Saturday, 8 September 2012


Queensland in July
It seems a long time ago now and I've been meaning to write this for a while, so I hope I can remember.
Catching the plane from Adelaide we had a bit of time to kill and called in at Pearl's Diner for a famous burger. Even though it was a Saturday lunchtime there was a brief wait. The menu is limited but the burgers are made from ground beef and are delicious! Onward to the airport and after a 2.5hr flight we landed in Coolangatta to pick up our car. Our destination was Coombabah, a little north of Surfers Paradise
After an interesting time entering the appartment (to do with automatic keys etc) we settled in for the night.

A reunion and Sanctuary Bay
We met up with some of my old school friends for Sunday brunch. Diane, who I knew from Primary School and her hubby Glen have been in Oz for over 12 years. I think the last time we met was when Diane did my hair and makeup on the morning I was getting married! She has kept in touch with John and his wife Karen who I knew from Secondary School. Sanctuary Bay where we met was beautiful - huge $$$$ yachts.
Fishing Trip

On Monday, much to Imogen's disgust it was an early start to go on a 5 hour fishing trip. We watched the sun rise and had a superb view back to the glitz of the Goldcoast Skyscrapers.

Soon the rods were cast and it was a matter of waiting.....

.....soon the trip came to an end and a nice number of fish were shared out. We took our share of Jew fish and Red Snapper which became 2 evenings teas! The cerviche was particularly good!

Tambourine Mountains and the Best of All lookout

We ventured into the hinterland where the climate is sub-tropical and there are rain forests. Stopping off for a coffee on the way, the views were incredible back down to the coast.

At a lovely village we did the Gallery Walk - a picturesque street of shops.

Sandwiches bought, we headed to the botanical gardens to eat lunch and watch the Kookaburras watching us!
Botanical Gardens
More views and rainforest followed.....


Tuesday's trip was to Brisbane, the capital of Queensland. It is a lovely city, not huge but has a real heart to it. A free boat will take you across the river and a bus does a circuit of the city so it's easy to get around. We were very impressed.

Down the coast as far as Byron Bay
Exploration down the coast was in order for Wednesday. A combination of map and satnav was used, but after the satnav took us in a big circle we reverted back to good old fashioned map reading!
The glitz of the Goldcoast skyscrapers was gradually left behind for a gentler more traditional feel to the coast.


Moreton Island Cruise and Snorkelling

The last day saw us taking a boat to a neighbouring island. The crossing was rough and got rougher and so the snorkelling was limited. Still, it was an experience!

We're now looking forward to our next adventure to Melbourne and the Great Ocean Road in a few weeks. Until then.....

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Easter and beyond

Well, we have survived the summer and been told that it has been kind to us. The highest temperatures we have had was shortly after Christmas with 43C. Now we're well and truly into Autumn and the weather is lovely. Sun rises about 6.45am and after a cool night of about 9C the day warms up to early 20C. Finally the sun disappears about 5.30pm. We've had a day or two of rain, but apart from that it's been dry. The river has been rising due to all the rain from Queenland, but it seems unlikely to flood here. Trevor and I hired a canoe for the day a few weeks ago and had a lovely day. As usual plenty wildlife was seen

Pelicans on the Murray

Our canoe for the day

The kids have enjoyed their first term at school. Alex has now finished with the swimming club until the warmer weather comes along and is now in the Renmark Football (Soccer) Team. They had their first match today and won a resounding 19-0, with Alex scoring 4 goals.

We've been out and about a lot. Banrock Station (yes, of the wine fame) is about 40 minutes away. There are wetland trails to walk and a lovely restaurant too.

The vineyards at Banrock Station

Only about 5 minutes drive from where we live is Rustons Roses, which is the national rose centre for Australia. Suprisingly, these flowers thrive in this environment and are lovely. There is a cafe on site and a shop which sells all things flowery, plus a small collection of vintage cars.

One of the lovely blooms at Rustons Roses
In the gardens at Rustons Roses.

