Reflections of Spain and Portugal

Tom and Heather’s travels continue :-

The Valley of the Fallen (Valle de los Caídos) near Madrid – a monument to those who died in the Spanish Civil War.
The monument precinct covers over 3,360 acres (13.6 km2) of Mediterranean woodlands and granite boulders on the Sierra de Guadarrama hills, more than 3,000 feet (910 m) above sea level and includes a basilica, a Benedictine abbey, a guest house, the Valley, and the Juanelos — four cylindrical monoliths dating from the 16th century. The most prominent feature of the monument is the towering 150-metre-high (500 ft) cross erected over a granite outcrop 150 meters over the basilica esplanade and visible from over 20 miles (32 km) away.

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A Snapshot of Morocco & Spain

In front of the Alhambra, ancient palace and fortress – Grenada

Having a great time traveling through Spain and Morocco. The temperature has been in the mid to high thirties and 44 in Marrakesh. Morocco was certainly different to what I expected, a very fertile country. Moving on to Tangier tomorrow then back to Spain and Portugal. Hi to all.

Jacko’s August Travels North

Our trip north was a dash to Narrandera for night 1…turned out to be
0c in the morning though. Then a long drive to Bourke and it was 1c the
following morning. Then we went on a bush road to Hungerford just over
the Qld border for some much better weather of mid 20s daytime, and cool
single figures overnight, so we stayed 2 nights at th CP….$11 per
night for power and full bathroom facilities….fantastic, but the pub
meal in the town of 9 permanents was superb. Currawinya NP was nearby,
so we explored the past of this vast sheep station, now NP

Shearing stands at the old wool shed -Currawinya Station

More bush road to Thargomindah for a snoop, then on to Quilpie on
another dirt track to camp on the banks of the Bulloo River. Nothing
better than a freedom camp with big camp fires for 2 nights. We had been
to Quilpie before, but didn’t see the Amy Johnson tribute, so nailed it
this time. An amazing adventure for a young British aviator in the
1930’s trying to beat a Bert Hinkler record crossing to Australia.

We have spent another 300km on a dirt bush road today from Quilpie to
Blackall where we will stay 2 nights…to do some washing and re-stock.
This “Channel Country” in Qld is amazing and challenging, for its
remoteness, flatness….hence the channels when it rains, and for its
harsh dry climate.

Here is photo of Blackall’s version of the Black Stump….this one
a survey peg from the 1860’s, but since blackened. All black stumps have
the common thread of marking the edge of nowhere!

Blackall’s black stump

Also some pics of the partially resurrected plant, funded by a
$100,000grant from PM Hawke, and massive vollunteer input from the local
community. The buildings have been recovered from desolation, and much
of the working plant stripped and overhauled to safe working order. The
plant was the only scouring plant for hundreds of kms, and sheep would
be herded for shearing and scouring from surrounding farms. Water at 58c
from the Great Artesian Basin (capacity…170,000 Sydney Harbours!!) was
heated and maintained at 60c for scouring, and the entire plant,
including workshop, and amenities, was run by steam from 2 boilers, and
the giant flywheel….returned to working order today. It is all started
up (now small diesel steam engine) to show the plant in running order
for every guided tour….every hour! They even have a dozen or so
merinos on hand to show what they would have looked like.

With the advent of synthetic fabric and subsequent demise of the wool
industry, hastened by the uncontrollable menace of wild dogs, there are
NO SHEEP in western Qld any more, now turned over to cattle. The
Blackall Woolscour Plant closed in 1978, and the town virtually
deserted. It is now making a steady comeback.

Nice town, with obvious civic pride and certainly RV Friendly

A Tribute to Kelvin Kaires *(KOM:NI) – Vale


It is with much regret that the men of OM:NI Diamond Creek reflect on the recent passing of Sir Kelvin (Kel) Kaires – friend, brother and much respected colleague. On 15th August 2017, at the age of 89, Sir Kel passed away peacefully in his sleep at home.
He spent 89 years traveling this planet meeting and inspiring people from all walks of life, excelling in electronics building his first television set and ignition systems still used in cars today, he was a small framed man with an inquiring mind full of wisdom which he graciously passed on to all that listened.
He understood the health issues and remedies of the human body and enjoyed a loving lifetime with his childhood sweetheart Val.
He joined the OMNI Diamond Creek discussion group as a founder member and became our mentor and grandfather/brother, we always looked forward to his input and humor in our meetings. He unified the whole group so much we created the Sir Kelvin Award, this became the annual award bestowed upon other worthy members of whom Kel would officiate having dressed in robes and placing a sword upon the shoulder saying rise Sir?
Illness prevailed over many months and Kel could not always attend OMNI but all that visited him came back with the same message I can’t wait to be with you all again, tell the boys I miss everyone of them and I love them all dearly.


