New beginnings.

As some of you may know, we’ve bought some land and are now in the process of building a shipping container home. It’s coming along nicely, but a bit more stressful than I thought. Our land is 3 acres, on the side of a hill, with views over the Winton Wetlands looking towards Mansfield. I’m hoping, but doubtful that we will be able to see snow in the winter.  The plan is for veggie gardens and self sufficiency, but that will a little way down the road.

I drew the plans up on a scrap of paper in about 10 minutes, and handed them over to the very capable people at Container Build Group who then handed the plans on to their draftsman.   While he was drafting away, I was submitting planning permits, building permits, the worm people were submitting their permits, all waiting for approval.   Even though you have the land you can’t do anything on it without permits.   We bought a shed months ago (sometime before Xmas) which is still sitting on the ground in pieces.   It turns out where we have bought is in the middle of a building boom, and trying to find available people locally is a nightmare.   So as a result our builder comes from Albury – 1 hr & 30 minutes away – and is now charging me accommodation, he’s in Hawaii at the moment, but when he comes back we will be discussing a caravan – at least I can sell it and get some money back.  Our electrician (electrics are in – but not connected) came from Melbourne.  And I’ve finally found a guy to do our driveway and ground work for the shed – hopefully next week – it turns out he’s already been on our block delivering stone for the base of the worm farm.   So its all motoring along nicely, I think the containers will be ready to move next week.

The initial plan was to do all the work ourselves, but as its turned out the majority of the work is being subbed out – a big increase in costs I might add.   The shipping container portion is being made off site in Lismore (Container Build Group) and will be trucked down and installed on-site by our builder.   We’ve employed a local builder, who is just starting out on his own, to do the standard build in the middle of the two blocks of containers, he will also be doing the ground work.  And also we’ve installed a worm farm waste system instead of a septic system.   All your household & garden (compostable) waste also goes into the system, which in turn distributes worm juice into the paddocks through a huge filtration system.

We’ve planted 6 trees and put in a basic automated watering system – which people insist on turning off.    So at last count I’m down to 5 trees.   There have been a lot of   40+C deg (that’s 104 F or more) so the watering system being shut down is a concern, especially as they are newly planted.   Bad timing on my behalf but I felt the need to achieve something on the land before Christmas.


This is the view over Lake Mokohan


Internal wall. Pantry & laundry doors.


Laundry and downstairs master. This bedroom is being made wheelchair accessible.


This is a pile of our insulation – it will be on all the walls & ceilngs.


Looking out from inside the rooms. Walls come later.


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Back in the U.S. of A. – Alaska

We’ve been on the Star Princess from Vancouver to Anchorage, Alaska.  Lots more stunning scenery, and glaciers.    It was very nice not to have too have the bags packed every single day.  And even nicer not to be up and on the move at 6.30 am.  I think we all enjoyed that.    The food was lovely in all the restaurants.  We’d chosen not to get the drinks package for a number of reasons but the drinks were very cheap as it was so not really a problem.   The cruise itinerary was a day of coastal cruising,  Ketchikan, Junea & then Skegway, then a day of cruising on Glacier Bay, with College Fjord the next afternoon.

I was glad to have the day of cruising as I really was not particularly well.  It was pouring rain in Ketchikan, the measure their rainfall by the foot.   I would have preferred not to go but it was the town I was looking forward to most.   I should have stayed on the boat.  I managed to knock the camera dial and all the photos I took have a filter over them, I didn’t have my glasses with me so didn’t notice till it was way to late, and I got soaked through to the skin.   To be honest I can barely remember the town.   Junea was nice, and is the capital of Alaska – strange that its not accessible by road at all.   Theres an interesting Russian church which was worth a look at.  The last town was Skegway an old mining, rail, western town.  It still has the wooden boardwalks around the town.   All very lovely, all very touristy with pretty much the same shops selling the same stuff.  Also for the record – the water was like glass.   No rocking boat, mostly we didn’t know if we were sailing or moored up unless we looked out the window.

We saw wildlife today – always good.   And Hummingbirds – which I think for me have been one of the highpoint of the trip.


Russian Church, Juneau


In the churchyard


Local transport








Skegway Port


Brown Bear


Rufus Hummingbird

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Canada – Lake Louise & Banff.

I forgot to tell you we stayed at the Chateau Lake Louise, very nice, quite swanky.   And enormous.   I almost needed a packed lunch to get to mums family suite.  She’s getting all the good rooms.  Early breakfast (best buffet on the trip so far) and then off towards Banff.

