Jen's Newsletter for October 2007

It was bit of a shock to open the computer and realise that I hadn't done any letters since Feb...

On the 9th March I flew to Cairns and on Monday the 12th I started work at Tully for 4 weeks. I stayed with Katrina and Mike in Cairns for the weekend before Katrina drove me down to Tully on Sunday pm. My initial reaction was worry but soon found that I really liked the place. The whole town had only one set of traffic lights and that was off the main highway onto Tully. The place was very laid back and easy to like. My room at the home was a residents lounge converted into a bed-sit. I moved into a rest home early. I had 4 very pleasant weeks in Tully and left with lots of good memories, and three paintings and two sculptures that I made at the local art shop while there.

While I was in Tully the contract for my house in Toowoomba came through. So now I am a house owner in Toowoomba. When I got back To Toowoomba we started moving into the new house. It is a 90 yr old cottage on a ¼ acre section. What you would describe as a renovators delight and the more we found out about it the more renovations will be required. lol. We spent 4 weeks without a hot water system when the old one gave up. We only had two taps in the house connected the town water supply and no phone jack or phone line to the house as well as all the things we knew about.

And then winter in Toowoomba hit!!!
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We had the coldest day in 27 yrs here with the highest temp for the day being 5.7 degrees. We had frosts in the am's with -2 degree's and ice on the windscreen. So much for lovely warm sunshine in Qld. We had no heating in the house and so froze our asses off until we got a free standing log fire from someone Tom was working for. Man was that good!!!

(Now the weather has warmed up and we are already in the 30's. We have had some storms and rain but no drought breaking rain. I have mowed the lawns twice since I have been here)

In May we had a flight booked for Rockhampton for a three day visit but unfortunately Tom had a heart attack enroute to the airport so we didn't make the flight. He ended up having a stent inserted at a hospital in Brisbane and had to take it easy for 6 weeks. (He didn't get money for 11wks as couldn't get a benefit) We still haven't got to Rocky.

Our next jaunt was to Darwin in August. Initially we had booked flights to stay for 5 days. We had unfortunately managed to coincide our holiday with the Darwin races and Darwin festival so accommodation in Darwin was scarce. To get over this we hired a camper van for the week. We got into Darwin at 0030 am and spent the first nite with many others dozing on the floor of the Darwin airport as we couldn't pick up the camper till 0830 the next am. The first day we spent in Darwin. Got groceries and tried our hand at fishing off the wharf, with absolutely no success. After much discussion we found a caravan park in Darwin for the first nite. The next day we took off south and headed to Kakadu National Park. On the way we stopped off to go on a croc jumping cruise. Pretty amazing to see them in the wild and sure discourages you from swimming in those areas. From there we headed down to Kakadu but without the financial wherefor it we didn't go flying over it which gives the best views of the park.

We walked some of the tracks and saw aboriginal paintings, termite mounds and wildlife. One night we stayed at a free camp ground near a stream but the rest of the time we stayed in camp grounds. One of the nicest was a small camp ground at Pine Creek. Went out to the local pub for the barbeque on Sunday nite. You payed for your meal and got to pick your salad, and then was given the meat of your choice and pointed in the direction of the barbae. Cook it yourself.

Pine Creek was on the way to Litchfield National Park where there were areas you could swim. There were waterfalls and pools which were croc free. We also stopped off at a hot water creek where we sat and soaked in the sun and the heat. Parts of the creek the water was a boiling point so were closed off to the public.

After Litchfield we stopped in at Tom's niece's place at Berry Springs. They have 40 acres of land which is about 45min from Darwin. They sit and watch the wallabies and galahs play and eat on their back lawn. Rob and Bridge drove us to the airport on Wed pm to catch our flight back to Darwin... but we soon discovered that we had missed our flight by two days and then couldn't get another flight till the following Monday so were forced to spend the weekend in Darwin with Rob and Bridget and Dougie (the 18mth old). We spent the time crabbing (unsuccessfully) and fishing and being eaten alive by mossies!!! (yes we did catch fish though about half of them were cat fish.)

We finally got back to Toowoomba $1200 poorer for the added visit.

Since then we have settled into life into Toowoomba. I have now got a temporary contract in Toowoomba Base emergency dept and work there 4 days a week. Is a big ED with 3-4 doctors on during the day and can have over a 100 people through in a day. There is a 10 bed short stay unit at the back of emergency which we staff as well. Am enjoying be back in acute care and in ED. I hope later to be able to do some rural and remote nursing contracts so am aiming to get skills for that..

Tom has picked up his work again and is painting and wallpapering. The demand for wallpapering has increased over the last few months so he is enjoying that. At the moment he is doing a job for a couple that have an old Queenslander. The house is 130 yrs old and has 18ft ceilings, so I have been helping him hang the paper to save the ladder climbing. The work is going to ongoing for 5-6mths to do the whole house. Tom also plans to hire staff next year so that will take the pressure off him as he finds he cannot work as hard as he used to.

