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Sunday, 31 October 2010

After three days on the road visiting Glen Innes, Inverell, Tenterfield and Armidale - four jewels of New England, the tablelands region of NSW - it's great to be back home, safe from driving on two-lane country roads and the multi-lane expressways that circle Brisbane and where urban commuters mix it with long-haul drivers like my mother and I. For her the trip was a challenge. She probably thought at times that the road would never end and, for sure, she was knackered by the time we reached our daily destination. So tired, in fact, that I would go out alone to eat and bring back a portion for her to have in the hotel room.

Brilliant weather for most of the time made driving easier. The only rain came on Friday as we negotiated the New England Highway near the Queensland-NSW border. But everywhere we went in the Aurion - a masterful auto on good roads and indifferent alike - it is now green on pasture and on wooded hillside, proving for real that the 10-year drought Australian farmers have endured has finally ended.

A highlight of the trip was the Sustainable Living Expo in Armidale where this photo of a Sydney Opera House-shaped chicken coop was taken. The show gave retailers a chance to engage with potential customers. It also allowed local residents to experience a number of different approaches to sustainable living, including demonstrations by Costa (the SBS TV personality) on how to build a chicken coop out of old, unused furniture and, this morning, how to build a no-dig garden using only hay, soil, compost and minerals. I spoke with Costa briefly and will write a couple of stories based on materials assembled during the expo.

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