New Year's Resolutions

Artwork by Rhonna Farrer
With a new year starting shortly, it is a time to reflect upon the past year and a time to make decisions for the up coming year. Some people call this "Making a New Year's Resolution."

There is just something about the start of a new year that gives us the feeling of a fresh start and a new beginning. Yet we take it so lightly. Many of us have regrets of unfulfilled resolutions of the past. Many of us make airy fairy wishes on what we wish we could change. Maybe we say we will eat healthier and exercise more.  I know I have made these mostly empty pledges and I relish the opportunity to make a fresh start with great enthusiasm.

1 Timothy 4:8 instructs us to keep exercise in perspective: “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”

The motivation behind the resolutions are important too. There's no point in reading the Bible through in one year if you do not heed the words you read or donating a million dollars to some charity, if you just wanted to make a name for yourself. You have probably heard the expression 'Do not let your right hand know what the left hand is doing!' Do it out of love, care and compassion without others necessarily knowing you did it.

Great thoughts are commendable, but to make real changes means we need to put our thoughts into action. If we don't make any real changes to our lives then we will greet the next new year with the same broken resolutions and have wasted an opportunity that may never come back. Some things may require the help of a friend or supporter, maybe even a professional guide or mentor might be the impetus we need to make real changes in our lives and keep us accountable.

Tribute to Arthur Stace's Eternity Sydney NYE 1999

We need to think about where and what effort we need to put into practice the things we wish to change. However before we do this, consider for what purpose are we making the change. Whom will it benefit?

We live in a very selfish time, when we consider ourselves to be of utmost importance. You can't take material possessions with you when you die! So what sort of legacy are you really leaving behind? Will you be remembered for the hours you dedicated to your work or even your fitness level.Though we are encouraged to make the most of every opportunity to care for our bodies and work for our bosses, there needs to be balance.

Will you be remembered for the holiday you took around the Greek Islands or the trek up to the top of your country. I would much rather be remembered for spending some time walking & talking with my kids and grand kids in the local park. Think back on your fondest memories. Were they the big times or the rumbling on the bed on a Saturday morning bursting with the excitement of a day spent with someone close?

How do you want to be remembered? What will people say about you? Will they have been glad to have known you. What legacy will you leave behind?

I believe that there is a higher purpose to our lives and that when we die, we will spend eternity somewhere.

Sign seen at Sydney Town Hall

New Year's resolution

"I won't look back; God knows the fruitless efforts,
The wasted hours, the sinning, the regrets;
I'll leave them all with Him who blots the record,
And mercifully forgives and then forgets.
I won't look forward; God sees all the future,
The road that, short or long, will lead me home,
And He will face with me its every trial
And bear with me the burdens that may come.
But I'll look up into the face of Jesus,
For there my heart can rest, my fears are stilled;
And there is joy and love, and light for darkness,
And perfect peace, and every hope fulfilled."

-Annie Johnson Flint

Read more about Arthur Stace and his Eternity symbol here.

New Year's Eve in Sydney

Each and every year, Sydney hosts the most fabulous New Year's Eve fireworks celebration. The fantastic waters of Sydney Harbour, the splendour of the curvaceous roof lines of the Sydney Opera House and the magnificence of the Sydney Harbour bridge providing the most spectacular frame work and launching pad for a world class fireworks is just something the whole world tunes in to watch. Actually the fun starts early in the day,but the main events are the 9pm family fireworks at Darling Harbour and the midnight fireworks spectacular with the Harbour Bridge as a focal point.

Photo: Sydney's NYE 2008
Sydney is committed to ensuring the accessibility of the NYE celebration to all comers that it even has a dedicated page on its website that is specifically set up for this. Public transport is strongly encouraged and extra buses and trains are pulled into service to meet the increased demands. Even so, patience is required. Think of it as an extension of the party. Parking in the city is extremely limited & it is quite a bottle neck trying to get out after the parties. So save your sanity and go public. 

