Rain, Rain go away:

Friday May 1st saw us back in Brisbane.

Rain had once again washed out earthmoving operations at South Callandoon farm.

Geoff, the Gore Earthmoving supervisor, called it too wet at 10.am and we were on the road by 11.30am. We cleaned up the kitchen, washed the floors and tidied up after the guys had all packed up and left and then we packed up ourselves, booked the unit up the coast for the weekend, and away we went.

Our plan was for Chris to drop me off at Karen’s place as it just happened to be the girl’s night out. I would stay there the night and Chris would go over and stay at Barry’s place and catch up with him.
We had the wipers on all the way from Goondiwindi and from Warwick the wipers were on full. It poured non stop.

We managed to hit Brisbane at the same time as the massive, slow moving storm hindering and even stopping, our plans.
It just proved impossible to get through the north side to stay at Karen’s.

Road closures, rapidly running creeks, swollen rivers and drains were all overflowing causing massive traffic delays. Sadly a lot of cars went under water and there were a number of fatalities as people tried to drive through overflowing water courses.

After three hours trying to get across Brisbane we ended up doing an about face and driving back to the south side to Barry’s place where we stayed the night. There were some road closures on the south side as well but they didn’t receive as much rain as the north side so things weren’t as bad.

Photo: Queensland Fire and Emergency Services

Photo: Queensland Fire and Emergency Services

Goondiwindi got 35mm of rain for the day on the Friday but Caboolture got 233mm in a few hours.

Saturday morning was cloud free. What a difference a few hours make.
Chris and I left early to drive up the coast to the unit hoping to beat the traffic and hopefully avoid any road closures.
Apart from the south bound traffic still using the north bound lane on the Bruce Highway at Morayfield our trip up the coast was uneventful.

For the next couple of days the weather was perfect, warm enough to go swimming everyday with amazing sunrises and sunsets.

The sunrises were spectacular every morning.

The sunrises were spectacular every morning.


The view from the unit always takes our breath away.

We got to attend Lish’s 30th Birthday party where Ashley gave a lovely speech and even managed to get Lish a surprise birthday present that she didn’t know about.

Ashley giving a speech at Lish's 30th Birthday Party.

Ashley giving a speech at Lish’s 30th Birthday Party.

A few pictures of the evening. The cake was done especially for her by one of her friends.

A few pictures of the evening. The cake was done especially for her by one of her friends.

Grandpa an Charlotte doing "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor"

Grandpa an Charlotte doing “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor”

Emily came up and stayed a couple of nights at the unit where we were able to catch up with her before she sets off back to New York to meet up with Rodney again.
Kealy, Emily’s oldest and most faithful friend from school spent a night with us also.
We love having her visit us and it’s always a pleasure catching up with her.
Amidst all the laughter and jokes it’s hard to see these girls as grown women, drinking, talking marriage, working and buying their own homes. Where does the time go? It probably doesn’t help that Kealy is 5ft and still wears kids clothes? At 22yrs old she still has to show ID to get water at the bar!

A bed with a view for Emily. Really was the best bed in the unit.

A bed with a view for Emily. Really was the best bed in the unit.

We got a phone call from Geoff, the supervisor, that the Earthmovers wouldn’t start back at work until Friday so we added another couple of days on at the unit so we could catch up with David.

I took Elliana to the Australian Zoo where we went and saw the Lemurs at Bindi’s Island. Elliana has great eyesight and usually spots the animals quicker than I do. Of course we had to stop at the Kangaroos and Koalas for a pat. Elli is getting more and more adventurous with the animals everytime we go there. This time she was checking out the kangaroos ears and has no fear of going up to them.

"Look out Nanna"

“Look out Nanna”

More adventurous every time. What does his ears do?

More adventurous every time. What does his ears do?

I ended up going again with David and Lacey to see the Tiger show. Next time we’ll go a bit earlier as we now know where the best seats are to see the show easily. You gotta LOVE those annual passes.

We ended up coming back to South Callandoon on Wednesday.