In Nov we are off again as I have a 3mth contract nursing in Atherton, in the Atherton Tablelands. About an hour inland from Cairns. We have got married quarters accommodation so Tom is coming as well. I start in Atherton on the 19th November so hope to leave about the 12th Nov and take our time driving up there. Tom is taking the van so he can do some work painting while there. Will at least be green. The plan at the moment is to take the parrots with us.
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We are now down to three parrots. One princess and one conure from the original ones and a scaly lorikeet the we found on the side of the road. The female princess parrot died suddenly and the female conure escaped. We have bought materials to build a large aviary in the back yard and hope to have it erected in the next few weeks.

Another momentous even in the last few months was trip back to NZ to see my daughter deliver a beautiful baby girl called Torana Jane in the 8th June. Both Jess and TJ are doing really well. TJ has grown fast and Jess has moved into her own house in Waitara. She loves being a mum and is taking a parenting course to help her witj her mothering.

Until recently Will has been working at the freezing works at Eltham but is currently taking some time off. He is still living in Waitara and working on various cars in his spare time. I hope to get his passport organised soon so he can come over for a visit.

Tom's daughter Melanie is now back in NZ and pregnant with twins. She is due in early march so Tom will be a Granddad again. We currently have Tom's son Tim living with us in Toowoomba. Tim is working as a carer for the same firm that Mel worked for so is frequently away with shift work. He hopes to buy a car soon and so do we so we don't have to run him to and collect him from work. He he.

We haven't done much with the house but we are currently financially back in the black so that's a start. We get the bug spray done tomorrow and am getting an estimate for rewiring next week. Hope to be able to get some work done once we get back from Atherton. The first things are the wiring and a shed to store vehicles and Tom's painting equipment.

Tom's health has stabilised but has to pace himself. He finds that doing 7-10 hr days aren't an option any more. I am having some tests done as have anaemia again. Have been having iron injections as am apparently not absorbing oral iron. Has made a big difference to energy levels.

We don't get out much to the movies or for coffees at the moment but am glad that the income and work is picking up again, but it also takes more time. Neither of us get to play as much as we would like but are working on making time for rest and recreation.

Well that is the year to date, short version. Always have great intentions not to leave it so long and my mum keeps telling me off for not writing so will try and put something on paper more often.

Hope spring is being kind to you in NZ. Think of you often.

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Jen's Newsletter for February 2007

I am now settled in Wyreema which is about 15 min south of Toowoomba in Queensland. I have been working at Pittsworth, which is another 15min south from Wyreema so about 30 min from Toowoomba. Currently it is an aged care facility with 18 High Care residents and a Hostel (Resthome) with 40 residents. They also have 4 acute beds in the High care building. Up to a year ago they were a fully functioning hospital with a surgical/ medical ward. Maternity wing and Emergency Dept. Due to financial pressures they have gone to Aged Care. In the last two months they have also had a full change of management and a large number of redundancies so there has been a lot of unrest amongst the staff. I have been working there since Nov 06. Initially I was employed as a Level one position ( which is a RN). For the last three months I have been working part time as a Level 2 (Care Manager) as well as doing the RN duties.

On the 9th March I fly to Cairns and on Monday the 12th I start work at Tully for 4 weeks. It is an aged care facility. Tully is in North Queensland, between Cairns and Townsville. It is famous as being the wettest place in Australia. (Will be a bit different from Toowoomba and it's Level 5 water restrictions. Level 5 means there is no outside watering eg no watering of gardens and no washing the car. Here ay Wyreema we are on level 3 so can use the hose two days a week.) We have had rain here but not substantial amounts and not in the dams supplying the town, while there has been flooding in other parts of Aus.

Tom and I have settled into a routine and even manage to see each other at times. Just before Xmas Tom's daughter, Melanie, arrived suddenly from NZ. Mel has now got a job and settled in with us. (She is working as a care giver in Toowoomba.)

Tom's painting work was quiet over Xmas and New Year but has picked up again in January and is steady now. He has advertised in the yellow pages to do wallpapering as there is only one other person on Toowoomba who does wallpapering. The calls for wallpapering has increased since then. Wall paper is not made in Aussi and all has to be imported from NZ.
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I am looking at buying a house in Toowoomba. Am looking for something that needs some work, and renovating as we will rent Tom's house out and move into mine and do it up. Am going to see a Lawyer on Monday to find out more about the process. We have found a house that we like for $175,000.00 in the centre of town.

We have started getting out and about. On the 29th Jab we went to Lake Coolmunda Dam for the weekend. The water level there is only 30%. The Dam is a fishing spot, with a caravan park nearby. We never ended up doing any fishing but did go for a day trip to Inglewood and Texas. Had to have our photo taken in front of Texas sign to say we had been there. :)

This weekend we went to Chinchilla for the day on Saturday. They have a biannual Melon festival there. They produce 25% of Australia's water melons there. The festival is all about watermelons. They have melon spiting, melon throwing, melon skiing and melon bungy. They also had a Guinness world record at smashing melons with your head. The guy doing it broke 40 watermelons in 60 sec's, and set a new world record. Previously the record had been held by an Italian.

Next weekend we are off to Bundaberg to see the turtle eggs hatch at Bundaberg. We drive up Friday and come back Sunday. They lay the eggs on the beach about Nov and then hatch Jan onwards. You cab only go to the area on a organised tour to protect the turtles.

