Tag Archives: ULMARRA


I wanted to go to the inaugral SALTWATER FRESHWATER FESTIVAL in Coffs Harbour Today. On due reflection and in a Mature Australian Manner, taking into consideration the week ahead which includes grandparenting and other spiritual obligations, I determined to take an at home Australia Day and observe it from the Front Window.

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Steadfastly sitting at the front window on Coldstream Street and observing the passing parade of Australian Life, I am beginning to fuse a little in the heat as the sun comes across from the East, but I proceed with my microcosmic life.

The picture on the left is of my Dad in WWII with other mates in a creek. I think its at the Cowra Camp but could be mistaken. I have put that image there simply to keep me cool with no creek within easy reach of this window from where I am continuing my observance of this Day.

in river


I have already seen some interesting activity but the photos I shall leave to the end of the day when I upload them all at once.

We breakfast here on the front verandah which is enclosed in the form of a sleepout.  Bagels and white tea we have. Whilst sitting there this morning, i was pondering the SALTWATERFRESHWATER FESTIVAL decision and watching the Coldstream Street Traffic when down at the crossroads – 50 metres  to the East – just inside the 50kms per hour Zone.

A cattle truck stopped at the Corner with a pretty smart 4WD behind him. CLOSE behind him. My Dad taught me to always leave a vehicle length between myself and the car in front. Good advice.  I blew it once not long ago on the Tweed Coast and ran the Charade straight into the back of a mighty 4WD adversary. Haven’t had air con since in the Charade.

In this morning’s Aussie Day Event, the truck decided to reverse and with the 4WD concealed less than a vehicle length behind, it reversed into the 4WD. Round about then I realised I could indeed stay home at the front window with laptop and creature comforts and observe one day in the life of Australia.

ROY BOWLING, the TOWN CRIER, who lives at Tucabia drove past just then .

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Izzy on the front porchette looking out over Coldstream Street. Note the seemingly shaded and cool indoor rooms.

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Me with my Aspidistra for Australia Day. I bought it out at JUNCTION HILL NURSERY. They call them CAST IRON PLANTS apparently. I have read about them for years in my favourite genre of ‘literature’ , the English Detective Story. Now my living room has a sinister edge. If this plant lives and the Junction Hill man tells me it will survive almost anything, then that will be a second only for me.


For Lunch, I am having Fruit. White fleshed nectarines, pluots( a cross between a plum and an apricot), yoghurt which I made myself ( 40 years late on the Hippy Trail ) life energy water and cell food. I have cheese and peaches and am set up just fine.

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The traffic has been fairly heavy. I thought it might be on this last public holiday of the Summer and last day before school goes back but, because its my first year here, I wasn’t sure.

The possibility of Aussie Day Mad Driving was another deterrent to our going to Coffs Harbour today. Seems to me I was correct. People here go ‘ to the Beach’ for extended summertime periods and today they are heading west in large numbers. Towing caravans and trailers, heavily laden with the trappings of Summer Vacation.

Another section of the population is heading East to celebrate and Beach it for the day.

I am not sure what the others are doing.

This is Ute Country. Dogs on the back of Utes and of  working farms.

The Police just passed going East. I was taking Photos but they moved too quickly for me. There have been a lot of flash 4WDs.

There was also one bright green car which overtook at speed down near the crossroads. P Plate on. Its a VERY NARROW Street is Coldstream.

Down the back way To Coffs at Glenreagh, the Village has erected signs which say that their children are precious.  Very nice message down there at Glenreagh,

One motor bike – first for the day and nicely down to 50kms he went . Well done, 2Wheeler.

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The wind rises with the heat. The clouds begin to build up along the horizon as they do in these flatlands. The Charade is under the house in case of hail.

A NORCO truck is out about. Back from the days of the CO-OPS. Cooperatives. I I shall look further into that. Maybe we need some new cooperatives as we get sold out from under ourselves. I did do some reading on the British Coops and of ROCHDALE IN AUSTRALIA.

The history page online for NORCO doesn’t mention Raleigh down near Urunga. Seems odd when the factory is still there. Well it is mentioned. Hmm. 

clouds lift off hill
total fire ban day
grass turning to hay
north wind silent still
expecting tomorrow
forty-four degrees
blusters blistering trees
ferns wilting in sorrow

lee emmett australia.

And tomorrow, we go to Bellingen to see more of the Baby Girl and her Parents. Staying at DIGGERS’ TAVERN as we did last week in air-conditioned comfort. Perhaps swimming in the River and in love with the little Tawny Girl.  Then up into the Mountains to the other two Little Girls. Little children everywhere.




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Today was an encounter with Telstra. We had been getting along fine, Telstra and I, until I took on the new mobile arrangement which I do not like the look of at this moment. I would prefer to have much less institutional clash in 2010. Not “Much Less”. 2009 was pretty good. I happily intend to have the same minimal contact this year. Lets hope Fate agrees with me.


The Bugs are biting this Summer. I have Mosquito coils and Janni’s lavender repellent – but they are still biting and I am going for less of them this year. I already have fewer snakes than I had in Bilambil – glory be to that !

