set up ready for the next few days of 4 wheel drive exploration.

This site is known as Pineapple Flat and is on the banks of the King River the home of the King Parrot with its crimson  chest and very friendly nature.In much haste these five vehicles spun around and around seeking out the best Real Estate sites for their tents encircling the camp fire, like a modern John Wayne western movie. With great speed and skill tents erected, camp fire started (poor wood), tables erected and chairs circled around the would be fire, men sat waiting for Lou to serve up our first meal. A small dead limb fell on to Marks 80 series and dented the mud guard, a warning of the danger of limbs falling. After a lot of chat, Marks homemade beer and some reds, we settled down for a very welcome snooze.


6th Tuesday (2nd day)
Up at 5.30 am (some of us) stirred the fire, wash, weeties, corn flakes and raisins and a cuppa. Half the crew packed and ready set out for Craig’s Hut used and built for The Man From Snowy River film. 12It was a grueling climb along Burnt top track from the camp, more evidence of the forces of nature and the devastation of fires. The ridges have dead trees standing after ten years and the thousands of fallen trees and many more leaning against those still able to stand. Still new beauty can be seen everywhere. We found Craig’s hut high in the mountain on a plateau. 8The weather was perfect and with clarity the view extended as far as the eye could see. The rest of the sleepy team caught up with us here. There was 1 bar of telephone reception to be had here. We had a nature walk of approx 1 kilometer.

We headed down the southern side of the mountain and climbed the Bindaree Water Falls and we were able to go behind the water fall itself which was like a see through sheer curtain. 9Some great photos were taken. After a count of 10 heads we headed to Bindaree Hut and had to do another river crossing of the Howqua river in the Alpine National Park.We had lunch there from our car fridges Greg brought all his bush fly friends along but they only seemed to like Mark’s and my sandwich – back across the river and headed back to Pineapple Flats Lodge.

We collected much better fire wood and were able to create great coals for cooking, much to Lou’s delight. Camp ovens came out from every tent, every would be cook gave advice, every man had a poke at the fire even when it was perfect. Lou cooked with Harry’s help (camp oven bread) a great roast beef and roast vegies all washed down with Marks beer and some fine reds. As we sat ringed around the warm campfire, Him Plurry Fine Fella Mark Dellar, started reciting the poem written by Thomas E Spencer – The Day McDougall Topped the Score. With animated enthusiasm and a captivated audience nearing exhaustion at the second last verse he swung quickly to his left and standing behind him were four travellers. He started to ask can I help you? And the good-looking blonde said please don’t stop now we were so much enjoying your reading, and without further ado Mark completed his poem to a hearty applause. The travellers were from Germany, USA and? 4 in total they wanted help to cross the river to set up camp and yes they had 10 helpers – Aussies are good.

Another great day was discussed around the fire and a good night’s sleep was had by all except at about 3 am as Jim was sitting on the throne, a long hearty bellow was heard, was this relief or an animal warning.

Wednesday 7th Dec (3rd day )
Up about 6.30am, nearly a full house for brekky when a King parrot 17sat on Harry’s car near our tables H slowly walked over with a cracker in hand and fed the parrot. It stood on one leg and held the food and fed itself with the other, many photos taken. Sunny skies and low wind favored us as we had wood fire toast and peanut butter with Billy tea. We were all off again across the King River up the mountain twisting and grinding away and onto Speculation Road down to the river where a herd of Angus beef were crossing the bridge. We stopped as they drank and ambled across toward us. I got to talking to the owner, a Mr Bruce McCormack 11and his dog Tully, he spoke of the 2006 fires, the permits needed to graze cattle and the bond of generations of cattle families some who ride the horses to muster the cattle when needed. I was sad to have to leave Bruce and Tully and the many stories I would have enjoyed.

We went on to King hut and the camping grounds then headed up the Stair Case Rd to Cobblers Lake. This road would have broken a black snakes back as it zig zagged back and forth climbing all the way over bare rocks. So steep with fallen timber left like discarded pole vaulting poles, the sideways thrusting tested the seat belts all the way it was with relief when we reached the top but still bumped heavily till we reached the heavily lake Cobbler and Cobblers hut. The water was mirror like very large and edges protected by bulrushes. We had a car boot lunch here and by now getting rather hot, we then headed back past some large water falls cascading down the cliff face from Cobblers Lake overflow. The road back was much smoother and we passed Rose River back to Pineapple Flats Lodge.

