Life After A Head Cancer

It is 12 months since my cancer diagnosis. I am well and truly on the road to better health though I will never be “in remission”.  Life is certainly unpredictable. You can read about my initial diagnosis here.  It is something I will live with for the rest of my life. Sadly with the passage of time, I found that the vast majority of people I had considered were my friends just didn’t have the time or space in their lives for me. It took 4 months to get my first visitor! It seemed to me that no one outside my family cared to know whether I lived or died. I had no idea that I was of so little regard. This hurt me so much more than finding out I have cancer. It has been a time of extreme loneliness and introspection. It has affected my self esteem.

Still, from the ashes rise the opportunity to make beautiful new friends. Who knows what the future holds! With God’s help I will try to be more considerate of others, to not talk so much and to listen to them and not voice my opinion so quickly. I also desire to be less selfish. There are quite likely other areas of my life that need work too. I used to joke about my desire to grow to be a nice old lady meant that I had to start practice now. Maybe that was not too far off the mark after all. Well I am going to have to do an awful lot of practicing so that I become a nice person for real. They say practice makes perfect. Some of us just need a whole lot more practice than others!

I am thankful that my husband has stood by me and the emotional traumas this past 12 months have brought in their wake. I also know that my children and my sister love me unconditionally.

The words of Psalm13 are an echo of the desolation I felt at times.

1 How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?

3 Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
4 and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

I never stopped believing & trusting in God. I did not ‘feel’ that He was/is there or listening to me, but then why should He? Who am I that He would pay special attention to me?

Still I have His promises to me that He loves me regardless of whether I deserve it or not. The next part of Psalm 13 is something I need to remember...especially the rejoicing and praising God no matter what!

5 But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
6 I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for he has been good to me. 

I pray that I will be able to praise God through these difficult times. It is easy to praise God when the sun is shining and life is without bumps and pits. Now that I am over the worst of the cancer for the time being, I just need to praise God more and be thankful for the people God has brought into my circle since the cancer. I hope that I can be someone that loves & cares for them in the same way that they have shown love and care for me.

Lord, make me a channel of your peace.
May I be able to praise your name once again, not just in my head but deep within my heart, no matter what the future holds.


After Lilydale we only moved a short distance to camp at Scottsdale. We are surrounded by the lovely ducks. It certainly is he weather for the ducks since it was rain, rain and more rain

It is weather for the ducks and ducklings
We’ve really not seen many clear days since we’ve been here. The locals tell us that this wet is unseasonably late. It certainly makes it difficult to get a decent charge up on the batteries with so many overcast days. We can make do with about 7-8 days wet weather by being frugal and using the butane gas cooker for cooking. Joy and Bob from Lilydale’s campground follow us later in the day and so we invited them to join us for a cuppa and later for happy hour too since it was still raining.

Whilst in Scottsdale we tried to do some sightseeing. We went first to the information centre and from there we found out about the war memorial carvings in town just up the road from them literally. It is a great testimony to the memory of the men and woman who served in all branches in the war on our behalf in the language of wood which is so appropriate being a timber area. (Excuse the pun but it suits here perfectly). The carvings represent the machine gun carrying soldier typical of the Vietnam era, the nurse, the sailor, the pilot, the regular foot soldier, the helicopter, the spitfire aeroplane, the cannon and the flag. The carvings are very well thought out and executed.

Scottsdale War Memorial
 We tried to go the Eco centre but it was closed apparently due to some severe water damage. It is such a pity as it is a fairly recent building and makes one wonder why it wasn’t built to withstand heavy rain. On the way back we just had to take a photo of the Big Thumb which was carved by a local when a large tree fell across his gate. Rob wanted a photo of the thumb ‘picking’ his nose!

Rob's something big stuck up his nose!

We also looked in the local art gallery and craft centre which also doubles as a cafe and popped into some of the local shops including the bakery for which we had a voucher from the info centre for a free coffee/hot chocolate each. uprooted tree - note shallow root.

Eco Centre

Moving north towards the North East Tasmania

We finally left Launceston. It is only a short 30km trip to Lilydale where there is a very small free camp adjacent to a nice little waterfall. It was so short we decided to drive the car separately rather than hitch it up.