I made yoghurt today. In the yoghurt maker Kati B  gave Izzy for Christmas. That doesn’t sound very impressive I guess – but if you knew me better you would be impressed. I am not a yoghurt making person by nature. When I followed the hippy trail north in the 70s , I was neither eating nor making yoghurt.


In this flat country, I don’t get the views I did up North but I do have the SKY and CLOUDS. Its not quite the Big Sky Country they have up the top of the Mountains in New England, but it has its own beauty and variety.
Whenever I am moved into a subtle situation ( whether the subtlety be emotional, physical, material, spiritual or whatever ) I initially seek the Intense and then after a struggle find myself compelled to seek the Subtleties.
The view from the front window is one of those subtle experiences.


One thing which I found today is the KNOL


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The year has begun nobly with the birth of a baby girl in our family. That occupied the week that I customarily spend in envisioning the year before me. Now that the Little One is born and blessed and home with her Parents, I, as Nana, shall take some time to contemplate and cast some visioning back and forth.

For this Summer, I am living in the 100 year old wooden house in the paddocks on Coldstream Street. The heat is on and I have the windows open to catch breezes from the various directions.  After four years in Bilambil Cottage which was immaculate, on a hilltop looking out to a distant Coral Sea, flush to the ground and solidly built of rough hewn bricks painted white, cyclone proofed indeed, it has been a major transitional time.

This house RAMBLES. Rambles and smells of old North Coast Memories. I grew up, as I have said before, in Sydney. In Belmore when it was a newly made suburb. My father, newly returned from WWII was a builder and he built us a solid double brick house.  I spent 20 years in that house and that suburb. Our holidays, however, were on the NORTH COAST of NSW about which I am writing so much of late because of the rather shocking (to me ) awareness that I have been on this Coast for almost 40 years, married here, borne and raised children here and seem likely to remain.


Let no one say the past is dead.
The past is all about us and within.
Haunted by tribal memories, I know
This little now, this accidental present
Is not the all of me, whose long making
Is so much of the past …
a thousand thousand camp fires in the forest
Are in my blood.
Let none tell me the past is wholly gone.
Now is so small a part of time, so small a part
Of all the race years that have moulded me

Oodgeroo Noonuccal

I want more Internet adventures. That’s one thing I do know. I also want a little more barefooted living and sunned skin. I would also like to live in a little more saltwater situation – estuarine perhaps. I came to a realisation several years back that I were likely to ROAM.  I would like to come in for a landing like Arlo Guthrie coming in over Los Angeles – but I haven’t landed yet.

I would like some more exquisite beauty from my own front door and a view from bed.

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The driveway out of Bilambil Cottage.

Bilambil is on the border of NSW and QUEENSLAND – near enough. Just over that hill there in the picture.

This year, I want to live on flat ground with not so many steps, a jetty, swimming and I would like the house to be a little better maintained than this one. I would like to live closer to my family. In saying that, being down here in Ulmarra is much, much better.

My preference would be to live in the same community as them. I am of a Village turn of Spirit – and that Village can be within a City or  a town or the bush. Wonder what it actually means. Village.




I rather like Chooks. And I do like fresh eggs but I am not inclined to take care of any critters or gardens. When Kati B and IMM lived in Kalang, they had chooks and a pen and goannas which came down to eat the Chooks or the eggs. The Mob from Armidale helped gather eggs from under the house last December.

Here, in Ulmarra, a house on the Highway has a sign saying EGGS FOR SALE. I haven’t bought any as yet but when I do decide to buy, it will be from the House on the Highway.



I would like to be somewhat more at home in my own skin again this year. A dash more confidence and a wider smile.

I would like to no longer have swollen ankles and I would like to actually have my platelets functioning instead of the count plummeting.

I could also do without the nose bleeds and other unpleasant physical distresses. The fatigue isn’t so bad now that I don’t have the demands of a working life or raising a family compelling me to keep going when my body don’t want to come along for the ride – but some swimming energy and freedom from the depressive effects of pain – well that would be very nice indeed for the next decade.

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I am from a family of water people. I thought I would be able to swim in the Clarence River but it remains rather brown and thick. I don’t know whether or not that’s a result of the floods or the usual for here. 

Ulmarra does have a swimming pool. A very CUTE pool. Open 3-6 schooldays and all day Saturdays and closed on Sundays. It has its own lifeguard and teacher who is an Ulmarra Local and does a fine job with the Kids.

As for me. I thought I would – do a lot of things I am not doing. Like walking the 0.6 kms along Coldstream Street and going for a swim. Or learning to kayak in Edwina’s Hobie Craft at the Hotel. I am not doing those things.  Just add Grandchildren and I do them.



I am pleased to live with kindness and generosity and a total absence of fear. I can do with more of that.

Living in partnership hasn’t come easily to me after many years of a chosen Eremitic Celibacy.  I shall enter 2010 in a relationship which is most likely developing some powerful qualities in me.

After several years together, we begin to develop patterns of living and loving which suit us well. Vegetarianism is one element and sobriety is another.

