Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Well I have had such a strong response to my last post about Fred. And spent so much time crafting responses to each of the thoughtful comments I received that I have decided to "cheat" a bit and make my responses to your comments my next post.

Lisa said...

I pulled up this comment box and then just had to sit here for a moment to absorb your post. First off, I want to applaud you for your efforts to help a portion of the population that is so often neglected. I think the story of Fred points out so many problems we have in our society. Not the least of which is an inability to truly recognize the needs of the mentally ill. If we were willing to pay better wages to the people that care for these individuals, perhaps people like the one that Greg contacted would not be what we got stuck with. So sad.

Hi Lisa,
It is so hard to comprehend, hard to absorb. Thank you for your recognition of the work we do, it is cheering to be recognised.
We do indeed have many problems in our societies and we let so many people down very badly. I think wages and conditions are part of the problem, but sometimes there are simply the wrong people staffing some of these teams. Some people who are in these jobs should go and work sorting paperclips or something, anything other than stuff it up for other people.

Christy Pinheiro, EA ABA said...

I usually lurk but I had to post, too. What a sad story this is. The mentally ill get treated like garbage everywhere-- they are difficult to understand, expensive to treat, and easily forgotten. Thank you for sticking your neck out to help this poor man. Mother Theresa said, "Every day I see Jesus in all his distressing disguises."

I'm not too religious but that quote has always stuck with me. You are doing the work of Mother Theresa. It's hard, joyful, difficult and rewarding work.

Hi Christy,
Thanks for coming out of the shadows (you wicked lurker you). Fred’s story is a real tragedy. The really sad thing is that it is not uncommon for people in his position to be deserted by the system.
Thank you for your kind words. I don’t see myself as a mother Theresa figure, I’m far too worldly for that, but thanks for the sentiment anyway.
You are absolutely right in your last sentence. This work is so hard I wouldn’t do it except for the absolute buzz I get when I can help someone like Fred long enough to make a difference in their life. Day to day the reward is when someone who is as low as you can get says "thanks you make a difference for me".

Amanda said...

O wow. That is so heartbreaking. Sometimes I am amazed at the ineptness of some people in their line of work. And I applaud you and your co-workers efforts. I hope Fred is ok and somehow someway gets the help he needs.

And I love your Echidnas photo. It is realy adorable.

Hi Amanda,
Heartbreaking is right. Staff in these organisations can become very jaded, but it is also a management issue. If staff were properly trained and supported they would be more likely to care about their jobs and the impact their decisions have on other people.
Aren’t Echidnas just adorable. I have met them so many times in the bush and they just make me smile every time.

Wendy R said...

Al - Like everyone here I was moved and distressed by your post in equal proportions. And angry.
Thank you for sharing it with us. You show such generosity of spirit to Fred, and to your co workers. You need to take care of yourself too, to be there again for them and for other people like Fred, who I am sure, will come along.

You restored the balance with your photo of the Echidnas. Ironic that you say 'they don't seem to have an aggressive bone in their bodies', given the content of your early post.

Congratulations on your steady head in these things.


Dear Wendy,
Thanks for your sentiments, I really appreciate them.
I get very angry at times as well. I have been working in the community sector in mental health and related services for many years now. My experience is that, with most people, a small amount of regular support is enough to help them keep things ticking over for themselves.
For a few, like Fred, it is significant support applied in a holistic way for moths or years that is needed. Then if (or more likely when) their condition improves support can be scaled back, but the key is someone like Fred should never be cut adrift. It is too easy for the Freds of this world to become isolated.
But this is an ideal. The reality in a welfare and health system provided by Economic Rationalist policy makers the real cost of neglecting people is never considered and that is what makes me angry. (I’ve just realised you might not know the term economic rationalism, it is an Oz term for something like Thatcherism)
Thank you for you concern for my wellbeing. I have a very simple philosophy when it comes to this sort of thing and that is: “You can’t help anyone else, if you don’t look after yourself first.”
I always push this line with my teams in this type of work. Burnout rates are terrible in any form of welfare work. What makes the difference is cultivating a team ethic that is about supporting one another. But also ensuring individuals (including me) have strategies in place to deal with such stresses. By the way my writing is one of those strategies.
I very deliberately chose to pick up echidnas again exactly because of their lack of aggression (and they are damn cute). I have seen many in the bush and handled quite a number (probably unfair but I just can’t help myself). They are quite small (around cat sized) but immensely powerful, they can break into termite mounds that I couldn’t open without a well swung pick. Yet their defence strategy is absolutely passive, they make no effort to turn those claws on an idiot like me who won’t leave them alone.

