Posts Tagged With: free camps

Travel Theme : Freedom

In 2009 we decided a major downsizing was needed to create the freedom to travel. So we had a garage sale.

Getting ready

Getting ready

Lots of stuff...

Lots of stuff…

Ready and waiting...

Ready and waiting…

and the people came...

and the people came…

It is amazing how liberating it is to have a good clean-out. Things that haven’t been used, clothes that are never worn, objects that have been bought on impulse, but not really needed. At the end of the day almost all gone. The few things left went to the op shop.

Not only things were being disposed of we also downsized the space we lived in. Moving from a 3 bedroom house to a one room Granny flat/studio. Keeping a few pieces of furniture the rest was sold/given away.

Now we were ready, we had the FREEDOM to travel.

But we then downsized even further and Matilda came into our lives.

Setting off

Setting off

This small van gave us the freedom to travel around Australia. For a year in 2010 we travelled 37000 kilometres, met many interesting people and saw the incredible diversity of this great land.

Crossing the Nullabor Plains

Crossing the Nullabor Plains

To see more about this iconic part of Australia click here.

Freedom camping at the beach

Freedom camping at the beach

Freedom camping in the outback, cooking over open fires in the camp oven.

Camping alongside rivers

Camping alongside rivers and billabongs in the shade of the mighty gum trees.

Feeling as free as the birds to follow our own path.

Feeling as free as the birds to follow our own path.

Nullabor Eyre HW 012_3072x2304

The open road, the anticipation of what is over the hill. That is the great feeling of FREEDOM…

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Feel free to click here and go to Ailsa’s “Where’s my backpack” for many more glimpses into the freedom bloggers have found.

 

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Categories: Australia, camping, freedom, freedom camping, outback, photos, travel theme | Tags: , , , , , , | 50 Comments

Weekly Photo Challenge : One : A Tribute to Matilda

Matilda

Matilda has been our transport, accommodation and trusty companion  for 4 years as we travelled 70.000 kilometres around Australia. Slowly trundling up and over mountain ranges, across the outback and along the coast, coming to rest each night in iconic Aussie places. The beach with the sound of waves peeling  on the shore to lull us to sleep. Alongside mighty rivers or dry river beds. In the outback the Mitchell grass plains stretching to the horizon and at night the sky a blanket of twinkling stars. The bush and rainforest each with their distinctive smell and sounds as the birds serenade us and unseen creatures scuttle in the undergrowth.

Freedom camping right on the edge of the beach

Freedom camping right on the edge of the beach

Camping in the outback

Camping in the outback

Near the beach in the rainforest

Near the beach in the rainforest

In a field of dreams

In a field of dreams

Crossing borders

Crossing borders

Every place different and a joy to experience.

There are memories of campgrounds. Sharing a glass of wine, swapping stories and briefly befriending a stranger during happy hour, that unique time on the road to relax and meet many other travellers.

Cooking over a camp fire, learning the art of camp oven cooking and sharing a meal with new friends.

Matilda has given us the freedom of having no set timetable, no rigid plans. Being able to stop at the many freedom camping spots or parking in a back yard to couch surf in the city.

It has been a marvellous 4 years that has flown by so quickly. With thousands of photos, the memories will never fade.

Possibly the most memorable event when camping in a National Park and a cassowary came visiting, and I had my camera at the ready…

Waking to a misty morning in a freedom camp all on our own.

Waking to a misty morning in a freedom camp all on our own.

 

But now our life style is changing, we are ready for a new adventure.

We have already trialled the world of house sitting and loved the experience, it is another way of travelling. Staying in new places, meeting new people and their pets, this will keep my gypsy soul happy. Exploring an area in-depth and getting to know it like a local and sleeping in the same bed each night. No more rolling up our bed and moving on each day.

So now it is “Goodbye Matilda”, You have been number one in our life for 4 years creating so many wonderful travelling memories. I hope her new owners appreciate her as we did.

Goodbye Matilda I am going to miss you.

Goodbye Matilda I am going to miss you.

Just one of the many sunsets we saw

Just one of the many sunsets we saw

 

 

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The WP Photo Challenge this week is ONE. Matilda has been number one in our lives for 4 years. No other way could we travel on a pensioners budget and see so much of Australia. We could stay in free camping areas, cook our own meals and travel slowly savouring all the beauty that is Australia.

