Category Archives: 2009 – THE YEAR THAT WOZ


I am not successfully ‘ doing’ Christmas this year. I successfully DID my 60th birthday and that’ has been a fine satisfaction – but Christmas has me ‘stonkered’. The MOB from Armidale have gone South to the family of the daughter-in-law – way up back of Eden.  Kati B and IMM are in Bellingen and within one month of the baby’s coming. 17th January its due. And We are in Ulmarra.

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Living within some health frameworks determines a fair percentage of my lifestyle and sometimes I forget about it and when my body doesn’t come on the ride my mind and dreams want to take it on,  my Spirit sits down in a corner, discouraged. Internet life is SO good. When I find going out a bit tough then, the electronic door opens and I have the world right here with me.

I haven’t done Christmas Cards. I would be lucky this season to ‘ think my way out of a paperbag’. The mail today, however brought two cards – one from my very old and legally blind Auntie Jean, whom I have loved since I was a baby and still do,  and the other from ‘Your Old Postie’.  Took me all the way back to childhood in Belmore. A card from the Postie. That’s why I LOVE villages.

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When I woke this morning and entered the FaceBook world, My niece, Cassandra Pomroy, was online on chat and while I was here in Australia with friesian cows and galahs, she was in Brixton, London with SNOW all about her. CP is off adventuring in Europe – in love with London. She was working in a cinema but the work visa is run out and now she is at a vego co-op.

She sent me the backyard snow photo on the left.

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The Leader of the MOB once set a thought off in my mind. Well, actually , he sent thoughts off in my mind most of his life and still does and this was one of the ones which has helped me in many situations ever since. I don’t recall the words but what it said to me was that all the ingredients of Christmas were a part of the process and all of them were needed for the memories.

That being so, then it doesn’t so matter what I FEEL about today or Xmas Week – I just put it in the Mix and it will one day settle into whatever it is meant to do.

The white egrets across the road with the black cows and our trip to Iluka. Izzy and I went to Iluka – and liked it. There were pelicans at Iluka I like pelicans. I guess I won’t know what this Christmas is about till all the parts have been added up and the Whole becomes greater than the Sum of its Parts. Pelicans with a new Camera in an hitherto unvisited North Coast Village.  We also have the background theme of WAITING for the Kati B’s new baby. Her first Baby.

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And 50 Scrabble Games on Facebook going at all times with people from all over the World – excluding Canada and the USA.

I took myself down south to Bellingen for her Baby Shower. I had never been to one before. I was from the Hippy and liberated Feminist era and we didn’t DO baby Showers. Kati B is much the same but the Good Friends  she has made since she came home to Bello wanted to hold one and they did. Kati B and IMM lived for years in the middle of Sydney and liked it . Now they are back in a Country Town and have some Good Friends.  We did baby Shower in the afternoon.

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Next day, Hannah had organised Barefoot Bowls at the Bello Bowling Club. Babies and Children and beautiful young parents and pregnant girls. Much as it was when we first came north in the 70s in the  Hippy Train – but now integrated and solidly part of the community. The towns are coming back to Life. It was Hot and just as Summer in Bello should be.

Little ones with names like Echo and Jet.


Its 1 1/2 hours from Bello to Ulmarra and its 80kms back to Coffs Harbour which is what we did the next day or so. Izzy is a Mac Man and the Mac Shop is on the Pacific Highway in Coffs. He has had his little Mac G4 for 5 years and it had begun to resist the latest internet advances so we hopped into the Starwagon and now he has the latest Mac.

Already, it seems to have re-ignited his academic interest in his Melinda and research is back on. Suits me – I find myself very peaceful back in the 19th Century.


We turned into Red Rock and Corindi – 2 more villages i hadn’t visited before. I have lived on the North Coast since the early 1970s with a brief break to return to Sydney from 1987-1994. These villages are the ones I have seen signs to for many years but not turned off the Highway to explore.  Now that I seem to be North Coast ‘ doomed’ for the moment, I am Exploring.

I think I spent one night in red Rock in 1973 with Tony Bahles. A sleep in our Commer Van when returning from Brisbane but that memory is just a flash. Then, gentle English Tom at Brigalow once asked me to come for a ride on his motor bike for a pie at red Rock- that’s about 10 years back but I was too timid and didn’t go.

Now my interest has been re-awakened by the Red Rock Stories that the Hegedus Family tells me when I am down at the Wide River Cafe.

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Izzy was booked for 4 gigs in a row and I decided to go to just one – my favourite – the Wide River on Sunday. Good idea – however , Sunday Rained and it was a washout. That’s the sort of Xmas I am having so far. “Almost but not Quite” sort of a season.


However, in this adding up of the parts to discover the greater whole , I am driven to treat my naturally depressive, eremitic nature very consciously.  Humour is one of the elements. The POST CHRISTMAS SALE at RETRAVISION in the week BEFORE Christmas was pretty funny.


