Christmas at Koramba:

Gary the cook had mentioned that his son was coming over from NZ and that he would miss him, as he would be returning home before Gary’s days off.

So Chris offered to do the cooking and sent Gary on his days off early. The boys had the day off and partied well into Christmas day. Some going to bed just as we were getting up to start cooking.

 

Last year we were at Armindale and had the pleasure of cool days and nights, not this year it’s HOT, HOT and getting hotter. Another thing I missed was no churches within 120km. Last year the bells ringing in Armindale on Christmas day were amazing as well as seeing so many people attending all the churches in the area.

So with the temp in the 40 deg and the kitchen another 10 deg hotter due to the oven going full bore we prepared the Christmas dinner.

Hopefully this video will show you how it went.

So to all our family and friends Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

 

A bit of hard work!

A bit of hard work never hurt anyone. Our effort today was to trim about 50 large trees from around the camp and remove the thick, dense scrub that has begun to take over what was once a carefully maintained area.

Cutting away years of growth.

Cutting away years of growth.

How do we know it was once cared for?

The evidence is everywhere from the comprehensive irrigation systems that were installed a long time ago to the neat lines of  rusting star pickets that once supported numerous young trees.

Why do we do it?

Why not?

No one has asked us to. It’s just a matter of taking pride in ones surroundings I suppose, even if they are only temporary.

All the cuttings are on the right of the tree logs waiting to be taken away.

All the cuttings are on the right of the tree logs waiting to be taken away.

A Lizard wasn't impressed with our efforts as he has lost his hiding place. Oh well he has another 30,000 acres to move to.

A Lizard wasn’t impressed with our efforts as he has lost his hiding place. Oh well he has another 30,000 acres to move to.

Grass will soon begin to grow again where before the dense scrub and over grown trees allowed almost nothing to grow.  It will be a lot easier to mow and whipper snip the area when it does.

Trees that have been let go to grow at random are never as appealing in an inhabited area as neatly pruned ones.

It's a lot easier to mow as the trees here were so thick you couldn't get between them.

It’s a lot easier to mow as the trees here were so thick you couldn’t get between them.

We enjoy making our very small contributions to this fascinating farm even though few if any of the others will notice the difference.

Also I enjoy the breaks from the concentration of the programs and I find the physical work refreshing. Both of us enjoy watching things grow especially things we’ve planted or helped along ourselves. It’s also very rewarding and satisfying to see something that was once a mess transformed into something clean and tidy.

We never get before photo's just after shots. Here is Chris working hard.

We never get before photo’s just after shots. Here is Chris working hard.

Armed with just a hand trimming saw, a pair of pruning shears and a rake we started the job and after about 6 hours without a break we had removed years of branch and scrub growth.

A chain saw would have made life easier.

A chain saw would have made life easier.

By the end we were both feeling the tightness and muscular soreness setting in especially when we stopped moving. We sat down in the annexe but we knew that if we stayed there for much longer we wouldn’t be able to get up so we decided to drive down to Boomi and have a go at the hot artesian spring pool which we had heard a lot about but hadn’t yet tried.

The kangaroos are out in almost plague proportions at the moment and even the drive to Boomi is a game of dodgems with the hundreds of quite large ones that seem to want nothing more than to jump out in front of moving vehicles.

We arrived at the steaming pool at Boomi and as we lowered ourselves into the hot mineral laden water we could feel the muscles in our bodies relaxing.

It was nothing short of glorious!

The lady supervising the pools turned on the spa for us and the hot bubbles seemed to just erase the soreness replacing it with a sense of calm and relaxation.

After 20 minutes lapping up this wonderful experience we could see why the little caravan park beside the pool at Boomi has a constant stream of visitors.

The pools are reputed to do wonders for arthritis sufferers.

After the few hours since driving home and changing, doing some programming work and writing the blog we have no signs of the muscular aches and pains that surely would have bothered us had it not been for the pool.

Goondiwindi

We’ve been in Goondiwindi for 2 weeks now.