The Earthmovers started work Friday after having a week off.
It never rained much while we were at Belah Park but here we seem to have 4-7 days off every 10 days at the moment.
In the 6 ½ Weeks we’ve been here we’ve only had I full weeks wage.
This doesn’t bother us as we are getting a lot of work done.

It’s raining again as I’m writing this blog, two weeks after coming back from the coast. The boys will be off again until Monday at this stage (unless it doesn’t stop raining). We’re not going home this time but might drive up to see Shannon at Emmaville over the weekend.

Our first couple of weeks at South Callandoon:

Well it’s been just over two weeks since arriving at South Callandoon – the time is flying by.

Unfortunately it’s just rained again and the earth movers have packed up and gone home for a few days until the land dries out. Out of the 16 days we’ve been here the boys have worked 9 of them.
The area needs the rain so badly but as usual there is always someone (like us) who want it on another day, week or month. You can never please everyone.

So what have we been doing for the last fortnight, (once we finally got the caravan and office sorted out)?
Nothing new about that.

Chris has started back on the Operations Management programme and I’ve been promoting the Stop Money Worries Budget application.
Both are going really well and we’re happy with our office set up which makes work very pleasant.
Even when it rained most of the day the annexe, flooring and our computers stayed dry. It was cosy working in our “office” while outside was wet and muddy.

The earth movers had started arriving on Friday after Easter.
Blue and Chris, from the Belah Park job, are here for a week while Belah Park dries out.
Belah Park, the place that rain would literally “Go around” ended up receiving 110mm the other day. That’s great for them as the water tanks are refilled and hopefully some of the rain managed to land in the new reservoir.

We also met two new chaps, Baden and Todd. Both are really nice guys.
Geoff and Reece turned up Monday and as usually Geoff is giving me cheek while Chris is picking on Geoff.
Geoff is the only one to notice my hair and comments regularly that it’s looking a bit grey!
I’ve now booked into the hair dressers to address that issue. He’s a right charmer isn’t he?

The ones from Belah Park like to tease me about not doing anything. Sleeping in (which I do) not cooking (try to avoid) and letting Chris do EVERYTHING. They wait for me to bite. I always think if they’re picking on me they’re not picking on anybody else.

I would like to point out that Chris doesn’t do EVERYTHING.
At the moment he does get up and work the breakfast shift (yes I do sleep in) but in my defence, Chris is usually awake or even in the office working. So why would any sane person get out of bed when he’s already up I ask?

Once everyone has gone to work (Earth movers 5.30am) and Andrew (farm hand at 6.45am), I get up and start the wonderful job of cleaning up. The first job is to give Andrew’s dogs, Ollie and Lola, the scraps and leftovers.
Let me tell you about these dogs.
Ollie the male, Lola the female. They carry on like pork chops when anyone comes around. Seriously I would not like to be on the receiving end if they’re not happy.

So while Andrew was here the first couple of days he would let them off and they got to know us and like most dogs are great big softies when they know you. They love their pats and love their food.

Ollie, I swear has A.D.D., O.C.D. or something when it comes to food. He’s totally obsessed with it.
He’ll start to salivate and run around in circles howling while you walk over with food.
Now because he eats so fast he has a muffin tin for a food bowl so it sort of slows him down while he eats out of every muffin space.
He eats everything – lettuce mandarins – though I’m particular with what they get, no onions or chocolate.
Lola on the other hand is a lady but still gets excited when it’s breakfast time.

We know when Andrew is on his way home as the dogs start howling and jumping around before we even hear his car a couple of kilometres away.

We’ve started to let the dogs off their leads before Andrew gets home and they happily hang around the caravan and don’t wander away. They’re usually back on their leads before the earth movers get home as we wouldn’t like to see them bale these guys up.
Lola got off her lead the other night and Geoff got baled up.
Andrew was quick to fix the problem after wondering what the dog was barking at. Geoff likes to tell the story that Lola almost ripped his throat out, (he likes to exaggerate).

