Monday, October 31, 2011

Katie's reprieve: Mitchell outback Qld

It was with some trepidation that Doug and I took Katie to our vet yesterday. Dr Will -- a Roma-based vet -- visits Mitchell every Monday and Thursday afternoons and offers an excellent service.

After a thorough examination, Will assured us that Katie does not have any sign of a tumour but instead has arthritis in her spine and hindquarters, and also a compressed nerve in her spine that's putting pressure on her left back leg.

But with medication, he assured us, 15 year old Katie will become more mobile and have much less discomfort. Throughout the examination, Katie was her usual relaxed and friendly self. She has to be the sweetest most affectionate animal friend we've ever had, and we've been privileged to have had many wonderful animal friends.

Dr Will has prescribed a daily dose of anti-inflammatory medicine, along with a weekly injection of cartrophen, which Doug can give Katie.

Twelve hours later and Katie is walking around quite freely and looking bright and happy. We are incredibly relieved!

Thanks to all my friends for your concern and good wishes.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

A surprise bloom : Mitchell outback Qld

I had no idea that such an exotic lily-like bloom could erupt from an area of dry shrubbery in our garden.

Described as "delicious to draw, especially when they are just unfurling", hippeastrums have striking veins in each petal, emphasising the contours of the flower and the shadowy hearts within.

For several hours yesterday I used water colour pencils to draw the flower heads. So immersed was I in the flower and its form, the experience was like a meditation. With dappled light shimmering on the surface of each exotic petal, this flower has strong sculptural presence.

This is the fifth year we have lived in Mitchell but it is the first time this tropical bulb has bloomed (we didn't plant the bulb). The combination of warmth and moisture throughout 2011 must have been perfect for hippeastrums in Mitchell.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Family fun on the Maranoa River: Mitchell outback Qld

Mitchell's Maranoa River is a magnet for all those who love fishing, photography, walking, painting, picnics and barbecues -- and yabbying.

This river -- the fastest flowing river in Queensland -- loops its way around the town of Mitchell. Consequently, the river is within easy walking distance of most people's homes. Kids often use their bikes to ride to the river, armed with fishing rods and tackle.

As far as I'm concerned, living alongside the Maranoa River is exactly where I want to be. I love watching the river in all its moods, I love the river red gums and the complex ecosystem in and around these magnificent trees.

The colours sing inside my head: blue sky overhead, with white trunked gums dropping their reflections onto the mirror surface of the river.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Katie's new travelling crate: Mitchell outback Qld

This year we've decided to stay in cabins on our journey south to Phillip Island, rather than tow our caravan.. For this reason, Katie Siamese needed a new travelling crate, as previously she travelled on a sheepskin rug on our bed in the caravan.

Thinking she may need a few months to learn to accept and like the new arrangement, we bought a crate earlier rather than later. But from day one she loved it. Admittedly I made it comfortable, added a sheepskin, and then placed it on a trolley in one of her favourite places. Nevertheless I was surprised at how well she accepted it.

Part of the reason could be that it gives her a bit more privacy and is like a cubby house away from the slurping kisses of our two German shepherds.

We chose the size and shape of the crate so it'll slide easily into the back of the Ute where the dogs travel. The space is insulated, has an air conditioner vent, and is also well ventilated so that whenever we stop, Katie and the dog's will not overheat.

A couple of days ago Katie began losing the ability to jump and had a fall that hurt her hind leg. Consequently, she is hobbling around and feeling than her usual happy self. We're hoping that her leg problem is not caused by something more complex, internally.

She's in need of a lot of TLC which she is receiving in full. At 15 years of age, Katie is a treasure and life without her is unthinkable.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Vicki and Bruce's Garden Day: Mitchell outback Qld

Vicki and Bruce Jones were the hosts of yesterday's garden day -- an event held on the last Thursday of every month. Vicki and Bruce's cattle property is located about half an hour's drive south-west of Mitchell.

It was only five years ago that Vicki and Bruce created their garden, yet since that time they've suffered the effects of drought and a dust storm In addition, their entire garden was flooded when a nearby creek overflowed. Fortunately their home is elevated.

Green lawns, roses, hippeastrums, iris, petunias, geraniums and many other flowering plants and shrubs make up the garden, and most are in full bloom. Consequently, the garden is filled with colour and interest.

The day was hot (over 3o°C) so the shade beneath the house made a perfect place for morning tea and conversation.

Thank you Vicky and Bruce for your warm hospitality, and also for sharing your beautiful garden with us.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Bonus Downs Centenary: Angel Flight

All proceeds from the Bonus Downs Centenary Celebrations were donated to Angel Flight.

Angel Flight is a charity that offers air transport to patients and their carers attending medical appointments and hospital treatments. The Royal Flying Doctor Service transports critically ill patients, whereas Angel Flight concentrates its efforts on people who have chronic illness and live in remote Australia.

