This weekened Bruce and family were off to a wedding in Rockhampton, and so I had to choose what to do with a rare entire weekend to my self! Bruce suggested that I went to the Gemfields, an area where there are a few towns around an area rich in precious stones (hence the name...). Whoever named them didn't have too much imagination with the names of the towns - Emerald, Sapphire, Rubyvale etc etc. Anyway it sounded interesting but to be honest I just wanted to have a relaxing (and cheap!) weekend in 'civilization (I use that term very loosely!) so instead I choose to go to Barcy. The only way to get there to get Bruce to drop me in Jericho and then catch a lift with the local school bus driver. I didn't have to pay anything but as thanks Bruce gave him a Speculation grown pumpkin... I think that this bus drivers job must get very boring, as he drives the same 90km stretch of very straight highway there and back twice a day, 5 days a week. I get a little bored just the few times I've been on my way into town, but at least the landscape and wildlife are still a novelty to me!
Whilst I'm here I'm staying at a pub/hotel called the Artesian, which adverties itself as the oldest hotel in town. You can tell they aren't lying at least, there is no window in my room, although it opens out into the big balcony over the main street so that's quite cool at least. I'm a little scared to tread too heavily how ever as there is a crack under the door where you can see people walking past on the street... Still, I suppose I shouldn't complain as it's only $10 dollars a night!
I've basically been spending the weekend organising what I'm doing after leaving Speculation. There are less than three weeks to go, the time has passed ridiculously quickly! The plan is to catch a train from here to the coast at Rockhampton, and then north to Cairns. The idea of sitting on a train for that long (31 hours plus a 3 hour wait in Rocky) seems slightly more appealling than being on a bus for at least that long, not that the prospect of either idea thrills me to bits! Anyway, once I get to Cairns I have a couple of days free and then on Monday 21st June I start a 5 day scuba diving course. I've always wanted to give it a go and it could be useful with the Zoology and so I'm geting really excited about it. Apparently at this time of year there are various types of whales around the reef so I could get lucky and see one! We spend 2 days trainging in the pool and classroom, then sit an exam (and I'd thought that I'd escaped them!) and then have a 3 day live aboard trip out onto the reef, where we have 9 dives including one at night time. If all goes to plan I should come out of it with the PADI open water qualification, which is the basic scuba certificate. I can't wait!
After that I'm going to head back down the east coast to Coffs harbour, to visit some relatives (Peter, my cousin once removed and his wife Sue) for a few days. Then back to Sydney or Brisbane, and home in mid July!
For those who don't know I've decided to abandon the New Zealand plans for the moment. I decided that I didn't have enough time or money to do the country justic and also that it was silly going in the middle of winter not being a skier! (and Jess if you're reading this, YES we should go round NZ together at some point, it would be amazing. Bring on the lord of the rings reinactment!)
As for the last couple of weeks at Speculation, it hasn't been too eventful, other than a blackout the last for one night. It happened mid shower so I wasn't best pleased! You realise how isolated you are when you can't just look out the window to see if the rest of the street has power or not!
Bruce has been off in the buldozer clearing some raods etc so I've been doing a lot of jobs by myself recently. I've been cleaning and greasing some of the tack, a few bits of which are over 40 years old! The other day I also spent hours untangling Bucket and Siroccos' tails. If you got accidentally hit by one of them it felt like being clubbed by a baseball bat, so it was definitely time that someone did it! It's fair to say that they have a different attitude to looking after horses out here than people seem to back home!