birch's around oz

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Westward bound

Well, it has been over a week since we last blogged and we have had a wonderful time travelling home across the Nullabor. After Dad and Mum leaving to fly home to Perth, and us leaving Jamestownwe headed over to Port Augusta for the night and then on to Streaky Bay. That is a GREAT place to relax and rest. We had two fantastic sites right on the beach and the kids had a super time making sandcastles, finding cockles and then having a water fight! It was a great weekend there and we really enjoyed the rest after a busy few weeks catching up with people.

The weather was cool so we took a drive to see Murphy's Haystacks - some interesting rock formations out in the paddock - these were great for climbing and sliding down (according to the kids!). And then we drove on to Point Labat to see the only mainland colony of sea lions. Well, they have a hard life - lying on the beach and then shuffling to the water for a swim and then shuffling back up to the beach for a lie in the sun - talk about doing it tough!

Our time in Streaky Bay was a perfect end to our restful holiday and a good way to get ready for the long trip across the Nullabor. On Monday we set out and made it to the border that night, stopping at Bunda Cliffs for a look at the Bight and cliffs on the way. It is always awe inspiring to be on the edge of the country and see the majestic rugged remoteness of this land we live in.

Crossing the border was exciting, our first time on WA soil in 300 days and there was a big cheer all around!! We had a night at Eucla and had fun climbing the old Telegraph Station ruins in the morning, amongst the sand dunes. The kids hadn't quite adjusted to WA time so were awake at 4.30am and ready to go be 6am - that was a long day, but made very bearable by the wonderful company we shared together on the way.

The endless kms stretched ahead but the kids read, played lego, talked and watched dvd's with their cousins, what a wonderful trip it was. We got to Balladonia the next night and free camped just passed there. It was an awesome spot out in the bush, away from the road, in the red dirt and under a velvety black sky speckled with stars that looked like diamonds across the expanse, with one or two falling and leaving a trail of light in their wake - STUNNING!!

After that night it was on to Kalgoorlie for a few days which included going to the Super Pit and watching a blast - what a massive hole that is!! We went up to the look out reservoir and learnt more about the C Y O'Connor Pipeline and most importantly we celebrated Josie's 11th Birthday by hitting the local water slides and enjoying them all to ourselves for a few hours, before being treated to the best and longest lighting/thunder show we have seen in a long time . The storm went for about 4 hours and was frightening for some and thrilling for others! Happy Birthday Josie.

On Saturday we were up early and ready to go by 6.30am, it was the day to head home to Perth. We were VERY sad to say goodbye to the de Vries as they headed off to Muckinbudin and we were off to Perth, but our weeks together have been memorable, leaving us with the wish to "do it all again sometime soon!"

We drove home with minimal stops and arrived to a wonderful reception about 3.30pm on Saturday. It was so GREAT to see our family again, those who had driven out to meet us and those who gathered with balloons, poppers and streamers to welcome us, what a blessing it is to have such a wonderful family to come home to.

And that was yesterday! We all enjoyed sleeping in our own beds last night and going along to church today to see friends and family who had followed our journey via blog. What a great day.

We must say, having lived so minimally for this year, it was a shock to see all our boxes full of STUFF we really don't need and haven't really missed. It made us realize we make life about so many things that are not important and we hold onto much that is really not going to make a eternal difference for us. How good to remember it is people that turn God's heart and it is for His Kingdom that we live. Here's to the next adventure that we will have for Him and His glory as we look to 2011! We hope you will continue in your adventures as well - with enthusiasm, zest and fulfillment.

Praise the Lord for 37,000km driven safely, wonderful sights seen and incredible memories to hold on to. God is so good.

Friday, November 26, 2010


This last week has been very memorable as we have stayed with Dad's cousin on the farm out of Jamestown. John and Pam are typical country folk who are VERY hospitable and we were so blessed by our time spent with them. We have listened to lots of stories about their antics when they were young and even got to see some footage of when Dad was only 3, out with his father and grandfather on the seeder - that is priceless material!

We went to church where Dad initially when as a youngster and where there is a beautiful stained glass window dedicated to Dad's Uncle Victor who died in WWII. There were some lovely folk at church who remember Dad's parents and had lots of stories to tell and things to share about life in Jamestown in the 1930's and 40's.

We took a drive to the farm - Glazenwood - where Dad grew up and even got to see the farm house, and take a walk through it reliving the memories of the old wood stove, the cellar and the sheds that Dad and his brothers helped build. We drove past Dad's Ma Ma's house where he lived for a few years while attending high school in Jamestown (and where he snuck out to the pictures one night, which Ma Ma wasn't very impressed about!) We visited some more locals and the local swimming pool as it was a hot day.

The kids have had a WONDERFUL time playing lego, riding bikes and the motorbike, rounding up sheep and then sending them back to the paddock, shooting off rockets as well as feeding the chooks, collecting the eggs and feeding the pet lamb -named Shawn the sheep!

We took a day trip to Peterborough and some visited the local Motorbike museum and antique gallery (Mum was shocked to find many things which they called antique were things that she used to use only 40 years ago!) and some of us went to Steamtown, which is the museum dedicated to the development of the train system through South Australia and particularly when some 100 trains used to come through Peterborough each day, to be directed north, south, east and west and to be serviced etc.