Chris has been putting in as many hours as possible, working on the program for the Tuscon Arizona company, before we head out to the cotton farm.
We haven’t ventured anywhere except out to the farm to have a look and just around town. There isn’t much to do here for tourist’s. This is a stop over for visitors from south heading north and visa versa. A half way mark so to speak.

That doesn’t mean it isn’t busy. Stand on the side of the highway for just 5 minutes and count how many trucks pass by. There’s a constant stream.

There’s a conversion of 4 highways at Goondiwindi. The Leichardt Hwy, Cunningham Hwy, Barwon Hwy and the Newell Hwy. All heading to different parts of Australia.

The trucks never stop coming. Add to that two huge grain stores in the town and you can imagine how busy it is during harvest season. The locals in the van park here where we’re staying say that in what they call the silly season, (May-September), the place is booked out every day with travellers heading north and workers here for the cotton harvest.

There’s a bloke in a caravan behind us who pilots a crop spraying aircraft. He lives here in his van while working. His wife is back home in Armidale. He was telling us how everything is sprayed today, every gram of food we eat has been heavily saturated with fertilizers to make crops grow, poisons to slow paddock growth (so they can coordinate paddock harvest) and a myriad of herbacides and pesticides. He said if you took seed from wheat and tried to grow it at home it just wouldn’t grow anymore. All the chemicals are needed for it to even germinate.

Sad thought.

I remember growing Uncle Charlie’s wheat outside our old cubby house at home one year and had a bumper crop. Not any more. What a world we’ve turned this into!

Goondiwindi as everyone knows, is famous for “Gunsynd” the grey racehorse purchased in 1969 for $1,300 by four gentleman from Goondiwindi.

Gunsynd raced from 1969 to 1973 when he was retired with 29 wins from 54 starts 7 seconds and 8 thirds, but his affect was more than just that as this peice written about him states:

“He had been receiving fan mail for some time but at Caulfield they announced each runner in the Cup as the horses stepped onto the track. This fascinated Gunsynd. He was the second horse onto the track for the race and the huge applause rang out as he was introduced at that moment Gunsynd stopped and pricked his ears as he looked up into the grandstands.
It is said that witnesses believed they saw the grey horse acknowledge the applause by bowing his head before being urged to move forward by jockey Roy Higgins. This was fine until they announced the next horse and the applause rang out again. Gunsynd again stopped and nodded his head but refused to move on. The crowd loved his antics and just cheered even more.
The following Saturday Gunsynd went to the Cox Plate for his 6th race in 6 weeks. Again he was fascinated with the public adulation. He strode out from under the tunnel towards the track and then stopped to look up at the stands, but they remained quiet. Finally he was announced to the crowd who went mad for the favourite and it was only then that Gunsynd moved out onto the track.
At Goondiwindi despite never setting foot in the town until 1973 Gunsynd had his own window at the TAB whenever he raced, a life size statue was built as a memorial and the town became a household name.”

.

Gunsynd memorial beside the "Macintyre River"

Gunsynd memorial beside the “Macintyre River”

 

Gunsynd was put down April 29th 1983 suffering inoperable nasal polyps which had been making breathing difficult. He was 16 yrs old. He won races from 1000m to 2500m retiring with record total earnings of $280,455.

Goondiwindi is built on the banks of the Macintyre River which is the boarder between NSW and Queensland. The boarder between Queensland and NSW follows the Dumaresq and Macintyre Rivers from the top of the range between Stanthorpe and Tenterfield in the east to Mungindi in the west.

I'm in QLD but walk over the bridge you would be in NSW

I’m in QLD but walk over the bridge you would be in NSW

Here the river, now called the Barwon, leaves the boarder and flows south-west just above Bourke, the Barwon becomes the Darling River which eventually joins the Murray and flows out to sea south-east of Adelaide.

In all, the Macintyre-Barwon-Darling-Murray is 3,370 kilometres in length, making it the longest continuous river system in Australia. So no wonder that when Queensland gets it’s flood rains the rest of the country further south knows about it.