With lots more good wood the camp fire was creating very good coals for Lou to cook up his lamb stew and vegies and H’s bread. Phil said to try this drink, whisky and water, good for a woodsman. That was okay, later with our team bonding by then I had little feeling as I drank and laughing at the same time the straight whisky fumes stopped my breathing, I think I will stick to water for a while. Jim showing how much he respects cleanliness jumped into the river. On return and shivering he returned to our camp only to observe the two lady travellers in bikinis heading to the river for a tidy up, his remark “I landed to early.”
This Plurry Good Fella Mark Dellar came back into camp again and started raving about Mulga Bill’s Bicycle by Andrew B Patterson, again it captured everyone’s attention to the last line. Then a good night’s sleep, but again Jim at 3.00 am –  yes on the throne again, heard this loud chesty noise in his haste to seek the protection of his tent his torch battery went flat, he was a trembling wreck by the time he found his tent again. By morning the travellers had packed and gone onwards trekking around Australia.

8th Dec our last day
Up at 6.30am and looking around the camping circle with no one to be seen only Peter the Great’s Akubra hat hanging head high on the tent pole, waiting patiently for Pete to arise. Then slowly each pioneer emerged from their warm beds to welcome the dawn to the music of several Kookaburras and the smoke of the camp fire and a face wash in cold water.
A hearty breakfast was devoured expanding our ribs for the energy needed for the days challenge ahead. 4 from the team of 10 were heading home today, tents being folded. Mark gave his demonstration saying it only takes 5 minutes or 20 if being watched – yes it took 20 minutes. Cars were packed securely and a quick check around to make sure everything was picked up and including our rubbish so leaving the bush in pristine condition as we had found it on arrival. Those staying decided to escort us out to Telephone Box Junction and then explore more of this wonderful region.

At 10.00am, with motors warming up, we were heading out when the rain started plus the temp dropped. In single file we crossed the King River climbing upwards toward Circuit Road when the lead car radioed back tree across road. Well, Whisky Phil with white flashing eyes unraveled a chain saw just ahead of Miss Daisy Greg with his chainsaw. It was raining heavily by now and Peter stood with camera in hand. Under the shelter of his Akubra hat he recorded this event with helping hands clearing the logs off the track.
After that we soon passed Fork Creek with Mark D and O Wise One following. As tail end Charlie’s we followed on and by 11.05am we all arrived at Mt Stirling café (closed for summer season) being 1230 meters above sea level. It was very cold now, raining with possible snow predicted by Jane Bunn 5 days ago. We left 6 tough guys all waiving to us and wishing us a safe trip over their UHF’s as we headed past Mt Stirling café to Mansfield where we stopped for a pie and coffee before heading towards home. Before Bonnie Doon the rain was so heavy that driving became difficult but it cleared away and the rest of the trip home was very pleasant.

A hot welcome shower and first shave for 4 days and a couple of hours sleep and ready for a home cooked meal  to reminisce with Lady Florence over this great adventure. All of the remaining 6 made it safely home the next day; they went to Mt Bulla but were clouded in.

………………They should have listened to O Wise One.

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Cast:-
Jim G……….Swimmer
Harry M… …Team leader
Gordon B… B and B
Leon H…… Swag Man
Greg M…… Miss Daisy
Phil D. …….Whisky
Peter T. …..Akubra
Mark D. ….Plurry Nice Fella
Lou F. …….M.K.R (cook)
Daryl M…..O’ Wise One

*** Written and reported as experienced by Daryl Morrow  – circa 2016

Benalla Trip 2nd November 2016

Sharing three learned days with Mark Dellar

 The V8 Toyota Cruiser backed into my drive way, the sun was shining with the promise of a great day ahead, Mark stepped down with a beaming smile c’mon Daryl get your gear ready, stash in the back but be careful of Chloe she is asleep on the back seat, with gear secured and the good byes and a hug for Lady Florence who had baked us an apple pie, we were on our way, out through Research then Kangaroo Ground, through the farmlands to Christmas Hills descending down into Yarra Glen, which has a horse racing track.This reminded us of the Melbourne cup ran yesterday where Almandin owned by Lloyd Williams and ridden by jockey Kerrin McEvoy, won the coveted Melbourne Cup. Here we turned left onto the Melba Highway through the grape and wine making farmlands heading north towards Yea. We marveled at the high hills that had been cleared mostly by hand and horses to grow pasture for grazing sheep and cattle.