Kathleen Jones said...

I felt really sad, Al - these things shouldn't happen, but they do here too. We have this fictional thing called 'care in the community', which means that people are simply tossed out into the street without any support or back up and they have to commit a crime to be absorbed back into the system again. I'm full of admiration for what you (and your team) do. And I hope things turn out better for Fred.

Dear Kathleen,
It is so saddening that we let the Freds of this world down so badly. We have similar strategies to “care in the community” in Oz. There are some programs that are funded well and do wonderful work supporting people. I’ve even worked for a couple in the past. But the reality is the vast majority of people do not get anything like the support they need and what support is provided is so often insubstantial and short term.
Unfortunately your assessment about crime is true. Sometimes the results of the justice system becoming involved are positive and people end up with meaningful support. Unfortunately it sometimes becomes a situation where rather than receiving treatment and support people are incarcerated. I don’t know about the stats in the UK but the reality is a huge proportion of people in jails in Oz have a mental illness. That they are there is an indictment of our mental health system.

Thank You all for your wonderful responses. I am humbled by your understanding.

As to Fred unfortunately he is still on the street.
We have not seen him again, but he is still around the city.
He has been to another community service over the weekend. That service were aware of what had happened because some of our other fellows also go there. The police were called. However, presumably because Fred is very frightened and agitated, he left before they arrived.
We can only hope that somehow Fred gets the support he needs.

Next: From Spring Back to Winter

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Trials and Tribulations.

Well I have not posted for several days now. Unfortunately, the past few days have been very hectic and very stressful at work.

As you may know, my day job is running a charitable service that supports people who are homeless.
There are three main thrusts to our service: the first is to look after people’s physical needs; the second is community we run a drop in centre where people can simply relax and interact with staff, volunteers and each other; the third plank of our service is what we call information and referral, we offer advice, and support people in accessing other services they need to improve their lot.

Most of our service users are people who are simply down on their luck (not that there is anything simple about homelessness). But a proportion of people who we work with have significant drug and alcohol problems and/or mental health issues.

This story revolves around one young man (I’ll call him Fred to protect his identity) who has been accessing our service recently. He is clearly unwell with some form of mental illness. Most of all he is very frightened and isolated from other people.

So our tack has been to approach Fred very gently and very slowly to try to build trust. One of my team in particular (who in the tradition of protecting the innocent I will call Greg) had invested a large amount of time and effort in building a relationship. Fred was beginning to engage with not only Greg but also other staff and service users.

Finally on Wednesday he plucked up the courage to ask Greg to help him find assistance to deal with his mental health. We are trained in supporting people living with mental illness. But we are not a clinical service and what we are supposed to do in a situation like this is help people access the appropriate agency.

So Greg got on the phone to a staffer on a mental health team. Greg outlined what he saw as Fred’s problems and explained that in his opinion he needs clinical support, and could we arrange for an assessment. The person on the other end of the phone accessed Fred’s file and said to Greg that he had been discharged from their service in 2005 because at that point he was travelling relatively well.

From there it all went down hill. The mental health staffer asked to talk to Fred. Rather than doing what she should have done (which is ask non threatening questions to set him at ease and enable him to explain his current situation) she very bluntly reflected Greg’s concerns back to him and asked directly if he thought he was in a delusional state.

Now I don’t know how most of you would feel if asked by a total stranger over the phone if you are crazy. I suspect that most people would not like it, and would become defensive. Not surprisingly, Fred reacted in exactly that way. He said almost instantly that he was fine and didn’t need support.

The staffer then said to Greg that in her opinion Fred was not in need of clinical support and terminated the conversation. Fred left immediately, obviously very distressed and angry.

He came back on Thursday armed with a knife.

Fred came into our centre and confronted Greg. He was very upset, very angry and accusing Greg of calling him crazy. An absolute nightmare scenario for a community worker.

Due to where he was confronted Greg had no means of retreat. But he is a brilliant worker and reacted exactly as he should. Speaking calmly, trying to deflect the anger and calm Fred down.
I was to one side and had to juggle several things at once: making sure the police were called without provoking Fred any more; being near in case the worse happened and the threat became a physical attack; and trying to keep other clients calm, safe and also with some from attacking to protect “their” worker.
Fortunately Greg’s calm reaction enabled Fred to settle down. He put away the weapon and left.

