Monday 31 October 2022

Phew! I Made it on Time

The main goal I had for October was to complete the top of my Churn Dash quilt, both as my One Monthly Goal and for the finish line for the Churn Dash Stitch Along.  I didn’t even get it out to have a look at until Friday.  Nothing like leaving thing to the last minute.
On Friday evening I pulled out the blocks and roughly laid them out on the “Design Floor”.
Of course Joey had to have his input.
After a bit of a fiddle this was the layout of the blocks.

We were busy on Saturday, so no progress was made.

Yesterday afternoon I started to stitch on the sashings.
In my happy place.
My first plan had been to use the background fabric for the setting stones, but when i was playing, it looked far too bland, as the sashing fabric is a rather faded looking red.  Thinking back to our Zoom get together last Saturday, I recalled the discussions regarding Janet’s corner stones.  In the end, I took inspiration from her quilt and hunted out a fat quarter of a cheddar/gold fabric and used that, to give a “pop” to the quilt.  I hope Joey approves.  Every time I went to get another row to stitch together, he had scooted them all over the place.  At least it wasn’t a problem once the blocks were in rows.
The fabric has a touch of red, to tie in with the sashings, and coincidentally, the blue setting triangles have a touch of cheddar.  Looking at things, I suppose a light blue would have worked as well, to tie in with the setting triangles.
I had the top stitched all except the final two long seams by bed time, so finished those off this morning.  I’m calling it done for the purposes of my goals.  I haven’t trimmed the edges yet, and will do that when it is time to quilt.  I had considered adding a border or two, but in the end decided that I will just bind it with the red fabric.  I have JUST enough…..I hope.  

I’m pretty happy with how it has turned out.  The only fabric I bought especially for this quilt was the background fabric, which will also be used for the backing.  Now it has to wait in the quilting queue for the machine quilting………which may be a while, as I will be quilting it on “Monique”, my mid arm machine, when I get the confidence and skill to work on a large quilt.  That is three in the queue now.  

Thanks Chooky for providing the inspiration for this little stitch along.

I will also be linking up with Elm Street Quilts for One Monthly Goal.  Pop over to see what the other girls have been up to.

Sunday 23 October 2022

Rainbow Scrap Challenge and Zooming Along

After falling behind with my Rainbow Scrap Challenge blocks while we were away, I am now all caught up.  I had my half square triangles completed last week. Now I have my 30s print butterflies and nine patches all done, including a couple extra to make up numbers for the little quilt I am making.
Orange was for August.
Light blue for September.  As there isn’t a great deal of variety of blues in 30s prints, I didn’t do many, as I already have aqua and darker (but not very dark) blue.

October was lime green.  Well, that doesn’t exist and I have already made some green blocks, so this was completely skipped.
To make up the extras, I made a couple of butterflies with two colours and after laying out the blocks on the design floor, decided that another yellow and mauve block would work fine.
So, here it is all laid out.  I can’t stitch them together just yet, as I still have to embroider the antennae on the butterflies, but I consider the RSC section completed for the month.
The Chookshed Stitchers had another Zoom get together yesterday and I actually remembered to take a photo of us.  There was usually about twelve on line at any time, with about thirty joining in during the day.  I had to disappear for most of the afternoon, but enjoyed playing along in the morning and late afternoon.
It’s rather a relaxing way to spend the day…..for all of our household.
The best thing is that I completed ten EPP units for the Blue Quilt.  Much more than I expected to have this month.  I already had made six units in October, so only two more of this unit to go.  Surely, I can get them stitched by the end of the month.  I must say that I am making quicker progress on this quilt than I expected and am really enjoying picking up my little box of tricks and stitching a block or two.

Now that the RSC blocks are completed I can pull out my churn dash blocks and get the top put together, as it is my One Project a Month goal and time is running out.  There’s nothing like a deadline (even if self imposed) to get you stitching.

Saturday 22 October 2022

Sewing Machine Maintenance

I don't know if you remember that I bought a very unusual vintage sewing machine at the start of our holiday.  Here is the post.
It is unlike any machine we have come across before.

I mentioned at the time that it was seized and that we would have a look at it once we got home and either get it going or it would become an expensive ornament.
Mick decided to have a play a few days ago.
Gradually pulling it further and further apart.  The further he went the more apparent it was that someone had pulled it apart previously, as there were screws, deep in the dark depths, that were butchered.  He got the motor running.....but it was running backwards, and there was no way of varying the speed at which it ran.  He thinks that someone had cross wired the motor when it had been pulled apart before.  Having the motor running backwards had obviously damaged other components. Unfortunately, this machine is beyond repair. It did keep him occupied for a day, but was a disappointing outcome.
So, sadly, it has just become an interesting ornament.  I found a corner in the sewing room for it to live, as is still a nice little curio to have.

