The new national vision from Queensland’s own Peter Beattie is available now exclusively through our Strictly Literary bookshop.
Make sure you get your copy here first … in print or for Kindle and Android. In the meantime you can browse our extensive libraries and buy Peter Beattie’s first thriller novel The Year of the Dangerous Ones:
Our friend and former Small Business Management student (now graduate!) grazier Julie Brown of Ilfracombe, has launched her new business (above) just in time for Christmas.
Coola Cozzies is Julie’s way of earning valuable off-farm income during the drought but this is no charity … have a look at these wow designs (all created by Julie).
Julie describes them as “Cool, colourful, comfortable women’s and men’s board shorts and UPF50+ rashies, swim shirts and sun shirts.”
Last Saturday we travelled 90 minutes south of Longreach to the little town of Stonehenge and cooked a few steaks and snags for the local Christmas Party on behalf of the Rotary Club. Desolate country at the moment but full of warm-hearted real Aussie people, kids and their parents. And out of this country has emerged our new hot Strictly Literary seller, Do You Believe in Dragons? by grazier Paul Currin. Paul and Julia Creek illustrator Maree Power have created a new world for young teens where horses, motorbikes, dogs, feral pigs and (well, there had to be …) dragons rule.
It’s a tale of fantasy based on the Currins’ real-life sheep property near Stonehenge. In the book, kids Ted and his younger brother Bill, along with their best friends Doug and Sarah, are on their school holidays enjoying everyday rural activities, including riding horses, motorbikes, going fishing and chasing feral pigs. Their holiday takes a strange turn when Sarah — the eldest, and only girl of the group — has an unlikely encounter with a magical dragon, which can’t be seen by anyone who doesn’t believe he is real. Excitement ensues, as one by one, the family members come to realise the existence of dragons. This awareness becomes increasingly important when a life-threatening situation unfolds involving the Ted and Bill’s father and a pack of dingoes.
Do You Believe in Dragons? is fine new Australian Outback fiction, professionally edited and produced at Strictly Literary and available for under $20 in paperback, or instantly for ePub, Kindle and for Android on Google Play. Perfect for the young jillaroo or jackaroo for Christmas!
ON THIS Day of the Ponies (Melbourne Cup Day if you’re outside Australia!) here’s a yarn about mountains of hay.
One is moving east to west from the coast of Queensland, and another is about to start moving south to north from New South Wales, and both have as their targets the drought areas of Longreach and Aramac in the parched north-west.
The first, a mountain of freshly-mown north Queensland hay, is slowly making its way like a tide, from the wet tropics of the Pioneer Valley west to our drought-stricken savannahs.
In less than a year, 800kg bale after 800kg bale of pasture grasses from cattle properties along the Great Dividing Range have been cut, trussed and loaded on semi-trailers.
The latest count is 3250 bales, roughly 2.6 million kg or 2600 tonnes of cattle and sheep fodder.
Think of a mountain of hay like a pyramid 20 metres wide, 20 metres long and 150 metres high into the clear, blue Outback skies … that’s how much hay has been shipped so far, and there’s more on the way.
And at $50 a bale (before shipping) that’s a donation of over $160,000 from coastal farmers to Outback graziers.
The jaw-dropping beauty of this exercise is that the farmers in the east are the same ones struck by Cyclone Marcia around Rockhampton earlier this year, Cyclone Yazi in 2011 and Cyclone Larry in 2005.
“I guess they know a disaster when they see one,” said Longreach Rotary President and agricultural scientist, Dr David Phelps.
“Our friends in the Pioneer Valley Rotary Club came out west early last year and after one visit they decided to organise the great grass giveaway,” said Dr Phelps.
“Our local Rotary Club organises the transport and the State Government rebates the freight, freeing up Rotary funds to be redirected into other charitable uses-like helping school kids travel for sport, Scouts and dance, or for giving farming families Christmas hams and hot-cross buns at Easter”.
Dr Phelps, a friend of mine who is also known as “Dr Mitchell Grass” for his work researching how to improve the native grass pastures of western Queensland, calculates the 150 metre high grass pyramid as providing the same amount of feed for cattle and sheep as about 5,000 hectares in a good Longreach season.
“It amazing to think that 5-50ha paddocks up around Mackay are providing the same amount of feed as 5,000 ha out west — it’s enough to feed one property’s worth of cattle for a season!”
“It is being spread pretty thinly across the whole district, so it’s not perfect, but when we have what we call Hay Days at strategic points in the district everyone gets something and something is definitely better than nothing!”
The second mountain of hay, according to our friend and Aramac grazier Jenny Todd, is a result of the hard work of the NSW Burrumbuttock Hay Runners and looks like setting a world record with more than 100 trucks loaded with the stuff. It’s backed by Rotary too (disclaimer: Pip and I are both members too).
Look out if you’re on the road … Jenny says the Hay Runners are coming soon.
Australian agroforestry movement gains momentum, farmers diversify into timber plantations @ABCRural
The golden rule for growth is diversification, as this report on the ABC last month demonstrates …
Very happy to let you know that our business experience and expertise is now available through the TAFE Queensland Small Business Solutions program, which offers business mentoring for a low one-off fee of $395. If you or a friend have a small business which could use the tried and tested advice and methods described here, please contact TAFE here and mention my name. Available all through Central and South-East Queensland. I have run businesses in publishing, retail, and (of course) small-to-medium sized journalism enterprises.
First night of our short break in Yeppoon and we were evacuated from our apartment in the wee hours … just before 3am. Everyone gathered on the footpath until the Queensland Fire & Emergency Services crew arrived and declared a false alarm. Thanks crew! Back to bed …