The 2009 ExplorOz Gathering in St George QLD

Wednesday, Oct 07, 2009 at 17:57

Sir Kev

The ExplorOz 2009 National Gathering in St George had been a long time in the planning. It began in July 2008 after I had returned from the ExplorOz 2008 National Gathering in Innamincka.
The 15 months of preparation had allowed for a large number of people to plan and register their attendance. In all 68 people had registered for the Gathering but with all things not all attended.
The attendance figures for the Gathering were as follows:
• 39 Vehicles,
• 72 Adults,
• 26 children, and
• 9 dogs.
The Camp ground was in a location that we were not disturbed by other people and it was a safe environment of all the kids to roam and play without fear of being run over.
The Gathering officially started on the Monday but myself, and several others started early and arrived at the campground at about 08:30am on the Friday so we could prepared for the week long onslaught from fellow ExplorOzers.

Early attendee’s included:
1. Me ;)
2. John T (Tamworth) and travelling Partner Julie,
3. Bill F (Vic) and Pauline,
4. Isuzumu (Bruce and Annie),
5. Di and Ken,
6. Matt and Julie (Vic),
7. Steve and Denny (Geratric Gypsies) and their grandkids Chevy and Suzie,
8. Scrubby and Strawb
The set up of the campsite was relatively easy with only a few things needed, a trip to my parents place to pick up some additional 240l rubbish bins and a trailer load of firewood was first on the cards, before the ExplorOz banner was hoisted.

Friday evening was a relaxed evening with a small crowd. Although the women present started a morning walking group, which was aptly led by Bruce the following morning ;) As the walking group returned into camp on Saturday morning there was Bruce like an old Bull Camel way out in front leading the way for his herem of ladies following. John T shot a quick vidoe of it and will hopefully forward it for posting on here. From that morning onwards Bruce (AKA the Bull Camel) stayed at camp LOL, Although David (AKA Dusty) tried on a couple of morning to take Bruce's title off him.

Saturday dawned and the eerie presence of the impending dust storm reduced the amount of activities that we did during the day, although the yabby traps were set and checked several times for very average results. A change of bait seemed to have the yabbies on the bite and the racing stock numbers increased.
During the day another swarm of attendees arrived and set up their respective camps with the aid of the dust storm. From memory another 11 attendees arrived on Saturday.

A Practice game of the now famous ExplorOz Horseshoe throwing Comp was run by no other than John T before once again we retired to the campfire for an evening of tales.
Sunday dawned a new day without the dust and spirits had lifted. The routine of checking the yabby traps resumed and numbers were notably less than the previous morning although there were more traps in place.
More attendees continued to arrive throughout the day and I was asked if a Town History tour could be arranged. A phone call later and a Town History Tour of St George was organised with a long time local resident Mr Robert Buchan. The tour commenced at the Visitor Information Centre at 2:00pm and those who attended returned to camp just after 4pm. They must have spread the word that the tour was well worthwhile as I was asked to arrange another so those who missed out could do one.
The first official Horseshoe Throwing comp started at 3:00 – 3:30pm and it was revealed that those watching in the open shed were not safe. Not 1 but 2 Horseshoes were thrown to an incorrect destination........................................ The ROOF of the shed hehe.
The Hecklers were out in force and some suggested that the biggest heckler was dressed for the occasion but Mark G always dresses like that ;)

Due to having an ample number of attendee’s present I decided to start the raffles early and the first raffle was held on Sunday Night. It was a great opportunity for those who hadn’t attended an ExplorOz Gathering before to be welcomed and an enjoyable night was had by all.
Monday arrived and it was the Official commencement of the ExplorOz 2009 National Gathering, more people continued to arrive and sadly some moved on. Nothing official was programmed for the day although I did happen to arrange another Town History Tour with Mr Robert Buchan only this one was to commence at 4pm at the Visitor Information Centre. Robert is a very Town proud person and is a wealth of information. I was asked if he charged a fee for conducting the tour, when I asked him about it he replied “Definitely NOT” this is just Robert’s way of welcoming the travelling community to the town.

Robert also invited everyone to visit his workshop to view his collection of old trucks, tractors and vehicles.

