Thursday, 30 May 2013

The Saints of St George and the Dragon of Beardmore

Saturday 18th May (cont.)

Here we are now in sunny Queensland heading towards St George. The sun is shining, the sky is blue and all is well with the world.



Suddenly, there is Steve with a stop sign for the road works. He wanders over to Ron’s window and tells us it will be a few minutes while the gravel truck does what gravel trucks do. In response to this new found information, Ron turns off the engine.  Steve then wanders round to my side for a bit more of a chat.

It seems he comes from around Sunshine Coast and they work 10 days on and 4 days off. Then it was time to go.


Insert key, turn, CLICK! , turn, CKICK, turn, CLICK!!!!!! Oh dear!!!

Steve’s initial diagnosis was battery. This was counteracted by Ron’s diagnosis of Starter Motor. It didn’t really matter what the cause was, we had several road trains backed up behind us and needed to move. Steve sent them on their way and called his boss on the radio.

He duly arrived and exclaimed, with unbounded enthusiasm ‘I used to work on these’ and promptly peered into the depths of Indie’s engine. He then stated it would need to be looked at from underneath, leapt from the cabin and proceeded to crawl under.

 He located the offending part, removed it, as it was hanging by a thread and tried shorting it across with a screw driver which caused all kinds of sparks to fly but failed in its duty to start.

It was unanimously decided that we could not remain where we were and that road working equipment is not allowed to be used for towing us so Ron could clutch start Indie. That left manpower! It also left, Steve, his boss and another older chap to provide that manpower (the others were too busily engaged elsewhere).

I shall forever stand in awe of these men who pushed Indie backwards for two attempts and then forwards for the final successful one. Indie is not light, weighing in at around 5 tonnes!!!!

They all stood about gasping and swearing that they will be giving up smoking soon as they took another drag on their durries. 

After I told Steve it was all his fault for making us stop in the first place and he argued that he only made us stop, not turn off the ignition, he finally conceded that he had at least contributed to the problem by telling Ron we would have to wait a while thus encouraging the turn of events that followed.

He told me I could get back to my knitting and was just about to wave us on when he laughed and said, ‘Guess what, you have to wait for the gravel truck again. But DON’T turn it off.

 We finally bade farewell to Steve and his friends with strict instructions not to stall on the way through the next five lots of road works. I told him he would have to radio ahead and tell them to let the blue bus through, give us a clear run.

We were also instructed to go to JCM Autos (because that is where they go and they are very good) when we arrived in St George (about 80 kms up the road).

We drove through, and I don’t know if it was just co-incidence or not, but we did not get stopped at road works once and each stop-go man gave us a smile and a wave.

We made it to JCM’s and Ron parked in their driveway while I went and pleaded our case to Marlies (the M in JCM). I asked if we could park Indie in their driveway till Monday when the Auto Electrician gets back from holidays because, once we turn him off, that’s it – he’s not staring again. After much discussion, she sent us to camp down by the weir (because it is much nicer than their driveway) and assured us – guaranteed in fact – that the Auto Electrician would come and find us first thing Monday morning and fix us up or at least get us started so we could drive back to the garage then.  

We dutifully did as instructed and parked down beside the weir. Sadly, we parked on the wrong side, in the ‘No Camping’ area (We didn’t see the sign until we had turned Indie off). But, seriously, we aren’t camping, we’re broken!!

We didn’t put out the awning or anything and Ronnie cooked inside, mainly because it was freezing cold and also because we didn’t want to draw attention to ourselves either.

I did a quick walk around the immediate area and found a plaque saying that on St Georges Day, April 23rd, 1846, Sir Thomas Mitchell crossed the Balonne and established a camp, calling the crossing, St George’s Bridge. That was the origin of the town of St George.

We had a splendid view of the river downstream from the weir and of course there were heaps of birds for company.


After dinner we watched a couple of our TV shows and then it was off to the land of nod.

Sunday 19th May

We got up early and I was sitting outside breakfasting when a chap who was staying in the nearby caravan park stopped by for a chat. He also owns a toaster that is broken down but he had to have a part shipped in so he has been waiting a while and still has a while to go.

With nothing to do and nowhere to go – and in fact no way of starting up to go anywhere, we decided that we would walk to town. We were chatting on the phone to Cheryee who laughed heartily and advised that if we were going to St George on a Sunday for coffee we should take our own thermos!!!!

Undaunted we set off anyway.  

We did find a café that was opened and bought hot dogs with the lot, for lunch and then made our way back via the river side walk. It is beautifully landscaped with lots of seats and even has exercise stations for those who are really keen.

