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On the Road With the Cackleberry Farmer

Updated on January 26, 2017
Jodah profile image

We have had up to four roosters and fifteen hens. Have since downsized since moving to town but still have a few chickens.

Enjoying Busby's shade at Lake Boondooma. New Year's Eve 2016.
Enjoying Busby's shade at Lake Boondooma. New Year's Eve 2016. | Source

A Change is as Good as a Holiday

Those of you who have been following The Diary of a Cackleberry Farmer will have noticed a few changes since the series began. It started out as a monthly publication, before I decided to change it to seasonal i.e. Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winer editions.

This chapter heralds another change that reflects life on the Cackleberry Farm as it continues to evolve (often in unexplained directions.)

Q.What is the Cackleberry farm without poultry? A. Just a berry farm.
Q.What is the Cackleberry farm without poultry? A. Just a berry farm. | Source
The Original Cakleberry Farm
The Original Cakleberry Farm | Source
1996 Toyota Coaster
1996 Toyota Coaster | Source
I'm not counting my chickens
I'm not counting my chickens | Source

New Year, New Direction

2016 unfortunately saw the passing of many celebrities and famous people (too many to even try to list) as well as a number of personal friends and relations. At the end of the year my wife and I made a pact to start ticking more things off our bucket list.

  • Buy a house closer to town, doctors etc. that would suit us in our retirement, especially if something unforeseen should happen to one of us.
  • Travel more, especially throughout our own wide and wonderful country.

Well the opportunity to make at least these two a reality came just before Christmas when we sold our 40 acre block/property (the original Cackleberry Farm.) The first thing we did when the sale was finalised was pay off our existing car loan, and reply to an advertisement on a local 'Buy, Swap, and Sell' forum on Facebook. It listed "1996 Toyota Coaster Bus/Motorhome For Sale."

It was located close by and at a price we could afford so, cutting a long story short, we bought it.

At about the same time we also found a house that we liked in a quaint nearby town called Tingoora. We made an offer that was accepted, signed a contract etc. but due to circumstances beyond our control the solicitor advised us to pull out of the deal. We have continued looking and may have found another house but I'm not counting my chickens until they hatch (a Cackleberry pun, sorry.)

The house we didn't get, Tingoora
The house we didn't get, Tingoora | Source
Busby the bus
Busby the bus | Source

Have Bus Will Travel

* The title of this capsule may sound a little strange, but those old enough may recognise that it is a play on words from an old TV western series called Have Gun Will Travel.

Meanwhile, instead of sitting around moping, getting hopes up only to have them dashed, and even just going through life as usual, we decide to use our time constructively and hit the road in our bus (we haven't agreed on a name yet but I kinda like "Busby" so I'll call her that until my wife Kathy tells me otherwise.)

She isn't perfect and has a lot of miles on the clock, but her bodywork and interior are in good condition. There is a new 12 volt 60lt refrigerator, electric oven and cook top, excellent stereo and air conditioning throughout, CB radio, and awning. We have already made a few renovations such as removing two single bunks and replacing them with one queen size bed. She had seven seats but we have removed three to make more room for other proposed features like extra cupboards which we will install over time.

The Park in Lamb Street, Murgon's Main Street
The Park in Lamb Street, Murgon's Main Street | Source

Willie Nelson - On the Road Again

A Test Run

Busby's very first test (apart from when we picked her up and brought her home) was a drive to visit friends living in Murgon approximately one hour away. They also own a bus (and a dog) so we were hoping to gain some tips in regard to renovations, dog-friendly places to visit and camp in our bus.


Population 2133

Murgon is situated on the Bunya Highway 270 kilometres (170 miles) north-west of the state capital, Brisbane.

It is one of the most attractive towns in southern Queensland. It was settled from 1843, but the town did not really develop until after 1904, when the railway arrived and the large cattle stations of the area were divided up. The town's name probably the Aboriginal name for a lily pond, found on Barambah Station, which was the site of the first pastoral property in the area.

