At the beginning of this week, my sister Brooke and I headed north to Charleville in western QLD. Although we practically live right on the NSW/QLD border it was a 1100 km return trip into western QLD and I have to say I’d go back tomorrow. There is so much to see and do. The main streets in Charleville were built wide enough in the late 1800s to turn a bullock dray laden with wool. The manouvering of three abreast bullocks by up to twenty beasts in length takes some imagining, as does the flooding of Charleville and Morven. Only recently waist high water speared down the main streets. This is a land of undulating hills and red ridges, of triple roadtrains and signs that direct ‘white-line’ syndrome travellers to places like Augathella and Mitchell. Charleville is of course the main base for the Royal Flying Doctor service. This outback air service provides vital medical assistance to remote stations and local residents alike. Charleville is also home to the Bilby. These small marsupial’s which resemble miniature kangaroo’s join the rest of the wildlife scattered across this vast part of the state – pigs, kangaroo’s, goats, foxes, the odd wild dog and emu’s.
Charleville was chosen as the regional town in which my publisher Random House Australia decided to give away 1000 free prelaunch copies of my September release, Absolution Creek. The initiative was in support of the National Year of Reading and seemed appropriate considering 2012 is also the Australian Year of the Farmer. I have to say that I was delighted with the idea. Bush towns and villages are main supply areas for everything from small stores, fuel and mail, to regional air-hubs and rail-links for the transport of both grain and livestock. In supporting them we’re supporting a vital part of rural life and the businesses and cultural opportunities within. Everyone was very welcoming and excited to receive their free copy. A big hug to Lindy Steer at the Charleville Library who sent boxes of books out to the Augathella and Morven libraries, within the shire. I returned home feeling really privileged to have been involved in the exercise and a big thanks to my sister, Brooke – co-pilot, PA and bestie, all in one!