If you are visiting Sydney over the NYE or live within a few hours drive, then seeing it in person is an experience not to be missed. You can ring in the New Year with a bang and have the experience of a lifetime. You will need some preplaning or at least some thought into what you want to experience. Not everything is free, including some of the best vantage spots. You may need to buy tickets in advance. Some areas are family friendly and some are much more raunchy. Similarly some places are alcohol free, some are BYO (Bring your own alcoholic drinks) and others are licenced only!

Photo: Sydney's NYE 2005

What about a casual picnic on the foreshores at the Royal Botanic Gardens or watch the fireworks from Luna Park. Maybe cocktails in the lounge of one of the fabulous hotels that overlook the harbour or a cruise on the harbour is more your style. 

You can celebrate NYE at one of the many pubs, bars and nightclubs running their own fabulous New Year's Eve parties, from thematic parties to pub crawls and anything in between. 

For more information on planning and vantage points, visit Sydney's New Years Eve   You can't make to Sydney this year? Then visit here for info on NYE in other major Australian Cities. Many regional towns have their own NYE celebrations, so contact the tourist bureau or read the local paper and find out what is happening near you!

Photo: Sydney's NYE 2006

It has long been one of my dreams to spend NYE actually on a yacht right in the centre of Sydney Harbour. How awesome that would be. Trouble is I don't know anyone with a boat, let alone get an invite to be there on the great night! Oh well a girl can dream, can't she? In the meantime, I just might have to buy a cruise ticket for next year's celebrations!

Unfortunately this year, I will have to watch it from the comfort of my lounge room as I will be recovering from surgery. Do write to me and tell me where you spent NYE this year!

Precious Nativity Christmas Story

I have a few nativity sets I like to set up each year; one is hand painted by my husband’s sister that was given to his mum, one was a gift and my favourite one that I thought might be a “Precious Moments” set, regardless it is precious to me. I like to tell the story of Chrsitmas using my Nativity set!

The trip to Bethlehem 

The true Christmas story begins with a young lass who was engaged to be married more than 2000 years ago.

One day an angel told her that she was going to give birth even though she was a virgin, to a baby boy and his name would be Jesus.

After the angel’s visit, Mary married Joseph and they travelled by donkey to Joseph’s family home of Bethlehem.

When they arrived, it was so crowded that the only place they could stay in was in the barn with all the animals. They had to stop as Mary couldn’t travel any further because the baby was due.

The birth ...

Mary gave birth to her baby boy, Jesus.

and she used a manger or a feeding trough for his bed right there in the stable with the animals.  


The birth was announced... in the fields

Out in the fields, an angel told some humble shepherds about the good news of the birth of Jesus being God’s son and that he would be the Saviour of the world. They could hardly believe it that they would be told such information by angels. They went down to town to have a look.

When they saw that everything was as the angel had told them, they worshipped Jesus and told his parents how they had been visited by angels who told them all about Jesus and that would be their Saviour.


and in the heavens

When Jesus was born a special star was found in the sky and three wise men from the East, who studied such things, were intrigued and wanted to travel and find out more about the great leader, that the star told of. The star led them all the way to Jerusalem and then to the little town of Bethlehem.

This baby is to be worshipped

When they found the young infant, the three Wise Men recognized that this baby must truly be someone so special that a star was created for him. They worshipped the baby and they each offered very special gifts.

Read it for yourself

Don't take my word for it, in fact, there are parts I have left out. Go to the source and discover why Jesus is he Saviour of the world. Try finding here in Luke 2: 8 -18. It is the thrid book in the New Testament part of the Bible. The first four books of the New Testament tell of Christmas. If you are so inclined then read them all and see what different people thought of the time we call Christmas.

Robbiebago has joined Facebook

Yay! We have done it. We have joined Facebook along with the millions of others.

There is still a long way to go.

But I just had to let you know that you can like us on Facebook now.

We can be found at

You know you are Australian when...

I am proud to be Australian but I can understand that other nationailites might find us a bit weird.

You know you are Australia when...

You believe that stubbies can be either worn of drunk.

Thongs are worn on your feet - not up your ...

