Exposure to winter’s dry, cold air and chilly rain can cause chapped paws and itchy, flaking skin. But these aren’t the only discomforts domesticated animals can suffer. Here’s how to prevent cold weather dangers from affecting your pet’s health.
Repeatedly coming out of the cold into the dry heat of your home can cause itchy, flaking skin. Keep your home humidified. If your pet is wet, towel-dry them as soon as they come inside, paying special attention to their feet and between the toes.
Never shave your dog down to the skin in winter, as a longer coat will provide more warmth. If your dog is long-haired, simply keep them trimmed. If your dog is short‑haired, consider getting a coat or sweater with a high collar or turtleneck with coverage from the base of the tail to the belly.
Check for cracks in paw pads or redness between the toes. Massaging paw protectants into paw pads before going outside can help protect them.
Bath your pets as little as possible during cold spells. Washing too often can remove essential oils and increase the chance of developing dry, flaky skin. If your pooch must be bathed, ask your vet to recommend a moisturizing shampoo and/or rinse.
Pets burn extra energy by trying to stay warm in the wintertime. Feeding your pet a little bit more during the cold weather months can provide much-needed calories, and making sure she has plenty of water to drink will help keep her well-hydrated and her skin less dry.
Make sure your companion animal has a warm place to sleep, off the floor and away from all drafts. A cozy dog or cat bed with a warm blanket or pillow is perfect. Don’t leave pets outdoors when the temperature drops, keep your pets inside with you and your family. Dogs are happiest when taken out frequently for walks and exercise but keep them inside the rest of the time.
Cars are one of many hazards to small animals. Warm engines in parked cars attract cats and small wildlife, who may crawl up under the hood. To avoid injuring any hidden animals, bang on your car’s hood to scare them away before starting your engine.
Be sure your horses have access to a barn or a three-sided run-in so they can escape the wind and cold. While not all horses will need to be blanketed, blankets will help horses keep warm and dry, especially if there is any rain. If you’ve body-clipped your horses, keep them blanketed throughout the winter.
Remember, if it’s too cold for you, it’s probably too cold for your pet, so keep your animals inside. If left outdoors, pets can freeze, become disoriented, lost, stolen, injured or killed. In addition, don’t leave pets alone in a car during cold weather. Cars can act as refrigerators that hold in the cold and cause animals to freeze to death. ■
Nursing homes/care centres used to be a beige world of sitting down in front of the TV and eating boiled cabbage at mealtimes. But not anymore. The team at Silver Magazine did the tour of Odyssey Lifestyle Care Community at Robina, and we were ridiculously impressed. Here are all the things you can look forward to.
RÓISÍN MURPHY REPORTS.
I and my colleague from Silver Magazine walked into the Care Community at Robina, the first thing we noticed was the high ceilings. The architecture is beautiful in the reception area, and the décor is super-stylish. As we moved through the building, we realised that there were a lot of beautiful spaces. It was a great first impression.
As we were shown through to the restaurant/café area, we were delighted to see little kids from a pre-school nearby playing with the residents. There were board games happening, drawing was going on, there were rides on walkers. Both the littlies and the residents were having a really good time. The intergenerational program runs every two weeks and the residents love it. Also, the kids were lapping up the adult attention they were getting. Don’t get me wrong, they were playing those board games to win, the competitive spirit was fierce.
But they were loving the adult company. We have all seen documentaries where they show experiments with the generations from the opposite ends of the age spectrum…but seeing it in practice is just something else. We humans should have been doing this all along. Older people and little kids are such a natural fit. The older people have the time to lavish lots of attention, and the kids were thriving on it. Everyone in the room was having a really great time. What a win‑win. It felt happy.
FOOD AT THE COMMUNITY
I and my colleague got even happier a minute after that when we were invited to sample the coffee and cake. Even though I say coffee and cake. I mean café‑style coffee was so good I snuck back and got another one. There were cakes such as mini danish and a choc caramel slice so tasty I saw my skinny sugar-avoiding colleague take two. This isn’t the image that comes to mind from a caring community. This is what you picture at a beachfront café that is full of trendy people with thousand-dollar prams and $250 boardies.
The more formal restaurant and casual café area feel like an actual nice restaurant and café. You wouldn’t know you were in a caring community. And here is the best bit. Residents can eat chefprepared food for just $15 a day. For this, they get two a la carte meals (lunch and dinner) and which can be chosen from a menu. That works out at just $7.50 for lunch and $7.50 for dinner. Not only that, residents can have family and friends meet them in the restaurant. Just make a booking and pay at reception. So if residents don’t want to cook for say, a mother’s day celebration, they can still have everyone over for a meal. Let the lunch parties roll on!
After we sample the food, we are taken to meet the Lifestyle Coordinator, Alison. Alison definitely has a fun job. She gets to take the residents out on seriously cool day trips. They flit around the Gold Coast and surrounds. In the days before we got there, residents told us they went to Yatala pie shop to get pies, which they thought was hilarious fun. They go to art galleries, they go on river cruises, they go up to Mount Tamborine, wine tasting.
FUN AND ENTERTAINMENT
They also go on shopping trips to surrounding shopping centres. But there’s cool stuff at home too. The residents do exercises in the morning. They have hand pampering sessions and get their nails done. They get facials as well. There are entertainers visiting all the time, anything from pianists, to harpists, to karaoke. Next on the activities planner is a wine-tasting session in the wine cellar on site. Everything about this place is wrapped in a little bit of luxury and sophistication. The top floor – storey seven – is a sky garden, where Odyssey held an experimental wine tasting night recently. The terrace had never been so busy. I think we are all ready to move in.
The display apartments look like something out of a home magazine. They are styled beautifully, and the layout is incredibly well-thought-out. This isn’t twee granny taste. This is sophisticated, stylish, and clean, with excellent storage spaces. There are designer appliances and finishes, and sensitive accessibility design. But the overall look is one of a modern and minimal haven. Residents can furnish their apartments however they want, from the interior décor to the colour scheme.
