Short Stories – Funny Stories

Roger's Humourous Stories from Australia and the World

BREATHTAKING BUNYA

Written By: Roger Crates - Jan• 09•12

  AUDIO

If you find yourself in Dalby or Kingaroy or need to go from one to the other, take a moment to go off the main Highway, the Bunya highway up route 49 and follow the Bunya signs, The Range is a small very steep set of mountainous ridges forming the Bunya Mountains Nation Park, the second gazetted National Park in Queensland. The peaks are isolated from the parent Great Dividing Range sitting proudly on the surrounding western Plains.

 

The ranges are the result of continuous Basalt flows from the original Shield volcano which formed over 23 million years ago in the Paleozoic age. The highest peak is the towering Kiangaro Peak at 1,135 metres above sea level.

From my point of view the amazing thing about this range is the manner in which it appears plonked onto the surrounding Darling Downs plains and the way in which the Flora changes so suddenly as one rises.

From the normal temperate gum forest to a dazzling array of semi-tropical trees, shrubs and grasslands and that wonderful plant the Grass Tree, in less politically correct times they were called Blackboys why? well their woody trunk was often dark and very often bore the signs of the regular bush fires that sweep its habitat. Sometimes they are all that is left standing and as such stick out as black trunks with a growing thatch emerging from the topmost point of the plant, tenuous explanation but the best I can do.

 

The scene soon changes again as we continue to climb and the trees suddenly change genus and magnificent conifers and varieties of pines draped with parasitic mossy grey beards, emerge on all sides. The atmosphere here becomes hushed and quiet, broken only by the occasional birdsong. If you find a safe place and there are some on the side of the road, stop, turn off the engine and sit quietly and even if nothing happens you will experience the sort of quiet found in the very heart of a pine forest. I could almost feel the silence broken as a garden of fungi pops out of fallen tree trunks as they rotted amongst the mossy rocks and leaf litter to add their goodness to the humus beneath.

Here in the Bunya Mountain Range you very likely will hear or even see King Parrots, Rosellas, Bower Birds even a Bush Turkey and many other species, I am sure all Ornithologists in Queensland know of this Birdie Paradise.

In the resort area of the National Park you will find lots of ducks and swans wandering about quite unafraid of people, If, while you are sitting quietly enjoying the overwhelming peace and the cooling drop in temperature, you might hear a faint rustle in the thick undergrowth that grows almost up to the road. In amongst the trees which are smeared with lichens and mosses another bush citizen may appear a Scrub Wallaby, Echida or a Possum, all of which enjoy the quiet in a place of sanctuary for all species, even trees.

I did mention the steep hilly grades which in places are I guess about 1 in 9 and boy that’s steep, not too many overweight cyclists up here. To get a bike up here and people do of course, you need to be of Tour DE France hill climb standard.

The wonderful thing about the inclines hereabouts is that, just about everywhere in the world where the lumberjack has plied his dangerous trade, the land and forests have been denuded of any timber of value and lots of forest cover to get to the big money trees and of course more yet were destroyed getting the valuable commodity out and to market.

 

This nearly decimated the entire forest but not here. On the Bunya Mountain range the terrain was simply too steep to be cut commercially and so the original forest with its wonderful diversity has been saved. You and I can get up here and wonder and actually see Red Cedar, Hoop Pines and and staghorns growing from their hosts and the lovely Bunya Pine whose nuts were a favourite with the indigenous people of the area.

At the top of the whole unlikely place there are chalets to hire or camping setups for schools or social groups, there is a kiosk and booking office in the well maintained ground and as you might expect in this little Paradise.

If you do get up here ,take some warm clothing with you as the air is chilly, remember it is really high up here. If there were ever a great place for a short break from Brisbane for the family or the loved one this is it. Sit back, absorb the peace or as Dad Kerrigan played by Michael Caton from that great Australian movie The Castle “Ahh Feel the serenity”

Needless to say the park abounds in wonderful walks to amazing places and the scenery is………… well just breathtaking

 It really is the most delightful place

Caboolture in Queensland

Written By: Roger Crates - May• 03•11
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Caboolture In Queensland                                               AUDIO LINK
 I have decided to include Caboolture as an episode not because of anything in particular or because of anything amazing. I simply think of the place as has having a commonsense approach to creating an environment for an increasing population, and it, like so many other places in Australia it is what you make of it.