The Macintyre River

The Macintyre River

It’s been a very pleasant stay here in Goondiwindi. We’ve met some lovely people, got some work done and even taken a trip home. We’ve also been to Ballina and Stanthorpe during this last couple of weeks but we’re looking forward to the new chapter in our lives which starts tomorrow morning as we pack up the Aussie Wide and head for the Koramba Cotton Farm.

What awaits us there?

This chapter involves doing physical work again for the first time in a while so we’re thinking it’ll be a bit of a shock to the system at first. However we’re both really excited about it.

Lazy trip home.

This morning had us up before daylight to head the 875km back to Adelaide. The town was already stirring as workers, heading off to the mining camps 75km down the road were stopped at the service center buying petrol and food. That’s all you seem to do out here is buy petrol. You never go past a petrol station because the next stop will be 200km away. At least it wasn’t the dearest diesel we have come across but it would sure put a dent in anyone’s pocket who lives out here.

On the occasions we have left before dawn we have sighted more kangaroo’s on the road than at dusk. This was no exception, a large kangaroo was in the middle of the road literally eye to eye  with us and there was no way he was moving. Playing chicken with them is not on the cards, even with a bull bar they make a mess that you have to wash off. Another tip Vicki and Rick told us, is not to run over their carcase as their bones can puncture a tyre quite easily.

The beginning of a new day.

The beginning of a new day.

 

The colours of this country are never boring.

The colours of this country are never boring.

 

The sunrise from the plains was no less spectacular than high on the hills, and as the sun came up to greet us, it was hard not to ponder on where and what we would see next. Going through all the photos of the places we have seen in the last year brings back so many memories and feelings. Places we want to go back to visit again but know there is so much more to see of this wonderful country.

Each of us took turns to drive while the other slept. Our minds replaying the wonders of Coober Pedy.

Coober Pedy: A huge tick off the bucket list.

After spending the day with Vicki and Rick and discussing the disadvantages of travelling to Darwin at this time of year they had suggested to leave the van at their place and travel just by car.

We went over all the possibilities; driving all the way to Darwin, a total distance of over 6000km return, or just driving as far as Ayres Rock and Coober Pedy. The trouble is it would be too hot to walk around Ayres Rock and so what would we gain? Both Chris and I had seen Alice Springs (although a long time ago) but it wasn’t high on our list at present.

Coober Pedy on the other hand, has been on my “Bucket List” for over 30 years, and for the last 10 years Chris has wanted to take me. We also wanted to stay underground so why not just take a run up there without the van?

Monday 6th was house keeping day. We put the Nissan in for a service. We wanted to have the fuel lines cleaned as well as the radiator flushed. With all the different fuel we use and the hill climbing, puffs of smoke were starting to come from the exhaust when we underwent a steep climb.

The Nissan had also developed a rattle due to the boot liner banging against the sides and this was sending Chris around the twist. For the last few days, every time we stopped, Chris would rearrange things in the back of the ute to try to stop the rattle without success. Nothing worked. You can guess what he was like …

He had found some felt matting beside a dumpster (It was beside and not in the dumpster) so he placed that between the tray and the sides. It seems to have worked thank goodness.

I have also been having problems with my laptop.

A green line had appeared on the screen and the power cable didnt work properly. It would be out of warranty in April so I took it to a dealer in Adelaide. This is also another reason why the blog got behind with no laptop for a week.

Tuesday 7th  we were packed and drove our little home to Vicki and Rick’s front yard. I must admit it felt strange to leave “the girl” there. It was 847km to Coober Pedy, just over 9hrs driving.

We were off, pulling firstly into Port Germein to have a quick look at the Jetty.

Port Germein Jetty over 1.5km long

Port Germein Jetty over 1.5km long

It was one of the longest in the Southern Hemisphere. The jetty was opened in 1881 and extended by 122 metres to a length of 1680 metres in 1883, but after storm damage it’s now 1532 metres long. It was used for loading grain onto sailing ships to be transported from the farms in this area all over the world.

We took a left turn at Port Augusta then just drove north.

