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Saturday, 28 June 2014

A Croc and Bull Story - Reporting on the Central Coast

Okay, so I'm no longer on the Central Coast of Queensland and the fact that I don't even have central heating is a little hard to bare after spending a balmy week in Rockhampton but report I must for bulls and crocodiles have a right to be heard.

It began with an invitation to present at this year's Central Coast Literary Festival in Rocky, Queensland. Sounded harmless enough; spend a week soaking up the CQ sunshine in between rabbiting on to a few hundred school students just days away from their mid-year break.

Things started well with fair skies and some snappy local colour.
No sign of crocs in the local watering hole. Several authors decided to risk taking a dip in spite of constant warnings against this. Understandably, they reside in Melbourne where crocs are susceptible to hail damage thus not prone to hanging out in motel swimming pools.
Things took a turn for the worse as the fog rolled in from a nearby lagoon, Suddenly Meredith Costain's constant cautionary tales about bunyips became ironically plausible. But were they capable of taking on the world's most murderous reptile?



We forged on. We had no choice.They held our books hostage - with balloons.
Calm was restored within the hallowed grounds of Rockhampton Grammar School.

Thoughtful of them to install a bell tower; to warn students of impending croc attacks I presume.

But what of the bulls?

I scaled the highest towers (but not the bell one for fear of setting off a false alarm), battled the cruelest winds and scanned the outlaying land for wayward bulls (and my author buddies). But found nothing.

No, wait...Meredith came too, plucky country gal that she is.


Croc avoidance and bull location is wearisome work. Eventually, we found sustenance deep within the Rockhampton Customs House.

The purpose of the Customs House was to impose duties on imported goods. As there was no demand for imported crocodile-skin boots in Rockhampton, the town being self-sufficient in that sort of thing, the Customs House was closed down. Weird neon glowing bar stools were installed and carefully balanced with chili and lime so gatherings of authors could dine comfortably on vogue inspired Thai cuisine. Disappointingly, there was no croc on the menu.

Nonetheless, it took a while for Adam and Leigh to convince Peter and Phil it was safe to dive into the Tom Yum.



It took even longer for Leigh Hobbs to convince me I could draw. Hmm not quite Old Tom but thanks to Leigh and Peter and Adam, I've managed to connect with my inner-illustrative muse. Or exposed an odd fetish for musical tinnies.
Finally a day off. Life is crazy relaxed in Yeppoon. Even the mangrove trees favour a good lie down on the beach over actually growing somewhere.
Sunday streets were strangely absent of crocs and bulls.

Time to dine again - we authors eat ridiculous amounts.




The Criterion Hotel boasted its own ghost and a fish tank.






But we had to bring our own forks.

Fortunately Peter Carnavas, Adam Wallace and Gemma Dean-Furlong never leave home without theirs.


Again no croc. Plenty of bull but I really wanted to see one with its legs still attached...

Despite our best efforts to restrain him, Phil Kettle couldn't resist a feet first stair-dive.



He made it look easy.

Such grace and flair Phil. It's how I'll remember you.
The local Rocky vino is rather robust and chunky in body exhibiting striking gold hues and a pronounced sweetness with lingering nutty undertones.

After several glasses you hardly notice the metallic aftertaste.


The hallucinatory effect of the vino took affect mainly in confined spaces - like maxi taxis.

Here, George Ivanoff looking suitably terrified
as Adam Wallace recalls the size of a certain bull's appendages he encountered earlier that day.

Chilling stuff.


In the end, Rocky was all about crossing over, for me at least.
Photo courtesy of George Ivanoff


We visited some awesome schools (this was not a croc hunting net but a gigantic web at St Pauls Primary school), meet some inspired individuals, and talked and talked and talked - to adults and students alike - here's proof.


And not once did the locals bare their teeth at us or threaten to charge us out of town.

And that's no...
Photo courtesy of George Ivanoff