Furry, scaly, leggy

With one final roster to go, I can report that we now have two brand new air conditioners (thank you landlord and lovely property manager) and, while we won’t get the benefit, they’ll definitely be appreciated by the new cop!

And before you ask how the final roster has been going, let’s just avoid any complaints and use the term ‘eventful’.

First, there were the mice…… sorry, they were second – as in this is our second mouse plague.

This time it wasn’t so much a ‘jump up on a chair’ reaction but more, “Great, now I have to empty the pantry again!”

To be honest, the little blighters were rather clever in their attempts to “break in” to a locked house while I, on the other hand, wasn’t quite so clever and took 3 or 4 days to figure out that the tiny black specks at the foot of the door jamb were actually chewed rubber from the weather strip.

Day after day, while I kept sweeping up these tell-tale signs and wondering whether we had a termite problem, Micky and Minnie were actually chewing their way under the door and into our pantry! Seven dispatched mice later and, just in time for our trip to sort furniture on the coast (I imagined coming home to a house full of mice), the mystery was solved! We simply had to ensure that the fly screen door was never left ajar – try eating through a metal door frame Hah Hah! – and they can no longer get to the mouse-sized hole in the weather strip.

The mice were closely followed by a brown snake that was thin enough to blend into the long grass – until I almost trod on it…. and then called Nigel, who was luckily in town for lunch.  However, the ensuing debate regarding what to do with our scaly visitor apparently became rather boring and he managed to quietly disappear.

Now colour me yellow but I’m a lot more calm and collected around anything with less than 5 legs so pests numbers three and four were much more unnerving, especially when I realised they’d been living in the drain pipes under our bathroom. Big (well, biggish) creepy, shiny, leggy spiders had set up house – one in the bath drain and one in the shower drain- in the unused bathroom (yes we do actually wash but we use the ensuite). In contrast to Sylvester snake, no such discussion was necessary – a can of Mortein sufficed.

One might surmise that leaving town for a few days would solve these encounters of the creepy kind but one would be wrong.

On our arrival in Paradise we were immediately overrun with a few thousand Plague Soldier Beetles (Yes, a very apt name) that unashamedly proceeded to copulate on any available surface – from the outdoor table and chairs to the BBQ to the plants, nothing was spared…… not to mention their predilection for drowning in our pool.

To top off a cracker of a fortnight, last Tuesday, as we were packing to return to the land of no soldier beetles, the heavens opened up and within a couple of hours, we were inundated to the point where we had water views in the sub-floor plus  a very uninviting plunge pool, complete with dead beetles, leaf matter and quite a lot of mud…….

And this became the scene at our Cellarbrations store – one street away!

On a more pleasant note, Nigel was in Broken Hill for a strike force a couple of weeks ago and succumbed to my pleading to take photos of the interior of the Palace Hotel……. in police uniform. I’ll leave you with the photos but encourage you to check out more images here.


Three is the New Four!

Yesterday was quite a momentous day in the scheme of all things remote.

In sweeping changes due to start in July this year, special remote tenures have been reduced in quite a few locations, including Cobar (from 4 to 3 years).

Even better news is that some locations, which have proven difficult, if not impossible, to fully staff have been “upgraded” from Remote to Special Remote, which will go a long way to fixing the problem.

Personally, I’m excited. Remember my post, Lines in the Sand Part 2?  Well I’m happy to say that the Commissioner has heeded my advice (just joking) and Nyngan will now be Special Remote with all the new incentives that entails (up from a one-off payment of $5,000 to 5 yearly payments of $3,000).

Of course, starting in July, none of these changes will affect us. But any changes that encourage police to “go west” are a good thing. One suggestion I’d make is to retain some sort of proviso that priority transfers will be honoured. It would surely be difficult to entice cops to leave their own homes for 2 or 3 years without any certainty of return at the completion of tenure.

Over the almost 10 years of outback tenures, I’ve been extolling the virtues of special remote policing. The friendships you develop, the camaraderie with colleagues and the genuine welcome you receive from an outback town are hard to top.

So with all the dramas of the past year (we still have no transfer date), it’s nice to be able to say that my faith has been restored. Way to go, Commissioner Webb!

Cop Humour

When Nigel started HWP training in Cobar it was refreshing to find a like-minded colleague in Detective Greg. From the start, there’s been a friendly – if somewhat twisted – rivalry between Cobar highway patrol and Cobar detectives.