Monday also included a quick tour of the area with those who were going to be the Trip leader for the following 2 days. One such Trip Leader must have dosed off as he missed showing his group one of the attractions ;)

The Horseshoe throwing comp was up and running in earnest once again and Scrubby was setting up for the 2nd annual ExplorOz National Gathering Yabby Races. The resident Heckler was in full song and safety equipment was being worn by the Official Judge.

Monday evening was also another night where I had Roachie squirming. There was an Award that need to be presented so I approached Roachie to ask if he would like to do the honours. I only slightly wound him up first by saying “I need you up front so an Award can be presented” as he groaned and tried to hide in his chair I added “It isn’t for you this time, I want you to present it” after that he didn’t care who was getting it as long as it wasn’t him.
The Award was presented to a former member who is no longer part of ExplorOz but attended under the invite of those who keep in contact with him offline. He was very sheepish when it was given and Roachie was relishing in the fact that he could present such a rare Award.

Scrubby ran the Yabby races and all the kids had a great time.

The evening progressed to the drawing of the raffle and some more mingling around the campfire.

Tuesday saw the group split into 2 groups with Colin (On Patrol) and Steve (Geriatric Gypsies) lead the trips for the day.
Colin’s group headed to Bollon for a Breakfast/Brunch, and then proceeded onto the Rosehill Aviary. After leaving the Aviary, Colin led his group via a short detour to see some other sights of the area. First stop was at a Turkey Nest dam which is used to store water off stream during high river flow periods.
As can be seen in the photos the river has not had high water flows for quite a period, therefore the planting of dry land wheat has been utilised during the period of lack of water. The Farm requires income of some sort during the dry periods and cropping in the empty dams is one way that is achieved.

Colin then took his group down to where the early settlers had a Steam Engine positioned next to the river, which was used as water pump to pump water for early crops etc.

Colin then had an Old-timers moment and failed to take his group through to the Heritage listed House that was less than 1km further down the road. Colin claimed the sign on the cattle grid prevented him from proceeding. The sign stated “Private Property, NO TRESPASSING”, he seemed to have forgotten my comment from the previous day when I told him that the road was actually a PUBLIC ROAD, and the sign was for any access to the minor tracks off it ;)
Dejected and in need of a stiff drink, Colin seemed to be able to programme his GPS to get him to the Riversands Winery where his groups trip finished for the day.

Before they then made their way back to camp to continue putting up with the Horse Shoe Heckler.

Steve’s group headed out to “Ashwood” a working Cotton farm. Scott the owner was full of info on the day to day running of such a Farm. He also fielded questions in regards to water usage throughout the Queensland Murray/Darling Basin.

From there Steve’s group headed down to the infamous Nindigully Pub where there were a few members who were itching for a ROAD TRAIN BURGER. Due to a slight breakdown in communications and the fact that the Boss “Burnsie” was not there. The Bar staff pretty much refused to serve us lunch as they had a booking for 45 people due to arrive. So with that minor hiccup we packed up and headed back to St George and had a pub meal at the Riverview Hotel on the St George’s Terrace who was more than happy to feed us. In doing this unplanned lunch detour, this group also missed out on a small detour on the return trip from Nindigully.

Tuesday evening rolled on and to keep the entertainment up Scrubby and I collected a few brown frogs and a couple of green tree frogs from one of the toilets and frog races were held much to the crowd’s enjoyment.

Wednesday’s activity was the reverse of the previous day with Colin’s group heading to “Ashwood”, then onto the Nindigully pub. Colin’s group sucked up BIGTIME with Scott and presented him with a Bottle of Bundy for his efforts in conducting the Farm tour.
They rolled into Nindigully for lunch and were greeted by the “Boss” who when informed of the previous day’s events promptly donated items to be included in the raffles. Matt of Matt and Julie fame was actually part of the group that did the trip with Steve the day before. Matt was determined to have a crack at the ROAD TRAIN BURGER so slipped down to Nindigully to have a go.