When you take the tour of Odyssey you’ll understand just how cool the tech is (seriously do the tour, even to get an idea of what is out there on the market). The use of tech is now so impressive, I am sure we are all ready for the robots to take over.
The most impressive bit of the kit is the smart TV that comes with the apartment. The technology is provided by HSC Technology Group – it is a Set‑Top‑Box connected to the resident’s television, much like those you experience in high-end hotels.
Residents can use the TV to see things like weekly activities, and the restaurant menu. They can access social media on it, Google to their heart’s content, play audiobooks, play games. The TVs have cameras so that residents can use them to video call their friends and relatives. Residents have been using the TV during Covid to have a doctor’s consultation, without having to leave home. And of course, there’s Netflix and normal TV too!
There’s another tech that is very impressive. Odyssey has a sensor system that can map a person’s usual use of their apartment. If anything drastically changes, an alert is set off. They do this with just infrared sensors, rather than cameras so that the resident’s privacy is preserved. For example, if a person is on the floor in an unusual position, or if anything else is wrong, the sensors will detect this. The tech installed in Odyssey has the sole aim of being preventative rather than reactive.
There are other really thoughtful extras at Odyssey. One of these is the transition room. This is a room, which looks exactly like a luxury hotel room. It is downstairs very close to the nurses’ office. If a resident goes through a bout of illness or has returned from a hospital stay, and they don’t feel confident to stay in their apartment, they can use this room until they are confident enough to return to their usual life. They are not charged to use this room and can use it for as long as it takes, maybe a couple of days, maybe a week. This room can also be used by a family member of a resident in some situations.
THE FINAL WORD
There are some new ways of thinking at Odyssey that make it really different to other offerings. The best part about it is that once you have moved in, you never have to move again if you don’t want to. Every level of care can be provided in every apartment.
When people move in, they may feel fit and active. It is hard for residents to picture at this stage that they might need help to shower or do other tasks. Then suddenly, a higher level of care is needed, and it is at this stage that nobody wants to be moving. The ideal scenario is while you’re still fit and well, you settle in, you make friends, and you feel at home by the time you need a high level of care.
At Odyssey, there’s the retirement village vibe, with lots of opportunities for friendship and company, plus a lifestyle care community. This is especially good for couples where one partner can still go out and do their own thing, knowing that Odyssey can look after the other resident.
Residents can also have a pet join them, invite grandkids for sleepovers and couples stay together. Residents can come and go as they like, and have visitors. It is a perfect balance.
Odyssey, from what we have seen here at Silver Magazine, is the best of both worlds between retirement and aged care. The peace of mind that this is your last move is an excellent selling point. I think we are all ready to move in and grab a spot in those wine tastings. An Mt Tamborine Cab Sav? Don’t mind if I do! ■
There is now a technology so innovative and disruptive, that it promises to turn medicine on its head. It is called Spectral CT and it is a revolution in the diagnosis game. This is the sharp edge of medicine.
The long name of the kit is the Philips IQon Elite Spectral CT. Or, Spectral CT for short. Mermaid Beach Radiology is the only private radiology clinic in all of Australia to have one. It can see inside you like no other machine on the market while having an ultra-low radiation dose. It can diagnose cancer you don’t even know you have, even before you feel sick.
Just when you think things couldn’t get better for patient care – in the room next door is the Philips Ingenia Elition 3.0T X wide bore researchgrade MRI. There are only 3 of these top-of-theline MRI machines in private practice in Australia (the other two are in Western Australia).
Entrepreneurial Minds at Work
Dr. Zane Sherif is the brilliant mind behind the futuristic clinic. He’s a radiologist with a passion for technology and what it can do in the medical field. Alongside his wife, Dr. Kirralee Sherif, who herself has a Ph.D. in Engineering, Zane has opened Mermaid Beach Radiology. They are hoping that people of the Gold Coast (and much farther afield) will understand just what a gift it is to have access to these cutting-edge machines. He said, “Our bar for machine selection was, ‘what would we want to have ourselves, our kids, our loved ones scanned on?’”
Zane tells us about a recent case of his. “A patient came into use with a forearm issue. He’d been living with forearm pain for years and had seen multiple specialists. He was in relentless pain that no one was able to get on top of. He has been prescribed antipsychotics and antidepressants and all sorts of things. Nothing worked. He had accepted that he may have to amputate his arm to gain relief. Finally, he found us.
“Ben Kennedy, the MRI Clinical and Research Director, did his magic and finally, the patient had a diagnosis. There was a problem with his radial nerve. The radial nerve in our arm goes through a little tunnel, just off the bone. For him, that tunnel was too tight and it was inflaming the nerve. But you could not see it on any other scan until now.
“Ben was able to get an entirely new view of the nerve. He could trace its path through that tunnel. He could see that the nerve was thicker and brighter, but only in the tunnel. So we knew that it was getting stenosed. Now that we knew the problem, we could treat it. Within hours, we injected the area with some Cortisone, and for the first time in years, the patient had no pain. The Cortisone shrinks down the swelling around the nerve and could last for years, if not forever. This kind of case isn’t unusual, it happens here on a daily basis.”
Rise of Spectral CT Scanners in Queensland
In South East Queensland, there are six Spectral scanners in public hospitals. The hospitals have a much bigger budget to purchase the near two-million-dollar machines. They always have to have the best diagnostic tools. But there’s a waiting list and you may only get to use it after you have run the gauntlet of lower-end machines. And usually, you need to be a hospital inpatient. By then, precious time has passed.
Then there’s the machine in Mermaid Beach Radiology, which is a private clinic. In all of the other radiology clinics in Australia, there are a grand total of zero Spectral CT scanners.
As a private business, Zane and Kirralee had to answer the business case for spending so much money on one machine. Says Zane, “This piece of machinery is 10 times the cost of some CT scanners. An entry-level CT scanner costs about $200,000. The Spectral CT costs nearly two million dollars. But this machine takes a massive leap when it comes to diagnostic power. It is like comparing the phone that you used 15 years ago to the one you’re using now. We took a gamble because the medical community needs to do better for patients.”