There was also a flood marker showing where St George was under water. In March 2010 it was 13.39 metres and in January 2011 it was 13.20 metres.  One local told us that this January, the river was so dry, you could walk across and now they have part of the spillway on the weir open!!!!
After lunch I walked down by the river, downstream from the weir. Their were lots of birds and a fellow fishing on the far bank.
I stood and watched as a young kite surfer tried to launch himself into the river.
He was having very little success and even the arrival of his long suffering girlfriend failed to get him up so to speak. I gave up and left. Even the buzzards were beginning to circle!
Monday 20th May
I was awakened by a loud banging on Indie’s door (fortunately Ron was up) and a voice calling ‘We’ve come to steal your starter motor’. It was Joe, the ‘J’ from JCM’s and a young apprentice, Josh. We were told that the Auto Electrician was really busy and so they had volunteered to come and fetch the starter motor and take it back to him.
 With this said, Josh was immediately dispatched to the underside of Indie, in amongst the catheads and other assorted burrs.

He had a dreadful time removing the offending part (the space was so cramped and it took quite a while) but finally they left promising to return soon.

Ronnie and I waited with baited breath (as one does when anything mechanical is involved) but received no phone call.

Instead, they returned within a couple of hours, three at the most, clutching the fully repaired starter motor.


Josh had brought with him a piece of cardboard to lie on this time and we were all joking that he will be champing at the bit to do all the starter motors from now on.

We thanked them very much and told them we would just be on our way now. Joe looked a little aghast but then we promised him we would come into town in a half hour or so and fix up the bill.

They had been soooooo fabulous coming out to us and all that we even filled up with diesel first.


Then we got the bill…….$234.53

($41.53 of that was for the fuel and there was NO CHARGE to travel back and forth to Indie!!!!)

We decided to go and have a celebratory lunch at the other café in town. It was lovely.

Then we walked back and there was a shop that sold all kinds of general merchandise and jewellery and I bought a lovely little silver charm – a pumpkin with a mouse inside – very unusual but certain to remind us of our adventures in St George.
From there, I went to ‘The Unique Egg’ a display of hand carved emu eggs made by a Greek gentleman over a period of 40 years. It was $3.00 well spent! Ron waited in Indie. The eggs are all illuminated from inside and stand in mirrored cases so you can see all the sides. It was really interesting to see how the different layers of egg shell produced different colours.

The weather bureau is threatening rain tomorrow and with that in mind and the fact that we have pretty much seen St George we have decided to push on (or should that be push back?).

On the way in, there was a pub, (824) Nindigully Hotel. It is about 45 kms before St George and came highly recommended as a good stop and the Pub dinners were great so we backtracked to it. It looked OK but the camping area was all red dust and there were a few muddy bog holes there already from recent rain so we decided not to stay.

Instead, we drove back through St George and on another 14 kms.

We arrived at (868) Beardmore. It is a bush camp by the river about 8 kms before you get to Beardmore Dam.

Well, we drove in and it is a fairly small area so we parked in front of a 4WD and caravan from WA. The owners were out the side, sitting in the sun so in my cheeriest voice, I apologised for parking so close but we had left them plenty of room to get out and we needed to catch the last rays of sun for our solar.

Well that just wasn’t good enough at all. She turned her back to me. He snarled at me that it looked like there was probably just enough room and I said I was sure that you could drive three busses through there. Then she threw her arms up in the air in disgust and shouted ‘well, you obviously don’t tow a big van’. I was about to say ‘Well if you can’t get out of there, then you obviously shouldn’t tow a big van but I didn’t’. Still in my cheery voice, I did point out, that they had heaps of room behind them in which they could back up, allowing them even more room to get out (they could then drive six or seven busses through the gap). This suggestion was met with more muttering and blustering.  After all my attempts at diplomacy had failed, I further went on to suggest that had they had the common courtesy to have parked a little further back in the first place, we would not have even had to have had this conversation. That comment was not well received. I then turned on my heel and Ron and I decided that we did not want to be anywhere near them anyway so we went in search of another site.

I guess every St George needs a dragon and boy, was she it!!!!!!!!!

I’m soooooooooooooo glad we moved!!!!!

We ended up with the second best spot on the river (next doors had the best). We were right on the bank, with sweeping views of the river.


The next door neighbours (who were very friendly and not from WA) were well set up indeed; they had even brought kayaks.

It was a lovely little spot and we would have liked to stay longer but Paul deploys tomorrow and we had no phone coverage (why would you expect anything else; I mean, we were 14 kms out of town). We decided that we would head off to Roma tomorrow.


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