Monday, December 31, 2007

First Stay at the Block

We have just returned from our first stay at the block. We took up tent and tarps, dogs and tins of food for a few days leading up to New Years.

We arrived on Saturday morning after a bright and early start and dream trip up, and picked up Linda and Ray in Crows Nest. We drove out with them in tow and set straight into setting up the home-away-from-home. Battling against a gale rushing up through the valley we got our tarp and tents up, equipment out and set in to relax. Ahh the serenity....NOT!

Cicadas are lovely, but thousands of them, all screaming at the top of their lungs, or should that be wings, can be a little unnerving! Barely had we got the camp set up when a white ute (there is an unnamed (as far as I know) white ute club in the area... we shall have to find out the initiation process so we can get one too) pulled up at the gate and a cowboy and his two dogs got out. Turns out our neighbour Tom, had heard about our purchasing the block from our mate, Geoff (the real estate agent) and popped over to say G'Day when he saw us setting up. I love it already! He gave us a welcome and was off again, into his white ute.

Dom got a lovely fire going and we settled in for a night of alternate flame and star gazing.

Off to bed next with two large dogs and two humans in a small tent. We survived until morning, that is if you can call 5:00am morning! Some may call it night! We had a little breakfast then off into town to meet Bethany, Alex and the kids.

With them in tow, again back to the block for some walking about and bragging and walking about. After they left it was time for fire-pit-phase-two with the help of some local rocks and another roaring blaze of warmth.

Linda and Ray joined us in the rough that night and we awoke to the patter of rain on the roof, I mean tarp! We released the dogs from the confines of the tent, only to hear Woof, Woof, Snarl, Moo! The neighbour's cows had approached the fence adjoining our properties and one had escaped out onto the road. BJ and Gypsy did their best intimidating run and bark but were called off and Dom made his best attempt at cow wrangling, to no avail. Apparently he doesn't speak cow! It turns out also that it wasn't in fact a cow, but a grumpy young bull, which explains the shaking of head, stamping of feet and general grumpiness. It's owners were down shortly after to show us how cow-wrangling should be done. Which apparently involves lots of walking about with dogs, opening and closing of fences and exasperated hand actions! Dom wandered down and met the female half of our neighbours. He found out that the grave site on our block is not that of an elderly lady as we thought but of a young child who had died from Diphtheria in the late 1920's. The roads were too wet for her to be taken to be buried in Crows Nest so she had been buried on the church block.

With the news of bad weather on the coast that Alex had brought, in our minds, we decided we had had the best of things and home was calling.

It was fabulous to stay there for a few days, great to meet our lovely neighbours. Every time we go the land seems to increase in size and so do our dreams! Here are some lovely panoramas that Dom took of the block. If you print them out wrap them around your head and spin, you could imagine you are there! Larger versions can also be found here:

Sunday, December 2, 2007

First Weekend in 'The Crow'

This past weekend we had our first visit to our block as owners. It was quite a nervous start to the journey, with our car playing up and a quick visit to the friendly mechanic on the way up. Way to boost the confidence when you have a 2 hour drive and a mountain climb ahead of you. Luckily, we recently joined RACQ with these soon-to-be-more-frequent trips in mind so off we confidently traveled.

Only to become lost. Yes it is possible for two adult professionals to become lost while driving along two major motorways, that are very well signposted. We got an up close view of the Amberley Air Force Base, but not too close I hope! and then we were back on track and heading for 'home'.

Here is the road between Toowoomba and Crows Nest:

And my pink dashboard monkey! A beautiful treelined road draws you into town, via Highfields. We stopped off to see if we could shake hands with Geoff, our local friendly real estate agent but couldn't track him down so headed out for the ceremonial shed opening!