Now back to what I do for the day:

I then clean the bathrooms, dust and sweep the lounge room and kitchen, sweep and mop the breeze way. Restock the crib lunches, bake morning tea and occasionally cook dessert.
Then I head back to the van to start on our work.

The kitchen and the serving area. Andrew had these benches that have come in very handy for crib lunch areas.

The kitchen and the serving area. Andrew had these benches that have come in very handy for crib lunch areas.

The breeze way where they eat.

The breeze way where they eat.

The breeze way between the bedrooms (the rooms to the right) and the kitchen/Lounge and bathrooms on the left.

The breeze way between the bedrooms (the rooms to the right) and the kitchen/Lounge and bathrooms on the left.

The lounge room with a TV. That's something new for these guys.

The lounge room with a TV. That’s something new for these guys.

In the afternoon when Chris has gone in to start dinner I’ve found a new fitness routine.
I’m trying to get serious about getting my glucose count down and the best way is to exercise. Going for a walk sounds OK but I’d rather do something constructive. So I rake the yard of stones.


Well we told you that Andrew had freshly laid grass seed over the yard and had top dressed it with dirt but it was still covered in stones, small ones, large ones and bits of tree branches. We had a laugh with Martyn saying we’d borrow his brand new ride-on to mow the place and that would get rid of the stones. Can’t really repeat what he said to us about that.

So I started to rake the stones and rubbish into piles and Andrew gets the job of removing them. I do about half to an hour a day while Ollie runs around. Lola will sit right beside me which can prove difficult at times to rake under her. I think it’s coming up rather well, even the grass is growing. I know it’s getting a bit late to grow grass but hopefully it will survive winter.

This is the ground before I rake it over.

This is the ground before I rake it over.

My ever growing stone piles.

My ever growing stone piles.

The green tinge of grass growing.

The green tinge of grass growing.

And didn’t autumn hit with a vengeance?
Last week it was still a warm 22 deg at night, but after the rain I had to get out the jeans and jumpers. I even put the electric blanket on the bed! I went into Target to pick up a set of Flannelette sheets and they didn’t have any yet. I think this change in the weather has taken everyone by surprise. I always remember Mum saying “Once Easter is over the weather gets cool, be prepared.”

We’re really loving, living so close to town.
We’ve made the trip into Gundy a few times, sometimes even twice in one day!
The car just gets warmed up and we’ve arrived.
It’s also a great saving on diesel, we’ve only just gone through a half a tank, compared to living at Koramba or Mungindi were we had to fill up every time we went into town to make sure we would be able to get back again.

Andrew has said he’ll take us for a tour of the farm soon, which will be interesting.
The whole place has its own history as Callandoon was one of three huge farms and it was where the boundaries of these farms met that the town of Goondiwindi was founded.
This farm contained a small settlement that was the mail stop before Gundy was a town. Little is left of the original settlement except a tiny graveyard which still survives on the property.

Moving day arrived.

Would the Gore Earthmoving job at South Callandoon start or would it be delayed again after huge 80mm rainfall over Easter?

We doubted very much there would be a start, however, since we hadn’t heard anything we decided to proceed as planned and move and if the job was delayed again it would at least give us a chance to get set up properly.

It took us a couple of hours or so to pack up the Aussie Wide and hook up as this time we were taking desks, all computers, 4 large monitors and even a few hydroponics for fresh garden herbs.
A bit of a concern sprung up when a squeaking noise appeared from somewhere down near the water pump of the Nissan so we were prepared for a bit of drama on the drive between farms which thankfully didn’t eventuate.

We arrived at the gates of South Callandoon and met Jim a grain cleaning contractor and James the farm manager.
They were a bit surprised to see us as, due to the rain, they couldn’t see the job starting within the next week.
James was happy for us to get set up though and was most helpful and welcoming.

The silos and Gore Vans. The site of our first set-up.

The silos and Gore Vans. The site of our first set-up.

We decided to set up next to the grain silos where the two Gore caravans were already set up because the live-in farm hand, Andrew, had meticulously cleared and sown grass seed around the camp and that, coupled with the soft ground after the rain, made us decide we didn’t want to start our relationship off by digging up the yard getting the caravan in.