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A big thank you to all my regular followers and also those that drop by occasionally, I love all the likes and comments you leave and the WordPress community I am part of. I’m looking forward to 2014 and the adventures it will bring and keeping in touch with you all through the world of WP blogging.

Categories: Australia, australian travel, campervan, camping, camping australia, freedom camping, one, photos, post-a-week, travel, Weekly photo challenge | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 60 Comments

Weekly Photo Challenge : Reflections 2 (Mary River) Last day on the road…

When I woke next morning and stepped outside I gasped with pure pleasure. The Mary River gleamed crystal clear and the reflections were stunning.

What a perfect opportunity to capture some shots for this weeks photo challenge…

Crystal clear images

Crystal clear images

Mist skimmed over the top of the water giving an ethereal, wispy, mystical atmosphere. What a memorable final morning for this road trip.

The rising sun just catching the trunks

The rising sun just catching the trunks

The mist rising from the river as the sun slowly rises

The mist rising from the river as the sun slowly rises

It was a magic start to the day. I sat and watched the mist slowly rise and disappear as the sun rose. A promise (or a threat) of a warm/hot day.

I turned to go back to Matilda to pack up ready for the final leg and what a magic site she presented as she waited for me. Early morning photography is the best time of day to capture the light….

The beautiful elongated shadows of sunrise

The beautiful elongated shadows of sunrise

Matilda waiting in the mist

Matilda waiting in the mist

These photos were taken with the weekly photo challenge in mind, it was a coincidence that this week it was “reflections”

So packed up and ready to roll I now had to make a decision, which way would I go. Inland via the beautiful Sunshine hinterland, an artists mecca, an interesting journey through small villages full of boutiques, craft shops, cafes and restaurants.  Into the hills and a landscape of bush and rivers. Or via the coast road that winds past the golden beaches and brilliant blue ocean of the Sunshine coast.

Difficult decision….

I will continue the journey tomorrow….

Categories: Australia, australian travel, camping, freedom camping, reflections, travel, Weekly photo challenge | Tags: , , , , , , | 26 Comments

Blue skies smiling on me….

Road from Bundaberg

Road from Bundaberg

Another dream fulfilled so time to move on, but first I had one very important meeting.

My newest beautiful grandchild

My newest beautiful grandchild

My path was going to cross with son Jason and wife Vanessa and their family. They would be in Bundaberg today as Jason had organised a school camp in this area. Three weeks ago baby Aimee, their 5th child arrived and now I would get to see her and give her a big cuddle.

It was only a very brief but satisfying meeting. Now Matilda is home we will be together for Christmas.

Aimee is only a few hours old in this photo and they sent it to us via the e-mail.

The road from Bundaberg to the Bruce Highway passes through acres of sugar cane crops. What an amazing sky, it dominated the landscape and I had to stop and take a photo, actually I took lots of photos and I even used the tripod.

I turned onto the Bruce Highway and back into the never-ending road works. So turn up the music and crawl along with the windows down and enjoying the sight of that sky as I waited and waited at each stop sign…

2-30 came around and it was definitely coffee time but with the continual dusty road works finding a decent place to stop was becoming a real mission. Finally, an hour later I spotted a sign pointing down a side road, “Mary River, Tiaro Park”. Only one kilometre and I came to the perfect place for a coffee stop, shade trees, river views tables, even a BBQ if I’d needed it and toilets. Time to relax.

In fact I decided that I couldn’t go past this place, so I set up Matilda for the night. Only one other family camping a little further over, so peaceful. I love finding these free, out-of-the-way camping spots, they are dotted all over Australia but you need to search for the better ones. Many are on the side of the Highway and are noisy and dusty.

As the sun went down the camera came out again.

Mary River

Mary River

 

The setting sun slanted onto the river giving the trees a 3D effect and made the water sparkle like diamonds.

The sun highlights the trunks and creates beautiful reflections

The sun highlights the trunks and creates beautiful reflections

 

The proverbial silver lining

The proverbial silver lining

What a beautiful peaceful place. The sunset was a gentle dipping of the sun below the horizon, no great spectacular splash of colour, but that silver lining was very special.

