Thursday, January 2, 2014

3 January 2014 - Caboolture Showground, Caboolture, Queensland

Yesterday we took the opportunity to pop down to the Gold Coast and call on Chris’s niece, her husband and their brand new baby boy, as well as pick up the mail Tineke had been holding for us; a two hundred kilometre round trip to collect the mail. The Brisbane motorway system is quite brilliant, at least in the area we travelled yesterday; onto the Cunningham Highway, the Ipswich Motorway, the Logan Motorway and then down the Pacific Highway. We had time up our sleeve around our visit, so took the opportunity to call into the Westfield Shopping Centre at Helensvale where I managed to pick up a replacement for my rather drab and bedraggled looking handbag, as well as buying an Australian calendar for the new year, something we had hoped would not be necessary, given that Plan A would have had us back in New Zealand by now.

We found the new family of three coping well, or at least as well as you would expect given the learning curve they are all experiencing; baby struggling with colic, mother coping with exhaustion and proud father having to think beyond his man-of-the-house activities, such as making coffee for visiting nomads.

We had to chuckle at several stories shared during our visit, one in particular concerning an English friend of  Tineke’s who has already been out to Australia and has undertaken the required three months “outback” work to allow an automatic extension on her visa for her next visit. And where did she pass these months slaving away in the outback? Gatton, no less; that lovely town up the Lockyer Valley we picnicked in a week or so ago. That is “outback”? We could show her “outback”!

Temperatures in the State topped recent averages, 47 degrees in Birdsville late in the day and 35 in Ipswich. Interestingly the temperatures were cooler on the Gold Coast, perhaps the reason why people prefer to live there rather than Ipswich. The forecast for Ipswich today was for 40 degrees, however we were gone soon after 9 am heading east again on part of the highways travelled yesterday before turning north up through the Gateway Motorway, not the shortest or most direct, but certainly the most straightforward; we were not keen to repeat the rather convoluted route taken when we came down from the Sunshine Coast several weeks ago. Just short of the Caboolture exit, the three lanes of bumper to bumper holiday traffic came to a grinding halt, so we turned off and came on up through Morayfield. So had everyone else and the traffic was jammed at all the lights and rail crossings right through until we reached the route north of Caboolture heading to Beerburrum, on which the showgrounds are situated.

Unlike our last arrival here, exactly one month ago, the office was (wo)manned and we were efficiently dealt, with electing to stay for one week for a well discounted tariff. We could in fact stay for the total of three should we choose to do so, however I am guessing that one week in Caboolture is as long as we would possibly want.

We were set up and lunching with an excellent view over the Sydney Cricket Ground (through the box) by midday, the air-conditioner working at maximum output combatting the near 37 degree heat outside. Although out in the sun it is a whole lot hotter that that!

We have passed by Caboolture a number of times, and even stayed that one night in early December last, however we have never thought of it as a destination, dismissing it merely as a satellite settlement for Brisbane fringe dwellers. This is completely unfair and we will no doubt see just how unfair in the coming days if we can drag ourselves out into the heat wave that is forecasted for the coming week.

A couple of years ago, Caboolture had a population of 46,882, and given the new subdivisions we saw as we made our way here today, the population has surely grown since then. This urban centre, just over forty kilometres north of Brisbane, lies at the northern end of the commuter rail service although our Translink pass cards can be used on the line as far north as Gympie, beyond the Sunshine Coast.

The area was first settled back in 1842 when the land around the Moreton Bay penal colony was opened up to free settlers. By the mid-1860s the local pastoralists were experimenting with sugar cane and cotton, and in 1867 Caboolture was established as a service centre and soon also served the miners heading north to the goldfields near Gympie. The rail line from Brisbane was opened in 1888, a date that seems to crop up time and time again; obviously it was a good year for rail.

Red cedar was also ripped out of the area as it was up and down this coast in the late 19th century. Here it was rafted down the river to Deception Bay, then taken by steamer to Brisbane.

Along with sugar cane, wheat, maize and Indian corn were trialled along the river flats. Vegetables proved successful, although more for local consumption rather than the wholesale cultivation that takes place up the Lockyer Valley. Sheep proved to be too much like sponges for the damp; cattle a little more successful, particularly of the dairying kind.

But it was not until the 1970s and 1980s when development of the Sunshine Coast took off that Caboolture followed suit, its accessibility to the centres both north and south on the upgraded Bruce Highway and the land being relatively cheap (compared to that in the more sought after centres).

And then there is the proximity to Redcliffe, Mt Mee and Bribie Island, as well as the river which might offer walking trails. But for the rest of today I shall be satisfied to relax out of the heat, although such inactivity would be better left for tomorrow when the temperature is supposed to be about 41 degrees. One day at a time I think, and now it is time to refresh our For Sale advertisement on line. Perhaps a Caboolture location will attract more interest?

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