Brian, Gai & Kaye @ Toogoom QLD

Having run away as a young teenager to join the famous Ashton's Circus, Gai Weaber-Buchal has had a pretty interesting life with an even more interesting life in her 'semi-retirement' travelling around Australia solo with just her two dogs, Peppa and Suki.

But we reckon you might be surprised at some of Gai's family background which she reveals in this second chat we had with her as she re-visited us in Hervey Bay QLD on her way back south.

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Listen to the Podcast below or if you Prefer to read? Full Transcript here


 ORIGINAL STORY: - From Rebel Runaway To Circus Star <- here

TRANSCRIPT:

KAYE:
We're having a chat with an amazing lady who we last met in the Hervey Bay Fraser Coast caravan park. She told us about running away to the circus when she was just a teenager and developing this whole new lifestyle.

So we persuaded her that that when she came back to Hervey Bay, we should catch up!...
And here we are - Hi, Gai. (Hi)

BRIAN:
And you're still running away?

GAI:
I'm still running away!

BRIAN:
So what have you been up to lately?

GAI:
Well, I went home, which is on the Central Coast and then I went across to Broken Hill, then across to Port Augusta, up through the centre, right up to Darwin, and then I've come back and across the Barkly Highway over to the coast to meet up with you again.

BRIAN:
Nice little ride eh?... It only took you a couple of days.

GAI:
Yes, about eight weeks!

BRIAN:
But you caught up with Infamous? (circus).

GAI:
Yes.. I did. I stayed with them in Darwin.

BRIAN:
How was that? (Great!) Tell us about it.

GAI:
Well, they were busy putting things up, so I thought I should go and help. But this little old lady put a foot out the door, looked at the hard work and felt how hot it was, and I thought, this time, age is a good excuse. So I didn't!.... But it was good to be there with them and go out to dinner with them.

BRIAN:
That's good. Now you're travelling with your two little doggies. What's their names again?

GAI:
Peppa and Suki.

Peppa & Suki - Photo: Gai Weaber-BuchalBRIAN:
OK, so what's it really like travelling… I guess at your age, (we're not going to say how old you are or young you are!!), but what's it like travelling at your age by yourself in Motorhome?

GAI:
Yes. It's okay. Sometimes it can be lonely.

BRIAN:
Don’t sound so excited!!!

GAI:
I like the freedom and I like roaming around. And then I think, no, I'll stop for a few days and then I get itchy feet and think, no, off we go again. But it can be lonely. I like the caravan parks where they have their happy hour, so you can go over and meet people and have a chat.

KAYE:
Now, part of your journey was to go and visit some grave sites. Whose grave sites were those?

GAI:
My grandfather's buried in Tenant Creek. He discovered gold in Tenant Creek and he died obviously there. So anytime I've been in the area, I always go and tidy it up and leave him flowers.

And then his wife, my grandmother, is buried at Mount Morgan and she's actually in with her daughter who was killed in an aeroplane accident in about 1937 I think it was.

KAYE:
So your grandfather, I believe, might have had an interesting life. Tell us a bit about that.

GAI:
Yes… he did. I think maybe that's where I get my wandering lust from. About age 15 he left home.
His first job was swimming all the mail across the rivers, as in the Diamantina River.
He was on one of the first cattle drives over, taking cattle from Brisbane over to the Kimberley.
He helped open that up. He worked on a cattle station there for a while and then he ended up buying his own. He had an accident of spear in his eye.

KAYE:
As you do!... How did that happen?

GAI:
I don't know. That was just one eye. And then of course, there was a horse accident in a bad storm and of course he lost the other eye, so he ended up quite blind and apparently in a lot of pain.

They spent a lot of time then going backwards and forwards to Perth by boat, but no one could help him, so in the end, they sold up. He had half a million acres right up there in the Kimberley, so they left there and travelled by horse and buggy. And I think there was a car that his young son drove.
I think his son was about 13 at the time! As you do!
KAYE: (laughing)
Yep…  Don’t worry about a licence!

GAI:
No No. Well, you didn't then. So they just followed all the cattle trails and the Murrin Drive track through Newcastle waters and then down to Tenant Creek. And while they're camping over there, the young son, Owen actually discovered gold.

KAYE:
Wow!! So YIPPEE!!

GAI:
Yep.. so they stayed and pegged out four claims, and it was one of the richest mines going at the time.

BRIAN:
So that's why you're wealthy today, is it?

GAI: (laughing!)
I don't think so.

KAYE:
I don't think that sounds very definite eh?