Caboolture sits about 50 kilometres north of Brisbane, the capital of lovely Queensland. It also adjacent to the sunshine coast and although quite close, and enjoying many of the benefits, it isn’t really considered as part of the hinterland to the tourist mecca of the Sunshine Coast.

Millennia before there was even a Sunshine Coast, the area was home to the Kabi Aboriginal people who also valued the area highly. In the Kabi language Kabultur means place of the carpet snake, this is a theme generally attributed to our original peoples whose name places were often derived from what was good to eat or plentiful in the area.

This whole area certainly lived up to that twin promise for the Kabi, with a seasonal distribution of plenty and good. That dependent on where in the area you chose to go to take advantage of that seasonal dearth. Fresh water mussels, native bee honey, animals of all kinds and of course the carpet snake.

As Caboolture was a little distance away from the coast and enjoys a higher elevation, the Bunya pine was also plentiful then and the Kabi people enjoyed a festival which was held each year based around the Bunya pine’s delicious nuts.

Apart from the cultural responsibilities, this magnificent tree also gave the people the opportunity to have a party and indulge their passion for the Bunya nuts, a perennial favourite of Aboriginal peoples wherever these wonderful trees grew.

There is evidence that the Bunya festival was a significant event not only for the Kabi people but for groups from all over the region. They would congregate for the festivities which would naturally include singing and dancing and I am sure a fair bit of flirting and loving too.

The Bunya pine was also sought after by the white folk as they settled into the district and with the clearing of the land a reoccurring pattern was emerging, lumber gives way to dairy which may give way to or co-exist with the beef cattle industry.

The Caboolture area was not immune to this path of development and beef cattle is a vital part of the local economy still. One part of the local economy that is a little different and will be seen more often as I head North at some stage, is that sugar cane farming became a serious crop both then and now. There is also a thriving Vegetable growing sector which supplies the ever expanding Brisbane market.

The early settlement of Caboolture was also a centre of social activity for the gold diggers of the Gympie area after gold was found in the 1860’s although there is no evidence that Caboolture became a typical gold rush boom town with all the negative aspects of similar towns. This may be because of its relative closeness to the metropolis of Brisbane and the fact that the area was semi established with the services that people enjoyed in the 1860’s. Cobb and Co operated a Brisbane coach service very successfully and a rail link was established in 1868

 

Caboolture River 1907

Caboolture Railway today

          

 

 

 

At he head of this piece I mentioned I decided to write this entry on the development of Caboolture as an Brisbane satellite, so if we may lets zoom forward to the 1970,s the northern migration from the southern states had begun and it might seem tenuous but young people of the time (baby boomers) like me were giving greater consideration to changing the traditional lifestyles of our Parents and forefathers.

Lots of social reasons for it, including the advent of up to date television news and freedom of the media in reporting on the realities of the Vietnam war. The lifestyle changes affirmed with the contraceptive pill giving the long overdue notion of a Woman’s freedom and liberation and choice. These things seem unrelated to Caboolture but without them young people of the time would not have been so eager to accept as Aldous Huxley termed it “the brave new world”

Part of the brave new world meant moving around exchanging or displacing family roots for a better lifestyle than we saw in our own childhoods. Even the rebel without a cause sort of idea had its place in our development much to the chagrin of our parents.

My own dear Dad hated the Beatles, I loved ’em, he hated the music as well and somehow prejudiced himself out of some of the great music of all time. No doubt I, like many others carry on this foolish tradition in some form or other. My own pet hate in music is Rap and Doof doof, which to my older mindset seems to take us back, in time Rap rubbish into a macho misogynistic time warp and Doof doof techno junk back to throbbing rythms of the stone age. Oops…… my prejudices are showing.