Due to a recent flight sale we have also booked tickets to go to Rockhampton, for a few days in May, and Darwin for a week in August so are going to get to see some of Aussi. Friends of ours have moved to Emerald so we hope to get up there and see them at some stage. Tom may stay on and do some painting there.
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Over the last few months we have acquired a couple of parrots. We now have a pair of Princess parrots, and a pair of Green cheeked conure's. We hope to be able to breed them next year. They make sleeping in in the am very difficult. We are still feeding the wild birds as well so have quite a variety of wild life round here. Driving to a job on Friday Tom saw an Echinida crossing the road. I have seen snakes, Emus and a Koala since working in Pittsworth, all in the wild.

I have still being taking photos but not as many. Have learnt to be more selective and also have worked out the video function on the camera and so am having some fun with that.

I will be back in NZ again in June as am going to be a granny. Jess is due the 6th of June and all going well so far. Have not got tickets organised yet but will fly over early June and hope she doesn't have the baby early.

Well hope you are all well, and thanks for the emails.

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Jen's Newsletter for September 2006

I know it has been a while so this is just an update rather than a detailed newsletter. I am now Living in Wyreema which is about 20km out of Toowoomba. Toowoomba is 90 min inland from Brisbane and is a city of about 90,000 built on a range.

My last month or so in Mt Isa was spent mainly focusing on work. I ended up involved with the documentation side of the job and preparing the home for accreditation. This was an intersting change but very stressful.

However i did have a couple of visits to local places of interst. I finally foun d the Tent House which was a style of house used in the early days in Mt Isa to provide accomodation. it wasn't a tent but was basically a framed house of corrigated iron and planking with no windows or insulation that was easily erected for families. it is now a museum piece.

Another opportunity i had was to visit a local lady, Joyce Brogden, who is involved in the rescue and rehabilitation of injured animals, mainly kanagaroo joey's but other birds and animals as well. She has been doing this full time for the last 10 years and the most she animals she has hbad at one time were 34. The day we visited she had about 20 joeys in different stages of health and age. Theyt are all individully fed every 4hrs. Theyt have pouches made of material hung from a coathanger for the smaller ones. Some of the older ones live outside i the fenced back yard. When they are independent they are released to friends of hers who own a farmstay and live in the wild in a safe enviroment. They are a lot smaller at 10mths than I imagined they would be after seeing some of the big adults in the wild. They all had their own personailites and were differences in markings especially around their faces.

When born a baby kangaroo is about the size of a pea. The female has three nipples in her pouch and can have three joeys at different ages feeding consecutively. Certainly was an amazing experince.

I had a couple of days off to go back to Townsville. I met up with Tom there for a couple of days break. Took the train both ways this time and was lucky enough to get a berth on my own each time. We stayed across the road from the Rock pool in Townsville this time, up the top end of the Strand. Is a man made rock pool filled with sea water. Stingers/ Jellyfish are a real problem in the sea off Townsville and Cairns at certain times of the year.
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From Mt Isa I caught the Greyhound bus to Toowoomba. I left Mt isa at 6.40am on Sunday and got into Toowoomba at 7am on Monday am. It was a llllooonnng trip. Made worst by the fact that the bus was full so could not stretch out and sleep. I really enjoyed the daytime travel but the night got pretty long. There are a lot of intersting places along the way and just about every where there is a museum. I was absolutely knacked by the time I got to Toowoomba. Spent the first day sleeping.

Since arriving I have spent my time trying out jobs and trying to decide what to I started working at RSL westhaven initially. they have a great set up there and I really enjoyed the residents. However had severe second thoughts about going back into aged care. There are numerous jobs here for nurses. there are three hospitals here with acute services as well as numerous resthomes and aged care facilites. I contacted two nursing agencies, the public hopsital about casual work and stewed over numerous add's in the paper. i was told by one of the staff about a hospital at a place called Piitsworth, which is 38km from Toowoomba and about 15min from Wyreema. it used to offer full services, including emergency dept but is now mainly aged care, with 4 acute beds. they have built a new medical centre on site and are trying to get a doctor to work there and expand their services. After inital reservations I am now working there 4 days a week.

I have strted work on Tom's garden to umcover what is under the weeds, and what can grow in a drought. Has been an intersting learning curve. we are on a level 3 water restriction here so can still water the gardens twice a week between 0600 and 0900 and 4pm to 7pm. In Toowoomba they have level 5 water restictions which are extremely severe. wyreema is serviced bore water as opposed to the dam and is a much smaller area as well.

I haven't seen any live snakles yet but have seen dead ones on the road on the way to work. Apparently there are quite a few around here. Tom has three bird feeders set up in the trees ion the garden so we enjoy watching the local bird life.

I have only been to the movies once in the last 10mths but we have been out to a concert by The Deltones, They started in 1958 and one of the original memebers is still going strong. It was a good niote out and our table companions were also 'fascinating'.

We also had a trip to Brisbane and went to see the Qld Bodybuilding competition. They had a guest appearance from Ronnie Colemna who was Mr Olympia 8 times. Was amazing to see a professional body builder. However.was disappointed in the number of women contestants at the show, as there were only two women in the physique catergory. Was an interesting experience to compare the Aussi to the Kiwi.

