Tweed Initiation

We’ve passed the Tweed Initiation! Life has been exciting up here. Thursday (30th March) we had an impressive amount of about 700ml rain in a day – surrounded by water we felt like we were back in our former Scotland Island house. But there was more to come that night. It was dark, noisy, scary and power went off so we couldn’t see what was happening here or further upstream via internet. However, we passed the Tweed initiation test well! Those who have been here longer than us can no longer say that we haven’t seen a ‘real’ flood. Our house and garden are as though it didn’t even rain but the fences didn’t fare so well – especially our brand new regen fence. Some of it survived and stands draped in vegetation litter. Amazingly my kayak tied to the fence survived. Our river-side land now stands much higher on possibly a foot or more of silt. I remember learning at school about the fertility of the silt deposited on the Nile floodplains – well it happens on the Rous river too! We are very happy this didn’t happen 2 years ago. We moved here on March 26th 2015 (2 years and 4 days before Debbie sent us her love) and didn’t know anyone or anything about local matters.

We helped our neighbours fix their fences – worse than ours. Grahame has picked up lots of tips from Martin – will come in handy when we get to fix ours. The cows were bored confined to a few small paddocks but it will be some time before we can let them out so their owner came and took them back. They even increased in number – a new calf was born during the flood.

Ironically the worst part was having NO WATER inside the house when outside it was everywhere! No power means no water for us and power was off for several days. Guess what – a generator and solar panels have instantly been escalated to the top of our ‘to do’ list. We were however, more prepared than we thought – found a 15l container of water and lanterns in our camping supplies.

Numinbah road was littered with trees and landslides so we were cutoff in both directions – the causeway wasn’t even visible. …not that we wanted to go anywhere! However with no phones, internet or news of any sort we were concerned about Chillingham village so walked up on Saturday, climbing over the huge tree blocking the road. Rounding the corner, we were delighted to see Bucks farm, Chillingham Village store and hall looking as though nothing had happened. We were even more delighted to see Trevor’s bridge standing in all its glory over the pond. Further on play equipment from the preschool strewn on the broken walkway was a saddening site and a preview of the extensive damage to the preschool we saw later on. The good news is that the landcare plants some of us planted behind the preschool and next to the fire brigade over 2 Sundays were still alive. Judy and Milton’s house had been ankle-deep in water but with the help of friends a lot of cleaning up had been done by the time we arrived – a big job but they were cheerful. Unusual things happen in a flood – a freezer full of frozen food had turned up in their garden – owners unknown! On Monday we made it into Murwillumbah and saw the devastation and heartbreak of some small business owners in South Murwillumbah. But the cleanup has been well done and everyone is helping each other and doing what needs to be done.

Power eventually returned after several days, then NBN and phone after several more days.

Chillingham village houses as well as Murwillumbah have been badly damaged as have many roads. Lismore and Murwillumbah made the news but Chillingham didn’t – no news centre here and no road access! At the Chillingham Community Centre last Sunday we held a free sausage sizzle. It was a wonderful event – such a special community and so good talking with locals, some I hadn’t met before. Natural disasters like this are draining emotionally as well as physically. Tweed council, SES and fire brigade have been fabulous. It took some time to open our roads and get power reconnected because most of the Tweed council trucks and equipment were flooded – there were only 2 working, that employees had illegally taken home for the night! 4 handsome firemen arrived at our place last week to check we were OK. They were from Sydney. I was very happy to know that they were checking all properties – because everyone was cut-off both physically and electronically (no power, internet or phone) I was concerned for older farmers etc. The SES people at the sausage sizzle, some also from Sydney, were also fabulous – talking to people and asking how they could help, washing out flooded homes etc. Cleaning up after a flood is a big job. We now have a porta-loo in a tree beside our river as well as garbage bins – and I found a toy racing car. The good news is that our river regeneration program is still going ahead despite the damage to fences.

All pretty-much back to normal now, except for the fences. Life continues to be an adventure. 

Posted in RousHouse

Local Rocks

Since moving to Chillingham, one of my favourite pastimes has become fossicking for interesting rocks carried by our river, the Rous. Although a complete novice I’ve collected some pretty rocks.

