For years, during my journey to visit family in the South Burnett, we've driven past a quaint little village on the side of the D'Aguilar Highway, just outside of Nanango.
Virgil's Touchwood Artisans' Village is a collection of little huts, arts, crafts and memorabilia.
We were travelling back to Brisbane recently when Miss 7 announced she needed to use the toilet, and rather urgently, thank you very much.
Having just been through a town, with toilets, I was about to mumble a few choice swear words, when Virgil's village loomed ahead, rather conveniently I thought.
Mr 9 was cross at having to stop. (Apparently he was at a crucial stage of his DS game). However, he soon forget to be annoyed when he clocked the village's many kid-friendly attractions.
There were animal bones and skulls, displays of life in the 'olden days' as my kids describe them, birds to admire, and a pretty cool playground to explore. Oh and toilets. Don't forget the toilets. (They were clean too! Very important for public toilet-phobic H.)
We spent a pleasant half-an-hour or so while the kids worked off some nervous energy in the playground, and checked out all the arts, crafts, carvings, and bones.
There was a brief potential meltdown when Mr 9 spied some hand-crafted walking sticks and decided he just HAD to have one. Now, C. has Aspergers Syndrome, and once he's fixated on something, it's really hard to distract him.
And then a really nice thing happened. A man I presume to be Virgil came over, told C. he was much too young and able to need a walking stick; that in any case, the sticks were too tall for him; and that whenever he got to the stage where he needed one, he could come back and have one carved just for him.
I thought that was lovely. Only in the country would you get a salesperson try to talk you out of buying something!
And then the man winked at me, and sent us off to check out what Mick the bone-carver was up to.
Bones? That immediately piqued the kids' interests, and the walking stick incident was fogotten.
You only get service like that in the South Burnett!
Virgil's Touchwood Artisan's Village, Nanango
Mr 9 soon forget his DS. There was real life stuff to explore!
Where's Carrie Bradshaw when you need her?
Manalo Blahniks have nothing on these...
They breed 'em tough out in the country...
A highlight of our visit was Mick the bone carver. The kids were fascinated.
Mick spent ages showing them how he turned bits of bone into beautiful works of art.
Some of Mick's beautiful bone carvings
I was stunned when Mick gave the kids some pieces of bone he didn't really need. I thought that was awesome, particularly as we couldn't afford to buy art on this occasion. Here they are showing them off. H. is kissing hers!
Mr 9's keepsake
And Miss 7's. They treasure them.
What a wonderful person Mick was for giving not just his time, but a small piece of his work for the kids to love.
Mr 9 wanted me to post this ...one of his favourite things at Virgil's village.
IF YOU GO: Virgil's Touchwood Artisans' Village is run by Virgil Smith, a woodworker and carver. He also restores much-loved furniture and custom-makes others. Entry is free, and open to visitors daily from 8.30am-5pm.
13620 D'Aguilar Highway