So, Queensland is open again, and folks will be queueing and clamouring – and clambering over their fallen countrypersons – to gain entry to the hitherto Hermit Kingdom.
There will be children, born in the Time of Covid, for whom Queensland is as exotic a location as Middle Earth or Kanye West’s backyard.
“Oh, please take us there, Daddy. Do, please! I want to see the woman with the horns and forked tail of whom every government minister speaks. And is it true that the policemen all wear brown shirts, and that pineapples grow from every lamp post?”
If you’re planning a trip to Queensland yourself it’s quite likely you’ve forgotten how to get there, so here’s a bit of a tour guide.
Heading out from Casino you’ll want to go via Bonalbo so as to take in the Bronze Dog, the Hidden Mural and the monster red gauze bows which currently festivise our iconic Hoop Pines lining Woodenbong Rd.
When you stop for fuel at the servo/pie cart you will notice some graffiti scrawled on a wall:
THERE IS NO AIR.
Perhaps it will make you and/or the kiddies ponder, “What the five-flavoured Fruit Tingles does it mean?”
The friendly locals will be friendly, but of absolutely no use.“Huh?”
You will motor on through Old Bonalbo, which is completely devoid of graffiti. Graffitism was banned by the School Council in 1996, and the ban still holds, although someone attempted a salt mandala on the footpath outside the old Post Office a few years ago. It blew away. The mandala, not the Post Office.
You will marvel at the marvellous volcanic plugs guarding Urbenville and note the enchanted Nissen Hut just as you enter the village, before you swing left at the servo. Remember to stop at the stop sign.
You will wind past the Beehive, perhaps detour to Tooloom Falls and/or wind on past fire-ravaged forest to Tooloom Lookout, where you will look. That’s for sure. Turn left onto the Mt Lindesay Road, marvelling at the absence of stop signs.
You are now deep in graffiti country, so keep your eyes peeled for a rock face/cutting wall on your right. Some pro-logging activist back in the 1950s clambered up there and painted, HOMELITE CHAINSAWS. The cheek.
But soon, on another rock wall you will encounter, OXYGEN IS VITAL. Who painted it?
Now you will cross the Koreelah Creek Bridge, designed by JC Bradfield, of Sydney Harbour Bridge fame, and built in 1931. The man was a full-blown genius, and canny with it. This time he put the arch under the bridge, not above it. Why? To confound, flummox and defeat Captain de Groot and his band of ‘Freedom Marchers’ and ‘Reclaim the Line’ folk, who would have liked nothing better than to rock up on horseback and snip the ribbon at Koreelah Creek.
It’s not far now to the enigmatically-named village of Legume. Apparently, colossal quantities of nitrogen are fixed in the soil there by Rhizobium bacteria living symbiotically with plant roots. And that’s got to be a good thing.
And on, to cross at last into Queensland and the impossibly pretty village of Killarney. Just south of the main drag there is some sort of sporting complex. There you will spot a statue of the TV version of Les Norton (he’s like a friendlier, Aussie-style version of Chuck Norris, played by that boofy, curly-haired dude from some beer commercial). I don’t know what it’s all about. Maybe ask a local, but just take it easy: remember, they’ll take a while to get used to outlanders again.
Well, from now on you’re on your own. I’ve forgotten what happens next in Queensland.
But the graffiti en route: THERE IS NO AIR; HOMELITE CHAINSAWS; OXYGEN IS VITAL. What’s the connection? It haunts my dreams, like Gary Glitter, like the Nissan Cedric, like mock cream.
Clarification. OK, there is some graffiti in Old Bonalbo. For a good time phone Bulguse. While it is certainly factually correct it is no longer current, and the spelling is poor.
A lesson to us all.