It was a very busy place and the Sound and Light show we went to one evening gave a fantastic historical overview of what these days of steam meant to the area and the way it built the town up to 7000 people, with thriving businesses and busy workers. And then how the demise of steam meant the closure of so many businesses and now a town with only 1700 people. It really was a wonderful era and the men worked so hard loving the sound of the whistle and the smell of the steam - Jerome loved all this of course.

Peterborough is the only place in Australia where the three gauges - standard, narrow and broad all exist together and are all on the large turntable at the train yards. It was here that many trains were unloaded and reloaded so that the train with its passengers and goods could continue on, with so many changes of gauge throughout the country - SA, Vic were broad, NSW standard and Qld, WA were narrow, I think, here was where much work was done in train travel and transport.

This has been a truly wonderful week and our time with family here in Jamestown has been special and very memorable. We have loved seeing the sights that were held dear by Dad when he was growing up, and we have greatly enjoyed hearing the stories and reminiscing that created his life in the early years before the family left for WA in 1955, when Dad was 17. We can learn so much from history and it has been so wonderful for us to get to know Dads family over here, they are such generous people, cooking wonderful meals and sharing their home with us all. The kids are all wanting to come back for another visit some time in the future, so who knows maybe we will!

On our last night we were blessed to see a most fantastic rainbow arched across the sky, it was long and high and most brilliantly coloured. It was a reminder to us that no matter what we face today, no matter what difficult situation we might be in, or what trying circumstance surrounds us, God is ALWAYS faithful to the promises of His Word, He is not shifting like our emotions or feelings, He is our Rock to which we can turn to in the midst of our trials and He will give us the strength to see us through. He is faithful.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


We have had a fantastic week enjoying South Australia and also the company of family and friends. We were in Adelaide for a few days and visited with our friends, the Wuttke's - Adrian had organized a group to come over to the MMC this year and they have all been very blessed and encouraged by that. We had some wonderful fellowship and we really enjoyed going to church with them. The kids all got involved in the family service with a guest kids Musician which made it fun and interactive.

We took the tram to Glenelg on a sunny Sunday and enjoyed the beach side of Adelaide. The wind was cool down on the coast, but we all enjoyed the ride and our lunch down there. Then we went into the city for a look and to the Botanic Gardens which had huge Morton Bay Fig trees to climb on. It was a nice day out and about.

Monday saw us go to Belair National Park for a picnic and to catch up with friends of Mum and Dad. They were a lovely couple who Mum knew from teacher training college many years ago. It was a sunny day and we went for a walk up to Old Government House and then we drove on up to Mt Lofty at 727m it's the highest peak that overlooks the city of Adelaide. It was a nice view from up there and nice and cool, 12degrees at 3.30pm brrr!

Tuesday was cold morning, about 6 degrees, but it did warm up a bit more. We had a quiet day with a walk to a local park for some and a trip into the city for some, along with food shopping etc.

Wednesday we left Adelaide and headed to Waikerie, in the Riverland region of SA. Our friends here were a couple that renovated Dad and Mum's house on the farm, back in the early 70's. They are a wonderful family whom we have had contact with over many years and we now enjoy the friendship of their children as well. Well we were in for a few days of the most generous hospitality imaginable. As well as local tour guides who took us all around the district giving us a greater understanding of the Riverland and the plight of the Murray River and those who use it.

Having lived in the area most of his life Trevor is a wealth of information. We went along the Murray River to a lookout and went for a walk along the cliffs that border the river. It is flowing and a lot of the lagoons alongside it are brimming with water. It is said if the rain is as good next year, as this year the River may be in flood, something that hasn't happened for some decade or so, and needs to happen to sustain the flora and fauna all along the Murray River. The Murray Basin covers one seventh of our continent and stretches up to Queensland right through NSW, Victoria and into SA, 1450km long and 1000km wide. 1.90 million people live in this area and use 80% of the water that flows down the Murray. Unfortunately we can't sustain that and we have had a new insight about the need to curb our greed so we can allow our environment to continue to produce what we need, rather than what we want. It is amazing to see brown farmland bordering lush green grape vines - all because of irrigation.

We also visited an avocado farm and packing shed, and an orange packing shed which were both very interesting. It is a poor season for the oranges with a hot spell last year causing blossoms to drop and therefore less fruit also late frost didn't help. They will pack 12 tonne of fruit this year as opposed to 40 in a good year and they pack a 3kg bag every 3 seconds with their new packing machine! Some goes in export to Asia and some to the west so keep an eye out for the LocSweet label!

We took a 4km walk in the wetlands at a local winery and then a swim in Lake Bonny at Barmera. It was a wonderful few days and we remembered coming to Waikerie in 1983 as a family, then in 1990 with a group of young people after going to a conference in Adelaide and still the Wuttke's are so hospitable and generous in all they do for their visitors. They are a real example of community both being involved in the establishment of a local Lutheran school and involved in many community projects. What a blessing it is to have time with friends when it is the Lord who links our hearts and lives together. And not only that, they provided an adventure playground for the kids with a bouncy castle, bikes and indoor games, pool table and toys - OUTSTANDING!!!