News from the Fungus Farm

We are in the middle of the wet season now, but nothing dramatic like cyclones to laugh at.  The rain has come in moderate amounts and with about 770 mm YTD, it isn’t a failed wet either.  The only thing I can complain about is lightening sneaking up on me without decent warning.  In the last week there has been distant thunder gently rolling about the hills just adding a bit of constant background noise, and distant and silent lightening throughout the night at less than a second between flashes.  But a few days ago I was in the kitchen there was a loud crack I knew was the answering machine blowing up.  I was in the same place about a month before when when the previous machine was blown up so immediately knew what it was.  I had the leisure to count the seconds until the clap of thunder arrives.  About 3-4 seconds, so it was just over a kilometre away to the west where the lightening had struck.  It wasn’t even raining.

Dear regular guests, I will no longer have an answering machine on my phone, so the best way to contact me is by email.  A phone which only lasts a month is ridiculous, and they are so complex to set up, I can’t be bothered.  I still have a phone and you can try your luck with me being near it to answer in person, but no more incredibly fragile and complex answering machines thank you.  I remember when I bought it last month, I remarked to the brisk and efficient young guy at Harvey Normans checkout that they make very good lightening detectors.  He politely ignored my remark.  So the phone I have is irreplaceable.  It is so old it has capability for pulse dialing.  Anyone remember when you stuck your finger in a hole and turned a dial until your finger hit a stop and it clicked back?  And that was for each number.  The phone is the size and feel of a brick.  I think it was cream coloured, but has now turned mostly yellow.  It doesn’t require power, can withstand lightening and was connected to the phone line when the super-duper modern one was blown off the wall.  I estimate I have had it for 35 years.

Another casualty of the rogue lightening strike I discovered an hour later when I went to connect to the internet.  I couldn’t.  The connection box, aka modem, had no lights and no heat.  It is the hottest electronic device I have ever had and is alarmingly hot even when doing nothing, which is most of the time.  It doesn’t even have a power switch and is intended to permanently connect to the satellite.  It belongs to the NBN and I can’t buy a new one, but the good news is that the NBN replace it for free.  When they can get a techie to come out here and replace it.  I spent an hour and a quarter with my ear clamped to my brick phone, as it doesn’t have speaker, as I waited in a phone queue to talk to a techie to report the fault.  I wished I had had the foresight to gather a book and a cut lunch to while away the time before I was connected to a human.  Only 4 days offline before the techie arrived.  The same guy who had replaced it just 2 years ago.  This modern electronic shit really doesn’t like lightening.

I recently had a guest’s dog killed by a red-bellied black snake.  They are really common here but very docile and I have stood on them half a dozen times without one attempting to bite.  That is pretty tolerant.  But the dog ran up and bit the snake, the snake bit the dog and within a minute it lost the use of its back legs.  Note to guests:- they are pretty easy going, but don’t bite them.

A couple of weeks back a tree fell over the track near Blackbean Cottage.  It had many branches and was festooned with creepers which made it hard work clearing it up.  I got about 4 tons of firewood for the sauna even without taking the trunk which would have been too hard to split.  I like my new battery chainsaw doing most of the cutting of the smaller branches.  It is light and easy to use and as powerful as the smaller petrol chainsaws.  I opted for a mid-range battery which gives 40 mins of actual cutting time, which translates to nearly a couple of hours of work as there is much heaving of branches and chopping of creepers to be done.  By that time I am about ready for a break myself.

Me and grandkids Xmas 2020

I had a great Xmas with my daughter Josie and family staying a week having driven over from Darwin.  My other daughter Alice lives just 15 km away and came over so my 4 grandkids could have time together.  Aged 4,5,6 and 7, they had a lot in common and could play together well.  As reported in my last blog, I had made machetes for Henry and Philip who live down the road.  Huon, the eldest at 7 really, really wanted one too.  Despite some misgivings from his mother, I got the nod and made him one too.  The three boys spent hours thrashing away at the undergrowth.  I had offered to make one for Evie, 5, but she declined.  It’s a boy thing I guess, as I remember as a boy taking a stick to some weeds and imagining I was an explorer in some trackless jungle.  And that was in the middle of Manchester!  Things have come full circle I guess and my grandkids are really in the jungle with real machetes.

It has just struck me with astonishment that I have actually been living my childhood dreams!  I have actually written a blog about making my own machete and how much better it is than a store bought one and how I treasure it.  Sure is an upgrade from a stick!  I had thought my life as random and unlikely events that brought me here, but perhaps my child mind was steering me without my special wonder or knowledge.  If I don’t know, I suppose the question will have to be thrown on the trash heap of philosophy where many good ideas go to die.


  1. It seems no matter how hard you work Paul, the Gremlins get you! It’s like the Sydney Harbour Bridge maintenance – As soon as all is fixed up and perfect in your domain, along comes a gremlin event (lightning) to give you problems. At least you got the internet back up and working, don’t worry about an answering machine, guests will persue you on your “brick” until they catch you, if they are serious about making a booking! It’s lovely to see all four grandkids, all beautiful with their grandpa. You have made memories to keep forever by having them all there at once. I don’t believe that random and unlikely events brought you to your haven, the magic of Possum Valley was always luring you on, it was written in the stars……..

  2. Mark in Mayenne says:

    No wrecks and nobody drownded?

  3. Peter says:

    Hello, Operator, can you put me through to Ravenshoe four, please? And you don’t fool me, I know you must remember the first phone we had was a party line, with no dialling facility at all. But, more recently, didn’t Soviet warplanes stick to thermionic valves for their avionics, to harden them against EMP? The guy at Harvey Norman’s is probably too young to have seen films featuring such devices, let alone used one, and the initials STD have lost their original meaning to a much less welcome modern replacement.
    Thankfully, the old Silver Cross prams do not hit the scrap heap as once they did, so you will not be tempted to replace your current transport with a cart like the ones we used to build.

    • Yes, I do vaguely remember something about a party line and having to ask ‘operators’ to ‘put one through’ to somebody. I probably never used a phone until I was in my teens, or even later.

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