For Beauty and Sheer Pleasure, there is Summer Fruit. Izzy won a tray at the SQUATTER’S REST JAM NIGHT. We have also discovered the NORTH STREET FRUIT MARKETS under a house in North Street near Carr’s Creek. Good fruit and vegies and excellent prices. The fruit looks good on Andrew’s wooden table that he has lent us.

This could well be a retrospective Season of Joy for me.


We found the VILLAGE GREEN HOTEL RESTAURANT yesterday. Someplace in the back streets. I found their site on Facebook and it looked like a good crew and so it proved to be. Kati B likes beer gardens and counter lunches and the Clarence excels in them. I have more to try. I did like the Crown Hotel  on the river in Grafton but last time we tried to eat there we encountered very poor service and the ‘cannot feed a vegetarian’ treatment. We actually left and went round the corner to ROCHES’ FAMILY HOTEL which fed us very well and was busy. Then there is our own ULMARRA HOTEL which has a beer garden right on the River, top cooking and great service. Brekkie and lunch 7 days a week and dinner on Fridays and Saturdays.


I have 4 round balls from JACK A DANDY. That’s Ulmarra’s gift shop with Paul in charge. They are Xmas balls even though we don’t have a tree this year. There is one white bear for the baby coming in January. Danged depression.

I hang in one day and then another and the emotions will make sense again soon for me and the white bear.

2009 – on consideration

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Coldstream Street living involves a lot of lawn clippings. I like LAWNS. I like them neat and clipped and tidy but I have ZERO interest in attending to them myself. Luckily , Izzy is an obsessional as well and he likes the Lawn. Neat. Edged, Then he places all the clippings in the Compost Heap. Some of that tourine developed when we lived at Bilambil Cottage where our Gentleman Owner hand mowed acres of Lawn and attended to it in a similar manner.


Just up  the road from Ulmarra is a motel which I have fancied for years and years. It stands on a hill above the canefields and looks like a Southern USA mansion from Gone with the Wind. For years, I have wanted to stop in there and find out the story behind it but I have never had the least good reason to pull in for the night. On one occasion I did. I was driving my daughter back to Urunga when I became very ill and we tried to pull over and book into the Motel but could find noone to receive us so we continued South. The Motel is in the very tiny village of Tyndale and like so many tiny Australian Villages, Tyndale seemed to be spluttering into extinction. The Monotliths had pulled the petrol pumps out and drawn the grocery shoppers into the bigger settlements.

Just the other day, we ventured out to Nymboida where the St John’s Coffee Stop has just opened up. We have been told the Nymboida Hotel is beginning to truly function again and now the ROADHOUSE at TYNDALE, home of The Motel, has re-opened with food, fuel and groceries. Go for it , Small Villages ! I don’t know who or what is breathing the flicker of life back into these small communities but its a fine thing to see.  MORE !!!!!! Says I.


As for me, I am back in my Pacific Highway Life.  They call it Highway No 1. Urunga is on the Pacific Highway. So is Ulmarra. It threads its was like the Rainbow Serpent through our lives. For most of its hundreds of kilometres its a 2 lane track. In Ulmarra, there is a 50km speed limit which brings it to a sudden and often resented tortoise’s crawl. Offended – is what No 1 looks like to me as it is compelled to funereally crawl through a Village.

One of the most common sales in the Villages of the North Coast is THE CHURCH.  I don’t know what the import of that is – but they surely do sell off a lot of churches. This one is for sale. It needs to be re-stumped before it can be lived in. I don’t think it has ever flooded – but the Council is big on re-stumping – IN CASE.

I do not wish to live in a Church. Nor do I wish to open a business in a Church.  Lingering Methodist Childhood trembles come over me at the very thought of it.  Mind you the Church at Kinchela which might well have been the family’s place of worship is now being lived in – by someone more daring than I am.


October also meant DRAGON BOAT RACES on the Clarence. I hadn’t expected to be impressed by them but I was.  All day long they raced. There were impressive competitive racers from all over the place but I enjoyed the local people.

An insider at one of the Government Agencies told me a few funny  stories about what happened when a boat crew of sedentary office workers took their places in the Dragon Boat.

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The CLOCKTOWER HOTEL in Grafton had a major renovation last year and COUNTRY ENERGY provided a new jacaranda crown in LED display for Jacaranda Week. Back behind the camera, the old Weilly’s Hotel has closed down and now operates as a coffee shop. On the 2nd floor is a large metal alien  whose purpose has been nowhere explained to me. The Street was closed off for Jaca Thursday. I LOVE streets closed off. Streets which are normally vehicular. It feel near as daring as living in a Church with a sense of righteousness about it . Globally friendly instead of upturned tables and whip lashes in the foyer of the Temple.

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Springtime and the first few days of Summer have been STORMY. Clouds roll around most days behaving threateningly. Just up a little from here is the showground which is also the Cricket Ground. They refuse to be threatened by anything at all, so it seems to me. Heat, Hail, Rolling Thunder and all other occurrences just do not daunt the  white clad ULMARRA CRICKETERS. Its impressive and feelings of security and comfort reside within my ample bosom when the Ulmarra Cricketrs are on the Field.