Lilydale Creek

We will need to be relatively close to Launceston, since we need to fly out of Launceston next week for a short trip back to Sydney for our daughter, Camille’s engagement party. We hadn’t intended to spend so long in Launceston if we weren’t working there, but there was so much to see and do that it was easy to use Launceston as a base from which to travel and Ian, the owner at Old Macs Farm was always around somewhere and one felt very secure in leaving the motorhome for long hours at a time.

Cheap Fuel

We were also surprised to see the cheapest fuel prices since we have arrived right here in town. $140.9 for ULP and $142.5 for diesel. It goes without saying that we filled up whilst here.

Meeting our neighbours... again

We rocked up at Lilydale after a late departure from Old Mac’s Farm (main reason is explained below) and lo & behold, Graham and his wife who were our neighbours at Old Mac’s were there ahead of us. I hadn’t met either of them until Lilydale but we sure made up for it here. She likes to knit booties, scarves etc and sells them on the road as they travel. She is like me in that she doesn’t get car sick (other than reading) and so she can knit whilst her hubby drives. We were the only campers there for a while.

Lilydale Waterfalls

After a chat getting to know them a bit, we went for the short walk to the waterfalls. They are not big, maybe 6m high nor are they deep but very pretty and natural. Though there is no sign either way, you could cool off in the shallow pools along the way and by bypassing the trail at the end you could even hop under the falls themselves which is always a lovely experience. .

Lilydale waterfalls

Camp ground full

By 6pm the camp ground was pretty full. 3 cars of back packers, a family of 5 in a caravan and an older couple, Joy and Bob, whom we invited to join us for happy hour. They were traveling in a small motorhome called Gypsy Spirit. We also met others such as Gypsy Barb who has well and truly nailed the solo travelling to an art. Her motorhome is a testimony to her bubbly, independent and individual personality. My gosh, she went to back to uni when she turned 60 to d her Masters just because she could! She is off to do some volunteer work amongst aboriginals next year! Way to go Barb!

Getting help with WikiCamps

Going back a tad, we were fortunate with helpful new friends at Old Macs Farm: First off we met Nigel and Kim Rutland with their 3 kids. (Rutlands on the Road)  Nigel volunteered his wife, Kim to show me how to download WikiCamps onto our Aldi bought tablet and though we had some hassles with the tablet dropping out, she succeeded. When we played with it that night though we just couldn’t get the WikiCamps to work unless we were onlilyine and even then we were frustrated with not being able to access some features. Then this morning, just as were sort of packing up, Rob met our new neighbour, Noel and he offered to teach Rob how to use WikiCamps some more. We finally understood that the fault lies with us (of course) and through one tiny little ‘key’ we were able to unlock the features and understand where we went wrong and now we should be able to use WikiCamps with no more hassles, well that’s the theory. Noel even had Rob use WikiCamps whilst he watched over his shoulder and made sure Rob knew what to do himself. This is just one more reason why we love this lifestyle. So many people are so friendly and willing to be helpful and share their experiences and expertise. So what was started some 3 weeks back in Tocumwal by Wayne (Morwenna) and then Kim getting it finally downloaded and then Noel teaching us, all added to an enriching time of learning.

Derby & a day trip up the North Eastern Tasmania

We decided to move to Derby quite early so that we could leave the motorhome behind whilst we tackled some of the coastal drives in one day. We took a picnic basket of goodies to make some ham and salad wraps at whichever of the spots we decided would become our lunch spot!

Legerwood -the old train station and toilet block


Our first stop on the way to Derby was at Legerwood with its famous war memorial carvings commemorating some of the local lads that gave their lives during World War One. Each carving has a description of the person and who and what they did prior to the war. It made it a much more touching tribute and brings it home that these brave young men had real lives affecting the community as well as their loved ones. We took photos of each and every carving though to post them all here would drive you crazy. It is worth noting that Scottsdale also has one multi carving in their war memorial too. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was by the same chainsaw artist!

Legerwood - War memorial carving
Michelle trying to listen to the bugler!

Little Blue Lake

On with the drive, taking us through some very small communities that appear to be slowly dying out though obviously the farms are always needed. Just a kilometre beyond South Mt Cameron ( a very small village – not a mountain) there is a tiny sign on the right to Blue Lake. Don’t drive past, it is well worth the short stop there. The lake is viewed from on high and is truly a very blue colour and there is a board explaining why it is so blue. There are no facilities there but it would be a nice place for a quiet picnic.

