Posts Tagged ‘Bellbowrie’

Travellers tales 2 – more about floods

January 20, 2011

Weds am.

Hours of dark, pessimistic wakefulness passed the night.  It’s still black dark but the kookaburras are laughing already, throwing their gurgling cackle from side to side of the valley.  It must be pre-dawn – the time when you dread to feel wide awake – but it’s impossible to mind when that chortling starts up.  So I watch the light increase in our fusty bedroom and then pad out barefoot into the gentle freshness.  Five to five.  A scruffy little peewit has just arrived on the balcony, very close.  Here’s not used to company here, and I guess I puzzle him.  The birdsong increases: unidentifiable twitterings, loud sardonic-sounding skrarking from the crows.  But how could I possibly know (or understand) the emotions of crows?  Can a bird be happy?  Or satirical?  It’s hard to resist anthropomorphising: probably the very use of language makes it inevitable at some level, by incorporating the natural world into a human structure.  In the same way that Cixous sees language as inevitably gendered or ‘man-made’, it must also be inevitably ‘humanned’. 

Koo-up, koo-up; peep peep; oo-it, oo-it, oo-it, oo-it; chip (long pause) chip.

Unintentionally, they do speak to me.  It is wonderful to listen, and that queasy sleeplessness fades out of consciousness.

And now something is scrabbling energetically on the metal roof.  Some birds cruise in wide circles, galahs move in groups – purposeful straight lines; noisy mynahs can float, lofting elegantly onto their tree perch.  And the swallows are shrill, shrill, just as in Europe.


On Monday Dave and Maddy joined the host of volunteers helping to clean up post-flood wreckage. They were working on the swimming pool at Bellbowrie and its café.  For complex reasons the only way to cope with the muck, slime and frogs in the swimming pool water will be to keep on and on filtering it.  If they were to pump the pool out, the pressure of the soaking ground underneath would make the concrete shell ‘pop out’ – an amazing thought.  This has already happened to the paddling pool: only the weight of its contents keeps the main pool in the ground.  Yesterday (Tuesday 18th ) Andrew joined them.  Vlad, who runs (ran?) the swimming pool, was in desperate straits, but at last a structural engineer had declared his house safe to enter.  It and the pool adjoining had been completely submerged for days, and then standing in hot sun for more days.  Volunteers gutted the house – ripping out the stinking gyprock walls; avoiding the asbestos; junking foully putrid food.  The smell was barely tolerable – a work session could last about twenty minutes, Dave told me.  Only a very few belongings were salvageable.  Elsewhere, where wealthier people lived, they dragged solid wooden furniture outside to dry in the sun, and perhaps be reclaimed.  A waterlogged mattress is massively heavy and flops about, unwieldy as a drunk under its own sodden weight.  They lashed it with electric flex and a rope, and six men were needed to heave it out the front door.

It is hot steamy weather, especially for such heavy work.  Day in, day out, further volunteers (meta-volunteers?) support the volunteers by bringing packed lunches, meals and drinks. 

Late in the afternoon Andrew and David came home reeking and muddy.  They stripped off and leapt into the pool, returning to our guilty-survivors’ luxuries with great splashes.  Only a few minutes later thunder and lightning rolled up out of the south-west, bringing half an hour of pounding rain.  (Paradoxically, this can be seen as a good thing, as it helps to rinse down the mud-logged trees, and settles the possibly toxic dust which otherwise would blow around.)

And then there came a black-out.  So we drove over to Taringa for mountains of Mexican food and cold beers with slices of lime.



specially for dac

January 19, 2011

Ah yes – the Moggill ferry.  It crosses the Brisbane river just below the junction with the Bremer (which runs through Ipswich, the town where I was a teenager) and takes cars from this western area across to  the motorway system, from which the world is our oyster.  At one point in the flood, it broke free of a mooring line and there were fears that it would swoop down the river at speed, destroying all in its path.  The suggested solution was to sink the ferry.  (Our minds boggled – would they explode it?)  I, for one, felt ridiculously sentimental abot the ferry – it seemed like a personal attack to sink her. By the next day we heard that she had been saved – a one and a half ton (tonne?) concrete anchor was poured, on the spot, to hold her fast. Quite a feat – we all felt overjoyed at the news.  And I understand that her captain stayed with the ship throughout.  Amazing courage, if true. 

Here is a sequence of photos we took as the floods came up:

tenth of January


Moggill ferry crossing - 11th January


12th January


13th January - it seems to be floating further out in the torrent

Doggoes visiting the floods

January 16, 2011

Bearing in mind that the floods were preceded by weeks of heavy rain, it was hardly surprising that the parks on that first dry morning were full of children fizzing with their released need to play. Adults drifted around with umbrellas, and brought their dogs.  I took just a few photos – a wonderful way of striking up a conversation: ‘D’you mind if I take a snap of your dog?  I’m collecting photos of dogs visiting the floods.’

I can tell you that dogs, by and large, are not very interested in floodwaters.  Horses (on Prior’s Pocket Road) watch water with great interest when it is rising, but not afterwards.

Two Rottweilers on Montanus Drive, near Bellbowrie shops

I didn’t ask their names – note their disdain for floodwater? They are looking in exactly the opposite direction.

a very friendly bouncy young dog also on Montanus Drive - the owners tried really hard to get him to pose for me

same doggo - posing better now

small fluffy dog near Bellbowrie - your guess is as good as mine

Jack - a beautiful Border Collie we met near the flood where Pullen Pullen creek was covering the Mt Crosby Road - just near Dolman Road

I like the way that a photo of a dog generally also involves some pictures of peoples’ feet. I wouldn’t crop them for worlds.

