Happy New Year to all, ourselves included! May we all stay well and safe and be contented with our lot in life, and if not, strive to do better.
Yesterday saw a general exodus from our camping ground: Graeme and Pam in the motorhome next to us, together with their sea-lion-like Labrador, headed home back up the escarpment, hoping for cooler temperatures or at worst, the comfort of their large air-conditioned home. Our caravanning neighbours on the other side headed to another showground, tentatively trying out the grey nomad lifestyle, still not quite game enough to head off into the complete unknown and loosen family ties. And the orange singleted chap up the end of the park returned from hospital, which was just as well because his generously built wife, lame and breathless, was in danger of falling as she tended their two dogs living under their caravan. The very young couple across the park in a very small, very ancient caravan continue their holiday with their very small, well behaved baby. Such was the scene here at the show-grounds as we all readied ourselves to see the new year in.
We finished the ice-cream, the last of the Christmas goodies, the wine and beer all long gone, and sat watching the build up to the celebratory fireworks on the television, until the nonsense drove me to bed and my book instead. Before I drifted off I heard the fireworks going off here in Ipswich, accompanied by thunder rolling around the region, all well short of the midnight hour. Later I woke to find Chris sound asleep beside me, just minutes before the twelve, and heard folk counting down the last few seconds of 2013 before I fell asleep the next year. Such were our New Year celebrations; the years of wild raging are but distant memories, and some better forgotten.
This morning dawned no different from last year’s yesterday, although the birds were a little more excited about the rain that had fallen through the night and the fact there were less campers sharing their space. I had put in my demand for the day a week ago; I don’t ask for much these days but when I do, I am generally rewarded. A picnic outing was all I asked; lunch was duly packed and options of destinations proffered to the driver. He decided that filling with diesel was the first priority, and that we should find the nearest Coles Express to cash in on the supermarket discount vouchers that were accumulating in his wallet. The practice of driving to the far boundary of the city to fill with fuel that is sold at a highly inflated price before any discount, is, in my book, a foolish practice, and is supported by my husband every time we do it. He comes out from the cashier huffing and puffing about the price and saying that it is all quite pointless, and I refrain from saying, “I told you so”, and then we do the same all over again when the tanks run dry. Such is life.
From the northern edge of the city, it was not too far to the Kholo Botanic Gardens, which are, according to the promotional blurb, Ipswich’s best kept secret. Given that this was New Year’s Day, a compulsory holiday for most, I had expected the car park to be full and the lawns and BBQ areas to be already reserved for the masses of locals, but of course it is the best kept secret. There were about three parties there, one well set up under a picnic shelter with the swing-ball pole already set up for post-picnic games, another wandering about wondering what was on offer and ourselves who were doing the same.
Actually the reserve is quite lovely, although to call them “botanic gardens” seems a bit remiss. The small park, located on the banks of the Brisbane River, was established in 1988 as a bicentennial project. The same blurb speaks of “meandering boardwalks through bush land and sub-tropical rain forests”. I also read somewhere about “a waterfall”. In truth there is bush, and paths do meander through them, and there is a lovely lily pond into which water falls over a rocky wall. Amongst the trees are two trees planted by the early settlers, a fifty metre tall Queensland kari pine and a sixty metre tall hoop pine.
The track we had chosen to walk was barricaded off and as we peered down through the scrub, we saw that the bridge at the bottom of the gully had sustained damage, yet to be dealt with. In fact much of the track along the river was overgrown and unkempt, which abbreviated opportunity for any real exercise.
|Beside the Brisbane River|
Beyond the picnic areas is a relocated church, originally built at Redbank, moved in the late 1990s, and a rather quaint historic building that is available for weddings and the like. It would have been interesting to learn the history of the house as well as the workings of the waterworks.
It was still well before midday, so we decided to head for Colleges Crossing, where the Mount Crosby Road crosses the Brisbane River little above water level. It is at this point the river becomes un-navigable, although it remains tidal even further up river, or at least according to a couple of fishermen sitting next to us at lunch time.
As we drove down to the recreational reserve, we were shocked to see it so changed from our last visit, however on consideration we realised that we had only been here once before and that was when we did our original week-long recci trip from New Zealand in November 2010 to purchase our rig. Then we had thought it to be a delightful spot; plenty of shade, well-patronised, an attractive swimming spot despite the shark warning signs (a fact that had surprised us given how far up river we were and a fact that did not seem to bother the parents of the swimming children at all).
Since then the riverfront reserve has seen two flood events. In January 2011 a combination of high velocity floodwaters, massive levels of debris and severe scouring and washout, caused by the controversial release of the Wivenhoe Dam, destroyed much of the 23.5 hectare recreational area, damage valued at nine million dollars. Then just weeks after the repair works were completed, the floods of January 2013 caused extensive re-damage.
The second round of restoration has been costed at over four million dollars and is this time better engineered to sustain predicted flood levels. To our untrained eyes, we could see that most of the work had been completed although there is still a large area fenced off, including buildings with roofs partly down and playgrounds twisted and squashed. What heartbreak for those who had worked on the first repair!
Needless to say the established shade trees are mostly gone and while the structures and picnic areas, relying mainly on shade sails for protection, are all very trendy and smart, there is a certain sterility about the place. We wandered about lamenting the situation then settled under artificial shade wrestling the newspaper in the breeze, watching the many dog owners come and go, the fishermen down below us in the river, then dead on midday, had lunch, as we do. 2014 has not weakened our resolve for punctuality and routine!
A group of young families arrived, happy and noisy, but not conducive to our peaceful contemplation of action on the river, so we packed up and headed south to the Haig Street Quarry Bush Reserve in the north-west corner of the city in the suburb of Brassal.
The former quarry, once a source for sand and gravel, handed to the city in 1989, has been rehabilitated into a reserve for local wildlife and plant species, although the only local wildlife we encountered were three woolly looking young men trying their hand at fishing in the quarry lake and a couple of crows.
|Water lilies in the Kholo Botanic Gardens|
Back home, still relatively early in the afternoon, we caught up with all three of our children to wish them the best for the new year and give loose promises of our return. What would we do without Skype and email!