Posts Tagged ‘floods’

After the Flood – Colleges Crossing

February 6, 2011

Colleges Crossing

The Mt Crosby Road runs between the western edge of Brisbane and the northern edge of Ipswich, and crosses the Brisbane River at Colleges Crossing.  It’s a pretty drive, through bushland and some small settlements, now gradually being subsumed into the conurbation that is Brisbane.  Years ago, the Mt Crosby reservoir served Brisbane’s needs for water, but it has long been replaced by the much larger Wivenhoe and Somerset Dams.  There is a village of Mt Crosby, where nowadays you can get a decent cup of coffee, but it will still be from the little corner shop that also does fast food and bits of groceries and is (I think) the local post office.  That might give you some idea of how much it is still the old place, and how it is also moving with the times.


We used to drive out to Colleges Crossing in hot weather when I was a teenager living in Ipswich in the sixties, just to find a cool place.  Not to swim or to picnic – just to be.  I remember doing my homework in places like that, memorising swatches of ‘As You Like It’ – there, or at Savages Crossing, or sometimes for a change at Kholo Crossing.  I guess we also swam, and picnicked a little. 


This picture is from a website for canoeists: looking back upstream to Savage's Crossing.


 Memory is a funny thing: I associate the word ‘flying fox’ with those places.  In my mind’s eye I can see that piece of wire rising up to the steep wooded bank opposite. – It’s a clever device for swinging goods across a valley when there is no bridge, or when the bridge is flooded out, as often happened.  (There’s a terrific rant by a bloke in Gympie, that mentions that kind of flying fox: his voice and strength of opinion comes through strongly: it’s a great piece of reporting. It’s dated March 2010.)  

 But maybe it referred to those bat-like creatures, the flying foxes, that lived in huge colonies in the trees. 

tree full of flying foxes

The bank opposite where we parked the old Holden was steep und unspoiled, with tall trees.  The colonies of flying foxes love this kind of environment.  In the air they look beautiful: large and graceful, but also a little bit scary and creepy.  I guess it was our mother who told us they were dirty creatures.  But then, most creatures seem dirty to her.


a flying fox in the air.

Usually you see them at dusk, when they look black against the sky. We used to see lots of them from the verandah of the old place at Yeerongpilly.

 Or maybe the crossings had both kinds of flying fox – maybe both memories are real.  How much more pleasant not to have to give up either.

For a long time, though, College’s Crossing has had a pretty grassed area with picnic tables, barbecues, lots of wildlife, and a nice café with genuine Ipswich staff.  Their voices and their sharp practicality carried me straight back to the town of my youth. – (Never let anyone tell you that there is only one Australian accent – the regional variants are utterly distinctive.)  I have a few placid photos of ducks and swans dating from my visit eighteen months ago. 


ducks at Colleges Crossing recreation ground - Feb 2010

a black swan at Colleges Crossing - Feb 2010


Of course it didn’t occur to me then to take pictures of the café buildings, or the loos or the carparks.  I wish I had, because the flood swept everything away (except the portable buildings, which were towed to high ground in time).  It smashed the trees off a couple of feet from the ground, tore out the grass, re-shaped the river bank.  It destroyed the man-made structures leaving unrecognisable fragments of concrete.  It is hard to get a photo of the destruction, as the road is very narrow, so we couldn’t stop, and behind safety fences there are graders working at smoothing out the rubble.  I imagine that in a fortnight or so they will have re-seeded the grass and re-planted trees: the bush works very quickly to recover from these natural disasters, and so does the City Council.  But the demolished landscape is amazing – a moonscape, a post-apocalyptic devastation that is quite stunning in its totality.  The place is overwhelmingly brown and sepia, as if it belongs in a different world altogether, or in a different time.

River bank at Colleges Crossing, 5th Feb 2011

from the road

We hope the ducks had the sense to take the advice offered below:

view of the recreation ground from the road bridge

The bank on the left is roughly where the ducks were.

Travellers Tales 1

January 11, 2011

Our plane landed into a torrential thunderstorm at Brisbane airport, too dangerous for workers to unload the baggage until the lightning eased up.  That was on Wednesday evening and since then it has continued raining heavily over south east Queensland with only occasional breaks into brighter weather.

The floods are out.  In Toowoomba a flash flood drowned several people yesterday and wrecked property.  The TV news is full of images of cars tumbling along the streets in the middle of vast crashing piles of yellow-brown water.  Today the Brisbane River has burst its banks and seems likely to inundate low-lying inner city suburbs.  The State Premier was on TV: a strong, serious woman with an impressive script.  Her short statement, clear and to the point, seemed deeply felt: she looked close to tears at one point.  There’s a primitive quality about this ferocious natural power which feels ill-assorted with a contemporary urban locale.  I can understand now that feeling that ‘it can’t happen to me’ – and indeed we are on high ground here at Moggill – but of course it can happen anywhere and to anyone.  I realise too how far I have deviated from my Australian origins as I see people here taking the dangers seriously (and that means personally), while I am still barely able to grasp that they are real, and happening just down the road.  My nephew believes that the electricity might be cut off, and was all for buying a small generator this morning.  I am sure he could have found one, too.  Others were talking about the possibility that the water supply might fail.  Perhaps we should be filling bottles with water now?  But this suggestion was defeated, not by confidence in the water supply, but by Ross’s comment that we have a large water tank filled with rain water.  Easy to boil that, at need.  At Coles supermarket in Bellbowrie just down the road, the checkout queues were reported to be two hours long, as people stocked up in case the suburb is cut off.  Ross and his family joined the crowd buying up on non-perishables: noodles and rice and so forth.

We drove down to look at the river at Moggill Ferry:

the picnic ground is totally under water and the river is running in spate


Still it rains.  Today it is heavier and more persistent than before, and the thunder is rolling louder.  We are told that there is to be a king tide tonight which will hold the floodwaters back from flowing into the sea, and so raise the water level upstream, in the city.  People are being evacuatedfrom parts of Brisbane and Ipswich.  I have tried to take photos and videos of the rain – not very successfully. 

The premier’s afternoon press conference has just referred to the floods as an ‘extreme event’ and a state of emergency has been declared.  The rivers are expected to rise much further over the next 24 to 36 hours, and clearly the situation is quite volatile, depending on rainfall in the catchment areas.

The place to stay up-to-date with all this is:


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