Monday, March 23, 2009

Upcountry --- The Dark Ages --- Dial Up

It's not that Australia is so backward that broadband is not common for it surely is the norm in the city. But when you live in the country your only option is the relatively recent introduction of satellite broadband which my brother in law still regards with suspicion. Although I notice the local library, well I should say the nearest library which is a forty minute drive away, has broadband, however they did admit that it was sometimes a bit iffy. Consequently I have been neglecting my blog since I finished the cruise and have been visiting the relatives.

So here I am in the country, enjoying a very laid back visit on a horse farm. Well actually that is perhaps a bit grandiose since there are but six horses and it is only just under 40 acres in all.

My brother in law was a rather senior civil servant and took retirement at 55 as do many Australian civil servants. In fact my nephew has just retired from the income tax department and is planning his retirement which he says involved doing nothing. They do like to enjoy the good life, these Aussies. Anyway my BIL loves horses although he did not learn to ride until he was fifty but he has been a lifelong horse racing fan as are so many in Australia.

After a long search on the North Coast of New South Wales, he purchased 12 acres from a cattle farmer who was selling off some land to buy a new truck. In an ideal location, in the country but no more than forty five minutes from the coast and all those beautiful pristine sandy beaches, it is a very pretty property with its own small stand of gum trees in lovely rolling hill country and after he built a house and they moved here he began his new career as a racehorse breeder by buying a thoroughbred mare in foal and a riding horse who has a very fancy name which I cannot remember but has always been known as Nipper and for a very good reason.

Now Nipper cost $250 fifteen years ago and he was a former stock horse. As you can imagine for that price he was obviously not very successful in his career as a stock horse and he was passed from owner to owner as quite a few tried to whip him into shape and each decided he was not worth the time. My BIL became his new owner and attempted to turn him into his devoted horsey companion without much success as he was truly a biter and he also tried to unseat his rider as often as possible.

Like owning a sailboat or powerboat, owning racehorses is a sink hole into which you pour money but it has been a very happy retirement for my BIL as he has bred and raced a succession of racehorses from his original mare, albeit only in at the country race courses. But he has bred his last foal he says, as he surveys his little herd on his now almost forty acres and he expects this one to be his ticket to the big time. The next Phar Lap he tells me, although Phar Lap was a gelding and not a mare, but still the most famous horse in Australia. This one, the last of the line starting with Gildie the original mare, Blaze her daughter and Gilken her other daughter, followed by Tara who is Blaze's daughter and finally Tara's daughter who even though five months has yet to be named and is called simply the Foal. They all have fancy racing names but they have very simple names around here. Despite all being chestnuts the Foal is almost all black with a chestnut face and markings but it is too soon for her final colour to be known for sure. Her father is a very good horse and his foals are starting to win so my BIL is very hopeful that she will be a big winner and recoup all the money he has spent so lavishly on his little herd of mares and former riding horse, who have earned their retirement and lead the good life, eating their way through the paddocks which have been added to somewhat as he acquired more land and being fed hay and other exotic and expensive horsey treats. Nipper, at 28 and Gildie have to be fed a special senior horse diet and none were retrained to be ridden after their racing career was over. Occasionally Nipper, who is quite docile now in his old age, is ridden by a visiting grandchild or two but that is the extent of their usefulness, apart from this last mare producing the Foal.

My sister in law is not quite so enamoured of these horses who, when she has to take care of them for any reason, for example when my BIL was thrown and broke his leg, tend to nip her and kick her if they get the chance. So she would be very happy to move to their other house at the beach but she knows that her husband loves these animals so much that it is not really an option any time soon.

We have very much enjoyed our time here as we travelled between the beach house and the horse farm, in between feeding times for the horses of course. I must say it has been very relaxing to watch the rural landscape dotted with horses and the neighbour's cattle and the weather has been gorgeous.

Tomorrow we leave for Sydney to visit one of my school friends and then we are off to Perth for four days where the temperature will reach 34 to 35 degrees Centigrade this weekend, despite the fact that is Autumn. I cannot truthfully say I am looking forward to the heat but it will be great to catch up with our Perth friends who spent last year on sabbatical in Vancouver.

I apologize that dial up does not allow photo uploading for this post but they will follow eventually I assure you.


sally in norfolk said...

'The Dark Ages' sounds a bit like norfolk to me :-)

Vic Grace said...

Interesting post and you sound like you are having a great trip.

I neglected my blog while away it seemed so much bother to go to coffee shops all the time. I think I probably needed a break anyway.

Moggs Tigerpaw said...

I figure the problem with broadband is it needs to be laid and it pays the companies relatively well to lay it for urban areas, less cable, less digging, lots of customers.

It is not very cost effective in the sticks. Miles of cable, lots of digging, few customers.

Enjoy the rest of your trip.

jams o donnell said...

Dial up seems to be a small price to pay for what sounds like a wonderful lifestyle. I hope you enjoy the rest of your stay

Anonymous said...

I trust you have not been bitten by any hideous aussie spiders yet? It sounds brill by the way - one day I shall travel the world again...

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

No need for photos with your vivid descriptions, jmb - I am imagining the foal. Glad you can relax a bit there.

lady macleod said...

Good to hear from you. Your visit sounds ideal in many ways indeed. Nice to know that the 21st century is coming down under (at whatever speed)

A wonderful description of your surroundings - I can smell the hay.

I hope you and the scientist guy enjoy the rest of your visit as much.

Voyager said...

I have been in Yellowknife for a week, and there is high speed wireless in evry hotel. Even in Inuvik and tiny communities there is broadband. Strange that Oz is behind in this. Looking forward to your photos.

Moggs Tigerpaw said...

Voyager has a point. I got a high speed wireless link when I stayed in Yosemite National Park.