Mary riversunset

Mary river sunset

 

A final glorious burst of sun rays then the full moon took over. It was a poetic evening, an owl hooting in the distance, the frogs croaking and a chorus of raucous laughter from a family of kookaburras the only noise disturbing the peace.

A memorable last night on the road. Tomorrow I will be home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Australia, australian travel, camping, freedom camping, photos, travel | Tags: , , , | 9 Comments

Freedom camping on the river this time….

Matilda parked right on the banks of the river

The view from my front door…

How good does it get…

After 340 kilometre of steady driving and not being so lucky with the road works as I had a number of waits at one lane sections. I pulled into this idyllic free camping area. Being Saturday it already had family groups set up for the weekend, but still plenty of places left, camping is allowed on both sides of the river.

The “beware of crocodiles” sign did not put any one off, dogs and children were swimming, people out in their “tinnies” fishing others trying their luck from the bank. A group of youngsters enjoying the thrills of a jet ski, putting up sprays of water as they turned and weaved around. I sat relaxed with my coffee watching all the action.

Good shot

Wonder if he has caught anything yet…

Jet ski hi-jinx

Plenty of entertainment. The neighbour wandered over to warn me about the midges and mosquitos, she had been badly bitten. I thanked her and lathered myself in repellent.

I had the shade of a tree and cool breezes from the river. I slept well….

Look what I woke up to this morning….

Sunrise

Sunrise

It is now 8-30am, time to pack up and hit the road. Today I head for Bundaberg and I am planning to take the back road. Even though it is Sunday I think it will still be slow through the road works on the Bruce Highway…

So see you later I will see what today brings….

Categories: Australia, Calliope River, freedom camping, travel | Tags: , , , | 17 Comments

The People I Meet

For me one of the highlights of travel are the people I meet, over a glass of wine or cup of coffee, or just in the car parks or rest areas. They share their stories, pass on interesting places they have seen , comment about camp sites good and bad they have stayed at. This is the grapevine of the road. I love it.

After picking up Matilda the first 3 nights I stayed at “freebies”. Great for when you travel on a budget.I find the people who use these camp areas tend to be friendly and approachable, down to earth types, “battlers” is the term used in Australia.

They are living a dream, some have sold everything they possessed to buy a caravan or Winnebago RV vehicle and are constantly on the move, others just rent the family home. Some are retired, others are following work around the country. All are modern-day gypsies and have interesting stories to tell.

First night back on the road I stayed at Blue Water rest area (we stayed here before, click here if you want to check it out) Here I met Tony and his new English partner Babs. They had met in the Congo, Africa where they had both been on a mining contract. When it finished they decided to come to Australia and work in the mining industry here. They are both highly qualified, Babs is a geologist and Tony a mineral scientist and trainer. I was amazed when they told me they couldn’t find a job here after sending countless CV’s. They are now, reluctantly, taking up an offer from Malaysia. Many overseas countries will, gladly, employ them.

Now that is a worry, Australia is so dependant on the mining sector, even a slight downturn will affect the economy. They told me mining appears to be slowly going into decline. As workers leave they are not being replaced, the industry seems to be in limbo waiting for the election to see who will be the next government.

In the meantime Tony, who is an Australian, is proudly showing Babs his country before they leave for the gold mines of Malaysia in the new year. They say they will, hopefully, be back in 2 years when the Malaysian contract ends.

Next night I stayed at Toomulla Beach, the free rest area is right on the beach front, lovely sea breezes to cool us both down after the trip up to Paluma.

As I settled in, Paul, in the next caravan, came over “You on your own?” he asked “bring your seat over and meet Sue”. So with glass of wine in hand I joined them.

Newly retired they had rented their house in Mackay and with no set itinerary,they planned to wander around and see the country. They had a horror story about their first lot of tenants. 3 guys who did a runner and left the house in a terrible mess. They went back, cleaned it up using the bond money, now they hope the second tenants are better behaved.

They had a similar story, from a different perspective, of the mining industry. Mackay is a mining town but workers are moving on as jobs in the industry dwindle, therefore Paul thinks next year they may have to drop the rent as consequently the tenant numbers are dropping.

