We're on the brink of term two here. The holidays have flown by, but not without some adventures. Michael and I took a trip to Brisbane where he met up with some teachers, and I met up with my author friend Russell. We had a day at the Brisbane State Library with his writer group, which was very enjoyable. The following day, Michael and I took a trip to the Sunshine Coast. Ironically, our first experience of the Sunshine Coast was rain, which was kind of disappointing. We headed into Sunshine Plaza, did some shopping, and had a nice date. By that time, the clouds had cleared up enough for us to walk down the Maroochydore river bank to where the waterway met the sea. I did some wading and "sitting in puddles" as my husband calls it. It's the simple things that make me happy.
We drove back to Chinchilla the next day and prepared for when Michael's family came to visit us. Then we spent five delightful and busy days with them, day tripping and touring the grand metropolis of Chinchilla (a little tongue in cheek, but Chinchilla is a fun town to walk around). Incidentally, outback towns can be pretty fascinating. For example, you see things you don't always see in the cities - heaps of kangaroos for example. And plenty of bats. Chinchilla Weir seems to be spectacular all year round, with flocks of corellas, cockatoos, and galahs settling in the trees and large numbers of pelicans gliding on the waters. Wild kangaroos bask on the banks of the Condamine, and kookaburras and frogs come out at sunset. It's one of the best recreational spots I know of on the Downs.
We took Michael's family there and showed them the sights. They also took several walks around Charlie's Creek, which is where Michael and I have seen a large python and a big colony of bats. Then we had a few day trips. One of the most rewarding day trips was out to the Bunya Mountains, where we walked for several hours through the rain forest. It was cool, refreshing, and dazzling. Near the camping grounds at the fringe of the forest, wallabies graze all over the place. They were so soft and furry looking that I just wanted to cuddle them. But then, I'm not sure how friendly they would be if I did that.
We also took a trip to Miles Historical Museum. Miles is a town half an hour down the road from Chinchilla, and in all honesty, I had always thought of it as a ghost town. The boom and bust cycle hit hard there, and the population is far smaller than that of Chinchilla. But I have to say, I was blown away by the historical museum. I expected it to be three old buildings and a steam engine. In reality, it was thirty old buildings and a steam engine. Plus, all the buildings were set up exactly as they would have been back in the day - an old style pub with shelves lined with liquor, a cafe with all the confectionery and old brands of chocolate set out, an old hospital with painful looking implements on display, and so on. It looked as if the town was still lived in, almost. Besides all this, the museum boasted an excellent Anzac Day display and the largest rock collection and shell collection I've ever seen. And I'm not just talking about any rocks. Precious stones of all kinds were polished to perfection behind their glass, some shaped exactly like crystal balls. It was certainly well worth the trip. A lady from Brisbane who was visiting went so far as to say it was the best museum she had seen.
So there you go - a big tick for the little town of Miles!
Yesterday was somewhat amusing, because Michael and I decided to take a day trip out to Lake Broadwater - a natural lake thirty kilometers from Dalby. We hit the road, turned up at the lake, and were greeted with a sign saying the lake was closed to all forms of water recreation due to low water levels. Beyond the sign was a gigantic dusty, cracked basin of sand and weeds.
But we had heard that the walk around the lake was good, so we made a start on that, only to be plagued by hundreds of flies, sticking to our faces wherever we went. Even by waving our arms constantly (I'm sure the campers in the nearby grounds would have been laughing at our antics) we couldn't rid ourselves of them. So we got back in the car and drove to Dalby, where we took a walk around Myall Creek. The park lands there have been landscaped beautifully, and it was a peaceful and rewarding experience. Not to mention, there was actually a lot of water in the creek. Parrots, cockatoos, and giant lizards greeted us at every turn, and the obligatory squawking bat colony was interesting to look at on one stretch of the journey.
We're certainly becoming more Aussified by the day in some ways. Both of us have our Australian licenses now, although people still misunderstand our accents sometimes - a problem I've had in New Zealand as well because apparently I sound like I'm from Germany or England. (??) Anyway, it's fun fooling people into thinking they know what a New Zealand accent is when they hear me. They'll be doubly confused when they meet other New Zealanders.
So tomorrow term begins, but the best thing about it is that we're still here. Almost exactly a year ago, we completed a trip to Victoria, where I had used to live as a child. It was that trip that got us thinking about moving countries.
I still can't believe that we're here, in sunny Queensland!
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