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More camping out and family gatherings would suit me very well. We had a holiday in Bilambil, this time last year and only this week, out came the folding chairs from the Starwagon again and we had a late Christmas with the MOB from Armidale in the grounds of Coffs Harbour Hospital in the 3 hour wait between visiting hours to the new Baby.

Up on the Hill, we watched the Flying Foxes come over as darkness fell and the out came the LongNose from the Grasses for his dinner.  I would welcome more experiences of that nature.  This week, the Rose and the Poppy hopped into the Starwagon and along with Charlie the 3 legged dog, came back to Ulmarra with us. I mention that because it was in my visions for life as I would like it to be at this time last year. Not the precise details but the Essence.



I am not quite sure as to why 2009 remained a little coloured in grey for me.  Not precisely. I know that major transitions such as this move impact more powerfully and for longer than I expect them to. Each time.

A saying of which I am fond comes from Bill W – THE GOOD IS SOMETIMES THE ENEMY OF THE BEST.

I think that’s the core trouble for me now. To develop some of this Good into the Better. To allow some of the Good to go and make way for the Better.

There is a BEST waiting for nearby. A Best which will turn my hair pink and stand it on its ends.

In 2010 – I shall be aiming to be LOVING LIFE. Not at Pottsville, mind you. I am VERY glad to have moved South and one day very soon – I shall again be LOVING LIFE.



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.

Festival playsone-act pieces for New Year's day , St. Valentine's day, Easter, All Hallowe'en, Christmas and a child's birthday (1913) christmas-victorian-clipart-victorian-christmas-clipart-victorian-christmas-angels-victorian-christmas-angel-clip-art-1 santa_claus_17605_md christmas-victorian-clipart-victorian-christmas-clipart-victorian-christmas-angels-victorian-christmas-angel-clip-art-5

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.



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
Email: jackadandy8@bigpond.com
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.


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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 realestate.com.au.  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.






Took a walk down Coldstream to the boat ramp this morning, lamenting the brownness of the water which is deterring me  a little from swimming in the Clarence at Ulmarra.  Took some shots of the yachts moored on the far bank.

Yesterday at Wide River Music, two of the yachties who had sailed up from Tasmania, were telling us that they had come up the river because they had heard it on the grapevine that the Harwood Bridge was to be permanently prevented from opening and allowing tall masted vessels through. Get a grip, Councils etc!


I have become reclusive again and haven’t been to the River for a while. I would prefer to live right on the river. Once, I lived in a boathouse in Urunga right on the Bellinger River and later in the Pilot House at the mouth of the Twin Rivers of Kalang and Bellingen but now I am 0.6km from any river at all. Saw two pedallers coming along from upriver and as they came in close recognised Edwina in a Hobie Cat. I have never seen one of these. They can be pedalled or paddled or sailed. Then, on alighting, just attach the wheels and they can be wheeled. Most impressed I am.

I am even more impressed with the information that, within a few weeks, canoe and hobie hire will be opening from the back of Ulmarra Hotel. I haven’t written a lot about the Hotel or the other shops in the Village as yet – but I will. This Mighty River – THE Big River – which is still rather brown and a little intimidating for the Swimmer ( namely Me, This Swimmer)  will then be accessible from your very own beer garden !!!!!! With the great meals and atmosphere. December 13 is the Social Clubs Xmas Party and the Droughtbreakers from Wide River are playing. 10-2 at the Cafe and then 4 onwards at the Pub. I LOVE VILLAGES !!!!!



That’s the Levee which holds back the Floods.  They build it back when Vision was operating. Its a fine , solid levee that one.  I might once have thought it aesthetically unpleasing but 2009 means that anything which holds back the water looks ‘ beautiful.’


There is a Big  Boat moored up near the Norco factory. I don’t know her story but she was here when we came in May. There are more stories  up at the Norco Factory where a lot of revamping seems to be going on. I like to take new communities in small morsels and let the Stories tell themselves.

I think I might have met the owner in  SLUGGO’S antique shop up along the Pacific Highway, just after the floods. The man I met was sitting in  the front of Sluggo’s chatting with him. A lot of slow chatting goes on in Ulmarra and thereabouts. If that was indeed the Owner of the Big Boat, then his anchor chain snagged on the Ulmarra Southgate Ferry Cable during the Floods.





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The couple on the left take the honour of being the first  to experience the new ULMARRA ENTERTAINMENT CENTRE, as Andrew and Izzy like to call the Breezeway between SHELLBOUND and WIDE RIVER.  Today saw the first Live Music on Sundays. Izzy invited Karl and Shaz (KSM) down for the day from BUSBY FLAT and off we went.

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Just last Monday we were watching as Andrew , Robyn, Brett and Sandy bent their backs to the paving and today it was ready with umbrellas and stage. All in place for one of the sweetest little performing areas on the Northern Rivers.

I am finding the walk into 60 years of age to be rather odd.  I don’t think I ever had plans or a vision for this age.

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Life remains hectic for me on the Clarence.  I yearn at time for more Eremitic days and on others I simply gather in the breadth and depth of these experiences.