Murgon was known as 'the beef capital of the Burnett', however, it's beef abattoir and the town's greatest employer of labour is now closed. Apart from beef and cattle production attractions of Murgon include winemaking, fishing on the nearby Bjelke-Petersen Dam and gem fossicking. Industries include peanuts, dairy farming, and wine. The famous Indigenous Australian settlement of Cherbourg is just south of Murgon.

Murgon is also home to the Queensland Dairy Museum. It has static and interactive displays illustrating the history of the dairy industry, with particular emphasis in the development of butter.

On the road
On the road | Source
Brisbane | Source

On the Road (A True Test)

Our first long trip in Busby was to our state capital, Brisbane. Kathy had to drive the car so we could leave it there for my son to use to come visit us for Christmas. He and his family were flying in from Darwin in the Northern Territory the next day, and then would need to drive almost four hours from the airport to the Cackleberry Farm.

This proved to be quite a test for Busby, but more so for me as I was new to driving a bus, hadn't used manual gears in years, and had to negotiate big city traffic to boot. But, I am here to tell the tale so bus, driver, and wife all returned home frazzled but intact.

Brisbane (pronounced `~ Brisbin or Brisben)

Brisbane is the capital of Queensland, and the third most populous city in Australia after Sydney and Melbourne (pronounced ~ Melbon) . Brisbane's metropolitan area has a population of 2.3 million. In land area alone Brisbane is one of the world's largest cities.

Named after the Brisbane River on which it is located – which in turn was named after Scotsman Sir Thomas Brisbane, the Governor of New South Wales from 1821 to 1825. It is fondly called Brissie or BrisVegas by the locals.

Brisbane is well known for its distinct Queenslander architecture which forms much of the city's heritage. The city is a popular tourist destination, serving as a gateway to the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast, popular resort areas immediately south and north of Brisbane, respectively.

Several large cultural, international and sporting events have been held in Brisbane, including the 1982 Commonwealth Games, World Expo '88, the final Goodwill Games in 2001, and the 2014 G-20 summit.

One disadvantage in being situated on a river, Brisbane is also noted for having suffered damaging flood events, most notably in 1974 and 2011. My wife and I were actually visiting our eldest son during the 2011 flood and became stranded there for a week, unable to get home to the Cackleberry Farm to feed our animals. Luckily we had friends who were able to care for them.

Some of our animals. Cats Basil, Pheobe and Fanny
Some of our animals. Cats Basil, Pheobe and Fanny | Source
Taidan, Trent, Jax, Cheenee
Taidan, Trent, Jax, Cheenee | Source
Enjoying a cool drink beneath Busby's awning, Lake Boondooma
Enjoying a cool drink beneath Busby's awning, Lake Boondooma | Source

Now We're Talkin'!

Our son, Trent and his family arrived at the Cackleberry Farm on Christmas Eve 2016 and stayed for two weeks. Although there is plenty to do here on the farm, we wanted to show them a good time so planned a day trip to Lake Boondooma.

On New Year's Eve, we set out on the 74-kilometre journey of winding road that weaved its way through rolling hills. The day was a scorcher and by 10 am, the thermometer had reached 39 degrees Celsius (102.2 F).

We packed the bus with food and drinks and then four adults, two children, and three dogs set off for our day trip and fun at the lake. Busby's air conditioner is great and we had that on full as we drove.

On arrival, we found that many others had the same idea about spending New Year's Eve at Lake Boondooma, but we managed to find a park next to a tree in the day visitors parking area. Unrolling Busby's awning we set up tables and chairs in the shade and enjoyed something to drink and eat before going for a welcome cool-down in the water. The children had a great time and even the dogs enjoyed it. We are determined to take our dogs with us in the bus whenever we can and Lake Boondooma is one place that welcomes them. One family even turned up with a piglet and goat.

We wanted to get home by dark so before we knew it the time had come to leave, vowing next time we would stay a whole weekend and take advantage of the fishing, jet-skiing, wakeboarding etc.

Swimming and water sport area, Lake Boondooma. Note dam wall at back of picture.
Swimming and water sport area, Lake Boondooma. Note dam wall at back of picture. | Source

Lake Boondooma

Lake Boondooma incorporating Boondooma Dam is a drawcard for anglers, campers, bird-watchers and water-sports enthusiasts. The dam was purpose-built in 1983 to provide a water supply to the Tarong Power Station. In recent years it has been developed into a major regional recreation area where the fishing is excellent and amenities second to none.