Week Nights, its the Tennis Players and I look for the Lights and Listen for the occasional umpire’s call. We had 2 months or so when the floods had trashed the courts where there were no games and I, in fact, didn’t know about the Tennis – just the sight of damaged courts. Now – they reassure me of life being as it ought. Thanks, Ulmarra Cricketers and Tennis Players.

054 December – clouds and blue skies and heat. Huntsmen spiders on the ceiling and wee frogs on the back step.
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Grafton has been  the most interesting town for garage sales and auctions that I have been in since my scavenger licence and WHITE ROSE TRADING DAYS of the early 1970s.  For $50, I acquired 2 bucket like chairs with curved legs and arms and horsehair still stuffing the seat. Paired each of them up with one of my cushions from the $20 Gold Doonah Set and added a touch of class to the eclectic decor of the Coldstream. 


And each Sunday, at 11a.m, I drive the Charade down Coldstream to the WIDE RIVER CAFE . Izzy has. by then, been playing for an hour. I order a fruit juice, freshly squeezed and sit with the Sunday papers. I chat with Leanne  or Debbie. Yarn with the customers. Take photos. Wander the Village and do some shopping. Look through the bookshop and JACK A DANDY.

I like Sundays.

jenni 018 Night time and the lights in the house.
STORM SKIES 006 That’s the cricketers over there past the Hills Hoist, through the long grass and into the ULMARRA SHOWGROUND. When we looked at this house on Google Earth we came to some rather odd conclusions. We didn’t know they were odd then. There was the ULMARRA SPORTS CLUB marked on the map and I wasn’t sure about living so near to a Club.
Well – as it turns out – that’s the Ulmarra Sports Club you can  see. It doesn’t intrude at all.
wrnov15 019 2009 – on consideration – had music and new friends.
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New homes and old family. Travelling round the North Coast and the new England. It has had floods and collapsed roads and mountains and rivers and Facebook and Blogs and family history.

lhsepia 2009 – cafes and kindness and good conversations.
LYNNE 60 2 036 2009 – had dogs and kids and 60th birthdays and now there is a new baby coming.
There’s a lot to think about here. I could do with Charlie’s advice on this one.
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2009 – nearing its ending

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October saw the jacarandas come into bloom and the renowned Jacaranda Festival . Across our back paddock, on the edge of the showground 3 trees flowered. Purple time  on the Clarence.  I have HIlls Hoists as well. My niece, Cassandra Pomroy envies me the Hills Hoists.


Out in the back paddock, is the herd of Friesian Cattle. The RTA  had planned to build the Ulmarra bypass through that paddock as well as these houses and the paddock over the way. Seems, according to neighbours, that the RTA then discovered that these are swamps and wetlands into which their probes disappeared.


John Peppercorn from Tucabia Heights, joined the musical nights at the Emporium and the Wide River Sundays. Izzy calls him THE REAL THING and he is one nice man as well.

WROCT 031 Wide River Cafe Menu.

2009 – a passage through

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The Dust then came over.  I don’t know what to say about that either. Dust !

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Yamba Golf and Country Club asked Iz to write a jungle and we went for a lunch visit. There were kangaroos on the Course.

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The sheep took their chance in the dust to leave their own backyard and come visiting. I closed the gate again to make some use of their munching before the master came to take them home.

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The posters for the Friday nights at the South Grafton  Emporium looked good !

Just at the moment. I am in no mood for any music gigs. Just for the moment.

I shall most likely be out and about again – chatting and taking photos and carrying odds and ends – but – just for the moment, I have had enough.

Except for tomorrow’s carols that is.


Iz did some gigs with Karl Mullan. The people are all new to us. I get to know people very cautiously – slowly. I don’t need a lot of people and need very few in depth.

I like music. I don’t know about ‘Music’. Haven’t made my mind up. My preference is usually for classicfm on the ABC.

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The dust came and went and came again. It didn’t seem to bother the black cattle but it bothered NSW and  it troubled people’s breathing.

EMP3 016 I was waiting for Springtime and Summertime. Waiting for the Dust to clear.

As it did. Sundays in October are very much to my taste. Sunshine and fresh air and new people. The Wide River Cafe scene picked up and became a Sunday treat. I was also, through this phase, planning and practising  for my 60th celebrations. Carefully and with dedication. A LAZY WEEKEND IN ULMARRA is what I called it.

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Before that weekend reached us, the HAIL came. I began to suspect not long after moving in that there was more to Ulmarra skies than I had supposed. Google supplied me with that hint. Ulmarra appeared frequently on stormchasers’ sites.

For 4 years I had been living in the caldera where the storms swirled in quite a tight circle and Mt Warning and volcanic  influences were at work.

Down South in Urunga and  Bellingen they do different things again and here – well they loom. And often they HIT. This one in mid October HIT.

HAIL2 004 That’s the next door neighbour’s yard white in hail. Not so impressive as the Armidale 2006 but interesting nonetheless.

