I have only been resident in Brisbane for just over two years and while I feel I know some parts of the city, the state is still an unknown quantity for me.
Queensland is large - 1,727,000 square kms.
Queensland has 5 of Australias 11 World Natural Heritage Areas.
Surprisingly more than half of Queensland's population lives outside the metropolitan area of Brisbane.
As city dwellers we live in a built up environment but we are a little spoilt with our surroundings, lush tropical vegetation, some exceptionally beautiful birds, botanic gardens and parks all over the city and an abundance of green spaces.
Go further out and the story is radically, shockingly, starkly different.Most of the central west part of the state is in the grips of the worst drought since records began. Queenslanders may have recollections of other droughts in their history or when they were growing up but I do not, so when I saw a small announcement in the paper about an exhibition on drought I went along -
The title - "Drought - what next" on Display at Brisbane City Hall until the 28th of August.
Some answers, all unpleasant, come to mind, ruination, dust and dirt, bareness, suicide, destitution of farming communities and graziers.
The city has just enjoyed two weeks of the country coming to town with EKKA the state's agricultural show. So much of all that is on display at the show comes at a huge price because of the effects of drought.
The area of Longreach will run out of water completely in four months. It is into its third year with no rain. One woman who came to talk to city women made an impassioned plea about the state of the countryside for which she received a standing ovation. Among others she had this to say :
"The droughts.... are an unrelenting all consuming whirlpool, silently drowning all hopes and dreams,productivity and plans for future generations and pride, while sapping everyone's energy and finances."
I went along to see the exhibition and I was frankly shocked at the extent of the problem. The question in my mind though is what do you do - pray for the rain like the Indians do? Give financial support to those businesses and farms that are no longer viable?
Isn't this where issues such as climate change come into view and isn't this where Australia will be hoping to feed its population from? Worrying signs and even more worrying implications. This is a fragile continent, more so than its happy go lucky- no worries exterior, leads us to believe.