We saw my oncologist the other day. She compared chest X-Rays from diagnosis to current and was unable detect any increase in the tumor mass in almost three months. She also noted that the metastisised lymph nodes were considerably less dense in the current X-ray and to me the tumor mass looked less dense too. Not having given me any treatment and not knowing what treatment I am following she was not prepared to make any comment. She has however agreed to see me in three months time after having an MRI scan which will better enable her to assess progress. Of course I am hoping and praying that at that time some decrease in tumor size will be apparent.
After returning home from our last journey in October of 2013 we have busied ourselves with working on the motor home preparing it for sale. This has require major work and expense but we were finally successful last October in finding a buyer who had owned an identical vehicle (just a bit smaller) some time ago. Just before the sale was completed I had a fall and ended up in hospital. The medics took MRI scans looking to see if I had a stroke. This was clear but it did reveal a suspicious shadow on the right lung. Further investigation of this including a needle biopsy and Pet scan resulted in a diagnoses of inoperable lung cancer metastisized to the lymph nodes. The oncologist offered me various strengths of chemo and radio therapy but having been down that road some six years ago I did not wish to go that way again. Instead I have elected to try one of the many alternative methods of attacking cancer. Many people around the world have been successful doing this including a couple of people whom I know personally. For anyone facing this predicament I recommend reading the book “”Outsmart your Cancer”” by Tanya Harter Pierce MA, MFCC. This is a collection of twenty one alternative therapies which by all accounts have saved many lives over the last thirty years. Look at Tanya’s website for more details from her book and testimonials from cancer survivors whom she has met.
Today we have opened up the shop pages and it is no longer necessary for everyone to log in to see prices and be able to order. During the past sixteen years we have always used the profit from retailing stock towards our horrendous cost of travelling through Australia bringing “Painting with Beeswax to as many people as we could reach. Now that we are not travelling any more and continuing our aim of bringing encaustic art materials to our clients at the lowest prices we have had a major price revision.
We intend supplying Arts Encaustic products through our shop for as long as we can so that our clients can have fun painting with wax.
Ian Hesford. January 2015
Below is an account of our journey to West Australia in 2011 and its sudden termination due to Margaret’s health.
Sunday 28th March we left our home near Lake Macquarie in New South Wales and traveled to the Blue Mountains to meet up with my daughter Michele and her family. After overnighting there we carried on to Orange to see our latest great grand daughter just one week old. From there to Grenfell to see Margaret’s daughter Heather and husband Alex. The family thing being covered we spent a couple of nights at Company’s Dam just out of Grenfell. One beautiful sunny and very calm morning gave an opportunity to take some incredible photos with reflections in the water so perfect that it is almost impossible to tell which way up the photo should be.
“Reflections” Company’s Dam, Grenfell NSW
Next on to Deniliquin joining the advance party preparing for the 25th Campervan and Motorhome Club of Australia’s rally. Over eleven hundred vehicles were in attendance. Unfortunately Margaret was not well and had to cancel her Encaustic Art classes. She was better for the Market Day on Saturday and managed to start five new people on their encaustic journey. We purchased a new Toshiba laptop computer and have had a lot of difficulty with it.
Shepparton was our next destination to stay with one of Margaret’s nieces Julie and her partner. We found that Julie works for a local organization called Connect GV which cares for disabled people and that next day was their craft day. Julie invited Margaret to give her group a demonstration. About forty people, carers and clients were kept spellbound for over two hours whilst Margaret wielded her iron. Then by popular demand Julie was persuaded to put on an apron and try her hand. She was amazed and delighted by the result as she had never before been able to achieve anything artistic. A quick trip back to Wodonga to see a web designer to sort out our web problems. Troubled by Margaret’s recurring chest problems we returned to Shepparton where we spent a few days for her recovery..
We left Shepparton and after spending several enjoyable days camping at various sites on the banks of the mighty Murray River we crossed the border into South Australia to a little village called Mannum. Passing through the city of Adelaide we picked up a parcel of stylus and sent off five to waiting clients. I had intended to stay there for a few days but as we have to get to Perth by the first week in June and with nearly 2,500 klms to travel we decided to press on and today the 20th we left Ceduna at the start of our Nullarbor Plains adventure. The weather was atrocious, very wet and with gale force head winds impeding our progress. We made a short detour down to the Head of the Bight which is a premier whale watching area. The extreme weather conditions made the sea very rough and not a whale to be sighted. The wind was so strong that it was difficult to walk against it. It was a relief to get to Eucla as the wind had moderated and the sun was shining again.