You pronounce Melbourne as ‘Mel – bin.

Your turn to shout has nothing to do with volume
These are thongs

You thin Wooloomooloo’ is a perfectly reasonable name for a place.

You are secretly proud of our killer wildlife.

You believe it makes perfect sense to have a $1 coin that is twice as big as a $2 coin.

You understand that Wagga Wagga can be abbreviated to Wagga but Woy Woy can not be just ‘Woy’

Beetroot with your hamburger ...of course!”

You wear ugg boots outside of the house

You believe that the more you shorten someone’s name, the more you like them

You understand that ‘’excuse me’ can sound rude, but to ‘suse me is always polite.

You know what it is like to swallow a fly, even on occasion via your nose.

You know it is not really summer until the steering wheel is too hot to handle

You know how to abbreviate just about every word many of which end in “o”; such as ‘arvo, convo. garbo, milko, muso, servo, smoko, rego, speedo, righto etc

You know there is a universal place called ‘whoop whoop’ and that it is located in the middle of nowhere, no matter where you actually are’

You like vegemite on a sandwich, toast or cooked in your meat pie

I love Australia- don't you?

Grafton's Jacaranda Festival

The Jacaranda Festival welcomed us as we rolled up in this beautiful town. The jacarandas are flowering everywhere and what a wonderful sight it is. There are over 2,000 Jacaranda trees planted around the town which so obviously thrives in the climate and soils here.

Photo: Source

We were originally just going to stop here for lunch and pass on through. However when we saw 2 beautiful albino white flowering jacarandas next to each other, we stopped to take some photos and saw that we were just outside the showground.

We were tempted by the thought of power to run the air con since the temperature was already over 30 degrees coupled with the sight of many classic vehicles at a rally in the showground really tipped the scales in favour of staying here. We were given a picturesque spot under a broad spreading jacaranda tree whose petals continued to float down gently upon us like we were a bridal couple being showered. The carpet of flowers all around us was a sight to behold.

To our delight we found that today was Jacaranda Thursday, a local public holiday, when the main part of the town is virtually closed in support of the week long festival held yearly in Grafton from the last weekend in October to the first weekend in November.  We walked up the road to see what was going on witnessed some go cart races up the street and the markets that were running. We indulged ourselves with some iced coffee and some delightful pastries as we watched the people mingling all around us.

The festival covers all things that a week long festival coveres from Beauty Pageants, Street Float procession, fairs, street performers, a grad ball, performing artists, art & craft exhibitions and many of the shops get in the spirit and have wonderful shop displays for all to enjoy.To find out more about this marvellous festival then go to their official website.

It was a pity we were tied to being in Coffs Harbour the next day else we might have delighted to spend some more time discovering this city. Another place to come back and explore more in depth some time in the future.

Dutch Croquette recipe for Christmas

A dutch croquette is a bread crumbed fried roll containing veal in a roux - a sort of like a white sauce. If you made these into little ball shapes then they are called Bitterballen.

It is one of the best foods to come out of Holland in my opinion. It is certainly my favourite Dutch snack food and each time I make it, I tweak it just a bit to make it more peppery and yummy.

Add a dash of mustard on top after it is fried and you are on your way to bliss.

It is quite simple to make but a little time consuming, mainly in the slow cooking of the veal and then the chilling of the ragout so that you can crumb it. You don't have to miss out whilst camping either as you can cook it in your camp oven too!

This recipe with my latest modification comes originally from my husband's Tante Gery, (Tante means Aunt in Dutch). it is thanks to her that we can enjoy this recipe every special occasion and any other time I want to dedicate some time to making it.

So let's get into it.

Croquette recipe


500g veal or beef
2 onions  peeled but left whole
1.5 litre beef stock
3 stock cubes
150g butter (7T)
300g plain flour
2T Maggi seasoning (or ketjap manis)
salt & pepper


Put meat, stock & whole onions in a saucepan and simmer for 3 hours. Discard the onions & reserve stock.
Chop the meat as fine as possible.

