Posts Tagged ‘Southport’

Main Beach, Southport

April 18, 2013

A Story in Pictures

When I come home to Australia – I still call Australia home, even though I have lived in the UK now for more than thirty-five years – I love to look at the sea, and at the beaches I knew as a teenager. We all knew then that Main Beach was the best, after the king tides of the sixties destroyed Surfers’ Paradise. The Council brought in more sand by the truckload, and shoved big rocks along the edge, but the surf was never the same. At least, that’s what we said in the seventies. After that – well – I wouldn’t know. I’d moved overseas. Anyway, my Mum (now 87 years old) and I drove the couple of miles from her place, over to look at the sea.

04 Main Beach erosion

Blow me down if the beach hadn’t been destroyed by those cyclones and floods and stuff that they had through the summer. Washed away. That wooden bit sticking out isn’t designed to be a jetty: it was once a platform where you could stand to wash the sand off your feet before returning to the demands of shoes and cars and civilisation.

So I took a photo of Mum by the destruction and sent it to my kids with a feeble joke about two sorts of erosion – they all responded by telling me how well she is looking. Not much eroded at all. So much for wit.

06 Mum at Main Beach

I think she looks quite nice in her grey dress against the grey waves, while the orange plastic strips give the whole thing a kind of grim liveliness. A little further along there was a warning sign.

08 tourists

I struggled but eventually managed to get a clear shot of it, past the tourists who were having a good time, milling around and taking photos. “Japanese tourists,” as my mother inevitably observed.

09 tourists in danger

And then a middle-aged chap stepped over the orange guard rail. His women folk seemed to be urging him to stand closer and closer to the edge, and he was inching along obediently. They were trying for an exciting photo – and it was a long drop. Maybe he would have landed softly, but I didn’t want to see it. “Come back, come back,” I shouted, “Dangerous! Danger!” And waved my arms, beckoning in the universal sign-language. There’s always that moment when you feel that maybe you should let grown-ups take their own decisions, and then there’s the quasi-maternal moment when you feel that you want to protect the stranger who has been having a good time in your country. Nobody wants it to end in tears. Meddlesome Jill.

Mum and I walked on – well staggered on, really, as Mum doesn’t walk very strongly or very fast these days. I was hoping that: a) we hadn’t offended them; b) they weren’t going to rush up and hit us; c) they weren’t going to come and tell us to mind our own business. None of this happened. Somewhere there exists a photo of the next moment, but I don’t have a copy. A rushing of feet behind us, and the women grabbed us round the waist, gesturing that they wanted a photo. Laughing and excited, they stood us in a line of four, arms around each other, and the same man we had saved from the waters was organised and instructed to take our photo. There were a couple of different line-ups before the women were satisfied. I bet they are good pictures – he had a terrific camera. Perhaps a little story about the kindness of strangers was even better to take home than a daredevil stunt.

Instead of that vanished photo, I can offer you a different picture of random generosity. This is a water bowl, for dogs walking the seafront, and in case you didn’t know, there are dog pawprints in the concrete leading to it. It was in fact being used by an Egyptian ibis, who was dipping its head into the bowl, washing and having a drink – but I wasn’t quick enough to get that picture. Prudent bird, it startled off when I came too close.

10 water bowl

Travellers’ tales – lots of bits

January 27, 2011

Mt Glorious and Mt Nebo; the RSL; the washing.

We’ve been incommunicado –  terribly busy doing nothing much.  Well now – on Sunday we had a lovely drive around Mt Glorious (or a glorious drive around Mt Lovely??? – nope it was the first thing).  From Moggill we went up via Brookfield Road, across the slopes of Mt Coot-tha and through The Gap to Samford Road.  From the village of Samford the road climbs up through beautiful bushland to Mt Glorious.  The first restaurant we stopped at turned out to have a wonderful view and equally wonderful food.  We debated whether it was the same cafe we knew from decades ago. (It wasn’t – that one has been appropriated by bikers who love the winding mountain roads.)  

across the bushland we could see bits of Brisbane, and beyond that to Stradbroke (or possibly Moreton) Island and its white sand cliffs


cloudscapes from the Mt Glorious restaurant

From the deck we watched a pair of peewees jostling for supremacy with some birds with greenish backs and bright blue around the bill.  I took a photo of them, but if you can see any birds in it you are doing really well.

There really is a bird in this picture - look for a flash of blue perched in the tree.

We identified them later from memory – apparently the Blue Faced Honey Eater is fairly common and known to be aggressive about territory.  That clinched it for us. If you like puzzles, I also have an un-picture of one of the peewees.

Clue: it's almost exactly in the middle of the shot - black and white, like a mini-magpie

Further along the mountain road we paused at one of the walking trails and went down along it into the bush.  The path was nearly washed away by weeks of massive thunderstorms, and the footing was not really safe for a guy of 86, however game.   He was pleased to find a stick to walk with.  It started out as a joke (because the walking trail has a picture of a walker with a stick) and turned into a useful idea.  Not far beyond that, up the road, we were turned back by police who had closed it off  ’till further notice’ – and the implication was: for a long time.  Heavy machinery was working on it, again trying to sort out landslips and damage from fast-flowing water. 