At this point the road leaves the coast and goes inland and the weather improved greatly. A fuel stop at Mundrabilla Roadhouse revealed that the extreme wind had caused a thirty percent increase in fuel consumption! At the border the scenery changes quite dramatically from the treeless plains (Nullarbor) to stubby growth, to rich wheat belt, to stringy bark forest country. Most noticeable were the spindly trees with a profusion of branches capped with a canopy of shiny green leaves almost like an umbrella. We overnighted in some marvelous rest areas like the one here. Pristine spaces lined with small stones, rubbish bins and even a picnic table. Like most rest areas there were no toilets but having our own facilities this did not concern us. Unlike most rest areas the absence of white streamers was very apparent and it was remarkable the small amount of rubbish littering the area. It became clearer next morning when we discovered the rest area we though we had stopped in came into sight two kilometers down the road. I was able to check the GPS readings to establish that the rest area we stayed in was not listed in Camps Australia which is the guidebook for all travellers.
As we approached Norseman we came across increasing numbers of the beautiful Salmon Gum trees. These magnificent trees shed their bark once a year to reveal an incredibly shiny salmon coloured trunk which quickly mellows to a light grey until next season. As we approached Perth the colour changed to a more yellow shade. They were probably a variant of the species because their bark was shed in a mottled patterns unlike the strips of the Salmon gum. We arrived in York and Margaret wanted to attend a weekend market at the Old Mill. After some difficulty arranging Public Liability Insurance we were only able to display on the Sunday. This was quite successful and resulted in us being invited to stop overnight at a place where there was to be an art session next day. Margaret enthralled five ladies who decided they must aquire all the equipment to continue their encaustic journey.
From York it is only a short distance to Perth where we became encamped at the Advent Centre. We stayed here for eight nights to await the arrival of my son Deryk and his new bride Claire. They are stopping off in Perth for a couple of days to see us and then will be returning to their home in Switzerland via South Africa where they will spend ten days checking out the wildlife. We collected Deryk and Claire from Perth Airport, had a quick meal and set off northwards for Cervantes and the world famous Pinnacles Desert. Our overnight stop at a roadside rest area introduced our visitors to the delights of bush camping. Fortunately they both slept well on our fold down lounge/bed. Arriving at the site next morning Deryk and Claire marveled at the acres of spectacular rock formations in all shapes and sizes, some polished smooth and some deeply pitted and creviced. We had to leave out motor home in the car park and drove around the desert tracks in the Suzi. Deryk an avid photographer found many photo opportunities.
After lunch we headed off to New Norcia, Australia’s only Monastic Town. Founded by Spanish Monks in 1846 it is famous for its collection of buildings featuring Spanish architecture and Australia’s finest collection of religious paintings. Some twenty years ago thieves broke in and stole many of the paintings severely damaging them by roughly cutting the canvas from their frames, Our last visit here was in 2006 for the celebration of the return of the beautifully restored paintings. Today we had a two hour conducted tour and learned much of the history of New Norcia and their Monks. We visited the school premises where so many indigenous children were educated voluntarily and not forced. There was no “stolen generation” here. After camping overnight in the Monastery grounds we headed back to Perth to find medical facilities so that our guests could have an injection which had suddenly become mandatory for entry into South Africa. This having been accomplished Deryk and Claire treated us to a sumptuous dinner at a Chinese restaurant which specialised in Peking Duck before we took them back to the airport for their flight to South Africa.