The accommodation has four bedrooms on one side a breeze way through the middle. On the otherside of the breeze way is 2 bathrooms/laundry, lounge room and kitchen. A really nice set up.

The accommodation has four bedrooms on one side a breeze way through the middle. On the other side of the breeze way is 2 bathrooms/laundry, lounge room and kitchen. A really nice set up.

So after hours of work we had set up and were completely done in.
Poor Kerrie was howling for painkillers and I felt like I’d expended the last bit of physical strength I had left.

What a sight it must have been, these oldies setting up!
There was a pile of pellets nearby and James the Manager said we were welcome to use them as we wanted to make a floor under the annex to prevent the floor getting wet if it rained again.
This would be our office for the next 3 months or so and we needed to protect our valuable computers.

Well here we were, Kerrie on one side and me on the other dragging these pallets (pallets are bloody heavy).
We must’ve looked like a couple of old Draught horses on the last job before the knackers yard!

After meticulously placing these pallets and manouvering them in place and placing the mat over them it soon became apparent we’d need to go into Gundy the following day and get some timber sheeting or we were going to have a serious accident when the wheels of the office chairs met with the empty space between the pallets.

This didn’t stop us setting up the computers and finally all was made ready enough for us to knock off for the day.

After washing down some painkillers with a couple of scotches I was ready for bed and Kerrie looked completely over it. It was funny because the whole thing didn’t really FEEL right!

I suppose it didn’t help that when we went to take a shower. The water we’d plugged into (from a quite old tap we found) had a strong smell. Now Kerrie can put up with most things and she has since we’ve been on the road but she really likes to have a nice shower at the end of the day. This one wasn’t so nice.

Also earlier when we were looking for the best place to set up we walked over a cattle grid. Kerrie was behind me and as she put her foot on the grid a large Red Belly Black snake slithered away just under where her foot was. Needless to say she failed to complete the journey over the grid!

To top it all off there was NO INTERNET! Nooooo! We can’t have NO Internet! Part of the attraction with these jobs is being able to work on the programs through the day.
Were we supposed to be here?
Did we make an error of judgement?
These questions beset us as we drifted into a pain wracked sleep.

We were awakened at midnight by the sound of thunder and we realised we’d left the annex flaps open so as I threw on a dressing gown and dashed outside the heavens opened and freezing rain bucketed down over me as I fought against the wind which was howling like a banshee and was threatening to blow the annexe clean away.
Kerrie rushed to get the computers inside and that’s how we spent the first day and night at South Callandoon.

A rethink was necessary!

In the morning Jason, the Gore Earthmoving project manager and James the Farm Manager turned up and made the decision that they would look at the job on Friday and make a decision about starting but that nothing would happen before then.
The Gore workers had been temporarily stood down.
We were told we were welcome to stay and move anywhere we liked so we decided to go back to the original plan of parking the van next to the accommodation block.

Of course this meant packing the whole deal up again and moving. We tested the internet over at the accommodation block and found that although it was quite poor it was better than where we were.
The large steel silos we were next to may’ve been distorting the signal.
Also the water at the camp was great with no smell.
It would also be easier to get to work at 4:30am in the mornings as we’d be right there. We weighed up the benefits against the effort and decided to do it, just bite the bullet, tear it all down again and move.
It must have once again been amusing to all on the farm as we had all our stuff piled outside while we hooked up and moved. Andrew the young farmhand took pity on us and moved the 8 heavy pellets with the forks on a nearby tractor and then he helped me lay them in place.
He was a Godsend.

We took off to Gundy to get some timber sheeting for the floor and a few other things and then moved the van. It took all that day to get sorted and we were still not finished when tiredness and pain once again caused us to collapse into bed.
At least we got a wonderful hot shower with no smell. The next day saw us finish off the whole deal and by the time we were able to stand back and look at it we had to admit we did the right thing!

The caravan set up beside  our new work area.

