“A short trip to “Pennyroyal”.

Early March 2017 was when we headed off for a few days break at “Pennyroyal“, which is in the vicinity of the very small township of “Deans Marsh” roughly located between Lorne and Birragurra, Victoria.

Why Deans Marsh? well my eldest sister and her family lived in this isolated region back in 1957 and it consisted of very little more than a sawmill, a store and houses occupied by the sawmill employees and it was a place where I would spend many an Easter, school holidays or Christmas with my young niece and nephew and enjoy the tranquility of the outback bush countryside.

Memories abound of swimming in the waterhole beneath a bridge, going rabbiting, chopping starting wood chips for the massive IXL cast iron stove that burned constantly as it also heated the hot water and the wonderful smells of fresh air and the wood fire.

Not having been in this region for such a long time and having many vivid and enjoyable times there in my youth, we booked a B&B cabin at Pennyroyal.

Pennyroyal in itself is an insignificant place of bush and farmlands and not a town and is a five-minute drive from Deans Marsh. The place we stayed at was a fully kitted out cabin having magnificent views of the country side from the back verandah where we shared breakfast with so many different birds and their chorus every morning and at night viewed the abundance of heavenly stars above.

 

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Honeysuckle Cottage.

This was not a sit back and relax get away for we wanted to explore and experience as much as time permitted of the surrounding countryside.

Our many journeys included visiting/driving through the” Otway Ranges” into Lorne for lunch and a nice stroll along the beach, and a trip out to “Forrest” another very small township in the hinterland of the Otways where we lunched at the “Forrest Brewing Company”,a small micro brewing enterprise brewing hand crafted beers.

“Birragurra”, (another historic town of the region)is about a 20-minute drive from “Deans Marsh”, consisted of a very wide main street, shop fronts all of which were more than 100 years old and has an ambiance of utter slowness, peace, and quiet.

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Main Road Birragurra.

Next day we continued our journey onto the vibrant city of “Colac” where we explored the magnificent Botanical Gardens and had lunch at the garden’s restaurant that over looked the impressive Lake Colac, a massive fresh water catchment area that supplied the township.

As early afternoon approached, we first visited “Lake Cundare” salt lake then onto our next destination of “Red Rock Lookout“. That supplied us with a sturdy climb to the top and a reward of 360* of an uninterrupted vista of the many and varied craters left by volcanic activity from as little as 4000 years ago, after that a return to the cabin for a lovely home cooked meal and glass of wine.DSCN1747

Lake Cundare.(Salt Lake).

 

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Looking down from Red Rock lookout.

Whilst all of the above consisted of a lot of driving, it was well worth it as the experience was one you needed to personally appreciate what it offered!All in all, an enjoyable time.

 

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A chance encounter with the Primrose Rugby Club

Primrose Rugby Club 2

On a blustery day in September 2012 my wife and I were relaxing in our seats in the rear of a plane on the tarmac at Cape Town’s international airport on our way back to Australia, when a babble of excited voices filled the aircraft and a group of young boys, accompanied by some adults, made their way to where we were sitting. We quietly braced ourselves for a long and noisy flight.

The boys were all dark-skinned and clearly belonged to some sort of sporting club.

Whilst growing up in South Africa during the Apartheid era, I had never once played sport against, nor even sat next to anyone who was not white. Under the laws of the time everything relating to racial matters was separate or ‘apart’ – sport, public transport, park benches, churches, schools, toilets and even public parks.

Having been active in the Anti-Apartheid movement for many years, it was a novel and heart-warming experience for me to share the plane with these excited, dark-skinned youngsters.

Their coach’s seat was not far from mine, on the other side of the aisle. I could tell that he had an excellent rapport with the kids. One of the boys came past and ruffled his hair. When they became too excited and noisy, he called them to order and they quietened down immediately.

“What is the name of your club?” I asked the coach.

“The Primrose Rugby Club. Our boys are going to compete in a rugby competition for Under 13s in New Zealand.”

I had never heard of the Primrose Rugby Club, so I asked him how long the club had been in existence. “It started in 1896,” he said. “It’s a community club. I used to play for them myself when I was young. We have at least one boy here who is going to play for South Africa one day,” he added confidently.

The separation or ‘apartheid’ between races when I grew up was so comprehensive that this rugby club, which had existed not far from where I had lived as a schoolboy, was unfamiliar to me.

“Do your teams sometimes fly to other parts of South Africa to compete?” I asked him.

“Oh no, very few of our players would ever have been in an aeroplane before.”

The excitement amongst the boys was palpable. One of them had taken more than a hundred photos on his digital camera in the plane even before take-off. Another exclaimed: “Look! They even have little televisions in here.” He turned to me. “Could you please show me how to switch this on?”

The plane started moving towards the runway. I asked the young fellow across the aisle from me if he had ever travelled in a plane before. “No, never,” he replied. “I’m very scared!”