I was delighted to discover Alec Chapman at the Chillingham markets. Alec has been fossicking for rocks since very young and has become quite an expert. His stall ‘Crystal Cravings’ is a must to visit at the markets. Beautiful crystals and stones – and you will leave much more knowledgeable after a chat with Alec.

Alec educated me about the names of some local ‘rocks’. But what to do with all the rocks I collected?

They’d look good polished I thought, though not all of them – some are best kept in their natural state. My husband tuned in and a rock tumbler arrived on my birthday. The picture below is the first result – and there are better stones to come! Examples of carnelian, chalcedony and green jasper all appear. I’ll find out more names for next time.

Now a new question – what to do with the polished rocks? Rock art seems the way to go!

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Posted in RousHouse

New Zealand tour with Chillingham Voices

Very successful tour. Pics and notes coming soon.

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Posted in Events

Spring Flowers

New rose – ‘Fearless’, iceland poppies, california poppies, snap-dragons. Some of the delights of our garden.

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Posted in RousHouse

Taking off 2 – Chillingham Voices

taking-off-2-posterWe’ve survived enjoyed our ‘dress rehearsal’ – now its time to pack. Chillingham Voices are off to tour New Zealand October 3-13.

Posted in Events

Tyalgum Music Festival

Tyalgum music festival was a big success. The music was superb – loved ushering.

Creating new songs about our area with Cathy Milliken was very special – a unique happening. Chillingham Voices and Murwillumbah Philharmonia choirs performed them well. I’ve only heard praise for the event.

Posted in Events

Grandma by Myles

Grandma
by Myles Cover (Joyce Hammond’s grandson & Nettie Cubbin’s great-great-grandson)
Presented as part of the launch of ‘Cradled by Man’ at Nettie’s birthday party
King Island July 16th 2016

We would like to give thanks
to a wonderful woman from Manx
Who had a great love of history
and loved to uncover a mystery

Her ancestors you see
had a strong link with the sea
Her grandma Nettie
who you, no doubt, know already
Was born on the shore
whilst the wind did roar
As their ship, the Netherby
was claimed by the sea

But the story does not end there
for although it is quite rare
Our family is amongst the ranks
of those who came from Manx
And Joyce, that is her name you see
knew that it was meant to be
These two islands, at the ends of the earth
were both of very similar girth

This story and many more
she would tell us, and we would never bore
Cause her creativity was amazingly rare
and so was her purple hair

She also had a great sweet tooth
and that, my friends, is the truth
For she would often skip the main
cause it was, simply, too plain
And instead go straight for pud
seconds you ask? Yes she would
And us boys, her grandkids, would try in vain
towards our parents, to explain
That we wanted dessert first, that was our choice
and why couldn’t we, we were just following Joyce

So without Joyce, historian, storyteller and sleuth
and our mum Jenni, in truth
We would not have, to this island flown
cause we would not have known
About our incredible family tale
and how we all hail
From a remote little beach
from here, an arm’s reach

Posted in Events

150 year Netherby Celebrations: Shipwreck and birth of Nettie (my great-grandmother) on King Island beach

Netherby celebrations – King Island July 2016

150 years after the Netherby met its fate
We returned to King Island to celebrate
The survival of all passengers and crew
Plus the birth of one more – brand new

On Thursday 14th we went to the shipwreck site
And saw the wild surf, felt the wind bite
The hardship of that event hit home
And called forth from me this poem

Meeting many descendants was a real treat
Getting us all there an amazing feat
The organisers deserve accolades galore
The locals a warm welcome did ensure

My family basked in Caroline’s colours so bold
In fishermen’s houses buffered from the cold
Surrounded by her art even in the shower
She is truly a living treasure

The lighthouses soar high, the cheeses taste divine,
The penguins are cute and the art sublime
But the restaurant without food is unique for sure
And the cream cakes to die for

Our ancestors, the Cubbins, from the Isle of Man did sail
But were wrecked on another Isle and lived to tell the tale
Interestingly their Isle and the Isle of their daughter’s birth
Share a love of cream-cakes as well as the same shape and girth

