Our new grand-daughter number four

My daughter, Kelly, delivered her third daughter (our fourth grand-daughter) on July 25th, 2014. Both mother and daughter were healthy and well after the new arrival. We were all very happy to greet Pollyanna who, with sisters Joscelyn and Phoebe has now swelled the ranks of our grandchildren to five in number. Her cousins Grace and Harry Gunn (children of my son Ben and his wife Carina) were happy to greet her into the world. Pollyanna’s father, Adam Lemke, was of course, also very proud of his new and beautiful little girl.

August 2014 in the Whitsunday Islands

The Whitsunday Islands off the coast of Queensland was our holiday destination in August 2014. The usual suspects gathered together (Cairns airport) from where we all caught the plane to Proserpine, close to Airlie Beach where the boat would be hired.

After half a day of training with our sail-guide, we had the boat to ourselves and off we went, spending the first night moored in Nara Inlet.  For the next week we cruised about on the catamaran Skeddaddle, sticking to the west coast of the island group.  Unfortunately, the weather was not always favourable for sailing, but this did not stop us from having a great time relaxing on the deck, reading, swimming and even fishing!  No fish were ever close to becoming a meal for us.

After a week of just kicking back, we returned the boat to its rightful owners and found ourselves driving up the Queensland coast for another week of touring and sight-seeing along this beautiful piece of Australian coastline.  We got as far north as Cape Tribulation.  The feature event for my money was the cable car ride and the steam train journey back from Kuranda.

A remarkable case of serendipity occurred while we were walking around in the rainforests nearby to Kuranda. A couple of years ago, the sailing trip we had just finished had been experienced and extensively documented by a friend of mine from Adelaide, Ian Collett. While on the boat, we enjoyed reading Ian’s blogging and comments about the Whitsundays. Now, here I was traipsing along one of the tracks I looked up to see a familiar figure coming towards me from the opposite direction. Of all people! It was Ian! Here we were, from Sydney, in a remote rainforest in Queensland and I almost literally bump into Ian (from Adelaide) who was sight seeing with friends. Unbelievable, but true.

Northern Territory travels

June/July 2012 saw Ruth, Ray, Lee and me fly from Sydney to Darwin where we began our tour around the Nitmuluk/Kakadu National Park/Litchfield Park areas. This took us three weeks of driving around in a rented Landcruiser going as far south as Katherine at the start, then, heading back up north we criss-crossed the various regions to visit points of interest. Numerous towns were visited, staying in motels, hotels, cabins and resorts depending on what is available at the time. Pine Creek, Jabiru, Cooinda, Gunlom, Jim Jim – the list seems endless now, trying to remember it all.

There were plenty of things to keep us fully occupied for the time we were there. At one stage Ray, Ruth and Lee took a four day, three night hike out of Nitmuluk Park while I lazed around in my cabin reading, editing our movie records and touring the local area. See, it was my job to act as driver and meet them when they arrived at the other end of the track some 60 Kms to the north. I did the noble thing and sacrificed the pleasure of hiking across hot desert, up hill and down dale in order to fulfill this obligation. Meanwhile I took the easy way and had a helicopter ride up the Katherine Gorge and explored the surrounds while having the car to myself.

Our tour included boat trips, day hikes, swimming in water holes and the usual gawping at Aboriginal Rock Art. At one stage, Ray’s cousin took us out to Billabong Lagoon fishing all day. Only one poor unfortunate cat-fish was hooked – the sum total of our entire efforts for the day – and even this fish was thrown back after photographic records had been made.

One of the highlights was a visit to the wildlife park about 60 Km south of Darwin where we were treated to a “Birds of Prey” performance of well trained birds that swooped, squawked and behaved in clever ways on cue with the trainer.

On the other hand, as a non-event that was stupendously mindless, we were just in time to witness the thrills of the Darwin Beer Can Regatta (cheers, rowdy applause). I didn’t get it, I’m afraid. This exclusive piece of uniquely Territorian culture passeth all understanding.

We saw plenty of evidence that Darwin copped a thrashing from the Japanese in World War II. The Air Museum is full of history on this score, as is the Military Museum. There was also quite a bit to see out in the open away from museums. We came across remnants of the anti-submarine nets on the western side of Darwin Harbour, as well as the remains of gun emplacements. We also took a tour through the underground oil storage facilities – large underground tanks intended to store fuel during the war. These were hand-hewed out of the rock, but were never used during the war. My own view is that the punishment that Darwin received as a result of the war has been largely unspoken, untold and undersold – the rest of Australia would be shocked if they knew the extent of it back then.

Grand-daughter number three arrives

Ruth holds Phoebe, aged 20 hours

Only 20 hours old, and here she is in our arms. Kelly delivered a new grand-daughter Monday evening on 8 October 2012. Phoebe April Lemke arrived at 9.28 pm, weighing 3.4 Kg and measuring 55 cm in length. She is a beautiful, perfect little girl and we are all very pleased that she and her mother are in good health.

