Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Wed 30th April

Woke up nice and early and made asmuch noise as posssible but last nights all action hero was still slumped pretty much where I'd dropped him.

Drove 10 minutes inland (west)to Eumundi, an interesting little town founded by European settlers - tree fellers, back in the early 1800's. The town's history is recorded and displayed in the old church which now acts as a museum. Bullock trains were used to pull the huge sawn-down Kauri trees to the Eumundi saw mill, a blade of which was on display here in the museum. Kauri trees are massive, big enough to drive a car through and about 5 times taller than a normal tree, infact they are indeed the same species as those in the Kauri forests of the NW of the NZ North island. Unlike the Maori who worshiped and revered the ancient trees, the European settlers in Oz adopted a more pragmatic approach and set about chopping them all down for use in various industries. The town has a park named after it's most prominent tree feller. Interestingly they used to use a sort of primitive scaffolding to cut sections of the huge trees down. The scaffolding was really just a wooden plank with a wedge shaped end that would be hammered into the tree trunk somewhere near the top of the tree. The tree feller would then stand on the plank and saw off the top section, and then move five or six metres down and repeat the process until the whole tree was safely on the ground. At this point a singe section would be loaded on a cart and hauled along dirt tracks by teams of bullocks pulling in pairs of six or seven. It looked hard graft so hats off to the settlers, bearing in mind the place is like a jungle and probably crawling with nasties. Some time after the sawmill's hay day gold was found in these here hills and mine shafts were built as Australia competed with California and the rest of the US to out-do each other in the gold mining stakes. Then the war came and Galipolli kicked off and subsequently Eumundi has become something of an 'alternative lifestyle' base. Free minded children of the 1960's moved in and pretty much turned the place into a haven for peace, love and 'erbal remedies. Oh, and there are well stocked markets on Wednesdays and Saturdays. After ambling around the market and resisting the temptation to buy a didge' I had a little nap in my car (hey, I'm allowed now I hit the big three-oh!), then called in at Neil and Martine's shop on the high street. It's called the Hemp Hut and sells things made from hemp funnily enough. I hadn't realised how versatile hemp was, apart from rolling it up and smoking it the only other use I knew of was to make rope, and this I learned in Mrs Dalgleish's history classes when discussing what people did in the workhouses (bring 'em back I say!).

Hemp Hut
Neil 'Flanders' a friend of Jez's I'd met at the wedding run the Hemp Hut in the middle of town. I tentatively peeked my head around the door and received a warm welcome. Not long later we were sat in the conveniently next-door hotel bar having a Coopers IPA. In fact we had a couple of schooners and then I drove us to Neil's house on the outskirts of town. He and Martine have a really nice place, in just over an acre of grounds with a pool and plenty of room for Isabelle (a theatrical 8 3/4 year old) and Hannah (a studious 6 year old) to play with Sally the dog and Dave the surfer-lodger who lives in the garage.

After waving off Martine's son Tyson (who was heading to Darwin to make his way as a chef catering for the miners), big Tone turned up with Chloe and we tucked into a proper Aussie barbeque. There was plenty to go around and it felt like being in Australia proper, away from the backpackers and mayhem of Brizy. It turned into quite a late night as Tone insisted we cracked open a couple of bottles of red left over from Jezza's wedding. Here's to the happy couple! Twas just me and Flanders by the end of the night, we stayed up and talked 'til late.

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