Farmers were starting to cut grass for bailing hay, everything was green, dams and streams were full of clean water. Road works were excavating the embankments and cutting down red gums to straighten the busy northern road. We entered Molesworth, a small town of a dozen homes and one pub. We travelled further north and saw a sign saying where the F**K is Yark and shortly after that we came to the 50 km township sign saying this is F**king Yark, toilets turn left near footy grounds.Well, this location was busier than the  main street. Mark explained as we pulled up that I have to give Chloe a chance to have a drink and a pee. Some other travellers stopped and pulled out there picnic basket and a thermos of tea and chattered to us about what they were planning to do, by this stage Chloe has settled herself back on the rear seat and had dozed off again.

Onwards through the rich farming valleys past Merton to Bonnie Doon over the bridge that spans the southern arm of lake Eildon past the empty pub to Lima South. It was getting warmer and it was noted by Mark again time for Chloe to have a drink and another pee so we crossed our legs and raced onwards to Swanpool toilets on arrival we marveled at the picnic shelter with it laser cut design of swans in sheets of rusty steel. It’s obvious that this little town was very proud and was  making visitors very welcome and comfortable, sorry we could not stay to investigate more but you guessed it Chloe was anxious to get to the farm.

Onward through Tatong with it classic white pub and well-spaced tree-lined street a quick right hand turn and we were on the red gum lined country road heading for the Dellar Ranch in Upper Lurg.

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Tatong Pub

Chloe sat upright as if to say we are here and I want another pee quick. We stopped at the front cyclone gate and were welcomed by a swarm large black mozzies that filled the car, Mark yelled quick Daryl make a run for it I jumped and we sped up the drive over the angry sugar ants nests to the safety of the long tin weekender making a run inside leaving Chloe behind to bring in her own swag and aeroguard. It was about mid afternoon when we arrived and after scratching and spraying we settled in to unpack and start the job at hand, slash all the long grass before the fire season starts, with the hand slasher brought out of retirement, oil checked belts tightened and blades sharpened, time to start the willing 11 horsepower Honda, Mark hanging on for dear life let out the clutch and away he went grass flying everywhere propelled stones banging against the tin walls Chloe and I hid in the shelter of the shed and peered through the cracks around the door to see if Mark was okay whilst we were under attacks from those persistent B51 mossy bombers. With the front area mowed like the botanical gardens and Mark out of sight over the embankment Chloe and my self-ventured out and found the famous Fire Pit, a large dug out area to contain a big fire, after collecting a stack of dry firewood we lit a big fire and stacked on some freshly cut grass to smoke out those mossies, this worked a treat.

After a couple of hours with the mower at rest we settled down with some beer and stout, dry bikkies and cheese in our deck chairs in the smoke trail watching the sun setting listening to the farmers kids extracting the last out of the day laughing and playing. We even heard the birds saying their prayers and giving thanks as they settled down for the coming cold night.

Mark heated up some stir fry and chicken and we had a couple of bowls full each as the flies went to bed and before the mossies renewed their night attack. We had a few beers and those mossies that bit us were then too pissed to find us or to tell their mates. We even managed a few yarns and rearranged the world as we sat around the open fire and stared at the star covered sky.

That was the end of the first day. Chloe slept with Mark he claimed it was for the warmth.

Day Two
7-30 am

Mark beat the birds up had the Honda humming away and more grass was being laid level, in and out of the trees, he been for a walk, lit  the fire pit and fired up the slow combustion stove and had the kettle singing ready for brekky. Upon seeing me greeting the day he bounced up to make toast, a bowl of weeties, corn and raisins.We sat in the sun sipping tea as Mark told me that Chloe had slipped down the side of the mattress during the night against the iron shed wall and was wedged there. Never a complaint from her. He called, no answer. Panic set in. No torch, no power, no Chloe. He was starting to panic big time. What would Daryl say? Then as day broke and as he was making his bed he discovered her stuck between the mattress and the tin wall. I suggested that from now on maybe I should look after Chloe.