Jack again - this road is in bushland and I was really pleased to see that he was let off the lead as we walked away

There were lots of insects and large worms swimming to dry ground on this road.  We had been trying to find a way around the flooded bit of Moggill Road (after the floods were beginning to go down) – but no luck here.

This is, described by her owners as a 'media whore'. Location: Moggill ferry, where a track had been beaten through the long grass to a vantage point where people could see the ferry, riding the massive flux of brown water, and refusing to sink or to be swept away

the lovely, alert Kelsey - a young female Alsatian-type puppy on her way to see Moggill Ferry

'Mister' was extremely well-groomed with a most beautifully softly fluffy topknot - the owner assured me that he is really a proper poodle, even though quite short-legged.

Mister, being so glamorous, seemed accustomed to quite a lot of attention. He, too, was on his way to see Moggill Ferry. I love the way this photo also shows you his owner’s painted toenails and the little container for dog-poo bags, so efficiently located on his lead.

Daisy, deliriously happy to be out and about, was said to be a beagle-cross, and she was ‘the cheapest in the pets ads’.  Her owners seemed a little apologetic about her patches of mange – we tried to turn her so that they wouldn’t show.  They agreed with me that it could be mites or perhaps some allergy, but they had tried everything.  Daisy had been to see Moggill Ferry.

How I wish I had taken more photos, and made better notes about the conversations I had with all the dogs and their owners!

(Thanks to my friend Val for the lovely word ‘doggoes’)

Sounds of the flood

January 14, 2011

Wednesday – 12/01/11
After all those days of pounding rain, we woke to a sunny, dry morning.  The news was that we had no electricity, the low-lying shopping centre down the road at Bellbowrie inundated in the night, and the river was yet to peak.  All day yesterday the house had been full of the sounds of the rolling news programmes – many repeats of the Toowoomba flash flood, and hourly repeats and updates of Anna Bligh’s news briefings.  Now, without TV or radio, there is a big silence in the house.  The frogs have stopped their rain-croaking.  The church hall has a sign out the front: ‘Flood Refuge Centre’.  At midnight last night we stood on the balcony and looked across a little valley – Kangaroo Gully Road – to lights at the primary school.  A steady clopping, like rain on a tin roof, sounded from the main road along the ridge.  There must have been twenty or thirty horses being moved to higher ground.
Helicopters move purposefully across the sky – thump thumping on their different notes.  Dave likes to spot Black Hawks, Chinooks; even a Sea King goes over.  An orange-yellow one is the RACQ emergency chopper, and a blue one says Channel 10 News.  The SES (State Emergency Service) has its own as well. 
In this strange peace, the Sunday sound of a lawnmower rises up.  A man across the road is mowing his grass.  No-one can get to work from here, or shop, and the central business district seems to have closed down.  News comes to us sparingly, in Maddy’s voice, as she summarises what comes through on her iPad.  The car radio is our main source.  The waters are supposed to reach 6.5 metres tomorrow.  Today they are at 3.5 – tomorrow, they say, is D-Day.
Dave plays the Muppet theme on the piano, and later Ross picks up his guitar.  Old fifties and sixties pop songs are his favourite – Harry Belafonte and ‘Island in the Sun’ – and some Sai Baba songs. 
Wednesday night:
We dine by candlelight, on a marvellous Thai prawn curry cooked by Varni.  The prawns are out of the freezer, still iced solid, but even so it seems sensible to eat up the seafood.  We talk about Dorothea McKellar’s poem ‘My Country’, and when it was that we first realised what it meant.   The solar-powered garden lamps are useful in the loo overnight, so that Grandon, night-waking, won’t get lost or stumble around dangerously with candles.  Typically thoughtful and inventive of Dave.  And so, an early night for all.  I find that one can read perfectly well by the light of a candle. 
We are rocketed from sleep about eleven by an unbelievably thunderous pounding roar close overhead – it feels like bombs going off at least.  The overwhelming sound has me pulling up blinds and fumbling at the door-catch in a blundering sleep-waking urgency.  It sounds like Armageddon, but it’s a helicopter landing.  It lands in a space marked out by police car headlights, over at the primary school, and from the balcony I watch figures moving to and fro in the bright lights.  Most are wearing the generic SES orange outfits.  When the chopper’s engine stills, the clip-clopping sound floats over from Moggill Road, the same as last night.  Can it really be horses two nights running?  There are big equestrian establishments down towards the ferry, and down along Prior’s Pocket Road, but it seems unlikely.  Maybe I’m just hearing some kind of distant frog.
Back to bed.  The chopper putters off soon, and fairly quietly, but leaving an enveloping stink of aviation fuel over everything.

Thursday morning early – glorious sunshine: a true Australian blue, green and gold day.  The gardens and and bush land, well watered, are as fresh as fresh.  Cicadas are buzzing quietly and the blinds click in the light breeze – an irregular, metallic sound.  The birds sound relaxed – skreeking, gurgling, twittering.  From here, the floods hardly exist, and we are marooned.  Without the voracious omnipresent images from TV and radio, they easily slip into the background.  Occasionally a helicopter passes overhead, bringing reality into focus.
Living in someone else’s house, and so competent as they are, one can’t help feeling a bit of a passenger.  Even the car radio wouldn’t work when I switched it on.  Varni is sweeping, tidying, watering pot plants around me, sitting on the sofa.  She won’t accept help.  We go to look at the flood levels – at Moggill Ferry, where one of the holding cables has broken; then at Bellbowrie shops which are well under water.  Drifts of people are out walking about with their children and their dogs, taking photos and marvelling at the power of the water.  We know that Wivenhoe Dam is releasing massive quantities down its spillways, and much of  Brisbane is going under.

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