Friday 21 October 2022

Some Unplanned Stitching

When we came home from our trip Michael gave our back verandah a good clean up ready for the warmer weather........Well, that hasn't eventuated as yet.
Anyway, the cushions on our outdoor dining setting were looking decidedly second hand, given that they are now six years old.  No worries, we'll just wash the covers.  However, the cover on the inserts were falling apart, so that wouldn't be very successful.  No worries, we'll just buy some new $25 each, that is $200 for the eight.

Mick then said, "You can just make some covers".   That's not my favourite type of sewing, but I said I'd have a look.  The cushions have separate gussets around the side and a zip at the back.  There's no way I'm doing that.  
I found some heavy weight fabric and had an attempt to make a cover, just with one seam around the sides and boxing the front like the bottom of a bag.  I would then just sew the back seam by hand after inserting the existing cushion and somehow work out a way to use the existing ties.  It didn't look too bad.

Time to go shopping at Spotlight.  I found some suitable outdoor fabric and worked out that I could get away with three and a half metres of fabric, if I had some joins in the bottoms of some of the cushions.  Fortunately, it was 40% off, but it still cost $73.  If it was full price I would have just gone out and bought the completed cushions.
It was rather novel sewing as fast as my machine will go while neatening the edges of the fabric and sewing the seams.  I completed the hand stitching while watching the Bathurst 1000 car race on TV.
Anyway, they turned out OK.   
Hopefully, they will last for a few years, after which I will go and buy some new cushions.
My second little item is a pouch to hold our little rechargeable blender we take in the caravan.  Until now, I have just wrapped it in a tea towel to stop it getting rubbed and scratched. 
My brother gave me two personalised tea towels for the van for my birthday.  I have retained one as a tea towel and made a little pouch with the other.  The embroidered section is a pocket to hold the charging cord.  it is a bit rough and ready, but will do the trick nicely. 

It's good to have a few finishes for OPAM at the end of the month.  Yay!

Now to get back to my fun sewing.

Sunday 16 October 2022

Rainbow Scrap Challenge Update

It took me a few days, but I have now ventured back into my sewing room and made a little progress on my Rainbow Scrap Challenge blocks.

Just to recap, we left on our trip in July and I got organised before we left and had my blocks for that month completed.

Orange was the colour for August and I had my orange HST blocks prepared and got them stitched while we were away.  The butterfly and nine patches had to wait until we returned home.
Light blue was the colour for September and all the blocks had to wait until we returned home.  I have now completed the HST blocks.
October is lime green and I have made my HST blocks.  After getting them finished, I discovered I had already prepared them for when we were away, so I have completed double.  That is actually a good thing, as I needed that many more for the quilt I will be making.
So, all my colourful HST blocks have been completed.  They now have to be made into these blocks.
The quilt was always to be a leader and ender, so I have a box of block components ready to work on at some stage in the future.  It may continue to be a RSC project next year.  We will see.

I’m still working on my butterflies and nine patches so will do an update on them shortly.

I’m linking up over at So Scrappy.  Pop over and see how the other girls are getting on.

Friday 14 October 2022

Off to See the Wizard - The Wash Up

Having now been home for two weeks, it is interesting to reflect on our big trip.  No pictures this time, just a lot of waffle as I think of things.

We were away from home for 84 days.  Exactly twelve weeks, not quite three months as expected, having left home on 8 July and returning on 29 September. The time away was just about right.  We needed that long to travel the distance we did, but we were ready to get home.  As it was, we had forgotten some of what we had seen.

Now for some stats……

We use an app called “Fuel Map” and it is wonderful.   You search a town and it shows where the service stations are, what brand they are and you can enter what fuel type you use and it gives the price.  We try to use premium diesel, and it shows which, if any, stock that fuel, or you can just search for diesel.  Often the cheapest aren’t on the highway, and you can make quite a saving by making a very small detour.  There can be a difference of up to 10 cents per litre within a town.  To keep a record of our fuel usage, I just enter some data every time we fuel up. It tells me that we travelled 18,280kms.  We used 2,933.6 litres of diesel at a cost of $6,683.33.  The average fuel economy was 18.36 litres per 100kms.  Mick was pretty happy with that.  We travelled further than we expected, but had never really worked it out.  Fuel was at its most expensive when we left home, so we were working on the worst case scenario of spending $9,000.00 on fuel, which fortunately didn’t eventuate. Although the fuel economy seems high, it is pretty good for our vehicle towing the van, often into either side or head winds.