Starting with a photo of children’s crayons, pinned to the Highway Patrol office door (remember, Nigel was in training)…………

the one-upmanship games continued with mock newspaper cuttings, ads for specialist detective services and the like …….

The pièce de résistance was  a re-worked post regarding the new detectives’ badge. Here’s the original article ……. followed by our version

New ID for detectives

For several years now, there has been a growing divide within the NSW Police Force between rank and file officers and those, who would call themselves detectives. The problem seems to have arisen from a difference of opinion where detectives see themselves as modern day superheroes – an elite group of masterminds, far exceeding the abilities of the rank and file – while the rest of the Force regard them as elitist narcissists – no different from any other police officer. However, a recent compromise threatens to drive that rift even further when, in November, a new detective badge will be rolled out.

Deputy Commissioner Investigations & Counter Terrorism Dave Hudson said, “The badge is to recognise the criminal investigation profession and to show, once and for all, that detectives are super police. Credit must be given to the Detectives Board, who have fought long and hard for this well-overdue recognition of its members”.

When questioned as to why the original demand was for a gold-plated badge he stated “While gold would be the material of choice, reflecting the caliber of these officers, we appreciate that times are tough and the general public might think that the funds could be better spent elsewhere”.

This sentiment has put him at odds with the state’s top police officer, Mick Fuller, who has always condemned the demand. In the past he has stated, “while I respect the work that most detectives do, there are too many under-achieving officers – especially in rural areas, who do very little towards crime management. According to sources within the Commissioner’s office, he only recently acquiesced when he learned that he would be given badge number 007.

Above Commissioner Mick Fuller APM was presented with CI Badge no 007. Sources say that it was the final inducement for approving the new badge.

Happy February!

I must admit that my New Year’s resolution (No “Woe is me!” in 23) was slightly tattered around the edges after seeing our latest Escapia stats.

To be honest, it wasn’t all that unexpected when our property manager asked to pull the pin on the Stayz advertising. With no certainty that bookings will be honoured if the removalists come knocking, “I’m so sorry…. I’ll have to check with the owners”, was wearing a bit thin.

So, what was our solution to losing potential holiday bookings? We booked it ourselves! Last Sunday we returned from 5 weeks of sun, sand and surf in Paradise. That’s actually the longest we’ve spent back home since leaving in May 2018 for the 4-year tenure.

Of course, at $400 per night there were mixed feelings – it was hard to decide whether we were paupers or princes – but it definitely buoyed our flagging spirits. We caught up with family and friends, walked on the beach, consumed copious amounts of prawns and wine, all the while avoiding the stifling humidity of a wet Cobar.

On our return and thanks to our beautiful neighbours, the yards were  unusually still alive. In fact it seems the only things not to survive our absence were the clothes pegs, which spectacularly and punishingly snapped as I tried to hang the first load of washing.

After five weeks on such a high note, it would be fitting to report that we have exciting news ….. that Nigel finally has a date for his transfer back to Forster…….. that the powers in charge have realised their mistake, apologised and sent flowers and chocolates….. whoever said, ‘No news is good news’???!!

Instead, we have 4 days of unpacking, washing, mowing, weeding, replenishing clothes pegs ……………and re-packing …… before returning to the coast for my 6 monthly cancerversary.

I know I know, but we were supposed to be living there.

Happy New Year

While the challenges of 2022 were quite ….. well, challenging (let’s face it – I failed miserably), my New Year’s resolution is to stop complaining and boring people senseless about the things I can’t change. Let’s see how long that lasts.

My “friend”, Charles Swindoll – whom I’ve never met – says of the new year, “Challenges brought on by changes await us. We’ll be shoved out of our comfort zones and required to respond. We can do so positively or negatively, with hope and optimism or with resentment and pessimism”.

Last year I came across this saying, which I liked so much, I wrote it down.

Four things come not back: the spoken word; the speeding arrow; time past; the neglected opportunity.

While there aren’t too many speeding arrows flying around Cobar, I can definitely relate to the other three. Happy New Year and I’ll leave you with a couple of examples of Cobar’s community spirit.


Regrets, we’ve had a few……

Not the least of which is that, with no certainty regarding Nigel’s transfer date (Yes, still) we’ve been unable to take bookings and are potentially losing $400 per night.

Thankfully Nigel’s inspector (No, not the one on the coast) agreed that if the transfer came up in December, he’d negotiate for a January move.

So, even though most people like to book early, we were lucky enough to score three last minute bookings….. which is actually the reason for this blog.