Well I work tomorrow am and the drive to Brisbane. I am flying out to Palmerston North at 8am on Sat am. Am going from 25-30 degrees to 11 degrees. Am not looking forward to that!!

Am just going to be catching up with family this trip, so will do the friends thing next visit.

till next time.

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Jen's Newsletter for July Part 2 2006

Well another month has gone by and I still haven't caught up on last month.

I have been back in Mt Isa for a month now.

After leaving Surfers and going to Hervey Bay, we got geared up for 4 days at Fraser Island. We hired a 4 wheel drive and camping gear and headed out on the early am Ferry on the Wed am. The hire company gave us a suggested itineray for the trip which we used for the first 4 hours and then realised how impractical it was. We had to work around the tide times as beach access was restricted to two hours before and after high tide so no sea water got on the vehicles.

Our plan was to start at one end of the Island and work our way down seeing as much as possible on the way. Fraser island is a large sand dune. It measures 125km long and 15km wide. There is no rock foundation to the island, and the sand is gradually reclaming parts of the Island. All of the lakes on the Island are fresh water, and the vegtation has been blown in and settled.

Day one we ended up at the northen end of the Island at Orchid Point.On the way up we stopped at the Maheno ship wreck, Lake Wabby (which is gradually being covered in by the sand) and Lake Allon to look at the wild turtles. At Orchid point you could buy petrol and icecream. There was a small plane parked in the back yard. That night we stayed on a camp site on the beach. There were a few tents that looked like they had been there for a while and a lot of evidence of fishing. The sand dunes around this area were enormous. We were able to use the facilites provided at the camp site, which gave us a barbeque, and a lighted area.

The next day was a daylight start, to make the most of the day and work around the am tides. We set off down the beach. With luck and skill...we didn't get bogged in the sand at anytime on the trip. (I did occassionally get times behind the wheel after prying Ewan's hands off the steering wheel.) On the way down we stopped at Indian head to do some whale spotting. We may have seen the splash of one, but did get to see a stingray in the waves at the bottom of the cliff.

We stopped at the champagne pools as well. The day we stopped here was not indusive for swimming but there were English tourists in their bikini's in the water while the rest of us shivered and looked for cover out of the wind on the beach. The surf was pretty spectacular that day.That night we stayed on the beach without any amenties. We pulled up in behind the sand dunes and set up camp. Every where you went there were warnings about dingos on the Island. That night we didn't see any dingo's but did see the tracks around our campsite in the am. All food products including that stored in chilly bins had to be stored in the vehicles. A ranger had told us that Dingo's that start eating tourists food usually have to be culled within 6 months because they have become such a risk to tourists.

The third day was another early start, and this time we headed inland to the Lakes.The biggest Lake on the Island is Lake Mac Kenzie. The sands here are gleaming white and the water is incredibly blue. Was a little chilly to swim in but we Kiwis have to do it anyway.The trail from here led us into Central station which is an inland campsite near the middle of the Island. There used to be a foresrty settlement here and still evidence with the builings and machinery. You can read about the history of the Island and about the wildlife and plant life on the Island here.There is also a stream here where the water is so clear it dosen't look like there is any water in the stream bed.
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From here we kept on going down to the bottom point on the Island where vehicle access is allowed, stopping at a number of smaller lakes on the way. The highlight of my trip was on this day. We had decided to spend the last night at Central station and were heading back up the beach to the camp site when we saw our one and only Dingo. She was near the water line on the beach as we came up. Ewan stopped the vehicle and the dingo came up and walked around us. It was an amazing moment and I found out the one time you really need a point and shoot camera you don't have it.

From the beach we went back into Central station and set up camp. As this was our last night on the island and we were in the bush we tried a little spot lighting. There were some disagreements about what was actually seen and we scared away more that we saw but was a nice way to spend our last evening on the Island. It rained that night and was still raining in tne am so we packed up in the rain and headed off again. Today we had to be at the Ferry about 3pm on the other side of the island.

To finish off the trip we headed back to Lake Wabby. We had stopped at the Lake on the first day but only gone to the lookout and not down to the lake shore. This time we went down to the lake and had a swim in the rain. We were the only mad ones in the water. There were some fish in the water which we thought were some kind of cat fish but we weren't sure. As we still had time to kill we headed across to he far side toward the ferry point, and had a look at the eastern coast of the island before meeting the ferry, and heading back to Hervey Bay.

Fraser Island is an amazing place and a must for a visit. There are a large number of walking tracks on the Island, camping areas as well as resort accomodation, and privately owned houses. There are secure fenced camp grounds where you can stay, but need to book in. For me four days wasn't long enough as we only got a glimpse at everywhere and didn't have time to stay anywhere for any length of time. The weather was overcast or rainy the whole time we were there but was still an great place. The main time for whale spotting off Fraser Island is August till November so we were there a bit early.

Once back in Hervey Bay we found a two bedroomed apartment for $70 a night, which was a great place on the Esplanade,and had a shower and feed. We had two nights there and then headed back to Brisbane for Ewan, Beth and Bobby to fly out to NZ and I caught the bus inland to Toowoomba.