The veal diced as small as possible


Melt butter in the pan, stir in the flour and keep stirring for a few minutes on low heat.
Gradually add 1 litre of the reserved stock with crumbled beef cubes and keep stirring until the sauce is smooth and thick.

The Roux should be quite thick

Add meat & seasonings to taste to the roux. I add quite a bit of pepper, maybe about a tablespoon,  to get that little bite.
Add Roux to the meat
 Cool the meat mix by placing in the fridge for a while.

The veal mixture
 When cool pipe a 1.5 inch thick ‘sausage’onto cling film leaving a few inches of cling film at either side.

Pull the front edge of the cling film over the sausage so it is completely wrapped. Then twist the cling film at the sides of the sausage to make ‘handles’ and use them to roll the sausage across the remaining cling film (till it’s all wrapped round), then roll back and forth across the work surface to give the sausage a nice round shape.

Repeat from the beginning until all the filling is used up and put the sausages in the freezer until nearly hard.

Whilst this is chilling, crack open a couple of eggs and whisk lightly with 2 tablespoons of water.

Remove the chilled sausages from the cling film and cut into 3-inch segments.

Then coat in egg mixture and then in then bread crumbs. Repeat with the egg & bread crumbs bit.

I like to make these ahead of the party and defrost them on the day of the party.

5 in a chinese take away container ready to freeze.

Cook in batches by frying in a deep-fryer, cmp oven or a heavy-based frying pan to 180o C using virgin olive oil so as to cook the rolls without buarning the crumbs. Probably about 4 to 5 minutes. Drain briefly on paper towels. You can transfer them to an oven to keep warm if desired. Traditionally served with mustard.

The proof is in the eating. Enjoy! I know I will!

What is your favourite snack food for Christmas?

Bus Conversion: Lifting the roof

Making use of our forklift to hold the beam whilst Rob checks the level
Rob is really starting to knuckle into the job. The area around the bus is a mess with seats out, a lot of the foam insulation that was in the roof is out, windows were loosen and then removed and all these other bits and pieces are lying around. Though it is starting to look like a wreckers yard, I just have to put up with it for the duration. Neither of us are tidy people while we are in the midst of a project unfortunately! Rob is disappointed to note that there is more rust than was first evident but I suppose that is to be expected in a 26 year old bus. He also comments that the foam in the roof is a terrible insulator as it is like a sponge and holds the water if any leaks occur and causes the rust to accelerate which is what we noticed in a few areas as he starts to pull it all out.

One of the roof supports is in place

He hired some scaffolding for $340 a week. He also hired these winding props for lifting the roof  and sets it all up. He then proceeds to cut the roof with an side cutter, however the wind picks up & the gusts of strong winds more or less continues all day long, which makes it unsafe to proceed with raising the roof. Obviously this is very frustrating, but it is not worth jeopardizing the job or Rob's safety.

You can see the tines of the forklift holding up the beams
Thankfully the next day the wind has died down and he is able to proceed. He lifts the roof 250mm (around 9 inches). Dean and I are on hand to help lift the beams into place. We make use of the forklift to hold each beam as we jockey it into just the right spot so that Rob can clamp it in preparation to start welding it in place. This takes us half a day. We would be finding it very hard if we didn't have the forklift to help us.

Dean is bracing the beams
Now the really fiddly bit starts: filling the gap above the driver's window. Rob starts by using polystyrene blocks and roughly cutting them to fill the hole left by raising the roof.
He had been advised to cover the polystyrene with plastic cling wrap to prevent the fibreglass resin from eating into it but this didn't stop it so I suggested using Al Foil, which works like a charm.

The roof has been lifted & beams in place

The next stage is coating the shape with layers and layers of fibreglass & resin. It is both smelly and messy and a long tedious & boring job. It takes him a day and a half with a few short breaks to let it harden a bit (& the chance to have a well earned cuppa & escape the smell for a bit.)

Rob getting stuck into the fibre glassing

After adding a little bit of bog to fill in the little hollows etc, he now has to sand it all back as seen in the next 2 photos, before giving it a few of coats of  'Flowcoat'. Whilst waiting for it to dry, he starts on dismantling the scaffolding and returns it.