The caravan set up beside our new work area.

There’s heaps of room for the computers, the floor is stable with no gaps and the view from our “office” is awesome!

The new "Office" for the next couple of months.

The new “Office” for the next couple of months.

The view from our office, we can see any cars going past, cows and other wildlife...very nice.

The view from our office, we can see any cars going past, cows and other wildlife…very nice.

We cooked a roast dinner and invited Andrew to thank him for his help and ended a much better and rewarding day.

Even the satellite dish is picking up 80 TV channels – something we couldn’t get at Koramba or Belah Park. The best news was when the boss phoned us to see how we were getting on. The rain over the last few days had ignited a renewed hope throughout the whole area and he’d been on the phone all day arranging workers for farms.
There was understandably a bit of a negative feeling in the town as things got dryer and dryer and it was great to see how quickly these tough people bounced back at just a small hint of change.

This morning we awoke to a cool but magnificent morning and after throwing back the flaps on the annexe I was able to get to work overlooking a magic view in a wonderfully comfortable office.
The office and the van are filled with the aroma of Kerrie’s fresh bread being baked again and a routine has already begun to evolve. Yes we did do the right thing, South Callandoon is a great place!

We like hot fresh bread for lunch.

We like hot fresh bread for lunch.

We make a deadline

After getting back to Koramba and setting up again we began an all-out effort to meet a deadline we’d set for ourselves.

You see while were staying with David and Lacey’s over Christmas David asked when the Budget Application would be back on line.
He was waiting for it as he’d always used it to control his money.

Now just a bit of background here!

We once operated our business, Simplicity Programming, creating programmes for a varied range of uses.

These programmes were primarily built for installing on PC’s running the Widows operating system.
They needed to be installed, reinstalled when updated, reinstalled when a client’s PC was changed and they couldn’t run on Macs, Smart Phones, or Tablets.

This was very limiting and meant many hours of work that we were never able to fully charge out to customers.

We made a decision five years ago that the whole concept of the business would need to change if we were going to continue with it!
That’s why we hit the road.

We wanted to gradually convert our existing applications to web based systems that would not require installation, would run on any device on any operating system.

Our “Stop Money Worries” home budgeting application was one of these.

We’d been working for many months on a large Operations Management system that could be used for workshop management on farms and heavy machinery operations and although we were at a critical point in the development of this system we decided that if David was so keen to use the budget app we would shelve the Operations Management System for a couple of weeks and get the budget up and running.

As usual – “the best laid plans of mice and men” – this redevelopment turned into a three month task!

In the meantime the Gore Machinery job was delayed a further few weeks so we decided to make an all-out effort to get the Stop money Worries system completed before the Gore job started.
If we could we’d celebrate by taking another quick trip to Brisbane before starting work.

So for three weeks our workday started at between 3 and 4 am and finished at between 9 and 10pm with only a scant hour or so off for lunch and a few short breaks.

It became a marathon effort that was at times very taxing and yet it was also a rewarding time as we saw large success in some really difficult pieces of coding.

Kerrie was as usual totally amazing in her support and help.
She built the first website that would be the landing page for the application and then produced a series of what I think are wonderful video tutorials.
In the midst of this she was always cherry and happy every day as she cooked all the meals, cleaned up and cooked a loaf of her incredible bread which was our lunch each day.
All this as well as building the website and producing the videos and keeping me encouraged when I got down.
Man there’s just no way I’d achieve anything without her!

It finally came to the point I never thought would arrive.

We’d planned to scoot off to Brissy on the Monday and the application was finished at 12 noon on that day. Since we’d been up since 3:15am we toyed with the idea of having a sleep before undertaking the journey but to be honest the excitement of completing a major milestone was just too exciting.

We were on the road by 12:30pm.

The conversation during the journey was so good as we discussed plans for possible changes, updates to the website and new videos.

Here’s a link to the Stop Money Worries website.

To see the application in action click the “Login” link and use the Username Guest and Password Guest to have a look.

Also here’s one of Kerrie’s videos which introduces the Stop money Worries system.