My original plan had been to stay a couple of nights at Tom's in Toowoomba and then fly up the coast to Rockhampton and travel by train up to Townsville over the next week. But, this didn't happen. I was a lot more tired than had expected to be by this stage so spent the first couple of days sleeping, and decided to just stay at Toowoomba till flying till Townsville on the 29 July to catch the train to Mt isa on the 3oth July.

Tom decided that he needed an apprentice so I had my first lessons in house painting. I spent some of the next week, scrapping, sanding and occassionally undercoating windows and a toilet and bathroom. I found that after about 6hrs I was exhausted and have a new found respect for painters.

On Sat am I caught the bus to Brisbane and then the train out to the airport to catch the flight to Townsville. Townsville was another great surprise. I loved the town. It is a big city but has a country feel to the place and a lot of historic builings. The tempereature was a lot higher than Toowoomba and I sweated it out for the 24hrs I was there. I had left my togs in Toowoomba so didn't get to go swimming. There are designated swimming areas off the beaches as jellyfish are a problem in the sea off Townsville. The strand area of Townsville has lots of gardens and walkway through it. I spent the Sat pm wandering through the HQ aquarium. A gorgeous place and well worth a visit. I stayed at the Globetrotters backpackers which is about 10min from the town centre. Sunday am I walked up to the train station via the town centre and the Sunday am Market. Again well worth a visit as a huge range of products , crafts and memorobilia.

The train was the Inlander from Townsville to Mt isa. It only runs twice a week and takes about 21hrs. You can get a sleeper carriage or a seat. I got a sleeper and ended up sharing with a retired nurse on her way to see grandchildren in Mt isa. The trip was comfortable and entertaining. A great way to see more of the country. We got back into Mt is at 0900 on Monday am, and I started work agin on Wed afternnon.

August in Mt Isa has been a busy month as well. Their annual rodeo was held the second weekend of August. The event lasts for 3 days here and have people from all round the country. I had requested the time off and got out to see the finals on the Sunday. (Got very sunburnt this day). I had been to rodeos in NZ but they were nothing like this. It was an amazing time and cowboys are mad!! The punishment that they put their bodies through is amazing. I took photos of the event but also found the crowd fascinating and ended up photographing people in the crowd as well.

(I subsequently entered a local potography competition and got third place in the illustartive photo section.) Back at work I had a week of afternoons and then nights and now am working mainly days to help get the Home ready for accrediatation in October. My flatmate for the last two months, Katrina Scott, completed`her contract at the end of August and I watched her pack up and ship out on Sat am. One of her son's had arrived a few days before to help her move to Cairns and see her new home. She will be sadly missed at Laura J as is one of those people who is larger than life. ( Another kiwi, but this one from Ashburton). She is setting up home with her partner, Mike, in Cairns.
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My laptop , which has been ongoing headache, finally gave up the ghost...well enough of the ghost for it to cost me more to fix it that it was worth, so have purchased a new machine. Since getting my new camera I have managed to take about 2,500 photos which I am gradually sorting through. Unfortuanley I have lost a number of photos since getting the camera through operator error. (hopefully I have made all the mistakes that i can make now)

A friend from Wellington, Jamie Pye, is going to put the photos on a web site for me so all can view. When I have got the CD to Jamie I will let you know what the web address is so you can view them.

The other news is that I have decided to shorten my contract at Laura Johnson and now finsh here at the end of Sept instead of the end of October. I have booked a flight back to NZ on the 28th Oct to Palmerston North. When I leave Mt Isa I am going to move to Toowoomba with Tom. The plan is for me to work 4 days a week and do one day a week as a painters apprentice.

I have contacted the public hospital in Toowoomba about a 6 month contract starting mid November, and met with a positive response. We have yet to set a commencement date for work, but will do it in October when I get to Toowoomba.

I am planning to spend the last month in Mt Isa going to some of the local attractions that I have not yet seen so will be another busy month. The temperatures here are creeping up already and are now in the mid 30's some days. Have to watch out for sunburn rather than frost bite here.

Hope you are all well at home and will send you my new address and contact details later in the month.

Thinking of you all.

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Jen's Newsletter for July Part 1 2006

Well it's now August and I haven't caught up with July yet. I got back to the Isa on the 1st August vready to start another three months here after having a month away.

I flew out of Mt Isa on the 1st July for Brisbane. The first night was spent with the brother of a work mate, and his wife in Coolongata. My friend from Paeroa, Ewan and his foster son, Bobby, and Ewan's mum Beth flew into the Gold Coast Airport on Sunday the 2nd July for a two week visit.

We stayed at an apartment complex in Surfers for the first week. I would highly recommend the complex. (Enderleigh Gardens). At the start of the holiday we had to do the theme park thing so spent the first three days going to Sea World, Movie World and Wet and Wild.

At Sea World I spent a lot of time looking at the polar bears with the camera attached to my face. The highlight for me was doing the Corkscrew Roller Coaster with my eyes open
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My main memory of Movie World was doing the Lethal Weapon ride, and how ill I felt afterwards. I really liked the Scooby Doo ride, while Ewan hated it, but Ewan loved Lethal Weapon, and did it twice. The boys also conquered the Superman ride which I bypassed.