As the plane gathered speed on the runway the boys’ voices grew louder and some of them cried out aloud in fright when it lifted off the ground. Suddenly, one of them started singing the post-Apartheid South African national anthem, “Nkosi Sikilel iAfrika” (“Lord Bless Africa”, in the Xhosa language) and all the others immediately joined in to sing their fear of flying away. It was an enthusiastic and beautiful impromptu performance.

Later, back in Melbourne, I googled the Primrose Rugby Club and found an amateur video of the boys on a New Zealand rugby field, standing in line and facing a long line of their young New Zealand opponents, who were performing the haka. I could imagine just how immensely the boys of the Primrose Rugby Club would have enjoyed that moment, and I was grateful that something like this had become possible in my lifetime.

Some months later I googled the Primrose Rugby Club again, curious to know how their tour of New Zealand had gone. One website informed me that they had made history as the first ever international team to have been invited to compete in the prestigious Annual New Zealand Junior Rugby Festival. Then I found a photo on another website that caused me to be overwhelmed with great emotion, as well as with a strange feeling of immense pride. There was the trophy for the Under 13 Champions of the New Zealand Junior Rugby Festival, perched on the shore of Table Bay, with Cape Town in the background.

Primrose Rugby Club trophy

 

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 POSTSCRIPT

At the time of writing this piece I had tried my utmost to find a contact email address or snail mail address for the Primrose Rugby Club so that I could share this story with them, but to my great frustration I was unable to do so. Then, out of the blue four years later, I received the following message per email:

22 June 2017

Hi There

It was by chance that I came across your article which was written in 2014 about a group of young rugby players setting off to play for the very first time in a foreign country. 🙂 Boys from Primrose Rugby Club.

I was on that plane with those boys and I would love to share your post on my blog: zivs2.wordpress.com

It was a really fascinating story which I would love to share with you some time.

Best regards

Zivia Sallie

 

22 June 2017

Reblogged this on The World of Zivs and commented: It was per chance that I found this article today. To all the Primrose Rugby boys, staff and parents who travelled on this flight with us…I’m sure you will all just be smiling when you read this.

 

22 June 2017

Dear Tim

You cannot imagine my delight in discovering your article this morning. It brought back so many fond memories of this tour and I have already shared with most families linked to that tour.

I will take some time out and email you the details and I am certain you will find it extremely fascinating.

The tour was a great success. We returned to SA with a Silver plate and boys whose lives had been changed forever.

I hope to be in touch sometime soon.

Best Regards

Zivia

 

23 June 2017

I shared your post with many of the parents and they thanked me for sharing because it brought back so many beautiful memories for them too. One of the families now live in New Zealand and the mom, Insaaf, said that she was in tears just remembering that time. She has also travelled with the group.

Zivia

The marvels of modern medicine

In 1983, while working in Port Moresby at the National Library Service of Papua New Guinea, I contracted a terrible ear infection. In time the pain almost drove me insane. Blood, pus and black goo leaked from my ear all day and night. I had to sleep with my head on an old towel and I lost my hearing completely in the infected ear.

Over the next two months I tried two types of ear drops, went to see the doctor five times, underwent an ear syringing, completed five full courses of four different antibiotics and had three injections, with absolutely no effect.

An acquaintance at the University of Papua New Guinea, who had heard about my ongoing problem with the ear infection, rang me and told me that a certain Dr Ghosh, an Indian ear, nose and throat specialist, was in town on a temporary training attachment at the Port Moresby General Hospital. I promptly went to see my doctor and asked him for a referral to see this Dr Ghosh.

On a steaming hot day in March, nearing the end of the wet season, I walked into Dr Ghosh’s office, introduced myself, and told him, “I’m getting really depressed about this ear infection, Doctor. The damn thing appears to be incurable and the pain is driving me around the bend.”

Dr Ghosh raised both his hands as if to fend off my words. “Depressed? Depressed? My dear fellow, there is no need to get depressed. This is the Twentieth Century, after all. We can now cure almost any infection!” I nodded and kept my disbelief to myself.

The doctor proceeded to peer into my ear. “Ha!” he exclaimed triumphantly, after a minute, “no wonder the antibiotics have had no effect. What we have here is a fungal infection, not a bacterial one. Oh, no, no, there are no bacteria in that ear. Only fungus.” He then proceeded to tell me with great merriment how he had recently cured a young fellow’s nose problem by advising him to get married! It was with difficulty that I managed to hide my lagging confidence in the good doctor.

He wrote out a prescription for anti-fungal drops, which he handed to me. He noticed that I was looking a tad sceptical. “Oh,” he said, brimful of confidence, “you use those drops and within three weeks’ time you will say to yourself, ‘My goodness, Dr Ghosh has cured me!’”

Having no alternative but to hope desperately for a miracle cure, I thanked him and set off to the chemist to get the anti-fungal drops. As I was leaving his office he shouted after me, “Depressed? Oh, no, my dear fellow, no need to get depressed! This is the Twentieth Century, after all!”