At Easter we ventured further afield and went to Victor Harbor which is a seaside town, still in South Australia. It has a number of attractions, the Cockle Train which runs to nearby Goolwa. It gets its name because cockles can be dug up at Goolwa and the train used to take locals there. We were also told that it was the oldest steel railed railway in Australia.

The Cockle Train

Pelicans at Goolwa

Victor itself is quite pretty and although we were told it would be busy over Easter, well judge for yourself....

Just across the bay (and in the photo above) is Granite Island. This can normally be reached by horse drawn tram, but it wasn't running when we were there because the sleepers were being replaced. We walked over the the Island anyway. It is home to the Little Penguins who come home to roost every night after a hard day fishing. The only way you can see them is to book a meal at the restaurant, or to book on a tour. We did neither, so didn't see them this time. The Island itself is pretty though:

View from Granite Island.

We also went to Urrimbirra Wildlife park and hand fed kangaroos, patted koalas and had birds land on our heads!

The it was back to work and school after our break. Trevor is settling into his work with the odd crisis here and there which he has helped to sort out.

Last weekend we had a trip to Mildura which is about 1.5hrs away and the nearest city to us. I bought a new bike as I left my old one in the UK when we moved out here. I also bought a Kobo which is like a Kindle except you aren't tied in to buy from Amazon. Books are very expensive out here so it seemed like a good move.

This weekend I tried out the new bike and we also walked down to the river near Headings cliff. The afternoon was drawing in and the light was just lovely.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

A lot has happened....

A lot seems to have happened in a short period of time, which has the wierd effect of making it seem as though we have been here longer.

Work is going well, I have now settled down to my usual clinics, more or less. The patients are lovely and the work is rewarding.

So far the summer has been kind to us, apart from the odd "warm" day over over 35C, it has been in the 25C to 30C region.

The kids started school at the end of January and have now completed their 3rd week there. Imogen is finding the work pretty easy as she has done most of it before. Due to timetable constraints she has changed some of her subjects slightly, so instead of Biology, Maths and History she is doing Biology, Maths, Nutrition and Art plus a research project. She is working towards her South Australian Certificate in Education or SACE which will be used to gain entry to university. The SACE is awarded a number of points (200 over 2 years) and subjects must be gained at grade C or above to pass the SACE. For her work in the UK - AS levels she will be credited 110 points - leaving 90 to work towards for this year. In order to get into university, they rank students each year and state how many points a student must gain in order to get entry to a course. The points change each year depending how popular the course is. Students can gain extra points for things like outside activities and being from certain ethnic groups or single parent families. Due to our temporary visa status she will be taking a year or 2 out before applying to uni, we need to gain permanent residency first otherwise she would be classed as an international student. This is something she always said she would do anyway. She could opt to stay on another year at school - get another qualification perhaps part-time and work part-time. If a student earns over about $21k over 18 months and then goes to uni, they are classed as an independant student and can get extra money from the government to live on. Imogen has made some friends and has been invited to someones 18th tonight and another party in the near future.

Alex has settled in well. He is a typical boy and much prefers being active to sitting at a desk and so the Riverland way of life suits him down to the ground. He has joined the Scouts, swimming club and soccer team. This week from school, he has had a number of aquatic activities. A visit to a local town saw him trying kayaking, windsurfing, sailing and water skiing! Not surprisingly he seems to have caught the eye of a number of girls already!

We went out for my birthday at the end of January to a place called the Mallee Fowl which is designed like a sheep shearing shed (I think). The food and atmosphere were both very good.

Outside the Mallee Fowl

Collection of memorabilia inside

January 26th is Australia Day. The town council pay for everyone to have a free breakfast in the park and then there are citizenship ceremonies and various community awards given out. It's a good idea and brings everyone together. As Renmark is only a small community (10,000 or just under) then I kept seeing my patients! I felt as though I recognised them, but perhaps would have had a better idea if I looked at their feet!