Nettie’s birthday on Saturday night we did celebrate
We sang happy birthday and cut the cake
‘Cradled by Man’ was launched and Myles shared his wit
Then the bush dance began and around the room we did flit

A wonderful weekend full of King Island charm
Friends Ted and Carmel showed us their impressive farm
The food, the people, the museum, the art
We explored, we laughed, King Island you took our heart

Many thanks for the organisation superb
For the tales of many descendants we heard
For the food and good cheer
But especially for the memories of ancestors so dear

The wonderful celebrations on King Island were all recorded. See Netherby2016.com – go into facebook page and look at videos. Myles super poem is there and my speech, sadly missing the part at the beginning about the similarities between the Isle of Man and King Island: size and shape almost the size – but more importantly they both make exceptional cream-cakes.

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Posted in Events

Quaint & Curious

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Premier showing of the ‘black lace dress’ and dinner suit.

Complete with full slit makes me feel like an opera singer.

 

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Posted in Events

Myles and Jane Wedding

Myles and Jane’s wedding was like no other
Complete with, in Seattle, the other brother
Bob, the kelpie, bedecked with bow-tie
Between man and wife did lie

Jane looked so beautiful in her dress of red lace
Lovely flowers, thanks to Lucy, embellished the space
Myles striking in his pink shirt and beard of red
A wonderful setting in which to be wed

Family witnessed the ceremony inside
Oblivious of the deluge drenching others in its stride
When Myles gave Jane her wedding ring
Frank couldn’t stop his smile widening

Then champagne corks popped and cheers we did make
A wedding, news of success and a birthday cake
Jane was married, had a new job and turned thirty
Indeed a hat-trick – a win of three

Without getting wet to lunch we walked
And ate delicious food while we talked
The food and company were very special – a real treat
And not getting wet quite a feat

To cap the event we partied on
At an iconic Uni pub – the Duck and Swan
Many friends came to celebrate the special day
And talked, ate, drank and danced the night away

The speeches were insightful and fun
Especially that of Myles, our son
The cake was unique, featuring watermelon
The friends impressive – a strong bond

June 4th 2016 was a day many will remember
In Chillingham 10 inches of rain caused a raging river
And in Sydney houses crashed into the sea
For an exceptional pair what day could more fitting be

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Posted in Events

Scotland Island House sold

The end of a wonderful era. Many, many happy times and many special friends.

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Posted in Scotland Island, Uncategorized

Chess at Chillingham markets

“Why isn’t chess being played?” I asked. As soon as I saw the big painted chess board being used as a stage for musicians at the markets the question instantly arose. I remember playing chess on a big outdoor board in Afghanistan many years ago – it was such fun. And in Burwood park and other parks in Sydney a crowd gathers to watch the chess games.

When I’d been here long enough I presented my question to the Chillingham Community committee. They liked the idea, found the chess pieces and I was in charge! Would it be a success?

Grahame and I went to the community center the Saturday before Market day and cleaned the pieces with our water blaster (one of Grahame’s favourite toys). Market day arrived full of sun and good cheer. The chess set was in use when we arrived …and continued that way all morning. Great fun …a success!

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Posted in Uncategorized

Boating on the Rous

Boating, liloing, swimming – the Rous in our backyard is great fun …especially at the end of a hot day working in the garden.

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Posted in Rous River

Cradled by Man published

Paperback available now. Kindle version coming soon.
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Posted in Books

We have hens

‘Spicks’, ‘Specks’ and ‘Short black’ – have settled in well.

….still trying to get good photos – they love scratching under the trees.

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They are very good girls – put themselves to bed …even by 5pm when I have to go to choir.

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Posted in RousHouse

Green Tree Frog

Yesterday  a green tree frog leapt from the gutter of our shed and fell with a ‘blat’ on the driveway. We were concerned …but he/she started climbing up the wall – clearly hasn’t passed camouflage101 yet!