The Police arrived in force two minutes later. Although they hunted around the area they did not find Fred.

This leaves a very bitter taste in my mouth. My staff and service users have been placed at direct risk (and me as well). Greg seems ok (he is very experienced and has a long history of dealing with difficult situations). But I know all too well that he needs to be supported (and just as importantly needs to FEEL supported) following this incident. This goes for my other staff and for service users (and myself).

Worst of all for me is Fred is still on the street. He is clearly a risk to himself and other people. The police are still looking for him, but the frightening reality is every year people like Fred get shot as police attempt to apprehend them.

Fred now has no one to turn to. This frightened lonely young man is at real risk because a service cut him adrift without follow-up years ago. Then to compound it all when he finally asked for help, someone who should be trained, who should be professional, couldn’t be bothered to take the time to do her job properly.

Now to cheer me up, a unique Aussie.
Back in August I posted this piccie and asked if anyone knew what it was.
A couple of people replied correctly that it was an Echidna. I meant to come back to this but got distracted along the way.
Despite their spiny looks Echidnas are not at all related to either porcupines or hedgehogs. They are monotremes, egg-laying mammals. Their closest living relatives are that other egg-layer the platypus. These photos are of two animals I spotted in the bush last autumn. They are very sweet, very gentle creatures and amazingly curious. When they get frightened they use their massive claws (which you can see in the above photo) to dig into the ground leaving only their spiny back exposed. If the ground is too rocky they roll into a ball. They don't seem to have an aggressive bone in their bodies. They have no teeth but use long sticky tongues to lick up ants or their favourite food termites. They use these claws to tear open rock hard termite nests, but they never seem to use them aggressively or defensively.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

There’s Gold in Them Thar Hills

Or at least there was in the 1850’s and ‘60s.
Last weekend on our way back from the Yarra Reservoir, we stopped off to have a short walk. Just a short way from the road is a tight bend in the river that swings around a spur of rock.

At least the river used to go around. In the 1860s a group of miners got together and blasted this tunnel through what was known as “The Little Peninsula” to divert the river. This is the outfall.
As you can see with the river low (partly due to the drought and largely because of the reservoir upstream) it easily fits through the tunnel. Even before the building of the dam upstream I suspect the river would have easily rushed through here.

From the 1850s to the 1860’s there were a series of gold rushes in the then fledgling Colony of Victoria. These had a profound impact on Australia and Victoria. The Australian population tripled in a decade while that of Victoria grew by seven fold.
Badly managed growth, revolutionary ideas brought by those fleeing the 1848 European revolts and a colonial government bent on extracting as much as it could lead to discontent. From this discontent stemmed the most significant armed uprising in Australian History: The 1854 Eureka Rebellion.
At a meeting on Bakery Hill at Ballarat the miners raised the Southern Cross Flag and an oath of allegiance was sworn: "We swear by the Southern Cross to stand truly by each other and fight to defend our rights and liberties."The miners then built the Eureka Stockade to defend the road from Melbourne.

The rebellion was quickly crushed by the Police and the Army, an action that caused 42 casualties. The public outcry at the inept handling of the affair led to the adoption of virtually all of the miner’s demands over the next few months.

Interestingly, the Southern Cross flag that flew over the stockade is taken as a symbol of liberty by most sectors of the Australian community today. While the Southern Cross still features on Australia’s flag.
Anyway I am straying from my point, which was the “Little Peninsula Tunnel”. During the gold rushes a number of discoveries were made in the Yarra Valley near Warburton and Hoddles Creek. Much of the gold found in the area was alluvial, so here the miners hit on diverting the Yarra from this bend so they could explore its bed for gold.

How much gold they found here is unknown.
This piccie shows the upstream inlet crossed by a bridge that leads to a nearby picnic area. The tunnel is about 30 metres long and from here with the river so low you can see through to the other end.So there it is, the light at the other end of the tunnel!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

A Splashing Good Time

A quick post for now.

Rebecca at Living a Life of Writing has given me a “Splash Award”.
Thanks Rebecca it’s grouse!

The Splash Award is given to alluring, amusing, bewitching, impressive, and inspiring blogs. When you receive this award, you must:
- Put the logo on your blog/post.
- Nominate & link up to 9 blogs which allure, amuse, bewitch, impress or inspire you.
- Let them know that they have been splashed by commenting on their blog.
- Remember to link to the person from whom you received your Splash Award.