The ute didn’t miss a beat all trip.  We did get a service in Geraldton, as it was due.  The caravan went really well too, with just a couple of little things along the way.  Firstly, the 12v in the fridge stopped working, but as we luckily had a replacement electrical board, that was fixed and it didn’t miss a beat afterwards.  One of the cupboard latches played up, but Mick was able to sort that and the ensuite sliding door came off its runner, which Mick was also able to fix.  It’s handy having someone handy.  As Mick says, it really helps to be a bit practical if you have a caravan, as he was asked by a couple of people to help out with little issues.  

Usually, after a trip we come home with some planned “home improvements” for the van, but not this time.  The van setup works really well.  Having said that, we packed far too much, particularly clothes.  It was difficult to know what to take, with there being so many different weather conditions and climates.  We now know to keep it very simple and you can wear the same things for days, as no one sees you each day and you don’t get dirty.  

Now for my stitching.  I took my sewing machine, but didn’t end up using it.  Firstly, because the lighting wasn’t very good and secondly, because I didn’t have a pressing station set up and the blocks I had really needed pressing before the next stage.  I don’t think I’ll take my machine again.  Hand stitching was my go to and I wish I had taken some more stitchery work.  EPP was good, as long as I had good light.  I did a little cross stitch too, but you do need to concentrate on that.  My “sewing basket” drawer under my seat worked brilliantly, as did the little box of tricks I took for my EPP.  Some crochet would have been ideal too, and is something I can consider in the future, as I won’t have my machine taking up space.

We use another app while travelling.  It is “WikiCamps”.  You search a town and it shows on a map all the caravan parks, campgrounds and free camps.  It provides details, including facilities at the site, website link and phone number link.  A section tells the fees, but that is just entered by the patrons, so is only a general guide. The best bit is the Reviews.  They give you a very good indication of what the place is like.  If you just get one or two negative reviews and the rest are positive, the place is generally pretty good.  However, if there are loads of negative reviews, you know to steer clear.  

We are members of the “G’Day” caravan parks group and it was amazing how many parks are with that group.  We are not members of “Big 4” and there weren’t as many Big 4 parks, so it worked out well.  The G’Day membership definitely paid for itself.  Not only did you get accommodation discounts, you also get 4c per litre off fuel at Coles Express service stations.

We probably stayed in more caravan parks than we initially expected.  The main reason was to have power for the air conditioner, as it was so hot, to be centrally located and for security. Most of the caravan parks were great.  Only one springs to mind that had not very good amenities.  You hear lots of stories of people having things stolen from their site and their vans being broken into, but we had no troubles.  On just one night Mick heard something and went outside and another man we out as well and they saw a couple of fellows running from the park. When we did free camp, it was very enjoyable too.  Our favourite would have to be the one at the lookout in the Hammersly Ranges in northern Western Australia.

We had no trouble getting accommodation.  We had been warned that we wouldn’t be able to get into caravan parks, as half the country seemed to be heading north with a caravan.  I must admit it did stress me out a little before we left home, as we weren’t in a position to prebook accommodation, because we never knew where we would be more than a day or so in advance.  As it turned out, I needn’t have worried, because we were arriving at most places about a couple of weeks after the majority of travellers.  We were able to get a powered site at the best caravan parks at Darwin and Broome with only a couple of days notice, which was rather fortunate.

The weather was a mixed bag.  We started with cold and windy, wearing beanies and puffer jackets.  As we headed north it gradually warmed up, being hot enough to go swimming once we reached Daly Waters Pub. Darwin was getting rather muggy by the time we arrived, with the locals saying the build up to the wet season had arrived early.   The temperatures were in the mid 30s C, with high humidity.  Once we got to Broome and down to about Shark Bay the weather was absolutely beautiful.  You can understand why so many southerners head up that way for the winter.  Once we were south of Shark Bay the weather made a drastic change, getting windy and much cooler, being back in beanies and jackets once we reached the Great Australian Bight.  What a wonderful, diverse country we live in.

People ask us what was the highlight of the trip.  We can’t answer it, as there is no one thing that stands out.  It was just the trip over all, seeing all the different landscapes and experiencing so many things.

There are so many facets of a trip like ours.  It was lovely to catch up with our friends in Port Hedland and to finally meet Maria.  It was also fun and a little surreal having people, who know us from home, come up to us on five separate occasions, sometimes not having seen them for many years.  We met some other wonderful travellers, some following vaguely the same route, so we saw them a few times.  It was nice to see a familiar face.   In Alice Springs it was lovely to be invited to join the caravan park owner and his family to go out to dinner.