Kel made such a difference at our Diamond Creek Group and he felt his time with us stimulated his thinking and re-invigorated his zest for life. How many times did he re-affirm his love for us and his gratefulness for making the last few years of his life worthwhile.
Ken Ramplin

What sad news that Sir Kel has passed away. I will always remember what a kick he got out of conferring the Sir Kelvin Award onto the next recipient. He always had some wise words for us all and he certainly enjoyed a joke.
Our memories of Kel will live on and always be remembered, may he be at peace.
Tom Hendry

Sad news indeed. A true icon and font of wisdom of OM:NI Diamond Creek. A lovely man, a unique man.
Nick Grange

Yes, sad news indeed. Kel was one of those guys who could always make the group laugh, with his humour and quick wit. He still always found time to listen to the rest of the guys. He will be missed as both one of the founding members plus the elder statesman.
Bruce McCorkill

Yes the sad loss of a real character. He acknowledged all with a cheeky word but an encouraging grin and respect.
A wealth of experience and jokes.
Phillip Davis

…Zebras and 2ltr vinegar bottles will just never seem the same again..
Anon

Sir Kel was at my first meeting, and his intellect and wit epitomized the essence of OMNI Diamond Creek. In return he genuinely loved us all with the humility he possessed and exuded. With great regret, I will be unable to attend Sir Les’s service or Tuesday’s memorial lunch for Sir Kel, but remain in the spirit of love and respect shared by every fortunate member of OMNI Diamond Creek.
Manhug and love to all
Barry Jackson

I met this wonderful man at my first OMNI meeting, and whilst warmly greeted by all present, Sir kel went out of his way to personally and privately welcome me into the group and assure me that I would easily fit in with all the guys as they were such a good group of men.
Over time I got to see what a wealth of worldly experience he possessed and how he was always willing to share whatever knowledge he had that he believed would be of benefit to all the blokes.
One of very few men I have met over my life time that never had any problems saying to another man “I love you”.
Sir Kelvin ,truly loved and missed.
Ron Wright

How lucky was OMNI that in 2011 you walked through those doors and into our hearts.
Thank you Sir Kelvin for role modelling that it’s okay for men to share feelings amongst each other.
That it was more than alright to show joy & pain, to cry and to laugh and to tell someone how much they really mean to you.
When we were looking for an icon to name our OM:NI Awards after, it was a no-brainer that you were the choice.
These are a few of my favourite images of you … and believe me there were many spectacular memories you so generously gifted.
Thank you for the privilege mate.
Larry Cahill

One of my favourite memories of Kel was when the lady journalist from the local paper came to an OM:NI meeting a few years ago to gather material for an article about our group. She asked Kel, “What exactly do you blokes get out of OM:NI?” To which Kel responded, “OM:NI has taught us to behave like women, that is, to talk to each other about the things that really matter to us and to open our hearts to each other.”
…Tim Bruwer

I met Kel some 5 years ago he was always jovial and serious but told many jokes repeatedly including the one about the Zebra; he was inspiring to be with. He also told stories of sailing around the Whitsunday islands off Queensland.
Daryl Morrow

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* KOM:NI – Knight of the Order of OM:NI

Leslie James Robertson (KOM:NI) – Vale

In memory of Leslie (Sir Les) Robertson who passed away peacefully on August 9, 2017 in his 88th year following a short illness. A man who contributed greatly to the Diamond Creek OM:NI group with his humour and poetry.

You’ll be missed Les.

The following poem was the first he ever presented to the group in October 2013.

 

STILL DREAMING

I ran around the kitchen, with a duster in my hand,
The family was coming and I wanted it looking grand.
You could see the footprints clearly, making patterns in the dust,
So, to keep them off my back – cleanliness was a must.

Since I’d been living here alone they sometimes check on me,
They’re doing me a favour, that much I could see.
Since my wife left for better care, that somehow, now she needed,
I also had outside to mind – and keep the garden weeded.

Often, I get lonely here, just me to make a noise,
The dog will sometimes bark a bit but I’ve not lost my poise.
The grass grows long and really thick, I have to use the mower,
Up and down and back and forth – I sometimes think I’m slower.

But I know lots of people who are not as well as me,
“Cos I can jog around the block, with the dog for company.
Now, I’m not as fit as I once was and I have to walk a bit,
And when that’s the best that I can do – I’ll make the best of it.