There are cabins, camping areas, kiosk, boat ramps and water-sport equipment such as jet skis, boats, wakeboards and fishing supplies.

My son Trent driving and singing to his favourite song
My son Trent driving and singing to his favourite song | Source

Homeward Bound

On the trip home I let Trent drive the bus so I could relax in air-conditioned comfort and enjoy the scenery. Well, that was wishful thinking as he has more of a lead foot than me and really pushed the old girl to her limits. Maybe I'm just getting old and slowing down :) The boys were worn out and slept for almost the entire journey.

Anyway, we arrived home safely, but Busby wasn't happy. She was boiling her little radiator off. It seems te cause was a combination of the scorching day and the fact we had her air-con on high for the entire trip there and back. She has been fine on all trips we have done since.

Kathy and I have a weekend planned back at Lake Boondooma for Valentine's Day. Hopefully the weather will be a little cooler by then and it should be good.

Parked in Our Front Yard
Parked in Our Front Yard | Source

Until Next Time

Thank you for reading this Cackleberry adventure, and I hope there is more to come. By the time I write another we will probably have moved, but we will be taking our hens with us so even if we are living in town the Cackleberry Farm will carry on..maybe as the Cackleberry Urban Farm, however.

© 2017 John Hansen


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    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      4 years ago from Gondwana Land

      Thanks for reading this one as well Anne. I am glad my writing style appears easy going and inclusive. Thanks for the well wishes too. I have a couple of your articles to catch up on too.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 

      4 years ago from SW England

      I know I've read these two episodes backwards, John, but it's just as interesting! You have a style which takes us along with you, a friendly guide pointing out all the best bits.

      Now you've made the move, you can concentrate on the future and this new episode of your lives. Good luck with it all!


    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      4 years ago from Gondwana Land

      Thanks for getting back to finish reading this hub, Lawrence. I sometimes begin reading a hub late at night in bed and fall asleep half-way through (that doesn't mean it's boring either) only to have to finish it the next morning. Yes, Toyotas have a reputation for reliability so that's all I ask. We have found a home in town, actually we collect the keys tomorrow so then we can begin moving in.. No easy feat, but we will manage. We don't have a time limit to be out of here so it could take up to a month to be fully moved.

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 

      4 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand


      I started this hub a few days ago, but just haven't had time to get back to it. Great reading both times round.

      The Toyota is a good, sturdy vehicle, you'll get lots of use out of her.

      Hope you find a place nearer to town soon, are you still on the farm in the meantime?

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      4 years ago from Gondwana Land

      Good to see you, Shauna. Yes, I can't believe we have taken on so much this year and it is certainly keeping us busy, but no one can say we are wasting our lives :) yes, we are taking most of our critters with us..some worries about how they will cope in town instead of the wide open spaces but they should adjust. Sadly, we will be living the python behind, unless he manages to stowaway in a box :)

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      4 years ago from Central Florida

      Wow, John. You certainly have a lot going on in your life right now! I think It's wonderful that you and Kathy are taking the bull by the horns and working on your bucket list. I know you plan on taking your critters with you when you move, but will you leave the python behind for the new owners??? :-)

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      4 years ago from Gondwana Land

      Hi Anita. It is good to hear that I Brought the Australian countryside to life. I can relate to you wanting to visit here but not being able to afford it as I am in the same situation in regard to going anywhere else :) I hope your dream comes true one day.

    • Anita Hasch profile image

      Anita Hasch 

      4 years ago from Port Elizabeth

      Hi Jodah, I love reading about Busby and you bring to life the countryside in your travels. I have dreamed about seeing Australia and have some family living there. However I will need a financial miracle to succeed with that dream.

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      4 years ago from Gondwana Land

      Thanks for reading, Savvy. Yes, Busby made it despite the sweltering heat. He has come through subsequent drives fine and is currently undergoing some renovations. We have found a new home which settles on 24th so then the big move will be on. We can take the hens with us but unfortunately have to find a new home for the roosters.