Zane said that he wanted to move to Spectral CT technology when he worked for other radiology companies. “I was literally laughed out of the building. And yet… this machine is an absolute diagnostic monster. I wanted my patients to have access to this. So I said, right, I’ll buy it myself.”
And Mermaid Beach Radiology was born. Zane says the Spectral CT images give the radiologists diagnostic confidence in what we are seeing. “A lot of the time you might see something on a lower-end machine, and you really have no idea what it is. However, with the Spectral CT, we have more diagnostic confidence. The images are just far superior to what’s out there. I’m not saying we can answer every question, but we have the best tools known to science to help answer the more complex medical dilemmas.
Importance of High-Quality Scanners
“It does not matter how good a radiologist is if their tools are poor. If you’re looking through foggy glasses, all you’re going to see is fog. They could be an Einstein-level of intellect, but it is irrelevant. They can only report what they see, and if they can’t see it, they can’t diagnose it. But every single day, we are seeing pathology in patient’s Spectral CT scans that have not been seen using an older technology.
“There isn’t a day I’m not making a phone call to a referring doctor on a new case of unknown cancer or some other obscure diagnosis. I’ve never made so many phone calls in my career. We have a lot of patients come in here who know there is something wrong and haven’t yet been able to get a diagnosis. There was one gentleman who had five scans in the last six months with no answer. It was not until he got on the Spectral CT that we could see that he had cancer of his chest wall.”
Kirralee says, “There are times Zane shows me scans done on non-Spectral scanners, and you just cannot see cancer, even when you know where to look, we can’t see it. Then he’s like, ‘Have a look at this.’ And the cancer is so bright and unmissable.”
Zane says it is so important to be diagnosed early. “With modern medicine, our best chance at altering the course of a disease is in the early stages. Once it is chronic, forget it. The horse has bolted. You can’t unscramble an egg. Spectral CT is the future of radiology. In five years, everyone will have a Spectral scanner. But at the moment, it’s just Mermaid Beach Radiology who are offering it. We wanted to be an early adopter because this machine is your best shot.”
Kirralee Sherif, the wife of Zane, is passionate about the experience the patient has at Mermaid Beach Radiology. As a working mother of four young children, she has the usual juggle of family and working life. But being busy doesn’t diminish her desire for the patient to feel cared for when they need it. She is intensely convinced that the patient journey is paramount and has made it her life’s work. “I had imaging done myself between my second third child. I had some really awful news, and I was sitting in a clinic in Sydney bawling my eyes out in the hallway, as everyone’s going past getting their images done. I was so alone and I just didn’t want anyone to ever feel the way I did that day. We designed this clinic so that the patient has a much better journey than that.”
The clinic has a dedicated room in case someone needs to hear bad news and two full-time nurses. The patient comfort room has a heated blanket, a TV, and if someone needs time with Zane to discuss a diagnosis or if they just need time with the nurse, they can have this room. It’s also a recovery room, and an observation room too.”
The Ambiance of Mermaid Radiology
When you walk into the clinic, it has an art gallery vibe. A living wall, looking like a tropical rainforest, in reception is beguiling, and unexpected. It is properly beautiful. Green life grows in a lot of places in the clinic. Says Kirralee, “All the plants in reception and throughout the building are real. There’s a lot to be said about the effects of greenery on health. We want our patients to feel as calm and as comfortable as possible – like they’re coming into a resort. It is hard enough coming into a place like this, let alone when it’s all clinical and scary.”
It is not even scary for kids. A kiddie room with a short-throw projector plays movies for the children who are waiting. When we were there, some kids were kicking back on the beanbags, watching their favorite show.
Kirralee and Zane are both passionate about the environment. Amazingly, Mermaid Beach Radiology is becoming a carbon-neutral practice, which is an excellent achievement for such a young practice. Says Kirralee, “I keep trying to instill in my children that we are here to make a positive impact. You have to treat the planet and all the living things on it with respect, and we want to model that in our work environment, as well.”
Kirralee and Zane are also on the same page with supporting local artists. “We used local suppliers where we possibly could as well. The front desk is all done by a local artist, Lisa De Boer. Sean Scott is a well-known photographer based in Burleigh. We’ve used his images all around the clinic and backlit them. We love the Gold Coast and as a family-run practice, we want the clinic to celebrate that.
“Zane has worked for other radiology companies. But we wanted to do things differently. We have a more patient-based focus. We aren’t about meeting strict goals. We just want to make sure that the patients have the best imaging journey that they can. If there’s something that can be done on the day, Zane will call the patient’s doctor and progress their imaging further. If injections are required, it can be done there and then, rather than the time-wasting to-ing and fro-ing with other doctors. That all adds to stress and pushes costs up as well.”
Ben Kennedy is a world-renowned MRI scientist and researcher, according to Kirralee. He was formerly head of the MRI modality with the QScan group. When we go to see the MRI in action, he says, “Want to see something cool?”
We always want to see something cool. He says, “You want to see real-life cerebrospinal fluid flowing through the brain?” He points to the screen. “That’s CSF flowing in and out of the cerebral aqueduct.” It was amazing to see it live. It looked like tomato sauce being squeezed repeatedly through a hose.
Yep. We all stood there and watched spinal fluid flowing through the brain. It was fascinating. The question was asked, “Do all of our bodies do that?” Ben answered, “I hope so.”
MRI is typically considered the most sophisticated imaging tool in radiology. As a pre‑emptive strike, or as a way to get a fast, accurate, early diagnosis, the value for money using MRI is incredible. But even if you feel fit and well but just want peace of mind that there is nothing dark brewing, you can waltz in and get an MRI scan with no radiation.
Says Zane, “You can wake up one day and say, ‘I’m curious what my brain looks like today. I want to go get an MRI.’ And just get it done. We have had people who’ve just come in and just chosen to have a full-body screening for cancer on the MRI. And we’ve almost found something on every one of them. The pick-up rate is huge. We are now the go-to place for doctors on the Gold Coast who want to get themselves and their kids checked out.”