I’d like to have a woman here, to keep me on my toes.
Not too young and not too old, just middle-aged I s’pose.
perhaps I could just borrow one, if her love life isn’t finished,
She could show me all the tricks – till my love life’s diminished.

Then when I wake up and realize that I was only dreaming,
I wonder why my slow old brain hasn’t finished scheming.
If I’m alive at 105 and find I’m making plans,
I’ll have had a great life, not ever in strife ……
…………as good as any man’s.

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.

Broome W.A.

July 2017 and finally a destination we have longed to visit for quite a while!

On arrival in Broome, from cold and wet Melbourne the days gave way to beautiful, warm, sunny days averaging 30* every day,  giving the old pins to once again adorn shorts and soak up the sun.

Our accommodation was the “Bali Hai Resort” that gave the feeling of being on a holiday in Asia, with the rooms, decor, buildings, garden layout and atmosphere all allowing relaxation to kick in within minutes of arrival.

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This particular holiday we decided not to rent a car, and instead, do lots of walking each day to discover the town and its surroundings utilizing the magnificent and very reasonably priced town bus service.

 It was our desire to experience as much as possible during our stay, the only downside of the trip was mainly due to ocean tidal changes, and, one only bus service connection to “Gantheaume Point” first thing in the morning, the opportunity to see and stand in the 130 million-year-old Dinosaur footprints was to hopefully  see them at any future visit we may embark upon.

Some of the outings we experienced included attending the huge local “Court House” markets set amongst tropical frangipani trees in full flower, displays of local produce, local entertainment performers, various stalls on yummy smelling food outlets and trash and treasure of all varieties,from there a stroll into town to visit the “Pearl Luggers” outlet reflected many of the origins of Broome’s primary pearling industry.

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On three separate occasions we visited Chinatown in the heart of Broome and enjoyed the towns unique multicultural character, the vast amount of outlets where pearls/jewellery could be inspected and purchased, and indeed the wonderful variety of eating establishments, all having both indoor and outdoor dining on the footpath where  the sunshine and fresh air could be enjoyed.

A point of historical interest was that 75 years ago the Broome airport was the target of a Japanese air raid resulting in a high cost of 70 lives being lost and the destruction of a fleet of flying boats that were enclosed in nearby “Roebuck Bay”.

Our resort was about a five-minute walk to the magnificent 20 kilometers plus length of Cable Beach to view the evening sunset.  The villa was fully self-contained amongst beautifully manicured gardens, we additionally had a secluded outdoor dining area and also a secluded outdoor shower for use on hot days.

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Cable Beach.

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Another highlight was the “Astronomy lecture and star viewing night’; we were collected from our accommodation in a huge 4WD vehicle, and driven about an hour out into the hinterland where a large area of scrub had been cleared for seating about 100 people on fold up chairs and 10 big telescopes pointed out into deep space. The lecture on the universe went for a very informative hour followed by the viewing of the night sky.

The absolute experience that we both thoroughly enjoyed was a 10.5 hour day adventure, that is truly a natural wonder of our world.The Horizontal Falls are only accessible by either boat, helicopter or sea plane.

We were collected at 5:30 am in a 4WD that took us to the Beagle Bay Mission where a welcome stop for a cuppa and biscuits was enjoyed. At this mission is the Beagle Bay church that had the altar and backdrop made from a collection of Mother of Pearl shells that gave a unique and interesting look.

Beagle Bay Mission Church.

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On the road again our next stop was “Cygnet Bay” pearl farm where breakfast was waiting for us prior to going on a tour through the establishment, a history of pearling and a demonstration of pearl seeding was given.

All fed and watered, we next boarded the 4WD again and headed to a small private tarmac,where we climbed aboard a combined land/seaplane for a half hour flight over the Buccaneer Archipelago consisting of in excess of 2000 small islands situated in the most beautiful blue/aqua colored waters to our destination of “Talbot Bay”.

 

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We smoothly landed on the water and taxied to the “Horizontal Falls Pontoon” to have a wonderful Barramundi lunch and refreshments and also if one was game enough have a swim with the sharks.

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Finally the most exciting part of the day trip was when we boarded a 900hp very fast Jet Stream boat (The fastest in all the Kimberley) that took us through the most thrilling ride into the horizontal falls (6x) and then to let the adrenaline subside a cruise around the surrounding creeks and bays prior to returning to the pontoon and boarding the Seaplane. This was a direct flight back to Broome airport and on arrival to be delivered back to our accommodation.  Wow, what a great holiday and new experiences to tick off the bucket list.