    • savvydating profile image


      4 years ago

      Poor Busby has been tested to his limits---but he came through after all. The pictures really add something special to this wonderful adventure story. I will keep my fingers crossed that you find the perfect new home---a place where your chickens can roost and be forever happy.

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      4 years ago from Gondwana Land

      So glad you had fun on the trip, Marlene. Busby, my wife and I welcome you along on our future adventures. Thanks for reading.

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 

      4 years ago from USA

      This was a really fun trip for me. I learned a little more about Australia and look forward to joining you on your next adventure. By the way, I like the name Busby.

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      4 years ago from Gondwana Land

      Yes, Mel, we certainly do have some unique bird life and I admit much of the country is quite spectacular. Glad you enjoyed this little look at my part of the world and hope you do get to visit again sometime. Thanks for reading.

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 

      4 years ago from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado

      Your country is beautiful. I would love to get a chance to visit again, especially to see your spectacular bird life. Thanks for this lovely travelogue.

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      4 years ago from Gondwana Land

      So do I, Linda. It is exciting but kinda scary at the same time. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This is certainly an interesting edition of the Cackleberry Farmer Diary! Good luck with all the changes that are happening in your life, John. I hope you, Kathy, and all your animals are very happy once everything is finalized.

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      4 years ago from Gondwana Land

      Thank you, Anita. We are still continuing to renovate the bus further but yes, it is camping in style. Thanks for reading this.

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      4 years ago from Gondwana Land

      Sharing the adventure actually adds to the fun, Chris, and makes me appreciate what we have done. I hope we have done the right thing with all these changes in our life in such a short time, but I think we have. Only time will tell. Thanks for reading.

    • Anita Hasch profile image

      Anita Hasch 

      4 years ago from Port Elizabeth

      Love your bus Jodah. Such fun to go camping in style.

    • cam8510 profile image

      Chris Mills 

      4 years ago from Traverse City, MI

      John, it is such a pleasure to learn about you, your family and your country through articles like this. I hope all your plans go smoothly and this transition is over soon. Thanks for sharing this with us.

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      4 years ago from Gondwana Land

      Yes, MsDora I agree that it is good to be able to read about lifestyles in other places and hubbers experiences. Glad you enjoyed reading about mine. Thank you for the well wishes. May God bless you.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      4 years ago from The Caribbean

      An enjoyable share, Jodah. Articles like this help readers like me enjoy another kind of lifestyle in a another part of the world without leaving home. More enjoyable family life to you all and Happy Valentine's Day in advance!

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      4 years ago from Gondwana Land

      Thanks, Frank. My pleasure t have you tag along on the trip. Good to see comments from you again. Welcome back.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 

      4 years ago from Shelton

      Jodah what a wonderful share loved the tag-along and bringing us with you through your story bless you

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      4 years ago from Gondwana Land

      Thanks for reading Genna. Yes, you are spot on with Paladin and Richard Boone as the lead actor. So glad you enjoyed the journey :) and you can't beat Willie.

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 

      4 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Hi John. Your bucket list was heartening, as was the opportunity you had to make part it a reality. Good for you! Congratulations on the sale of your home and the purchase of your new motor home. "Have Gun Will Travel." This was about Paladin (Richard Boone) -- yes? He was a favorite actor of my father's. I enjoyed reading about your test drive and trip with family, and felt as though I was in the passenger seat. I still can't get used to seeing hot weather during our winters. (Lol.) Such an enjoyable hub, John. Thank you. And I loved the Willie tune. I look forward to reading about your new Cackleberry Farm.

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      4 years ago from Gondwana Land

      Thanks Jo. Glad you enjoyed this. Yes, I will keep you updated on further adventures. cheers.

    • jo miller profile image

      Jo Miller 

      4 years ago from Tennessee

      Hope to hear more of your adventures with the bus. Willie Nelson and road trips. Right up my alley.

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      4 years ago from Gondwana Land

      Thank you, Dana. It was a fun time, and we are determined there will be more of it. Glad you liked the pics, and you should write a hub about your Summer camping trips.