The conventional route of diagnosis is not one Zane is a fan of. “If you’re sick, you don’t wake up one day going, ‘Right, I’m going to go see my doc today. I hope he/she starts me off on this process with the worst available tests.’ But that’s exactly what happens. You go and see your doctor, sick.
You’ll almost always start off with an X-ray which is a 125-year-old technology. Then you might get to an ultrasound. You will rarely get to a CT, and almost never get to an MRI. By the time that has happened, it could be too late. Ask anyone, what is the best diagnostic camera in medicine? Everyone will say MRI. Yet it’s the last thought, not the first thought in the investigative process. Which is bonkers.”
While Medicare will not refund the cost of an MRI scan, which starts at $360, it is still very much worth the price. Says Zane, “Medicare is a great safety net for the less privileged. But it has also forced our thinking towards the idea that we should never put our hand in our pocket when it comes to health care. That is just the wrong mentality.”
There’s no better way to spend your money than on your health, so you will be around for your loved ones for a long time. You spend similar amounts of money on your hair, a good meal, a couple of bottles of wine. You ARE worth it. In fact, we are all worth it. And in this case, technology is very definitely our friend. ■
How to Make an Appointment
Mermaid Beach Radiology offers Wide Bore 3T MRI, Spectral CT, Cone Beam CT, Ultrasound, X-Ray, biopsies, and all pain relief injections all using the very latest technology. You can make an appointment for any of these, and they accept referrals from all over Australia.
Good entertainment at an event helps your guests have fun. And who doesn’t like to have fun? Whether it is a wedding, a wedding anniversary, a big birthday bash, or a corporate event, hiring roving entertainers is a great way to break the ice between acquaintances.
BY ROISIN MURPHY
Some events go down in family history. And usually, it’s because of how great everyone felt while attending them. I recently attended a wedding that had two entertainers on staff. One was a sexy, fire-twirling goddess who mesmerized us before the drunken dancing started. The other was a magician that was hired to bring the kids to the side for an hour and let the parents eat their meals in peace without having little fingers in it.
These two entertainers made a normal wedding into a fantastic one. A lot of selfies were going on with these two roving entertainers. And it made me think about my next event and how I could make it memorable with roving entertainers.
At events that are work-related, it is a really good idea to have entertainers, as it can break the ice between people who don’t know each other that well. Entertainers can help the event stay upbeat and keep the attention of guests and put them in a stimulated state of mind, ready for learning. In other words, they will be in a great frame of mind to hear your sales message.
Making your potential clients feel great cannot be underestimated. If you have ever been at an event where an illusionist has been hired to wow the person with who you want to do that big deal, then you’ll know how well it works. These roving performers can be worth their weight in gold.
Back in the Naughties, I went to a party in London that had a psychic reading everyone’s palms… and the biggest topic of the night was what she had predicted for us. It was a great way to start a conversation with a total stranger…and boy did it work! Two of the people were told they would find their soul mate that night. I wonder if they hooked up later? I hope so.
Make Your Event Stand Out By Hiring Matt Hollywood
At the Gold Coast, we have our own illusionist who puts on the wow factor for events – Matt Hollywood. For anyone who has seen his live shows at Sanctuary Cove and Broadbeach, you’ll know him to be witty and clever and be very, very slight of hand.
Now, Mr. Hollywood has branched out into event entertainment. Whether that means an intimate gathering of 15 people or a larger event with 600 guests, he rolls up with illusions and tricks to stump and beguile. This is the type of stuff people remember for a long time.
His roving show consists of magic packages (the ultimate ice-breaker) where he strolls amongst guests with mind-blowing close-up magic. Plus he does stage shows suitable for sitdown dinners. He also does other performances where he’ll take your guests on an unforgettable journey of comedy and magic. I have witnessed the show he puts on, and he is definitely worth considering for your next event.
Matt Hollywood’s Shows
Matt Hollywood is very experienced at this game. He has performed at countless events across the globe, made countless television appearances. He has performed at theme parks, special functions, and more, as well as having his own show. But the best thing about his performance is always his natural X-Factor. He’s just so funny.
Magic and Illusion have been around for a long time, for a good reason. It beguiles even the staunchest grump. Matt Hollywood delivers his fast-paced action-packed show with mindblowing performances at almost every type of function, from conferences to business functions, private parties, weddings, corporate events, and more. He’s definitely worth having around.
Brett Marks of the Noah Group recently said, “Having Matt Hollywood at our event was the best decision we ever made. We have already sold out for next year. His show is mind-blowing but also the funniest thing we have ever seen. World Class.”
If you are seeking a close-up magician for a cocktail function, pre-dinner drinks entertainment or simply to rove the crowd with some classy card tricks, floating objects in the air, making things disappear, and mind-blowing close-up style magic that is a guaranteed hit at any event, then he’s your guy.
All this has led me to the conclusion that I want to hold a ridiculous bash when Covid goes the hell away. And I know the type of entertainment I will be having at this party to end all parties. The people in my life better start sucking up to me fast if they want an invitation! ■
To book Matt Hollywood for your event, call 0412 662 442 or log on to matthollywood.com
Silver Adventurers Jan and Peter (both 73) hit the road in their caravan to explore the stunning Border Loop which exists at the edges of New South Wales and Queensland.
The Scenic Rim straddles Tamborine Mountain, beautiful Lake Moogerah, the rugged Mount Barney and the town of Boonah. You can expect to enjoy ancient rainforests, historic national parks, charming towns and villages, craft breweries, boutique wineries, galleries, and more. We decided to dedicate some time to this stunning region, which is so close to home.
With Covid restrictions in mind, armed with border passes and the caravan in tow, we set off. After all the rain, we wanted to see the region at its best.
CANUNGRA BORDER CROSSING ADVENTURES
On the roadside approaching Canungra in the Gold Coast hinterland, a tourist sign caught our eye. We stopped at a short walk, which led to some information boards. Lahey’s Canungra Tramway Tunnel is a heritage-listed tunnel that is worth seeing on your journey. The Lahey family were fresh from Ireland with their 11 kids when they built the sawmill at Canungra in 1884. It was an immediate goldmine. They soon had so many contracts to cut timber from the area, that they couldn’t get it all to the sawmill by the slow and expensive bullock teams that were hauling it. They set about building a private railway line up to the rugged region where the sawmill lay.
