Our next stop was under the spinning blades of an old windmill situated in the botanic gardens at Emerald. We only found the location by accident, but it was comfortable enough to entice us to stay for a couple nights.

Parked by the windmill at Emerald, November 2010
As we slept in the trailer, we could hear the blades going around and around, pumping up water from the ground to water the botanic gardens.

David and Calista in Emerald, November 2010
It looked like it would be fun to climb, but we didn't get around to scaling its height.

We did let the girls play in the water pouring out of its pipe however. It was a bit cold, but the girls dress in their wetsuits and manage to enjoy playing in all sorts of weather!

Aisha and Brioni at Emerald Botanic Gardens, November 2010
We enjoyed the opportunity to explore the whole botanic gardens, discovering lots of fun places in which to play.

Emerald Botanic Gardens, November 2010
Although they contained many different pathways throughout, the botanic gardens weren't immaculately maintained but were left to grow a bit wild. This only added to their charm.

Aisha and Brioni at Emerald Botanic Gardens, November 2010
The girls enjoyed the man-made playground structures and demonstrated new skills on the equipment. We find that whenever we expose them to new experiences, their learning increases exponentially.

Happy Calista on the swing, November 2010
It was raining during most of our visit, but this didn't slow us down!

Emerald Botanic Gardens, November 2010
We haven't ever been inclined to visit botanic gardens before. In fact, Brisbane is home to the renowned Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens, but we've never visited them! This visit to Emerald has changed David's and my attitudes towards them.

Playing at Emerald Botanic Gardens, November 2010
Streams criss-crossed the gardens, and the girls took their dolls for a swim.

Playing in the mud, November 2010
Sometimes the mud seems to hold more attraction for the girls than the water.

We didn’t see much wildlife in the park — it’s in the middle of town — but I did manage to catch this with the camera. (Some funny squeaking caught my attention — it was the frog complaining about being bitten.)

Snake eating a frog, November 2010
After I called the girls to look at the snake eating this little frog, it moved away in defense. It was a good lesson in 1. snakes are scared of humans and 2. snakes prefer to bite frogs.

Brioni with green tree frog, November 2010
Later we found a beautiful green tree frog. "This is like the one that was being eaten!" Brioni declared.

This park was memorable for us because of a number of special features.

Brioni climbing a rock, November 2010
There were lots of different spaces to explore.

Aisha and Brioni playing, November 2010
Aisha and Brioni really enjoyed going round and round on this Velocitor.

David and Lauren playing, November 2010
David and I tried it out. It was fun for the first couple times around, and then the dizziness made us feel ill. (What is it about being a child that means you *enjoy* getting dizzy?)

Lauren on the computer in the park, November 2010
And my favourite thing was the powerpoints available in the covered areas of the park which meant I could use the computer again. We also stayed up late one night watching a movie with other campers.

Before we arrived in the central Queensland town of Emerald, I didn’t really know much about this part of Queensland that has been made prosperous by the mining boom. As multi-national companies increase their profits by stripping the Australian soil of its natural resources, everyone tries to cash in on the winnings.

But we liked walking around Emerald, shopping for some essentials and talking to the locals. We visited electronics stores in search of walky-talkies (we don’t want those girls getting lost again!) and stopped in at all the op shops.

One morning, we wandered past a playgroup operating out of an Anglican church hall, and because we so clearly fit the demographic, we were invited in! I was pleased to sit down for a while with a cup of tea while the girls played indoors.

In Emerald, we also bought a mobile broadband dongle so I could start updating the blog on the road. At the same computer store, the girls were given superceded mobile phone models. (I was bold enough to ask if there were any lying around because we’ve had such success with it in the past.)

Brioni talks to someone on her phone, November 2010
The phones added a new element to the girls' imaginary play.

It was a great place to stop. We really enjoyed the relaxed camping and spending time with other transients who also used the facilities at the botanic gardens.

All the same, this is probably the furthest west and north in Queensland we’ll travel on this trip. We’ve been speaking to Woodoo who needs some more help back in Grafton. He’s been sifting through his possessions after the house fire, and we’ll start making our way back south to him.