After a few more days in Perth and catching up with old friends Dave and Sue Bar we headed North. A Perth suburb called Ellenbrook saw us stop of to meet up with Mike and his wife who run Metropolitan Framing ,the Perth stockist for Encaustic Art products. We were delighted to learn that they had been introduced to this art form by their mother who has been taught by Margaret when we were last in Perth a few years ago. Heading further North to the township of Moora but before getting there we discovered the Koojan Reserve dedicated to the Western Australian Salmon Gum tree. These are a slightly different variety to the ones we observed further South. In Moora we contacted the local craft group at their weekly meeting and though there were only going to be a couple of people there Margaret spent most of the day demonstrating her wax painting. We were even invited to overnight one one ladies property on the outskirts of town. The next day Margaret was invited to demonstrate at the Delmore Centre, a HACC care facility for elderly and disabled people.
On leaving Moora our next stop was just up the road at the Western Wildfower Farm. Here they cultivate huge numbers of exotic wild flowers and export them around the world. We had a complimentary cup of coffee and a personally conducted tour around the shed by the owner. It was late afternoon and all her workers had gone home. I purchased a book to try and help identify some of the 14,000 species of West Australian wild flowers known with many more being identified each year. We are hoping that this year will be a stand out as the crop is entirely dependent on the quantity and timing of rain falls. Recent years have been disappointing so maybe we will be lucky. I was horrified to learn later on that what I thought were salmon gums were in fact a tree called Gimlet (eucalyptus salubris). I was shattered as I thought they deserved a far better name for such a beautiful tree. We saw last night in the news that Richard Brandson is in Australia and that he is looking at the feasibility of flying his aeroplanes on a fuel derived from gum trees!!! I had intended to overnight at the farm but the owner told us of an incredible geological fault or sink hole just a few kilometers on named Jingemia Cave. There was a five klm drive on dirt road but it was well worth the trip. After a walk all the way round the top of the sink hole I set up our newly aquired satellite dish and we enjoyed watching TV. We had a caravan for company and they smiled when I drove out early next morning. I had failed to wait for the dew on our rig to dry off and so the red dust generated when driving the road out of the reserve settled and stuck making and awful mess of our vehicles.
Our next stop was at the old gold mining town of Mount Magnet where we called in to the Visitors Bureau and met a delightful lady called Monica. We also learned of an opportunity for a farm stay coming up in July for about ten days and this sounded very interesting. A couple of nights in the caravan park to replenish water, battery levels and fuel supplies we headed fifty klms west to Challa Station. We found a very large property devoid of stock and crops. It had been in the family for over 150 years but the
last ten years have seen it ravaged by drought. The last remaining sheep were sent to market several years ago and since then it has been invaded by feral dogs. These will have to be cleared before any consideration of re-stocking is undertaken. The old corrugated iron sheering shed looked so forlorn surrounded by the iron frame of a large new shed being constructed at the time the drought hit. Ashley spends twelve hours a day contracting to a local vanadium mining company doing road construction and other work requiring use of his heavy machinery. Ashley is also the local Shire President and it is an up coming LGA meeting in Perth that required the house sit. Unfortunately for us he had negotiated the situation the evening before we arrived but as the weather was changing we sought permission to stay as the roads get very slippery in the wet.[ Ashley’s wife Debbie was away most of next day as she does relief teaching at Mt Magnet School. On her return we had a session wax painting with her daughter Emma who knew a little about this art form from her Grandmother. That afternoon was very balmy and I doubted that it could rain, however at about 11 pm I was awakened by the sound of rain on the rooftop. It was very steady and consistent. At 7 am I spoke with Ashley on the 2-way radio and he advised that it should be ok to leave the property which we did and headed for Sandstone about 150 klms away. Sandstone is an old gold mining town which at the turn of the century had a population of 40,000. For entertainment the residents often congregated at the London Bridge for picnics and games. There were many fascinating photos in the visitors bureau from this era. One picture showed a man on a horse on the middle of the bridge with a sulky being driven underneath. Today’s OH&S laws prevent such frivolity and it is now securely barricaded.
