Sunday 24 December 2023

Season’s Greetings

I took this photo two days ago. Today it’s windy and grey, and tomorrow, Christmas Day, will probably be the same. We Kiwis do like to boast about our summer Christmases to our northern hemisphere friends but, honestly, the weather on the day itself isn’t usually that great. Certainly not often as glorious as in the photo (that’s a pohutukawa in the foreground, our native Christmas tree - it’s been a stupendous season for their blooms this year).

It really doesn’t matter about the weather - in fact, for the majority of us following the roast dinner tradition, it’s actually preferable. We know the sun will be back in a day or two, and certainly for New Year’s Day, which is guaranteed glorious. And since we had cyclones and stuff last summer, that means we’re due a good one overall this time round, eh? 

Anyway, enjoy your Christmas wherever you’re having it. I hope you have good times. 

Tuesday 19 December 2023

Best place to go? Not Ingham

I see Ingham's in the news again. It's only been 80 years since the last time. 

Today it's because northern Queensland has been hit, yet again, by dreadful floods and, in amongst all the other misery they are causing, there's the inevitable Aussie problem of displaced wildlife. In this case, it's a croc in the middle of Ingham, a small town of fewer than 6,000 doughty banana-benders, causing some  excitement before its being caught - by harpoon, unexpectedly. It was only 2.5m, nowhere near the 5m+ that they regularly boast about up there, but big enough to be a nuisance, certainly.

I visited Ingham 10 years ago, on a Queensland famil, and was distinctly underwhelmed by the town, not helped by some hiccups in the itinerary. Its only other claim to fame is also a negative one: that it's the actual location and inspiration for the Slim Dusty song 'A Pub with No Beer'.

That was because, in 1943, a contingent of US soldiers had passed through and literally drunk every drop of beer, to the disgust next day of Irish farmer Dan Sheahan, who had ridden his horse for 20 miles into town, lured by the vision of a foaming pint. Admirably, fobbed off with a glass of warm white wine, he wrote a poem instead of getting angry, and in 1957 the song that resulted became Australia's most successful single.

The pub, in 2013 anyway, was still a brightly-lit, basic place full of leathery old boozers, its only nod to sophistication the wide-screen TVs on the walls. I did a review of it anyway, which you can read here. Earlier that year they'd done a 70th anniversary re-enactment of the draining of the town's beer, with an audience of thousands. The town itself had little else of note, and would have been hell for a hungry vegetarian. 

The most notable bit of that whole visit was when we went to a nearby cattle station for a farm tour. No-one there knew anything about it, so I just went to the toilet instead. When I flushed it, two small brown frogs were washed out from under the rim, and disappeared down the loo. Still feel bad about that.

Oh, and one other thing that I learned from the flood reports - there's apparently a town in Queensland called Yorkeys Knob. Not in the least surprised to read that.


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