The prescription I collected from the chemist was for Tinaderm drops. I carefully read the instructions on the label, which stated that Tinaderm would cure things like tinea, foot rot and crotch itch. There was no mention of using them in one’s ear.

I had little choice but to trust Dr Ghosh, so I gritted my teeth and put a few drops into my ear, repeating the process the next morning and the next evening. After two days I woke up in the morning and discovered to my amazement that my ear infection had vanished completely.

“Oh, the marvels of modern medicine,” I mused to myself. “No, no, there was no need to get depressed.”

 

Canberra to Katoomba. Part 2.

Part 2 of our trip.

 After having had such an enjoyable stay in Canberra it was now time to repack the car once again and get away early for our journey onto “Katoomba” which was a day of driving many kilometers.

After an uneventful drive, we finally reached the Katoomba Falls Tourist Park where we were to stay whilst we explored the walks of the Blue Mountains and  all it had to offer.
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The accommodation was first-class and in a beautiful quiet setting and not far from the commencement point to many of the walks.
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Whilst light was still on our side we ventured over to the “Furber Steps” that led us to the lookout point where the panorama of the mountains opened to us and surely lit our visual senses as we were in awe of its magnificence.

For as far as one could see, mountain ranges, waterfalls,”Mount Jamison” and in the distance the main attraction “The three sisters” could be enjoyed and that set us up emotionally for the experiences we were to have in the coming days.

From this location, the Scenic Skyway cable car could be seen crossing from one side of the escarpment across to the other.20161013_161552

Dusk had now appeared so back to our cabin to settle in for some dinner and a nice bottle of wine in preparation for a cold 2* night and the following day’s upcoming adventures.

Next morning, with backpacks on we, were off to “Echo Point” via the “Prince Henry’s Cliff” walk which was classified as moderate difficulty,had abundant views, birds abound, magnificent bushland and with the warm early morning sun shining it is but another of life’s experiences I will always treasure.

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Eventually, Echo Point was reached where a completely different perspective of the ranges opened up to us and it is also a location where a never-ending procession of tourist buses stopped to allow the passengers to take close up photos of the three sisters.

The Three Sisters

The Three Sisters

As lunchtime had arrived we walked about 1/2 K to a restaurant located high on the precipice where we sat outside and enjoyed our lunch and soaked up the wonderful views, after that via another route through the back streets we ventured back to camp.

Later that afternoon after our legs had stopped quivering our next trek was not  far to the “Eaglehawk Lookout” where another splendid walk along a meandering pathway through the bush to the lookout where what we had seen on the morning’s walk showed the massive sheer cliffs that had broken away millions of years ago could be viewed from another angle.

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Next day back at Echo Point a pathway that led down three sets of exceptionally long/steep stairways (so steep that I’m sure the imprints of my hand’s are still on the railings).On reaching the bottom of these stairways a short wooden bridge allowed access to the first of the three sisters where even greater views of the valley could are enjoyed.

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In addition to the  bush walking we also went to “Scenic World”top station and purchased a daily ticket that enabled us to cross the valley to the eastern station via the Scenic Skyway  cable car and back,we next took the scenic railway (that is the steepest scenic railway in the world (being 52* incline) to the floor of the Jamison Valley and walked the 2.5K elevated boardwalk in the temperate forest then returned by another cable car back to top station. (The boardwalk is the longest elevated one in the world.)

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Well, folks, that’s about it for a brief overview of only some of the highlights of our Katoomba-Blue mountains getaway.

Next morning we fed the cockatoo’s on our balcony, repacked the car for a long journey down to Albury to stay overnight and return back to Bundoora the following morning and pick up the dog (Luckily he was still talking to me).

All in all a fantastic time away from touring the highways, exploring the countryside and in particular coming off the main highway several times to have morning tea/lunch or afternoon tea in very old country towns.

Jacko’s stay at Evans Head, NSW north coast

After leaving Melbourne on October 15, we meandered our way north, hugging the western side of the great divide through spectacular, but winding and steep terrain to Tenterfield, where we crossed to casino, and down to the gorgeous and largely unspoilt township of Evans Head, about 30km south of Ballina. This is our free camp at Black Springs on the way up.img_0396

The weather has been sensational and we haven’t been out of shorts and T-shirts since we arrived, a week ago. We have enjoyed lots of long beach walks, sensational humpback whale watching from several headlands, much fresh deep water fish from the Co-Op, other great local produce, and the company of the many friendly people we have met in the park.

We are leaving tomorrow for 4 days at Woolgoolga, just north of Coffs Harbour

Estuary inlet at Evans Head. Caravan Park in the trees to the left of the Surf Club

Estuary inlet at Evans Head. Caravan Park in the trees to the left of the Surf Club

BasOMNI on the beach at Evans Head

BasOMNI on the beach at Evans Head

Looking up the estuary to the fishing fleet and Fishermans Co-Op in the distance

Looking up the estuary to the fishing fleet and Fishermans Co-Op in the distance