Until I arrived in Australia my thoughts about it had been shaped by three things: Five Mile Creek, Crocodile Dundee, and Bill Bryson’s hilarious book, “In A Sunburned Country.”
Much to my delight, the reality was even better.
I spent my three-week visit to Queensland in January with local friends in the gorgeous countryside. It wasn’t touristy or gimmicky and that’s just the way I like it. I learned how to drive an ute (word for pick-up truck in Australia and New Zealand), got stranded for 4 days in the flooding, ate pikelets and dampers, and got thoroughly bamboozled by Aussie slang. I loved it!
One of my favorite Aussie country moments happened the day my friends announced they were taking me to the Warwick Pig and Calf Sale.
The longest running market of its kind in Queensland, the Warwick Pig and Calf Sale is an iconic slice of true Australian country life.
Held every Wednesday, the sale is a place where locals can bring anything (and I mean anything) to be sold at auction. From gigantic pigs and fluffy little chooks (aka chickens) to Grandma’s old table and Junior’s bottle cap collection.
First thing in the morning the place is humming, folks wandering about the bird cages and animal pens to see if they really want that strapping calf or feisty goose. My friends were in the market for chickens that day and informed me that once they made their choices, yours truly would be doing the bidding! Yipes! I’ve never been to an auction in my life and was highly intimidated by these hat-wearing Aussies nodding their heads and raising fingers as the auctioneers rattled away at a dizzying pace.
Nevertheless, I boldly tugged on the auctioneer’s sleeve to let him know I was in the running and before long I was twitching my eyebrows and jutting my chin like the best of them. Almost before I could catch my breath, my friends were the proud owners of ALL the chickens they’d wanted; I was pleased as punch.
Next up was a wander through the jumble of bits and bobs to see if there was anything we just had to have. My friend Ann calls it “taking a sticky through the bric-a-brac,” a phrase that never fails to make me grin.
They found cages for the chooks, wire fencing for the farm, and various other odds and ends for a steal of a deal.
Then we were off to the fruit and veg markets. Unfortunately, due to the devastating Queensland flooding, the pickings were scarce. Still, we managed to score some succulent mangoes and crisp apples and were happy campers.
By this time the sun was high and we were hungry, thirsty and sweltering hot. After loading up the ute, we ended our day with icy glasses of fresh juice at the local natural food shop, then headed back to the farm to get the chooks settled into their new home.
*Editor’s Note: Thinking about traveling to Australia at some point in the near or distant future? You may just want to head over to Krista’s blog to be both informed and entertained by How to Not Be Bitten by Snakes in Australia
Queensland, Australia ►Vacation Travel Guide
* all photographs property of and by Krista Bjorn ©
Header Photo by sandid