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      4 years ago from Gondwana Land

      Thanks, Theresa. Yes, I guess this must all be God's plan. It is a big move on our part and it is sometimes too easy to stay put and do the same things day after day. We need to be willing to make a change and live life to the fullest. Yes, the bus could be referred to an RV or motorhome as well. I think it was originally a school bus because some of the seats and seatbelts are small. I hope you and your husband also get to realise your dream of more travelling and moving closer to the grands as well.

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      4 years ago from Gondwana Land

      Thanks, Larry. It isn't bad and the renovations are coming along.

    • Dana Tate profile image

      Dana Tate 

      4 years ago from LOS ANGELES

      It seems like you and your family had a great time. It reminds me of the camping trip my family goes on every summer. we have so much fun. I loved the pictures also.

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      4 years ago from Gondwana Land

      Thanks for coming on the ride, Ruby. It looks like we have found another home, but the downsizing, packing and moving scares me. We have unlimited space where we are and won't have where we are going. I guess it's one way of making us get rid of things we don't need.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 

      4 years ago from southern USA

      Wow, great hub, John! Life is exciting as it is always taking us down other paths that we would have never thought. I know you love your farm, but God has other plans for you now. Ironically, my husband and I were thinking along the same lines, as far as life being so short and going ahead and doing those things we love to do and do more traveling. We may move closer to our grands, which they are just down the Interstate a bit anyway. They are growing up too fast. I can retire in two years, so we are thinking ahead ...

      Your "bus" looks like what we call here an "RV" recreational vehicle. Glad you got a good deal!

      Thank you for sharing here and all of your wonderful photographs.

      God bless you and yours and your new adventure in life.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      4 years ago from Oklahoma

      Cool bus!

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      4 years ago from Southern Illinois

      John, I'm glad you took us along on your journey. The bus seems like a perfect way to travel with family and pets. I hope you find the home you want. I can relate to moving, it has not been quite two years since I downsized. Be sure and let us in on your next Cackleberry adventure..

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      4 years ago from Gondwana Land

      Thanks for reading Clive. I have done a little renovating since these pics, removing some seats etc. This weekend we are installing some new cupboards. It will be an oniony process but I will post updated photos when I can.

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      4 years ago from Gondwana Land

      Linda, we have some big adventures planned. This weekend we are putting new cupboards in the bus for extra storage and we are going away for a weekend around Valentine's Day. Unfortunately we haven't worked out the best way to take the kitties with us anywhere yet, but we're working on it.

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      4 years ago from Gondwana Land

      Believe me Bill, it isn't always green where these photos were taken. Some of these were after a period of substantial rain so the grass was lush and green. At other times of the year it is dry and brown. Thanks for reading as always.

    • clivewilliams profile image

      Clive Williams 

      4 years ago from Jamaica

      You have a cool bus. Hope to see pics of it when you renovate it.

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 

      4 years ago from Washington State, USA

      Wow John, what an adventure. My husband would have loved that trip. Me? I'm not much of a camper, but with a "bus" perhaps it's more of a home on wheels. Do you kitties go camping with you?

      It was good to get a Cackleberry update. Thank you for putting this together.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      That area looks an awful lot like Eastern Washington....we live in Western where it rains and it is always green...anyway, John, I always love this series and today was no exception.

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      4 years ago from Gondwana Land

      Hi, Buildreps. We are looking forward to the new adventure. Come what may, it will be an experience. Thanks for the well wishes.

    • Buildreps profile image


      4 years ago from Europe

      Great John. Never be afraid to try something new, even if it doesn’t work out as you expected. The Toyota bus is of a kind we have never seen here in Europe. Wish you a great time.

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      4 years ago from Gondwana Land

      Thank you Mike. I have some reservations that we may be making the wrong move, but you need to take a few risks in life. It was getting harder to look after the 40 acre farm alone. I have never embraced change so this is outside my comfort zone. Fingers crossed it all goes well.

    • mckbirdbks profile image


      4 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Wow, John that is one packed Crackleberry Farmer tale. It is filled with new adventures and life styles. Congratulations on making such bold moves, as I know you loved that farm of yours.


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