On the other side of me 3 free spirits were sleeping in swags under a tarpaulin thrown over a rope stretched between 2 trees. With tattoos, dreadlocks and hippie clothes Nat, Shannon and Josh had been to Cairns to witness the “awesome” (their description) solar eclipse. They busked their way around and had a great juggling and fire stick routine. I watched them as they practiced their art. Josh was teaching Nat who had only just started, but already was good at it..

“What next?” I asked. All 3 had various plans for travel over seas. I gathered they were just friends travelling together.

Josh, Nat, Shannon

Next stop was Home Hill. This is the town were I had that HUGE “Taste of the ocean” meal.

Home Hill really caters for the traveller. In the centre of town they have provided a comfort stop, not only toilets but spacious shower rooms with hot and cold water. After the cold outside shower, behind the toilet block at Blue Water and no shower at Toomulla, there I just had a lick and promise in a bucket inside Matilda. This shower had controllable pressure from gentle to invigorating needles. After a hot day on the road when the temperatures reached into the 30’s and the humidity is rising, it was shower heaven. They have also provided a stainless steel camp kitchen with BBQ plates and a sink for dish washing. they have thought of everything, there are even power outlets for all of todays electronic gadgetry. All these amenities and it is a free rest area. Oh I didn’t tell you the parking for the vehicles is along the back street with the Bruce Highway on one side and the train tracks on the other!!! But hey, it is free…

After my big meal at the pub I joined 4 male back packers clustered around the power point, all of us sharing the outlet with our computers. The 2 german guys watching movies, the dutch guy surfing the net and the Maltese fellow came across with a huge plate of sausages, about 20 of them, he had just BBQed and he devoured the lot with bread and smothered in tomatoe sauce, then checked his e-mails, as for me I did a post on my blog. We all sat in companionable silence.

Home Hill comfort stop

Spotlessly clean camp kitchen

This is the power point corner

Roomy shower cubicle, better than you get in some paid caravan parks

 

The temperatures soared on Thursday so I decided to go into a caravan park and onto a powered site so I could use the mini fan to cool the van down.

O’Connell River tourist park is a favourite we have stayed at several times. At $20 for a powered site it is good value and this time I found he also provides free WiFi. So under a tree in a shady spot, right on the river bank with a comforting breeze cooling me down I made the most of the free WiFi.

My new neighbour, Chris came over to say hello and we had a chat. They have a comfortable van and awning that is home and they travel around following work. At the moment her husband is working on the road works in this area. She said the works are extensive all over Queensland at the moment. I guess this is the ongoing clean up after all the natural disasters of 2010/2011. A number of travellers, that have been through them, have warned me about them. Oh well will just have to wait and see. I had considered going on the inland road, but at this time of the year it is hotter inland so I will take my chances with the coast road…

So this is just a small sample of the cross-section of interesting people I meet on the road. Every ones story is different but all are interesting. I find I am never lonely, even when travelling alone….

Categories: camping, freedom camping, travel | Tags: , , | 10 Comments

Bushfires, Breakdowns and the Beach all in one day on the road…

On Monday morning as we drove away from Bluewater we knew the bushfires were still raging in the hinterland. A pall of smoke was draped over the Paluma Range and we could smell and taste it. So it was over to plan B, drive in a northerly direction till we cleared the smoke, hopefully, call in to see Paluma on the way back.

First things first we had to pick up bread, milk and a few other groceries, so first stop was Ingham, 40 kilometres north. The smoke had cleared by the time we arrived there. We always look for the information centres to collect maps and advice about the area and just south of the centre of Ingham was Tyto a new state of the art information centre.

The TYTO Wetlands is one of Australia’s largest urban wetland rehabilitation projects and residents of Hinchinbrook Shire are fortunate enough to have it situated right at their doorstep…(click on this link for more information)

Tyto wetlands

Water lily in the Tyto lagoon

We spent a pleasant hour wandering along the tracks around the lagoons. The water lilies were in full bloom and it is a very photogenic area.

The morning had gone and lunch time had crept up on us, so we stopped for coffee and eggs Benedict at a local café. While waiting I read the morning paper, the Townsville Bulletin. Look what was the front page story….