Mark got back into slashing again, the day was heating up. I went around collecting fire wood and tidying up, doing dishes and keeping an eye on Mark to see if he was okay. Come lunch time and we had a reverse lunch. Lady Flo’s apple pie and cream then salad buns and tea after which we had a siesta for an hour or so. Then you guessed it, Mark was back into the mowing, he is a joy to watch like poetry in sweet motion. Poor Chloe after a freezing night she was still curled up in front of the wood stove sound asleep and even missed lunch.

The vivid blue sky allowed the late spring warmth to heat the ground and start drying the mown grass. It also allowed us to see the vapor trails of the big passenger jets high above us as they headed for Sydney and beyond.They were almost noiseless and barely visible except for that white vapor trail.There seemed to be one every 10 minutes, all travelling in the same direction.

At the end of the slashing day with the oven heated up, Mark the Melbourne Che,f put some Lasagna in the oven whilst we sat down by the fire pit in our deck chairs with dry bikkies, cheese and chips. Mark said “beer and stout” –  there is still some left I will get it out of the caravan fridge.There was cries of “no, no bloody NO! – it’s all frozen” – so we sat in front of the fire trying to thaw out enough beer and stout to wash down our bikkies. To no avail, beer and stout does not make good tasting ice blocks either.

At least the slightly singed lasagna went down very well followed by Lady Flo’s apple pie and beer flavored ice blocks. Chloe chose not to partake with us but stayed in warmer quarters with a large plate of canned stuff. Chloe refused to sleep with me, indicating she thought she should give Mark a second chance to make up and do the honorable thing?

It was getting late when we decided to go to bed. We were all tired but very happy. No phones, no tele, no traffic. But we had achieved our goal and cleaned up most of the grass to improve the fire safety aspect.

Day Three

Up at 7 am the sun was already up and shining as we prepared to tidy up ready for the return trip. But first a great breakfast and toast from the wood fire, weeties and corn and coffee. A quick tidy of the kitchen wash the dishes pack up our gear make sure the fires are safe. Wait, we have to empty the doorless dunny, out with the spade and electric drill, down on the hands and knees and unscrew the front panel so we can extract the can, quickly run over to the soft soil dig a hole and bury the Treasure, back to the dunny put the can in again and screw the front panel on ready for the next trip up here.

9am and off we go heading for home, down to the road and shut the cyclone gate. I asked Chloe if she would like the front seat on the way back but she seemed happy to stay stretched out on the back bench seat. A couple of k’s and a right hand turn towards Benalla Township, but before that Mark pointed out the turn to Winton where they have a motor rally car track an event worth seeing so they say. Before long we were heading towards Melbourne on the Hume highway, by-passing Benalla, we were making very good time then Mark suggested we take a scenic detour from Euroa to Merton. As we headed down the Merton road it said ‘road closed’ car rally ahead.Could not be, it was Friday, must have been left there from last week. We travelled on for some more k’s and guess what the road was closed so back we went to Euroa, looped around found the highway again. It was pisso time again but nowhere to stop but, as Mark observed, there are toilet stops for people with weak bladders along the highway. Alright for men, we can cross our legs but we had to give Chloe a plastic bag just in case. We both rang home to tell the ladies of our lives we were safe and should be home around 11-30 am. We passed a couple of highway toilet stops. They come and go quickly at 100km/per hour. Now things were getting serious. Just then we saw a sign one kilometer to toilet stop Mark pulled out to pass the longest semi-trailer ever built. We just passed the truck and realized that we were half way past the pit stop, a quick left turn, no smoke from the tyres but brown skid marks on the our undies! Mark calmly stated it’s okay as we backed up the exit lane from the Hume highway to the toilet. Time for Chloe’s pitt stop. After looking around seeing how noisy and busy a highway is we headed to Wallan. Another scenic detour was decided upon towards Whittlesea but more disaster at the railway line. A hold up as they were erecting two concrete poles. Yes, time is being eroded. Thru Whittlesea and the traffic just got thicker. Another detour to Doreen and YanYen road which was blocked for some unknown reason. Time was ticking away fast and Mark had to be home by 11.30am. A quick look at my watch said we would just make it but as we turned into Dudley St Eltham signs up, road closed all day another detour into various street and into Bible st at 12 bells. Unloaded the swag and gear. I gave Chloe a hug as she and Mark headed off home like frustrated rabbits.

Later, after all that it was revealed, Mark went home, fell asleep on the couch and missed taking his grandchild to his new school orientation day in Doreen. The very reason we had to be home by 11.30am.