The Darlington Range separated the mill in Canungra from the timber leases in the Coomera Valley. Building a railway line around the ridge was just too expensive. So, the engineers decided to cut a tunnel through it. They succeeded, and the line was laid down. The first use of the tunnel was in 1903, and the tramline increased the productivity of the sawmill. No serious accidents occurred on the railway line, though there are reports of “some exciting moments” due to “greasy rails.”
MORE ABOUT CANUNGRA
The line was extended over time, eventually reaching 26.5km. The line curved among waterfalls, ferns and thick scrub, and it was used by the locals for everyday transportation needs. Locals sat atop the logs, children hitched rides to school, and picnickers grabbed a ride to their destinations.
Soon nearly all of the trees had been razed in the Canungra area. The mill was closed, however, trips along the tramway kept going up until 1930. By 1935, the line was dismantled and sold for scrap. During the Second World War, the tunnel was used for storage of ammunition for the nearby Kokoda Army barracks. After that, it was largely forgotten.
Upon its rediscovery, it was cleaned up using a Centenary of Federation grant project. The tunnel was officially re-opened for pedestrian and visitor use in January 2001. Romeo Lahey of the following generation, in conjunction with Arthur Groom, purchased the land to establish the nearby famous Binna Burra Lodge in 1933.
There were multiple choices of eateries for us in the main street of Boonah. (The town’s original name was Blumbergville, because of the Blumberg Brothers who established the first store). A friendly local stopped to chat as we enjoyed lunch at a footpath café. He gave us the tip to return to witness the hour striking on the fascinating Blumbergville clock in the main street. The four-tonne, five-and-a-half-metre-high town clock was made from farm equipment donated from local farms. Artist Christopher Trotter was inspired by the town’s history and put it together with local clockmaker David Bland.
After setting up camp in the Boonah Showground, we explored Moogerah Peaks, National Park. A narrow but sealed road took us to the summit of Mt French. Logan’s Lookout and the Mee-bor-rum circuit were pleasant strolls that rewarded us with expansive views over the surrounding farmlands. We tried to check out a few of the local wineries but, prior bookings were required because of Covid. With closures until the end of the week, we were disappointed in missing a chance to visit.
JOURNEY TO KOREELAH NATIONAL PARK
From Boonah, our initial plan was to cross the border over the range via Carneys Creek Road to White Swamp and Koreelah National Park. We were aware that this border crossing was closed but decided to check it out anyway for future travel. After enjoying a generous-sized lunch at the Mt Alford Hotel, we left the caravan in their car park as we had to return this way later in the day. The countryside and mountain views up the range to the closed border gate (where we turned around) were stunning and well worth the detour. The good standard gravel road was very steep in some parts but would be passable if we were towing our van with the four-wheel-drive vehicle.
Seeing as we had to detour up the Mt Lindsey Highway to cross into New South Wales, we had an unplanned couple of days at Mt Barney Lodge. The camping ground provided us with a base from which to hike to the Lower Portals and Yellow Pinch. Lower Portals was a challenging 7.4km (return) undulating hike to a pleasant little creek. It was very inviting for a swim and a picnic from our purchases of local produce. Other hikers, loaded up with backpacks, were proceeding on a little further to a walk-in campground. The following morning, we scrambled 1.3km up Yellow Pinch to a spectacular lookout where we sat for quite a while contemplating the beautiful mountainous panorama.
MT LINDSEY HIGHWAY BORDER CROSSING ADVENTURES
We travelled through the lush green countryside on the Mt Lindsey Highway, which is dominated by Mt Lindsey, 1195m above sea level. It is one of many peaks forming part of the border between New South Wales and Queensland. This plug is from a vast volcano that covered the area approximately 20 million years ago. Apparently, these peaks are very popular with mountain climbers. We crossed into New South Wales after being waved through a border checkpoint.
In the border town of Woodenbong, we joined the locals for a drink and chat in the pub. The Yowie story caught our attention. Apparently, two sightings in the 1970s caused much media speculation and scientific teams attempted to investigate the reports.
Unfortunately, the women who reported the sightings were subjected to ridicule and no further sightings have been officially reported. Other alleged sightings were at the end of November 2001 and in 2003. Timber workers and a truck driver reputedly experienced close encounters.
KOREELAH NATIONAL PARK
Koreelah National Park, on White Swamp Road, has a delightful remote bush camping area where we stayed for a few days. There was only one other camp, quite a distance away. We enjoyed the solitude. Alas, we couldn’t access Queen Mary Falls and Condamine Head from here because of border closures. There were lovely spots to take a dip, especially with the temperature in the 30s. With a bit of rock hopping, a walk along the top of the gorge took us to large pools below the falls. There was plenty of water over the falls and numerous bird life around us.
To complete the circuit we began at Mt Alford, driving through White Swamp to the News South Wales side of the border. This is a beautiful area with lush farmland surrounded by mountain ranges. It gets its name from the white flower head of the foxtail grass which is prevalent in the valley. A gravel road led us to the New South Wales/Queensland border crossing, and the border fence where once again we turned back.
White Swamp (once a village) is of historic significance. The border was relocated through here when the colony of Queensland was separated from the colony of New South Wales in 1859. The border was initially proposed to follow the 29th degree of south latitude all the way across, where the western part of the border is today. This would have put the border on the coast between Ballina and Evans Head. New South Wales was not happy to lose so many of them alreadyestablished farming lands north of the proposed border. So the wonky border we now have was surveyed and agreed to between the states. A monument to the two surveyors Francis Roberts and Isiah Rowland stands on the Queensland side of the border crossing.
TOOLOOM NATIONAL PARK
Reluctantly moving on from Koreelah National Park, we travelled via Old Koreelah, again onto the Mt Lindsey Highway, and along Tooloom Road. We paused at the summit of Tooloom National Park to view the surrounding countryside. As we descended through the National Park the thick rainforest vegetation closed in right up to the road.