The road between Crows Nest and our block is a weaving, winding, climbing, dropping, sometimes gravel, sometimes bitumen road with the most glorious views (and some cows) for about15 minutes:

And to prove that we didn't just snaffle those pics from the web:

We turned the final corner and arrived at Our Place! First impression was, 'Wow this is bigger than we remember!'. We clambered through the fence past the friendly sign left by the previous owner:

and spent a while just wandering around, soaking up the serenity and dodging the dozens of locusts (!) that sprung up into the air with every step. First lesson learned - don't walk into the wind while locusts are trying to flee you, unless you like locust-in-the-face. We tried the various views on for size as to where the house would go, visualised the rows of garden beds dutifully providing us with food and well being and then came the time to open the shed! With our keys in hand (hastily couriered down to us on Friday as the solicitor 'forgot' to post them to us....) it was time to bypass yet another friendly sign:

and to our great surprise we found not an empty shed full of spiders and webs but a shed full of things and spiders and webs!
It would appear that the previous, friendly sign-writing owner had intended to fit out the shed for living. Inside, seen through the webs and spiders and if you avoided looking at the mutant, three and half legged-huntsman on the basin top (no - he wasn't dead, he just faked like he was until we started moving things around, and then he proved that three and a half legs are better than none!) were a bathroom basin, sideboard full of plates and cups, baking trays and a plastic bag full of matchbooks! Also, a shower base and fittings, miscellaneous containers, lots of water containers, mirrors, windows, chairs and an umbrella!

So we are now the proud owners of a lot of 'things'!

After exploring the shed a little, with one eye on Mr Mutant in his 'i'm dead therefore I am harmless charade' we went back out to take some photos:

And there it is! Once we realised there really wasn't much else that we could do, we made our way back to town and dropped in to visit the world famous Salt's Antiques, the most incredible antique shop I have ever been too, and future source, I would think, of a number of our prized pieces!

Across the road to The Grand Old Crow for a 'pint' was next and ten minutes were spent evenly divided by being stared at and ignored by the locals as we downed our bevies in solitude.

Then it was off to the Crows Nest Motel, where the friendly owner hooked us up with a room and we relaxed until dinner, back at the Old Crow for a delicious steak and choose your own vegies, followed by a game of pool.

We also checked out the Crows Nest National Park camping area, but saved the walks for one of our spare days some time in the rest of our life!

Sunday morning, we awoke, enjoyed our breakfast, thanks to the friendly motel owner once again, and made our way to the once-a-month markets in the showgrounds. We started a chat with a local nursery man, his array of berry vines and fruit trees was enough to get Dominic started, and made a new local friend. Dom is now comfortably happy that his dream of bowls of fresh berries for breakfast will be a reality.

We headed home from there, and managed to get back without any sidetracks. Home again now and at least five degrees hotter! Missing the silence and the sense of belonging, but motivated to get started on research and planning and some more research. There is so much ahead of us, the scope of what we have planned to do is now visible, and somewhat frightening. But do-able.

We would appreciate any comments, questions, advice that you would like to provide, and plan to update here when things happen, or when we have an inspiration or when we are screaming in frustration. Hope you enjoy the ride!

See you at the Crow!

Katrina and Dominic

How we ended up here.

About three months ago, we took a drive to a little town called Crow's Nest, just 30 minutes northish of Toowoomba in Regional South East Queensland.

For a number of months we had been scouring the internet for cheap rural land, and dreamed of 'one day' buying our own piece of Australia, building a house and living the 'good life'. We saw an interesting looking block listed as 'The Old Church Block' and decided, why not take a Saturday drive and check it out. Our thinking was that we could get a feel for the area, so that at some indeterminate time in the future when we were in the position to buy some land we would have an idea of where to go.

Of course, we should have known better, and ten hours later, after having bypassed the 'trespassers will be shot' sign and wandering about the two acres, complete with shed and bush toilet, we were on the phone to our parents 'negotiating' the support required to make it ours.

And that is how we ended up here. As of Friday November 23 2007 we are the proud owners of two and a bit beautiful acres of Australia.


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