Saturday, January 18, 2014

19 January 2014 - Caboolture Showground, Caboolture, Queensland

I was thinking about those who might happen for the first time upon this blog, and see that we have barely moved from the South East Queensland area since 5 December; Ipswich, Lowood, Marburg, Caboolture, round and round the mulberry bush and travel behaviour which is most unlike that which preceded and has occupied us and the pages of this bog over the past three years. So all I can say to that newbie, is that we have not always passed our days in such uneventful fashion and I would urge you to flick back to the days and weeks, months and years preceding these last slow Queensland days, and then pass judgement. I will repeat here that this was set up to record our trip for posterity and our own old age, and to keep our immediate family in touch with our whereabouts, not to endlessly entertain. It has however turned into exactly that for many thousands of armchair travellers, some who have put their own gypsy days on hold, some who wish they had done it all before their hips or knees gave out, and some who still plan to set off when they have done this, that or the other. The days have remained warm here at Caboolture, the thermometer still about 30 or 32 degrees, the breezes and occasional very light shower give relief when needed and it is altogether very pleasant.

We are still undecided about the demise of the rig, and that is mainly because the For Sale advertisements remain on-line, and one always hopes for a miracle. In the meantime, I sort through files and cupboards, discarding unnecessary items and deciding what can stay with the caravan and what will come back to New Zealand with us.

Water Lilies
The other morning we popped over the Bruce Highway to Solar Xpress and checked out portable solar panels, regulators and leads required for storing the rig long term. The wherewithal for this all adds up in dollars, which has caused us re-evaluate whether we want to go down the indoor or outdoor storage options. There is less than a week to decide what we will do about this because there is no guarantee that we will be able to source the materials and expertise once we leave the service hub of Caboolture.

Yesterday we spent most of the morning wandering about the Centenary Lakes, just off the road to Morayfield. We have passed by the park many times since settling ourselves into Caboolture, however it was only today that we made the effort to check it out. There seems to be little in the way on information about the park; area, history and such like, the kind of facts I like. However I can tell you what we found. 

Hatted water bird
Several lakes have been formed adjacent to the Caboolture River, enough water diverted for a gentle flow through these lakes which are at varying levels, creating small waterfalls between. Surrounded by trees, and punctuated by small islands, they are a refuge for wildlife and today we saw ducks, ibis, geese, purple swamp hens, coots, dusky moorhens, brush turkeys, corellas, peewees, crows, willy-wagtails, water dragons, a couple of turtles, a metre long finned eel and a goose-like bird with a bundle of fluff on its head. Concrete pathways wind their way up and down the slopes, around through the clusters of vegetation and around the lakes. Designated wedding areas can be reserved for the Big Day, but brides must take care not to step in the bird poo. Netball and tennis courts, a BMX track and all manner of other sports fields are also within the park area. Returning to the car, we wandered along the riverside in the shade of big trees and then spied a substantial structure across the river, a walking bridge beckoning us for further exploration. 

We stood high above the deep brown river and wished we had our kayak with us, a safe whim given that it is currently in the custody of our older grandchildren across the Tasman. The path upriver led us for several kilometres through charming riverside parklands until we emerged onto an off-leash dog exercise area where we chatted with a charming man while being loved to death by his juvenile sheep dog, who licked and leapt despite our efforts to keep him at arm’s length. I refer here to the dog, not the man. 

Given that I do wax lyrical about the abundant birdlife here in Australia, it was interesting to hear this same man tell us a related tale. He and his wife have a friend from the Philippines, an immigrant who apart from embracing her new country, is always going on about the marvellous fauna, as I do. Apparently much of the birdlife in the Philippines has fallen prey to predators, hungry humans, and so these islands of lush tropical vegetation are strangely quiet of avian call. Well, that was her story anyway, and it certainly gave us pause for thought. I was going to tell him about the wood pigeons, or kereru, falling into Maori cooking pots, but thought we could easily end up chatting all day and the sun was hot, despite our sandals and sunhats.

The Centenary Lakes are one of Caboolture’s best kept secrets! I did manage to learn that in 2011 the whole area had been flooded under two metres of water, although these days you would never guess it.

Needless to say the morning was quite gone by the time we made our way back home, to find the tennis greats still at it down in Melbourne, but in better temperatures than the four preceding days. And on the subject of the heat in Victoria, we have been dismayed to learn of the fires consuming large swathes of the lovely countryside around the Grampians, with little hope of being brought under control anytime soon.