Little Blue Lake


We went for a short drive and walk around this quaint little village that seems as though it never left a bygone era. There are a few coffee shops and art/craft shops in town as well as a couple of museums.

Free camping at Derby

Briseis Dam Disaster Memorial

Back in 1929 the Briseis Dam could not contain the waters after unprecedented heavy rainfalls in recent days and it broke sending a gigantic wave of water both downstream and upstream causing great loss of life including a whole family sitting down to dinner as well as property in the area.
There is a tin museum and memorial building in Derby consecrated to the tin mining and this disaster and there is a very interesting display area with a huge panoramic video presentation of the disaster inside.

Briseis Dam Disaster Museum

Glow Worm tunnel

Just a short drive or even a walk on the far side of the village is a tunnel just over the bridge in which you can find glow worms. I was particularly interested in seeing this as I have never seen glow worms before. Rob came in for a short while which was just as well as I had no idea what it was I was looking for. These worms hang down from the ceiling. My photo doesn’t show the glow part which is just at the tip of the worms but from this I was able to go further into the tunnel and see some more. There wasn’t heaps of them (at least I didn’t see heaps) but at least I can now say I have seen glow worms. I am surprised at just how skinny they are! I wonder what they feed on, what makes the glow and so forth.

Glow wormshang from the ceiling of the tunnel

Our Sundays on the road

We love to go to church on Sundays even when traveling. In fact we love meeting new people and really look forward to the possibility of fellowship with other Christians as well as the opportunity to worship God. We sometimes go back for a quiet afternoon but more often than not we tend to spend the afternoon doing some local sightseeing.


Since we are of a Reformed Church background, we decided to attend the new Riverside Church in Riverside. Launceston. We had trouble finding it as we had left the GPS in the motorhome and the map fro the tourist information centre didn’t have their street on it either since it was in a new division that was only 2 months old. Still we found it eventually and were only minutes late.

Hospitality matters

After church service we stopped for fellowship and met up with some lovely people who made us feel very welcome, especially Mike and Cathy. There was a BBQ being held after church, not only did they introduce themselves and a few other members, they invited us to stay and shortly went home and gathered some food for the four of us. Now that’s what I call true hospitality. It was this sort of hospitality that introduced me to Christ and Christianity back in my early twenties. I will always thank God for Nikke and her parents for accepting me into their family all those years ago.

Grindelward Swiss Village Resort


After the lovely church service & fellowship in Riverside and with the encouragement & recommendation of Aunty Elizabeth & our friend Jeff we went for the short drive to Grindelward which is designed and inspired from Swiss architecture. There are little boutique shops there to browse and lovely gardens.

We enjoyed browsing through the shops and I even tried on several dresses but sadly came away without purchasing any. We did enjoy coffee and cake outside bakery there.

There is a picturesque park with lake to walk around, however since we rolled up later in the day, we decided not to take a stroll.We decided to head back to rest and relax in our Robbiebago motorhome.

Ben Lomond National Park

About 60km from Launceston is Ben Lomond National Park and we decided we would walk to the top or rather we started to.

Which walk? 

It is a pity that Tasmania National Parks don’t offer any board or paper map for one to know where the tracks are let alone any information re accessibility, gradients etc. We found a sign post at Cara Villa that indicated 2 walks. including a summit walk that was labelled as 1½ hours – so with us walking slower, we thought we’d take maybe 2 hours. OK we had a backpack with water, lunch and some fruit so off we went, even if it took an hour longer - that was OK too!

Rocky tracks

I found it OK to walk the very rocky track and Rob did too, which is why we took it slow and easy. The path is a gravelly, loose rocky walk about 90% of the track having loose rocks no smaller than a man’s fist and obviously it is nearly all uphill. It would be very rough on your ankles and knees.

Typical of most of the track

Rock wallaby mini drama

Rob spotted the tail of a rock wallaby next to the path and since the wallaby was staying still and ‘playing dead’ I tried to go off the track and around the bush to get a better photo shot, but I slipped on the loose rocks and skinned my left shin and bruised my left buttock. I am lucky I didn’t do anything worst. Boy o boy, did I regret my impulsive actions for about 24 hours – I was so, so sore! Still, I wasn’t going to let that stop me.