We passed the occasional service station in the middle of “no where” otherwise there were no other towns on the Stuart Hwy. There are signs to homesteads, some many miles in from the road, (even Coober Pedy is 1km off the road). There are rest areas along the way, usually with no toilets or water they’re little more than a picnic table and a rubbish bin in the middle of nowhere.

There are also emergency phones with distances of 80km or more between each one. This country is so vast and here we really seemed to feel it.

We weren’t concerned at any time as there were trucks and cars passing constantly.

We had our UHF, water and food and most of the time our phone worked with the Telstra antenna.

This highway was only completed in 1987 and was just a track before then. Now it is the major highway between Darwin and Port Augusta and is in great condition. Every truck that uses this road does so to the maximum carry limit. Most of them have 3 trailers. There is a train track that goes the same route but currently stops at Katherine. When we asked Vicki which was the most cost efficient way to move freight she said it was by truck. It seems the railway was built for 20 billion dollars but is so uneven it damages the cargo in the containers and the government pays the damage costs not the insurance companies.They also don’t check refrigerated containers to ensure they are working so the food can spoil that way as well.

The government sold the line to the Americans for 20 million dollars (If a normal business did that they would be bankrupt) but the government apparently still pay for damages. At the moment due to  a bridge damage from flooding the line is cut between Katherine and Darwin, so trucks are still needed to transport freight from Katherine to Darwin. Vicki and Rick carry refrigerated containers for Woolworths because Woolies then are certain of at least three containers reaching them every week.

On this road it was very easy to pass the trucks. We had stopped at one of the rest areas.

On this road it was very easy to pass the trucks. We had stopped at one of the rest areas.

The road seems so flat, you can see vehicle coming for miles.

No problems on seeing what is coming on this road.

No problems on seeing what is coming on this road.

We put the cruise control on and watched as the kilometres just clicked over.  We came to a lookout on a hill from where we could view the salt pans and the occasional lake that held water. Lake Gairdne,r one of the bigger inland dry salt pans of the state has on several occasions been the site of attempts to break the World Land Speed Record.

Salt Lakes would appear, it was such a contrast from the dry ground.

Salt Lakes would appear, it was such a contrast from the dry ground.

Lakes used as raceways.

Lakes used as raceways.

Eventually we saw the “Dumps” or mouns of dirt dug out of the shafts of thousands of opal mines. They cover the ground for miles around Coober Pedy.

There are holes 1m wide x 30m deep beside these "Dumps" Don't walk backwards.

There are holes 1m wide x 30m deep beside these “Dumps” Don’t walk backwards.

Then we saw the sign for the turn off to Coober Pedy. This was it. This is what I had wanted to see for 30 years. I had read so much about this place I felt like I knew it, but would it live up to my expectations?

Entry to Coober Pedy.

Entry to Coober Pedy.

 

Main St of Coober Pedy

Main St of Coober Pedy

We found our accommodation easily enough “The Radeka Down Under”. The accommodation offered was from full ensuite rooms, Underground Budget Rooms or Underground Dorm Beds.

Our bedroom.

Our bedroom.

 

The hallway leading to our room.

The hallway leading to our room.

 

Backpackers accomodation was pushing it a bit for us. We wanted at least a door.

Backpackers accomodation was pushing it a bit for us. We wanted at least a door.

We weren’t after a  flash abode, just somewhere to be able to sleep underground.

It is true about the temp underground as we found out walking down the stairs. The walls are a combined pink and cream rock, the sort that contains opal.

We took a walk around the town and then cooked dinner in the community kitchen. We then went underground to fulfil my life time wish of sleeping underground.

“Where are the Blogs?”

We had a sms from Barry last night with to the point question “Where are the blogs” He gets “one or two days but a week?” Well bear with us, it has been one hell of a week. Over the next couple of days we will try to catch up with all the news. The blogs might get placed in different order as both Chris and I fill in the missing days.

So sorry for the slackness but we have a lot to write about.