Private pilots generously donate their aircraft and time to offer this service.

A striking quilt was created by experienced quilters with the aim of raising money for Angel Flight. Helen, who's photographed beside the quilt, was one of the main creators. The quilt reflects the colours of the outback covered by Angel Flight and the changing seasonal shades of Bonus Downs. The quilt measures 145 cm by 145 cm. Tickets were sold throughout the weekend with the lucky winner the recipient of the magnificent quilt.

Angel Flight received a generous cheque towards carrying on its work to help people living in remote Australia who are experiencing ill-health and hardship.

Bonus Downs Centenary: Marimba Music

Our Mitchell Marimba Group -- River Rhythms -- has been practising all year to perform at the Bonus Downs Centenary. Celebrations this past weekend.

We played three sets, with each set containing four or five songs.

Our band is made up of 2 bass players Doug and Spiro; a drummer, Darcy; 9 mid and high players; and vocalists Joy, Spiro, Sandi and Krystal.

Marimba music is lively happy music with strong rhythms and a jaunty air.

Joy (our leader and wonderful teacher) coaxes us to achieve ever higher. Her weekly marimba lessons are always fun!

It's our hope that the audience at Bonus Downs came away feeling uplifted and happy .

Bonus Downs Centenary Celebrations: Mitchell Qld

Beginning with a three course dinner under the stars on Saturday night, the Centenary Celebrations at Bonus Downs began in style.

Around 160 guests were seated out of doors on a balmy October night in the outback. Under a star-studded sky -- with no breeze whatsoever -- guests were entertained by bush poet Murray Hartin, while they enjoyed fine dining and drinks. In keeping with the centenary celebrations, many of the guests came wearing period costume.

Mitchell State School, under the guidance of art teacher Karen Wolski, created the screen printed tablecloth that covered all the tables. This was a great effort!

Throughout Sunday, guests had a wide variety of attractions. Vintage cars, marimba music, art works, blade shearing, whip cracking and working sheep dogs herding ducks were just some of the attractions throughout the day.

A special cake was baked for the Centenary. In the photo you'll see Madonna and Lyle Connolly cutting the cake. They are the owners and managers of this unique outback property.

As far as food and drinks were concerned there was breakfast, a billy tea and damper morning tea, a camp oven lunch and a corned beef dinner at the Smokehouse to finish off the day. Food stalls and a licensed bar kept people happy between meals.

My remaining 2 blogs will include entertainment by our marimba group, and Angel Flight -- the charity that received all the profits from the weekend.

Bonus Downs: Mitchell Qld

On the weekend of 22, 23 October 2011, Bonus Downs (located 46 km from Mitchell, and 630 km west of Brisbane) celebrated its centenary -- in style!

Bonus Downs is a cattle property of 13,380 ha that was selected in 1860 and now runs a tourism enterprise as well as cattle. Madonna and Lyle Connolly offer guests the opportunity to see how early pioneers lived and worked. In addition, they share their stand of rare ooline trees: about 80 ha grow at Bonus Downs.

Built in 1911 by innovative pastoralist and philanthropist Sir Samuel McCaughey, the homestead of 60 squares is designed for coolness, comfort and elegance. It's a fine example of Queensland architecture.

The homestead has a long hallway, 14 rooms and wide verandas. There are tasteful furnishings, antiques and memorabilia -- most of which were handed down from Lyle's grandmother.

Restoring the homestead to its original condition was a labour of love for the Connollys. When Lyle and Madonna and their two young children purchased Bonus Downs, in 1990, it was run-down and neglected with peeling paint, rotting stumps and weatherboards, and an overgrown garden. Since then, they've restored the homestead, outbuildings and tennis court, added a pool and created spacious lawns and gardens.

Bonus Downs offers farm stay accommodation in the jackaroo's cottage and shearing shed. Alongside is a large dining hall that is decorated with interesting historical photos, bits and pieces from the past and natural heritage posters. At Bonus Downs, guests receive warm hospitality and a memorable Australian outback experience.

So much happened throughout the weekend of celebrations, that I plan a series of 4 blogs (and lots of photographs) to cover the Centenary Celebrations at Bonus Downs.

The 2 paintings: one is of Bonus Downs and the other is Lyle Connolly.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Two men, a dog and a fence: Mitchell outback Qld

There's a brick and stone fence at the front of our property and although it serves no purpose other than decoration (it's not connected to any other fence or gateway) it is the perfect place for an informal chat with passing neighbours and friends.

Bathed in early morning sunshine and with a backdrop of the Maranoa River, Doug, Rob and 8 week-old Charlie exchanged news before Rob left for his Mitchell business Bulldog Bikes and Doug continued the exacting job of tiling our bathroom.