Monday, September 20, 2010

A world of contrasts

A friend of mine is currently touring Ireland and is posting gorgeous photos on her blog. The country-side in the photos is nothing at all like I'm used to seeing here in Australia and I've started making comparisons.

I spent my very early years, and some time during my teenage years, in sheep country out west (way out west: 12 hours' drive west of Brisbane; about 1100km). It's the beginnings of desert out there with a few lonely Marino sheep - until shearing time and they're all rounded up and you realise there're thousands of them. The desert changes just as dramatically too when the floods come. There's no or little rain out there - just drought and then flood from the Channel Country up north. Then the country becomes a carpet of colourful wildflowers, the colours so strong that when the sun rises, your eyes hurt.

I have a photo taken in 1989 of a paddock full of golden daisies. If you're not sure how large a paddock is, just imagine those thousands of sheep and how much space they need in dry country that offers little food or water. There's no such thing as a half-acre plot out there; most stations are thousands of square kilometres. Usually the bright red soil is mostly covered by coarse grey-green grass and pock-marked with scraggly eucalyptus trees, but when there's rain or a flood the flowers come out and suddenly you begin to wonder if you're really as far west as you thought.

The photo is from so long ago partially because I don't go out there any more and partially because the area rarely gets enough water for the flowers to bloom. Those sorts of floods happen once a decade.

No comments: