Thursday, May 22, 2008

OK universe, we hear you!

This is the first blog entry that hasn't involved us piling into the car and driving a 6 hour return trip! No, we didn't scamper off to the block rather than going to work (not that we aren't tempted each and every morning!). Today, I got an envelope in the mail!

About two months ago I sent an email off into the ether in the general direction of the Anglican Church Archives in Brisbane, posing questions about our block, the church we have been told was there and the burial. I had long given up hope that I would get a response, imagining my email sitting in some dusty inbox in the depths of the archives with not even an ape-like librarian to take care of it.

Then out of the blue a few days ago I got a reply that succinctly questioned my postal address as information previously posted in response to my question had been returned, addressee unknown. I replied with my work postal address and jeepers if an envelope didn't arrive today!

It contained four pieces of paper, a lovely purple with comps slip, a two page photocopy of The Crow's Nest Parish Paper - February 1947 (notice the apostrophe in Crows!) and a printout from the Crows Nest Parish Year Book 1911-1952.

The printout reads as follows:

"1911 - Year Book indicates dedication in 1911.
1953 - CLOSED and building moved to Maclaglan (Oakey Parish History).
P&F Report 1953 - At the request of the Parish officials and after proper investigation, permission has been given for the removal of the Anduramba Church in the Parish of Crows Nest for re-erection on the new church site at Maclagan in the Parish of Oakey.
P&F Report 1975 - Permission to sell the site of the former church which was closed twenty years ago and the building removed."

The Parish Paper lists the Parish Churches including St Hilda the Abbess, Anduramba. It has this excerpt:

"ANDURAMBA: Services here have improved immensely. We look forward to having our church here filled for the monthly services very soon. Our thanks to the women folk who recently gave the church a thorough cleaning and polishing. There are whispers of other things to come at St Hilda's and as interest grows, more will be done."

Could those whispers have been - hey lets take this church away! Who knows. But by the end of my reading here we have more information. The church was called St Hilda's and we have confirmed dates of its existence and removal. And a location where it currently is!

I jumped straight on the web to see if by chance I could stumble across a photo of the church in its new home, only to meet with immense frustration. The keen eyed of you may have noticed that in the yearbook printout above the new location of the church has two distinct spellings:

or Maclagan

Impatient to the end I quickly typed the first option, not noticing the differences and was thwarted! Not a single google response to a town called Maclaglan. How could this be I thought? This is simply not possible! So back to the Anglican archives I went to check if they still registered a church there, was it still a town? Yes, it was, but now according to the Anglicans with an e - Maclagen. Confused much? Imagine how the people who actually live there feel!

So search for that I do - and still nothing, nada, zip! In frustration, in fury, I return to the paper and in midst curse of the tree it was pulped from, I notice the difference... one l, not two! Maclagan. So back to google and success! Hundreds, no thousands of results, mostly completely useless but confirmation that the place exists! It has a general store, public toilets (thank you Commonwealth Government Public Toilet Maps) and if I really wanted to I could buy realestate there! It turns out that Maclagan is a small town west of Crows Nest (now part of the Toowoomba Mega Council, so technically our neighbours!), just south of the Bunya Mountains in Rosalie Shire. And there are three churches there! So a new adventure has been added to our list of things to do! We will definitely have to head out to see what St Hilda looks like!

And Saint Hilda! Next step on my researching oddysey was to find out a little more about the church's namesake. I was happily reading away on Saints and Angels dot com about a strong willed young royal who commanded armies of men when my eye drifted to the top of the page and the entry:

Feastday - November 17

For the non-Flowers of the readers that is none other than Dominic's birthday! Yep! The one day of the year when all good practicing religious types venerate the life of our Hilda, is also the day we venerate the life of our Dominic!

OK Universe We Hear You Already!

This uncanny coinkydink follows on from some other strange goings on - some of you will have heard the stories, others perhaps not. There was the large black crow that overflew us on a visit to the block, circled, landed in the tallest tree of the block, grasped us in his beady eye and cawed with command. Then flew off. Ok - we thought, the crows of Crows Nest know we are here.

Then there was the trip to the bottle shop just after returning from the trip to the block where we met Tom, our neighbour. Contemplating the reds, I spied a lovely bottle with the name Church Block and in excitement called Dom over to see! Only to have pointed out by him that right next to it on the shelf was a bottle called 80 Acres. The significance I hear you asking? Only that we have bought The Old Church Block and our lovely neighbour Tom is the proud owner of eighty acres! Couldn't make it up if I tried!

So stay with us on this magical mystery tour! Who knows where we will end up!

Oh and a quick postscript - have been in contact with the council in Toowoomba and have had confirmation that no planning permission is required for dam and swale earthworks, and we will be able to live in a caravan on the block for up to one year during construction! Yay!

We have been working on home designs also and are pretty happy with our latest concoction, a longhouse-pod hybrid. Check it out below (click on it for a larger version).

Do do do do do do do do Do do do do do do do do Do do do do do
(the theme to the x-files!)

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Unexpected guests for breakfast...

Another Sunday evening and feeling tired from a weekend at the block. We went for an overnight stay this weekend with Luke, Chris and Sue, adding to the lengthening list of family member visitors to our place.

Dom, Luke and I got off to a great start leaving the coast at 6:00am and with a couple of junk food stops on the way got to the block mid morning to set up camp.

We noticed the region was a lot drier than on any of our previous visits, but still dramatically beautiful. A comparison below shows the Anduramba Hall now and on our last visit:

Driving up to our gate we could see a few strange lumps scattered across the long grass. On closer inspection these turned out to be four confused cows and two curious horses! Our neighbor Tom's stock were set in for a weekend of their own on our land and had been rudely disturbed by our arrival! For a self confessed horse and cow phobic this presented a new challenge! Watched closely by the stock, we opened the gate and Luke navigated his way around bovine and horse alike to drive up to the shed.

Then came yet another comic attempt at animal wrangling as Dom and Luke confidently harahed and waved hands to move the animals back down the slope to Tom's place and the security of a fenced field. I stumbled about keeping a safe distance (100 metres or so seemed good to me!). The horses figured out the plan pretty quickly and did what they were told. The cows had different ideas (or more likely, no ideas at all!) and scattered one way and then another with their herd-brain in synch, and at no time looked to be heading for home.

Eagle eyes will spot the tiny-Dom demonstrating long-distance cow wrangling.

So in the end we settled for them being not where we wanted to pitch the tents and that was that. I should note; however, that prior to the wrangling, I did manage a minor breakthrough of touching the nose on the bolder horse ever so gently!

We set to erecting our tents, got the camp kitchen set up and the fire stocked.

After a grand tour for Luke it was time for some snoozing and relaxing and further wood gathering. By mid afternoon we headed into town to check out the annual Crows Nest show. The $12.00 entry fee was a bit steep, but who can complain when the money will go towards the community. We wandered about the pavilion checking out local art works, prize winning vegetables and even a prize winning bucket of wheat! We stopped by the poultry shed and checked out some beautiful and some strange poultry and bumped into a beautiful placid great dane who was feeling a little down after not winning the day.

There was a small sideshow alley and the required wood chopping zone.

Preparations were in place for the night's events which were going to include a lawn mower grand prix! It was decided that only a pluto pup could round off our country show experience and searched and searched to no avail! Who could have predicted, not a deep fried, batter wrapped sausage to be found. So we left the show grounds and went into town to await the arrival of Chris and Sue. Dom ducked into the local cheap shop to pick up a couple of pillows (inconveniently forgotten by us in our pre-dawn packing!) and we sat in the town square to wait.

Soaring interest rates are forcing young people to live on park benches with cheap shop pillows as their only comfort.

The undisputed rock golf champion of Crows Nest.

A phone call to Sue revealed that they would not arrive for another hour, so a quick trip out to Lake Perseverence filled the time, driving past the local model airplane club dogfighting their way above a field.

We met Chris and Sue at the local caravan park where they had rented a cabin and decided a night of fire gazing was called for, so popped into the local fisho to grab some dinner and then headed out to the block. It was well into dusk when we arrived so a quick glance about was all that our latest visitors had time for before we settled into our fish and chips and an evening of discussion and planning and wine and beer! Chris and Sue headed home, while the younger generation kept the fire company (and the beer from freezing) into the night.

After a restless, cold night we awoke to find we had unexpected guests for breakfast. The horses had returned, right to the middle of our camp and the cows were loitering around the edges!

Celebrity chef - Anduramba style.

The horses seemed very interested in our morning coffee brew and whatever it was that we were preparing for our first breakfast, so we generously gave them an apple each in the hope they would be satisfied. They weren't of course, and added to their intruding behaviours the cruel trick of walking up behind a horse-o-phobe as she sat peacefully reading in the morning sun and snuffling in her ear!

