I'm writing this as the residents of a tiny community in central Queensland called Mount Larcom return to their homes after surviving the fury of Mother Nature. Like many other Queenslanders in recent days, they were forced to evacuate quickly as flames licked at the township boundaries.
Learning how this quiet town on the long, lazy stretch of national highway that links the port town of Gladstone to beef-nourished Rockhampton, was caught up in the unfolding drama grabbed my attention.
Why did Mount Larcom catch my attention amidst all the news about the fires? After all, Deep Water and Baffle Creek are being hit harder, parts of North Stradbroke Island are burning, and more than 8,000 people had to race away from Gracemere. So what's so special for me about Mount Larcom?
On Saturday 6 October Kim and I pulled into the Puma petrol station at Mount Larcom to give the thirsty little motorhome we call The Bud Bus (Bud, for short) a drink when we spotted the most extraordinary sculpture.
Made from what we estimated to be 500+ gears, cogs and other machinery components, the mighty bull has his head tipped forward as if to charge along the highway in pursuit of errant roadtrippers who've failed to stop at his "home".
"More Amazing Art!"
That was Kim's exclamation when we spotted the bull, and that night at our campsite just outside Rocky we started to ponder the breadth of magnificent outdoor artwork that can been seen in every corner of Australia.
Ping... an idea germinated.
Mount Larcom's beaut jigsaw of metal spawned a national awards program that is set to embrace not only sculptors, but also mural, projection and mosaic artists. The notion grew quickly and over the past six weeks we've been madly snapping pictures of street art on our journey up and down the east coast to add to those taken for selfish pleasure on previous sojourns.
Aussie destinations, big and small, will now have an extra way to show the world their creativity.
Transforming Destinations has become our mantra
Kim's worked in leisure tourism for many years and I've been part of the business tourism sector. We both know the value to destinations of driving visitor growth.
So creating an awards program that gives every Australian town, region or destination an additional opportunity to chant along with our mantra seemed natural. Not sure your town is eligible? It is if you have an outdoor memorial, monument, street mural, adorned pavement or sculpture collection.
These unprecedented Queensland bushfires have reminded me that towns and communities across the nation are suffering more regularly than before from the forces of nature - earth, wind, water, air - drought, cyclones, floods, fires. It feels like Australia needs a little loving' from every one of us, and Kim and I both hope that these awards give you an extra incentive to get out and see this great country.