Wet and Wild was a lot of fun but the only people there were the mad kiwis. It was too cold for the aussi's.

After this we quitened down a bit. Bobby went through to Brisbane to stay with his fathers family for a few days. The adults strolled around Surfers. I visited "Ripleys Believe It or Not" which was great and the Wax Museum which really wasn't worth a visit. We also went up the world's 20th tallest builing, the A1 building in Surfers. The views are 360 degrees and spectacular.

We strolled on the beach, but none of us ventured into the sea but did swim at the pool at the apartments, though I found the water a bit cool in the pool.

Another place I visited was the David Feahy Wildlife Park down in Burleigh Heads. It was well worth a visit. I had not heard of it before getting to Surfers but saw it advertised locally. The place was initally set up by David Feahy as his pivate collection, but has being since brought out/ taken over by Queensland wildlife service. I saw some amazing birds there and got to get up close and personal with Koalas, that weren't asleep.
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Ewen hired a boat and we went out cruising in the harbour. Was great to see the sea side of Surfers and the houseboats. I had never khow how many channels there were in Surfers. There are some spectacular waterways. We went to Jupiters Casino for a meal and to try my hand at gambling. Not something I am good at.

The last night there Ewan and I had a night out at Dracula's Cabaret in Surfers. This was a brilliant dinner and show. There was a gothic theme to the evening, including the waiters. (We sat at the table with a couple from Tauranga.) Hard to describe this experince. It was a combination of stand up comedy, skits and musical numbers all devoted to the subject of blood.

From Surfers we headed up the coast to Hervey Bay, picking Bobby up from Brisbane on the way. At Hervey Bay Ewen, Bobby and I stayed at a backpackers while Beth went and stayed with a friend who lives in Hervey Bay.

One of my most distinctive memories of Hervey Bay was the rosellas on the esplanade. We walked along the esplanade at dusk the first nite there and the noise the birds made was deafening. There were literally 100's of birds in the trees. We spent the next day organising transport, 4 wheel drive and camping gear, for Fraser Island. We planned to spend 3 nights and 4 days on Fraser Island. The island is a huge sand dune which is 15km wide and 125km long.

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Jen's Newsletter for June 2006

Well it is now June and nearly 6 months through the year. I sure didn't expect to still be in Mt Isa at this time....but the place grows on you. However the same can not be said for my work. The home is nearing a crisis and am not sure what is going to happen in the next few months. At the moment we still have no Director of Nursing and the General Manager finishes at the end of the month. The home is also due for accreditation in September.

As well as the management problems we have a number of staff off with ill health as the winter flu hits here as well as stress from the job takining its toll on them.

We have heard about the weather that you have had in NZ on the news here. Sounds horrific and hard to imagine when I an sitting in balmy sunshine in a tee-shirt. Anything under 12 degrees here and I am cold now. Have got real soft. Lol. (sorry just had to skite a little)

This month Tom, from Toowomba ( originally Masterton) came to stay for a week. We didn't get out as much as I would have like due to my shifts but did try and show Tom some of the local sites. We went to the lookout and were reminded of NZ by seeing the signpost for Auckland. We saw the lights of Mt Isa at night. I showed Tom round town and out for two meals at different establishments. (Tom walked more than he has in a long time.)
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While I was working Tom caught up onhis TV watching, and movies. He also did my dishes and hung out the Great to have a man around the house.

On the Saturday morning we did the surface mine tour of the working mine here at Mt Isa.Its a huge facility. Was amazing to drive round and see the scope of the business.

Saturday afternoon we drove to Cloncurry and stopped at Chinamans Dam just out of Cloncurry. I hadn't been there before and it was another spectacular body of water. Lots of bird life as well ( of the feathered kind). We stopped in at Mary Kathleen, which is a deserted mining town. All that is left is the house foundations now. We didn't see much however as weren't sure we were in the right place so didn't look around to much.

Sunday we tried 4 wheel driving in a falcon station wagon. Not recommended and ended up walking again and then went out to the park at the back of Lake Moondarra and feed the peacocks and had lunch. (I took photos of the birds.) I have really lovd getting back into photography and having Toms digital camera to play with hs been a real boon.

I have been doing more with the scrapbooking and now have 4 pages finished. Wish I ahd more pictures of people and family from home though as mostly have lanscapes and animal pics.

Tomorrow I take off from Mt Isa for a month. Am flying to Brisbane to spend two weeks with friends from NZ. From there have a couple of days with Tom and then back to Brisbane and fly up to Rockhampton. From there I have no fixed plans. Want to catch the train back to Mt Isa on the 30th July from Townsville, but will just use public transport to get to Townsville.
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The plan is to stop off at different places along the way for a few days. Imagine the time will go really fast. I can't remeber ever having a month off so am looking forward to this time, but also nervous as well. (I will arrange a check in time with Tom every day while am travelling for safety sake.)

Will send postcards from different places along the way so am taking my address book with me.I have just brought a didgital camera so will experiment with it and have lots of photos at then end as well.

At the moment I am signed back on for another 3 months here but will make a decision on that when I get back. Hard to be objective while here.