Calling in to the Visitors Information Bureau we met Margo who was most helpful. After a short while a young aboriginal lady came in with a severe tooth ache and swollen jaw. After consultation with the local area Nurse the Royal Flying Doctor was summoned and as she was pregnant she was flown direct to Perth for treatment. Two days later I was in exactly the same position with an abscess at the base of a rear tooth, As it was Friday I went to see our friend Margo at the visitor Bureau who gave me a list of dentists at Geraldton, some 500 Klms away. I was fortunate to get an appointment for the following
Wednesday. Later as the pain increased and because of the day I rang the RFDS emergency number and within a very short time I was having an over phone consultation with an RFDS Doctor at Jandakot airport in Perth. The doctor prescribed antibiotics and pain killers by specifying a number. Back to friend Margo and she took me up to the nurse’s station where she retrieved the necessary medicines from the well stocked RFDS medicine chest. We were advised by the doctor to make a hasty trip back to Geraldton about 750 klms away to get immediate attention. On Monday morning I was fortunate to get an appointment with a dentist who seeing my predicament removed the offending tooth straight away. (We were very fortunate to get a personally conducted tour of the RFDS facility a couple of weeks later when in Perth).
We spent a week in Geraldton which enabled us to catch up with Margaret’s distant cousin David Ianson and his wife Mary. Now retired they do a stirling job organising tour guides for the HMAS Sydney memorial. This impressive structure is a dome constructed of 645 stainless steel seagulls, one for each of the crewmen who were lost. We heard the story of when the ground was consecrated prior to building the memorial at the end of the ceremony a flock of seagulls flew over and hovered above the site for a while. This was all the more significant as flocks of seagulls are very rare in Geraldton. In 1941 the HMAS Sydney 11 was sunk in a battle with the German raider ship Kormoran disguised as a Dutch merchant ship. The two ships shelled each other until both were sunk. The Sydney with the the loss of 645 lives and no survivors, however a few sailors managed to survive from the Kormoran shelling and eventually found their way ashore to the West Australian coast. As part of the memorial there is a magnificent bronze statue of a Lady gazing forlornly out to sea awaiting the return of her loved one. Hearing that I was having trouble with our new satellite dish Mary arranged with a caravan owner friend to come and give me a few tips. This was just what I needed for a previously impossible task proved to be relatively simple with a little bit of information. Since then I have been able to find the satellite in a few minutes without any trouble. Whilst in Geraldton we stayed at an open camp about eighteen kilometres out of town. It has been set up by a local Council and imposes a voluntary five dollar a night tariff to be paid by internet bank transfer. It was a great spot and we made quite a few friends there including Anna and Ross King from Stuart Heads near Kempsey.
We decided to return to Perth as we had a few issues with our vehicle with the water pump, the inverter and the diesel heater. I ended up rewiring the water pump back to the battery. The diesel heater was diagnosed as faulty fuel pump and with a replacement one quoted at $680.00 plus fitting we decided to leave awhile. Later talking to another motor homer he told me that his heater fuel pump broke down three times under warranty and all they did was clean it out with metho. I will try the same treatment myself when an opportunity arises. The inverter miraculously fixed itself and has not given trouble since so here’s hoping. I received a nice letter from the NSW RTA to celebrate my upcoming 75th birthday they would very much like me to get my usual Doctor to fill in a complex medical form to assure the that I was fit enough to have a driving licence. This proved extremely difficult to do as West Australia has very different requirements. I eventually had an eye test at OPSM and a friendly Indian Doctor put me through the medical after making a phone call to the NSW RTA to check on the differences to the medical requirements between the two States.
Leaving Perth and anxious to get to warmer climes we overnighted at Dalwallinu and Lake Nallen north of Mount Magnet before reaching Meekatharra. Here we bumped into a young couple who had purchased some contaminated fuel. They were unable to prime their fuel pump and had been waiting some considerable time for the RAC to arrive. We had to go down the street to get fuel for the Suzuki and were directed to a mechanic next door to the service station. We went and told him of the plight and he responded immediately. As a result we were given an invitation to stay at their place in Broome. Just north of Meekatharra we pulled into an overnight stop at Gascoyne River(south branch) and there were Anna and John, our friends from Geraldton.We spent an extra day there enjoying their company before heading further north to Newman.