If there are any Australian followers, who are unaffected by the current energy prices and can therefore afford it (let’s face it, we couldn’t afford to stay there) we’d like to offer you 5 nights from December 18 (I know….. very short notice) to December 23 for $1500.

Basically you’d be saving $100 a night and at this time of year, $300 per night is actually cheaper than the cabins in the caravan park two doors away.

If anyone is tempted, there’s more information and photos here (Paradise Beach revealed!).


But to get the discount you’ll need to book directly through the property manager on 02 6559 2222.

Merry Christmas to all!

Jaded or Joyful?

As 2022 winds down, the prospect of celebrating another Christmas away from friends and family is beginning to weigh heavily. It’s not that we don’t like Cobar. In fact, with the exception of bindis, blowflies and summer heat we’ve totally enjoyed our time here. The town is genuinely welcoming and, in typical bush fashion, people go out of their way for each other……. even complete strangers! Plus, there’s the holiday rent, which obviously can’t be sneezed at – especially with recent interest rate increases.

But home really is where the heart is and after completing almost four and a half years of the four year tenure we’re more than ready to move back to the coast.

I must admit it’s sometimes hard to stay positive in the face of events and decisions outside our control. But this morning reminded me that happiness is about choices and, according to my mentor of sorts – Charles Swindoll – I have a choice between being jaded or joyful. Out of the blue (Yes, it’s finally stopped raining) a surprise gift was couriered to our doorstep, with a card that said, “Welcome to Police Bank……, Janet”.

So today I choose joyful, with a huge thank you to our new bank relationship manager, Janet Knight, who helped us navigate the intricacies of refinancing our loan to Police Bank – with a fixed interest rate that literally no one, including our existing bank, could match……. And if you know me at all, you’ll know I did the research!!

The winter of our discontent

With average lows of 5 and 6 degrees and Nigel’s completion of tenure date long gone, it’s hard to respond cheerfully when asked, “Why are you still here?” and invariably, the conversation turns to how we’re handling the suspense.

I guess on a personal level, I was looking forward to living in the real world – where medical specialists are quite a bit closer than a 600 km round trip and my cancerversary appointments don’t require an overnight stay. (Would it be it too black to say I’ll be peeved if I die before the move?)

Remember the ripple effect? Well, without a transfer date, we’ve put off paying car insurance annually (who knew it was cheaper on the coast?) and chosen more expensive monthly instalments until we move. Renewing the annual landlord’s insurance has also proven problematic – we can’t really lock in another year if we’ll soon be living there.

And with rising interest rates, it would be crazy to wait any longer to apply for an owner occupier loan so we’ve decided to pay the higher interest rate and lock in a 3-year fixed investor rate. Police Bank here we come!

Here’s an update on where we’re at.

After selling all our excess furniture and bedding (beds, bedding, chests of drawers, floor mats, lamps, wall art) and a round trip to the coast to complete the sales, we discovered that the vacancy wasn’t going to happen. So we organised another trip to the coast – except this time to restock the house. With fuel prices soaring and furniture and bedding purchases in excess of $1,000, I think I can safely say that my online shopping addiction is finally cured!

Of course, it might have been more palatable if there were a tax deduction down the track but unfortunately the ATO cares little about broken transfer promises and subsequent re-furnishings.

Nor will they support deductions for mistakes and /or change of mind. So my brilliant idea to secure the carport with lift-out panels – then, realising how heavy they were, replace them with swinging gates – will definitely not attract any monetary sympathy.

While fur tenant Lucy admires the extra space………… I suspect Bowie is unimpressed with the new boundaries.

Carport Before
Carport After

On the bright side our fifth winter in Cobar, with its incumbent “minus” temperatures, will soon be over. Plus, after quite a few ‘lost’ weeks, we have our first tenant booking in early October (obviously a sympathy booking because they’ve heard we need the money). Even better, we are soon to take off for 3 weeks’ annual leave in Paradise. Bring it on!

And, while we still don’t have an actual moving date, the transfer calendar says there’s one on the 16th of October with P447 (transfer paperwork) due by the 7th of September. Icy fingers crossed!


I wrote this some years ago when education – specifically boys’ education –  was in the spotlight. Now it appears that education and teachers – or the lack thereof – are newsworthy again:

After 30 years of teaching I resigned. I absolutely loved teaching but there comes a time when you just want your weekends to yourself. Here’s my take on education.

