February 20, 2007

Rum and toads

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:30 pm by Chris

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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