It's fascinating when a weather phenomenon behaves as predicted, bang on cue. I'm thinking the summer Mistral in the Rhône Valley of France, the South Asian Monsoon in India, or the Morning Glory roll cloud in the Gulf of Carpentaria. Perhaps I can add to that list the westerlies that coincide in South East Queensland with the Ekka* in August. Queenslanders link these two events.
I've never really noticed the westerlies: Brisbane is a windy city much of the time. Since we've lived in Queensland, we think of August as having beautifully sunny, almost perfect weather. We recommend August to prospective visitors. A couple of years ago, my sister-in-law basked in the garden every morning and marvelled at the warm sunshine day after day. She lives in Manchester – whose rain recently ensured that the Ashes remain in England.
Typical August weather took its time to arrive this year: July was greyer than usual. A recent visitor arrived on 30 July but the weather wasn't right at all. There were a couple of serious showers as we sat over coffee at Riverside admiring the Brisbane River. He left a week later, by which time normal service had been restored. As we drove into the CBD with the windows down and warm sunshine flooding into the car, he turned to me and said, 'And this is winter?'
The Ekka began on Wednesday with the beef cattle judging. Cattle stations in Far North Queensland have been doing it tough, as the Aussies say, since the monsoonal rains didn't materialise as usual last summer. The agricultural show must be a welcome distraction. If you've never been to the Ekka, I would recommended it. It's a great taste of rural Queensland life. If you like little furry farm animals, it's a joy: but if you're concerned about the overuse of plastic bags, it's a nightmare.
Food consultant Alison Alexander on ABC Brisbane on Friday reported that she'd been judging marmalade at the Ekka this week. And yesterday at the Powerhouse farmers' market we picked up the winner from the Orange Juice Man.
I took our visitor to my favourite place, of course. He'd heard so much about Byron Bay, there was high expectation. It was a perfect day: being a weekday, there were parking spaces whenever we needed them; available tables in the sun outside Twisted Sista; and uncrowded beaches and cliff paths. There were whales still heading north and dolphins just off the Cape. Lying on Wategos Beach, the sun was very warm, but not burning, with a gentle breeze.
I've never felt so good about winter in my life.
* The annual Royal Queensland (agricultural) Show held at Brisbane Exhibition Ground. Ekka comes from the Ex of Exhibition.