Michelle, the lady we buy our nuts from, promised Sandy (my girlfriend at the time) and I a tour of their plant and lunch any time we were in the neighbourhood. Michelle’s neighbourhood, Kingaroy, is about 300 miles inland from Brisbane and a bit off the average kiwi’s beeline.
But not for us! With every nut that tumbled around in our roasters, the urge to uncover their roots grew stronger, until, in October 2008, we drove to Christchurch and caught the 6.00am flight to Sydney. From Sydney we flew to Coffs Harbour, where we watched my sister get married, then hired a car and drove on up to the Gold Coast where Sandy’s daughter lives.
Then hi ho we were off to the country. On and on and on we offed. Miles and miles of not very much at all, until we got to Kingaroy, where we met Michelle, had barramundi for lunch and a look around the plant before driving back.
When we went through the plant we had to place all our jewellery, sunglasses, cellphones and cameras in a box, so I can’t show you any photos from the inside. But imagine if you will, lots and lots of peanuts, conveyor belts and guys in hairnets with clip boards.
But enough of this tiresome travelogue. Take a look at the photos:
A rural parthenon. PCA massive silos tower over Kingaroy.
Funky mobile shops sell every kind of peanut product imaginable
|Mavis Kennedy is affectionately known to locals as Mr Peanut||Hilda Walker has been hitched to the Peanut Wagon for 35 years|
Back in the days of steam, mighty locomotives rumbled down these track, hauling nuts to every state in Australia. Today these same tracks rust slowly in the Queensland sun, providing shelter for slaters, funnel web spiders and bull ants. These days, high powered lorries, many equipped with sleeping accommodation, cart Kingaroy’s precious produce to the wharfs of Brisbane where they are loaded onto ships bound for Nelson.
And its goodbye Pic, goodbye Sandy and goodbye Kingaoy.