Tuesday, February 20, 2007


Rum and toads

Just a quick one today, mostly because my wrists hurt. At the end of last month I was up to Bundaberg doing fieldwork (and I'm only writing about it now, how's that for delayed gratification pre-internet styles? I'll be off to Darwin next week, just you see how long it takes me to write about that).

So, Bundaberg. Not a bad little spot, once you get into its strange Queensland groove; in saying that I must share with you the observation that the corners of the park near the city centre contained broken beer bottles, discarded Australian flags, and a bikini top left hanging from a branch... Anyway. For all that I grew to not mind it, high summer probably isn't the best time to visit Bundaberg. For the first few days it declined to rain, and the humidity was something to behold. I haven't sweated so much since I had to extract a grumpy possum from an attic in Sydney on a 30-degree day, while wearing full-length overalls, a floppy hat, and a rubber breathing mask.

En route to Bundaberg I finally had opportunity to observe Toowoomba at close range, Toowoomba being most recently famous for their recycled-water-or-refusal-to-countenance-same fiasco. Having seen the place now, it's easy to see the origin of their delusion about water: they're literally right on the edge of the green zone. To the west of Toowoomba, all is dry and flat and high. I had lunch with apostle birds in Stanthorpe, and they're arid zone specialists. It's only as you enter the margins of Toowoomba itself that the vegetation becomes green, and from there it stays green right down to the coast. Stand in Toowoomba and look east, and it would be very easy to convince yourself that you live in an area of high rainfall and should have plenty of water available. If you studiously avoid looking west, you might even manage to stay convinced.

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