 

The Barossa Valley:

The wind picked up and the rain’s came, but it didn’t stop us from venturing out to the famous Barossa Valley. Driving through towns like Gawler, Lyndoch, Tanunda and Nuriootpa we are amazed at how many of the original homesteads are in great condition and well looked after. They have been around for 100 years and look like they could be here for 100 more.

Wonderful old house with the solid sand stone bricks.

Wonderful old house with the solid sand stone bricks.

The dry hills are at the moment covered in lush green, grape vine’s, heavily laden with a variety of grapes. They will be harvesting soon as the 20th Feb is the “Blessing of the Grapes” festival.

Laden graps vines with the hills in the back ground.

Laden graps vines with the hills in the back ground.

With so many of the famous names here it was hard to pick which vineyards to visit and sample their wears. As you know, I’m a shocker when it comes to drinking wine, as only 1-2 glasses makes me lose feelings in my hands and feet. So it was the Jacob’s Creek we ventured into with choices of wine from Sparkling, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Riesling to name a few, then on to their liqueurs we had a ball deciding. Add to the atmosphere of overlooking their vineyard of rows upon row of grape vine’s from their large glass visitors center.

The staff were more than helpful to offer their wares.

The staff were more than helpful to offer their wares.

With the tourist map in hand we drove past wineries stopping at the Seppelts Mausoleum. This is the private burial ground of the “Seppelts Family”. It was so Benno Seppelt could view Seppeltsfield. (They have a town named after them).

The "Seppelts Family Mausoleum"

The “Seppelts Family Mausoleum”

The steep road, only for walkers, had me wondering if there was a back road for elderly family members as I could envision people having heart aches on the way to funerals, or maybe I was just out of condition.

The steep climb up gave wonderful views over the Seppelts land.

The steep climb up gave wonderful views over the Seppelts land.

Chris couldn’t resist the grapes and so we had to try a few. They literally burst in your mouth they are so plump. Small, tightly  bunched together not like the grapes in the shops which are quite loose. It does make us wonder how our grapes are going at David and Lacey’s place, as our plants were forming bunches before we left.

Some of the grape vines didn't have wire and were large trunk vines on their own. Wonder how old they were here on Seppelts vineyards.

Some of the grape vines didn’t have wire and were large trunk vines on their own. Wonder how old they were here on Seppelts vineyards

 

The grapes where all named eg Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon.

The grapes where all named eg Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon.

 

Grapes that literally burst in your mouth.

Grapes that literally burst in your mouth.

It was then on to “Maggie Beers Farm Shop” at Nuriootpa. Maggie and her husband had bought this piece of land and made it into a pheasant farm. They then added the restaurant where Maggie showed off her cooking skills. They closed the restaurant in 1993 but reopened this store in 1999. This is where they filmed “The Cook and the Chef” series. They rebuilt Maggie’s kitchen here after she decided not to have it filmed in her house. Probably a good thing as it was only to going for 1 year and ended up going for 4 years. Every week having a film crew in your kitchen would have annoyed most families.

A painting of both Maggie Beer and Simon Bryant from "The Cook and the Chef"

A painting of both Maggie Beer and Simon Bryant from “The Cook and the Chef”

 

The shop has all her products, pate’s, ice creams, pastes, preserved fruits and you can try them all. Maggie and her husband have recently bought a 20 hector Orchard and she was also selling peaches, but this is a story on it’s own so I will let Chris tell you that one. We didn’t need a lot for lunch but we did have to try her cheese and pate basket.

Sitting by her dam watching the turtles.

Sitting by her dam watching the turtles.

After that it was a cooking demonstration this time using her Verjuice. They had a guest from the audience help cook and the demonstrator was great.

The cooking demonstration.

The cooking demonstration.

 

Kerrie in the kitchen.

Kerrie in the kitchen.

Maggie hand picks all her staff and they were the most helpful, obliging and friendly people around. We got to try mushrooms, onions and sweet potato with the Verjuice. Very nice. It was a great day as we drove back through the Adelaide Hills to our waiting caravan, full on the freshest products from the amazing Barossa Valley.