Then he rigs up a mini mobile scaffold on the back of the ute. It looks rough but it is strong as there is no way, Rob would take a chance on falling and breaking a leg or worst. This mobile scaffold is what he will use around the outside of the bus as he works on the higher aspects of which there is much more to do!

The finished fibre glassed front

Now to repeat it all for the back!

We have ordered the slide-out mechanisms, windows and the Captains' chairs.

Faith in action - joke

A woman who was a very faithful church - goer had just received her drivers license.

Before putting the key in the ignition for her very first solo trip, she prayed for a safe journey: "Lord, please guide my hands to steer this car properly."

The she began to drive, but soon found herself in an emergency situation.

A garbage  truck was fast , approaching from the rear seemingly out of control and a collison appeared imminent.

In experienced and panic stricken, the woman didn't know how to handle the situation, so she threw her hands up in the air and cried out "Lord, you take the wheel!"


We had heard of the RV Village in Casino quite a few times and certainly seen the ad in the CMCA’s monthly magazine called “the Wanderer”. We were curious enough to have a look and we decided to stop & stay overnight here to have a look around for ourselves.

Bitumen patches upon patches
First we had to get there. The first 70km road from Urbanville to the Bruxner Highway and should be called “Patches Road” as in some places there are patched on patches. Truly is seems that there are more patches than there is original road.

An interesting toilet stop

There is a toilet/rest stop right on the corner of the Braxner Highway that has some old wooden post carvings that can still be appreciated on the whole. I didn’t think to count just how many there are there, but I think it is about 10. You will probably need a wee break so why not stop here and have a quick look.

 Two of the many carvings to be seen at the Braxner Highway.

An RV Village

We arrived in Casino just after lunch and quickly found the RV village. This place offers a huge variety of accommodation choices for people. Apparently it used to be a part of the Casino Airport and it is quite a large area that has had a lot of money spent on its infrastructure. This place offers you a comfortable place for overnight stays, extended holiday or permanent living. There are drive through sites, hedged powered sites, open areas set aside for overnight casual visitors. There's is also designated areas for rally groups both large and small, ensuite suites and overnight cabins.

Want a more permanent base?

Though there are quite a few permanent purpose built mobile homes that are privately owned, there is still much land still available for you to place the home of your choice on the property with generous allowances for your RV no matter what size RV you have. Many events and expos are held here during the year such as the National Camp Oven festival and The Bushman's Heritage.

During the week there are various activities you can be involved in, including  interest groups, men's shed, a library, games nights, movies, self help groups, golfing on their very own golf course, weekly bistro meals & the regulatory happy hour which takes place in the camp kitchen every afternoon at 4pm and goodness knows what else that I have missed. They have the most comprehensive camp kitchen I have ever seen anywhere. It is huge with just about everything you could think of including a camp oven pit, ice machine, designated Camp Oven Pit and multiple BBQ’s both gas and wood as well as under cover picnic tables that would probably seat 100 people. internet access and many other facilities.

After settling in, we went for a wander around the display homes there. We visited about 6 of them which is probably close to the limit. Some of them are just amazing. All have steps to get into them though, which if you were elderly or had mobility difficulties, you would have to install ramps, which we saw on some of the privately owned homes. Most homes have some sort of outdoor entertainment area, some are a fantastic size for family parties, others are suitable for a quiet lounge for 2 or 4. Again it is all a matter of priorities and your budget of course.

Would I choose to live here???

 If I had family living close by even within a few hours like Brisbane, then maybe this would be a great place. We didn’t check out the town or countryside so that would factor into our decision making too! Based purely on the RV village, then I could live here, but with 2 of my kids close to home, one in Canada temporarily but has a home just 1km from our house and the other son being a pilot and likely to move anywhere and maybe even frequently over the next 10 years, I think I will stay close to where we are now, in fact right in the house we built so many years ago, even if it is too big for us now.

What about you? Would you live in a RV village in between trips?