Small Town, Big Projects

The last couple of months have actually been quite busy with several projects taking up our spare time. Since we arrived in Ivanhoe, some 10 months ago, Nigel has worked steadily as one of the town’s two full-time police officers. I, on the other hand, arrived fresh-faced and bushy- tailed and determined to take on a bit of gardening, teaching, getting to know the locals, sight-seeing and generally helping out with community projects that took my fancy.

Apart from wearing the various hats of Police roster clerk, casual teacher, extreme gardener, email writer extraordinaire and newly (self) appointed teacher of basic computer skills for seniors, since arriving in Ivanhoe, there have been a few offers of employment that I’ve had to decline for lack of time. These included cleaning at the motel, full-time teaching at the gaol, one day a week teaching at the local Preschool (shock, horror!), Pool Attendant during the Spring / Summer break and DVD Producer for some local advertising. There were also the fun ‘one-off’ jobs like the Back to Ivanhoe weekend and helping to run the Trash and Treasure day for the CWA.

By far the most unusual project started when, in a fit of “we should be more involved”, I dragged Nigel along to the RSL Club for a town meeting on the benefits of units for the aged in town – so that when people retired from station life ,instead of having to leave town they could stay on in Ivanhoe. With little experience of committee meetings we turned up, drinks in hand, to find  a dozen people sitting around a table, having a serious discussion (and not one of them was drinking).

This display of interest on our part was enough for the committee to decide that I “with my creative computer talents” would be the perfect person to draw up a plan of Ivanhoe, label it to show every shop (three of them), service centre (one), Rural Fire Brigade, Council Depot, service stations (two), Aerodrome etc ………… then highlight the 6 possible options for siting the aged units.

Then I was to contact the Darling Shire Council (Thankyou Mavis) to get all the dimensions, DP and Title information and then draw up possible layouts for the 6 sites showing units, trees, gardens, driveways etc (all coloured in by hand thanks to Nigel Robert). The whole task was done on A3 paper, so that the maps were workable, and then shrunk down to A4 hence no need for my brilliant computer skills. Then a consultant was going to take my plans along with her own facts and figures and town survey results and present them to a Government official, who would hopefully recognise the possibilities and provide funding for the project. We’ll see……..

Right now, however, this  ‘Steven Spielberg of the west’ is receiving photos from the locals, which I’m sorting, scanning and cataloging so that I can incorporate them into a DVD slide show of historical photos and music for the Back to Ivanhoe weekend in October.

While Nigel’s at work, I’ve also started helping out on Tuesdays with a digital photography class, which is streamed, by satellite, from Dubbo Tafe to the secondary classroom at school. Plus there’s the Monday afternoon traveling Tafe welding class ………………… “So Kaye, what are you hoping to make? …….. a candlestick holder?” Now I really shouldn’t have taken umbrage because the teacher is actually very nice. But there was something seemingly patronising and sexist about the remark and if I had thought fast enough, I might have said something like “No, I want to make a roasting spit for the next sheep that I kill” but as nothing came to mind, I simply said “Yes”.

However, as I’ve just started teaching a Sunday afternoon beginners’ computer class, sadly (or not) the welding will have to go. It really wasn’t my thing after all and let’s face it, how many candlestick holders can you have in one house?

While life in Ivanhoe is hectic, between us, this couple of weeks, we’ve also managed to fit in a couple of firewood sorties with our new trailer (Yes! We have a wood fire!!!), medical checkups – the service is totally free and specialists hitch a ride with the Flying Doctor – a farewell party for Terry (RSL manager) and wife Glenda and then another one for Kathy (barmaid and lovely person)  as well as the usual household chores and teaching days here and there.

Last week my appointment with the Optometrist was delayed when the flying doctor’s plane couldn’t land because of low cloud cover.  I arrived at the hospital (Yes, Ivanhoe has a hospital but no doctors) at 10 am, was sent home to return at 1pm, returned at 1 pm but still no sign of the plane, waited half an hour before going home again and then finally at 2.30 pm took a phone call that the appointment was “now.

I returned  to the hospital and after about 10 minutes, saw the optometrist, who looked at my glasses (No, not my eyes) and then sent me in to the ophthalmologist (Who knew that you didn’t need a referral?), who was sitting behind a curtain in the next room.

So while I sat with the Optometrist, Jackson sat about 6 inches directly behind me with the Opthalmologist (separated only by a curtain) and Mark, the farmer sat at the end of the table and all the while we were discussing personal stuff like how old we were, how we would pay for the specs, medical history etc. Such is the nature of optical appointments in Ivanhoe.

So what is our reward for these last couple of months of hard work?  Nigel and I have planned an escape to Paradise Beach where we’ll be staining the front and back stairs, plus the timber screens and the front balcony. I’ll leave you with an update of the residence back yard.




2 thoughts on “Small Town, Big Projects”

  1. I’ve come across your blog whilst looking for early pictures of Mossgiel and I have found your narrative of your time in the back country most entertaining. I would be interested in getting a copy of your ‘Back to Ivanhoe’ presentation if I could, as I had family in the area around the turn of last century.


    1. Hi Richard. I just need to buy some blank DVDs and that shouldn’t be a problem. Just send me your address and I’ll get on to it as soon as possible. Cheers, Kaye


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