Sunday, April 17, 2011

Into Queensland where evidence of flooding is still apparent

Prior to leaving Lightning Ridge, we stopped off at the Saturday morning Royal Flying Doctor market. Naturally, opals of all shapes, sizes and colours were on sale, most of which were mined by the stallholders.

The glitter and unique shape and setting of a boulder opal pendant, with a kangaroo hide 'chain', caught my attention, and since it didn't come with a high price tag, I bought it and I'm wearing it now.

At Hebel -- a tiny town just over the border and in sunny Queensland -- a roadside notice says: Rabbit Keeping Penalty $30,000

We stopped for coffee and chatted to our hosts Barb and Ralph. With a general store, tourist accommodation, meals and the Hebel Post Office, this enterprising and hard-working couple are open every day of the year between 6:30 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. -- and always greet customers with grace and friendly service.

On the road again. Tufts of cotton, caught up in the roadside vegetation, suggest that the cotton harvest is in full swing. Apparently it's the best crop for years. There is also evidence of road damage due to the recent floods.

At Dirranbandi we saw the levee bank built around the town to protect it from flooding by the Balonne River. While we ate lunch, Major and Del swam and frolicked in the swollen river, retrieving sticks. The balmy 25° C temperature meant that the dog's coats were close to dry by the time we left and surprisingly shiny and clean considering the muddy water that makes up the Balonne River.

St George for tonight; the town where we nearly bought land until we saw all the crop duster planes lined up at the airport.

For me, the highlight of the day was watching our two shepherds swim and play in the large muddy Balonne River. There was spontaneous joy and delight in cooling off in the water. Sometimes I think that being one of our dogs would be better than being a human!

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