We have now moved house as last week all our stuff arrived from the UK. Everything got here in one piece except for a plastic microwave dish, so that was great. Where on earth did everything come from though? I really didn't realise we had so much stuff. It was wonderful to sleep in our own bed though. Our new house is 15 minutes from my work and the kids school (walking) and 5 minutes from the pub/restaurant and river. It's about 15 minutes walk to the town centre too. The house is on a new estate which is one of the most desirable to live in in Renmark - "Jane Eliza". Our house is detached and open plan. The double entrance leads to a hall way and a passage way to the right. On the left is a study/4th bedroom and also a 2nd sitting room (which we have dubbed the music room). Down the right hand passageway is a door the the double garage (with its electric roller doors), cloakroom and utility room. Then the house opens up into an open plan lounge, dining room and kitchen. Off the lounge is a small passageway leading left to Imogen's bedroom and right to Alex's bedroom. Straight in front is the washbasin set in a vanity unit, a shower/bathroom and a separate loo. Immediately behind the lounge is our bedroom with its walk in wardrobes and an ensuite bathroom to its right. The shower is a triple size shower with 2 showers in it - a "waterfall" shower and one on an adjustable rail. Outside is an undercover patio area, a decked area, a gravelled area and a lawned area - -surrounded by young planted shrubs and herbs. The house has air conditioning which is very necessary. Inside it is decorated in cool whites and cream with some areas with beige carpet and the others with cream marble tiles.

Below are a few pictures to give you some idea....

Outside No 28

The new dining table
Our en suite
Our next piece of news is that Trevor now has a job. It's as a Production Supervisor but opportunities exist to advance. He starts at the end of Feb and it's with a company called Almondco - who, unsurprisingly process almonds and producing slivered, flaked, ground almonds etc. He's been very lucky with it because he has only been looking a couple of weeks or so and this was his first interview. They are an expanding company and recognised that he had helped companies expand in the past. This is fantastic news as we can be a little less cautious with our money! We are going to the Renmark Hotel to eat as tonight is a double celebration - 22 years of marriage and a job too! Well done Trev!

A Twitchy Eye (or Trev's contribution)
So, the end of my freedom is coming to a close and with it my mid-week morning treks through some of the local nature trails to do a bit of bird-spotting. Paringa Paddock has been my trail of choice with a good variety of habitats, but there's a nature trail or conservation park or game reserve every ten paces you take here. Guess I'll have to cram them all in next week. Bird-life is rich in the Riverlands and I've identified around one hundred different species already. Here are a few snaps:
Yellow-billed Spoonbill
Young Darters

Friday, 30 December 2011

Christmas Down under

How ya goin'? This is the greeting we get everywhere in the Riverland! "Good, thanks" is the usual response.

We are starting to settle in a bit now and feel that the river is definately the heart of the town and we are lucky to only be a few minutes walk away from it. Many leisure boats cruise up and down the river and at the nearby "town" of Paringa the bridge opens twice a day to let through large houseboats:

We're hoping to be moving at the beginning of Feb when our stuff arrives from the UK. We have seen a house that we like and it's very close to where we are currently. See this link to have a look:,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_cp.,cf.osb&biw=1366&bih=673&wrapid=tlif132529585324410&um=1&ie=UTF-8&q=Tower+tavern+renmark&fb=1&gl=au&hq=Tower+tavern&hnear=0x6ac12b90760b3ec7:0x5033654628efc30,Renmark+SA&cid=0,0,17140514514739380181&ei=82j-Ts-MEOGTiQe_rNncBQ&sa=X&oi=local_result&ct=image&ved=0CAsQ_BI It's a couple of minutes to the river, about 15 minutes from my work and school (walking). It's tough to walk anywhere at the moment though as the sun is very strong and hot. They've forecast 42C on Wednesday which is hot! I think the other seasons (Autumn, Winter and Spring) will be a bit easier to manage. From the house about 5 minutes walk away is the Tower Tavern which has a lovely outdoor decked area we can view the river from.

For Christmas we went to my bosses house and were privileged to join his family and friends for Christmas. The morning started on the river where Alex and Imogen got to sample the "donut"

Afterwards we went to Jonathan and Becky's house.

On Boxing Day we travelled to Adelaide, going via the Barossa Valley which is famed for it's wine with the likes of Jacob's Creek and Penfolds. It was very beautiful.

