I realize I have been incredibly slack when I see that the last newsletter was dated May!!
So, here we are again. The not quite Gypsy Twitchers!
Things have been rather busy and not, (a little unfortunately) due to wild adventurous travels. Upon returning from our magnificent tour of Vietnam (91 new life birds...wow), we thought long and hard and decided we really should get around to building a house. Or should I say, I pressed hard to do so and Alby finally agreed, very reluctantly and not without considerable kicking and screaming.
So that is how we have come to spend a winter in Victoria. (may it never happen again!) Our first since 2005. The current status of the house is that it is being delivered in 4 pieces on a truck, two parts tomorrow and two more on Friday. A crane will then lift all the pieces onto the stumps and hey presto, there is our house! Not quite so easy, but nearly. There will still be around three weeks work connecting services and the like before we are able to move in, but the end is in sight. Surprisingly, except for the initial, excruciating process of obtaining a planning permit, the whole building experience has been relatively stress free. (dare I speak so soon?). Until move in day, we are enjoying a relatively basic, but comfortable life of sleeping in the tent and living in the shed, complete with full power.
Two points there, sleeping in the tent because we have sold Trakky. Dear old Trakky, what a life we had with him! But really it was time to move on, his joints were creaking a little too much and we want to head further off the beaten track than even Trakky would be up for. So we bit the bullet and advertised him for sale (Alby..."wouldn't it be a good idea to get the house all set up before we advertise?"....Me..."oh no, I'm sure it won't sell that quickly!"). Three days later he was happily trailing behind his new owners with a whole new lifetime of adventures waiting!
The second point is that we have a full 5kw solar system installed in and on the shed. This consists of 20 panels and 24 batteries (weighing 80kg each). An incredibly smart and easy system to use, which delivers all our power needs. So we have set up a mini home in the shed, running a microwave, kettle and toaster as well as powering up all our gadgets. All so very luxurious really.
In between all the house commitments, we were lucky enough to be able to squeeze in a three week trip to Bowra. This was a great way to escape the cold of a southern winter as well as slip in some good quality birding. Bowra as always was great, but sadly seemed badly overrun with goats, the worst we have ever seen it. It was also extremely dry and consequently bird numbers and species were down. We did have a thoroughly enjoyable and relaxing time with stops at Cocoparra, Gundabooka and Round Hill on the way up and back.
We recently also managed the momentous 20 minute trek to bird camp at Newstead. A very pleasant few days spent with our birdo friends, even though Alby missed most of it, having to be around home for tradesmen.
It has been an interesting time, being basically in one place for such a long time and yes, we do have itchy feet. So the question on all your minds is, will this new home keep us from our travels?...not likely. We are certainly looking forward to enjoying some of the finer things a permanent home has to offer, but the lure of the outback and the thrill of all those exotic birds waiting overseas is certainly still calling us. We have a 4-5 month trip planned out for next winter (a big adventure for Terry the tent), heading up through Finke to Alice the out west through Jupiter well, then through the Kimberly and on to Kakadu for another crack at the White-throated Grasswren, down the Savannah Way and home through western Queensland. Can't wait. Depending how everything pans out with the house and finishing touches, we may be able to squeeze a trip to Asia in for March as well.
It was with some sadness, but absolutely no regret, that we ended an era of full time travel. We are, however looking forward to starting a new phase, spending some very comfortable time at our wonderful block (we currently have 14 orchids flowering!) as well as continuing to travel extensively in both Australia and overseas.