Believe me it felt worst than it looked but I am so grateful I didn't break any bones!

Click on the photo to see the tail that was the beginning of my downfall literally!

Are we there yet?

We stopped a few times on the way up for a short breather and for our packed lunch. We came to a trickling spring that is more like a run off but we were able to replenish our water bottles with cold water. Still we climbed. After about 2 and half hours we started questioning how much further. So maybe another 15 minutes we reached a plateau and could see that the track is winding away to here and there and worked out that we were probably a bit more than half way up the mountain. Rob was very concerned that his leg would give out especially as we still had to walk all the way back. After some consideration we thought it wise to stay together and started to descend rather than continue on. I also decided to measure the distance we had traveled and I believe we had gone a bit over 2 km each way, which considering the steepness and difficulty of the terrain, I think was very good for us!

Beautiful flowers

On the way up (and back obviously) we saw some beautiful flora. We were very taken with the red flowers, I am not sure if they are a mini waratah or a grevillea, maybe someone with more botanical knowledge can inform us.

Is it a mini waratah or a grevillea? The whole bush is the image above.

We also saw many other flowers.

The vista

We had a clear walk up the mountains but the vista was a bit hazy. Still the vista is amazing of the craggy mountains and the valley laid out below.

Part of the craggy mountain sides

Alpine Village without the snow!

The drive up Jacob’s Ladder

When we finally made it back to the car, we decided to drive up the other road which apparently lead to the alpine village.

The zig zag road up is called Jacob’s Ladder and it is quite mind blowing. It would be terribly scary in icy or snowy conditions. I also wouldn't take a motorhome or caravan up there. However in a car it is certainly a trip worth making as the view from the top is just stupendous!

Was it worth it?

It is definitely worth the trip and even the walk. The walk from Cara Villa is good for fit people but make sure you allow more time. I think the 90 minutes is well underestimated even for one way. There is a much shorter though maybe steeper walk from the alpine village but we didn’t walk it. We’d had enough!

City Park & the monkeys

City Park is right in the centre of the city and it is an absolute delight. The monkeys are probably the biggest draw card, but I do suggest you spend time looking at the rest of the park itself as it is also fabulous.


There are 20 Japanese Macaques (monkeys) in an open exhibit/cage where the monkeys live and play. They were so delightful to watch. There were a baby and a couple of young “kids” there as well as one or two that I assume are older “grandparents”.

Japanese Macaque monkey mother and baby
It is wonderful to see the interactions between them all. I enjoyed watching how some check the fur for ‘bugs’ of some sort and when they find one they pick it out and eat it. (yech)

Japanese Macaque monkeys
One of the young ones chew on the ropes, another one is trying to work out how to undo the knots that hold the rope ladder that stretches across an area sort of horizontally. One runs out on this big limb and bounces it like a spring board above a swimming pool (only there is no pool under that part of the limb). It is just pure fun to watch them.

Japanese Macaque monkey enclosure

Eventually we drag ourselves away to walk amongst the rest of the gardens. There are so many seats available to sit and watch the world go by or to admire the beautiful grounds. It would be a marvellous place to have a family picnic too!

Sitting back and admiring City Park

John Hart Conservatory

This leads us soon to the John Hart Conservatory where not only it is a mass of green tropical plants of all shape and size but there is a huge collection in the centre of magnificently flowering orchids. I later see that the massive hanging baskets way above our heads are also full of flowering orchids.

John Hart Conservatory

Motorhome & car stuff

There is always something that needs doing... well it seems like it.
Rob goes off to get a electronic key cut for a spare car key and I stay behind to work on our blog a bit and to clean the floor of the motorhome. It still hadn’t been cleaned properly of the wood glue when the floor boards went down. So today was a good day to get stuck into this. I was pleasantly surprised how easy it came off with just turps and just a touch of a little elbow grease. Now my floors look nice.
It is good to have another job out of the way.

Launceston Christmas Parade

We found out the night before the event that Launceston has a Christmas Street Parade. So we set off early to get a spot. As it turns out we found ourselves parked right in one of the streets that the parade is going through. We actually got there just before they closed the street. It was right near the corner and so we were able to get a great view and even work out what we wanted to photograph and such before they actually got in front of us. I even sat inside the car so that I had an unobstructed view and a perfect spot for photos.