Front page news

It was very close to our camp ground…

We studied the maps we had picked up from the info centre and decided to drive up to Wallaman Falls, approx 50 kilometres west into the ranges. I checked it out in Google…”The Wallaman Falls are notable for their single-drop of 268 metres, which is Australia’s highest permanent waterfall. The pool at the end of the waterfall is 20 metres deep.”   

The road to the falls is narrow, winding and steep, it will be a good trial run for the new gear box. With our inner person refueled with food and coffee, groceries on board and petrol topped up we head west. Matilda is purring along. 20 kilometres and the road starts to climb. I comment that Matilda is handling it well, I have not had to change gear yet.

Then the road narrows, the turns get sharper, the road is steeper and as we drop below 30km I change down a gear. That is when it all goes “pear-shaped” Matilda grunts, I change to the lowest gear and she stops, the motor is still running but the gears won’t work….

What a predicament, sharp, blind bends both in front and behind, very narrow road. I decide to roll back and try to do a 3 point turn to face down hill. I find that reverse gear works, “phew” . Now we are stopped side-ways on, blocking the road. I pray that no vehicles will come, at speed, around the bend. Jack gets behind to push and I put her into neutral. Slowly we start to move, then the momentum takes over and I coast onto a very narrow verge off the road. The engine is hot and so are we. Time for a coffee…

Surprisingly the mobile phone worked and I ring Robin of Town Automatics to let him know what has happened. He says to try it back in drive and see how we go. It worked, what a relief we are moving again. So it is back to Townsville. Fortunately it is flat all the way and once again we are purring along.

It is 3-30pm and we decide to stay at Bluewater again and make an early start for Townsville Tuesday. We are only 5 kilometres from Bluewater and as we come around a bend this is what we see….

Bushfire near Bluewater

We joined onto the end of a long tail-back, approx 50+ vehicles. The bush fire had jumped the containment breaks during the day and was now right along the side of the road. People were out of their vehicles gathered in groups talking. It would be approx another 2-3 hours before they would allow any one through. 8 kilometres back along the road I had noticed a sign to Toomulla Beach. I checked it out in our Camps Australia book, our bible. Yes, it had a FREE camp site, “you beauty”, so we did a u-turn and headed back north.

Fifteen minutes later we rolled into Toomulla Beach, a charming little beach-side community of about 50-60 houses. The camp ground was almost deserted, only another 3 vehicles there. After choosing a spot we grabbed the cameras and went to explore. A short track passed through a variety of shrubs and then we were on the beach.

Toomulla camp ground

Track to the beach

Smoke from the bush fires in the distance

Oyster catchers strolling along the beach

Footsteps in the sand

End of an interesting day…

After downloading our photos and having dinner, and I have a glass of wine we were lulled to sleep by the soothing sound of the waves.

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Next morning, Tuesday, we arrived at Town Automatics by 9am. The good news is it is only an adjustment, but the bad news is it will need another part to be sent from Brisbane. It will be a 3 day wait. A phone call to the helpful people at RACQ and they have put us in the Ibis Hotel along Palmer Street , the recently renovated dining street of Townsville. The insurance will cover the first $110 per night and as it is $129 we pay the balance of $19.

Ibis Hotel, built 2008, Very up-market to our usual accomadation…

Palmer Street dining precinct in front of Ibis Hotel

It is now Wednesday the part has arrived. We have one more night staying here at the Ibis, then, maybe, we will drive up to Paluma…

Oh and this is what I read in the paper yesterday…

 

It has been a very drama filled few days. Travelling is never boring…

Categories: Australia, australian travel, freedom camping, photos, Townsville, travel | Tags: , , , | 12 Comments

Sunday special

Early Sunday morning reflections

Early morning on Sunday is a beautiful time to walk along the creek. It is so peaceful, the water is still and the variety of bird calls filter through the bush. The magic hour for photography.

This is to be our last day here. Tomorrow we will drag ourselves away, but we will certainly be back to this camp.

As we eat our muesli and fruit breakfast Lizzie gets out her keyboard and, inspired by last nights concert, she entertains the camp. She is very talented and plays by ear.

Sunday morning music with Lizzie

Always chores to be done…

After catching up with the washing and a tidy of the van we can now relax and enjoy this beautiful camp.