We made a couple of stops on the way for sight seeing & then caught the Banff Gondola to the peak of Sulphur Mountain.  Stunning views from the top of the mountain.   Interesting experience getting the scooter up there.  It only just fit into the gondola with one other person (that person would be me!)

Today was a free day in Banff, which we all sort of needed.   Mum caught a bug yesterday so today spent most of the day with her feet up, in bed.   We went for a walk around town and then came back to the hotel for an afternoon nap.  There is a fantastic Australian run coffee shop in town – White Bark Cafe.  Its not big but the coffee was worth the walk.

Tomorrow we join the Rocky Mountaineer for 2 days.


Lake Louise


Bow Lake


The Natural Bridge


Views down to Banff & the Rockies


More views of the Rockies.

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Canada – Jasper National Park.

Today was an animal extravaganza.    We were on the Icefields Parkway – one of the most beautiful roads in the world according to surveys, so lots of scenery. Initially we went to Maligne Canyon.  I saw a chipmunk but wasn’t quick enough to get a photo.  After we’d done that walk it was back to the bus.  Not that far down the road were Mountain Goats – also no photo – wrong side of the bus.  A lone Coyote – managed to get those photos.   BUT next thing we saw a car stopped on the side of the road, so we slowed down to see why – BEAR!   I managed to get myself to a good position in the front of the bus and got some shots.  From there it was Columbia Glacier, interesting but sooo cold.   Its been lightly snowing all day.  Crossing a bridge we got held up because Mountain Sheep were on the bridge.  We are now at Lake Louise – still snowing.  We all stood in the snow to have the group photo taken, and are now in our very nice rooms.




Black Bear


Mountain Sheep

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Canada – Jasper

The drive today was through farmland for the first couple of hours.   I thought I was the only one struggling to stay awake, however when I stood up to get something out of my bag after one head nod too many – I was greeted with a sea of sleeping people.  There were about 3 others not awake.  I didn’t feel so bad.

We arrived a Jasper early in the afternoon and had a walk around.  They say that there are a lot of Elk near the train line (it runs parallel to the town) but we didn’t see any.  We went for a second walk after dinner and made the decision to walk along the tree line behind the hotels.  Lo and behold – 7 Elk.   Still no freaking bear!

Off to Banff tomorrow.


Downtown Jasper


The Firehall


Jasper the Bear – the official mascot


Most likely as close as I will get


Evening clouds










The Lutheran Church

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Canada – Lillooet & Sun Park

Spectacular drive through the mountains today leaving Whistler.   The only downside is we are doing a tour – no stopping! Its a minor downside. So a lot of the photos I’ve taken are through the bus window on the move. Reflections and blurriness. We stopped at a small town for lunch in Lillooet – an old mining town. From there we headed off towards Sun Park – we had an afternoon stop at Hat Creek Ranch – the high point was the Hummingbirds.   They had 6 feeders and many species of Hummingbirds – a high point of my day.  In fact I didn’t even look at anything else on the ranch.

We are now at Sun Peak – another ski field – very quite.   I was supposed to go on a canoeing thing this evening but it was freezing at 5:30pm I can only imagine what it will be like on the water at 8:00pm.  I’ll be very annoyed with myself if they see bear while they are out.

More deer and bald eagles today, still no bear.


Leaving Whistler



Lillooet sidewalk



Hummingbird – they are tiny


I mean – teenie tiny.  


Lake Kamloops


Around Lake Kamloops



Covered bridge Sun Peaks


Inside the hotel


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Canada – Whistler

Woke up at some awful time this morning to catch the bus at 8:30 that connects to the ferry to get to Whistler. We needed to have our bags outside our door at 6:30 am. It was torrential rain the whole way.   I suppose if you are going to be stuck on a bus it may as well be wet outside.   We had a quick stop at The Shannon Falls it was approximately a 5 minute walk to get there.  I was soaked through to the skin, wet shoes & socks, jeans wet up to my knees by the time I got back on the bus, the rain was so heavy.

We arrived in Whistler, there is still skiing and snowboarding, not great snow though.  Fortunately the weather has started to clear up.  A long driving day in front of us tomorrow.

No bears to be seen.

Look at that moss on the tree, look at the power of the waterfall behind it.

Foot of the falls

The Shannon Falls



Whistler – the last of the snow

People were still skiing.

One of the buildings in Whistler.

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