The expectation this morning was that Phil the Sax Player would be coming for  rehearsals in the music room. Didn’t  best please me because I had visions of SQUATTER’S REST Markets at TUCABIA on my mind and the 3 garage sales I know are on there today. A Sunday at that. One of them is at Eileen’s Place opp the Tucabia Store. I don’t know who Eileen is but I still want to go to the garage Sale. The Clarence is the Home of the Garage sale.


After some calm negotiation, Phill was relocated to a slightly later time slot and we headed East to Tucabia and SQUATTERS REST. I had not been there before. Izzy has done two music nights there and as part of my habitual information gathering, I knew a good deal about it. Weather is perfect. Springtime on the North Coast. Tucabia is app 10 kms from Ulmarra along a winding back road through paddocks and alongside wetlands. The Rest Markets – well, precisely what I was hoping for. Under gum trees. I scored a $100 pair of Dianna Ferrari shoes, new for $7. I bought home made soaps – made from goats milk and perfumed with essential oils. For $20, add a chopping table with knives for the kitchen and I am well pleased.


Then throw in a little gem of a museum and the day is fulfilling all the promise of a country Sunday. Squatters has a wee village of Collecteds. I am struggling to find the words for it. It was if I could almost smell and touch the eagle’s wings of Uncle Jim in Laurieton in some barely recalled childhood time.



One of the wee buildings in Small Park. Seems we can’t have our River Festival with all the wooden boats and street activities but surely we could have a show or a festival in Small Park.

In one of my whingeing moods, so bear with me whilst I get it down onscreen and can return to BEING EASILY PLEASED – which is ,perhaps, a wiser default position for me to take.

I went for an Ulmarra walk one morning this week, before the heat came, and took a look around Small Park which is just next door and past the tennis courts. There are large signs directing people to use the public loos there while some kind of work is going on in the wee park down on the river. I could see the former glory days of SMALL PARK. Rodeos and Shows and other community gatherings. The wee sheds are there and the grandstands but – BUT – noone has emptied the 44 gallon drums of rubbish since the Floods in May. Funny that – since the Council is directing tourists to the loos and the Bushfire Brigade does its exercises there on many a Sunday.


Last night was a blisteringly hot night with assorted bugs and restless sleep. It was also somewhat of a shock after using a heater and wearing my MacGregor overcoat only last week. With windows opening and breezes cooling the air a little, we heard a call from the West and it was clearly ‘LET’ . “Let” – what a lovely sound. The Tennis Courts were back in action . Hadn’t been a game since the May Floods when the courts went under. I had been watching people at work on fences and surface all week and it was a very good thing to hear the Let Call and see the night lights shining.


Crazy Day was on last week in Grafton. I lost my car and house key at some stage of that day and held little hope of locating them. Not to be found in Ulmarra. Not be found in the car nor on the ground nearby. Sunday we took a trip into the splendid new SHOPPINGWORLD, noticed the office open for a moment. Iz took the chance to ask the young security man and there they were listed in the Lost and Found Book. I was very impressed. Still am, as I was by the sight of Robbie from Coffs dressed as a clown and singing his way around SHOPPINGWORLD  with his amp on wheels and by the boot scooters in the main street.

Izzy is a rock muso who has been playing jazz with a blues band. I am pretty sure that country music is his next step. He is resisting but I don’t know that country music can be resisted indefinitely. SQUATTER’S REST on Friday Night.


Here, in the Attic, at the edge of sunset, the days of the Inland Sea look appealing. So does the Ulmarra Pool down beside the Commerical Hotel on the River Bank. It is , however, closed till the “official” summertime and then only open for a couple of hours in the afternoons.

I was recalling the Sydney pools of my childhood in the Harbour and Rivers. Net pools  Hollywood out on the George’s River and Carr’s Park. Nielsen park at Vaucluse and of course Manly.  I Love swimming.



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This weekend, Charlie came down from Armidale for a visit.

For me, its working well, being near the Family.  Izzy is battling a little with the music which is still mainly situated further north. This weekend was circus and celebrations. That’s a fine thing, that is.


I had concentrated on our black and white cows all week , wondering what on earth the four black and white cows at the CIRCUS ROYALE were going to do as TRICKS.  My cows didn’t appear with anything specially impressive but the cows at the circus surely did. They stood on hind legs with forelegs on small podia while a miniature white horse danced and ducked under and between their legs. Marvellous!


The day before the Mob came, a mist settled on the area and stayed there till almost lunchtime. The BookMan said that on his way down from Maclean, as he turned onto the Pacific Highway, he couldn’t see whether or not there was traffic coming at him. Must be the river flats, methinks, that let it sit so low for so long.


We located the CIRCUS in the park in SOUTH GRAFTON.  We had phone booked for four adults and two children and picked the tickets up from the Circus Office. Circuses haven’t featured greatly in my life so each step was a ‘learning experience’.


They say its a million dollar big top tent and are advertising for clowns. There were no photos allowed at all inside the Big Top and there were enough heavies to make it look a wise idea to be obedient to that one.

The two things I liked best were the Cows and the men in black running back and forth with ropes pulling up the rigging. Hadn’t seen anything like it since being on the UTIEKAH III in 1973.


