Often when Danielle goes on her out of town work she gets requests left and right for folks offering to “carry her bags” just so that they can join the journey. As with most things in life there is never enough room in the schedule to include a “fun” side trip to be able to share her travels. Lucky for me we had enough people booked into the classes Bluedog is presenting in Saint George (South Western Queensland) that an extra tutor was needed and I got the call up.
Now people often tell me that I have the best job on the planet – taking photos all the time but the reality is that often I am the last person to pick up a camera and snap away as I am busily helping others achieve their photographic ambitions. This time though distance was on my side. It has taken 2 days of, admittedly, fairly ‘easy’ driving to get out here to St. George so the opportunity to pause for a photo op is not one I would overlook. Now when I say easy driving, for those like Danielle who grew up in outback Queensland it might be easy, but I have to say – those big trucks with their 3 trailers swinging all over the road had my pulse rate rising a few times as we overtook them half on, half off the road, but thankfully Danielle knew when to sit back and when to pass.
And this was only the first lesson of many. We had the chance to visit the Nindigully pub and again, city slicker naiveté kicked in. This place is the oldest pub in Queensland and is a classic long verandah beside the river type of place with hitching rails out the front and corrugated iron on the roof. I asked was it working? “What do mean working?”, “Well, does it still serve beer?” Ooops! Apparently out here things are not just for show but actually are fully operational. “Cool! We have to go in for a beer!” was my cry and a beer was what I had. It was like a step back in time with ringers hats lining the walls and the original cobb and co. timetables still advertising coach trips. Absolutely brilliant.
Image by Danielle Lancaster
Image by Danielle Lancaster
We then went out to visit one of Danielle’s long term friends who has a little place just up the road. (I’ll tell you about him tomorrow except to say that his little place is 52,000 acres). As we were barrelling up a red dirt road we reached the turnoff onto the property and a sight I never would have believed had I not seen it myself. At the fork in the road stands a tree with the most grisly assortment of Christmas decorations I have ever seen. Desiccated dingos hanging by their back legs.
Now as a city slicker I had read of the “doggers” who trap the dingoes to aid the sheep farmers but I had never seen their handywork. It is amazing. The dingoes cause such problems with livestock losses that the doggers come in and trap or shoot the animals and are awarded a scalp price by the shire. To show that they are out and about working, the carcasses are hung to dry at the road junction. Now while I understand that this seems gruesome it is a part of living on the land. Visually, while a little disturbing, it was an incredible photographic opportunity. And I think the thing that makes it best for me, I had a country girl right next to me who knew what it was about and why it was done.
Image by Augustine Mathews
I tell you, if you ever want to learn about south-western Queensland, come join Danielle and get a real lesson. Having a ball so far and the trip is a long way from done.