We went into the Visitors Centre at Newman and were invited to overninght in their carpark for $10.00 per night. The tour of the mine consisted of a coach trip up to the viewing platform and a look down into a very big hole (5.5klms long by 1.5klms wide), together with a whole lot of verbal commentary. Possibly the most significant fact was that ore at 50% was considered rubbish and discarded while only ore over 61% was considered worthy of refining for export. The ore from this mine at 68.8% is blended with the ore from a nearby mine 0f 61% to give export grade ore of 65.5% iron ore which is one of the highest grades in the world and accounts for why Australian iron ore is in such high world demand. The ore is transported 426 klms to Port Headland, (a purpose built port town) on the longest privately owned railroad in the southern hemisphere. The average train consists of 212 to 336 ore cars each carrying 120 tonnes and requires up to six locomotives with one driver and is on average 3.75klms long. In 2001 they created a new world record for the longest train which measured 7.3klms long and consisted of eight locomotives, 682 ore cars and only one driver. Close examination of the photo shows a large hump of ore with the train snaking under it. In the three quarters of an hour we were up at the viewing platform the last few ore cars were disappearing in the hump to be filled with their 120 tons of ore. This shows the amazing speed of the bulk handling equipment which loads about eight trains a day with each train load worth about five million dollars to the Australian economy.We spent two days at the Neighbourhood Centre demonstrating and teaching and five people started their encaustic journey.
We left the BHP-Billiton town of Newman to head to another purpose built mining town, the Rio-Tinto town of Tom Price. Calling into the visitor centre there we were told of the Nameless Festival that was starting next day and a few phone calls and interviews showing our wax painting found us being given a 6m x 3m site with a 3mx3m tent with sides and access to power for the princely sum of $100.00, about a third of normal. What made it even better was the fact that we could camp immediately behind our site. We had four nights there and that more than paid for the site. Quite a few of the locals bought demonstration pictures and what little stock we had remaining after Newman was quickly sold. The action started about 4pm on Friday and was hectic until 9pm with hundreds of people through our tent. The following day we had a steady stream of visitors from 10am until 9 pm but it was much quieter on the Sunday and was all over by 3 pm. Before we left the area I wanted to have a look at the Tom Price mine to compare it with the one at Newman. The difference in some ways was spectacular as we spent far more time on the mine site and were shown a lot more, even if only from the coach seat. Both mines have viewing platforms which allow the visitor to see the vastness of the mine. At Tom Price however we were taken past many of the process facilities and at one stage held a “race” with a dump truck carrying about 240 tons of high grade iron ore. Many of these monsters are driven by women as they are reputedly much more gentle drivers of these expensive machines each one costing two and a half million dollars.
About fifty kilometers of dry dusty roads took us next day to the Weano Recreation Area of Karigini National Park. From the parking area there is a series of walks from the simple to the extreme which requires the ability to abseil. We walked down to the Junction Pool Lookout where I left Margaret while I went on to the Oxer lookout. The track was very uneven and with steep slopes to the edge of the gorge. I was amazed at the lack of safety rails and I was glad Margaret was not with me. I found it very difficult to adequately capture the grandeur of the scenery on my small camera. Of particular interest was the highly mineralised rock which has rust flakes on a ledge which had collected the morning dew. Also a remarkable little tree precariously perched between two rocks struggling for survival in these extreme conditions. Reluctantly we left this beautiful area and rejoined the Northern Highway for our next stop at Albert Tongalini Rest Area. This is another of the purpose built rest areas with camp sites far enough off the highway to be clear of noisy road trains.
Travelling further north we passed the junction with the Coastal Highway and came to the township of Port Headland. Here we made a brief stop to pick up mail before continuing our journey north stopping at the next rest area know as De Grey River. We would normally only travel about 250 klms to 350 klms per day but there are no more approved rest areas and today we had our longest day covering 504 klms before pulling in to the Roebuck Plains Caravan Park. It was then only a short 32 klm into Broome where we set up camp on the patch of ground next to our friends from Meekatharra. We hooked up to power and water and Stuart and Rose made us most welcome.
It was Sunday next day and we took the opportunity to visit the local Uniting Church to join in Holy Communion. With several other visitors from various parts of Australia we were made most welcome.
As it was my birthday we decided to go for a flight on the Broome Hovercraft. This was especially significant for me as my first hovercraft flight had been at Lake Maquarie where the first one to be built in Australia had been constructed in Toronto. We boarded our flight and were soon skimming over the still waters of Roebuck Bay to the red pindan cliffs of the opposite shores. Here we alighted and inspected a fascinating series of dinosaur footprints in the rocks. Re-boarding our vessel our pilot took us back over the water to the mudflats which due to the rapidly dropping tide were soon to become exposed. Selecting a suitable location he brought our vessel to a halt and we again alighted where a table was set up and we enjoyed finger food and champagne whilst looking for interesting sea creatures left exposed by the receding water. Out pilot showed me a technique of photographing the sun through sun glasses to make it look like the stairway to the stars effect for which Broome is famous. This technique was very useful a couple of days later when we visited Cable beach. Returning back to shore after a really enjoyable time our hostess June drove us back to our motor home. The subject of encaustic art came up and we invited June into our motor home to see some of Margaret’s work. She was fascinated with this and invited us to have lunch a couple of days later at their little slice of heaven on the shores of Roebuck bay. The other outstanding Broome attractions are the camel tours across the sands of Cable Beach, so called because it was the place where the submarine telephone cable came ashore bringing overseas communications to the Australian continent.
Cape Keraudren was our next stop, about thirteen kilometres off the highway it is on of several popular spots where people can camp for up to three months at a time. After making camp we had a good look around as we anticipated spending a week there. Next day Margaret had a bad headache and asked me to take her in to see a Doctor in Port Hedland. In these remote locations it is the norm to go to the local hospital where, after seeing and being assessed by a triage nurse, we were admitted into casualty and saw an very nice Irish doctor. Over a period of several hours and many test including a CT Scan it was diagnosed as just a severe migraine and we were discharged with a few pills. It was then late in the afternoon and we spent the night in Port Headland Caravan Park. Port Headland is a very busy port purpose built for the export of iron ore. There are two loading facilities one each for BHP/Billiton and Rio Tinto. The large amount of ore handled annually has meant that most buildings in town have become stained red with a coating of iron ore dust. This sameness makes it a very depressing town and one that a family would not choose to live in were it not for the huge wages. Homes are in very short supply and few are available under one million dollars for the most basic. We left Port Hedland and journeyed south to our next stop at West Peawah River. Margaret was feeling rather weary after her experiences of the previous day. We went though Karratha out to the port of Dampier which like Port Headland is purposebuilt for iron ore exports.
It also has a large plant for processing the gas pumped in from offshore wells. The gas is processed and loaded into special ships with large dome like tanks for export to Japan at cents per litre which makes a mockery of what we are charged.We set up camp at Dampier which is a limited stay park with few facilities. I will always remember it as the place where we first saw growing wild Sturts Dessert Pea which is the West Australian State Emblem. We would have liked to stay there longer but our site was
booked for the following night so next day being determined to spend a few days camping next to the ocean we traveled north to Cleaverville which is between Roeburne and Karratha. After a dusty 20 kilometre detour off the highway we were greeted by the ranger and invited to find a spot of our choice. It was beautifully warm and Margaret headed off down the beach for a swim and natter with the locals. Six of us gathered around and discussed the RV lifestyle which we all enjoy so much. Next morning Margaret’s headache had
returned and she told me she thought she should go back to the doctors. I decided to leave the motor home on site and take her to Karratha Hospital in the Suzuki as it was a much smoother ride for her over the red dirt roads. I also needed to get a gas bottle filled and as we were to pass the filling station on the way I attended to this first. Arriving at the hospital we went through the usual triage process and even though they were quite busy it was not long before we were being seen by a Shri Lankan doctor who was extremely good.At this point I would like to say how impressed we were with the response we received whenever we needed medical assistance it was available to us and that is very comforting for senior travelers such as ourselves. A series of tests over several hours and another CT scan revealed that at some time recently Margaret had suffered a slight stroke which was compromising the functions of the left side of her body. The Doctor explained to us the current thinking believes that whilst a stroke will destroy some brain cells that given time and rehabilitation the brain can relearn the various motor skills such as hand/eye co-ordination and walking etc. She was to be admitted as a patient and be monitored over several days to asses her ability to fly home.
