Sunday, August 06, 2006


My favourite place since coming to live in Queensland is the peak of the hill between my house and Nobby. The view is amazing. If you stop at the right place you can nearly see right around the 360’. I tell my visitors to go up there, turn their car around, and stop for a few minutes.

Sometimes I wonder if I go shopping just to enjoy the view on the way home. It’s a great feeling to come over the crest of that hill after driving interstate and there, suddenly, is this wonderful panorama with my little farm nestled beside the road down in the hollow.

The best thing is the constantly changing light, every time you reach the crest there’s a surprise. Some days there’s a pink tinge, sometimes mauve, you can never tell what’s in store. Sometimes there are huge, stormy, billowing cumulus clouds. Yesterday there was a layer of puffy, longish grey and white ones, very neat and orderly, but above them the stronger air currents had strewn the sky with wispy streaks. In mid summer the sky is a plain bare blue, but the dust particles in the air still gives variations on our theme; you don’t realise until everything’s suddenly so clear, pristine and sparkling on the morning after a storm. You can be quite certain that it will never, ever, be exactly the same. Each day brings a new view that changes throughout the day; it’s a moving, living canvas. The sky and the hills are the background, the horizon. Before them lies an incredible, intricate, mosaic in seasonally changing colours. At present the rich red brown of unharvested sorghum dominates; it’s split up by the green of winter oats, the rich black fallows, dead fawny grasses, yellowy brown corn waiting for harvest, and occasional dots of grazing cattle. Soon the richness of the sorghum will disappear, the frosts will burn off everything except the feed oats, struggling for moisture to survive, and in the dead of winter the dominant colour will be the browns of fallow paddocks waiting for the spring rains.

My favourite time of the year is when the pale lime green shoots of new corn appear through the rich soils in their geometrically correct rows. The farmers around here take pride in their precise work, the standard of excellence they achieve is impressive. Today my neighbour started to sow the immaculately prepared onion beds which had been so carefully readied some weeks ago. They have been lying like giant slabs of Kit Kat bars that stretch over the horizon, and now rows have been drilled carefully down the raised parts and the tiny seeds dropped in. Soon the fragile plants will emerge. The irrigator will creep slowly up and down the rows, and I will lie awake at night listening to its disturbing hum and worrying about the huge amount of underground water it uses. Last year they ploughed in acres of big, juicy, fat onions because the price dropped half way through harvest. That year the harvesting men were tall, slim and very black, travelling in white vans. The previous year there were Asian families in coolie hats who drove old model cars and parked in the paddock with umbrellas for shade.

The only certainty in this landscape is the constant change.

Jan Lowing ©


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