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Monday, 6 March  2006  Melons

The people of Chinchilla, in Queensland, are preparing for their annual watermelon festival.

MEGAN MAGILL: Like so many people in Chinchilla, Dennis Dickman is obsessed with melons. So you think this is a potential winner Dennis?

DENNIS DICKMAN, CHINCHILLA MELON GROWER: Megan, it's not a bad one. There's two or three good ones here and it's probably got another big brother down the road here.

MEGAN MAGILL: The second-generation grower is tipped to take out this year's giant watermelon competition for the fifth time. How much do you think this one will weigh?

DENNIS DICKMAN: Oh, about 68 kilograms.

MEGAN MAGILL: That's a little bit light isn't it?

DENNIS DICKMAN: It probably is a little bit. There are a few big ones they tell me coming in from Bundaberg and some other growers in the district - so we'll see how we go this year.

MEGAN MAGILL: Adding weights to the competition some young blood from the local primary school.

DARREN ICON & CORRIE WEST, CHINCHILLA STATE PRIMARY SCHOOL: We reckon this is one of our biggest melons and it weighs about 40 kilograms. So, if there's anyone out there, we reckon we can beat you.

MEGAN MAGILL: The students have been tending their crop since last October. And while the delicate melons need to be protected from the sun their prized patch is impressive.

Also in the field, Darryl O'Leary, well known for innovation. He was the first local to produce the seedless variety.
So Darryl, is this your biggest melon?

DARRYL O'LEARY: No it's not. This is one of my worker's. He's done a pretty poor job of it but I've had them pretty busy working all season so I haven't had time to look after them. I've got mine up the row a bit and I won't bring it out until the weigh-in.

MEGAN MAGILL: O'Leary maintains his mystery melon is more than an enhanced fantasy. I hear the boys from Bundaberg could give you a run for your money?

DARRYL O'LEARY: Yeah, those Bundaberg fellas, they all talk a bit but they've only done it once in seven years.

MEGAN MAGILL: Chinchilla is known as Australia's watermelon capital. It produces about a quarter of the country's supply. But lately, the competition in the marketplace has also been stiff. It's been a pretty tough season for melon growers. While they were fortunate enough to get a fair bit of rain before Christmas, prices have been well below average. There just seems to be no demand for melons at the moment. But locals are hoping this year's festival will change all that. The biennial event started in 1994, as a celebration for growers who'd been through drought. Now, it's seen as vital promotion.

There's no end to the melon-related activities this week. There's pip spitting, melon skiing, and for those drunk on the festivities, melon bungee jumping. If it weren't for the suspense the battle of the biggest melon could be just a sideshow.

DARRYL O'LEARY: Don't be fooled, this is one of my worker's. Mine's up the paddock a bit. It's twice the size of this.

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English Bites - Melons
story notes

Chinchilla is a town in Queensland, not far from the capital, Brisbane.

That means his parents grew watermelons, too. This is the second generation of people in Dennis’s family who‘ve grown melons.

Tipped means guessed or expected.

The large red-fleshed melon is what we call a watermelon.

To tend something means to look after or watch over it.

A crop is a group of plants grown in one place.

 prized patch
If something is prized it is considered valuable or important . And a patch is a small area.
We often talk about a vegetable patch. That’s an area of land where vegetables are grown. Here, the students have a melon patch.

 in the field
A field can be an area of land used for growing crops or keeping animals. But here, field refers to all the competitors taking part in a race.
Example: We started out with a field of ten, but three people withdrew.

Innovation refers to the use of new ideas and methods.

Follow the link below and listen to the different way produce is pronounced when it's used as a noun.
more information: produce

 give you a run for your money
To give someone a run for their money means to not let them win easily.
Example: I don' t think the top team will be beaten, but this week they should get a run for their money.
Click here for more idioms and common expressions.

Known is the past participle of the irregular verb know. Follow the link below to find out more and to listen to some examples.
more information: know

 at the moment
now; at this time; presently
Example: At the moment I'm reading this example.
Click here for more idioms and common expressions.

What are melons?

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