Sunday 16 February 2014

Not just the languid air swooning today

The focus was on Queensland this week, with a tourism lunch and an event (the latter on the Floating Pavilion - such a mistake, bar-takings-wise, since it can't be just me who always thinks I must have had too much wine. Also, they had to dish out Sealegs tabs halfway through the day). Specifically, Outback Queensland, where I've already had a pretty good nose around, though there are still some corners I'd like to see. More precisely, the Corner Country, where Qld, SA and NSW meet up and remote towns like Birdsville and Innamincka sit and simmer in the heat.

There was some talk of a trip down from Cape York to Cairns and again, that's something I've done: more than a week in a bone-shaking 4WD truck ("If you've got a bad back, this'll sort you out," Ossie promised us, and he was absolutely right - haven't felt so limber for years as I was at the end of the the journey). It was full of lovely moments - and yes, that includes finding a green frog in the bog - but one of my favourites was our stop one sweltering afternoon at Red Lily Lake in Lakefield National Park, near Cooktown. (That's 'near' in Outback terms: 260km.)
We wandered out along a boardwalk to a little shelter near the middle of the lake, the water of which which was invisible beneath a solid cover of lotus plants, some with their bright pink, yellow-centred flowers still, others with arty-looking seed pods. The best bit about it was that it was so peaceful: so far from anywhere, the only sound was just the tapping of leaf on leaf as a breeze passed across the lake. I decided then and there that it would be my happy place, and I've revisited it often since (thanks to the boy next door with his drum kit). It makes me think of Tennyson's The Lotos Eaters and the "land in which it seemed always afternoon".

And then today, I was reminded of it again, when my water lily opened its first flower, in the newly-refurbished pond with its water so clear the fish must be squinting now. On a hot, hot day when the afternoon has seemed to go on forever.

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