Colin aptly led the group home via the detour that Steve’s group missed out on the previous day, and his group saw the Aboriginal rock wells on the Moonie Highway before returning to camp.
Steve’s group had a change of trip leader to Mark G. Mark had been to the Rosehill Aviary when he travelled up to assist in the collection of firewood in May. He also lead the group down the staion tracks to the Artesion bore

I took the group via the same detour as Colin’s group did the day before and this group actually saw the Heritage listed house on the Anchorage ;)

Wednesday Night was also the night we Saluted Member Footloose, he may have passed away but he is definately not forgotten.
Steve [Geriatric Gypsies] proposed a toast to Footy around the campfire and all attendees were upstanding as we all had a drink for him and then sang "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow"

Wednesday nights raffle was undertaken by Jack and Linda (Bushpig) and Dave and Nora (Dave B Broken Hill) as they were both authorised RFDS collectors. The proceeds of the raffles from Wednesday night went to the RFDS.
After the Raffle was completed, I commenced the open Auction of the 2009 ExplorOz National Gathering Canvas Memorabilia Print kindly donated by Brian at Canvas Charisma. My opening bid of $250.00 had been raised by Matt (Matt and Julie) to $400 prior to Wednesday night. I made a phone call to Josh (Vic) as previously arranged between himself and I. Then the bidding commenced in earnest, Josh bid up to $500 only to be outbid by Ed C (QLD) at a final bid of $520.00. I then started drawing the Raffle that had been used as part of the Camping fee’s every vehicle paid. Steve B (SteveinOz) was a major winner of most of the raffles held thus far and he continued his good fortune with this major raffle, taking home the landscape framed picture that Peter (Member extfilm) donated. Further assorted prizes including an electric winch and a set of Hella driving lights (donated by Stuart P WA). Additional prizes included stuff sent through from the ExplorOz team and also some from attendee’s.
I then commenced an auction on the remaining electric winch and 5 sets of driving lights and 2 Hella work lights. The winch went for $200 and the driving lights averaged $25. Some fun was had with the work lights, did you know a right handed work light is worth less than a left handed one (isn’t that right Steve and Denny LOL). The right handed work light was auctioned first and Denny decided to bid against Steve only to lose the bid due to them arguing about bidding against each other hehehehe. The left handed one ended up selling for more than the right handed one, after which Denny started into Steve again LOL

I was asked early in the week if I could organise a trip to see the bloke who makes the Condamine bells, I suggested that they make contact and if successful add it to the activities white board so everyone could attend if they wanted. So an activity was created for Thursday with a trip to the residence of Barry Doonan at 2pm to see his display of Condamine bells with a brief run down of how he manufacturers them.
Prior to heading out to the Condamine Bell place Dave B conducted a trailer reversing event that a few people attempted. Was good to see the different reversing techniques used.
Thursday night was the last night of the Horseshoe throwing competition and also the last night for the raffles. A memorable night was had by all.

Photos taken By Jo (Toadkeeper), Stefan, and On Patrol

Friday dawned and the majority of attendee’s packed up and started to head home. So Friday was spent by those of us left (all 5 of us) to clean up the campsite and return equipment etc that I had borrowed for the gathering. Lunch at the Winery was suggested and it was a bit of a disappointment as all they served was Muffins, scones and cheese platters ? Friday evening was spent sitting around the now small campfire and discussions of future National Gatherings was raised. David and Michelle are organising one for 2010 in Wiluna, and Dave B is thinking of organising one for Broken Hill in 2011.
Thanks again to all those who donated prizes and cash to the fundraising effort, Ian at RV Accessories donated 50amp Anderson plugs as well as Vehicle Tourniquets (the Tourniquets were included in all the info packs).

All the Fundraising that was undertaken, it would appear to have been a very successful week.

Money Raised included

$168.00 from the sales of the pocket sized cook books which went to the SES Group,

$700 for the use of the Camp Ground and Facilities,

$274 For the RFDS (yet to be confirmed), and

A Mammoth

$2785.95 that was Donated to the St George Scout Group.

Which is one hell of an effort for those who attended.

It was also very pleasing to see that people picked up their rubbish and left the site cleaner than when we arrived. I think I only picked up 4 handfuls of rubbish over the whole area we occupied (most of which appeared to be left there prior to us arriving)
I hope everyone enjoyed themselves and I hope to see you all again at an ExplorOz Gathering again soon.

I will also add that I took NO PHOTOS whatsoever so all photos included in this Blog have been forwarded to me by Matt and Julie (Vic), and Jo (The Toadkeeper), Stefan, and Colin (On Patrol)
Russell Coight:
He was presented with a difficult decision: push on into the stretching deserts, or return home to his wife.
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