2009 – still passing through



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Bikers come through the Village to eat at the Ulmarra Pub. Highway Villages interest me. Tumbulgum had a similar pattern. Of a night and early in the morning, only the residents are about and perhaps a fisherman or two, maybe a paddler of some variety. Then, as the day comes alive, the Travellers arrive and the Tourists. A false populating takes place and then towards mid afternoon leaves. Ulmarra is a little worried that when the highway diverts, the Village will perish like Mooball seems to have done but Tumbulgum BOOMED when the Motorway swept away from it. Visitors came more slowly and stayed longer. Spent more and were more respectful of the Village itself.


And out at Tucabia, about 8kms East of here, is SQUATTERS’ REST. A private village and museum . Once a month its open for markets and about every 6 weeks has a jam night on a Friday. John Peppercorn handles the music and sound and Izzy does the MC.

wr2 002 By September, the paving blocks had been brought down from Bilambil and the Breezeway was looking more promising.

Andrew had his nose to the grindstone and the pavers were cut and shaped and laid.

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After fighting a noble battle to stay with my Vodafone Mobile Broadband, I finally admitted defeat and transferred to the basic Telstra Broadband. SHAME ON YOU VODAFONE ! There was NOTHING good that came out of the experience. Telstra is working smoothly and efficiently. That has allowed me an internet active year which has been a true pleasure for me.

Plenty of facebook as well  and it was through Facebook that I learned that in the USA – home of the brave – there is only white loo paper. No colours ! No patterns ! I have MARINE PRINT. Bravo Australia.


Living in GCountry also led me to the ceramic works of the Taylor and Hegedus women.

As an Indigenous Australian owned business enterprise, G Country initial online products include glazed hand painted ceramic homeware and giftware products and decaled coffee mugs. These products are manufactured by Girrwaawa Designs Pty Ltd, an Aboriginal owned business enterprise based in Grafton North Coast NSW Australia. Local Indigenous ceramic designers include Debby Taylor, Elizabeth Hegedus, Leanne Hegedus, and Jenni Williams.


I thought you would like a picture of the pavers. Good foundations perhaps. I am grasping at symbols of 2009.


Overall, we have had some very good experiences with businesses here. One exception and that was a little frightening.

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December 2009 sees me in the 6 month slump – another ‘ process’’ with which I am familiar but which becomes more difficult rather than easier. Head knowledge is availing me very little and I am seeing the hurdles and tumbles more clearly than the thrills and leaps and joys. We ventured into a Friday Night gig at the Emporium but a few weeks in and Annie and Peter pulled the Plug on it.

Pete did have a fine menu and it lasted long enough to be the opening celebration of my 60th birthday weekend.

Tonight , Discouragement is with me. The Conservatorium hasn’t called. I haven’t enrolled in Uni. The Kids are not coming for Xmas and I don’t know where to swim on these hot afternoons. Nor do I have a boat. Also I didn’t get to go to Coffs Harbour today.

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With the WIDE RIVER CAFE BREEZEWAY paved, all was set to begin SUNDAYSLIVE@WIDE RIVER.  Ulmarra Entertainment Centre is what the Lads call it. Each Sunday from 10-2 – there is Music in Ulmarra.  And coffee and sandwiches and Lizzy and Maxine’s  wonderful cooking.

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The musos love this one and so do the guests and as for me – These are my friends. This is the place I like to sit in and chat. We talk of this and that and I take photos and videos . I am learning a lot about the Clarence area and the aboriginal history. We laugh on Sundays.

2009 – just passing through

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In South Grafton is the Emporium. Once a month, they hold a MUSIC CAFE which hosts local talent and donates the $3 entry fee to charities. A different one each month. Sometimes there are 80-100 people booked in for dinner and music.  Its a funny one for me. I have never been a Going Outer and now I live with a Performer, I Go Out quite a lot.

At times I enjoy it. I have a camera and watch the world through a lens as I did when I was a young woman. I am also very fond of the 5 minute friendship. Once I read a snippet from a book which I know nothing about inc the author. It said something to the effect of – “ I met my best friend on a train for 5 minutes. We never met again. “

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Down here , a couple of hundred kilometres south of the Tweed, I am still amongst sugar cane which suits me. I like Sugar Cane. i like sugar, fire and water. The can is perhaps not so high as it is a little further north and the cane fires no longer burn as they did when I first came to Cane Country, but I am amongst the sugar cane and there IS a big river even though the mouth of the river is a little farther away than I like. Estuarine, I am.

Seems to me to be a goodly bit of mourning in this season for me and I cannot yet determine whether it needs relocation or not.

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One thing which I wish had been part of my story is ‘a big old family home’. I didn’t achieve that. At some stage as the year wraps itself up, I shall acknowledge the things I have achieved. For now – I mourn a little. Here in Ulmarra, I have a kind of Nana’s House where dogs and kids come to visit. On occasion. That’s Charlie there in black and white. I have a preference for Staffordshires but Charlie is Charlie.


Ulmarra is flat country. Pastoral. Out the back, a herd of friesians graze where the Brolgas danced. Attuning myself to subtle country is a conscious exercise.