So people were on the move and Queensland was getting more than its fair share of them, pressure on infrastructure was stretched and it was obvious new and more housing was a priority. Other governments here and around the world tried to band aid the problem or installed the poorer people (always more people than housing for them) in tenements or housing estates which are of course names for pre-ghetto slums.

Sydney has them, Melbourne has them, the US and Britain certainly have them too, but in Cabooture, the Government created small ¼ acre blocks and then divided up larger rural estates into 1 or ¾ acres lots allowing for different socioeconomic groups to live in an area where the divide between people or culture was not based on where you lived, they all lived here.

This hopefully has the effect that some people living in a new community and who may be sliding into the notion that poverty is the normal state, will see right next door, that better and more wealthy states of living are unattainable.

Good for you Caboolturites and the Government.

Caboolture also has a country music festival and just to show as Paul Kelly said ‘From little things big things grow” and from that little country music festival and from the little town comes Mr. Kieth Urban, more than a world headliner and nice bloke but possibly a product of the egalitarian attitude fostered by his hometown….. Caboolture.

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GLASSHOUSE MOUNTAINS QUEENSLAND

Written By: Roger Crates - Mar• 13•11
 
WHERE"S ROGER

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The Glasshouse Mountains Queensland              Audio Link             

If you were to travel as the crow flies, that is in a more or less straight line in a nor nor easterly direction from Brisbane for about 83 kilometres and stayed below an altitude of of 276 metres you would flap, and I presume you are flapping quite hard at this point, right into Beerburrum Mountain. This edifice is one of the many volcanic plugs that make up the spectacular Glasshouse mountains, poking out of the ground like an angry statement.

 

Capt. Cook that old all discovering, all mapping, cartographer and all round wonderful incredible human being first chartered the glasshouse mountains in 1770. I say first chartered rather than discovered the mountains because the original inhabitants the Kalkadoon people who didn’t write stuff down, although they certainly knew the area well enough having lived in there for eons.

 

The next European with the seagoing explorer’s nature to make a fuss was the adventurous Lt. Matthew Flinders who anchored his vessel, the sloop Norfolk in nearby Pumice stone Passage and travelled through the bushland to Beerburrum Mountain whereupon he scaled its heights, and no doubt marveled as we do today at the panoramic spread out before him like a oil painting on a table.

 

Of course before both Cook or Flinders et al can lay claim to the discovery of the Glasshouse mountains the naming of which by the way was from their resemblance to the glass furnaces Cook knew as a child in Yorkshire. They are in fact shaped like a Chinese temple Bell as well but maybe the erstwhile Mr Cook had not seen one of those yet. The real beginnings of the Glasshouse Mountains lies with the dream time of the Kalkadoon people.

 

This is one of the truly wonderful stories of our indigenous people. The peaks that make up the Glasshouse mountains are called Coonowrin , Beerburrum, the Tunbubudla twins, Coochin, Ngungun, Tibberoowuccum, Miketeebumulgrai and Elimbah. Now let us consider these mountains as children with Coonowin being the eldest. If these are the children then there must be parents, and so there was, the mother was Beerwah and father was Tibrogargan and this fairly large family lived on the gentle coastal plains.

 

One day as Tibrogargan was staring out to sea, he notices the sea was rising up against the land, he knew his family were in great danger and hurried to gather up his brood to flee to the higher ground inland to safety.

 

Now as was usual and even considering the number of children Beerwah had birthed, Beerwah was pregnant. With disaster looming Tibrogargan told Coonowin the eldest of the children to help Beerwah to safety, but Coonowin put himself first and fled leaving the pregnant Beewah to fend for herself.

 

As we can see today all the brood survived. Tiborgargan was furious at his eldest son for deserting his mother in the time of need and struck Coonowin a mighty blow which if you look at the peak and with a little imagination you can see where his neck might be twisted a feature which no doubt caused great pain to the mountain feature.

