Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The old and the new: Mitchell's bridges

Over the past seven years, late afternoon walks with my dog Major (along the Maranoa River, over the footbridge and up the eastern bank) have been my usual routine. Now things are different.

The disastrous flood of February 2012 damaged the road and footbridge, changed the vegetation along the riverbank and inundated a large percentage of the township of Mitchell.

The new bridge is nearing completion but it lacks the charm of the old one, whose pylons are decorated with colorful murals. These will go.

At least two bottle trees and many majestic river red gums have also disappeared. And the footbridge is obsolete too, replaced by a walkway on the new bridge.

Change is always difficult, but we must look towards the future. I believe that someone with artistic flair will think of something creative to adorn the new bridge: the gateway to our outback town.

Eventually the riverbank will lose its heavy machinery and the

ugly scar will be smoothed over. Trees will be planted and new walkways created. I will, however, miss the murals, footbridge, bottle trees, river red gums and the old mulberry tree; but who knows, maybe the future 'look' will be even better. I hope so. Actually, I believe so, as Mitchell and the surrounding area holds a nucleus of exceptionally talented artists.

Let's see what we can achieve!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Birthday celebration: dogs in disgrace

Doug's birthday was celebrated with a picnic lunch at the Major Mitchell Campsite, north of Mitchell. The day was mild, overcast and still, prior to steady rain the following day.

Before lunch we walked down to the Maranoa River and then followed it upstream for about 1 km. River she oaks in flower; slender white-trunked river red gums; pieces of fossilised tree trunk and roots; burrs; fungi; chunks of coal;

cliffs studded with mysterious large round rocks; and places where feral pigs had dug up the ground in search of roots – these and much more made our progress interesting.

On the way home we stopped at the top of Orchard Hill to look at the plants growing in the red sand. I love this place. It has a distinct warm, arid, bush smell and the plants are fascinating – diverse and hardy. As usual, I arrived home with seven new plants to add to my collection of drawings.

Major and Del are in disgrace. Doug let them out at 6:30 AM and because they chose not to come in again, they were left outside, where they have beds on the veranda. When we got up at 7:30 AM we found Doug's newly planted vegetable garden dug up, with spinach and broccoli plants spread all over the grass, and a gardening glove chewed. They were not popular!

Fortunately the roots hadn't dried out so the vegetables were replanted and a wire fence erected around the garden.

Del said it wasn't her idea and that Major made her do it! Two sets of dog prints was sufficient evidence to scold both dogs. Talk about payback!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Back home in Outback Queensland

The Mitchell Agricultural Show is an annual event that brings together the entire community.

On this special day people gather together to renew friendships, share in the many and varied agricultural and hobby pursuits – and have fun.

After our five-month absence down south, the show is an opportunity for us to say, "Hello" to our many friends and acquaintances. It always amazes and delights us the number of people we know well enough to share a hug and conversation.

Most people contribute to the show's success by entering various categories. For instance: vegetable produce, cooking, arts and crafts, flower arrangements, photography, sheep and wool judging, poultry of all sizes and types, cattle judging and many horse events. Then there was the wood chop; the side show alley; winery, lavender and nut farm displays; Terry the Juggler and Pirate magician entertaining the crowd (see photos); fireworks and live music. And, of course, there was lots more.

The art section was my chance to participate by entering three of my water colour paintings. I was delighted and humbled to receive two first places and one second place.

We've been back in outback Queensland for one week, after a pleasant and uneventful trip of around 2,200 km from Phillip Island to Mitchell. We are now unpacked and well-settled.  Within days of our arrival a welcome home present appeared unexpectedly in our garden: a magnificent bird of paradise (Strelizia regina). It's a flower I simply must paint!

Another highlight of the first week was our first marimba lesson. We have a lot of catching up to do, but it was great fun and lovely to see all our marimba friends once more --  also

to welcome two new players.