Posts Tagged ‘Moggill’

Floods at Moggill – the running hare

February 28, 2011

We drove to Moggill Ferry to look at the flood waters rising and walked further and further down the road to see better.  To see closer.  Umbrellas and thin rain.  A few small clusters of people in the wet.  Most had chosen to stay home.

A hare dashed out from the verge, soaking wet, and jinked, erratic, across the road.  It looked lost and desperate – panic carrying it faster than thought.  It angled across into light scrub on the other side, where the river was rising.  Those fine, black-tipped ears.  The draggled coat. 

“You’re going the wrong way, mate,” said a man near me, more amused than sympathetic.

The hare looked so nearly okay – just a little bit of luck, a little bit of dry weather . . .

If only he can keep his head . . . .

Or, if only running like mad turns out to be the best decision.

Maybe today already he is fine again, lordly and competent.

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.

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:


In Brisbane: 18th February

March 1, 2010

A fresh, clear morning and I’m sitting on Ross’s patio at Moggill.  Time has done its magic trick, stitching and puckering together, and  this feels utterly familiar – continuous with the last time I was here.  It really might have been yesterday.  The neighbouring house rooves are crisply visible through the gum trees, across into the valley and over to the hills. The trees make it hard to tell how many houses are there: it could almost be bushland. Parrots scream past. Briefly my mind flicks and I perceive them as exotic – Regent’s Park parrots. Then they flick back into focus: they belong here.  They have been flashing through this bushland for as long as it has been: through aeons. Through giddying airy avenues of eternity.

There are mangoes, aromatic  of childhood and simplicity. Cut one open: this is smooth and rich, like biting into whipped cream.  Mangoes of my childhood were stringy, wildly resistant and dripped juice. They were a feral delight.

The dog is lying by my side in precisely the same position she had a moment ago in the kitchen. I toy with taking her photo as an example of dog-levitation.  It’s hard to catch them in the act: you can only get ‘before’ and ‘after’ pictures.  This household’s Sooty (a cattle-dog cross) can levitate with flip. (pictures to follow)

It is 7.00am and the day is waking up. I send Andrew a gloating text:  ‘Breakfast. Patio. Parrots. How you?’

(written up 1st March)

On the Road again: Sunday 14th-Tuesday 16th Feb

February 16, 2010

 – or at least, up in the air.  On Sunday I arrived in Brisbane – with the usual sense of the crazy awfulness of those last ten hours of flying, and the usual frantic self-questioning:  Why on earth do I do this?  Wouldn’t I rather be dead?  After all that sleep deprivation one is in no situation even to attempt to answer this kind of question and I suppose I am fortunate to have reached a level of experience where I more or less dimly know that.  From the plane and then on the ground the country is looking so amazingly green and lush; the waterholes look full, the trees are confident in their pride of leaf.  It all looks its true  bestself after so many years of drought and struggle – as if the imagined ideal form of Queensland vegetation made manifest.  Not incarnated, I guess, but in-leaf-ated

And so from the airport once gloriously titled ‘Eagle Farm’ but now the meaninglessly pedestrian ‘Brisbane Airport’, I got myself onto a local train that trundled out to Helensvale.  An hour and a half, much of it in the company of a pair of desperately dim and attention-seeking louts.  They were grubby, repetitious, obscene, and eventually faintly disturbing.   I practised the policy of ignoring them until they went away: it took a while.  Aren’t such people usually sleeping it off on a Sunday morning?  These were making the lovely morning hideous in so many ways, not least the sense that this was all the life they had, and their capacity to do anything with it seemed so desperately limited.

On to Mum’s at the coast: such joy to see Ross and Dad at Helensvale station, and such anxiety that I might not stay sufficiently compos mentis to make the day with Mum worthwhile.  And it all worked out.  At least this time I was sufficiently battered pale and sleepless for her to believe it was me. [Last year I turned up in good clothes and makeup – trying to look my best – and she could hardly credit it.  Muttered about ‘the Englishwoman’ to Ross in the kitchen and speculated on her motives for visiting. ‘I think she’s looking for a family.’ I ought to know better than to let it rock me as it did.] In the evening a return (too late for the ferry) to Moggill, and Ross’s flash new house, and his fun swimming pool.  Just the thing in this heat. (32 degrees on Monday). Varnee served wholemeal pasta and a great veggie sauce .  I spent the evening with my head falling off intermittently and by nine I gave up and went to bed.

Monday and a long, deep sleep.  Wonderful. A pottering day, visiting the shops twice with Dad, making a massive salad for lunch.  In the evening there were All of us: Dad, Ross, Varnee, Dave, Maddy, Vidya and even Evie – all here for the evening meal of chicken and salad, and wine. Lovely to see everyone.  And the evening closed late, with a big thunderstorm and family catch-up chat.

Tuesday. I woke in the dawn and raised the blind to see an an animal – a big hare – on the opposite pavement.  He (he?) stopped and looked around – cautious but confident.  I suppose he had heard the rattle of the blind.  Long hind legs, small ears tupped with black, above a white strip, but basically a fulvous pale fawn, yellow-brown colour.  A Kipling colour, and a perfect match with the footpath.  Perhaps half a minute passed while I watched him, and then he moved on – not exactly hopping but stretching and closing those long hind legs – a gentle scissor movement a little faster than a walk.  (What do they call that scissoring lower leg? – it’s not exactly a shin -).  With a calm purposeful dog trot he followed the curve of the footpath along into Nook Place.   I’ve always known that the early settlers idiotically introduced rabbits to Australia, but even so I was surprised to see it.   I can still see him clearly  in my mind’s eye.

This is not my hare – but it’s the nearest image I could find:…/Brown_Hare.jpg 

In the afternoon Dad and I drove to College’s Crossing – along the Mt Crosby road and up the Brisbane River a little way.  It hit me between the eyes and in the chest – I had been here before, but probably forty five years ago.  Behind the extensive greensward and the bridge, the carparks and the picnic tables I could just see the lineaments of the old bend and the shallow river crossing where I memorised  ‘All the world’s a stage . . ‘ one bored, hot Sunday afternoon, while my brothers swam.   Now there is a little cafe with old school staff.  Nice, direct women from Ipswich.  They make a good burger and excellent coffee, which they carry out to you, precariously, without a tray.  There is a kookaburra who runs a protection racket: the women throw him bits of meat (which he kills efficiently with a sharp sideways shake).  Otherwise, we are told, he swoops the customers fearlessly to steal food, even from their hands and mouths. I think those thin, sharp, practical women rather like him.

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