The original plan was to camp at Tooloom Falls, a small bush camp and picnic area perched above the falls, 5km south of Urbenville. But it was closed. A short climb to swim at the bottom of the falls would have been very welcome in the summer heat. We have fond memories of a previous trip here, viewing platypus and paddling our canoe upstream of the falls.
After an alternate overnight camp at the Urbenville rest area, the van was left there for an excursion south through the Yabbra State Forest the next morning.
This was a highlight, with tall eucalypts combined with the tinkling call of the bellbirds in the treetops. A little further south we diverted 700m down a track which led us to a small parking area and a viewing platform for Bean Creek Falls.
Back to Urbenville and via Upper Tooloom, we ventured along Paddys Flat Road for 32km on rough gravel. It was a relief to finally descend down to the Clarence River at Paddys Flat after being reduced to 20km an hour in some of the rough sections. A swim was a respite from the dusty road just travelled.
West from here was part of ‘The Brisbane Line.’ It was dreamed up to protect the people living south of this area from a Japanese invasion during World War Two. It was an invasion that never came, of course. We wandered along the river bank to find remnants of the 26 concrete pyramids that were once connected together by a steel cable in the river. The natural boulders on the eastern side of the road were considered a barrier for the light Japanese tanks. Defensive positions were established along many roads throughout Australia. Tank traps were also placed at Thunderbolt’s Gully north of Tenterfield near an army training camp.
That night, in a bush camp at Hooten’s Bridge on the Clarence River, we were lashed by heavy rain. Morning brought a few breaks in the weather enabling us to pack up and move on to Tabulam where we enjoyed morning tea in the small café. We strolled into the park and viewed a monument to a local World War One hero.
Sir Henry George Chauvel was born in 1865 on the family horse and cattle property in Tabulam. He was the first Australian to attain the rank of General. He commanded the First Light Horse Brigade at Gallipoli. In 1917 he commanded the Desert Mounted Corps at the Battle of Beersheba. The final phase of the battle was the famous mounted charge of the Fourth Light Horse Brigade. This was the last great cavalry charge, and the town was captured by mid-afternoon, securing water supplies for the men and horses. 31 men were killed, 36 were wounded. 70 horses were killed. 130,000 Australian horses went to World War One.
HISTORY OF TABULAM: BORDER CROSSING ADVENTURES
13,000 returned and only one to Tabulam. On October 31, 2017, two hundred horsemen and women re-enacted the 100th anniversary of the 1st Light Horse leaving Tabulam to join World War One. They forded the Clarence River at the Showground, rode along Chauvel Road and Plains Station Road, eventually arriving at Copmanhurst three days later.
We had crossed the Clarence River at Tabulam. The longest single-span wooden truss bridge in the southern hemisphere was demolished last year when a new bridge was erected. The historic bridge had been constructed using hand tools and bullock teams. A single wooden span lies beside the highway, perhaps as a memorial to times gone by.
JOURNEY TO DICK SMITH LANDING SITE: BORDER CROSSING ADVENTURE
Along Tabulam Road we saw a sign that read, “Dick Smith Landing Site.” In 1983, entrepreneur and adventurer Dick Smith and John Wallington landed in this paddock. This was the first non-stop flight across the nation in a hot air balloon. They set off from Carnarvon in Western Australia at 10:52 am and 40 hours later, landed 4000km away. When asked by the Tabulam locals who rushed to meet them how the trip was, Dick answered, “bloody hard.” The balloon was 6 km above the ground for most of the journey, speeding along between 150-188 km/h. John reported that it was great fun to sit on his two-dollar deck chair as they sped along in the jet streams.
ENJOYING LUNCH IN BONALBO
Our picnic lunch was enjoyed in the small town of Bonalbo. We found a pretty rotunda flanked by rose gardens in a park in the centre of town. There, the Bonalbo Working Dog statue is of historical significance. The skills and intelligence of these animals were first displayed in Australia at the 1950 Bonalbo Show where they worked with cattle. The first trophy was won by Ginger and proud owner Bob Taylor. These trials now take place in country areas all over Australia.
Our plan from here was to travel via Peacock Creek Road to camp in the Richmond Range National Park then over the range to Toonumbar Dam and Kyogle. The rain continued for most of the day. We have travelled this track a few times previously but this time it defeated us. Peacock Creek was flowing deep and the track was boggy. It was a concern that more rain would close the road. With great difficulty, we turned car and van around on the narrow track. We took a long way around through Casino to the Kyogle Caravan Park. It poured rain all night. Fortunately, we enjoyed a very nice dinner at a local hotel. The green frog that made a home under one of our solar panels while we were camped at Hootens Bridge, left us for the brighter lights here. We didn’t miss his happy croaking all evening.
PICNIC AT THE PUMPKIN FESTIVAL: BORDER CROSSING ADVENTURES
This was the first time on this trip that we pulled out a blanket for the evening. Before departing town the next morning, we couldn’t resist a decadent morning tea at the local bakery and were surprised to stumble upon the ‘Biggest Pumpkin’ festival. There was also a ‘guess the weight’ competition. Quite a crowd had gathered for the weigh in. The winning pumpkin weighed in at 869kg, creating a new record for the southern hemisphere.
GRADYS CREEK BORDER CROSSING ADVENTURES
Our last night was spent at The Rainforest Gateway on Gradys Creek, just 9km along the Lions Road. We were aware that this road was unsuitable for towing a caravan further along. With the border closed, we would need to divert back along the Summerland Way to the coast.
The privately-run campground on Gradys Creek offered basic cabins as well as tent and caravan sites. It would be a convenient spot to camp to explore the Border Ranges if the National Parks’ facilities were not to a camper’s taste. The Lions Road connects New South Wales and Queensland over the McPherson Range. It is a narrow one-lane road in parts with many creek crossings. The funding, planning and labour for the road came from the Lions Club of Kyogle. Despite the New South Wales Government rejecting the idea in 1969, it was opened the following year, an astonishing feat by volunteers. In 1990 it was sealed with bitumen.
