Friday, August 31, 2012

Camel races and Paint the Town Read: Mitchell Outback Queensland

It's been a busy week in Mitchell with, amongst other things, the Camel Races on Saturday and 'Paint the Town Read' on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

Although I'm not a great fan of racing,  I have to say that the camels used at the Mitchell Races are healthy, and well cared for. This event raises money to keep our annual Agricultural Show an ever-increasing success.

Mitchell State School's 'Paint the Town Read' is also an annual event that celebrates National Literacy Week.  Guest author and speaker Brian Andrew gave talks to parents, teachers and the children on the theme of 'How to create a happy home'.  The Friday night Camp Oven Dinner at the Major Mitchell Caravan Park offered a three course dinner by the light of a full moon, an inspirational talk by Brian on positive life values, marriage and relationship themes, as well as lots of fun activities for the kids.

Friday morning began with an official opening, a short concert given by the school's marimba group , and then the entrance of a colourfully dressed Reading Bug. The children then walked up and back the main street of Mitchell, admiring the beautifully decorated shop fronts and stopping off at various shops and offices for storytelling by local business people. 

At 12:30 p.m. the children arrived at the park where they were divided into groups to talk about the main topics covered in Brian Andrew's inspirational book,  'I grow in Grandad's Garden'.  Doug and I were asked to speak to each of the groups about the topic: Courage to learn new things. Finally, everyone enjoyed a picnic lunch and a skilfully decorated cup cake supplied by our local baker. 

Jane Filan has organised this event for the last four or so years, and every year it becomes bigger and better.  Congratulations Jane! My one regret was that I forgot to take my camera and, with the sun shining, everyone wearing something red, and red balloons decorating the street, some photos would have been great to add to this blog. My excuse is that I was too involved in planning what I was going to say to the kids.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Visitors, Marimbas, Thunder storm and house sale

A Sunday morning tea/coffee with friends (in our newly furnished sun room) was enjoyed by us and also by Katie, who made the most of our visitors -- who love cats.

Gradually we're learning to recognize the weather patterns of this part of outback Queensland.  Thursday's high temperature of 32°C and strong winds preceeded the build-up of  heavy storm clouds in the west, in the late afternoon.  

At 6 p.m. we went to our weekly marimba practice at the Mitchell State School.  For some unknown reason, a couple of bars of marimba music taxed my brain beyond its comfort zone.  I just couldn't get it!  I'll have to make time to practise at home in order to overcome my mental block.

Bang on 7 p.m. (our departure time) claps of thunder, forked lightning and torrential rain erupted over Mitchell.  This caused us to pause a while, then make a dash from the building to the car park.  We got drenched.  Major and Del, who were waiting in the Ute, are nervous during storms so they were pleased to arrive home and rush into the house, where they felt safe.

The sale of our flooded house went through this week.  It will be lovely to have another young family living in our neighbourhood.  Settlement is in two and a half weeks so Doug hasn't long to finish moving all his shed 'treasures' to our new house, Riverside -- four doors down the road.

I'll include photos of the first of vegetables to be grown, by us, at Riverside -- also some succulents proven to be drought proof and not frost tender. Quite a tall order!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Pictures up: acacias in full bloom

Finally our 'new' house is a home.  This transition came about yesterday when we took all our paintings and framed photos from the Mitchell Storage Shed, cleaned away smears of mud (the result of the February flood of the Maranoa River), and then placed the pictures throughout the house.

The result was even better than expected, and now, as I move from room to room I feel inspired by the beauty and memories each picture evokes.  Many are the work of local artists.

It's easy to see the interests Doug and I share  -- namely animals, plants and the special pets and people that have been part of our life to date.

Up the Forest Vale Road there's a hill (known locally as Orchard Hill) which is made up of red sand that supports a unique selection of native plants.  At the moment, the acacias are at their very best with 2 species in full bloom.

The contrasting colours of red dirt, golden wattle and blue grey foliage are striking -- especially under a clear blue sky.

Learning to identify the various plants growing on this hill has become my challenge.  This week we identified 18 species. After identification, I'm drawing each plant - using watercolour pencils - an occupation I'm finding both interesting and relaxing, especially while sitting in a room with winter sun pouring through the windows -- over looking the Maranoa River.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Everyone needs a holiday, including us

This past fortnight has seen us sampling some of the best of coastal Queensland, located on the Tropic of Capricorn, between Rockhampton and Yeppoon. We rented a cottage near the small coastal town of Emu Park. Here we could purchase all we required, plus use the library and enjoy stunning coastal scenery.

Framed by coconut palms and pandanus palms, our view from the cottage looked across a sandy beach to the bay, and rocky volcanic islands beyond.  It was ever-changing, depending upon the tide, weather and time of day or night.

At low tide, we walked barefooted  about 1 km out to sea, paddling in shallow water, meandering through herds of tiny blue-backed crabs.  We felt small shellfish beneath our toes; watched a large stingray flap its 'wings' and then disappear from view; saw, imprinted in the sand, the resting places and tail marks of stingrays.

At high tide, the waves splashed against the bottom of the 18 steps that separated our cottage from the beach.  The full moon rose golden from the sea then sailed high between the branches of coconut and pandanus palms.

The temperature varied from 12°C to a balmy 24°C, with every day blue and sunny.

The cottage is over 100 years old, and although modest on the outside, indoors no expense has been spared.  The fact that our cottage was pet-friendly was a big plus for us.  We love having our two German shepherds and Siamese cat with us -- through them, another pleasurable dimension is added to our holiday.

Upon our return to Mitchell we felt renewed energy and enthusiasm.  Doug's leg is much improved, which is a relief, although the skin on his shin injury is currently shedding -- just like a moulting reptile!

This holiday was one of the best I've ever experienced, but it was also wonderful to return home to Mitchell!

I was going to show you more photos but something has gone wrong with the card reader.