In Adelaide we visited the nearest sea-side which is Glenelg which was a bit breezy but warm and generally looked round Adelaide visiting the Botanic Gardens. Alex comandeered Trevor's camera and showed some promise!

On the Wednesday after Christmas we decided to explore the waterways a bit more by canoe/kayak and were lucky enough to see a couple of koalas!

Alex has been trying his luck at fishing and has caught shrimps and european carp so far. The Carp are considered a pest and cannot be returned to the river alive - so hard luck them!

Well, it's now New Years Eve and we will celebrate with a curry and some bubbly, possibly a venture into town where there is a fair.

It just remains for the Lancasters to wish everyone: 

A Very Prosperous and Happy 2012

Saturday, 17 December 2011

The First Two Weeks

Well, we've been here nearly two weeks and I think we're finally getting somewhere.

River Murray, Renmark

The house is sweet and comfortable and the town has most things in it, with everyone being friendly.

I started work last Monday and by Friday I'd stopped panicing so that was a good thing! There was much to take in - not only still a beginner at podiatry but a new computer system. All the clinical notes, appointments, letters, referrals are all done on the FrontDesk system. This does make things easier, once you know what you are doing! The Australian health system is different than the UK's at appointments may be free (provided by Medicare which is like their NHS) or to pay for. If you're a war veteran, or the spouse (?) of a veteran you have a department of veteran's card and voucher, you are entitled to free treatments. Private patients have to pay and medicare patients can get 5 free treatments a year. Medicare patients have to be referred from their GP and will have a need ie are diabetes patients or similar.

The practice is well run, efficient and well equipped. There are currently 7 pods working in it, but one practice is up in Queensland (West coast of Oz). The rest of us are rota'd to go to clinics in Renmark, Loxton (40km away), Waikerie (80km), Berri (30km), Barmera (40km), Mildura (100km?). Here we usually work out of a hospital which has hostel or "aged care" facilities attached and patients are a mix of private, hospital etc. All my patients so far have been "routine" - nails, corns, callus, dry heels with fissures, ingrowing toe nails. The way I am asked to treat is a bit different to UK - I don't use the "diamond deb" files - rather I use a sanding disk on the drill. Also I use a different drill burr most of the time. For ingrowing toenails a chisel blade is really good - I was a bit wary of this at first but am getting used to it now. With only 20 minutes a patient for everything including taking payments, and booking appointments it can be a push! Tomorrow I am going to Lameroo which is in the "Mallee".

We are gradually getting to know our way round and having bought a car is essential. We got excellent service at the local garage and it's a case of who you know! Once you drop in the fact that I work for "Jonathan Ellis Podiatry" the shop assistant or whatever can't do enough for us!

Our New Car - A Holden Commadore

We are busy making real nuisances of ourself to the local mobile/telecom company - Optus, who I can honestly say are hopeless - yes even worse than India! They charge an absolute fortune and haven't a clue what is going on! I'm trying to write this blog and the internet has cut out on me 4 times so far!! Frustration or what??

Anyway, we've see the local sweet possums. These live in the trees next to the river and come out at night. Someone leaves food out for them and they come to eat it!

Yesterday we decided to go for a drive. Trev was navigating and took us down an unmade road which was compressed sand! So we turned round after deciding that getting stuck wasn't a good option. On the way back we saw a kangeroo.

Today we've decided to join the Aussie masses and bought ourselves a BBQ and outdoor dining set. We've resorted to making our own bread because it's expensive unless you pay a fortune for it - like £3 per loaf. The fruit is very good -in season are oranges, apricots, plums, nectarines and cherries. As the climate is hot meditterranean there are tomatoes, aubergines, olives, courgettes etc - but it's best to buy from local growers because they taste better.
View over the local countryside.
The meat is good quality and pretty good value as well, but coffee is expensive and we are buying water because from the tap it's awful!

Last night we had a massive electrical storm and loads of rain which we're told is unusual for this time of year. Today it's hot again - about 30C and sunny/cloudy.

Well must go now and see if the boys are managing to fix the BBQ together without my input!