Unbeknown to us, as we relaxed, an inferno was building. A controlled burn had leapt out of control. In the hills behind the camp ground the smoke was billowing. This is going to directly affect us tomorrow, but for now it is “carpe diem”….

 

Categories: Australia, australian travel, freedom camping, photos, travel | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

So much has happened in the past couple of days, but first, back to Friday…

This is a small community and like many small places they make their own entertainment. Every Friday they have a community country and western blackboard concert. Now I didn’t know what that meant either until Lizzie told me it was an open invitation for anyone to get up and sing. If they wanted to take part they put their name down on the board and then would be given time to sing 2 songs. I was amazed at the number clustered around the board putting up their names.

Before the concert started drinks and food was available. Beer was $3 a bottle, wine was $1-50 a glass, wow what value, but more was to come. A choice of  hamburgers, steak, mince or bacon and egg and carton of chips at $6. I had the bacon and egg and it was delicious…

Yummy…

We went over with Lizzie and Jamie. Those bacon and egg burgers were every bit as delicious as they looked.

The concert started with a guest singer from Cardwell, another town further north. He sounded just like the late, great Slim Dusty and he sang 3 of Slim’s classic songs. He was good and we sang along with him. By now we were well lubricated with the wine and beer…

It was a mixed age group in the audience, mainly family groups, the young children played around with each other and danced along with the parents and grand parents. It was a lovely community atmosphere. I estimate that over 150 people turned up and about 20 people had put their names down to sing. Sing they did with gusto, they were triers. Many of the songs were popular and well-known and we all joined in, also with gusto…

Part of the audience

This little fellow was fascinated by Jack’s beard.

This little boy stood staring at Jack for quite a long time, then as he walked by our table he reached up and gave Jack’s beard a little tug. The look on his face, when he realized it was a real beard, was priceless. I think he thought he had found Santa Claus in mufti…

The music inspired Jack and Lizzie to get up and dance. It was quite a floor show and the locals gave them a round of applause as they sat down…

Go shake your “booty”, don’t you just love the footwear…

We wandered back to the camp about 9-30. It was just at the other side of the sports field. As we lay in bed we could listen to the final singers. It was a pleasant way to fall asleep with the happy sound of the concert in the distance….

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Next morning, Saturday, A small farmers market had set up across the road from the rest area. The fruit and veggies were farm fresh and also a better price than the super market produce. Watson, the veggie stall holder, was a real Aussie character giving lots of back chat to every one. When Jack asked if he could take his photo he said,

“oh I suppose that will be ok” in a laconic voice.

 After Jack had taken the photo he said,

“you really need to take my best side”, and with that he whipped around and did a “down trou”…

Jack got the photo, but I have censored it…

Farmers Market

 Next to his stall was a cake stall with all home-baked cakes, biscuits, sauces, relishes and preserves. Could not resist buying a date loaf and some coconut biscuits, not often we get the chance for home-baked goodies when we are on the road. Robin had baked them all and she was an attractive, dark-haired Sicilian lady. Jack loves taking photos of people and he really caught Robin’s character.

Robin the cake lady

Jamie came over with Stanley, his new, young dog on a lead and just as he crossed the road Stanley slipped his lead and took off chasing the cars. Every one turned round to look and gasped in horror, this is the Bruce Highway, Australia’s number one highway and very busy. Stanley ran down the road with Jamie and another woman chasing him. Cars and trucks braked to a halt on both sides of the road, it was lucky there was not an accident, eventually Stanley was caught and the lead tied tighter around his neck.

After all the drama we went back to have our breakfast with the delicious fresh fruit we had just bought…

Categories: Australia, australian travel, farmers markets, freedom camping, photos, travel | Tags: , , | 10 Comments

Change of plans….

It is Monday morning and over the weekend there has been an uncontrollable bush fire up in the Paluma region, people have been evacuated and looking north we can see the thick smoke. I had planned to go into the Paluma National Park today…

Not sure where we will be tonight so off we go north into the unknown….

Beautiful sunset

Goodbye Blue Waters it has been a great stay.

Categories: Australia, freedom camping | Tags: , | 19 Comments

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