blog 50: In which what happens in Charleville doesn’t stay in Charleville.

Earlier this week I had the pleasure of spending a couple of days in the Queensland country town of Charleville.

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I flew there with fellow author and friend Chris Bongers (Dust, Henry Hoey Hobson, Drongoes) to be part of the inaugural St Mary’s Primary School Writers’ Festival.

Chris and I arrived in Charleville via a touchdown in Roma on Sunday afternoon. You could tell we were City Folk. We were the only ones taking photos of the kangaroos from the airport car park.

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As soon as we arrived our lovely host Dom Gardiner the Teacher Librarian for Charleville, Cunnamulla and Quilpie took us on a quick tour of the Town including a stop at the beautiful and historic Hotel Corones before dropping us at our accommodation. We stayed at the Mulga Inn which was very nice although I thought perhaps my kitchen facilities left a bit to be desired.*

SAM_1831(* Point of Clarification: The photo above is NOT one of the kitchen facilities in my unit at The Mulga Inn. It is in fact an attempt at humour – yes, I know, hard to believe isn’t it? The photo was actually taken at the Charleville Historic House.  Just thought I’d point that out in case I got sued by the Mulga Inn where the rooms were lovely, the people friendly, the service spot on and the meals huge & hearty!)

The next morning after a huge & hearty dinner and an equally huge & hearty breakfast we headed off for St Mary’s Primary just down the road.

The Festival itself was a one day event involving Grades 1 to 7. Apart from Chris and me, local picture book creators Michelle Sheehan and Donna Reynolds (The Flood Grungies), local Poet Majella Stapleton (Back to the Warrego) and writing legend and  winner of the 2012 Australia Council Award for Lifetime Achievement in Literature Herb Wharton, also attended.

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And as well as the students from St Mary’s Charleville, some students from Sacred Heart Primary in Cunnamulla and St Finbarr’s Primary in Quilpie travelled around 200 kms to be part of the day!

It was a wonderful day and the kids and the teachers were fantastic. I was however just a little disappointed by the turn out for my sessions …

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Chris had much more success in drawing a crowd. Here she is about to strangle a student …

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After the Festival our host Dom kindly (some might say foolishly) lent us her car and Chris and I set out to see some of the sights of Charleville.

The great thing about driving in Charleville is that the streets are very wide. They were built like that because in the past they needed to be wide enough to allow a full bullock team of 12 bullocks and two drays to turn around!

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As a result it’s very easy to do U-turns in Charleville streets and that can lead to in-car conversations like this:

CHRIS: What are you doing?
ME: Another U-turn.
CHRIS: Why?
ME: Because I CAN!

Anyway, after numerous U-turns our first stop was the STIGER VORTEX CANNONS!!!!!

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In 1902 “renowned meteorologists and self-confessed rain-maker” Clement Wragge arrived in Charleville with his vortex cannons to try to end a long and crippling drought by firing ‘rain producing gas’ into the atmosphere. The townsfolk said it was “a crazy scheme that just might work!”

Sadly as it turned out, they were only half right.

In the photo above you can see one of the big Vortex cannons that were used while the one I’m posing with is the much more convenient Vortex-mini – “For the modern rain-maker on the go!”

Next we headed to the nearby parklands.

There I immediately showed my untapped potential as a Tractor Model by trying out for Mr August in the much-anticipated Hunks and Tractors Calendar.

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Meanwhile Chris stumbled upon the Oldest Coffee Making Machine in the Southern Hemisphere!

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Then we jumped back into our car and armed with a steely determination, careful pre-planning, a detailed map, in-car GPS and a town with very few streets, we somehow managed to drive to the wrong place.

Eventually however we did find what we were looking for – the new walkway beside the Warrego River and the flood levees. When we got there the levees were dry and those good old boys were drinking … no wait on, that’s something else.

Here’s a picture of me pretending to be striding out manfully beside the Warrego River when really I’m just walking up and down on the spot like an idiot.

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And here’s a photo I took of Chris just before I realised she was slowly sinking into the mud …

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Tragically, seconds later …

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That night following a huge & hearty meal at the RSL we were looking forward to viewing the heavens at the Cosmos Centre and Observatory which was just near our Hotel but unfortunately even though the weather was beautiful during the day, the clouds rolled in at night and the viewing was cancelled.

We also would have loved to have been able to visit the Charleville Bilby Experience but opening times just didn’t fit with our stay.

We also missed out on this!

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Not to worry. In the morning there was still time before our flight home to see a few final local attractions.

First stop after a coffee at Heinemann’s Bakery was just down the road at the MAGISTRATES COURT! Luckily Dom’s husband Terry is the Magistrate.

On the way there we met this little guy …

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Isn’t he GORGEOUS! I think his name was Polly. I didn’t catch the name of the Parrot.