Some days, I watch the cows out the back and wonder what determines the blackness and the whiteness on them. I have had a lot of pied creatures in my world this last year. Birds, dogs and cows. Turning down the volume on life doesn’t come easily to me but often benefits me. A tight disciplining. When I was studying my 10 month Ignatian Retreat online in Everyday life – I came to a finer understanding of the meaning  of Passion.  I have intentionally succumbed quite a lot since then and refused to turn to Action to the relieve the Emotional Twists.

Cows help a lot with that.



For years I have kept my home very private and often lived in an Eremitic way. Opening up has let in MUSICIANS. I have resisted the concept of people being intrinsically different but I begin now to suspect that Musicians ARE ‘different’. I won’t indulge greatly in that idea as yet. However, some of them at least seem to be unusual beasts.

The Lady here is SNEZ.

I, myself, am an addict, and as it says in our recovery literature. WE KNOW WE ARE DIFFERENT.

Had a friend once working for some rather well known Australian Actors. She encountered some difficulties understanding them until a male companion reminded her – THEY ARE ACTORS.

I don’t know what conclusions I am coming to here. This is not how I expected it to be. IT IS DIFFERENT.


I travel a good bit to Bellingen from here. That’s about an 80km run into Coffs Harbour and then another half hour into Bello. We meet up with Kati B and then take lunch in Bellingen. 7-8 years on the culturally impoverished Tweed and Gold Coast – and in one small town, I have a choice of more than a dozen good eateries.

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Transitional Regression really has me this time. I am familiar with relocating. This time I came to a place where none of my family is, where most of my support groups are flimsy, with a partner – whereas I usually am on my own and to an area which is not so dramatically different from other places in which I have lived, that novelty eases the transition.

It feels as though the jigsaw pieces aren’t quite clicking into place. Almost – but not quite.

THEN – from time to time – from time to time – frequently in fact – the true Clarence tickles me and I am startled into an awareness of  Otherness. Uniqueness.

On the left is Grafton Airport.  Yep. That is the main and only terminal – miles from town out in the bush. I found myself unable to remain sorrowful when I saw Grafton  Airport.



I also enjoy the parade of Dogs on Utes. I am on the Road from Ulmarra to Wooli.  That’s 47 kms of winding narrow roads with plenty of farms en route as well as Pilar Valley, Lake Hiawatha and Tucabia.

We have flocks of galahs and we also have Dogs on Utes. Lots of them.

I have been to my first circus since Maroubra in 1993 and I have been to Crazy Day in Prince Street. Walked out of the new Shoppingworld mall and straight into Line dancers.


When delight and/or amusement don’t improve my attitudes, then sheer survival kicks in. Floods, fires, hail, dust.

Mid 1800s this area was heavily forested but that was stripped away leaving this strange flatness.

There are some good Ulmarra Stories in the NLA newspapers.

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The  Shops of Ulmarra have provided the company and kindness that make a relocation easier. We have ahd some fun down there are the Wide River Cafe so we have. With the Vision of the ULMARRA ENTERTAINMENT CENTRE on us, work began on the Breezeway. Nowadays, we have music there every Sunday as well as Xmas Party tomorrow evening.

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One of the means of my reaching Bellingen is to take the 6.30 am train from Grafton, be met by Kati B and then dropped back for the 3.17 pm train in the afternoon. I have breakfast on the way down and then lunch with my girl in Bello.

On one visit , we were passing the HAMMOND and WHEATLEY EMPORIUM and out the front was this pair of shoes – just standing there empty-footed. Identical to my own shoes.

What did happen to that witch in Wizard of Oz?


In 2009, I have also had cause to attend meetings in the Grafton CWA Rooms.  They are in the park at Market Square and retain more of  the elements of continuity and tradition which the Clarence provides – abundantly.

Painting of the Queen. Hand embroidered wall hangings. Paintings of roses. Very nice indeed.

( ) : an interesting story about a carpet snake in the 1890s. 

URUNGA DEMO Years back, they began to trash Urunga. !974? The shot on the left. they pulled down the colonial cottage and the old shops and built the renowned Urunga Arcade.
Ah My. 

I have also picked up the transcription of my father’s war letters, journals and battalion roll. Now there’s a job. In the late 90s before cd roms and internet I typed us his letters on floppy disk and I think I have them pretty much online. Now for the Roll which was his last work – handwritten and painfully photocopied in his wee office at home in Urunga before Mum’s death and his strokes gradually took it away from him. My father, Bruce Sanders, is the gentleman on our left. 

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The skies here have the Big Sky effect of the New England. Plenty of post and rail fences and rarely a need to double back on one’s tracks. This image is out at Carr’s Creek , one of the locales on the edge of town.

Out the back is a shed. A very old shed. With horseshoes and an empty mint julep bottle.

I have a mill just up the road past the tennis courts. A small mill.


Despite the promised variety and excitement of the Glittering Coast, I have stumbled upon far more interesting things here in 6 months than I did there in 7 years.



The brolgas flew over each evening and each morning, near touching the roof of the house.