This morning dawned extra early; the magpies’ harmonies on the caravan roof were quite delightful, but about two hours too soon; I could have done with a lie-in. We bade each other a “Happy Wedding Anniversary”, enjoyed our cereal and coffee then set off across the showgrounds to the Sunday Country Markets. There were certainly more customers today than when we last bothered a couple of weeks ago, and more stalls, a fact that was only obvious by the area taken up, but otherwise there was little difference. We purchased a few vegetables and took our daily exercise up and down the aisles, dodging the assortment of locals who had come to do the same. Observing the clientele was as fascinating as checking out the stalls; they were certainly an odd lot today. But I guess we all are.

After packing away our purchases, we decided to head out for the morning, or for however long the drive would take. I packed the eski and we headed eastwards across the Bruce Highway but turned south from the Bribie Island Road to Beachmere, another settlement on Deception Bay.

Neighbours here in the park during our first week of stay headed there when their three weeks were up, and today we saw that our more recent neighbours, also Clarks, but with no “e”, had also moved there. This Lions Camping Ground seems to be the place you go between your allotted time here at Caboolture. We will break the trend. 

Beachmere's beach
Beachmere surprised us with its size and charm; with about 4,000 inhabitants it has a decent shopping centre including a good sized IGA, so one could easily hang out there for a week or so if you were in the hanging-about mood. The tide was in and so the beach was little more than a very narrow strip of sand for a short space in front of the “town” area. Further south, a cement wall holds back erosion and prevents the creep of mangroves, although here where there is a sizeable off-leash dog park, the land disappears into the mangrove swamps, no doubt home to all manner of creepy crawlies.

After checking out the mangroves and reading about the Lyngbya majuscule, a toxic algae bloom plaguing the bay, we were not inclined to even paddle our feet in the water. On the beach proper, we were further repelled when we saw a large number of jellyfish both on the wet sand and being tossed around in the surf, such as it was.

We followed the road on returning to the Bribie Island Road further east, then turned south again to Godwin Beach. Here the beach was marginally more attractive although the population who might find it so, somewhat smaller, so we carried on around to Sandstone Point. 

More water lilies
Again, the beach frontage here is minimal, although with a large grassy picnic area. A few were fishing from the narrow shoreline and from here, as from Godwin and Beachmere, there were views out across the bay to Bribie Island, Moreton Island and down to Scarborough where we had driven about a week ago.

But Sandstone Point is a delightful residential area, smart in an understated sort of way. It too has a population of about 4,000 and a small modern shopping area. Location and neighbours would make it a lovely spot to live, although we did not check out the real estate prices. Instead we stopped beside a park area, adjacent to the small shopping centre, and wandered around the lake on a concrete pathway through the melaleucas, ooh-ing and aah-ing about the water lilies. Flowers and leaf stalks stood high above the lake level, and above the more motley variety of lilies we had encountered in Caboolture’s Centenary Lakes yesterday. These were simply splendid, and all topped off by a graceful grey heron rising across the lake in front of us, followed by an elegant white Great Egret. What a scene!  Noisy crows in the trees above us agreed; it was all worth crowing about.

Pumicestone Passage shoreline
Soon we were back on the Bribie Island Road, emerging immediately to the west of the bridge approach. We chose not to join the great stream of traffic heading onto Bribie Island for the day, but instead to call into the marina area, or more particularly, Kal-Ma-Kuta Park at Ningi. Here we watched small craft setting out into Pumicestone Passage, or returning from an early mornings fishing attempt. Apparently the fish were there, but most not big enough to be taken. There were a surprising number of families with small children fishing from the shore, and as I watched one little fellow lamenting his caught line, I thought of our own little grandchildren waiting for us back in New Zealand.

It was barely past 11.30 am so we decided to head home, and there we sat under our own awning to enjoy our picnic lunch, to the accompaniment of a juvenile magpie. He sat on a branch just through the fence singing his heart out, no doubt sent there to do so by his parents to go practice. He has some way to go yet.

 Pork chops have been pulled out of the freezer for dinner, a bottle of wine on chill and the chef is taking in some more of the tennis before he starts preparing dinner. I did catch myself a good one nearly twenty years ago; husband that is.

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