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Posted in RousHouse

Last mango – 1.5 kg

Our mango tree produced fruit for the first time. Storm early December destroyed most of them …but the few that remained grew sooo big. …and tasted really good. The last one weighed 1.5 kg and lasted us all week for breakfast.

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Posted in RousHouse

Myles and Jane

Myles has displayed his usual creative style – reversing roles and proposing to his girlfriend Jane on ‘Bachelor’s day’, February 29th, traditionally the one day of the year when a woman could propose marriage to a man (on one knee!) …and if he declined he had to give her an expensive dress, money …or possibly 12 pairs of gloves! (to hide embarrassment at being rejected!) …and Jane accepted. We’ve been asked to be in Sydney on June 4th – not sure what will happen then …but knowing Myles it will be interesting and unconventional. A big welcome Jane.

Posted in Events

Scotland Island for sale

The end of a memorable era …lots of wonderful memories …and lots of Island friends.

Lots of work preparing house for sale – but its done and looks fantastic.

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Posted in Scotland Island

Wow its a Platypus – in Tweed Landcare Newsletter

This article appeared in the Tweed Landcare February Newsletter

Wow, it’s a platypus!   by  Jenni and Grahame Cover

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New binoculars …it is dawn and the river babbling
…it’s abundance of native birds are calling.
Sitting under my favourite tree
– a Giant Water Gum – Syzygium francisii.
Suddenly bubbles, midstream, a strange lump surfacing,
then along the bank, underwater patrolling.
Wow – it’s a platypus!

Such excitement – the first time I’ve seen a platypus …such strange, interesting animals. We have been here only 8 months. The river is the Rous River bordering our property near Chillingham. When we first came we were told there were platypus in the Tweed and its tributaries. But it seems there are few reported sightings.

Previously part of a dairy farm most of the property is pasture with cows on agistment. However, thanks to our knowledgeable friends as well as Michael Corke and Matthew Bloor, we have been introduced to the many rainforest trees that grow on the river bank and throughout the property. We proudly display our ‘Land for wildlife’ sign. Soon after we arrived Hugh and Nan Nicholson ran a workshop to introduce their Rainforest Identification Key. Their invaluable identification software – Rainforest Plants of Australia, has allowed me to identify the following trees, add their botanical names, and start labelling them …there will no doubt be more. I am a novice so please excuse any errors.
Black bean – Castanospermum australe
White booyong – Argyrodendron trifoliatum
Foam bark – Jagera pseudorhus
Blue quandong – Elaeocarpus grandis
Hard quandong – Elaeocarpus obovatus
Red cedar – Toona ciliata
Native tamarind – Diploglottis australia
Sandpaper fig – Ficus coronata
Macaranga – Macaranga tanarius
Pepperberry – Cryptocarya obovata
Rough leaf elm – Aphananthe philippinensis
Red kamala – Mallotus philippensis
Red apple – Acmena ingens
Water gum – Tristaniopsis laurina
Strangler fig – Ficus watkinsiana
Guioa – Guioa semiglauca

Inspired by the native flora, and guided by regeneration workshops run by Michael Corke and advice from Matthew Bloor, we have bought solar electric fence to keep out the cows from a section along the river bank. This section already has a narrow corridor of rainforest trees. The plan is to let these wonderful trees naturally sow their progeny and shore up the river bank. Interestingly, the platypus site is in the midst of the proposed regeneration area.

Since that first sighting on November 13th, each morning that I have been at the same site, I have seen a platypus at about 6.30-7am. Also on several evenings – the included photos were taken at 7pm one evening. It’s not easy to take photos of shy platypus with an iphone – but a few came out well. I’ve enjoyed watching the platypus diving out in the middle of the river, swimming very fast across the surface and swimming underwater at the river’s edge. So far I have only seen one platypus at the same time – and patience is required to see him/her.

As well as the platypus there are lots if turtles – also fascinating to watch. They drift along half submerged, dive down, swim along and sometimes clamber onto logs. This is surely a sign of a healthy river. We feel we are custodians of this land and are trying to keep it healthy by removing dangerous weeds, regenerating native trees and plants and respecting the native animals.

 

Posted in Rous River