Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Bad day at Murrumbateman

Murrumbateman is  the capital of the Canberra district cool-climate wine region and is located on the Yass Plains, 20 km from Yass. Nowadays, this small, former goldmining town is at the centre of a thriving wine industry – around 49 wineries operate in the region, many with cellar doors and excellent restaurants.

Set among the rolling hills of the Yass Valley are those vineyards. While some just grow grapes to sell to the local vinters, others are into more 'large scale' production. This area is usually picturesque and pleasant but it also has its 'nasty side', weather-wise!

'Small lot' grape production

Yarrh vineyards large scale production

Some wineries are small and quaint whilst others are extremely modern, however, they do produce world class wines.

Ken Helm's 'Old Schoolhouse' winery

Yarrh vineyard and winery's modern premises

It is also home to many 'hobby farmers' who commute to work - mostly public servants to the capital city of Canberra in the adjacent Australian Capital Territory - who live side-by-side with sheep graziers who produce some of the world's finest merino wool.

Normally it is an idyllic place to live with moderate to good rainfall, mostly clear blue skies in summer and winter and temperatures ranging from a usual 'crisp' -5C in winter to a 'warm' 36C in summer.

This week, for my volunteer driving for HLSS, I was allocated the 'shorter runs' between Yass and Murrumbateman.  They are not really 'shorter' as they involve double tripping on the 'pick-up drive' from Yass to Murrumbateman and back to Yass and then repeat for the 'home' journey - all-in-all around 100 to 110klms, depending on the clients location.

Yesterday was my first job and the weather conditions were far from 'idyllic' - a top of 30C with a hot westerly wind gusting from 25 to 60kph which increased 'skin temperature' to 'searing and baking dry'! I had to go to one of the small lot farms and pick up an elderly lady who was totally deaf and bring her in to see a Nurse Specialist at a local medical centre. Whilst she was a pleasant lady she communicated at the full yell and to complicate things she had a cleft palate.

It took me a while to locate her address as she had built her home on a corner of her daughter's property and even my Sat-Nav had problems locating it. Due to roadworks on the highway between Yass and Murrumbateman and my difficulty in locating her house, I was running late by the time I arrived - leaving her slightly agitated. Never mind, off we set for Yass.

About 3klms down the highway and 1klm on the Yass side of Murrumbateman the car got a punctured rear tyre on the drivers side. 'Flat as a tack'! To complicate things, firstly, I had left my mobile (cell) phone at home on overnight charging, so I was phoneless as was my passenger - why would a totally deaf lady want a mobile phone, arghhhh! - and, secondly,  the spare was in the boot-well under the floor and someone had left a collapsible wheel chair in the boot!

So! Here I was, struggling with excess equipment (getting the wheelchair out) winds hitting 60kph and trying to slam the boot lid down on me, bumping me on the head and shoulders as I was struggling to get to the spare wheel.

OK!  Did so! Found the tools, loosened off the wheel nuts and got the jack under the rear of the car - by now my arms were gravel rashed from the road surface and all the bumping and struggling with the loads had left me covered with bruises - and there is no lever to get the jack to wind up and lift the vehicle! Grrrrrr!

The heat of the day, exacerbated by the hot drying winds, struggling with all this gear on the side of the highway as traffic flew past at 100kph a mere few feet from me was nerve wracking to say the least (a right hand drive vehicle and traffic keeps to the left in Australia).

Then HELP arrived. A passing Road Service vehicle had seen our dilemma  (I guess the wheeel chair helped them decide to stop and turn and come back) and asked if I needed help!


An NRMA Road Service vehicle

The two workers in the NRMA vehicle got to work, one on the wheel while the other positioned a kerbside jack and within minutes they had it changed and had us out of trouble. Our HLSS was a member of the NRMA Road Services, however, some thoughtless person had removed the membership card from the glove box. I gave the guys from the NRMA our office number and they dealt with them while we headed off to keep our appointment.

We managed to get to the clinic just before their lunch break and the Clinical Nurse agreed to see my client and attend to her while I ducked off to freshen up and cool down.

The drive home was without incident but a normal hour and a half job had run to three hours.

Today is a 'rest day' for myself but after I post this 'blog' I'm going to write to the Yass Tribune and thank those two NRMA workers who helped us out of a tight spot.

1 comment:

LindaG said...

Oh my gosh! Yesterday was definitely a Monday for you, John.
Hope you're not too sore to enjoy your rest day. You have certainly earned it!