The Great Ocean Road:

We spent another night at the service centre so we could be back into Aussie Wide for the second stage of the repairs. We made a change to the water tanks so now we can fill one tank with pure drinking water and fill the other with creek water and not have the two mixed. It means we can virtually have a shower anywhere we are without using our drinking water.

It took longer than the boys at Ausssie Wide anticipated so we needed another day. This time we parked away from the trucks and the night was a lot quieter.

We had spent the time visiting the THINC project office as we are still owed some money from them. As usual the Uni owes them so the circle goes around. We caught the tram in from Coburg as we knew this traveled past the office. While we were in Coburg we stopped at our favourite bakery and picked up the fresh bread we got fat on while working here. It was still $1.80 and was just as nice as we remembered it. Luckily we are moving on again as we haven’t had bread for a couple of months now.

Along with the few jobs we had asked for they also redid the seals on the windows and gave us a new toilet as the float in the old one broke.

The Aussie Wide team were as good as ever and nothing was a bother to them.

We were good to go and finally departed Melbourne at 12 noon. It actually was a good feeling knowing everything was back to ship shape even though none of the small breaks particullarly annoyed us.

We passed Geelong heading towards Torquay to the start of the Great Ocean Road. We’d visited Bells Beach last time we were in Melbourne but this was all new territory now. It was cold and raining in Melbourne when we left but as we reached the Great Ocean Road the weather cleared for us to be able to witness the scenery  in all it’s glory.

Over looking the ocean at "Split Point Light House" Aireys Inlet. This light house was used in "Mad Max" and "Round the Twist"

Over looking the ocean at “Split Point Light House” Aireys Inlet. This light house was used in “Mad Max” and “Round the Twist”

Through the Memorial Arch which tells who and why this road was built. Winding around the coast line with plenty of places to pull over and enjoy the view and a coffee.

This is the third Arch due to the road being widened and the "Ash Wednesday" fires.

This is the third Arch due to the road being widened and the “Ash Wednesday” fires.

 

If you want to read why it was built click on the photo once, when it opens click on to it again.

If you want to read why it was built click on the photo once, when it opens click on to it again.

 

"Coffee breaks" with million $$ views.

“Coffee breaks” with million $$ views.

The towns along the route are very touristie and built up as you can see here driving through Lorne.

Driving through Lorne.

Driving through Lorne.

You can understand why this road takes you longer than going inland as you are constantly stopping to take photo’s and admire the view.

After looking forward to a "beach hit" this was a great way to have our fill.

After looking forward to a “beach hit” this was a great way to have our fill.

We stopped at a free camp spot at Johanna (incorrectly named) after a ship wreak the “Joanna” in 1843. This was a lovely spot with “drop toilets” and water right beside the ocean.

The camping ground is extensive and you don't feel closed in. We will have to come back one day to try the fishing.

The camping ground is extensive and you don’t feel closed in. We will have to come back one day to try the fishing.

We walked out to the viewing platforms over looking the beach and had this wonderful shot of the sun setting through the clouds that were now rolling back in. It was so soothing to go to sleep listening to the waves pounding on the shore.

It would have been a 5km cove with only the people from the park on it.

It would have been a 5km cove with only the people from the park on it.

 

Johanna Beach in the morning.

Johanna Beach in the morning.

 

Australia Day 2012

The Horsham Rural City Council put on the annual Australia Day Ceremony in the Soundshell-Sawyer Park. Our neighbours, Noel and Betty from Horsham, who have rented out their house while they travel in their 5 wheeler invited us to attend the free breakfast at the park.

Australia Day 2012. Proud to be an Aussie

Australia Day 2012. Proud to be an Aussie

It was just an easy walk along the river, discussing the damage and the advantages that came with the flood of last year.

A pleasant walk along the river to the park.

A pleasant walk along the river to the park.

The temperature was still cool as we stood in line for our Bacon and egg on toast, orange juice and a tub of fruit, add a nice flat white and we were set to sit and watch the program of events on the stage. The presentation of Australian Day Awards and the Australian Citizenship Ceremony.

