Saturday, March 17, 2012


The Suburu before the prang.
I’ve spent months laying the blame for my recent tardiness in maintaining my blogs on the ever-increasing pressure of coming to grips with the new Australian Curriculum which kicked off this year in Queensland. That excuse still holds true but the prang on my 42nd wedding anniversary didn’t help the cause of birding the South Burnett.

And even the prang can be squarely laid at the feet of the Australian Curriculum, or rather my growing sense of doom as I plough through it’s intricacies. It was a Monday [20 February] and I was out and about along Berlin Road by 0600 hours hoping to get in some additional school time [it’s about a 30-minute drive from Allen Road to Blackbutt]. As I climbed the one steep hill along this 6-km stretch of road the sun poked its face above the crest of the hill completely blinding me. I somehow drifted across to the other, the wrong, side of the road. That’s when the other motorist came over the brow.

Neither of us was seriously injured but both vehicles, while not badly damaged [in the sense of being declared “write-offs”] did sustain considerable body panel damage; my leaking radiator forewarned me that there was also some adverse mechanical impairment present.

Birding was not foremost in my mind at the time but the reality of being without a driveable vehicle settled morosely on the brain the following Friday evening. That’s the time of day Fay and I usually relax together on the east verandah, sip a glass or two [in my case almost invariably more] of a fine South Australian red, be it Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon or the recently discovered Clare Valley gem, a fabulous Grenache from the Reilly stable. It is also the time we debate the weekend’s birding itinerary.

With my 4-wheel drive out of action, Fay’s small Swift rather limited our choices, all the more as steady rain had made all but the better tarmac roads virtually impassable to a vehicular minnow.

We covered the Meandu Creek from the Berlin Road Bridge but even this often prolific corner proved unproductive that first weekend. Poor visibility did little to help matters.

That weekend birding prospects for anything beyond Allen Road appeared decidedly grim. This is not the UK where Fay and I could catch a bus [to Milford Hills] or indeed walk [to Cannock Chase or, in our Great Haywood days, stroll along the Trent & Mersey Canal]. This is inland Queensland where bus services are as rare as rocking horse droppings and when you live nine kilometres outside town even the prospect of covering some of the local parklands is beyond the pale of human endurance.

Matters did not improve when the designated panel beater informed me that he couldn’t possible begin on my Suburu until after Easter. Eight weeks! I tried to circumnavigate the delay by approaching a second panel beater. Yes, he could have me back on the road by Easter.

Complications arose. The insurance company, with a “helpline” based in Melbourne, failed to understand the local geography and they failed to appreciate my urgent need to go birding [they probably don’t know a House Sparrow from a Red Goshawk anyway]. The original delegated panel beater, on hearing that I was attempting to bypass his long delay refused to work on my car. The Suburu remained in limbo betwixt red tape and my growing sense of doom.

Matters finally took a turn for the better last week. The issue of which panel beater would work on the vehicle was settled; he was also capable of doing the mechanical repairs [the original pawned out that part of the overall work]. And, to add icing to a steadily more flavoursome cake, the Blackbutt panel beater was prepared to give me a courtesy vehicle, an all-wheel RAV-4!

I collected the vehicle on Friday [16 March] afternoon, after school. Saturday was already earmarked for other duties


but we had today, Sunday 18 March to look forward to.

It’s been pouring down all morning!