Our corner spot - that's our car and you can just make me out in the front seat with a camera!

I love to hear the marching bands, listen and sing along with the carolers, and watch the various community groups in action.

Scottish Drummers

I took great delight in seeing that the real meaning of Christmas was apparent in quite a few floats.

God's Christmas Present to us

I was fascinated by the Aviation Rescue vehicle esp since our eldest son is a pilot! I had never seen one before. It is nice to know there are specialists available at some airports at least!

Aviation rescue vehicle

Motorhome modification

In the afternoon, Rob did another little modification to the motorhome. This time he added 2 door stops to the lounge slide out. It was not for stopping the slide out from sliding in or out but rather to stop some creaking noise that occurs when we are driving the motorhome.

Adding a lock on the lounge slideout


I spent the wonderful afternoon making a doily swag that I thought our newly engaged daughter would like at her engagement party. However if it doesn’t fit with her theme then that was OK as I enjoyed making it and I can add it to my shop which I intend to resurrect when we stop traveling. I might even make some more!

Michelle making doily swags

Cataract Gorge

Cataract Gorge is a beautiful parcel of natural wilderness, just minutes from Launceston City, in fact you can even walk it if you are so inclined since it is only 1.5km from the centre.

Chairlift over the gorge

Cataract Gorge is a river gorge and there is the world's longest single span chairlifts, walking tracks, and a swimming pool as well in the reserve.

Looking north west back over the suspension bridge
It is also wheel chair friendly with a lift down to the various levels and very good bitumen tracks. There is a restaurant, kiosk, cafe and beautifully maintained gardens. Peacocks wander around and are more than willing to share your lunch though of course you are not supposed to feed them.

It was a glorious sunny day and we took a picnic lunch went down the lift to the bottom level where we found a table and soon enjoyed the approach of a peacock trying to wheedle some lunch from us. He gave us a magnificent display of his feathers, though by the time we got the camera out, he  had tucked his feathers away!

Peacock is almost begging Rob for some of his sandwich
We missed capturing the full feathered display

After wards we decided to walk over the suspension bridge and around to the other side, up to the cafe on the other side and down to the waters and back again. It is a very easy walk and I believe it is wheelchair friendly too!
Walkway on the eastern side of the gorge.

Camping in the middle of Launceston

We camped on Old Macs Farm  (not Old McDonald's as per the song) which is a beautiful 50 acre farm and fishery with lots of small lakes and plenty of flat grassy room for parking your rigs no matter what size with plenty of sun for solar charging. You do need to be self sufficient as there is no toilet close by (300m up a steep hill) and no electricity. It is a great place for RVs of every sort but it is NOT meant for tents and campers. It is not quite free camping as there is a small fee of $10 per night per rig no matter what size family you have and fresh water is available in several locations (in Dec 2014). It is more like a farm stay rather than a caravan park. It is closed for winter though (something like June – October) so call to check availability!

Old Macs Farm camped next to the lake

Centrally located

It is very convenient as it is just 3 km into the centre of Launceston. It is not exactly a quiet place if you just wanted to sit back and veg as it is a working farm and Ian is always doing something, like running the pumps (transferring water from one dam to another), mowing the lawns, whipper snipping, etc.

Plenty of room

Bird life

There is the constant chatter and songs from the many birds that water attracts which can be lovely or noisy depending upon your disposition. We saw black swans with 7 cygnets as well as a myriad other birds.

Looking down onto the farm from a higher vantage on the property

Other activities on site

Not only can you walk around the wetlands and see ducks and swans etc, there are also some alpacas (or are they llamas?) which you can feed on the property. You can hire a canoe and paddle on one of the dams. You can go fishing in a dam (you must get permission & pay). There’s a communal fire pit in a couple of places with Ian supplying the wood. There are also many picnic tables and shelters scattered around the top area.

Curious animals

There’s also a very popular public restaurant on site which does Italian nights on Fridays and offers a great $10 value campers breakfast. We didn’t partake of either at this point.

This would truly have to be the best value RV rest stop in Tassie if not all of Australia.