Scratch the Surface – The sea-goats

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  • Published 20080902
  • ISBN: 9780733322839
  • Extent: 296 pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm)

Thirty kilometres to the south, the seaside town of Sarina lies in wait, rousing weary drivers and snoozing navigators with the ecstatic greens of the Pioneer Valley cane plantations, ambushing those not yet ready for the gaudy tropical climes of Mackay. It irrigates the dust-clogged brains of travellers who have become accustomed to the Taipan brown of Central Queensland. By the time you have torn the sleep from your eyes, Sarina is vaporising into your rear-view and there is nothing but a vast emerald sugar plain that seems to stretch for hundreds of miles before you (and it does). The ethereal outline of the Eungella Range creeps into view, but at this distance its modest peaks are bathed in a dark blue hue and hang like pockets of textured sky on the horizon.

The Bruce Highway shrinks under the two metre-high cane and closes a little, as an ever-increasing volume of sugar and beef steams down on you in the brutal twin-trailer semis that shift the land. Diesel and tortured chain-link joints grind and rend the atmosphere as the trucks hurtle through the air-stream jetting past your eardrum. A gust of industrial-strength produce ignites an olfactory bomb-blast in the front seat of your car and the gaudy highway signage reads ‘Welcome to Mackay’.

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