There are many stakeholders in the field of education – teachers, parents, peer groups as well as the Department of Education all have varying expectations and influences over a student. But the most influential stakeholder is probably society itself, deciding which achievements matter and who gets to be celebrated.

Ask the man in the street how many footy players he can name or who his personal sporting hero is. And who couldn’t easily name a dozen athletes in the recent Commonwealth Games? Our love of sport and worship of sports stars suggests that society deems success on the field much more important than academic achievement. In fact, television studios devote almost half the news time to reporting on sporting results and fixtures.

Now ask that same man in the street to name a half dozen famous academics. How many could you name? Sporting stars and legends are all well and good but why does academic achievement attract much less celebration – or even interest?

My point is that a lot of kids won’t value or strive towards academic excellence until we do.

Towards the end of last century, when parents were becoming increasingly unhappy with students’ school results the Education Department came up with the perfect solution to students’ poor performance. They re-classified it as good performance.

Teachers were no longer allowed to use negative comments in reporting exam results and marks and position in class were promptly banned. Suddenly we were told to use positive outcome statements like, “Johnny can now tie his shoe laces”. Of course, this statement ignored the fact that Johnny was 17 and studying for his HSC.

The Department’s justification for this cover-up was that it protected students’ feelings – the child who came last could avoid a failure label as long as no one knew. Unfortunately, it also robbed parents of important factual information and, perhaps saddest of all, it denied any celebration of students, who came first.

While exam reporting became insipid and meaningless  (all the while, with the blessing of the Teachers’ Federation), thankfully the same approach was not applied to school sports, where apparently it was okay for students to fail. Winners were reported as winners and losers were frankly, well, losers…… all without any apparent long term damage to their psychological well-being.

So here’s my advice:

To Students

Know your educational strengths and weaknesses.

Feel good about your strengths. Work on your weaknesses.

Ask questions in class when you don’t understand.

Hang out with other students, who want to get ahead.

Don’t become part of the “It’s cool to be a fool” crowd.

Don’t carry on in class when you don’t get your own way. That only works at home.

If you have a problem with a teacher, see them privately and politely explain the problem.

Choose school subjects that interest you – not ones that your friends are choosing.

Don’t ask your parents to do your assignments for you. They’ve already been to school. Plus, it’s embarrassing when your teachers correct their spelling.

To Parents

Praise your child’s sporting achievements but praise their school achievements as well, no matter how small.

Foster a desire for learning.

Set an example – question your child about their day. Check their homework. Be interested.

Train your children to accept clear, consistent instructions. Don’t use threats like “I’m counting to three” or “Don’t do that again” if you don’t intend to follow through. That just makes a teacher’s job so much harder because it sends a message that arguing wins in the end……… that “No” means “Yes” or at least “Maybe”.

Attend Parent-Teacher meetings.

Don’t belittle their teachers in front of them. If there’s an issue, ring the school and make an appointment.

Don’t blame ADHD for all their bad behaviour – accept that maybe they’re not always angels.

To Teachers

Remember that ‘bad’ students are not really out to destroy your day.

You’re just on different sides of the field – your job is to make them work while their job is to stop you. Don’t take it personally.

Find some common ground – something positive. No student is all bad – maybe you both like cats.. or cartoons or snakes…..

Be fair. Don’t take your bad mood out on the class but if you do (because you’re human), apologise later. Admit when you’re in the wrong. Don’t expect kids to admit their mistakes if you can’t.

To Society

Celebrate your academics as well as your sporting ‘greats’. Value study, research and academic ability as much as stamina and physical prowess.

Don’t expect less of kids from single or low-income families. Don’t categorise them. They might just surprise you.

My two sons work as an electro-chemist and a computer analyst/ programmer. No one ever told them that they weren’t supposed to succeed because their parents were divorced.

Of course,  some of my suggestions might be outdated in 2022. Plus, as I said, I was writing in response to a symposium on boys’ education. But if I could add one more suggestion, it would be to ban the practice of teachers teaching outside their subject area – in order to “fit” with the school’s timetable. That adds a ridiculous amount of stress to a teacher’s workload and that’s definitely not good for education.

Nerd Alert!

There aren’t too many times when I’ll randomly make a substantial purchase without doing a heap of research into the pros and cons as well as the terms and conditions. Everything comes under scrutiny – from pet insurance and roadside assistance plans to a new TV and/or washing machine and don’t get me started on a new home loan. Each decision demands time and effort and sometimes even flow charts. Continue reading “Nerd Alert!”