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Daily Archives: 27/06/2013

There’s quite a deal of Coal Seam Gas extraction going on in the Dalby district if the presence of wells, rigs and surveyors is anything to go by. The first wallaby we saw today was a live one. The rest is sad news. The good news is that the predator birds in the district are very good at scouring the roads for their sustenance. Even some pigs featured in the road kill toll.

Speaking of food, what’s available for lunch in roadhouse establishments is motivation for us to begin the self-catering discipline tomorrow. Let’s just say – when too much white bread is enough.  Still the coffee was good at the Moonie Crossroads Roadhouse and we were happy to get out of the vehicle for a break.

Moonee Crossroads Roadhouse

I spent the afternoon having limited success experimenting with possible rig ups for our new GoPro camera. I thought I’d found a good spot for the suction cap on my passenger window until Himself pointed out that he couldn’t see the rear vision mirrors. A minor point – conceded.

As we got closer to St George, the sides of the roads were littered with cotton, presumably lost off trucks. Our arrival time in St George meant we had time for a good amble up the Balonne River walk into town. Here are a few snaps.

Australian Hotel - Balonne River

Flood levels - Balonne River

Barnaby Joyce

plants on the river - sunset Balonne

Weir buoys on the Balonne - sunset

Weir buoys 2

man on river bank - weir

Not many towns have a monument to a caterpillar and its egg laying moth(er).  This modest cairn in Dalby pays tribute to the exemplary efforts of the Cactoblastis Cactorum, responsible for the eradication of Opuntia Stricta, more commonly known as prickly pear. Myall Creek foreshore is undergoing some restoration work, so the monument is somewhat obscured by fencing.

Cairn to cactoblastis moth

Prickly_pear_MN_2007

Wikimedia image

Other friends of the little cactus suckers include the people of Boonarga near Chinchilla (an hour’s drive north-west of Dalby) who in 1936 erected the Cactoblastis Memorial Hall.  Image via The Mail (Adelaide) – 26 December 1936.

Cactoblastis Memorial Hall

In the 1970s, the people of The Ascension Islands in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean were well pleased with the insect too and honoured it on a postage stamp.

Ascension Island stamp

Image via Lepidoptera Larvae of Australia.

This post by Simon Miller from the John Oxley Library describes the contribution of Dr Jean Haney-White towards the eradication of the cactus.

And here’s the inscription on the Dalby monument.

In 1925 Prickly Pear, the greatest example known to man of any noxious plant invasion, infested fifty million acres of land in Queensland, of which thirty million represented a complete coverage. The Dalby region was then heavily infested. The biological control investigation was undertaken by the Commonwealth Prickly Pear Board, the joint project of the Commonwealth, Queensland and New South Wales governments.

Early in 1925, a small number of Cactoblastic Cactorum insects was introduced from the Argentine by Alan Parkhurst Dodd, OBE, who was officer-in-charge of this scientific undertaking. They were bred in very large numbers and liberated throughout the prickly pear territory. Within ten years, the insects had destroyed all the dense masses of prickly pear.

This plaque, affixed by the Queensland Women’s Historical Association on Thursday 27th May 1965, records the indebtedness of the people of Queensland, and Dalby in particular,to the Cactoblastic Cactorum, and their gratitude for deliverance from that scourge.

In other parts of the world, the moth isn’t so revered. Texans, for example, are fond of the prickly pear. It’s the state’s official plant symbol and a valued food source rich in Vitamin C.  The moth, so loved in western Queensland, is listed there as an invasive pest.

Brisbane to Dalby

Dalby - Google Map

A hectic day to say the least.  Four of us up and about early this morning to get the place shipshape for our house sitters who will move in tonight for the duration of our time away. I do hope they’ll forgive the washing on the line. I did warn them that there was a distinct possibility there would be evidence of a rushed departure. The gals are flying south today after spending time with their parentals before we disappear into the desert.

The climb up the range to Toowoomba was the first big test for the load we’re towing.  As I noticed nothing in the rear vision mirror falling off the back of the vehicle (eg the van itself) or the van, I’ll rate that a success.

A pit stop for toasted sangers at the Milky Way Coffee Shop at Crowley Vale’s Big Orange fed the hunger while the big trucks trundled along the Warrego Highway. Extensive road reconstruction is taking place after the recent major flood events. The coffee shop was adorned with huge telescopes which will be shared for star gazing at a public viewing they have scheduled for 6 July.

roadside lunch stop

We’re in Dalby and it’s cool with a forecast low tonight of 5 degrees C. We cheated and had a meal at the local RSL. Sadly we’ll miss  seeing the double act Elvis and Roy Orbison impersonators playing there in a couple of weeks.

The State of Origin was being telecast and a worthy substitute it was. I decided it would be wise to keep my blue origins under wraps given the number in the crowd dressed in maroon and the amount of amber ale being enjoyed while the game was on. As it happens I needed to keep other views at bay also as the political landscape shifted. I’m sure the cheers were more for the defeat of Ms Gillard than the resurrection of Rudd.

If you’re wondering how the first camp set up went, remarkably well is the answer. Nary a harsh word was spoken. The need for an extra hose fitting not supplied by the park was the only glitch as the afternoon sun politely lingered over the horizon.

We’re on the Darling Downs named after an early colonial governor and the hills and dales in England. Except, as with many quirks of the English language as it spread itself about the globe, downs in Australia are flat grasslands, flat, flat, flat. 

There’s more of that flat ahead of us today once we leave Dalby. The Triffids are on the play list and the likely destination is St George.

06 Wide open Road