By CAITLIN CROWLEY
I HAD managed to keep my sister’s Christmas present top secret and as we walked towards a picnic table in Crows Nest’s Centenary Park, there was still no way she could have ever imagined what was coming next.
We were greeted by a beaming Malcolm Maurer-Kennedy, one half of the duo behind local tourism business, MK Tours.
He offered my sister a hint when he joked about working with animals and children, but she was still completely clueless until he pointed across the park and said, “Here they come.”
Crossing the road and making their way towards us, llamas Napoleon and Guinness arrived in style, led by Rod Kennedy, who shared his tips and tricks for handling the quirky creatures.
To say my sister was overwhelmed is an understatement. She has always had a thing for llamas and now she was about to spend a leisurely lunch with not one, but two of them.
I didn’t realise it at the time, but Bronte and I were the very first guests to road test the Llama Lunch – a new and hilarious tourism offering for the Darling Downs.
Locally sourced treats with a side of llamas proved the perfect recipe for a whole lot of laughs, especially when we took Napoleon and Guinness on a stroll around the park.
“It would be fair to say we have created quite the stir in town,” Rod Kennedy said.
“When we take the boys out in town, people flock from everywhere – locals and visitors alike.
“Cars stop and u-turn to come and say hello – iPhones and cameras coming from every angle. We always hear, “I didn’t expect to see and pat a llama today!”
Neither did Bronte.
I can also vouch for the pulling power of a couple of curious llamas.
Everyone from kids to their grandparents were lining up, asking if they could meet our fluffy friends. Rod and Malcolm had a picnic basket full of pellets at the ready, happily helping passers-by hand feed the stars of the show.
“Napoleon seems to be attracted to the camera and will often photo bomb when you’re turning to take a picture,” Rod said.
I think the photos we took speak for themselves…
Rod and Malcolm launched MK Tours last year after fulfilling a decades’ long dream to settle in Crows Nest, coming up with the idea after a sunset walking tour at The Llama Farm at Pine Mountain.
“We started to discuss how we could promote the great town of Crows Nest whilst having a hobby to help pay for Guinness and Napoleon’s care,” Rod said.
Now they’re offering a variety of experiences including walking tours around the country town and its retail and dining destinations.
“We wanted to be unique and put a smile on everyone’s faces,” Rod said.
Llama Lunch will definitely go down in my family folklore as one of the all time great surprises. The only problem is how I’ll ever be able to top it.