Fillies and Fireworks

So what did you do for the long weekend? A few runs down the mountain to celebrate the start of the ski season or a trip to Cairns to warm your bones; a weekend away with the girls/boys or some ten-pin and a movie with the family?

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Mallawa

In the north-west we amuse ourselves on Saturday with a flutter on the horses at the Mallawa Picnic Races, which this year boasted a six race program with as many as five horses in each race! The excellent turnout of horseflesh on the track was reflected in the number of punters off the track, with cars parked six deep to the entry gate and race-goers (rather eagerly) partaking of refreshments and/or parleying with their preferred bookie. Fashions in the field are always varied and usually range from warm and modest with sensible shoes; mostly worn by seasoned black soil plains dwellers to chilly and revealing with skyscraper like stilettos; worn by those not accustomed to loose dirt and large cracks (in the ground!).

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This most social occasion is, for us, akin to the famous Birdsville Races in south-west Queensland … without the pub … or the town for that matter; being situated in a paddock on the road from Moree to … eventually … Rowena! There are, however, all the usual amenities to make such an occasion civilised, including bar and band for after race-day activities as well as the added bonus of wide-open spaces and an unimpeded view of a glorious sunset for the entertainment of the designated drivers; sometimes the only ones still capable of appreciating it.

So that’s Saturday taken care of.

For Sunday’s recovery we have a more relaxed and casual event around the bonfires at the Rowena Cracker Night. This event has been running for close to 20 years and started with 30 odd Rowena Primary School students, sitting cross-legged on a blue tarp watching fireworks being lit by a couple of dads with safety goggles and long matches. Those of us not involved in the lighting of Tom Thumbs, Sparkling Fountains and Giant Sky Rockets kept a watchful eye on inquisitive, fire loving small people and trying not to laugh out loud (LOL) at the ducking, weaving and near-miss eyebrow-singeing antics of the would-be pyrotechnics.

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So much fun was had by all it became an annual event that has grown to now attract over 1,000 visitors and includes bonfires, dinner, music and professional pyrotechnic companies who provide us with fantastic displays in our open, velvety and completely un-lit skies.

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MAGIC!!

The funds raised from this event support the children of our district and Rowena CWA members are pleased to do our bit in providing extra hands to (wo)man the gate, serve a steak or sausage sandwich and contribute to the delicious array of tea and coffee accompaniments.

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Tanya with Amanda, Cindy, Joc and Emma

Finding a Happy Place

Like many other self-professed fashionistas I have, in the past, spent a small fortune and a considerable amount of time sitting under huge hairdryers that blocked out all other sounds and almost completely covered ones whole head, in the pursuit of turning straight locks into curls.

Fast forward a few years where time and money spent are somewhat more disproportionate, but the new space-age, circular and noiseless hairdryer that magically orbits my bleached and plastic wrapped tufts, is far less invasive. The paraphernalia necessary to the pursuit of curls has been replaced by the super attractive silicone cap shaped like a see through 1920’s flapper hat. It’s much more glamourous!

Why am I rabbiting on about hairdryers, perms and streaks when there are so many more important events occurring across the globe and worthy of discussion and comment?

Because there seem to be way too many to a) comprehend or b) choose one over others to single out and whilst some every-day items have become less intrusive, others have swamped us with our thirst for instant news going into overdrive.

Every time I turn on the telly or radio, check print or online news and social media there is another catastrophe, man-made (as with today’s terrible headlines) or natural and the real-time coverage of it; so much so that it is starting to overwhelm my senses.

My thoughts were not as simplistic or shallow as to be focused completely on the improvements to a hairdressers tools of trade but about how, generally, life and all its processes moved at a slower pace in the past, as did the dissemination of news and not hearing or seeing, in detail, every facet of what is unfolding; somehow made it less shocking or consuming.

Trying to detach myself from the barrage of tragedies does not mean I do not care, but a person’s soul can only take so much negativity before it needs to escape to somewhere less demanding or emotionally draining.

Apart from my dalliance under the dryer I managed to escape the instant and modern world for a day of reflecting on and commemorating the spirit that makes us who we are; ironically born from determination, camaraderie and sacrifice during one of our history’s greatest tragedies. Perhaps eventually we will know if anything that might be remotely considered as a positive, arises from any of the current events.

Like many small communities the residents of Rowena held an Anzac Service, unremarkable in itself, except that there had not been a service for many, many years so it was gratifying for the organisers to have over 200 people in attendance. That’s a big crowd for Rowena!!

Rowena 1We lined the street to watch the school children, all 24 of them, either marching with our oldest Returned Serviceman or following on horseback, from the school around to our local Shire Hall.

Following a brief interval for photos whilst horses were unsaddled and re-acquainted with their floats we filed into the hall and took our seats. We found the walls and stage lined with posters and projects, researched and presented by the students that honoured the Anzacs. They also then, very capably, ran the Service.

Rowena 2Everyone had a role whether it was co-hosting from the stage, handing out sprigs of rosemary and pins as we entered, reciting the ode or playing in the band. By giving each child some ownership over the success of the event the organisers have ensured the significance of the day will remain with this generation of participants, for ever.

How do I know this? As we stood and watched the advancing march I listened to Jeff and one of our neighbours, both ex-students of Rowena Public School, recounting their own memories of Anzac Day Services and their participation in marches that followed the same route.

As per other Anzac traditions we adjourned to the pub for lunch followed by ‘poppy-topped’ cupcakes from decorator extraordinaire and publican, Cindy.

Where’s your ‘happy place’?

Taking the Scenic Route

Apologies for the late post, I was taking the scenic route home – Sydney to Rowena via Canberra and didn’t arrive home until early afternoon yesterday.drought 1

In some respects it really was the scenic route with rolling hills covered in feed and bumper crops still to be harvested, being easier on the eye and the psyche than the dry, barren and dusty plains that awaited my arrival at home. I was certainly feeling very envious and my normally blue eyes were taking on a decidedly green tinge.

I detoured to Canberra so that Queensland CWA President, Robyn McFarlane and I could meet with the Chief of Staff and the Senior Advisor to the Hon. Barnaby Joyce, Minister for Agriculture to discuss our concerns regarding the increasing severity of the drought, the perceived complexities of applying for assistance and the cumulative pressure on landholders and communities. Although we weren’t able to achieve any real outcomes we were afforded around ninety minutes to openly discuss the issues we wanted to raise as well as plead the case for those going into their third year of drought. We are grateful to Diana and Craig for their time and their commitment to keeping the lines of communication open.

Both levels of Government are now firmly focused on preparedness and self-reliance; fair enough, but make sure your promises of increased returns to us, from free trade deals, don’t end up as empty as the food bowl has been.

The CWA of NSW Disaster Relief Fund continues to accept donations for drought affected farmers and communities and all donations over $2 are tax deductible. Click here if you would like to make a donation.

Perhaps you might consider adding rain for drought areas on your wish-list for Santa.

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