It was June before we were able to begin exploring the new Community into which we had moved . We hadn’t even been in the house. Took it on an outside look and internet images.

Ulmarra has one hotel. It had more than that years ago as did many Australian villages and towns. Now it has one. With a very good eaterie – THE CAFE CLARENCE. The beer garden is on the banks of the river and with smoking all ousted from buildings – the Ulmarra Pub has provided the wooden seats to sit with some dignity, leisure and pleasure.

Not that I smoke nowadays, but when the banning first came in I was one of the lepers who was condemned to strange corners of strange places where I tried to look Confident and non leprous. You can do that at Ulmarra Pub.


A few kilometres down the road from here, along what I think is the Coldstream, now apparently flowing frontwards, is ULMARRA CEMETERY. Iz and I ‘do’ a lot of cemeteries and this is a dandy. Fully divided into two with a virtual paddock separating the Catholics and Us. I’m a Methodist – lapsed – although I think ‘once a Methodist always a Methodist’ is a possible.

The floods had been through on the first of our visits and that was a little uncanny. Iz and I went to the Tumbulgum Historical Cemetery on our first ‘ date’, thereby recognising   the common madness in each other.  It was before I discovered that the early Scottish side of my family was buried there. The McLeods and their connections. I had gone there following my mother’s passing in 2001 and sat on the bench at the top of the hill with wee bush creatures and one tiny shiny black bird.

We has taken the Poppy to Armidale cemetery and out to Uralla to see the grave of Thunderbolt. She shows an inclination towards graveyards as well. She says she saw a scarecrow in one of the graves. Could be skeleton and suggests to her aunt that a walk througha graveyard would be a good place to find names for the new baby.

Ulmarra Cemetery – take a look. MUCH better cared for than TOOWONG.


Back on the Western Side of the Pacific Highway, where the CBD is situated – all 10 or so shops – is the playground and the swimming pool . I didn’t know whether or not  it would be enough to sustain me in a new life.  It does when my kids are here. It does – most days.  It is GENTLE.

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I also found the WIDE RIVER CAFE which now is a second home to us.

I remain in a non-writing mood with no glimpses of intelligence in these fingertips so I am simply putting some links up and waiting.

BRIERFIELD 003 The houses and land gradually dried out. It took a while before cattle returned to the paddocks and months before the Ulmarra Tennis Courts were operating again.

A strange malodorous flavour came to the area and blue skies with puffed white clouds became the norm once more.

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Brolgas again. I thought they would be here forever. 4ft tall.


The Brolgas went and the black cattle came – together with the Egrets. There are ‘issues’ with ‘farming’ . I have no intention of even thinking about them let alone commenting – but I do enjoy being away from the tourism and development of the Tweed. I prefer to see a street of cottages being restored under heritage listing to seeing the top of a hill lopped off as they did on Scenic Drive, Bilambil and lego houses squished and squashed on top behind a sign saying “ The View “.


Readjusting – adjusting – whatever – involved driving about . getting to know the towns and the river. Garage Sales became a successful method of coming to know the streets and areas and culture of the town. Grafton is THE BEST town for garage sales that I have lived in. We came from the tiny Cottage to a large old house which Iz calls FOREALTY TOWERS with a goo deal of accuracy and the Garage Sales have provided much of the furnishings.

The image on the left shows CORCORAN PARK – with boat ramps and picnic areas. It was still trashed when  I first went there from the usual Villain – the Flood but is coming good now.

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With a new fridge and washing machine courtesy the Department of Community Services, and the acquired furniture we began befriending this neglected house.

2009 is the year that my daughter became pregnant. So, Celebration begins to emerge as one of the themes of the year. The move had brought me within 1 1/2 hours of her home and 2 1/2 hours of the MOB.  That’s a big improvement over 5-7 hours or more.

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One other them is The Village. Andrew from Wide River Cafe says – VISIT ULMARRA – IT WON’T TAKE YOU LONG.

It takes me quite a long time. Just to go round the Village. The bookshop with Russell and Pam – a favourite.

STANDING just in front of the children’s section, overlooking the classics, you’ll find the guardian of the newest second-hand bookshop in the Valley.

Russell Brownlee has opened Ulmarra’s latest shop of treasures, Ulmarra Books and Collectables.

The self-confessed bookworm has been working in books since 1972.

Until recently Russell ran a small bookshop on the highway at Broadwater.

“I knew Ulmarra would be a better place for the business because people are used to stopping here,” he said.

Unlike most book stores, Russell keeps his computer at home.

“I have to rely on my memory and other people’s patience,” he said.

But it’s all part of Russell’s desire to start a dialogue with his customers.

He enjoys it when customers come in asking for a book and describes the search as a quest.

Thousands of books line the shelves upstairs and down, covering every genre imaginable.

From the obscure to the collectable, the popular to the specific, Russell has quite an assortment for sale.

“The core of the collection is stuff I’ve been collecting for over 30 years,” he said.