We were also inspired to create a SLEEPOUT. One of the things which had attracted us to Grafton months ago was the advertising in the real estate sites of homes with SLEEPOUTS. Under this inspiration and despite the plentiful supply of spare rooms, we took ourselves to RIVERSIDE Centre in South Grafton, acquired a single bed, brought it home and bolted it together  ready for the Sleepout for Granddaughter No 1.

One problem – the bed was longer than the sleepout area was wide.




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I am sitting here today in the Attic with smoke from the timber mill and the cattle up close to the back fence. The transitional effect of the moved from Tweed to Clarence is beginning to ease like the May floods receding after the inundation. Last week, I was out at Minnie Water where the debris is still piled and a little mouldering as it is on many of the North Coast beaches.

For me, a quietness is returning and I continue with reflective  imaging.


I have lived close by beaches for much of my life. North Coast beaches at that. Its a 40km drive out to Wooli from here. That seems to me a long drive, along a narrow road which is rather hectic.

I lived much of my adult life in Urunga which is also known at the town WHERE THE RIVERS MEET THE SEA and I am accustomed to the beach being closer than this.

The MOB lived for a few years at Kingscliff. Also right on the beach. That’s the Armidale mob in the foto, touching sand in mid winter near the Queensland border at Kingscliff.


I put this shot in because it sums up some of the things which troubled me up North. This is the ‘planned resort’ up the back of Carool. It didn’t come to anything, so far as I know. Scattered through the Tweed and the Gold Coast are abandoned ‘resorts’ and derelict ‘dreams’.

I heard a Professor speaking on the radio one evening and he spoke of the Great Dreaming , the Greed of the last however many years. And he referred to some of the things we would find when we ‘woke up’.

What I know, is that I greatly prefer being amongst buildings which STAND. Made of stone or bricks or wood rather than the fabric of temporary dreams.

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The lady on the left is my Great Grandmother, Julia Ready nee Jackson.
I have some info to write up about Julia. It was given to me by PHIL READY who put years of work with his good lady wife into gathering  family information together and putting it together in READY OR NOT. This year I asked Phil whether I could write it up and put it on the Net and he sent me an email saying – PERMISSION GRANTED,.



These are simply images and thoughts arising from the imagery.

This is the price of petrol in  Ulmarra on the last day of July 2009. coast 002

Each day I take my lunch at the Wide River Cafe. Not on Mondays due to its being closed on Mondays. I take the Cold Remedy , read the newspapers, chat with the Andrew and the girls and generally enjoy a daily routine which I don’t recall having before. Its not hectic in Ulmarra at lunchtimes although the BUSHFIRE BRIGADE REGIONAL HEADQUARTERS are there and were doing an “exercise’ yesterday to make sure that we were all firesafe.

Last weekend, two girls rode past on their horses and each girl carried a red rose. KATE VISIT 1 073

While I am in the Village, I spend some time in ULMARRA BOOKS and BRIC A BRAC, chat for a while with our GentleMan BookMan and, in general, just indulge in the sheer pleasure of a book shop of this size and nature. This one is a treasure trove. I always enjoy being in the hands of an Expert, no matter what field it is in. In this shop I am guaranteed EXPERTISE in its most agreeable form.

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I have lived for four years in a tiny cottage. Exquisite with wonderful views of the Bilambil Valley – but tiny. Now I live in a HOUSE. A house which my family come to visit.  Last weekend, my daughter, Kati B and I spent the evening at the card table from Dolores, playing YAHTZEE. A ruthless game night it was.






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I am familiar with the last blast of cold in a North Coast Winter. It ‘should’ arrive in a week or two and, as usual, we will all be surprised by it because of the present warm golden weather. Nevertheless, this IS a weekend of the warm golden weather and I am enjoying it. Sunlight in the kitchen and mown grass in the yard.

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Took a drive today along OLD POST OFFICE LANE. That led on a labyrinthine adventure through cane fields and paddocks and alongside oxbowlakes and creeks and the COLDSTREAM RIVER itself. There is still a lot of rubble from the floods , piled and stacked beside the roads and the water, even in the river, is thick and dark. Brown at best and in places an evil sludgey black.

30 days of Labyrinth Love and Wisdom

Dedicated to spiritual pilgrims everywhere

By Rev. Dr. Sandra Bochonok

an ancient meditation tool

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The labyrinth is not a maze. The roads here all seem to lead back out and back home. Narrow byways and twisting tracks. Today we reached Tucabia by Lower Coldstream Road and then over the white one lane bridge.



It has become routine to take lunch at WIDE RIVER. I have even taken to eating the same lunch most days which is not something I have often done. I have toasted cheese, onion and avocado sandwich on white bread with a banana smoothie unless I feel the edges of a cold. In that case, I order a COLD REMEDY which is one of the most deadly juices I have ever drunk. It seems to successfully drive the potential swine flu germs back into hiding.


Since we have been in Ulmarra, Izzy has begun to allow his hair to turn white as he said he would at the age of 60. Kati B has come to visit and do the 2nd hand shops of the Clarence.