 

When Tiborgargan calmed down a little he asked his eldest son why he did not help his mother and was told a little lamely that he didn’t know she was pregnant and after all she was bigger than he and as such could look after herself.

 

This appalling attitude of a son to his mother made the whole family cry in shame and is the real cause of the many streams and rivulets running from the mountains to the sea.

 

Tiborgargan to this day faces away from his son and has never turned his face toward him since. Incidentally Beerwah is still pregnant mountains have a very very long gestation period.

 

Just as an aside there are amazing brooks that spring seemingly from nowhere in the most unlikely, elevated places way up high on a the volcanic plugs.

 

At the foot of Beerwah is the famous Australian Zoo, founded by Steve Irwin or more correctly his father Robert though from a very early age it was apparent Steve was destined for the fame and remarkable achievements this young man made whilst he graced our planet.

 

Australia Zoo is a particularly family friendly place geared around entertainment as much as conservation but this combination has been very successful and no doubt will remain so.

 

The whole area around the Glasshouse Mountains is well serviced by many walking paths and hiking trails although I have not had the pleasure of wandering around and taking in all the sights, sounds and smells of the terrain. If like me you are a more sedentary person take some time to explore the many wonderful local byways like Twin View road.

 

I love to take a couple of hours meandering around these small roads often to nowhere. The trick is not to expect to get somewhere specific. I use this technique now that I am retired, and to go from place to place simply for the pleasure of going, I find it far outweighs the pleasures or pains of actually doing whatever you planned to do when you got there.

 

Mind you I often find the scooter going forward into areas and byroads that are necessarily wise to continue with along. As you may remember I ride a motor scooter, quite a big one actually more like a bike really. I don’t fancy trying to push my wonderful scoot miles and doubt that I could.

 

The imagined vision of me staggering from a leafy bush trail with an injured motor scooter looking for a helpful mechanically talented person seems to bring out a more cautious Roger.

 

Having painted this picture for you don’t let that stop you from enjoying the great outdoors like the wonderful glasshouse mountains.

To get there I used my faboulous Motor Scooter from

 

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BEAUDESERT TO BOONAH QLD.

Written By: Roger Crates - Feb• 16•11
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BEAUDESERT TO BOONAH QLD.                           AUDIO LINK                       

At the southern end of the base of the edifice known as Mt. Tambourine in the Gold Coast hinterland, is the village of Canungra, which has that almost undefinable charm of a place that isn’t quite alpine but ought to be. It sits on the edge of a foothills range that leads to some of those miles of sweeping plains Dorathea McKellar told us about.

In fact the area cannot be described as sunburnt, too many pine trees and horse studs in the area. Just as an aside isn’t it interesting that horse studs and agistment parks for pampered racing stock, or at least I assume such expensive beasts would be pampered feature beautiful estates that are inevitably surrounded with wooden three or four bar fences and painted a dazzling white.

Is this part of the romance of the horse or a business ploy by the establishment to advertise the place is first rate or maybe I have answered the question by my own observation.

The horses are worth so much and love to run, so much that they need dazzling white fences so as not to injure themselves in a fit of pure elation at knowing they are valuable or loving the running. Who knows, certainly I don’t. A horse is a singular creature, as it blessed with such confidence in its own horseyness that when a mug rider like me, hauls himself awkwardly on board. I then confirm my incompetence by saying something inane like giddy-up. Ed the ‘almost talking horse’ simply turns its head, glares balefully at me and casts thought messages that say ‘you have got to be kidding, I am a proud member of the equine race and you sad little human, you, are not fit to grace my back ,so I will stand here till someone in authority comes along’. This is what always happens, honest its my wat with horses and I swear it is true.

Canungra is at the head of a valley that housed lots of these horsey establishments and I for one don’t stop to chat. The valley is certainly worth the short trip through the foothills of the Gold Coast hinterland.

