Oh, they grow sugar cane in Queensland
They grow sugar cane in Queensland
They grow sugar cane
And they load it on a train
'Til it's syrup in a tin in Queensland.
I loved that song when I was a kid. I've only just discovered right now, as I looked for a link to give to readers who may be unfamiliar with such obscure Australiana, that the version I learnt at primary school had been abridged and altered a little for the benefit of our tender young ears. Turns out, the giant grasshopper wasn't drinking pineapple juice all over Queensland after all. He was spitting tobacco juice. Well, learn something new and all that.
I'm from down south, and I'd never been to Queensland, or seen a sugar cane field, until I was 22 years old. I was on a bus from Darwin to Brisbane - that's three days straight on a bus. On the third day we started driving through fields of some plants that looked distinctly sinister, somehow ominous, and really quite ugly to me. I thought about what these strange beastly things could be, and soon realised, ah, this is sugar cane country now. This must be sugar cane.
Maybe it's something to do with my deeply passionate love-hate relationship with sugar. I've been terribly addicted to sugar all my life, and yes, I know, it's really bad for me. Looking at the plant it comes from, it's easy to believe it's a bad thing. I mean, they look exactly like bloody Triffids, or just like how I imagined them when I read the book. Now just look at them. Don't they look like they're just about to sprout venomous mouths out their tops and go forth and destroy the world? Or is it just me?
I don't actually live in Queensland, but close enough that the climate and agricultural conditions don't notice the difference. This land is in sugar cane country. A lot of the view on the way to town looks something like this.
We drive past a sugar refinery on the highway, and some days, the smell of burning molasses hangs so thick in the air it seems to stick to your clothes. Now, when I open a jar of raw sugar, I recognise that smell.
And, of course, where you have sugar cane, you sure as hell have cane toads.