At the moment we have a scabies/lice outbreak so have treated myself and they are treating all the residents in the next few days.

I do hope the weather has settled down over there now.

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Jen's Newsletter for May 2006

Well hello again late as it may be. The original plan was to be out of here by the end of May, but as you know am now extending. The dates have changed again slightly and I now have all of July off and then do August till October, so will be home for a while in November. ( and fo my birthday). Dates to be advised.

Well I managed to get in two trips in May. The first was an open day at Cannington Mine which is about 3 hrs south of here. They providied bus transport for the day. We left Mt Isa at 6.30 in the am. (Note this time well as this was a day off). The mine is a silver mine. It was opened in 1997 after silver was discovered here in 1992. Its estimated close date is 2014.

They mine silver and lead which is mixed when brought to the surface and separated off site. This mine is 650 metres deep and the mining company lease covers 7860 heactares. We were very restricted in where we could go and what we could see, but they were very welcoming and friendly.

Aproximately 1,000 staff are employed there and they work on a 7 on 7 off roster. Each shift is 12 hours. The staff live off site and are flown in for there work. Most live in Townsville, Cairns or Mt Isa. While on site there are single cabins that they use for the week and then someone else moves in on their days off so there are no personal effects and everything has to be taken from the room on their days off. The site has a swimming pool, sports area and fully furnished gym. None look like they get used much. The nearsest town is Mc Kinlay and that is about 30 min drive away. There is nothing around the mine except desert. Would be a diificult life style and one i cannot imagine living.

They are very enviromentally conscious and everything is reclycled, they even had a worm farm. The water for the site comes from artesian bores about 13km from the mine and power is generated onsite by 28 generators. They providied us with a barbeqcue lunch and then a quiz game afterwards before packing us all back onto buses and sending us back to Mt is and Cloncurry. (Was a 12 hour day.) I did get to see a camel in the wild on the way back from the bus window and a snake which was crossing the road.

On the 16th to 18th of May I went on a guided tour to a little piece of heaven. The trip was into Lawn Hill National Park which is about 3 hrs north east of Mt Isa. Our accomodation was at a place called Adels Grove. If you ever get the chance this place is well worth a visit. Your only access is during the winter months as during the wet season (summer) they are otfen closed off due to flooding.
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The trip in was an adventure on it's own. We stopped off at the site of an old boarding school. All the remains now is a memorial stone. We learnt about some of the history of the place from our aboriginal guide, Harry. From there we stopped at Riversleigh which is a fossil site about 50km form Adels. There were mainly fossils of crocodiles , "Big Birds" ( looked like moas) and turtles and from there we got to Adels Grove. There is quite a history to the place. Adels is named after a frenchman Albert de Lestang he took over the property in 1920 as an experimental Botanical Garden. Quoting from the info handout we got "Albert planted many speices of trees and shrubs and supplied the Botanical gardens of the world with the seeds produced by his nursery. The Botanical gardens in Brisbane still had 536 different samples of seeds sent to them by Albert." He also had a vegetable garden on site. "In the early 1950"s a fire swept through the grove while Albert was absent ( some say deliberately lit) destroying everything including his dwelling and trunk containing all of his research papers". By this time Albert ws in his early 70's and sucmbed to depression.

Albert spent his lasy years in a Chatters Towers nursing home and died at the age of 75. There is still some evidence of the botanical gardens that Albert planted and some exotic looking flowers. Another reason people come to this area is becuse of the bird life. Even though we didn't see that many the birds could certianly be heard here.

The second day we spent at Lawn Hill National Park which is 10km from Adels. The river is fed from a natural spring and the water is warm all year round. We went swimming while there. There are canoes available for hire to paddle up to the Indarra Falls, as well as numerous walks around the Park. We spent the morning doing a couple of the walks and then spent the afternoon on the river. A most exotic day.

I have to say something about my travelling companions. I was so lucky to have them. My first reaction was surprise as had expected a younger age group to do this trip.Our average age was 68. There was Bill Hunter, 75 from Sydney way. He is a physyicist by trade and a widower of 4 years. He was travelling North to see his daughter up near the cape and doing this trip enroute.

The other two were a couple from Nousa. They have lived in a retirement viilage for the last 17 years and have seen most of Austrlia by train since their retirement. Ken was 79 and Jocelyn his wife was 74. Jocelyn found some of the walks tiring, but was definietly a personality to be reconked with on the trip. We had a wonderful time and they were marvellous travelling companions.

Adels provided breakfast, and the evening meal and Harry providied the other meals for us, with tea and coffee on the side. The accomodation was amazing. They have semi permanet tent sites which are set up on a wooden platform and contain single or double beds, with bedside table and night light. The toilets were longdrops but there was a flush toilet in the office block where the dinning room was. There was also a shower block and hot running water. They had avaliable tent sites and areas for motor homes as well, and you could rent a tent from the office so all levels of accomodation are providied for.

I am definitely planning another trip back there for a longer stay!!
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To finish the month off a group of us from work took part if a road rally as a fund raiser for the home. We won the prize for the best dressed vechicle and were also the first back.The

idea was to answer clues along the way. We didn't get the most right but we weren't the worst either. He he. We had a great day.

