I’m sitting in my cosy flat in southwest Qld and the most exciting thing that crossed my desk in the last half an hour was a tiny black spider. But I am chomping at the bit, adrenalin coursing through my body keeping me awake long after I should have snuggled up with my pillows.
Today’s jaunty eagerness is not a new phenomenon out here in the bush. Instead of some city folk’s prediction that life without Turkish restaurants would be dull – and some people still ask me how we fill a newspaper every week – I find this quaint town teeming with hair-raising stories and excitement.
The curious aspect, and please bear in mind that I now have little idea what other people think is curious or fascinating, is that my enthusiasm for the tiniest events has skyrocketed.
A blowfly could miss a wing beat and I’d wonder why. Perhaps it would be something to do with the new flour they’re using at the bakery. Or it could be connected to the power pole that fell down on Saturday night and took out the power to my rival paper’s office.
As I roamed the streets of Charleville today, searching in vain for a person on a bicycle so I could take a photo of them to go alongside a riveting article I had written on bike racks, I realised my mentality had shifted from curious photographer to ruthless hunter. I might as well have been searching for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, for the enthusiasm I had for seeking out non-existent bikers was consuming, uncontrollable. And then when I saw a kid on a bike I rushed for the camera as if someone had bought out a block of dark chocolate after a night with Shiraz. I snapped away at the scruffy bikers, who wore their pants around their lower thighs with pride, as if I’d just been ordered to take a few snaps of Hugh Jackman with his shirt off.
I’m finding my enthusiasm for things is often disproportionate here.
My heart flutters a little when someone talks about anything with the tiniest bit of controversy. Five palms fronds came down a storm on Sunday and I maintained eye contact with the fallen branches for longer than I would with a man I wanted to bed. Maybe there’s a story in that, I always wonder about these trivial events, with a slightly depraved sense of desperation. Then I catch myself. Were you really counting those palm branches on the road, Penny?
Tonight I saw a man my own age in the bar and my clenched grip on the bottle of Jägermeister I was purchasing slipped slightly. I wonder what would have happened to the bottle if we’d made eye contact.
I love this child-like development. It’s made me happy. And sometimes I catch myself staring out the window at the utes cruising past and I feel terribly contented.
I reckon it’s the connection with people that makes me so fascinated by the little things. Life certainly works at a slower pace here and I’m coming to terms with my dearth of perspective.
The only concern is whether I’ll wet my pants when I arrive in Birdsville tomorrow for an event is definitely exciting. This is an event that would, even under pre-Charleville conditions see me running around in shirtless excitement
It’s the Birdsville races, the Melbourne cup of the outback and one of Australia’s most iconic calendar events. I’m going there. Tomorrow.
In a helicopter. And I have not been this excited since I found out the price of rice liquor in China.
I’ll be sleeping in my mate’s pink swag under a chequered blanket of outback stars beside a creek. There will even be backpackers there!
I have dreamed of going to these races since I was a child and my current mood would rival a gaggle of hungry geese.
I’m hanging to see 6000 people flood into a town with just one pub and a usual population of about 100 people. And I’m keen to see whether the crowd can get through 10,000 pies. The boxing tent should be a ripper and watching the revellers try to get through 30 tonnes of liquor should be a riot. I heard a whisper today about yabbie races and naked camel races, which interest me enormously. There’ll be some horse races, too.
But most of all I cannot wait to see just how excited this little journalist can get.