GAI:
No no… I think mum and dad had a lot to do with that – but you know it was their money. Dad inherited it after the war and everything, because there were some pretty tragic events in that life and they were there.

And then, of course, through the war, the government took a lot of machinery away from people.
There were tough times, even in Australia, everybody so they took a lot of machinery away.

My nana then ended up selling to Australian development, but that wasn't until through the late 1940’s and they had a lot of gold still coming out of the mine.

KAYE:
Pretty exciting times. I mean, makes it seem almost pretty dull, running away to join the circus.

BRIAN:
Yeah, exactly!... Now you're heading down south to go back to – in inverted commas “home” to see family and grandkids and all the rest of it, but today you were very keen on seeing the whales, the whale watching. We eventually managed to get out there and do it and it was great, your impression?

GAI:
Yeah, I loved it. I really did. And it was a perfect day. I mean, it was a bit cool to start with.


BRIAN:
It was cold, but we got some video of you singing along to a lot of the songs that had a good playlist.

GAI:
It was very good. I felt sorry for the guy next to me, never mind…

BRIAN:
What because you kept tapping your feet?

GAI:
I know. I couldn't sit still, but it was good music, and the day was really good, but the whales were a bit sleepy to start with. We eventually got to see them, and it was worth it.

KAYE:
The whales, what did you think of them in comparison to perhaps some other large animals you've seen like a horse or an elephant?

GAI:
Whales are beautiful. They're majestic, they're just lovely, very smart. But then with elephants I love elephants.

BRIAN:
You spent a bit of time with them.

GAI:
Yes.

KAYE:
I think we might have a photo of you actually sitting on an elephant as well. So how did that come about?

GAI:
Yes. Well, when I was with the circus, it was something else I accomplished… or was told to do.
Probably told to do, yeah!! You know… we need someone on the elephant. Okay, I'll be there!!

Gai rides an Elephant!KAYE:
How did you get along with the elephants?

GAI:
I love them. I got along really well. The secret is you always have treats in your pocket.

BRIAN:
It’s the same as dogs, actually!!

GAI:
Yes. My husband was absolutely petrified of them, but I'd walk in amongst them.
The trunks would go in my pocket looking for their little treats, so I wasn't nervous of them.

KAYE:
They know …  animals know who likes them.

GAI:
Yes.

BRIAN:
So after landing back at home, back at the ranch, you'll do a few things for a while… any plans after that? Travel plans?

GAI:
 I think I'm doing a lot of babysitting. My daughter's doing her travelling next year.
I've got the old dog, but hopefully I will be doing shorter trips, I think. A couple of weeks here, a couple of weeks there.

I wouldn't mind going into South Australia and doing a lot of exploring.

BRIAN:
Yea… We wouldn't mind seeing South Australia.

KAYE:
And for those that are toying between a caravan or a motorhome, you've had both.
What are the pros and cons of each?

GAI:
I would have kept the van we had, but for a woman on her own, I thought the motor home was a safer option. Yes, it can be difficult when you park somewhere and you want to go and see something. So you either hire a car or book on tours that pick you up or you stay organised.

I shop before I go and park somewhere or I do all my shopping and sightseeing before I leave.
It's just being organised. Car and caravan, two lots of insurances, two lots of registrations.
There's a lot of hooking and unhooking and that was fine, I could do all that.

But as you get older, I thought, well, maybe not.

Gai & her motorhomeBRIAN:
I think the safety aspect is probably the big one. The people we've spoken to that travel solo, females travelling solo, they all talk about the safety aspect. So that's really good.

KAYE:
Have you ever had an occasion where you thought, ‘I don't feel comfortable here, I'm off’?.

GAI:
Only one spot was a free camp. I pulled in and there wasn't a soul there. And I was a little bit… you know… I thought, no, I'm not staying here, and I just moved on to the next one. But I've never ever had a problem. I've never felt uncomfortable anywhere. In most places like this last trip, I've done a lot of free camps and everyone comes over and ‘Oh hello!!’ and you sort of end up having your own happy hour amongst everybody.

KAYE:
I love it! – 24hr Happy Hours!

GAI: (laughing)
YES!!!

KAYE:
Well Gai I hope we catch up with you again and hopefully it won’t be as long between catchups!!
So, happy travels!!

GAI:
Yes… Well thankyou very much!

BRIAN:
Ok must be time for a drink eh??? (YES!!)

KAYE:
Well the dogs have calmed down….

GAI:
Yea.. .they’re happy now!  😊

© 2022 Kaye Browne, Brian Pickering & Gai Weaber-Buchal

 

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