Friday, February 27, 2009

What I did in the holidays

Evan at the bar at the top of the Dingo Caves for the OQTA dinner.

There's been a big gap in my posts from early November to early January, I thought I'd better go back and fill it in a bit.

This the quiet time, when it gets really hot, all the tourists have stopped coming, and people are leaving town — the pub is back to bare bones staff, the Bakery is shut so there's nowhere to go for our morning coffee get-togethers, and people are going away on holidays. During the cool winter season they're all very busy dealing with the 45,000-odd visitors who come through, but now it becomes a more inwardly-focussed community. There are about 30 people in town, so you know everybody, and you spend more time in their company because there just isn't anyone else.

Even so, there seemed to be a lot of things going on. The Outback Queensland Tourism Awards were held at the end of October, about 200 tourism industry people turned up. Dusty was still in Birdsville and did the catering on Friday evening at the Dingo Caves, while the main event was held Saturday evening at the Racecourse. We had a Pink morning tea and bra decorating event for Breast Cancer Day, and a Melbourne Cup lunch, with prawns, champagne and chicken. The pub held a pool party, the school had their Christmas concert (complete with a visit from Santa on the fire engine, one of its very few outings in the year), and the kids put on a great evening of entertainment. We swam a lot in the billabong and all of a sudden it was Christmas.

It felt very odd to be so far away from family and friends and the usual Christmas things. This year, Evan's sister Helen and her daughter Emma came out from Canberra. Helen and John, the barman, have been conducting a long-distance romance ever since they'd met each other at the races and were planning to spend some time together. We had a very pleasant Christmas brekkie of panetone and champagne while we opened presents, so Christmas lunch didn't happen until about 3 pm. We were about to start when John got a phone call saying his daughter and her husband had just arrived on the plane to surprise him, so we reshuffled the table and chairs and put out a couple more plates while he picked them up. It was very cosy in our little flat, but everyone was in a good mood, and lunch lasted well into the evening.

Next day, the seven of us and four more friends went down to the Andrewilla Waterhole, about 80 kms south of Birdsville, for swimming, sailing and a picnic. We had access to two Laser dinghies down there while their owner was away. Kay and Russ are sailors when they don't live in the outback, and had their own dinghy with them. It was a memorable day, very relaxed and idyllic.

New Year's Eve daytime entertainment is traditionally organised by the Social Club (aka Evan and Kay) and is a "car rally" of sorts, whereby everyone is given a list of questions and then you have to drive all around town to find the answers. It finishes at Pelican Point, by the billabong, where every washes away the dust with a beer or two, and those with enough energy indulge in water sports. There was to be three events, but everyone had so much fun with the kayak racing, we never got around to the other two. Then it was back to the pub, where the Social Club put on a barbie on the verandah, while the party continued inside. There was still quite a crowd for the countdown at midnight, and I'm sure everyone got kissed by everyone else. It was considered by all to be a big success, several people said how much they'd enjoyed the day.

And then things got really quiet. There was talk of big floods coming, so we started to get organised for that.

From the top of the Dingo Caves looking down to the dinner tables.

Pink everything for the Breast Cancer Day morning tea. We had great fun decorating bras after the talk.

Evan and Judy from Adria Downs Station won the Best Dressed prizes on Melbourne Cup Day.

Dave Phoenix passed through Birdsville while walking the entire route of the Burke and Wills expedition.

A farewell barbecue for Dusty and Teresa on the verandah of the old Courthouse.

For our wedding anniversary, we drank a very nice bottle of champagne on top of the Dingo Caves, while watching a spectacular lightning show in the distant storm clouds.

The pub brought in a big blow-up pool and a karaoke machine for their Pool Party.

The school Christmas concert. This is the quietest I have ever seen these kids.

These kids are from Mount Leonard Station, and learn by School of the Air. Santa was a big hit.

This West Wing plane has the longest mail run in the world. Here they are dropping off at Glengyle Station.

Coming in to Glengyle Station. Compare this pic of Glengyle with the one in the "The floods are coming" post.

Christmas morning at Chez Outback — champagne, panetone and pressies!

Laser sailing at Andrewilla Waterhole.

Relaxing in the shade shelter at Pelican Point after the car rally, New Year's Eve afternoon.

Getting ready for the Men's Kayak Race.

Midnight approaches on New Year's Eve at the pub.