We learned heaps from Terry during our tour of the Magistrates Court Building. For example, did you know that in the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups: the police who investigate crime and the district attorneys who prosecute the offenders. These are … no wait on, that’s something else too …

Never mind. Of course everyone knows that the very best thing about visiting a real live court room are the PHOTO OPPORTUNITIES!

There’s the ‘accused in the docks’ photo

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“Honest Your Honour we had no idea there was a limit to how many U-turns you can do in the main street of Charleville!”

There’s the ‘member of the jury’ photo …

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“What do you mean the other jury members have retired to consider their verdict! What’s to consider! They’re guilty as hell! Sixteen U-turns and all without a bullock dray. Besides, their eyes are too close together!”

The ‘Defence Attorney objecting’ photo …

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“Your honor, ladies and gentlemen of the jury. For the past twenty minutes I have sat idly by while my worthy opponent, the prosecuting attorney has stood up here and made a complete jackass out of himself. Now it’s MY turn. Now it’s easy for the prosecuting attorney to stand up here and accuse me of all these horrible crimes. It’s easy for him, he’s got PROOF. But what about me?” (c) Agent 86 Get Smart TV series.

And finally the ‘Approaching the Bench/Plea Bargain’ photo …

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“Look Your Honour, I’m willing to take a substantial fine in return for you giving the clown I’m with 12 hours in the Lock-up. Anything to avoid having to sit next to him on the flight home.”

Eventually we were forced to leave the Court Room because apparently some criminals needed to use it. Whatever happened to the rights of law-abiding citizens I say!

Last stop before the airport was back up the street to the Charleville Historic House and Museum.

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There was so much to see here – machinery, clothes, appliances, furniture, artefacts etc etc  – although I thought some of it was a bit dated. They should think about getting in more modern, up-to-date, state-of-the-art historical stuff. 

During our visit we also had the pleasure of being entertained by some excellent didgeridoo playing …

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The man who talked to us and played the didgeridoo wasn’t keen on his photo being on facebook but I’m hoping this shot will be ok.

Chris earned some extra cash as a switch-board operator. One ringy-dingy …
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We met some interesting people. He works in something to do with car safety and she’s a model of some sort … 
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And we saw this …
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It’s either a big burl from a gum tree or a giant wad of used chewing gum discovered under a seat when they tore down the old Charleville Picture Theatre. I can’t remember which.
Anyway pretty soon our time was up and we had to make the short drive to the airport where we dropped off Dom’s car …
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… and boarded our plane for the 750 kms flight back to Brissie.
Thus endeth my first ever visit to Charleville and this massive blog!
Charleville is a great place. I loved it. A big thanks to the lovely Dom for inviting us to the Festival and for her friendship and generosity. And of course a special thanks to Chris for being such a wonderful and hilarious travelling companion. You can find out more about Chris and her books and hear her side of the Charleville story on her terrific author page HERE.
Cheers
Michael
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18 Responses to blog 50: In which what happens in Charleville doesn’t stay in Charleville.

  1. Ian Taylor says:

    Michael,
    great blog. In Australia we call district attorneys Lawyers. It is done by the police in the Magistrates Court and Department of Public Prosecutors in the higher court. 🙂

    Like

  2. Gabbie says:

    That sounds very cool. I also noticed you are a quite good photographer!

    Like

  3. Dale Byrne says:

    Please, please, please can you two go on more trips and post more blogs like this, It will save me reading your full length novels but still give me equal satisfaction!

    Like

  4. cjm76 says:

    MGB – you are bloody hilarious! This post is absolute gold, although I’m not sure about that chewing gum thing. It looks like a giant turd … was it you or Chris? FESS UP!!!!

    Like

  5. D says:

    FYI that is neither a burl from a gum tree or a giant wad of chewing gum. I had a mate who swears he took his brain out once in Charleville while attending the backabuggeri races and misplaced it. Pretty sure you found it.
    He was there with his racing guinea pig. Pig won but drank rather a lot after the race. So did my mate. Hence the brain was left on the bar. Are you sure you and Chris weren’t drinking too?

    Like

  6. Adrie says:

    Yes, this is hilarious. Had tears rolling down my face! It’s great living with a witty man.

    Like

  7. Pingback: Hooroo to the mulga country | Christine Bongers

  8. chrisbongers says:

    That is the most gorgeous blog ever. Laughed from start to finish. Just like when we were there. Cx

    Like

    • mgbauer says:

      Thanks Chris. Loved your take on the trip too. Such a fun couple of days.
      Cheers
      Michael

      Like

    • cjm76 says:

      Looking as gorgeous as ever, Chris 🙂 Oh, yeah – MGB, you’re alright to look at, too. Looking very handsome in the Brisbane News! 😀

      Like

      • mgbauer says:

        Agree with you re Chris but I was heavily photo-shopped for the BN article. Apparently they had a whole team working on it around the clock just to meet the deadline. But you wouldn’t know about such things C-J. You’re ALWAYS beautiful.

        Like

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