The last day out was to a car show put on by the local Car Restoration club. I have some amazing photos of the vehicles on display so if you are interested contact me and will send a CD. ( Jess and Willam will send on to each of you)

Well that has been my month, with lots of shift work in between. The weather is still glorious and not like any winter I've ever had in NZ.

I have attached a few photos so hope you enjoy.

Till next time.

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Jen's Newsletter for April 2006

Hello there from Mt Isa. Well we are heading into Winter here as you are. There is bit of a difference between yours and mine is significant. We are having days off 24-26 degrees and sunshine whereas I hear you are having rain and Sorry just had to gloat a little.

Anyway have had a quieter month in April. I have moved back into the flat after staying with the boss for a few weeks. It was lovely having a pool in the back yard and a dog to walk. ( Have a few pictures of Bundy in the pool).

Work has been steady but still busy. There are a few changes happening there as the Director of Nursing left in April and as yet we have no replcement. Also there was a delay in one of the RN's returning from holiday due to ill health and we got a new RN starting. She is a kiwi but has been in Aussi a long time and married to an Australain. They are based in Brisbane but she travels all round Aussi and is currently planning a trip to London. She is 68 years old.
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On Easter friday I was lucky enough to be able to borow a friends car and did a day trip to Boulia. They have an annual rodeao there which is a big event. This year there was some doubt as to whether or not it would go ahead due to the rain and flooding caused by cyclone larry. They rely on the tourists and visitors to come to the event. Boulia has a populaton of 300. It is a small community which relies on the rodeo and the camel races in July to bring in money to the township and businesses.

Boulia is 300km from Mt Isa along the MinMin highway. The "highway" is a single lane road with gravel each side and definitely somewhere where you don't want to meet a road train. On the way to Boulia I saw 8 vehicles in 3 hours. The landscape is definitely different from anywhere you will see in NZ. Were stretches of absolutely nothing and I stopped to take photos because there wqs so little, and then in the middle off all this open space there were regular grids. (cattlestops). mostly with no fences attached..

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Jen's Newsletter for March 2006

Sorry about the late news. It has been an interesting month here. I have moved out of the house I was sharing at work for a couple of weeks. Have been housesitting at one of the bosses houses, with pool and dog, but no phone line. She is moving later in the year to join her family in Townsville.

I have a laptop now that is up and running so am trying to keep up with my emails more often. Not that am doing a good job of it anyway. Thanks for those that send me news and updates from NZ. Is great to hear about how things are going back there.

We didn't get the wind or damage from cyclone Larry but we did get rain. Had lots and lots of rain and were cut off for a few days but no where near as bad as Northern Territories. The temperature here dropped into the low 20's. I couldn't believe how cold I get now after being here a couple of months. Was wearing three layers on night duty because I was so cold. lol.

It has warmed up again and am still going swimming in the outdoor pool here during the day, and was lying in the sun this afternoon reading.
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Anway back to news. Haven't done much touristy stuff in the last month. Have tried out the line dancing and found I really enjoyed it. Still getting to tennis every now and then. I had the loan of a car for a few days last weekend and went for a drive to Cloncurry.It is the nearest town to here. Is about 120 km from here. Looks like the outback Aussi I imagined. The country was really green after the reccent rains and the road was windy, which was a nice surprise. We didn't see a single kangaroo. I went with one of the girls from work and we had tea at a local pub, had a look round town and then came home. They have a museum in Cloncurry of the early days of the Flying Doctors. There is also a museum based around the town called Mary Kathleen. It was a town based around a uranium mine that closed down. Now there is nothing left except the ruins of the houses. We actually drove past the turnoff bothe there and back abd didn't see it. We are going to plan a day trip and go back and see things when they are open. This trip was after work at 4.30pm.

Over Easter there are a lot of Rodeos around the country. The nearest to us is Boulia which is 300 km from here. If I can obtain a car I hope to go down on Friday for the day as am working the rest of Easter.

The 16-18 May I plan to do a trip up to Lawn Hill National Park with a tour group from Mt Isa. Am looking forward to that. This is the tourist season in Mt Isa so there are more things on over the next few months and some exibits open now. For instance the Underground Hopsital.

I have finally walked up o the local lookout which has a sign post of dirrerent cities all round the world, including Auckland. Am totally disorientated with my North and South, so confused with directions.

My contract was due to finish on the 30th May. I have extended it till the 30th July. From there the plan is to have a month off in August and then come back for another 3months so will finish up here at the end of November. From there I will definitely move on, probably to the coast. I plan to be home in the last 2 weeks of August and will be based in New Plymouth. During my time in NZ I plan to finfish off somegthing that I started last year. Body Buiilding.

The gym that i have joined in Mt Isa has a trainer that is a bodybuilder. He is 61 yrs old and started training for 17yrs. He gets placed at most competetions that he enters. I am going to take this opportunity to get this out of my system and get it completed. There is a competition on the 19th August 2006 in Palmerston North. I will come over in time to do the competitiona and then have a break afterwrds.

So thats my news for now.

have got some photos on disc and hope to get them posted soon to you.

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