Daryl Morrow – November 2016

**Editors note – just to allay any possible confusion, Chloe is a dog.

OMNI men showing the older you get the better you become.

TV threatened rain and storms for today but us, 10 OMNI men from Diamond Creek and Eltham would not let that stop us from our planned trip to the mysteries hidden behind the bluestone walls and brick architecture in the gold laden streets of the city called Melbourne.
8.34am, the packed electric train pulled into the Eltham station and disgorged lots of human cargo, mainly children heading for the Eltham College, as us 70 plus year olds boarded we found enough seats close to each other to be able to excitedly chat amongst ourselves like escaped convicts on our first trip into the big city some 45 minutes away. We left our homeland of trees and open spaces and travelled along the ribbons of steel over polluted creeks and graffiti painted walls and broken timber fences. We could see into the backyard of homes through the scratched windows as we speed past, some were tidy many had old rusty car bodies, rubbish and struggling vegie patches.
Trees were displaced by homes and commercial buildings being built wall to wall, the further we go toward our destination the higher and denser they become with total disregard for any other persons light, sunrays and views, this is no doubt an artificial way to live, may be in 20 years’ time we will grow long ears and look like rabbits living in concrete burrows.
We headed south past the MCG into Flinders St and onwards through the tunnels of the loop and with excitement flowing through our veins we alighted at Parliament Station heading up the very steep mechanical staircase to the bustling and noisy throng of Spring St, down past Parliament House to the Princess Theatre and a lovely coffee shop where we stopped for coffee and cake. Our hostess was a delightful lassie from Vancouver she enjoyed our Aussie crappie jokes and took photos of us together and also the cook. The theater is a magnificent building.
Leaving there we crossed the road past Parliament House to the busy intersection of Collins st where a skyscraper was being built it seemed to disappear in the fog clouds above it glass walls reflecting the struggling sunshine, an outside lift was racing up and down the skyscrapers ribs as if in a frantic endeavor hoping not to come adrift.
We crossed the very busy intersection with crazy taxi drivers seeming to be competing for the next Mad Max movie role plus fire trucks all lights flashing ,horns screaming and a beautifully dressed woman eating a sausage roll calmly ducking and weaving amongst it all against a red light.
emcm0014_1As we crossed the street we were confronted with our destiny “The Old Treasury Building “ a 3 story bluestone government building with the lower level used to store gold back in the 18th and 19th century.
This building was designed by a 21-year-old Englishman and built in 6 years, on inspection the foundations of heavy bluestone and curved brick ceilings makes you wonder how this building was constructed so quickly, the levels above ground encompass many offices for the government, there is one office the Victorian Governor attends once a week to sign official papers.
The walls are very thick even the inside walls, high ceilings, very ornate wood work all made in Australia from local cedar includes doors and furniture. Great display of early household goods and many documents mostly hand written, lots of photos and stories of First World War, farming and industry difficulties. We were ably guided by Lynne around the building with knowable descriptions on all subjects including the development and layout of the city streets.
After the tour of the Treasury Building we headed back along Spring St opposite Parliament House where a protest was in process, there were many police in attendance but it seemed peaceful and ok.
With rumbling tummies we headed down to China Town for a tasty lunch, we had been there before, we had made contact with a Chinese food store owner two years ago who looked after us very well , we approached him again and he gave us a meal as much as you could stack on a plate for $8.00. We were looked after by an Indonesian waitress she was so lovely we took a photo of her, Les jumped up and gave her a hug just as the shutter did its job, what a lovely photo and moment (see photo included at end of story). It was a large food hall nearly all tables were occupied, I would say he is a great business owner.
After a filling lunch we headed back to Parliament station, down the scary shiny metal mobile staircase, all the OMNI pioneers landed safely at platform one where we waited for our silver train to safely return us all back home again there was much chatter and discussion about our day of enlightenment, we realized that when you have retired you have time to explore and pursue history of your local area and country. We are so lucky to live long enough to see and enjoy evolution.
Well they were wrong about the rain and storms again, luck favors’ the brave and the dills.
We started to disperse at different stations, three of us left the train and walked together to the top of the steep hill, we stopped, shook hands and went our own ways. Like 10 puffs of smoke we separately disappeared and as darkness sets in you stop to wonder did this day really happen?
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