It was a good feeling taking flight again, Longreach bound, on October 8, after a prolonged interval due to the pandemic. My previous visit was in March last year. I miss my overseas travel, not having left Australia for three years. Several months ago,  someone asked me if there was anywhere else in Australia where I would be happy to live; my reply was, Longreach. I had last seen Nicole on her father’s 80th birthday in June, and Simon when he visited his Mum and me in August. Pepper made up for lost time by licking me to death at every opportunity. Unlike other dogs, she would return the ball for me to throw. Simon and Nicole had planned a varied programme, including the light show under the Qantas Founders’ Museum’s splendid new roof, covering the aircraft in the outdoor display like a carport on steroids. The 20 minute show was brilliant. Earlier in the day I watched a family of brolgas walking down the street outside the house, quite a contrast to my first sighting at the far end of Lily Lagoon in 2012.

We spent a night in Winton to enjoy a sunset tour of a jump-up (or low mesa) with a unique geology, whereby the top layer of immensely hard rock is undercut by the erosion of the softer rock beneath it, resulting in huge bits of the top layer toppling down the escarpment. A number of hardy and determined trees on the plateau had thrust their roots to the bottom of fissures four or five metres deep. Beforehand, we spent a couple of hours in the Waltzing Matilda Centre, celebrating the history of the eponymous song. A pair of Brolgas were out and about in the streets of Winton too. Next day we went to the Truck & Heritage Museum, which is entirely run by volunteers. It exhibits dozens of superbly preserved and painted trucks, a number from the 1920s and ‘30s, the bulk from the ‘40s to the ‘80s and the most recent dating to 2003. Clouds were building as we drove to Longreach. Later in the afternoon we heard thunder, which was soon followed by a shower of rain. It only watered the plants, but it fell at an encouragingly early time of year.

This morning a lone juvenile straw-necked ibis as well as the brolgas walked down the street. The white on its neck had not been replaced by straw coloured plumage. We landed on the new parallel runway at Brisbane Airport which came into operation in July this year. It took 8 years to construct, primarily because it was built on sand dredged from Moreton Bay, which required years to stabilize before it could be sealed. All was well on my return.