Richard, my bro, was having a problem with his solar set-up at his farm, so Dave, the solar expert from Melbourne, went with him when he drove home on Thursday 23 September 2004. The next day, I took Dave’s place in a group of friends heading north for a fishing trip to Mallacoota near the Victoria/NSW border.
Mark Earle took me to the light aircraft airport of Moorabbin and dropped me at the Royal Vic Aero Clubhouse where I joined the group there quaffing beers and awaiting the arrival of pilot, Russell Barnes. There were seven of us in a Piper and a Cessna 182. I was put in the latter with Russell. We passed over Warragul, Sale and Maffra. Lovely names! We landed at Bairnsdale to refuel, all pitching in to push the Cessna to the pump. Someone called a taxi to take us into town, about 6 km’s drive. After a sandwich, one of our number, a clock repairer by trade, suggested we go to a clock shop in the town on the Prince’s Highway.
What an unexpected delight. I could have browsed all day, but we had to get going.
The Cessna took off, passed over Lakes Entrance where my mum was in a home for the elderly, and headed for Orbost Field, which is a long way from Orbost and coincidentally, only three km from Richard’s farm, Ostralia-All-Over, near the little village of Marlo on the coast. He arrived to swap Dave for myself and off they flew.
It was nice to see my sister-in-law Kate again! Both of them were scurrying around preparing their home for a Catholic retreat, due to take place the following weekend. The following day, when Kate had rushed away to a workshop at the Orbost Hospital, Richard showed me around his farm.
He had got in on the ground floor of the Ostrich market in Australia – hence the name of his farm – and, although that had by now flattened out, had done very well out of it in the days when you could get A$1000-00 for one fertilised egg. The prices were so high because importers were forced to keep their stock in quarantine on an island off the coast for something like six months and fly their food in for them! At his maximum, he had only three breeding pairs and an incubator, which made him a handsome living. Now he had kept on an elderly couple of Ostriches just as a thank-you for their services! He had since started a venture with another African animal – boer goats.
His farm is heavily wooded with enormous gum trees which seemed to be a continuous battle to keep at bay. It lies in a curve of the Cabbagetree Creek, which runs into the Brodribb then the Snowy whose estuary to the sea is in Marlo. Yes, that Snowy River.