Up to nine blogs? This meme must be spreading at a rapid rate, although I suppose not everyone will nominate the full nine (Rebecca for example nominated two).
Anyway that’s by the by. Now for my nominations:

Heather’s at Gofita’s Pages. Heather writes a fun blog and has been supporting “Pirate Week” lately.

Jemima at The Reading Journey. Jemima has varied, thoughtful blog. Among other things she posts on places that were important in New England writers’ lives.

Tasha at Heidenkind's Hideaway . Tasha makes frequent, energetic posts on a wide range of topics.

Lisa at Lit and Life. Lisa is a frequent poster who mainly focuses on book reviews. Anyone who lives in the US and knows what the Geelong Cats are deserves a nomination.

Amanda at Life and Times of a New New Yorker. Amanda rambles about books and other adventures such as teaching herself to knit.

Kathleen Jones whose two blogs I love, A writer’s Life and What I am Reading. Kathleen is a poet, biographer and novelist and has the most beautiful turn of phrase.

Christy at The Self-Publishing Maven. Christy posts on three blogs; two of which are about writing and self publishing. (We won’t hold it against her that her third blog is about US tax accounting)

Wendy at A Life Twice Tasted. Wendy is a prolific author of novels. I find her blog endlessly fascinating; it is definitely one of my favourite places on the web.

Carrie at Cogito Ergo Scribit. Carrie is a prolific writer with innumerable blogs and other projects. Ask her about her creative use of Latin.

Oops! I seem to have cheated a bit, although I’ve nominated nine people I’ve talked about a few more blogs.
So much for a quick post!

Next: The light at the end of a tunnel.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

On the Subject of Snakes

Last Weekend we stayed close to home, only venturing up the Yarra Valley to Warburton (again) and a little past there to the Upper Yarra Reservoir.
This photo shows the dam wall and spillway. Due to prolonged drought I believe there has been no water on this spillway for over a decade.Melbourne’s water supply, of which this reservoir forms part, is down to 31 %. Although the Upper Yarra is at about 68% capacity.
As you can see from this photo, of the bridge over the spillway, the bulk of the dam wall is constructed using rock-fill.This surface is fairly unstable and the Melbourne Water Authority has erected signs warning yahoos to keep off.However yahoos and galahs are aptly named and I suspect the aforesaid signs were not doing their job.
Hence (I suspect) these signs.
I really think these signs are a case of; if you can’t get people to be sensible then scare them into complying.

What am I implying?
That there are no snakes living in the rock fill of the walls?

Not a bit of it. In fact knowing more than average about Aussie snakes, I would guarantee there are a good number of snakes taking advantage of the habitat and shelter provided by the rock fill.
There are snakes pretty much everywhere in Oz. Including, sometimes, in the absolute centre of our capital cities.

In fact as I have said before getting bitten by snakes is pretty much a national pastime.
But I also guarantee the danger people face on this rock wall is broken bones and not snakebites. I suspect people would be as likely to come across a snake in their back garden as they would be on this rock wall.

Simple, as much as people hate and fear snakes, snakes fear us a whole lot more. We are big and dangerous to them and they nearly always try to avoid confrontation. So on ground like this the most you are ever likely to see is a snake’s tail disappearing into a crack as it hightails (sorry I just couldn’t resist that pun).

The interesting thing about snake bites in Oz is that well over 80% occur on young males as they either attempt to catch, or more likely kill snakes with inappropriate gear such as sticks.
So the moral of the story is leave them alone and they will leave you alone.

What I suspect has happened here is that a clever chief ranger is trying to protect people from their own stupidity. It could just backfire, as those same yahoos who might think it fun to climb down these rocks are just as likely to think it fun to try and find a snake to kill.

I think my sympathy is with the snakes in that contest.

By the way I am being a good boy, I did a couple of hours on the manuscript last night.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Madder Than a Cut Snake

Well I’ve officially gone mad.

“Whadda ya mean gone mad? You’ve always been madder than a cut snake!”

Uncle Harry, I hate to say it mate, but as a figment of my imagination you’ve probably proved the case.

I seem to have been doing almost anything to avoid finishing off the corrections to my manuscript suggested by Cheryl some weeks ago.
For a while I was fairly diligent, now I think I am only a few hours away from completing. My problem is I just seem to use any excuse to avoid those last few hours of work.