I also re-discovered FEZZ. We first had FEZZ when the Poppy was a baby and had a blocked nose and now I find that its available for adults as well. Some assistance with breathing is something I could do with.


The last Thursday of each month, we take ourselves along to the MUSIC CAFE at the EMPORIUM, SOUTH GRAFTON.
That is a pleasure in itself . Annie Dodd has had the EMPORIUM for almost a decade and it reminds me of the mystery of Sydney in the early 70s and of such adventures as the ANTIQUE SUPERMARKET on South Dowling Street. Its an evolving organism is the Emporium. This month, July, Peter Greeman, in the kitchen is doing PASTAS. The eclectic array of musos is expected and Iz looks forwards to emceeing.

We have already encountered the MULLANS’ at the June night and Karl and Sharon took the drive north to do ILNAM ESTATE WINERY with Izzy on July 26.  The crowd was well pleased and joined in the mayhem of Izzy and Co and the beauty of Shaz’ Irish melodies.  Karl and Izzy put in some powerful reheasring and Izzy was fully pleased with the day.

I was able to enjoy two magical little girls who came along from BUSBY FLAT to support their parents.

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There is a new dam someplace down here near COUTTS CROSSING. It is said to be  able to provide water to COFFS and GRAFTON for many years to come. I  haven’t found it as yet but will look for it soon.

Just out of Armidale is the DUMARESQ DAM where we picknicked with the Mad O’Briens. There is some unusual info about Armidale, electricity  and hydro-electricity.


Oxley Wild Rivers National Park


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Transition to a new home and community has uncertain elements – obviously. On  the weekend, we went north for the ILNAM gig. I haven’t been back since moving and have no desire to do so at this time. I don’t relocate easily. NOT EASILY TRANSPORTABLE, am I. I am easily confused by the overlapping worlds. I had promised Iz I would go with him this time for several reasons. One being that ILNAM and the Quinns have been very good to us and the other was to meet the MULLANS FAMILY. Karl has been rehearsing here in Coldstream Street but I hadn’t truly met Shaz or the Girls. It was , in fact, a pleasurable experience but after a night spent in a dodgy Tweed Heads South Motel for $75, I was in a deeply reflective mood. As deep as the light on a Fender Bass.

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I think it was occasions like Izzy’s 60th birthday at Ilnam’s with nice people, nice food, nice views which convinced me that it was time for me to leave the area because I just wasn’t content – even in the good places with the good people doing the good things.  So – now I am here on the Clarence and for this time in my life – happy.


Glory Be ! Up here in the Attic, I am at last ONLINE.


Much like the Bridge of the Starship, Enterprise, so I am told. What I know is that I now have workable internet. Vodafone can do what it pleases as long as I don’t have to deal with IT again. I don’t even want to talk to my electronic friend , Lara, anymore. I give credit to the upgrades department, which despite failing to upgrade me and still charging for one account when they had said they would not, was staffed by courteous, literate, savvy young people. Au Revoir VF. May our paths not cross again.

Now, I am ONLINE but still in the process of adapting to the 21st century. That means it might take a while before I feel secure in the new situation. For today, CELEBRATIONS and off to Bellingen to fetch Kati B.



We lunched in the Village today at WIDE RIVER where we are treated as family – almost. Several other tables were occupied with people who were very pleased to be eating home made pies and cakes and ORDINARY food. So were we!

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Over the way on the Northern Side of Coldstream Street is JACK-A-DANDY. I hadn’t looked in there till the weekend when I encountered some old friends of mine who had ordered a lamp from there so this week I took myself for a good look through. This is one CLASSY shop. Beautiful bits and pieces from all round the world. We went in today and bought a silver bell from Northern India to be our front door bell. I had noted it in an earlier post but not looked into the treasure trove.

I spoke again with VODAFONE this week due to the mess its making of my internet life. The initial contact point – well not the initial point because that’s LARA the electronic girl – but the first human contact assured me that I hadn’t called since last September, that’s ‘08 he’s referring to. Funny, I thought I called on June 26, 2009 at 6.37 pm. And I thought I spoke to Moustafafa. Being in a calmer  state this week, I didn’t let that fluster me and asked to be directed to UPGRADES, a department I didn’t know existed until the June Phone Call which I apparently didn’t make.

Anyways, UPGRADES are rather nice and speak English as if native born and the outcome is that the UPGRADES were supposed to go through last DECEMBER, although no contracted customers were informed of that, or the delays, or whatever is wrong now. I would keep right on whingeing except that I just saw the eight coffins being taken home down an English Street.  Eight young people killed in Afghanistan and three of them were 18 years old. What is this ?

Forget the Vodafone whinge ( I am opting out and into ADSL).

I shall leave the day with thoughts of the young people. Especially poignant to me as I transcribe my father’s letters and diaries and all the names of his Pioneers and their families.

Some things are wretched.


Another young Englishman has just been found after 10 days lost in the Blue Mountains. Some things are excellent.



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In my own way, I am a very Wealthy Woman. I now have the Fridge. That’s the two lads delivering it a week late and refusing to carry it up the 8 steps unless we paid another $15 which Izzy refused to pay. Fortunately, we seconded our next door neighbour and Izzy and the neighbour brought it up the stairs. So, we now have a fine fridge.


