On my birthday, August 1994, with both sons married, my husband and I set out on a prolonged trip around Australia in our 4WD with off-road camping trailer. We were in a remote region of north-western Australia in July 1995 when family matters called us home. A few short weeks later we learned that my husband was terminally ill. He died in March the following year. Exactly twelve months after his death, I loaded our Toyota Hilux 4WD with a 2-man tent, camping gear, and set off, on my own, around Australia, to finish ‘our’ trip.
Early 1999 I purchased a small caravan in which I lived and travelled for the next two years with the company of a Pomeranian named Gizmo. For the April to October tourist seasons I worked as a tour guide on a safari camp at Riversleigh in far north-west Queensland. We pumped our water from the river, cooked over open fires and our washing machine sat beneath a gum tree. Yes, it was a proper washing machine. The camp was equipped with a solar powered generator. For my tours, I acquired knowledge of mega-fauna fossils, geology, fauna, flora and local history. In the off-season I took my caravan down to Victoria to work on a dinosaur fossil dig. A major health issue, plus closure of the camp, brought that period of my life to a close.
During the time I spent in north-west Queensland I became acquainted with legendary cattle drover Pic Willetts. While writing his memoirs, WIND ON THE CATTLE I drove, with Pic, along the disused stock routes in the Northern Territory. I handle driving in rough terrain with confidence, unfazed even when Pic had to walk ahead in waist high grass to direct the way around massive, hidden, limestone boulders. My adventurous spirit has not been daunted despite a couple of mishaps.
Once (2000) I was stranded, near sundown, with a jack-knifed caravan, in a Victorian forest, about 40 kilometres away from the nearest town. I crawled under the Hilux to dig a hole in the road to enable me to affix the jockey wheel, roped the leaning van to a tree, in case it toppled over, slept on a sloping bunk until daylight when I hiked several kilometres for help. Later during that same journey, unaware that the springs on both sides of the caravan had broken, I was within a few kilometres of potential disaster when fellow travellers alerted me. Given the fortuitous circumstances of my 'rescue' on both occassions, I believe my late husband was watching over me to keep me safe.
On another occasion (2008) back up in north-west Queensland, having broken the cardinal rule of never bush-walking alone, I tumbled down a cliff, fortunately surviving serious injury though the experience was extremely unpleasant, with a 5 hour walk in concussed state to get back to help. That mishap culminated in the calling of The Royal Flying Doctor Service to air lift me into Mt Isa Hospital.
Apart from research trips for my writing I have done little travel within Australia in recent years. In 2005 I made my first visit to Egypt, and found another country to love. I have since made many visits varying in duration from two weeks to six months.
Gardening and sewing are my two other main interests and I now have a new companion, a Silky Terrier cross named Barney, my dear Gizmo having gone to doggie heaven in 2010