Out past east-coast ranges, just over the hills to where kangaroos glare at passing travellers, where hawks circle and skies open wide, out here is where the country begins.

Story By David Kelly

It’s out here, in southern Queensland, where folk of grit and character work and play, in a selection of landscapes from white cypress pine forests to tracts of mulga; from hard-scrabble ridges to rich and wide-open paddocks.
West from Brisbane to Goondiwindi, up through St George and back around through Roma is a hard-won food bowl. Grains, beef, fruits and vegetables thrive when the conditions are right. Here there’s cotton too and underground gas.
These are places perhaps not so grand as outback scenes further west. But stop, look and listen and there’s much to appreciate among the olive groves, cotton gins, grain silos, cattle yards, brigalow and roadside cafes.
It is an area rich in white man’s history, from explorers such as Alan Cunningham and Thomas Mitchell to Australia’s first discovery of gas, at Roma in October 1900. Roma, too, is the settlement where a local jury found the famed Harry Redford, alias Captain Starlight, not guilty of cattle duffing, most impressed with Redford’s cattle drive though desert country to Adelaide. Little wonder Roma today boasts Australia’s biggest cattle saleyards.
And this Downs country remains home to a variety of native plants and animals, from the galahs and cockatoos squabbling for nesting places above the Macintyre River to yellow bellies skulking in the deeper holes of the Moonie River at Nindigully.
This country, my backyard, is a land of plentiful colour, of raw humour, and people who know how to enjoy life in good times and bad.

This Story is from Issue #99

Outback Magazine: Feb/Mar 2015