These are the signs at the intersection of COLDSTREAM STREET and the PACIFIC HIGHWAY, ULMARRA. Andrew from WIDE RIVER says – SEE ULMARRA – IT WON’T TAKE LONG.

Well, theoretically it shouldn’t take long but in practice, we have been known to take hours in the Village.


Include the many mandarines on the trees beside the house.

may 2008 006 A lot of laughter and gentleness and no violence at all. Lots of music as well.

I have read poetry at an Austlit Breakfast at the WORDSMITHS CAFE in the ST LUCIA CAMPUS of the UNIVERSITY OF QUEENSLAND in BRISBANE.


I lived for many years in the small town of Urunga and over the last year have eaten there with my daughter at the BOARDWALK CAFE. We have wonderful breakfasts at the BOARDWALK and are served by young men whom I once taught.

KATHMADNANA My Grandchildren learned to swim in my own very excellent swimming pool, way up on the Queensland border.


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Went for lunch at Wide River today following the Total Failure of Geoff and CLARENCE VALLEY COURIERS to deliver the Fridge. We have been waiting for days and look like waiting longer. Bum to that. So we took lunch at Wide River and the discovered that the mysterious BOOKSHOP is now open. ITS PERFECT ! I was bemoaning the state of the shops in Ulmarra when I was first able to access the main street after the floods. Doors were shut and hours seemed as erratic as Latrobe and Given Terraces in Paddington, Brisbane.  For one brief dubious moment, I thought I had decided to reside in a dying village and being of a depressive nature and recently emerged from the week’s inundation, a sorrowing near overtook me.

One of the Closed shops , seemingly neglected and deserted has stained glass windows and is a fine old building. After a few days, I began to HOPE. There was activity and boxes being taken in and sure enough, it is now open as THE BOOKSHOP. Wonderful Books. Wonderful prices.

Next door is the treasure trove of Jack-a-Dandy. That’s it below.

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The WIDE RIVER CAFE where we lunch, had the Cafe Botero girls in. They RAVED about the Coffee and the Cafe. Said it was easily the best, cleanest, brightest of the 70-80 shops they visit on the North Coast. I don’t even drink coffee , but I know its a Good Place is WIDE RIVER.

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Tomorrow, I am meant to go and fetch Kati B. Iz was coming but the Fridge Failures have interfered with that plan. So Its the CHARADE and me to Bellingen again. Lets try this without floods !


washer 009 Yesterday we followed up Andrew’s suggestion of  Bob, the washing machine repairman, who has a shed on Lilypool Road. That’s where we purchased ReBertha the Fridge so we took a drive out there. No sign of Bob but Izzy tracked a shed, checked the note on the door saying Bob was out and we left a note of our own.

7 a.m. this morning a phone call comes. Its Bob. He has 2 machines for sale. But they’re expensive says he. $130 for the big one and $120 for the small one. Its a small one we want so we take the small one. and Bob delivers it to the door by 9am and sets it up for us. I LOVE CLARENCE !

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Yesterday we followed up Andrew’s suggestion of  Bob, the washing machine repairman, who has a shed on Lilypool Road. That’s where we purchased ReBertha the Fridge so we took a drive out there. No sign of Bob but Izzy tracked a shed, checked the note on the door saying Bob was out and we left a note of our own.

7 a.m. this morning a phone call comes. Its Bob. He has 2 machines for sale. But they’re expensive says he. $130 for the big one and $120 for the small one. Its a small one we want so we take the small one. and Bob delivers it to the door by 9am and sets it up for us. I LOVE CLARENCE !


Exploring a new town is really an adventure. For me there is something elusively attractive about exploring a town only 100kms or so from where I have lived most of my adult life. Today we took a look at another section of South Grafton. It wasn’t as uniquely ‘old’ as Skinner Street and environs and yet we enjoyed it. We enjoyed the small details. The storage sheds on Lilypool Road where 2 washing machines sat outside Bob’s shed.

We chatted with the Appliance repair man who is also the agent for WESTNET internet. He gave us a sliver of hope for brighter times ahead. He also berated the other providers for their service to this area. Told us of a satellite connection needed right there in town due to no other service being able to connect. Reassured me that we were not simply paranoid. How insane is this country? Meanwhile on the brighter side, we then walked into the general store next door. Thats on the Armidale Road. It was a fine general store. I LOVE GENERAL STORES. Then on to the Little shopping centre next to it . it houses a hotel called the GOOD INTENT. Great Name for a pub. It also houses the RIVERSIDE CARE OPSHOP which had a desk for sale for $75. What a beautiful desk it is !!!!

Bargain prices. Clean. Really helpful.  Lunched at the takeaways. Home made vegie patties and REAL Scallops and my favourite pineapple fritter.  The bakery looks good as well and opens at 4.30am.

We crossed the BENDY BRIDGE into town and shopped at Woolies wonderworld in the new SHOPPINGWORLD and home we came. Not bad. Not bad at all.





