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Phones, modems and barbed wire!

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The telephone and internet reception at Koramba Cotton Farm are not the best.

In order to maximise reception we have a large high gain antenna on a long pole attached to the caravan, another antenna on the car and yet another one for my new office.

New Office?

My comfortable little office that we set up in the annexe has become uncomfortable!

The extreme heat, dust and flies of the last couple of weeks have made it necessary to rethink the workspace.

We’ve got permission to use one of the air conditioned rooms until the room is needed and so we’ve moved the desk, chair and the computers up to the camp.

Only trouble is the Internet!

The Telstra modem that we use for internet reception requires the use of a “patch” that connects the modem to the antenna we’ve rigged up.

This has been OK in the past but since Telstra sold us the wrong patch when we bought the modem some months ago, the patch connector in the modem has slowly deteriorated.

Now, the move to the new office meant buying yet another ($110.00) antenna and another Telstra Modem with a “Pre Paid” card for Kerrie (cost about $200.00).

When I moved the old modem up to the new office – guess what?

No reception.

Modem Repairs go haywire

So with a sharp pointy knife in one hand and a sewing magnifying glass in the other, (the connectors are microscopic), I proceed to “Repair” the intricate connectors.

As I’m poking around with the micro connector using the kitchen knife, an audible “ping” could be heard accompanied by three tiny modem parts sailing off  in different directions around the room!

I’m losing it!

I can feel it!

Attitude deterioration in progress!

So I figure I’ll take the Simm card out of the modem and use an old Telstra modem we’ve got in the cupboard as a temporary measure.

Of course, while all other parts of the modem so easily take to flight across the room, the Simm card is really difficult to get out, requiring the application of pressure that you just know was not meant to be applied to such an intricate device.

Naturally the Simm card holder was the next thing to part company with the modem leaving the modem completely stuffed and the Simm card so badly damaged it wouldn’t fit into the other modem.

Now I’m REALLY mad!

Why did I even attempt to solve the problem with an attitude like that?

All I wanted to do was grasp the modem, and fling it as far as possible into the scrub.

Kerrie of course can spot these moments of complete insanity and is able to calm me down.

But, it means another 120km trip to Moree and another new modem (Cost $300.00) and an encounter with one of the banes of my life TELSTRA SHOPS.

Surprisingly Great Service

The next day sees Kerrie, Lauren and I in Moree and the Telstra Shop.

Kerrie wouldn’t even let me in the shop, insisting I have coffee with Lauren while she fixed it all up.

I did however venture into the shop and to my surprise the lady serving us was super-efficient, pleasant and friendly.

She gave us such great service we bought her a bunch of chocolates as a gift.

Just goes to show, you can’t put people into your preconceived packages.

So its home to set up the new modem

After carefully setting up everything in the new office as per instructions it comes time to fire up the new $300.00 modem and the new $110.00 antenna.


No reception at all!

I’m on the roof, out the door, trying every possible position – still nothing.

I decide to go down to the caravan and swap the antennas over.

I figure I’ve got to place the smaller one on the roof of the caravan to have any chance of getting reception down there, so I climb up on the back bumper of the Aussie wide whilst holding on to the existing antenna for support.

Not my best idea

I distinctly remember having a flash thought – This isn’t going to go well.

You see the existing antenna is only secured to the rear bumper of the caravan with cable ties and there’s a double barbed wire fence right behind the van also.

Sure enough, just as my foot gets a hold on the bumper and I haul myself up the cable ties all snap off at once.

Down I go still clutching the 30 feet of antenna and galvanised poles it’s attached to.

Fortunately the double barbed wire fence cushioned my fall but it was hard to appreciate this lucky break as the barbs ripped through my pants first, then my shirt before starting to systematically gouge large areas of skin.

So there I was doubled backwards over the straining barbed wire still clutching the antenna and poles firmly to my chest.

Bleeding profusely with my raiment in tatters, I untangle myself from the barbed wire and stumble back around the van. A trailing piece of rope from the guy ropes on the annexe wraps around my boot and over I go again.

Fortunately this time it was only my arm, (the only body part that was hitherto spared from cuts), that met with the barbed wire as once again I plummeted groundward.

Still no darn signal!

