Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Connecting ...

A Rendezvous with Friends

Since my last post our friends Deidre and James have arrived from Sydney to spend a week with us climbing at Mount Arapiles and camping at the "lake". Today we all had a rest from physical exertions and went to Horsham for breakfast and to do some shopping. Here's a photo of Di, James and Deidre chilling out in one of the many caf├ęs in the Wimmera's main city ...


James and Deidre are much more talented and serious than Di and I are about our climbing, although they haven't been spending much time on the rock in the past few years. This is good because they've been happy to keep the two of us company as we bumble our way around. 

On The Bikes

My ankle still isn't ready to climb more than two or three days a week so the day before yesterday Di and I set off to ride to Edenhope and back. Actually, we decided to go through the town and a little way further along the road so that we could get a full 150 kilometres in by the time we got back to camp. It was a superb day for it: almost no wind and nice cool conditions for most of the journey. I was a little surprised to find that my ankle was getting a little sore from the riding by about the 100 kilometre mark as it hasn't been bothering me on the bike. Perhaps the extra strain of climbing is causing the soreness as my the joint gets tired. Hopefully it will settle down again soon. 

At The Crag

We've had a couple of days climbing since the last post, including a couple of easy routes on Tiger Wall yesterday morning and, the other day,  a bunch of easy routes at Mitre Rock we hadn't done before. I've been pretty slack about taking photos but Deidre has been doing the right thing. She took this photo of Dianne and me at the bottom of the crag today ...


She also got this great photo of a skink showing us how easy it is to climb on this rock if you know what you're doing ...


We've been having lots of fun as shown in this photo Deidre took at the top of those routes we did the other day ...


Yes, the sun has been shining in the Wimmera!

Six other friends have also arrived from Hobart. They come in various combinations once or twice every year for a week or so, staying together in the two cabins here at the caravan park,  ticking as many climbs as they can during the day and playing cards at night.  This time it's Stu, Justin, Dave, John, Alex and Bob. It's just occurred to me that Di and I have known Stu, Dave and Justin for about thirty years, and Alex and Bob for about two-thirds of that time. John joined the climbing scene more recently - like about 10 years ago! Here they all are, briefly pausing the non-stop cards for me so I can take this photo ...

Justin, Bob, John, Alex, Stu and Dave


Out On The Land

Our friend Peter - who hails from Horsham - has been home visiting his parents for a few days and suggested we might like to spend a bit of time out at one of the farms and then have a meal with his folks. We met in Horsham and then drove south of Horsham out to one of their three properties. Pete's dad Ray and Pete's brother Andrew were just finishing off drafting up a bunch of ewes and lambs to separate them from each other and then dock the tails of the lambs.


It was great to get an experience of seeing first hand part of the process of managing sheep. These particular animals are bred and raised for their superfine Merino fleece. Here's a photo with the lambs all drafted up together, wondering where their mums have got to ...



Andrew and Ray jointly manage the three properties. Ray is a pretty amazing guy. He's 80 years old and still going to work pretty much every day. He introduced us to his dog Bill, who is about the same age in dog years. Ray reckons Bill is starting to slow up and that "it'll be a dead heat between the two of them" to see who drops off the pace first. Here's a little video of the two of them wandering over to where the ewes have been let go now that the lambs have been separated off ...


It was a real treat talking to Ray on the way back to Horsham for dinner. He told us a lot about the development of the district and the way they run their properties, significantly enriching our understanding of the place. It turns out that his forebears were the original settlers in the Natimuk district almost 150 years ago, selecting a property just on the outskirts of the current Natimuk township. Ray has erected a memorial on the spot to honour that fact ...



Unbeknown to us Noreen,  Pete's mum's, happened to be celebrating her 79th birthday. Lucky we brought flowers! We had a great meal with them and were very pleased to have the opportunity to share the occasion. Both of Pete's parents are still as sharp as razors. We were pretty amazed and will be very grateful if our faculties are still in such good nick when we're their ages. Here's a photo of Pete and his parents together ...


Of course at 55 Peter is still just a youngster but judging from the genetic material  he's working with he's got many good years ahead.

As I sit  here typing this the rain is falling on the canvas of our camper trailer. It sounds great, but unfortunately for the crop farmers it is too late to do any good. As Ray explained, with the dry conditions and unseasonably hot spring weather most of their crops will have dried off in the stalks and this means that the sap can't get to the heads to fill them out.