This is Kelly’s second child, both daughters. Twenty-month-old Joscelyn does not appear unduly disturbed by the new arrival.

Father-daughter moments

Father -daughter bonding moment
Father -daughter bonding moment

Father’s day 2 September 2012. Kelly and Adam hosted us all for a wonderful day.  Ben and Carina arrived with Grace and Harry.  The photo shows Grace and Ben mowing their lawn in the morning.  We all had a great afternoon sitting around on the balcony watching Joscelyn and Grace play together.

Repainting the trailer

I’ve had this trailer for an estimated 35 years, and my Dad had it for about 10 years before me.  In that time it has been repainted just once, with a brown Kill-Rust treatment. It is a fantastic old build – made by Treg trailers in Adelaide – but sadly has shown some signs of wear and tear, including a bit of rust. Still, there is some life left in it yet, and so Ruth and I decided it would be worthwhile giving it another coat of paint, which we did over the weekend.

The first challenge was to find a way to access the underside.  Since the trailer is very heavy, there is no way to turn it over without the aid of some heavy machinery.  Fortunately, Ruth’s brother Lance came to our assistance and used his forklift to turn the trailer over on its back.  From there we could wire-brush everything and give it a long deserved coat of paint.  We brushed on a coat of greenish paint (half price from Bunnings who made a mistake with the tinting).  We then took the trailer home and sprayed on the blue coat for the top.  Originally a sky-blue and red colour scheme, we now have a navy-blue coloured trailer, greenish underneath that now looks pretty damn good, despite the odd bit of rust.

On its back
On its back
Painted with a green mistake
Painted with a green mistake

Grace is a bee

Grace is a bee

A little while ago grand-daughter Grace was invited to a fancy dress party where the theme was to dress up as a bee.  Ruth searched the shops for a suitable costume and this is the result. One very happy little busy bee who took delight in buzzing around all over the house.  Grace loves play-acting and story telling and has a great imagination. Lucky we like bees!

Waratah township romances Valentines Visitors

Meeting the locals in Waratah

So how good is that? We met the locals in Waratah (Tasmania) in a cafe in and had such a great night.

Ray, Lee, Ruth and I spent February 14 2012 (Valentines Day) being wined and dined with a group of locals. What a great night. The locals became friendly and told us some stories about the place that we would never have heard otherwise. More than one bottle of wine was consumed over a period of three hours. We heard the story of how the town of Waratah prospered with the rise nd fall of the tin mine. We heard how the closure of the school was a devastating blow to the community, about the way the town had developed since tin mining was no more part of the town’s economy, and about various other features of the town.

Where else could we have had such a special night for Valentines Day?  Next day we visited Sue, one of the locals we met, at her home where she very graciously showed us her garden which was an absolute delight.  Waratah was a very pleasant surprise for us all and was well worth the visit.

Ray, Ruth, me and Lee at the Waratah cafe

Ruth jumps out of a perfectly good aeroplane

Back on the ground

It was a cool morning in Picton on 10 December 2011, a little overcast, but with no wind. Garth, Jo and I were there with Ruth to watch her through the experience. In fact Garth also did the sky-dive with her.

Our day started at 5.30 in the morning, getting up early in time to head off south from Marsfield in the car by 6.30AM after Garth and Jo had joined us.

We were at Picton Skydive by 7.30AM where the necessary paper work was completed, a brief training session was conducted and Ruth and Garth were kitted up in their sky-dive suit and harness.

By 8.30 it was all over. After a safe return to ground and an exhilarating experience for the intrepid twosome, we had a cup of coffee to wash down the bacon and egg sandwich purchased at the canteen, then headed off back to Sydney.


Ruth comes back to earth
Garth uncouples his chute


Ruth has now joined the exclusive club of skydivers she has known over the years including Garth (for whom today was his second skydive), Jo, Lee, Karyna and a number of others.  I don’t think I’ll be joining the club, although flying a glider can be fun!

Sunday morning ride

Birkenhead Point bridges
Old bridge, new bridge

Sunday morning I decided to wheel the Yammie 650 out of its stable and give it a run.  With Ruth on the back, we set off on a briskly cool morning and were heading for the new(ish) village on Parramatta River called Birkenhead Point.

Thirty minutes later we arrived and strolled around the shopping centre, eventually settling on a cafe at the end of the mall where we enjoyed a coffee.  Our table was near the window and the sun streamed in, warming us nicely after the ride.
The wharf nearby beckoned, so after coffee we walked around, enjoying the sights of the boats moored in the marina.  The end of our walk took us to a small park underneath the new bridge that spans the river parallel to the old Iron Cove Bridge (left).
It was one of those mornings when it feels really great to be alive.  We were both feeling bourne up by the fresh and sunny feel of the morning.
On our return walk to the shopping mall we called in on the Kathmandu store and I bought a new sweater to replace the old one I was wearing, as it was looking somewhat worn out and shapeless.
Our return home was via Concord Road after a nice detour past Five Dock.
What a lovely morning.