Thursday, October 18, 2012

Ooline Park; Markets; Red Gum Concert; A box of paintings

Saturday Markets and an Art Exhibition at the small outback town of Mungallala (west of Mitchell) proved a pleasant way to spend Saturday morning.  Brian Waldron creates beautiful woodwork using local timbers, and his wife Ruby sews, knits and does crochet with equal skill.  Together, their stall demonstrates a couple who use their time productively and creatively.

On Saturday night Mitchell was treated to a concert by the famous band 'Red Gum'.  This powerful concert was part of the Mental Health Week activities held in our town.  Many people are still suffering trauma, as well as lack of motivation, following last February's disastrous flood.  Getting together, talking, laughing and enjoying music all help in the recovery process.

On our way home from Mungallala we stopped at Ooline Park to see the oolines.  These ancient trees go way back to Gondwanan times and are closely related to Antarctic beech.  Interestingly, the leaves are similar, yet each species grows in an entirely different climate.  Here in outback Queensland  the climate is arid, whereas Antarctic beech grow on mountains in areas of high rainfall.

To walk through an ooline forest is to step back in time, the only sound being the crunch of dry grasses and leaves underfoot and birdsong in the treetops.  There's a feeling of peace and tranquillity, born of timelessness.  Soon the oolines will be flowering but that's another story.

Yesterday we emptied the last of our belongings from the storage shed in Mitchell's Industrial Estate, where our belongings were 'dumped' after the flood waters receded.  A box of original paintings were in this last load.  These 8 paintings were created by a New Zealand artist for my book 'Darwin's Tortoise'.  After the book was launched I had the opportunity to buy the original paintings, and since Harriet spent so much of her life in Queensland, our Mitchell home seems the right place to hang them -- and in the kitchen where we see them often.  I feel incredibly thankful that we didn't lose any of our paintings.

I've included a photo that shows the neck and head of an Australian bustard, a handsome bird native to this part of outback Queensland.  It's so well camouflaged that you'll have to look hard to see it!  A clue: it's in the right hand side of the photo, in the middle.


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