Well, the picks are sharpened in anticipation of a big weekend fossicking. Bring on the luck and some good weather, but first to pick up the boys.
Murray and I went to Cairns Thursday afternoon to pick up Andrew and Simon who were winging their way to us to go camping and fossicking for a few days with us, Grandad, Uncle Stewart, Uncle John, their cousins and their families. Time of arrival was 6.50pm but they arrived twenty minutes early which was a wonderful surprise. My heart jumped when I saw them both, it had been four weeks since we had left home, and them, and I missed them. There was much chatter and laughter in the car on the trip back to the Tableland where Grandad and Grandma were anxiously waiting to see them too.
Friday morning arrived with much excitement. Packing done, time to hit the road. Mt Surprise is around 230km from Malanda, and another 45km in to O’Briens Creek. It is a dry, hot climate.
Our family consisted of eighteen for the weekend, so we took up seven sights at the caravan park, four tents, two camper trailers and one camper van. Ages ranged from the oldest being Grandad, 84 to the youngest, Kipp only ten weeks.
The temperature was quite warm when we arrived, around 26, and it was time for some summer clothing to come out. Everyone was happy to see each other so there was much catching up on the first night around the campfire. Stewie played some campfire music on his guitar and the girls Olivia, 4 and Lexi, 5 serenaded us with “You are My Sunshine”. Early to bed though as we were setting off for a day of fossicking, and hopefully some topaz luck, on Saturday.
After a hearty breakfast of eggs and bacon we set off in a convoy towards to the gem fields. This is the first time Nev Navara has done some real four wheel driving and driver, Murray, really enjoyed himself. As for me I was white knuckled all the way and almost needed a change of clothes when we arrived at our destination high up in the hills. The photos of this trip don’t really tell how extreme this journey was, or maybe they do, it felt a lot rougher to me.
Everyone was keen to begin, especially Rus and, as usual, he was the first to have some luck. It was a hot 29 in the shade and the dust was flying from all the sieving. Talk was little as we strove to achieve a goal, to find the rare blue topaz. There were five young children and one baby with us and not one of them complained, they all just got in and enjoyed the thrill of the dig and Kipp, the youngest (10 weeks old) was patient with mum, Jess all day. At the end of the day quite a few of us had scored some topaz, yours truly included, but, alas, no blue was to be seen. It was two o’clock when I realised we had to drive back the way we came. Oh my god, here we go again! We had been out for several so we headed back to camp where all the men sat down to a cold ale, of course, and Jess and I set to preparing a very late lunch.
After a swim in the creek Spaghetti bolognaise was on the menu for the night, after which we all enjoyed an early 21st celebration for Andrew (21 in August) with a beautiful carrot cake made by Myra. Wisdom was imparted by Jess and Stewart, and a few others to our young man. The best fire of the weekend was looked after by Simon, we had two chimneys that night with flames shooting out the centres.
Sunday we all set off again for fossicking, only for a short few hours as a few of us were leaving later that day for home. More topaz was found, still no blue, and then back to camp for pack up and goodbyes to the Fealys, the Bells and Michael. Many photos were taken. It was sad to say goodbye but we will do it all again in, hopefully, another two years time. Rus, Murray and John headed back out to have another dig after lunch. The rest of us stayed behind in the shade, enjoyed a rest and another swim. It was a quieter night as there were only nine of us left for the fire but we still enjoyed ourselves.
Another brilliant weekend in the gem fields but it had to come to an end. After saying farewell to the Kendall family, we headed back to Malanda as the weekend was talked and laughed about all the way. The photos have turned out great and we have many wonderful memories. Couldn’t put all the photos in but I’m sure the ones I have tell their own stories.
Thanks to everyone who joined us and made our weekend extra special. See you all again.