The route we followed for this get-away was not as planned but we enjoyed the spectacular scenery, craggy peaks, dense rainforests, birdlife, friendly locals, and fantastic local produce everywhere. We explored new territory. The Scenic Rim of Southern Queensland was an easy escape from the Gold Coast. The Border Ranges of Northern New South Wales warrant more exploration next time! ■
Want to do something different with your free time? Then how about working your way around the world in exchange for food and board? Check this out.
We live in the era of peer-to-peer exchanges. The internet has allowed us to share our houses, our cars, our caravans, our car parking spaces…You name it, we can share it.
With this new peer-to-peer economy, now, you can travel almost for free, by swapping food and accommodation for work. One website that is well known is Workaway.info. But there are many others too. Every one of these sites allows you to organise an amazing adventure from your computer…and all on a shoestring budget! Most charge under $100 for a year’s membership.
Each site is slightly different. If you join Workaway.info, then generally you will be expected to help around 5 hours per day in exchange for food and accommodation. And there are opportunities in 170 different countries, so the amount of adventures to be had are potentially endless. Some Workaway seniors share their stories with us below.
SUE AND ADRIAN: TRAVEL THE WORLD
Our personal quote is: “Making a big life change is scary. But do you know what’s even scarier? Regret.” Our first placement was at a place called Huayacocotla in Mexico – we stayed there for just over three weeks. My work included sanding, varnishing a chest of drawers, altering some support legs for a raised vegetable garden, cleaning off the old paint and re-painting a 300-year-old chapel.
I trimmed some of the topiary animals in the garden, a little bit of cooking in the house – I introduced the hosts to my egg muffins! Luckily, they really liked them!
We first heard about Workaway after reading a magazine article. It was written by a well-known presenter. She was asked how she spent the winter months…One of the things she wrote was that she often logged onto the Workaway website and dreamed of warmer countries, working with local people and learning more about their culture and customs. Intrigued, I had a look at the website.
We knew we wanted to visit Mexico for three months, so this seemed an ideal scenario for us! We have visited Mexico for many years (we even married in Mexico City six years ago!) but wanted to have a closer look and better understanding of the Mexican way of life. It is fine travelling to a country, but to understand the people’s everyday lives should be an important factor too.
We have visited many different parts of the world – Sri Lanka, India, South Africa, USA and many parts of Europe. Yes, you can meet local people…. On buses, restaurants, sitting in a city park but these are fleeting moments, hours – if you’re lucky like us, be invited into someone’s home for a meal. But these are still short-lived moments (by the way, we are still in touch with the Iranian family we met in Istanbul who invited us for a meal). With Workaway, you get time to build a new relationship in a natural and free manner as you get to know your hosts. If you are lucky, (as we were) your host will show you things in the local area that tourists/travellers will never see.
We did not miss anything back home…With the exception of missing our grandchildren occasionally (we missed our granddaughters first birthday – oops!) but that was alleviated by the use of FaceTime and Skype twice a week. Our hosts helped me enormously with my Spanish language – which raised my confidence as we continued to travel through Mexico. But it takes a while. One day at the beach, instead of asking for coconut ice-cream, I asked for cocaine.
Our advice would be to give the best of yourself (you are representing your country), and enjoy it. Many people “wish” to do this but don’t. If you are lucky enough to be trusted by a complete stranger in their home, don’t ruin it for others.
Also, be open and honest with your host – they are not mind readers! Get to know your host – it’s not a one-way exchange. They are interested in you, your country, your experiences! And if you’re lucky like us, your host may just become your newest friend for life. Last but not least, laugh and smile! We are currently travelling south through Mexico. A lot of places were suggested by our host but we also had an idea of where we wanted to go. Our timescales have changed frequently. If we enjoy a place, like, for example, Campeche, we lingered a little longer. Our only fixed date is the dreaded flight home – 9th June.
On this trip we have visited Mexico City, Monarch Butterfly reserve (Cerro Pelon), Huaya (as locals call it!) Papantla, El Tajin, Tecolutla, Xalapa, Villahermosa, Campeche (our recommendation here is to visit Edzná!). We stayed in Mérida for two weeks with our host’s daughter and family for a few days. We hope to go on to Chetumul, Tikal in Guatamala, Oaxaca, and Mexico City. And then home! Boo! We plan to do Workaway again in two years’ time when we go to India for four months.
GRAEME AND BRENDA: TRAVEL THE WORLD
It’s never too late to pursue your dreams of travelling the world. As of February 2017, we’ve visited 19 countries – we’ve been Workawayers in four. First in France, then we went to Greece, Bulgaria and Hungary. We mostly helped with gardening and garden maintenance, which can involve some heavy lifting and DIY tasks such as painting and putting shelves up. We also cleaned, fed horses and walked dogs.
The best thing about travelling this way is definitely the host families we’ve met. And, the places that we would never have even visited if it hadn’t been for Workaway. Spending time in local communities and being involved in the day-today lives of some amazing people was far more rewarding for us than just visiting the obvious tourist places. We’ve stayed in tiny villages with people trying to live a simple self-sustainable lifestyle. We’ve also stayed at a 500-year-old chateau in France, plus everything in between.
We feel we had a lot to offer to potential hosts. Having owned our own houses, we’ve gained a lot of experience renovating and maintaining homes over the years. Other than that, we’ve mainly stayed in hostels. We never felt left out, even though we usually were the oldest there. We’ve spent some great evenings having a beer or two in the common rooms with people of different nationalities and age groups.
Most of the hosts we’ve stayed with were our age or a bit younger. Half of the hosts that we stayed with invited us, so it was probably our age and experience they were looking for. We’ve had to turn down at least 10 offers in Europe just because of time limitations.
It’s not always the things in life that you do that you sometimes regret, it’s the things that you don’t do. If there’s something that you really want to do, just take a chance! You can always go home if it doesn’t work out. It was a bit scary thinking about it and we talked about travelling for about a year before we realised that the only thing stopping us, was us. We’re planning on staying on the road for another 6 months or so and then see where life takes us.