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I drove this driveway for four years. Its the drive from Bilambil Cottage up to the Main House of Linden Lea. When the rains turned it slippery and sloppy, the DOS had this load of rocks put in so that our vehicles would not slip and slide. He is a true Gentleman is Mr Douglas Bulpitt.


AT the back of Ulmarra, we have a SHED. Its a fine shed and VERY old. We have now discovered that the house was built in 1908 by W.B. HAFFENDEN. Out past the shed is the wetland area which fills with birds and where I watched the brolgas dance.


The attic appears in early photographs of the house. I didn’t expect that. I thought it were a recent addition but that doesn’t appear to be the case. Its from the attic that I look above the sheds to the wetlands and this first month in residence, they have been wet in the extreme.


In SOUTH GRAFTON is the EMPORIUM. It was once the CITY STORES. I am finding some tales from South Grafton in earlier times.


I eat at the EMPORIUM and go to the MUSIC CAFE. This weekend, The Emporium hosted harp and vocal workshops. They do a fine curry as well as being open long hours 6 days a week.


I thought, after my early investigative visits to Grafton, that our usual Cafe Way of Life might be extremely limited on the Clarence but that was a needless worry. I have far more variety and far more pleasant venues here than I did on the Tweed and certainly on the Gold Coast. I am simply not your GC Woman.

Give me the EMPORIUM any day !


Or our WIDE RIVER CAFE just down the road in COLDSTREAM STREET. Lizzy and Mum make the pies. Andrew turns out a wicked COLD REMEDY juice and Sundays there will be music in the courtyard (as soon as the water dries up and the pavers can be laid). Next door Robin and the girls have their artwork and miscellaneous etceteras including beautiful ceramics.


One effect of so much wet is that I have become very familiar with the view from the back windows. Coldstream Street features some fine old fences. The Recreation ground is just beyond the one in the picture. Its been too inundated here to find out what happens at the Recreation ground in SMALL PARK. The park is not SMALL. Small was one of the first settlers on the Clarence and his name is on the Park.


The fence on the left is part of the COLDSTREAM STREET fencing network. I feel that I ought to know the name of this type of fencing. My father who was a carpenter of integrity would most certainly have explained it to me in years gone by. All I know is that I like the old wood and the shadows cast. This fence leads to home for me.



Saw the mail delivery this morning and when we looked – I was taken aback. The DOCS Disaster Recovery team had indeed deposited $768 in our account to replace BERTHA, the fridge that drowned and odds and ends which we lost in the floods.

Just a few Sundays back, 2 young women arrived at our front door, looking for the previous tenant. They were DOCS DISASTER RECOVERY people and very pleasant they were. When we told them our Bertha story, they went right out to their car and returned with the appropriate forms which they filled in – including photographs of Bertha and the Underneath of the House. We chatted and showed them the dead snake hanging on the front fence and off they went. Now, today, enough money to buy a fridge. Bravo DOCS !!!!


I have found this year to be interesting in terms of the low level trauma.  Victoria saw the horror of fire and large numbers of deaths. Here in the floods is something different. Apparently minor but seeping. INUNDATION they call it. Odd tales pop into conversations. One gentleman is found dead in his car on South Arm Road. The death passes softly and almost unannounced.

Entire towns and Villages are ordered to evacuate. Self-evacuate to other flood prone towns through rain and wild weather. SES tells people they are unable to help.

One house in Urunga is battered by waters rushing through and is then condemned and a family becomes homeless.

People are isolated for 1-2 weeks on their properties behind Bellingen. No phones or power and no assistance incoming. Trees down and wild storms and not knowing whether they were the only area affected or whether the whole town or state was also demolished. A family sitting at dinner and hearing and feeling a shudder as the yard slipped into their gardens and surrounded their house in mud and debris.

In the meantime, we all proceed in minimalisation. We recover from a disaster we didn’t know we had. And then a kind voice, money for a fridge – all become emotionally touching.

EMPMUSICCAFE 090    Tonight we will go to the MUSIC CAFE at the SOUTH GRAFTON EMPORIUM and eat fine curry.


We pay $89 a month for this “service”. Its so slow I haven’t even been able to play SCRABBLE or read my emails let alone use FACEBOOK or add to my blogs. $89 per month for the two of us with almost no means of complaint nor the ‘right’ to do so if there is any connection at all. They told us when we signed up 1/12 years ago that Vodafone was building 50 or 500 towers and the service would be excellent. HAH!!! It was bad enough on Tweed with access to 3G which which discovered is URBAN ONLY. Here in a rural area, there is only GPRS which is – well! This week its not possible to actually use it at all and complaint means attempting to access the company through electronic voices and non-tech people.

I surely just don’t know what to do anymore. This is a 2 year contract but I don’t know what to sign up with when its finished. SHAME ON YOU VODAFONE !!!!!!!!!!!

AND SHAME ON WHATEVER SYSTEM SAYS WE SHOULD ALL SMILE AND ACCEPT IT. Funny how swiftly TELSTRA was able to remedy the NON-PROBLEM in Bilambil once the village gathered for the rally and TODAY TONIGHT came in. It was fixed in a day and never mucked up again.