West of Grafton is COPMANHURST. So far we have only done once overs on the little towns and locales. Copmanhurst featured this table and benches as well as an hotel with a fine view of the river and a general store with a very helfpul young man who filled us in on some of the history.


It has been a time evocative of the 1970s and  if I am honest – of most of my life. I was going to say it was a flashback  because that sounds more appealing than owning to a lifetime in which I have never materially gone beyond the bed being delivered on the back of a ute from the secondhand shop in town. I find Grafton to be a comfortable place in which to be not materially successful.  A few weeks of sleeping on a mattress on the floor was enough for me and so the bed arrived  on the back of the ute.


Down the end of the street, a small flock of sheep keep a backyard neat and tidy. They also , on occasion, take off to greener paddocks.  I snaffled them in here one day when they were on the move and closed the gate behind them in the hope that they would do some serious munching before their owner came looking.

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Izzy had concerns about his musical life when we moved South. Following a 2 1/2 year contract at the University of Queensland Campus at St Lucia for the Australian Literature database AUSTLIT, he had found academic doors very narrow and it was the music of his youth which began to thrive.

It wasn’t long on the Clarence before opportunities came his way including some MC roles which was a new thing for him.

He also encountered North Coast hardwoods and the stories with which I have been familiar for years but which are new to him with a Sydney and Illawarra background.


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Coming back down to the Mid North Coast combined many factors for me most of which I have written about during the year and won’t re-hash now. I did know that if I were to handle being back on the mid north coast, I would need to develop some HOW – Honesty, OpenMindedness and Willingness.  At times I feel as if I have walked back into a trap and at other times I am glad to be almost Home. Some things are familiar and others are different – usually subtly so I truly need to be seeing in pastels which is not a forte of mine.

Ulmarra is a place of mists. Low lying foggy mists.


We bought a silver bell from JACK A DANDY. Jack a Dandy is in Coldstream Street. I bought a gift from there today. Strange and exotic gifts. Paul tells me that he and his wife, Jill, have been there for 4 1/2 years. Its the place to go for a Fez – or  Moroccan cookwear and silver bells of course. Paul has a little set up out the front – small table, 2 wooden chairs and he sits there and reads and engages in conversations with passers-by.

Jack A Dandy
8 Coldstream Street, Ulmarra 2462
Phone: (02) 6644 5881
Introducing a cultural infusion of quality giftware, clothing, jewellery
and homewares. If its something exotic and different you’re seeking,
a wander through Jack A Dandy is sure to delight the senses.
Standard Hours: Wed. to Sun. 10am to 5pm (or by


Behind the Coldstream Art Gallery is the OPSHOP. I LOVE opshops and the Rathgar Lodge one is a ripper.  This bassinet was only $20. Today we went in and they offered us the Santa Hat for free. The monies go to the Old Person’s Village just a bit along the street to the South. Lynhaven Crescent.

We bought our lounge there. Its a strange one of a kind ( probably) click-clack day n night.



One of the visions I had in the relocation and in taking this big house – was HOUSE GUESTS. Sure enough, that’s been working. We have a Guest Register and Kati B is just one of the family members who has been to visit. That meant Yahtzee and shopping and the excitement of a new baby coming.


Down the Highway at Moonee is a shopping mall.  Moonee was just a seaside village when I was living here in the 1990s and now it has a shopping mall. Rather a nice little shopping mall but curiously unnerving to me. 

When we took Kati B back down to meet her IMM, we arranged to meet at Moonee and out front was a Car Boot Sale. I like car boot sales. I have only known what they were for a few years but having found that out, I rather like them.

I did end up with such things as a pair of gumboots with mud on and 2 sizes too big for me but that’s how Car Boot Sales affect me.

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I have been out to the Clarence  Coast only twice. As a Urunga native, I am accustomed to the sea being within easy reach and a 40km drive along narrow roads has intimidated me. I didn’t fancy Wooli or Digger’s Camp when I went there. Wasn’t crazy on Minnie Water either. Now that time is passing and the weather is warming, I am prepared to look once more and maybe even twice more. The Family from Wide River spend Sundays out there with Nippers. Long Sundays at Minnie Water with the Shade tent and friends. My friends from Lismore have a cottage at Diggers Camp.

There is a chance that my attitude might have been a little negative.  Influenced by other places and other times.

2009 – the YEAR WOT WOZ.



Seems a long way back does January 2009. I spent a good deal of my time outdoors when I lived in Bilambil Cottage. I have ‘moved on’ for most of my adult life and had stripped possession back to a Charade load.

After 3-4 years, restlessness was upon me and a desire to move closer to children. I used to think that if I didn’t have ONE good clear reason for making a decision , then it was not going to be a good decision. Nowadays, I am inclined to think that if there is only ONE reason to change things, then that is NOT enough.

I had many reasons for deciding to move on from Bilambil Cottage and combined it with a slow farewelling. 


In the Murwillumbah Cemetery, just opposite the Printmakers Studio, I came across this odd little grave. Not sure what its story is.