The road lead to places with such exotic names as Biddabbadda which is fine of course but you need to slow down to read the sign Bida bbb……… whaaaat. Anyway the place, Biddabbadda is a sort of mini bushland valley that offers a short drive and joins the road to Beaudesert again after a couple of miles.

Here for the first time since leaving the glitzy Gold Coast we are entering the stronghold of the older farmsteads with the rusting implements scattered around the home paddock, where I suppose they gasped their last. Rather than move them they are left to be swallowed by mother earth over the next couple of years.

Not too much changes in some places although I expect a great many such abandoned farm implements end up rusting away or even worse, painted and sitting in embarrassed grandeur in the front yard of someones dwelling in a housing development in Whoop Whoop by the sea.

A few kilometres along we come to Beaudesert, a charming little town sitting in the Scenic Rim which is also what the local Council calls itself.

The name derives from the original volcano of the region and as we know from further south this whole terrain is dominated by the building up and then the cataclysmic destruction from the Mt Warning big boom some twenty four million years ago.

Beaudesert follows an historical path not dissimilar to other towns in the region, the original inhabitants moved on or were forced to , timber was sought after as a cash crop and the stripping of the forest led to pasturalists settling the area.

In the case of Beaudesert a thriving pig industry was a natural for the local conditions, but eventuality cows won the hearts and wallets of the local farmers and Dairy became the predominant product.

Strangely Beaudesert for some reason actually boomed during the great depression last century and I expect this was due to the swapping of resources and the degree of commercial change in the district. I was not able to ascertain why such a place reveling in rural riches need be called anything with a desert in it, so I could write some nonsense nothing new in that some may say, about The french Foreign Legion, Deserts Forts and a fellow called Beau Geste by PC Wren, funny what comes to mind as I ride along.

When you leave Beaudesert you will find an interesting little road trip of about thirty Kilometres to the very scenic town of Boonah whose residents have recently tussled and won against a Government plan to dam their local river as they are in the Logan river catchment area. The water caught within the confines of the catchment area would mostly benefit people on the more densely coastal areas.

The watercourse involved was Teviott Creek and the town was greatly relieved that the dam didn’t eventuate. It does smack about NIMBY-ism though, as Boonah is well supplied with water from the Moogerah Dam some fifteen Kilomteres to the southwest of the town.

We shall visit it next on the way to Cunninghams Gap further along and overlooking the Fassifern Valley, should give the scooter a good workout as it is spectacularly steep and I will post a few photos from the top, before I “head on down, head on down the road “ as Michael Jackson sang in The Wiz. 

If you enjoy ‘Where’s Roger’ (or if you don’t and you want to annoy someone) why not pass on this episode.

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CALOUNDRA MALENY AND THE PLATYPUS

Written By: Roger Crates - Jan• 30•11
WHERE"S ROGER

Where's Roger?

 

 

 

 

 

CALOUNDRA MALENY AND THE PLATYPUS

AUDIO LINK

I love Caloundra, the little sister of all the Queensland developments, I first visited there decades ago and was taken aback by the lack of glitz of the area.

 That has changed a fair bit but there is till a touch of naivety in the place. You can still get fish and chips but it might come in a fancy polystyrene, easy hold, no burn, clip lock container.

As for me, I prefer plain paper, in a perfect world newspaper would do, that allows everybody around you a taste of jealousy as your fish and chip aroma mingles with the vinegar I love to gently sprinkle across the golden whiteness of a slightly soggy lengths of fried potato to enhance the piquancy of the salted, bubbled battered fish that goes with the chips.

The town is picturesque in its own way, you can occasionally catch a fish (me) or if you are anybody with even rudimentary fishing skills, (not me) catch lots of fish.

Gaze over Pumicestone Passage or into the hinterland toward the volcanic plugs of the Glass House mountains. The area now has the obligatory, but very nice waterfront houses ala The Gold Coast and Florida, thanks to the dredging of Lamerough Creek. I have always thought of Caloundra as little Caloundra but she’s all grown up now.