We had a truly great time in the unit at Maroochydore for three days and two nights before again heading back to Koramba.

We now had confirmation of the Gore Earthmoving job!

It was to be at South Callandoon a large farm of about 33,000 acres just 20 minutes from Goondiwindi.

The job would start on the Tuesday following Easter and we were to be there on site on Easter Monday.
We met with the Boss, Martyn, and the Gore Management team on the farm just before Easter and took a look at the accommodation and the facilities.
Our first impressions of the farm were good.

It was tidy and equipped with huge silos and the fencing was in good repair. The cattle that we saw looked healthy and the whole place looked, to the untrained eye, to be well managed and clean.

Gore Earthmoving will rebuild another dam on this farm fairly similar to the one just built at our last job at Belah Park.

The accommodation unit and kitchen are bigger and better set up than Belah Park and are spotlessly clean, the credit for which goes to the young station hand, Andrew, who lives there by himself at present.

We’d set up the Aussie Wide next to the kitchen where there was plenty of power and water.

After visiting the farm we went in to Gundy with Martyn for lunch just because it was so close. It was so exciting to be so close to town. It seemed like the Nissan had just got wound up when we were costing in to town.

With the move to South Calandoon scheduled for Monday and the Stop Money Worries application finished we decided on a day trip up to Emmaville again on the Easter Saturday.

Shannon had made a deal for a donger to use as a house and his Dad, Mum and Sister were going to be there for the weekend.
We also knew that Stretch and Kim from Koramba were going up for the weekend.

So off we went at 5:00am in pouring rain like we’d only seen once or twice in our three years at Koramba.
It poured all the way and we thought this to be good as it would give us a chance to see Emmaville at its worst so to speak.

As we ascended the road to Shannon’s the surrounding hills had huge layers of misty rain winding through and around the trees and the grey rainy sky just seemed to highlight the trees and the grass.

On arrival at the Shack we walked into a cosy communion of Shannon’s family, Stretch and Kim sitting around a monster log which was burning under the overhanging roof with Shannon’s mum cooking fresh scones on a camp oven.

A roaring fire, fresh meat on the BBQ, and hot scones who cares about the rain.

A roaring fire, fresh meat on the BBQ, and hot scones who cares about the rain.

It was such a wonderful time with people that are down to earth, humorous and generous.

Shannon’s Dad took Kerrie and I up the hill in the 4wd, via the new road Shannon had made with the excavator, to the new house site.
There was no donger.

It turns out that the people giving it to Shannon weren’t “allowed” to move it from Tamworth due to council regulations. Will we EVER escape government intervention?

Shannon and his Dad decided instead to go ahead and build a permanent house and amazingly within one week they had the peers in, floor down, walls up, veranda on and roof almost ready to go up.
The deck which will open out from glass doors off the living areas takes in awesome views of the ranges and the fact that it was grey and wet didn’t diminish the panorama one bit.

This is the sort of attitude that we’ve become used to – decide on a course of action and just get on with it!

Ern (Shannon's Dad)  showing Chris and Kerrie, Shannon's new home.

Ern (Shannon’s Dad) showing Chris and Kerrie, Shannon’s new home.

Even in the wet this place has the most amazing views.

Even in the wet this place has the most amazing views.

1-2 bedrooms, kitchen, lounge room, bathroom/laundry and a large verandah. What else do you need?

1-2 bedrooms, kitchen, lounge room, bathroom/laundry and a large verandah. What else do you need?

After an enjoyable few hours of chatter and laughter we headed home but not before checking out a block of land that took our fancy.
Tramping over it in the wet just further flamed our desire to settle up here sometime.

The boys tramping over the property we like.

The boys tramping over the property we like.

We liked this property so much we have rung the real estate to let them know if the owners want to sell we're willing to buy.

We liked this property so much we have rung the real estate to let them know if the owners want to sell we’re willing to buy.

We drove the fours hours back to Koramba arriving about 9:30pm.

We’d driven over 700km but we felt it was well worth it!