Sunday, January 12, 2014

13 January 2014 - Caboolture Showground, Caboolture, Queensland

The scorching temperatures endured in Western Australia over the past week have yet to arrive on this side of the continent and will fall upon Victoria and New South Wales before then. Fires have been raging in areas of the Perth Hills we spent time exploring only six months ago; nowadays when such news comes in of places once passed through, now familiar, it all seems so much closer to home. I recall when the fires ravaged the areas north of Melbourne some years ago, at a time when I had no geographic understanding of Melbourne, Victoria or really anywhere in Australia, I was concerned for my friend in Warrnambool, which I have since learned is quite some distance away, too far even for smoke drift. Now, even as I cast my eye occasionally to the Australian Open being played out on our television screen, I recall our time spent wandering through the Rod Laver arena and all the other related rooms and structures. And so it was with the cricket on Sunday being played at the MCG where we also took a tour. Much is said for and against travel; those against say it narrows the mind to one’s personal experience rather than taking in wider aspects, but then they are probably just envious. Truth be told, I see merit in all arguments, but will remain on my side of the fence.
And speaking of travel and seeing new places, this morning we set out for the Redcliffe Peninsula, travelling down the Bruce Highway and turning eastwards onto the Deception Bay Road. We did come this way a couple of years ago, but were then towing the caravan and did not linger. 

Deception Bay is the bay sheltered on the northern end by Bribie Island and the southern, by the Redcliffe Peninsula. It is also the name of a small town on the bay, one of the many urban areas included in the Moreton Bay Region, home to a surprisingly large population of 20,000. We were not greatly impressed by the place except for the walking path along the bay which seems to go on and on, and offered a nice spot to stop and eat our lunch later in the day. Mangroves grow down to the seashore north and south of the settlement, no doubt home to many sociable mosquitoes.

Quite frankly I was not surprised to read that D-Bay, as Deception Bay is locally referred to, was previously plagued with crime and high unemployment during the 1980s and 1990s as it was populated with one of the most concentrated social housing arrangements in Queensland by the government of the day, however the community problems apparently subsided after 2001 due to development and population growth in the area. But the scars remain; it still has that look about it.

Twelve kilometres on, we came to Scarborough, a much more appealing settlement, a maze of canals and lovely houses, sailing boats and motor boats, and a general air of prosperity and pride. Here too we found kilometres of esplanade walking trails, which go on and on around the Point to Redcliffe.

Redcliffe itself has half the population of Deception Bay, but is part of the greater City of Redcliffe which includes all the suburbs of Clontarf, Kippa-Ring, Margate, Newport, Rothwell, Woody Point and Scarborough, altogether serving its population of over 55,000. Redcliffe was the first European settlement in Queensland, first settled as a penal settlement in 1823. Our busy maritime explorer, Matthew Flinders had checked it out in 1799. But I am sure I have already explained this much earlier, so shall not bore you more. 

We parked up in Scarborough and walked along the charming esplanade before moving on to the foreshore at Redcliffe. At Scarborough we found the street still festooned with Christmas trees decorated with bright baubles and solar panels; obviously the Council Christmas Fairy is still on holiday. We also noted the restaurant inviting patrons to dine beside the fireplace; this too must have been left from last winter. They must indeed me a very relaxed lot here at Scarborough.
At Redcliffe there is a long jetty, the first version constructed in 1885, extended to a length of 700 feet in 1889, then resurrected in 1922 after the first had deteriorated to an unsafe condition. The red roofed pavilion has also had several lives, the last with the jetty itself severely battered by a cyclone in 1976.

Redcliffe beach
These days the jetty is central to the weekly Sunday markets when the main street is closed off and the masses take over. Obviously the market stall holders have to toss a coin each weekend to decide whether to turn up at this or the Caboolture Country Markets. Perhaps we should pop back over there next Sunday and compare? But one day at a time; we shall see.

Further along the foreshore is the Settlement Cove Lagoon, a delightful kids-safe manmade swimming pool complete with lifeguards and playground. Today there were big numbers of families enjoying the free facility, frolicking in the water or lolling like whales, folk of all ages, sizes, skin decoration and fashion. We sat like a couple of old fogies on a bench watching it all and decided it would be most attractive if there were less people and another heat wave, although those two conditions are unlikely to coincide.

Settlement Cove Lagoon
Along the concrete walkway, running parallel to the shoreline, are a number of art works, sculptures which supposedly “showcase the foreshore, people and history”. We stood under that titled “Opto”, a steel pole on which two bright orange carbon-fibre circles moving in the Moreton Bay breeze; a rather attractive kinetic sculpture.  We decided we quite liked this one, which is more than we could say for the next on our pathway, titled “Apparatus for Non-destructive Transmission of Biological Visualisation”; what pompous twat thought that up!? The collection of weird and wonderful bits of bronze and stainless steel are quite pleasing but the blurb that accompanies the title is enough to put you off your cornflakes. We were not alone in thinking these irreligious thoughts; a local of similar years voiced his disgust at the waste of ratepayers’ money.

Redcliffe's tantalising sculptures
We had been following signs for a tourist driving route, marked with the silhouette of a dugong and kept on until we neared the southern shoreline of the peninsula, just north of the Hornibrook Bridge, and there turned north and for home. Still undecided as to what direction to take, we paused at Deception Bay and dined on our packed lunch, sitting in the shade of a yellow flowering cottonwood tree watching the gliding and landing antics of the local seagulls. 

Back in the landcruiser we poured over the maps; we had been late with our lunch having become distracted with this and that along the way, so decided we could explore the coastline between here and Bribie Island another day. I think Chris was keen to get back and check out the tennis progress, which of course he has, and been duly rewarded to see two Aussies win their games; quite surprising when the draws have been so not in Australia’s favour. Good on them.
The sky is now quite clear although black clouds have hovered menacingly most of the day, squeezing out a few drops from time to time, but not really coming to much at all. The forecast looks as if we will have pretty much the same in the way of weather for the rest of the week. At least, until that heat wave gets here.

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