I don’t count blogging, although it is dangerously addictive. Some of my avoidance tactics have been fairly constructive such as: researching for the sequel; a little writing of the sequel; house work, mowing the lawn etc.

But most of them have been a sheer waste of time, like watching TV including: Aussie Rules Football (I don’t even barrack for a team) or Netball (ditto).

In short I have been procrastinating.

I thought I would share one of my procrastinations.
In a supreme effort to waste time I have designed a cover for my novel.

Mind you I haven’t the foggiest notion of why I think I need to design a cover.

Here are a few of the reasons I don’t need a cover:
- I haven’t got an agent yet, let alone a publisher.
- When I finally get a publisher they are not likely to be at all interested in my design.
- My artistic tendencies are in writing not graphic design.
- I don’t think I am likely to self publish.

But reason be damned, I was doing one anyway.
The creation of this piece has been a supreme effort of procrastination. Initially, a rough idea for the cover popped into my head: I thought it should feature a vivid blue eye because one of my leading characters features an impressive pair of peepers; then the working title is Veiled in Shadows so the obvious thing was a veiled face with a blue eye.

So armed with this nugget I went searching through stock photos.
I eventually found this image and bought a $5 limited licence.
I cropped it a bit and added some text and had a first draft, so to speak.
While this said “veiled” alright it kind of didn’t quite work for me.
So I had to add something but what?

Then quite by chance I happened to walk past a little militaria shop in Melbourne. In the window I saw among other things some Nazi documents.
I bought this one for $45 (as an aside is anyone’s German good enough for a translation? I have a minute amount of German and much of the officialese in this goes right over my head)

So after a fair bit of scanning and learning how to drive a photo editor to (do more than crop), coupled with a lot of hair tearing (my procrastination can be carried to absurd levels) I ended up with this.
To which I have added a spine and a back cover. The blurb probably deserves an apology; I really struggle at distilling 120,000 words and multiple sub-plots to half a page of text and at the same time trying to make it catchy. I hope I haven’t made the work sound trashy, I don’t think it is.

Now I have to go because I have procrastinated long enough.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Some Loons and a Few Odd Little Birds

Here I go again in an attempt to out do my imaginary Uncle Harry in the boredom stakes.
We stopped at the Bay of Islands with the girls. Unlike last time it was not blowing a gale, but the weather was cold and it rained intermittently. But the weather did not deter some loony locals. In the circle in this photo (number one daughter in the corner by the way)...
are these guys, surfing far off this inhospitable coast.Every now and then surfers are drowned somewhere on this coast, when the conditions change suddenly on a rugged coastline they can easily be trapped against sheer cliff faces. When you see them in places like this you can see why.

To continue boring you, another shot of The Grotto.
And London Bridge at low tide in calmer seas.
I took this photo of the cliffs facing away from London Bridge the previous time we were there. I noticed footprints in the sand at the base of the cliff at the time and wondered how anyone could have climbed down there.
Two weeks later and there were still footprints at the bottom of the cliff, lots of them.
So I had a closer look. In the vegetation covered bank at the base of the cliff are dozens of burrows.
Then it went click, Fairy Penguins live along this coast. During daylight hours they fish out at sea, then at night they come ashore to rest in burrows where they raise their chicks.
All these prints are the work of cute little fairy penguins.
This picture is from Wikimedia Commons
Next along to Loch Ard Gorge
Where there are these interesting but rather ugly stalactites.
Out at the point beyond the gorge you can see where the Loch Ard foundered. The formation with the arch through it is Muttonbird Island. The Loch Ard was wrecked on the shelf at the base of the cliffs in the extreme left of this picture. Somehow the two survivors made it past these cliffs, through this gap, to land on this beach.

From here we continued on to the Twelve Apostles. These nifty little helicopters run tourists past the Apostles. We decided not to go last time because it was really windy, and this time because it was raining.
So we made do with looking from ground level

Here they are again from a different angle to last time and in very different light.
We had hoped to go on to Cape Otway, which we have not made it to on either of our previous trips, but the rain continued to get heavier so we decided to head for home.

Having made Uncle Harry proud by boring you all to tears, that is all for a while from the South West Coast.

Of course we still have to head down that way to see Cape Otway, maybe in summer before the high season. So Uncle harry could yet ride again!

