The bridge festival was in Miva, which is known for it's bridge and for the old cattle station (what they call ranches). We had to drive on some dirt and gravel roads to get there, but we finally made it to the festival. There wasn't much out there, and without the ocean nearby, it got pretty hot with the sun beating down on you. Daniel and I had both worn flip flops and it was so dusty our feet were filthy by the end of it. We much regretted not thinking to bring our sun hats, which it seemed everyone else remembered.
Here's a picture of the surroundings of Miva, so you can get an idea of what the country looks like:
It's very pretty, but not much out there. Those bales I think were actually sugar cane stalks. We finally got an up close picture of the sugar can fields, too. They are much taller than I thought, as you can see with Daniel standing next to them:
The festival itself was focused more on the historic aspect than fun booths and vendors handing out free stuff (Daniel's favorite). He commented that we are getting dangerously low on free pens. I told him I just picked up 6 of them yesterday, and he said you need to have a least a dozen lying around. They had instead blacksmith demonstrations, old engines, oil lamps, even several guys showing how to lay railroad tracks. We got there late enough they had laid the tracks, but they were starting to tear it up again while we were there:
There was also a old machine for braiding ropes. I thought this was sort of interesting. They were braiding brightly colored ones to sell as souvenirs. This is what the rope started out like, with several separate cords:
Then, on one side you turned a handle, while I guy went along with a thingie to keep it all straight. Yeah, that's scientific, but they didn't say what it was called:
The other big entertainment was the live music, which happened to be a series of country musicians. Daniel thought this was odd, but I explained that country music is big in Australia, too, and informed him that Keith Urban was Australian and Shania Twain was Canadian, so it's not just a US phenomenon.
We sat down near the river to eat a steak sandwich that the youth were selling, and someone came up and said hello to us. He started with, "I don't know if you remember me. . ." I hadn't seen him before, so I thought he was probably confused. I thought, "We don't know anybody." But, in fact, Daniel did. He was a friend of Richard's (our swapping partner) and neighbor in Hervey Bay, that helped Daniel with the lawn mower when it stopped working. We got to meet his wife, as well, and explained that he was all the way out in Miva because he grew up here and was volunteering at the festival. He was pretty surprised to see us, though. He wanted to know how in the world we had heard about it. After chatting with Ian, we went down to the river and the bridge they were all celebrating:
Daniel suggested we walk across, something I think he later regretted. It has three lanes, one for cars, one for the railroad, and one for pedistrians. You can see the three sections as Daniel walks down the railroad one:
You'll note that he is barefoot. While this seems to be strangely common out in public here, he has not gone native. He was wearing flip flops, and for some reason he does not trust them when walking on odd surfaces or driving. Any time he is uncertain of his footing while wearing them, he just takes them off. The boards were sort of wobbly in places, and there were large gaps between the planks were you could see the river. I told him he was not in any danger of falling in, but was in great danger of getting a splinter or contracting tetanus from the rusty nails. He informed me that he got his tetanus shot right before we left and wanted to get his money's worth, thank you very much. Cars still drive over it, including us on the way out. Daniel felt this sign should have been on both sides, not just at the end:
I have walked on much less sturdy structures and told him he was a city boy. Here's good long arm shot of Daniel's of the two of us on the bridge:
After the festival we went to Gympie to look around. Daniel couldn't stop laughing at the name. It was a gold rush town, but now looks pretty much like any other town in the area. It had the biggest mall we've seen in the area, and we had a look around there and picked up a few things at Aldi since it closes on 5pm on Saturday and we knew we wouldn't get back to HB in time before ours closed. It took us an hour and a half to get back.
For those of you that have been praying for us to make some friends here, thank you. I wanted to update you that we had our most social week yet. We had church and small group as usual, but then Julie Ann from the Anglican church invited us for coffee on Thursday afternoon. She also took this nice picture of us near the bay:
On Friday night we had a couple from our Bible Study and their two kids over for dinner. We ended up talking for hours as the kids fell asleep on our couch. It was very interesting. Paul works for the government, so he had all sorts of questions how things worked in the US, and was a wealth of information for all of our questions about the Australian way of doing things. Rhonda brought over a fabulous cheesecake for us to eat for dessert. I was so excited to meet someone besides me that makes their own cheesecakes. She laughed and said that everyone makes there own cheesecake here. They don't have near as many fast prepared foods in Oz, so cooking from scratch isn't the dying art form it is at home. They also told us that our horror movie bird noises might actually be a gecko. We also got another invite after church. Katie, who I've mentioned before, who's on a working holiday from England is celebrating her birthday on Wednesday, so we are going to dinner with her and a few of her friends from work. Another good week in Oz!