Saturday, September 30, 2006

Mintabie photos

I find the mysteries of blogging totally unfathomable. I think I have done the right thing, but nothing seems to have worked, then somehow like magic, at the push of a button, it appears. At times I think that I publish anything is sheer good luck, but at other times, when it works, I decide that I am a computing genius.
Here are some photos that should have been included in the Mintabie blog, but somehow missed out. I hope I haven't doubled up, but then again, does it really matter. his blog is mainly for my enjoyment. I hope in the process that you get some pleasure from it too.


September 29th

Day 1 of the holidays is almost over - very quietly, without fireworks. Mark has gone off to a new job at Mount Lofty Summit Restaurant and Don and I have spent a quiet and peaceful Saturday at home together.

I thought I would tell you a bit about the trip to Mintabie I mentioned earlier in the blog.

Our school is involved in an interschool partnership called "Bushband SA". The history of Bushband is long and involved, but briefly it is the brainchild of a previous principal of mine and it involves children from different schools going on trips together and performing in a variety of places in Australia. Since I have been involved we have travelled to Tasmania (twice), Broken Hill, Frances Folk Festival in the south-east of SA and to Fleurieu Peninsula in SA. This year, because our founder has moved to Port Augusta in the far north of South Australia, we had an outback adventure and we took out choir and dance group to Mintabie. Mintabie is a very small opal mining community in the very far north of the state - real outback country, where the rainfall for the year has been 25mm.

I'm not sure of the population of Mintabie - I don't think anyone knows the population - but it is a fascinating outback town. Opal mining here is done in open cut mines using heavy machinery. The country is generally very flat and covered in low scrub - lots of red sand. The higher land where the opals are found seem to be white rocky stuff- I knew I should have listened more carefully. None of the miners let on how well or how poorly they are doing from their mines, but they seem to stay on for quite a while and the ones we spoke to also admitted that they had land and property elsewhere - for their retirement.

Our kids performed in the local pub(hotel) to a very appreciative audience, some of whom remembered a previous Bushband trip 10 years before. Our drummer in fact was so popular that he was given $10 by an admirer for his efforts. Heady stuff for a 12 year old. Some of our girls did a Maori dance and one of the highlights of the evening occurred when a member of the audience, herself a Maori, joined the kids in one of the dances.

To backtrack a little, I should tell you a bit about the whole concept. Bushband SA gets together children from different schools - in this case my school, a conservative relatively middle class country school, a school from the northern suburbs of Adelaide (Elizabeth), definitely a disadvantaged area, and kids from a school in Whyalla, a country/industrial city in the north of the state - kids from a very low socoi-economic area. We travelled allin all 3600kms north through the outback of South Australia, performing at schools and seeing a different world.

Many of the children had never seen the outback of our state so it was a huge learning experience for them, particularly having to go without showers because of the drought conditions, seeing very little green, just bare dirt and low shrubs and travelling huge distances without seeing anything except more of the same.

Saturday September 30th

We visited Port Augusta and then moved on to Woomera. This town was built by the Australian government and the Americans in the 1950s as a rocket testing area and it is still kept in excellent condition, though the population is minimal. Rumour has it that the rocket range is to be re-opened and the town re-populated. While we were there we were tasken on a tour of what was a spy establishment for the US. From the road you can see what looks like a huge white golf ball alongside a very large salt lake. As you get closer - and drive through 6 security gates and several high fences with barbed wire rolls in between, you see a number of huge buildings - all deserted. The spy station was disbanded in 1996 (I think). Inside the 'golf ball' is a huge satellite dish which was used to 'spy' on other countries. The golf ball was built around it purportedly so that stray spy planes could not see which way the satellite dish was pointing. Tue? I don't know, but fascinating.

We also spent time at Coober Pedy which is another opal mining town - this time underground mining and indeed living. We visited a number of underground shops and a very luxurious underground house. Sadly the mining industry there is winding down and tourism seems to be the only thing keeping the town going.

The trip was a huge success and the kids voted it as the best Bushband trip yet. Below is a photo of the state floral emblem Sturt's Desert Pea which we found growing in a garden at Mintabie.



Friday, September 29, 2006

Holidays at last!

September 29th

The last day of term. Rejoice!! This term has been so full and busy. We've had sports days, a school trip to Mintabie in the far north of the state, the 40 Hour Famine, First Aid training, a Charities Day fundraising day, tree planting in the conservation park nearby, writing applications for grants and the usual teaching stuff on top of that!

I was really proud of my class this term. They decided as a class to do the 40 hour dfamine - they only had to do a modified version. They went foodless from lunchtime one day to lunchtime the next, with a school sleepover (well not really 'sleep') in between. They had a cup of plain boiled rice for breakfast and fruit juice and barley sugar in between. BUT, they had a lot of fun and between the 22 of them, they raised $1500. Not bad!

