It’s raining melons in Chinchilla – well, that might be a slight exaggeration but the truth is, a lot of melons are farmed in this district.
Every year in February the town plays host to a Melon Festival, and everywhere we’ve been driving over the last few days, we’ve been seeing roadside stalls selling watermelons, rockmelons and a fruit that I’ve always called champagne melon but which the locals apparently call mango melon.
Chinchilla is a small town on the Darling Downs, about 300 kilometres west of Brisbane, the centre of a pastoral region which is now riding on the back of the resources boom.
My mother grew up in this district and I have family links to the region dating back more than 100 years. So we’ve been spending the Easter weekend reconnecting with family and feasting on lots of watermelons.
First stop … the visitor’s centre which does a lovely Devonshire tea with homemade scones. Kudos to the wonderful band of volunteers for serving loose-leaf tea in a pot! $5 well spent.
Specially for Easter, there was a market set up under the shady trees nearby, where we bought locally made Raspberry Jam with Gin and Strawberries in Champagne – so decadent!
We’ve enjoyed one long table lunch after another courtesy of my big extended family. Cousin Geoff cooked a hearty Osso Bucco with freshly baked damper and there’s been an abundance of home-baked cakes, pies and biscuits to tempt us. No-one goes hungry here.
We caught a beautiful sunset over the Condamine River at Chinchilla Weir, a lovely picnic spot, and at the end of every meal we’ve been enjoying … you guessed it … big, juicy, crisp, sweet melons.