We decided not to plan more than 2 or 3 weeks in advance to give us the freedom to go where we felt like going at any particular time. We always have a rough idea where we’ll be going next, but we decided not to fix any dates, so we can just go with the flow and never feel pressured to leave or stay. Workaway allows us to keep the trip going, because when we’re staying with hosts, the two major outlays — food and board — are pretty much covered. We still do go sightseeing and explore local towns and villages when we are staying with hosts families, though!
SINGLE TRAVELLER DANIEL
After 52 years of employment and family life, I decided to sell my house, my car and all my possessions. I wanted to fulfill my dream of travelling the world. Nowadays my sole possessions are in my backpack.
I hadn’t originally planned on going to Africa, but then I came across so many other travellers who had such positive experiences there. Quite often, I was intrigued to find out for myself and it has been fantastic so far. Even though I have always wanted to travel, but in my 20s I was busy starting a family and career. Once you embark on that path, it is hard to get off. Not travelling is one thing I had always regretted.
I don’t plan very much at all when I travel. Sometimes I have a vague idea of places that I want to go to, but sometimes I don’t decide until 24 hours before! I go wherever the wind takes me. I love being free. My relationship with time has totally changed, and yet it is hard to get used to having that freedom too. My attitude towards consuming, possessions and money in general is now totally different. I used to earn a decent amount and saw myself as a big spender. I was caught up with the importance of having stuff, a nice house and car. That became a focus, but now I see that I don’t need any of that to be happy. Now everything I own is in my backpack, I can’t buy more stuff because it just won’t fit, not even an extra book!
My attitude towards other people has changed too. I am more open and trusting, I used to be more reserved especially when meeting new people. I have developed more faith in humanity.
When I retired I saw it as a unique opportunity. If I didn’t head off now when would I do it? I have seen people of my generation and older who had accumulated wealth and possessions. But when they retired, they didn’t know how to be happy with what they had. They had no plans, no projects, just a bank account. I saw some of them age and become ill. With my children and grandchildren settled, my partner and I made the decision to live our dream and travel the world. The plan to travel with my partner didn’t work out. We separated, and that’s when I came across Workaway.
Being a Workawayer is a totally different experience, a different way to travel. You enter other people’s lives, share their world – exchange knowledge and ideas. I would never go back to tourism, I would get bored after 2 days.
I have been travelling and workawaying for 2 years and I never get bored. Workawaying gives you the initial contact with someone who lives locally, and this often leads to other opportunities. I have had offers of lifts to new destinations and even invited to be interviewed by a local newspaper. My life now unfolds in this way and it is truly fantastic. I think Workaway is such a great initiative.
Without a doubt, this is my way of life now and I’m going to continue as long as I can, another 10 years, 20 years, even to 100. I would if I could that’s for sure!
Totally, I am learning all the time, from everyone I meet, regardless of their age. Last week I spent time at a school in Kenya. The kids ranging from 10-14 years old taught me that the secret to being happy does not depend on what you have, as they have so little. What they do have is a sense of community and shared experiences.
I earned quite a lot during my working life…but I have spent it all! However, I have my pension. It is not a large amount, but it’s an income which allows me to keep travelling extensively, as does Workaway. I tend to choose destinations which have a lower cost of living, so that I can get by. Workaway is also useful for visiting places which would be outside my budget, as I can save on accommodation costs.
My motto is…“Happiness is NOW!”
SINGLE TRAVELLER GISELA
At the moment I am based just north of Medellín, Colombia. I am loving it. The weather’s just absolutely gorgeous. It’s just like eternal spring – blue sky and sunshine every day. It rains at night and in the morning, so it is so fresh and crisp. I have been based at this current place for two weeks. I am house sitting at the moment, looking after a gorgeous place with five dogs.
I choose all my Workaway experiences with things that really interest me. I go for something that I specifically want to learn. A highlight was in the Caribbean on the little island of Grenada on a cocoa farm. During my three-month stay, I learned every single step of the chocolate production. This is from growing the cocoa beans to harvesting to fermenting to roasting them. Everything! They called it tree-to-bar. It was totally amazing!
They were all masters in their field which I loved. I have been working with chocolate for quite a few years in my career as a vegan chef. So I really wanted to learn how to grow it. The most amazing part was that when I arrived, the owner of the farm said, “While you are here, you can eat as much chocolate as you want.”
It was really good quality dark chocolate, so you only needed a little. You wouldn’t eat a whole bar, but I ate a piece every day and fresh cocoa beans as well. Another highlight with Workaway was an assistant to a travel guide who was leading a crew from Europe. I would help with translating at the borders etc. This was such an amazing experience as well.
I also choose places where I can learn something about either food, medicine or herbs. There are so many possibilities, I could just go on and on for years!
Next on my wish list is to learn how to build a tiny home. There is actually a host on the Workaway website that offers that. He is in New Zealand, but unfortunately, New Zealand is off-limits at the moment.
I entered Colombia in mid-February, and then in mid-March, the lockdown started. It’s been months, but I have stayed at Workaway places the entire time, so I was lucky as I was out in the middle of nowhere in nature. I was not locked into an apartment or a big city like Bogota.
Travelling as a single female has been fine. What I always do if I go to a new country is to ask the locals. They always tell you what you’re not supposed to do – and then I just don’t do it!
To start this kind of lifestyle, pick something that you really like and maybe don’t commit for that long. Just do a couple of weeks to see how it goes. It’s not for everybody, but if you open up, there’s just so much to be learned – all around the world! There are so many amazing places and amazing people doing amazing work. The possibilities are never ending.
If you think this might appeal to you, log onto the workaway.info website for further reading. There are other peer-to-peer sharing platforms. You can try Helpx.net, WWOOFing (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) at TRAVEL THE WORLD FOR FREE (ALMOST!). There’s also WorldPackers.com. If you go on an adventure, be sure to let us know, we want to hear about it! ■