I had also become accustomed in the 21st Century to being free to make my own decisions about my own lifestyle. Prior to that I was a single mother for years and I made the decisions for a family. To be making my choices, in cooperation with a partner is the new thing for me. Considering the wellbeing of each of us and BOTH of us. I hadn’t planned for this!

Izzy is a musician and much of his work. All of his work was based in the Northern Rivers.  He also was newer to the Tweed than I was and less ready to move on and he didn’t know the Mid North Coast that I was looking towards.


The floods began early this year and there’s been a good few . The first one I struck was on a drive to Wooyung. I had planned to show Wooyung to Izzy but when we turned from the Pacific Highway to take the road to the Coast, ROAD FLOODED.

Little warning. None on the radio. No evidence of water. Juts ROAD FLOODED.


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How good is the  Internet ? A few years and a few tears back, I could no more have accessed a public forum for journals, images, music, videos, genealogy than I could have knitted new clothes for my coming grandchild. My father, Bruce Sanders, wanted his 2/3 Pioneer Battalion Story published but we simply didn’t have the resources. Now – here it is! How good is that ? This Particular Blog  of mine is about to hit 10,00 and I thank you all.

The mutual sharing is another dimension that works for me. I am not always able to travel and sometimes I don’t get out much at all. I also have a tendency to be overcome by what I like to call Acedia – in various forms – and NOW – I am no longer locked in at home alone. This is truly the Global Village for me.

Now – as we come into an Australian Summertime. and the closing of 2009 – I shall take a look at 2009- as it has been.

It was the year in which Izzy and I both turned 60 – 1949 children. I think I had best rephrase that. We were born in 1949.  2009 was the year in which we moved from the Tweed to the Clarence, in which my daughter newly turned 30 became pregnant with her first child. My granddaughters  turned 5 and 10. A most interesting time it has been.


Last Christmas, we, as a family,  were to meet in  Kalang on Boxing Day for Kati B’s 30th birthday and Christmas Day, Izzy and I were to spend alone at Bilambil Cottage where we were living.

We were out and about in the morning and received an impromptu invite to Lorraine’s for lunch with a dozen or so guests. Plenty of good foods and good company. A sober affair so it was and I enjoyed it up behind Scenic Drive in Tweed Heads  West.

Spent the rest of the day at home with our swimming pool and tennis court. 


The next home for us was already starting to be listed on  I didn’t realise then that it would become a place of rather deep emotional and mental impact. 2009 is the last year of my 50s and time seems to have wrapped itself around me and curled into the core of me. Memories of 20 years of Addiction and 20 years of Recovery were waiting for in this 100 year old house as well as the history of my family and my childhood.  I intended entering my 60s  consciously and cautiously, knowing this – IT WILL BE DIFFERENT. And it has been a gentle, explorative time with a good deal of ‘ thinking’ going on.



Briefly this is my locational history.

2009 – ULMARRA.



In January of 2009, the Armidale Mob came to Bilambil Cottage for a Summer Holiday. That was a ‘ classic’ summer holiday. I must have had some sweet stars shining on me this year because, despite the transitional turmoil and my own inclination to distress, I have had a goodly share of Sweet Moments, Classically Good Experiences and of events turning out just as I had planned and hoped for.

The Summer holiday was one of them as was the 30th birthday of Kati B.


We took the Poppy to the beach at Pottsville. They have been living in Armidale for years now and she hasn’t been beaching since she was a baby. We also continued our cafe experience which is rather extensive . The EATZ CAFE at Pottsville featured real Beach Food. None of which I can now recall but they had tropical names and strange drinks – a 60s flashback which I enjoyed after one too many trendoid, generic eateries such as the infamous Blue Frog in Toowong, Brisbane.


I lived in Bilambil Cottage for 4 years and in deciding to leave, we took our time in choosing where we wanted to go and when and why and how etc. The Cottage was tiny but exquisite with a view over the Bilambil Valley and out to the Coral Sea, During the Mob’s Holiday, we sat outside of an evening and watched the bats fly over and the long nose come out to feed from the long grasses.  The Poppy learned to swim and discovered the wonder of being a Mermaid.


We also visited the beach at Kingscliff. The Mob had lived at Kingscliff before going up the mountain. I thought that when we moved south we might miss the exotic birds and plants of the Tweed. Tweed is on the NSW/ QUEENSLAND border.

Are these baobab trees ? I like the word and haven’t checked to see whether these are baobabs or not.


One thing I knew I wouldn’t miss was the BILAMBIL SPORTS CLUB.

I enjoyed it for a goodly length of time but things went amiss and the decor was never a good look. The Club is set in the Valley. A lovely setting with a creek beside it and playing fields, paddocks with horses and the hills rising on either side.

The Bilambil Village is tiny and part of a loop drive enjoyed by Many. However, the Club doesn’t open till  3pm, serves food only a couple of nights a week, doesnt cater for vegetarians AT ALL and is decorated as you can see on the left. The music scene which thrived there has shrivelled to nothing. Lots of potential going unused.

SOUTH GOLDEN BEACH 001 Leaving blue skies and palm trees took some serious decision making.