After consulting with her own doctor back in Toronto he considered it would be best to transfer her to a local hospital where rehabilitation could begin as soon as possible. It was then quite late so I drove back out to Cleaverville to pack up our camp site and drive back into town. As I was on my own I decided to test out the theory of the best speed to travel over dusty dirt roads. About fifty to sixty per hour seemed a reasonable compromise for comfortable travel but what a mistake as I still haven’t been able to get rid of all the red dust from the motor home and car four months after the event. I knew that Margaret was very upset with the situation in which she found herself and that she would be comforted by me being a close as possible. For this reason I set up camp in the hospital car park and spent the next six days doing all the washing and meal preparation as necessary to look after myself. I had various other things to do like inquire about suitable flights and inform our insurance company for them to make arrangements for our vehicles to be driven home. I soon discovered there is only one flight per week between Karratha and Sydney which needed to be booked well in advance. I made a special trip out to the airport to advise them of the situation and prepare them for a “wheelchair assist”. This is a marvelous system whereby the airlines provide personnel to convey the disabled passenger from the forecourt to the waiting lounge and then first onto the aeroplane. We had experienced this system twelve months before when we flew from Australia to England via Switzerland but they were all major airports with aerobridges and I was curious to see how they handled the situation at smaller airports. The answer;- some very clever lifting arrangements. Note the narrow wheelchair suitable for use on the aeroplane.
Even though the plane had a full compliment of passengers the flight attendants had managed to organize that we had a row of three seats to ourselves which made for a very comfortable flight. I was very sad as we flew away from Karratha as I had been looking forward to the upcoming visit to Ningaloo Reef and the Coral Coast as well as catching up with all the people around Perth that we had promised to see on the way back. We were due to go to a Motor Home Club rally at Kalgoorlie and several other functions but of course that all had to be cancelled with much regret. Our flight to Sydney took about four hours and was uneventful except for flying over what I presumed was Lake Eyre.
There was plenty of water around but I would have expected it to be greener. On arrival in Sydney we were met by Margaret’s cousin Mavis and her husband John. I had asked them to meet us to look after Margaret and our luggage while I organized a rental car for the two hour drive home. I had decided that I would get something of reasonable size as Margaret was sensitive to bumps and motion. There was a special on a Holden Commodore and I was surprised when the Avis girl said they would upgrade me to the de-luxe model. Mavis and John came with us to guide me through Sydney’s ever changing streetscape and we were to drop them off at Chatswood Station. Driving through Darlinghurst I was surprised to look a the speedometer to find that I was doing 93 kph. I thought nothing of it at the time until a few weeks later when I received a speeding fine through the mail. It gave me three choices:- pay the fine of $243, go to court or contact the Department and ask for my driving history to be taken into consideration. Of course I opted for number three and was pleasantly surprised when the operator after looking up my licence number said she had no difficulty in suspending the fine as there was nothing on my licence since 1983.
It was 6.30 in the evening when we arrived at Toronto Hospital and we had been told to report straight to the ward. The nursing staff were expecting us and Margaret was made comfortable in a ward for the night. Three weeks in the special re-hab unit saw tremendous improvement in her walking and fine motor skills before she was considered fit to return home. She has continued with twice weekly visits right up until Christmas. We had a very quiet Christmas and New year but it was incredibly busy for encaustic art product sales. Today on the 8th January Margaret gave her first lesson of the year and whilst being rather tired she managed extremely well. To aid in her recovery we leave in two weeks time for a 13 night cruise on the Sea Princess from Sydney around New Zealand calling at various places and then back to Sydney. CONCLUSION We continue to be in awe of the Medical Profession who were there to render care and assistance when needed wherever we were. we sincerely regret not being able to fulfill our promises to catch up with our friends and clients on our return south. We missed seeing the proliferation of wild flowers for which Western Australia is famous. We were constantly on the lookout for new specimens as we drove around the country and in so many cases saw something of interest but were unable to pull up as there was insufficient space on the road verges. Below are just a few of the very many examples we saw on our travels. We have had reports that the wild flowers in the North Perth area were spectacular this year, such a pity to have missed them.
This is the end of this tour blog which we hope you have enjoyed. After returning from our cruise to New Zealand in February we will be preparing to leave on our next trip which will take us to Sale in Victoria for the Motor Home Club Rally. We will spend time touring country Victoria before heading up to Queensland and will spend August on the Gold Coast before heading to Far North Queensland.