Early on in the piece, a fellow advised Mick to not try to see everything.  That man said they had tried to and they were “over it”.  We took that on board.  Yes, we saw loads and loads of places and took quite a few tours, but there were a lot of places we didn’t visit and tours we didn’t take.  The perfect example was Litchfield National Park.  There were several different waterholes and waterfalls that you can visit.  Well, the first one we arrived at was really nice, so we just stayed there all afternoon, lazing on our noodles in the water.  So relaxing.  Much nicer than rushing around to see all of them.  We were happy enjoying the one we did visit.

We weren’t sure how many tours we would take on this trip, as we are not really into doing many.  However, we really enjoyed the ones we went on.  They took you to places you wouldn’t otherwise see, you learnt more and Mick could sit back and just enjoy, rather than driving.  The only thing we felt was a bit of a let down was the Broome Pearl Luggers little tour of their museum.  Yes, it was interesting, but was it worth the price? No.  Everything else we did was great.  We are glad we took the flight over the Bungle Bungle Range and Lake Argyle, as it covered so much.  We had considered a flight over Ularu, but feel the one we did was much broader.

Obviously, from all my photos, I like wildflowers, old buildings, country towns and public art.  I recently saw a magazine article saying that rural Australia is turning into a huge outdoor art gallery, which is pretty close to the mark.  I’m not a huge outdoor adventure type and my one regret is that I didn’t do lots of walking in the lead up to our trip so that I could do more bush walking.  Oh well, there’s no use getting too hung up on it.  Just something to consider for future trips.

Now that we are home, we are being asked when we will be heading off on our next big trip.  We don’t have anything planned as yet.  We are enjoying being home for now.  We are heading to New Zealand early next year, but other than that, it is all a big mystery.  We would like to have a good look around South Australia at some stage……..and Victoria…….and more of Queensland…….and…….and…….

Thursday 13 October 2022

Off to See the Wizard - Kimba to Home


Kimba is a town I have been aware of for a very long time, as my favourite cartoon as a kid was “Kimba the White Lion”.  It is a nice, bright, vibrant little town, in contrast with those surrounding it.  The main street is fresh, the houses are tidy, with nice gardens.  You can see that it takes pride in itself and has some community minded people.  Having the initiative to create the free camp was a great idea, as I’m sure most of the travellers would wander up and down the street, buying a coffee and maybe some other bits and bobs, as well as supporting the supermarket.  Having said that, we didn’t, which is pretty sad….. next time.

We wanted an early start, as now that we had really set our mind to getting home, we just wanted to get home, if you know what I mean.  Therefore, we were on our way before the shops had opened.
We did have a couple of stops first.  The silo art was a must.  This one was painted in 2017, which makes it one of the first.  Of course, this is a draw card for people to visit as well.
Yes, we were able to add a photo of the ute and van in front of it to add to our collection.
Kimba has been placed on the map for many years due to its own “big thing” - The Big Galah.  It was always just painted pink and grey, and had been looking rather down at heel.  I read that it has had a refresh.  When we saw it, all I could say was “Wow!”.  I had assumed it would just be painted pink and grey again, but this is so much more.  It really is beautiful.
And big, once you see it next to the ute.
I didn’t realise, but Kimba is the halfway point between the east and west coasts.  Yep, another caravan photo had to be taken.  