This week the whole school (90 kids) ran a Charities Day between recess and lunch, where they organised stalls and activities to raise funds to support several charities. The activities included Trash and Treasure, pancakes, popcorn and fruit salad, Guess the Lollies jar, Tunnel of Horror, quoits, a quiz, a Disco, a Spider drink stall and face painting. They organised it all themselves with minimal help and they had a wonderful time, raising $450.

Now I can relax and get on with my holiday plans - spring cleaning, weeding and planting in the garden, quilting, reading, getting my hair cut, lunching with friends, a weekend away with Don, spending time with my eldest daughter, shopping, finding someone to build me a granny flat - did I say I was going to have a rest??

Next term promises to be just as hectic, so I have to replenish my energy and do 'my thing' for a while.

Liz needle

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

And still more

Good, the last lot worked, so here are a few more. Enjoy

Photos from the garden

Having problems uploading photos tonight. I hope these work

More from the Garden

Wednesday September 27th

A glorious spring day today in the Hills. Far too nice to be working inside, so we took our classes outside and the big Year 6/7s taught the little Reception kids how to skip. Very funny and very cute. Next time I must take the camera out.

It is wonderful to see 12 and 13 year olds showing so much patience and care for 5 year olds. Makes you realise how many wonderful teenagers we have around and that despite the things you hear about adolescents, most of them are going to grow up into very nice adults.

More photos from the garden tonight. You can see how much pleasure it gives me. It's not one of those neat, ordered formal gardens, but a sprawling informal tangle of beautiful places. Of course I'm not showing you all the weeds!!!

Not only is the garden full of growing things, but it is full of birds and bird songs as well. At any time you will see Superb Blue Wrens, New Holland Honeyeaters, Eastern Spinebills, Willie Wagtails, Red Browed finches, Pardelotes, Thornbills, Silvereyes, Sparrows, doves, Crested Pigeons, Adelaide Rosellas, Galahs, Sulphur Crested Cockatoos, Thrushes, gold finches, zebra finches, Little Wattle Birds, Magpies, Little Ravens, Magpie Larks, Kookaburras and Blackbirds - these are the regular visitors and the ones I recognise. At night we hear the owls and Frogmouth and then we have the occasional or seasonal visitors.

At the moment we have two sets of Wood duck babies that wander through the vegetable garden on their way to the dam and in a fork of a gum tree I found a nest with a blackbird sitting - at about eyeball height. Must try to get a photo when they hatch. I love the blackbirds even though they aren't natives. They are so bold and bouncy, but they do make a terrible mess of the garden mulch!!

It is really no wonder that I avoid the hustle and bustle of Adelaide and spend as much time as I can in this peaceful spot. I really dread the day when it all gets too much for us and we have to sell up and move to a smaller place in a town somewhere. But of course that won't be for ages yet.(says she, confidently).

Liz Needle

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

My garden in the Spring

Here are some more shots of the garden. As you can see there are bluebells in profusion, flowering apples and flowering cherries and an Australian native banksia. The camellias and daffodils have just finished and the roses are not quite ready.

What you can't see properly are the weeds. They have grown in profusion this year and I am going to have to get stuck into them in the school holidays - only 3 days left.

Waratahs in the Garden

Tuesday September 26th.

Flushed with success I am about to try putting a photograph into my blog. Huge learning curve. I may have to call on my friend Pennie for help in this one.

At the moment our garden has taken on the look of Spring and I would love to share some of the lovely bits with you - not the weeds!! Just the presentable bits, so here goes.

Monday, September 25, 2006


Hi Friends

This is my first ever blog - not my first try at creating a blog, but I am being positive - this time it is going to work!!!

First about me. My name is Liz Needle and I am a primary school teacher in South Australia. I live in a tiny town called Lenswood, in the Adelaide Hills. Lenswood used to be a major apple growing area, but these days many of the orchards have been turned into vineyards instead. The Adelaide Hills produce excellent cool climate white wines, especially sauvignon blanc - my favourite.

The nearest reasonable sized town to Lenswood is Lobethal - about 6kms away. Lobethal was one of the first German settlements in South Australia. The name means "Valley of Praise". It is famous as the home of the first cricket bat factory in Australia - Kumnicks Cricket Bat Factory, the Onkaparinga Woollen Mills, since closed down, the first Grand Prix in Australia and more recently, the Lobethal Christmas Lights. This is an amazing spectacle and people come from all over in their tens of thousands to view the lights hung from every available hanging space. I might add that many local residents leave home around that time of the year!!!

We, my husband and I live on a 10 acre farmlet that has in its time been home to a menagerie of animals. These days with our children grown up and moving away, we only have a few cattle, 2 dogs and an emu. We also have a large garden which keeps us busy and fit. In my spare time when I am not teaching I garden, quilt, read, cross stitch and cook.

That's enough for a start. Now I have to see if I can make this work.