This year we have been enjoying an Indian Summer. I left Brisbane on 23.3.23, wearing shorts. From take-off, patchy clouds, which extended to and partly hid, Carnarvon Gorge, gave way to clear blue skies all the way to Longreach. An email I received from Nicole on March 12, listed a total of 165 mm of rain in Longreach on the three previous days, far more than we had on the mountain. No wonder the ground looked greener than I have ever seen it before. The weather during my stay was warm and sunny; the sky a vibrant blue, with any afternoon clouds dispersing by night-fall. Pepper was her ever affectionate self. Birdlife was plentiful as usual. Kites riding the thermals and then swooping low to the ground, their shadows swiftly preceding them. This time in the garden, yellow-throated miner birds, sparrows and the various doves, were joined by a little kingfisher and a fig bird. A pretty dragon, totally new to me, which I thought was a juvenile, appeared on the rear steps and climbed onto the hammock, ignoring Pepper’s presence. I saw the dragon on the lawn two days later and was told that it was a habitué and was fully grown. I could find no match for it in Nicole’s field guides, or online after my return.

Simon cooked two excellent dinners on Thursday and Saturday and Nicole baked her signature muffins. While Simon and Nicole were at work, I strolled down the lane to look at the trunk of the broad-leaved bottle tree a few hundred metres from the house. The trunk has a bulge, but nowhere near as voluminous as that of the Queensland bottle tree. On my way back, I walked past the house hoping to see the airport from the end of the road. All I saw was part of the race course, but there were some splendid trees and bushes in the front gardens I passed, some in glorious flower.  On the weekend, I checked out an intriguing tree I had studied from the rear deck. It was on the far border of the neighbouring house. Its branches, after reaching a certain height, seemed to fold over and reach back for the ground, forming a dense vine-like thicket around the trunk. I was impressed by a mauve plant with small pink flowers which formed a low border between the lawn and front deck. It was as if I had never seen it before, though Simon & Nicole inherited it when they bought the house. They didn’t know what it was.

On Friday, we had a good dinner at the Wellshot Hotel and, on the way back, enjoyed perfect star-gazing conditions. I wanted to see a bit more of the country, so, on Saturday afternoon we went for a drive on the road to Muttaburra. The grass was long and the wild flowers, always a welcome sight, were numerous. On Sunday we went to the Birdcage Hotel for dinner. The name isn’t very pub-like, but it is an excellent establishment and the food was delicious. Before dinner, Simon and I took Pepper for a walk from the Founders Museum to the automated weather station past the airport. The flies were hardly a nuisance, though I used my net to reduce the glare as we walked to the car in the direction of the setting sun. I believe I experienced rain in Longreach on my four previous trips, but not this time. My drive from the airport parking to the mountain was blighted by someone having turned off the blind spot warning lights.