Enough of the photo opportunities,  we had some miles to eat up.
Further along, we noticed what looked like mining.  It was Iron Knob, which is an iron ore mine, funnily enough.  It has been operating since 1900 and the iron ore from here helped create Australia’s steel industry, supplying ore to Newcastle, Port Kembla and Whyalla. It has also been exported.  The mine was closed for a time, but is now operating again.
Another feature beside the road is this row of water tanks with graffiti, ads and all sorts of painting.  We have stopped and taken a photo of the bike here on a previous trip.
And then we were back at Port Augusta.
We had made it back to the start of it all, when we turned north into the part of Australia we had never visited.  Now we would just be backtracking until we arrived home.
One final look at the sea before heading inland, with rain falling on the Flinders Ranges in the background.  During our travels we had seen the Timor Sea, the Indian Ocean, the Great Australian Bight, the Souther Ocean and Spencer Gulf.
Back through Horricks Pass, our first steep windy road, since the Hammersly Ranges in northern Western Australia.
Wattle.  It must be spring.
Look how lush it is.  It must be spring….and South Australia, having a stone ruin.
Canola in flower.  It must spring.
Back to Peterborough.  We had considered stopping overnight here, but there was still plenty of daylight and Mick was feeling fine, so we had a late lunch and kept on our way.
While we were stopped we came across this fellow riding a postie bike dressed like Where’s Wally.  He is raising funds for to assist veterans with their mental health, as so many sadly take their own lives after having been to war zones. Of course, Mick and he got talking postie bikes and we threw him a few bob.  He has ridden around Oz and now is doing another half circuit.  Coincidentally, they interviewed him on our local radio station earlier this week, as he has just ridden through our area.  He has raised $52,000 so far, which is commendable.
We finally called it a day at the tiny locality of Olary.  Don’t you love the railway station.  There is a free camp opposite the pub.  Three vans parked up for the night.  
We popped over to the pub for a drink and got chatting to the publicans.  It turns out the pub had been closed for six years and they have bought the building and worked rather hard to get it up to scratch and opened earlier this year.  They still have a lot they want to do, but it is a nice place to visit.  Another of the campers came over too, and we ended up staying for dinner, which was delicious, and sat and chatted with the other campers.  It was a really enjoyable evening.

For mid week, there were quite a few in there.  There is a lot of road works going on in the area, so a few of the workers called in.  We got chatting to a young farmer.  They had just finished shearing that day.  They shore 14,000 sheep.  It took 8 weeks, which was much longer than usual, but they had issues with wet weather and it is so hard to get shearers at the moment.  Their property is 380,000 acres.  Those numbers are a bit hard to get your head around, compared to the size of properties over here.

The highlight of the day was our time in the Olary Pub.

In the morning, I had a wander around the tiny village.  
What appears to have been the post office has burnt down. 

Apparently, the population was three, now that the pub has reopened, it is five.
There are some funny little old buildings and one just one nice home, which was obviously the hall in a previous life. Of course I forgot to take a photo of that one.
The camp site is right beside the railway line.
After another fairly early start it wasn’t too long until we crossed the border into New South Wales and returned to our home time zone.
Through Broken Hill, only stopping for fuel.
Then through Wilcannia, once again only stopping for lunch and fuel.  We noticed that the post office, which we have been watching get slowly restored as we have travelled through on various trips, had had its forecourt paved since we left home.
The Darling River was rather high, covering the lower parts of the park.
Everything was looking so lush, with lots of water lying in paddocks, and there were loads of wildflowers.  We didn’t expect to see drifts of them in this area.  They were lovely to see.  I suppose we haven’t been here before at this time of year and in such a good season.
You usually see quite a few feral goats on the roadside in this area and we commented on our way in July that we hardly saw any.  Well, we made up for it on the way back.  There were so many.  Fortunately, they generally seem to have pretty good road sense, unlike sheep and kangaroos.  
After a very long day, we arrived at Cobar, our destination for the night.
We free camped in the rest area of joining the large Cobar sign on the east side of town.  It looks rather spectacular in the night time, all lit up.

The highlight of the day was getting so far in one day.


Another early start, as we hoped to reach home in the day.
Driving through Nyngan, the Bogan River was in minor flood.  Walking tracks we had been on earlier in the year were under water.  The river was still rising at that stage, and with the subsequent rain it is probably still high.
We called in to Nevertire, as I spied the water tower painted.  I commented on our way to the Mundi Mundi Bash, back in April, that Nevertire was looking rather sad.  Well, things have changed.  
The artwork on the water tower was only completed in July 2022.
No wonder we hadn’t seen it before.
I love how it almost has a paint by number feel to it and how each side (not that a circle has sides) represents a different part of the local community.  By driving to see the water tower, we also saw more of the back streets.  There are some really nice, tidy houses there, that you are unaware of as you just drive along the highway.
Not only is the water tower painted, there is a new business “The Rural Trader” just about to open.  It looks like it will be a really nice, upmarket cafe.  What a pity it wasn’t ready to be tried out.
On the side of that building, facing the highway, there is also a new mural, completed by the same artist as the water tower, “Allfrey”, but in quite a different style.
The pub was looking nice and fresh too.  Here’s hoping the fortunes of the little town are turned around and people call in and support the businesses.
It was time for morning tea when we reached Trangie and we called in to a really cute little cafe on the corner of the highway.  Yummy homemade slices went down a treat.
Then it was just driving over familiar roads until we reached Bathurst, which even had a faint rainbow to welcome us.
It was nice to be home.

We had travelled half way across Australia in three days, and from nearly the other side in five days.  Not a bad feat.

The highlight of the day was seeing Nevertire looking alive……and getting home.