After a stern word or two, they got the point and wandered off to greener, less human dominated pastures.

Chris and Sue arrived just as the boys were launching operation 'dig-a-hole' the goal of which was to figure out the make up of our sub soil. Good news apparently, they hit clay after only a few inches and with a mini-dam water test, confirmed that our land may be suitable for the creation of a stable dam in the future.

We cooked up a delicious breakfast and enjoyed the serenity for a while.

Chris and Sue were taken on the grand tour and were satisfyingly impressed! Then it was all hands on deck to pack up camp and we returned to town to check out Salts (this has become a habit!)

We were having a lovely time wandering around the store and Chris was explaining the ins and outs of recognising a quality piece, when the grumpy shop-keep (not the usual jovial host) approached us and insinuated that we were damaging his stock. Not a pleasant experience for any customer, so we withdrew our custom and thus ended the visit on a slightly sour note. My advice now would be to peer in the window before entering and if you spot a jovial brit brandishing his hands as he entertains his customers with tales then enter, but if you see a grumpy grandpa scowling down from his lofty perch, then leave him be.

So home again now, and we are more convinced than ever that the right plan would be to convert the on-site shed (with the addition of a caravan?) for living, until we are certain of what we want in a house and where we want it. I will have to contact the council soon to determine if this will be possible. It seems the logical choice!

Note: some of the images in this post must be attributed to this photographer. As he is a Software Engineer we cannot show his face.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Perm Your Culture

A couple of weekends ago we acted on an invitation to visit a working permaculture food forest just north of Brisbane, and it was enlightening to say the least! Luke's friends Baz and Bec were our wonderful hosts and guides for the two day visit. Not only was it a lovely, relaxing, gastronomically rewarding venture, but our eyes were opened to the permie way of life and the necessity of swales! I'll let the pictures (and my clumsy captioning) do the talking.

Shakespeare's Macbeth taunting sister-witches had nothing on this brew stirrer!

What is the opposite of the Socratic method of teaching? Well this was it! As we wandered Baz peppered us with information and we tagged along trying to absorb, collect or store each nugget. Luckily Dom had a lot of pockets, great for storing knowledge.

An engine room, but no di-lithium crystals! These are the cool worm farms, beautifully constructed.

And busy reconstituting household and garden leftovers into beautiful, healthy, sweet smelling soily goodness.

And on to the hot worm farm for the Ibiza worms.

Really the image says it all in the remaining 986 words. Produce, being produced. Wonderful!

- They call this the Popcorn plant.
- Why do they call it that?
- Why, because it smells like popcorn.
- Gaaaarn!
- Come and have a sniff.
- Gad! That smells just like popcorn!

Even in the most practical of spaces is beauty, launching herself unashamedly into the sky. Oh, and it reminds me of a fern, which reminds me of New Zealand, which reminds me of pineapple lumps... now where are you growing the pineapple lumps?

I grew up in a town where sugar cane meant occasional fantastical fires that seared the eyelashes off a seven year old, followed by a day of black snow and stinging eyes after a morning bike ride to school, the occasional super-mother-load of a passing cane train sporadically dropping juicy, chewy sticks of joy, and of course the gut-wrenchingly putrid smell of whatever it is they do with the molasses... but not here. Here it is beautiful, a wind break, doing something fantastic with...umm nitrogen (next time I shall take notes, next time I shall take notes) and providing mulch a go-go.

Likewise, the lady finger banana, a cruel joke to any true banana lover, here provides a beautiful vista as the sun glints through the draping leaves, but also acts as a windbreak, is undergoing some sort of scientific process under its toes and to top it all off provides a tasty treat to the big dogs (horses...).

And now we are on to the good stuff! A group of lovely ladies jut itching to provide their owners with eggs benedict, scrambled eggs, omelettes, and maybe even a pavlova or two. And of course, Mr Rooster, ensuring that all that we take is the eggs.

And, the most important element of all. The water. This beautiful dam, fed by a pride-of-place swale is the source of all secure life. And the observant of you will notice the two Baz's. Perhaps this is my homage to the man who didn't seem able to stand still, who had his choppers out of his pocket every chance he got to mulch away and who disappeared around a magical corner in the food forest before you could finish asking, where is the diet coke plant to go with my popcorn plant? Or is it just that he moved in the middle of my panorama construction? Or is that, really, in essence the same thing?

Thanks Baz, thanks Bec, thanks lovely little dogs, and no thanks big dogs, please stay on your side of the fence!

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