Next: I cast an eye over my novel.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Wildlife and Warrnambool

Well we pulled in to Warrnambool a couple of hours before sunset. The first thing we did was head up to Logan’s Beach to see what sort of show the whales were putting on.
That sounds casual doesn’t it? In our limited experience it really is that easy to see whales at Warrnambool. What is special here is that while Southern Right Whales come to many places all along the South Western Coast of Victoria to calve, there is a group of females who consistently return to Warrnambool every year.

On this afternoon there were a number of whales fairly close inshore. One calf in particular was especially frisky and put on a good show.He/she was breaching half way out of the water and splashing back down on his/her back.
From Logan’s Beach we went into town and checked into our hotel. Then as the sun began to set I went for a stroll to see what the evening light would reveal. The war memorial gardens in Warrnambool are high and look out over the lagoon, foreshore and harbour. I thought this photo was worth posting because it captures the evening light beautifully.
Then I spotted this little fellow.
A New Holland Honeyeater.

Named for the old Dutch name for Australia, they have the odd distinction of being the first Australian bird to be scientifically described. They are quite common, but are a bit hard to photograph because they are very active.
He was flitting all over the place, but with a little patience I got this rather nice shot.
I am not sure what the flower is, a Hebe maybe?

The following morning we headed back east along the Great Ocean Road, turning off to look at Childers Cove which we did not see last time we came this way.
The country here is covered with depressions, I suspect caused by small sinkholes in the underlying limestone.
Many of them fill with rainwater run-off to make little ponds. On this one a black swan was nesting. They collect vegetation to build a platform in the water, where they lay their eggs.

Initially not being very photogenic it popped its head up for a look after I made a bit of noise.

We came down to Childers Cove, which like so much of this coast, is worth a photo or two.
In this second photo there are a couple of Australian Shelducks.
I’ve blown them up for you here.Shelducks are quite large, about halfway between most other duck species and geese in size. Unusually for ducks these guys usually nest in holes in banks and cliffs.

Next: I get nearly as boring as Uncle Harry

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Call Us Boring

Call us boring, but Deb and I seem to have developed a minor obsession with the Western Districts of Victoria, particularly with the Great Ocean Road.

Our excuse this time was that we liked it so much we should show our girls. So with two of our three sprogs in tow (number two daughter was away with her boyfriend), we set off after I finished the breakfast shift at work on Saturday.

The first hour of the outbound trip is quite boring, the free-way from Melbourne to Geelong, the only interesting thing on this stretch is the Westgate Bridge over the Yarra River. The Yarra isn’t a huge river but it is flat country here and the bridge has to be high to allow ships to get through into the Docklands.

Past the end of the freeway we turn off the main roads and are soon driving along typical Aussie country roads.Not at all typical of Oz are the dry-stone walls that line many of the roads in this region.Land in most areas in the early days was not valuable enough to justify the labour involved in clearing stone from the paddocks and building stone walls. I suspect a few things were at play here to make the effort worthwhile: this area has very rich volcanic soils that would give a return; Victoria grew very quickly with the 1850s gold rushes which meant labour became available; and a lot of the workforce coming off the goldfields probably came from rural areas in Europe and had the skills to build walls like these.

We took a slightly different route this time stopping for lunch in Camperdown instead of bypassing it. In the middle of the main street is an amazing clock-tower totally out of place in the Aussie Bush. Camperdown is a small place of about 3500 people, this clock tower looks like it has been ripped out of some English town and plonked down as an after thought.I find this piece of architecture a little disturbing. In its own little way this monument seems as grandiose as Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria.

Much more to my taste is the bluestone post office.
Driving west from Camperdown, and just out of town I happened to glance to the left and said “That’s got to be a crater-lake!”
I had mentioned vaguely to Deb a few days before that I knew there were some crater-lakes somewhere in Western Victoria, and we should try to find out where they were to visit them sometime. And there one was staring back at me.

I had seen the northern most of two massive craters just outside Camperdown.
The first is Lake Gnotuk.
The second is Lake Bullen-Merri
This image taken from Google Maps shows the sheer scale of the lakes.The surprising thing to me is there were no tourist oriented signs trumpeting the lakes existence that we saw in Camperdown. Surely a marketing oversight?

From the lakes we pushed on west, pausing briefly to take a shot to demonstrate how green the western district is at the moment. This colour is very alien to most of Australia most of the time.
Next: Wildlife at Warrnambool