Anzac Day dawned in Dunkeld drizzly and cold as we joined a respectful crowd huddled under brollies at the Dawn Service around the towns impressive war memorial. Bowing our heads to the sound of the pipes played by Bruce our local bobby, we remembered those that had made the ultimate sacrifice.
Because our farm is situated between two communities we were also invited to attend Woodhouse-Nareeb’s Anzac Ceremony a couple of hours later. Over 200 people from quite a wide area arrived to pay their respects at the war memorial dedicated to the Anzac soldiers and nurses from the surrounding farms who served in the two World Wars. During the service we heard of their harrowing wartime experiences and then of their stories being soldier settlers in our district. A very hard working committee had cleared and tidied the Anzac Memorial Park, erected a marquee and after the service we all tucked into sandwiches and my new favourite, Jelly Slice (a sort of cheesecake with jelly topping). No mean feat catering for such a large crowd!
I have a first cousin who also took the plunge and emigrated to Australia quite some time ago. She, her husband and two children have settled in a leafy suburb of Sydney and enjoy an idyllic lifestyle overlooking the beautiful inlets and coves of Sydney Harbour. Her mother, my aunt had come out from England for a visit and I was invited too. Smugly I cashed in my well earned air miles and left home well before dawn driving the three hours to Melbourne’s Tullamarine airport to catch my short, hour long flight to Sydney.
The sunny and warm Sunday weather greeted me at Sydney airport and immediately I realised I had packed all the wrong clothes as everyone else was in shorts and T-shirts and all I had were several woolly pullies and long trousers with me! I travelled on the double decker tube train from the airport to Circular Quay to catch the Manly Ferry. The balmy weather had bought the world and his wife out and I found myself having to push and shove my way onto the alarmingly overcrowded Ferry. Completely by mistake I trod on a woman’s toe and you would’ve thought the world had come to an end. As I sat down opposite her, I naturally profusely apologised but the looks she gave me for the half hour journey could’ve dropped an elephant! Not to be deterred I enjoyed the view of the Opera House, harbour bridge and the huge number of yachts tearing through our wake at quite a rate of knots.
The next three days were wonderful. My cousin is a fitness trainer and I twice joined her very jolly, early morning aqua-aerobic classes. We bobbed and sploshed about in a magnificent Olympic sized pool and I never knew you could do so much with a noodle! (One of those long, bendy polystyrene tube things).
After class, Aunt and cousin took me on some beautiful walks around the bays finding little deserted beaches, you really wouldn’t have known you were in the middle of a huge city.
Our walks were followed by very civilised lunches; it really was quite a world away from the one I have become accustomed to of dust, mud and sheep poo. But I wouldn’t swap it for the world, our wide open spaces and enormous skies still do it for me and although I was sad to say goodbye to my rellies, the Kiwi and my Golden Girls were pleased to have me home.
We have finally got our house looking like home and we are so enjoying living like normal people again! I had an inferno of a bonfire to burn all the boxes and bubble wrap. Oh yes, and we have deep joy. Boris the Dishwasher has made Down Under in one piece and is fully functional. My gratitude knows no bounds to the Kiwi who sweated blood , literally, connecting it all up.
Horace, the resident Guinea Fowl is a very naughty bird. We found him living in the farmhouse garden when we moved here and he struts around the place like he owns it. The other morning there was a hell of a hullabaloo coming from the chook house. Horace normally roosts way up high on the TV aerial well out of the way of the foxes but this particular morning I caught him red handed bunking in with the girls who were not best pleased! He’d also eaten most of their food. With much indignant squawking from everyone I chased Horace out from his new squat. The Kiwi has threatened to “shoot the b*****d” if he keeps on nicking the chooks tucker!
Meanwhile it has been very busy on the farm. All 6000 sheep have been attended to, either shorn or crutched and all given a drenching. Cloud has been brilliant at chasing the sheep up the race and keeping them tight so he can get amongst them to administer the drench. Skye has been, quite frankly hopeless chasing sheep in the wrong direction and not stopping for anything or anyone but at least she’s chasing them. We are fearing professional help is needed before some damage is done!
This evening the Kiwi took pity on a newly shorn ewe lamb who was feeling the chill. He bought her home in the dog box on the back of the ute and put her on the grass under the washing line. He then made her a very smart jacket out of some of the bubble wrap which had previously encased Boris dishwasher and secured it with brown parcel tape. We have named her “Hortensia Buttocks” (“Intcontensia”just didn’t work!) after a favourite character from Monty Python’s The Life of Brian and she’s now as snug as a bug in a rug.