We walked around the wonderful Westridge lookout on Mt Nebo

map of the area around Westridge Lookout

where you can look out to the west and see for miles.  Lake Wivenhoe was well visible and also some other water, which we decided must be some flood water that has not yet drained.

Looking westward from Mt Nebo

On the way back down the mountain we stopped to change drivers.  (A biker paused and asked if we were OK – impressively kind of him, and also good bush-craft).  There by chance we heard an absolutely overwhelming number of bellbirds. A cacophony of chink-chinking sounds dominated the high canopy of the trees. (Or rather it turns out that what we heard was the Bell Miner – a bird commonly called the ‘bellbird’ – while the real bellbird is much rarer and also much lower in pitch.  Dang.)  My mother used to go into raptures over this sound when we were little.  She would make Dad stop the car (never an easy feat) and we all had to get out and listen painstakingly in a hush of silence for just one stray ‘chink’. – The bird was truly rare then, but now they are on the increase, it seems, and one can hear them all over the place. 

What’s wonderful here in Queensland is that it’s so warm (but not over-hot, except ocasionally) and one can walk around the place in the bare minimum of clothing.  In my case, undies, short skirt and cotton top – and sometimes just my togs when I am about to jump into the pool.  Here we are as I write, at a quarter past nine at night and the doors are wide open with a little breeze blowing through.  Utterly pleasant.
On Tuesday (25th) we went down to the coast and spent time with Mum – we did this by leaving her to watch TV and tootling off to Main Beach to jump around in the waves.  We had forgotten to bring sunscreen, and I couldn’t bring myself to ignore that and risk it.  So I accosted a charming young couple with a litre tub of the stuff: they were kindly generous, of course.  And I was so very grateful – even if we hadn’t burned my guilty conscience wouldn’t have allowed any pleasure in cavorting so fecklessly. 

Main Beach, Southport. At last I get to swim in the surf.

– great fun, even on the falling tide with the Lifesavers’ exhortations squawking, amplified over the waves. (‘You! Guy in the wet green shirt! Get your mate back  in.  He’s not safe out there.’  Someone must have taught these guys psychology.) –  To my great delight the old changing rooms are still there – I can’t remember them ever not being there – but they must be from the sixties at the latest and probably much earlier.  The style is minimalist – yellow stucco outside, bare rafters and concrete floors, wooden benches and room temperature showers within. And that unforgettable childhood smell of salty wet concrete.   I do hope that nobody important notices that they are still there – that way they may survive another fifty years or so.  

Then we came back to Mum’s place and took the octogenarians for a toddle, two doors down the street to look at a unit (the Australian word for a flat or an apartment) being raffled for charity.  It’s called an RSL Prize Home .  Worth well over a million quid at current exchange rates it is an entire third floor (with a lift) overlooking the Broadwater.  The huge spaces were all done in a severely trendy black and white decor.  Andrew said he would die if he tried to live in it.  I’ve never heard him so clear cut about anything before – must be getting emotional in his old age. Then just as we were about to set off for Brissy there was a phone call from myexcellent uncle Ron (ex used-car salesman, but so much more than that – a great guy).  (You better believe it!)  So he came round for tea and biccies, which was great fun.   Still the same livewire – but he claims, incredibly, to be turning eighty in July.  He tells us that – your chances of winning a Prize Home are the about the same as your chances of being struck by a meteorite.  We wondered what your chances were of doing both. 

I’ll be sad to miss the knees-up, but have to be back in UK by then.

 I am currently involved in a challenge: trying to get a pair of shorts and T shirt of Andrew’s clean – he helped out with some of the flood cleanup, and now they stink appallingly.  Napisan hasn’t helped all that much, nor a strong wash, so now it’s a case for hefty bleach. Being a real woman in Australia is all about the washing! My sister-in-law has a front loader, but uses top-loader powder, which can’t be right.  She is impressively well-equipped with detergents, stain-removers and bleaches, though.  Wonderful storage-space in this modern house!

Here we are having highs of around 30C; it’s Australia Day.  Flags are flying, very American-style.  Dave has put one up on the balcony – it looks great.

(26th January 1788 was when Governor Philip took possession of the entire continent of Australia on behalf of the English Crown.  A tricky thing to celebrate nowadays of course, but they manage it, with lots of inclusion of aboriginal people and language. We are never taught about the ways in which it was all a consequence of Britain’s losing the War of Independence and thus Britain needed somewhere else to send their surplus convicts, political dissidents etc.) 

The Eureka Flag - I didn't see any of these so I'll put one up here.


Australian flag in real life

I quote: “The flag of Australia is a defaced Blue Ensign: a blue field with the Union Flag in the canton (upper hoist quarter), and a large white seven-pointed star known as the Commonwealth Star in the lower hoist quarter. The fly contains a representation of the Southern Cross constellation, made up of five white stars – one small five-pointed star and four, larger, seven-pointed stars.”  (from Wikipedia – that fount of useful knowledge – I love the word ‘defaced’, which sounds heraldic and technical.)

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