Bruised, bleeding and ragged I finally set the huge poles and the antenna up outside the room and connected it, totally confident that even though sore and bleeding, I’d solved the problem.


The damn modem still would not pick up a signal!

To add insult to injury Kerrie had found her way onto the scene and demanded an explanation for the blood, cuts and tattered clothes.

Of course all she can do is break down into uncontrollable fits of laughter, snorting and pouring out tears, a process that would be repeated many times over the next couple of days as she recounted the story to all and sundry.

Kerrie solves the problem

Suddenly Kerrie looks at the new modem.

“There’s two different holes for the antenna patch here,” she states, “Why don’t you try the other hole?”

Muttering under my breath about how they were probably both the same holes and what would SHE know about it, I reluctantly tried the other hole.

Immediately reception jumped to 5 bars, the maximum!

If it were at all possible I’d have hidden this from her but she saw it!

The whole embarrassing and painful process was all for nothing. Returning the huge antenna to the caravan and replacing it with the little one (plugged into the right hole) meant brilliant reception at both the caravan and the office.

The ridicule that was to come my way for the next few days was worth the fact that I now had the internet and the phone and nothing else mattered for the moment.


3 Comment on this post

  1. Hi Chris & Kerry,

    Just thought I would send you a few words to give you a fresh update on your “Old Home”. We have purchased recently your old classic 1971 Viscount caravan. We collected it from the couple from Wantirna, Victoria & we are thrilled to own the van. Its just what we were looking for as I love the early model Viscount’s. The condition is amazing & I intend to keep it the same. I was searching the net for info on the early Viscount’s when a picture of the van popped up with a link to your blog (fate I think). I have spent most of the weekend reading it, amazing!! I have given the van a polish & attended to some minor maintenance to keep her A1, The “old girl will be used for local trips away & for our annual monthly winter migration to QLD. Can’t help but feel really attached to the van now since I have read about your travels & the vans history. We will be keeping her for a very long time, she may even get roof top aircond in the future. We are not “grey nomads” but enjoy vanning & would love to one day “hit the road” but at the moment work & high school is keeping us busy. We recently visited Moree & their hot artesian pools, & will again next winter on our way north, this time in style with the “old girl” in tow. If you see her on the road make sure you say G’day. I will be reading your blog now with great intrest & a little envy, all the best & safe travelling to you both.

    Wayne & Karen.

    1. Hi Wayne & Karen
      What a marvellous story.
      As per the blog the Old Girl has given enjoyment and pleasure to many people over many years.
      It’s great to know that she will not end up at the back of a paddock somewhere to end her days deteriorating beyond repair.
      Even though we’re happy and content in the Aussie Wide we still often fondly think about our Old Home and the wonderful times we spent in her.
      I’m going to make a blog post about your comment and how you came to find the blog as I think it’s quite a story in itself.
      The people here at Koramba Cotton Farm, where we’re currently working, want us to come back to work here regularly so if you are contemplating coming this way again how about dropping us a note on the blog to see where we are? There is a wonderful artesian spa at Boomi, about 20km from the farm, and a nice caravan parking area beside the spa.
      It would be a great pleasure to meet you in person and show you around the farm.
      Rest assured we’ll be stopping you for a chat wherever we might see you, (and I’m quite sure we will see you).
      Thank you again for reading the blog and for your lovely comments.
      All the very best to you both.
      Chris & Kerrie

      1. Hi again Chris & Kerry,

        thanks for the reply, I was having a hard day at work today & logging on to your blog at lunchtime really gave me a lift. I hope you both can find the time to keep the blog going, it’s great reading. Please don’t ever worry about the “old girl” she will be cared for always. We were told the basic story of the van from Greg & Nicole when we purchased the van, we picked it up from the very same park you stayed in while at Wantirna.

        It was nice to deal with genuine people who were honest about the van, but the credit must go to your family for the condition the van has been left in. We can’t help but think they were only minding the van for us, funny about the timing of these things.

        We will be coming through Moree hopefully in July next year on our way north, we like to stay a few days on the way up & back at the van park with the thermal pools to relax. It’s very kind of you to offer to show us around the cotton farm, we would find that really interesting. We hope that we could possibly meet you both & reunite you with an old friend.

        I will drop you a line from time to time to touch base, & let you know when we take the van on it’s first run,

        regards Wayne & Karen.

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