It was good to see so many people.

It was good to see so many people.

 

Chris with Noel and Betty.

Chris with Noel and Betty.

It was nice to see so many people attending, as plenty of volunteers had put together a beaut morning.  Unlike the Sunshine Coast, Brisbane and the Gold Coast at this moment the day is cloudless and will probably hit the high end of the 30’s. They have such a wide change in temperature here 13-37c. It’s not until about 3pm that it gets so hot the air conditioner goes on, then it peaks between 3-6pm, then drops off to a cool evening with you needing a blanket on. Actually it’s quiet pleasant as we seem to get a breeze most of the time from the river.

I’m sorry our blog is only short pieces, with Chris back working 12 hour days on program development, I’m the one writing the blog. As David commented last night when he rang “About time he got back to work”.

Chris working hard.

Chris working hard.

 

Watching the races:

You are never too old to see something new. We can find interesting and a lot of the time, educational life experiences everywhere. Well this might not be up there with educational but it was one thing we had never seen in real life, “Greyhound Racing”

We are staying in the showgrounds and the “dogs” race here every Tuesday.

With the race track just behind the van we didn't have to go far.

With the race track just behind the van we didn’t have to go far.

So why are we still here you ask? A phone call to Aussie Wide had us extending our visit to Horsham for a few more days. They only opened this week after the Christmas break and are shut Thursday and Friday due to Australia Day. So we won’t be going into Melbourne until Monday morning.

Now I have done my share of attending horse racing which I find exciting. I loved going to Caloundra races, taking the kids and even once took Mum and Nola. Mum was 72 and it was her first time seeing a horse race live. We were never statistics people and usually  “Guessed the winner” Mum and Nola’s way was to choose the jockey with the prettiest colours. As you can guess we weren’t gamblers.

Walking around the enclosure before the race. At this stage everybody is still a winner.

Walking around the enclosure before the race. At this stage everybody is still a winner.

So just like the horses the dogs would come out just before the race and walk around in the closure. Now I didn’t find this as exciting as the horses. The horses are spirited, brushed to a glimmering shine and then the jockey’s come out to find their mounts. They are in their silks of many colours and you still have the expectation of everybody is a winner. Last minute techniques are being passed on to the jockey’s before they lead the horses on to the course. The grounds are usually green and well fertilised with roses or some other flowers in abundance. I find the whole picture mesmerising.  With the announcement “They’re racing” the thrill of hearing the thundering hoofs on the ground coming closer, of people cheering and hearing the race caller tell the unfolding story of how each horse and rider are going I find electrifying. How they can remember each horse’s name or even keep track of where they are amazes  me.

So the dogs in the closure weren’t as exciting. I did wonder if they got last minute tips from the owners or just the tip “You better win or you’re Thai food.” I’m not even sure they were the owners as the group that took them out wore green coats for “GO” maybe? And the ones who caught them wore red for “STOP”?

Notice the "green" coats for go.

Notice the “green” coats for go.

The dogs were lead out on to the course, once they were past the catching area the gate was shut behind them. They took off with the usual “They’re racing” but there was no thundering hoofs, just silence, as these dog’s, bred for speed, chased this orange fluffy toy tied on to the mechanical arm. I did notice that the speed of the “rabbit” depended on the speed of the dogs. It would slow down a bit if they lag behind, but usually the race was over before you had time to blink. The commenter had called the race in less than 30 sec.

"And they're racing"

“And they’re racing”

 

Ever wondered what the dogs are thinking?

Ever wondered what the dogs are thinking?

Then the dogs ran into the closed gate as another gate shut behind them. You could almost hear them saying “Where did it go, where did it go?” as the Red coats went out to catch them.

The "red coats" catching the dogs after the race.

The “red coats” catching the dogs after the race.

There wasn’t the crowds and I didn’t notice anybody dressed up for the occasion. I don’t think any anybody would go and spend 100’s of $$$ on a hat to wear to a race meet. But like everything in life, you are never to old to learn or do something new. So this was my new…Greyhound racing in Horsham.