An accomplished, well travelled writer and reviewer, Michele resides in Brisbane. Witty and highly articulate, her rivetting reviews show life through the eyes of a highly Gifted Adult viewing a world where she has an IQ in the top 1% of that world.
Dalby is a dear little town. It's a drive I know well and a town I know my way around. My mother and stepfather live there and I've contributed to the community by nursing at the hospital for a stretch during an unusual state wide nursing shortage.
Dalby is 210 km west via Toowoomba, where it's your last chance to get drive through McDonald's. 210 km is far enough from Brisbane for the town to have a quiet personality all its own and not too far to drive. Sitting on 105 km per hour, I'm there in two hours. But, beware of sudden zones, such as when you're passing through a 'town' even though you can't see one and you didn't see a sign, where the speed limit suddenly plunges to 80 km per hour but you don't. I've learned first hand from pain in my purse that these are police snare zones.
I thought the red police car with lights and sirens behind me was trying to overtake me so I kindly pulled over. So did they. A torch was shone around my car interior looking for anything forensic. They hovered a torch above my new born baby in his capsule to see that he was breathing and felt him to see if he was still warm and not stiff. I must look like the type of lady who suffocates her baby and drives out west to dispose of the body.
They looked in my hand bag. The last thing I'd bought was still in there: a bulky packet of maternity pads. Beside me I had a packet of breast pads so I could do quick changes. They looked in there and in the plastic bag with the milk sodden ones. After I was fined and stripped of some points they left. One fell down a steep embankment. I didn't care.
However, there is the road train factor. A road train is like a double semi trailer usually carrying a two storey load that is next week's meat. You can get caught behind one and as the road is so straight you can't see past it. You have to keep dipping out onto the other side of the road to see if anything is oncoming, like another road train.
If stuck behind a road train, wind up all the windows especially if it is carrying pigs. A good idea is to keep air freshener in the glove box. It's a much better alternative to fresh air in that specific situation. The sooner you get around a road train the better because droppings land on your car. On the straight road an oncoming car will be seen miles away. Grab your opportunity. Dart out from behind that truck and do a speedy overtake. If it happens there is another road train in front of it, put the pedal to the floor. You are overtaking the equivalent of four semi trailers. You need to gun it and get in front of them. Be assured the driver of the oncoming 1977 Valiant is watching out for you and he's been driving since he was eight.
The Darling Downs is one of Australia's richest agricultural regions. Know your crops. There are three. That skinny, long pale one is wheat. It's used in bread. That rusty pine cone one is sorghum. It's fed to stock. The one that looks like fluffy clouds is cotton. It's used in clothes and manchester. Try to tell the difference between a horse and a cow. My step father has taught me a lot. He grew up on a dairy farm, had his own wheat farm and now works at a massive cattle feeding lot. He can shear a sheep, kill a pig, shoot a wild dog and he used to ride a horse to school. He can also fix anything. So staggering is his ability, the feeding lot hired him instead of a qualified mechanic.
Dalby's main street is Cunningham Street. Be prepared for a strong contrast with West End and the Valley. The men and teen boys have a look, a style. You will not see grunge, alternate or goth. The Texan look has been in for fifty years and is largely unvaried: jeans or moleskins, a checked shirt, R.M. Williams boots, a leather belt and a brown Akubra hat. The girls wear the same. You may see the odd, large, flat shiny silver, decorated belt buckle. This usually indicates that the wearer is a renowned rodeo rider. He is treated with great respect. He is an elite athlete who has represented his region on the back of a bull.
I adapt my dress style to the region by adopting a girly vintage look with checked, floral or pale flouncy dresses and I wear them with brown R.M. Williams boots. If I feel like it, I wear my red Akubra hat with my hair loose. Always have change for parking meters as they use the ones they brought in during the early seventies.
Most shops cater for local needs which is fine if you're looking for their clothes, hardware, pesticides for the plane or a new saddle. You can also purchase car parts and tyres. There is a book shop and a music shop. As their idea of Woodstock is the Gympie Muster, their music taste is narrow. The bookshop has a limited selection of novels, mainly Texan love stories. As Las Vegas is their Disneyland, some 'wild time' stories can be purchased which are viewed as porn. 'Inside a Nevada Brothel' is quite well and analytically written. 'Diary of a Prostitute' also set in Nevada is not even literate and was never proof read. They do not stock 'Wuthering Heights'.That is a classic.
They do have what I consider the best little second hand shop in Queensland. They must get their donations from the city and I have bought many dresses there as bargains. It occurred to me one day that they are cheap because no one but me wears them. Honestly, there is a great range at the best prices I've seen.
Dalby now has a small, undercover shopping centre located at the northern end of Cunningham Street boasting several specialty shops such as Coles, Rockmans, Millers and Dollars and Cents. You can sit down with a coffee and jam donut.
When I worked there, I truly felt like a contributing member of a rural community and much appreciated. I did an ambulance escort from Dalby to Toowoomba of a man whose Quarter horse had rolled on him and broken his back. As he was shaken around roaring and screaming on the stretcher of the speeding emergency vehicle, I had relief in my lap and it was time to use it. I yelled at the ambulance driver to kill the sirens and pull over. I administered the maximum dose of morphine intravenously. As he semi dozed, now only moaning, I recalled a line from a song:
"Til the morphine came and killed the bloody row."
I will never know why he wasn't air lifted mercifully. The only explanation is that country expectation of toughness.