There are some interesting aspects to the area around Caloundra, including the wonderfully anecdote like something brer fox might conjure, regarding the initial exploration of the area.

It seems a Mr William Landsborough was on a winner when he scouted the area, reported back to the Government and my cynical side suspects he told the Legislators of the day that the land was not that great for anything. (My slant on history). He was then was given two thousand pounds for his trouble and then promptly bought up a whopping 2374 acres of prime coastal land in 1882 with his exploration Prize.

The village of Golden Beach now stands at his resting place as he only had four years to fully appreciate this lovely spot. A small memorial stands there today.

The area abounds with tales of shipwrecks like the ‘SS Dicky’ whose contribution was to leave the vessel and an extra forty tonnes of sand on the beach, her ballast to mingle with the sand deposited there by old Mother Nature herself, after running aground in1893.

The famous or infamous case of the sinking of the Centaur by the Japanese during hostilities in the Second World War, occurred some ten miles east of Cape Morton in 1943. The Centaur was a hospital ship carrying 364 patients, medical staff and crew of which only 64 survived. There is a moving plaque on Wickham Head.

As a passing memory there is also an account of the Centaur in a tiny Maritime Museum beside the Old Post Office on Kennedy drive North Tweed Heads, a very interesting way to while away an hour and all for a voluntary donation too, but that of course is another story.

If you get to Caloundra have a look at the historic lighthouse as well, built in 1898 and was replaced by it’s mate in 1967. The old light house has been moved a couple of times and currently resides in Canberra Place as a tourist centre, where it has been so successful not one ship or sailing vessel has hit it.

Now if history is your interest don’t miss the largest Historical Society museum in the region in Manley Street Landsborough which was at one point the centre of Local Government.

Before all this of course were the original inhabitants of the area and Like so many indigenous groups they were aligned territorially to the land, from the sea to a coastal range and beyond and like other tribes, would also gather every year, or in some instance or every three or so years for outlying groups, to feast on the bounty provided by the Bunya pine. This magnificent and majestic tree, although now a rare timber can still be found in the area.

North of lovely Caloundra and inland from Maroochydore is the darling of the hinterland, the hamlet of Maleny in the Blackall ranges, I have called it a Hamlet not simply because of all the drama there in recent years, but because I took the side of the locals (in the intellectual sense)at least) who protested so vigorously against the introduction of a Woolworth’s supermarket which would impinge on the area including mainly the Obi Obi Creek.

This was a severe blow to the existence of the Platypus, that amazing creature known as Australian Duck Billed Platypus or Ornithological Antoninus for those regarded as egg heads. This of course leads me to note the curious fact that the cute little platypus girl is a mammal yet lays eggs and the little boy platypus has a poisonous spike on his back legs, A mammal that lays eggs and defends with toxins. Weird, very cute though.

The history of Manley follows the south eastern Queensland trend of timber felling followed by dairy and finally augmented with tourism. If you like visiting quiet and interesting places, pop up to Montville and Mapleton.

Both are great places to spend a little time in, and if you really look hard, you will find lots of wonderful galleries where the many artists in residence are able to demonstrate their talents and versatility. You can even pick up any manner of bargains at the monthly Blackall Ranges markets in the village of Wikis, which for some may, have mysterious connotations although I must confess I haven’t found out the origins of the place’s name …..YET

If you look a little further from the many well marked viewing areas you will see in the distance the Glasshouse Mountains, an anomaly in itself, and another wonderful destination on my ‘Where’s Roger’ Project.

 

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A GOLDEN TRIANGLE

Written By: Roger Crates - Jan• 25•11
WHERE"S ROGER
Where’s Roger?

 

A GOLDEN TRIANGLE

CALOUNDRA MAROOCHYDORE AND BUDERIM

This episode of ‘Where’s Roger’ is NOT about drugs or the notorious golden triangle of Asian ill repute. Although I know that this area of Australia has a reputation with a small r, for the cultivation of cannabis. It is a wonderful place to live, offering secluded woodland dells and nooks and is still within reach of the tourist glitter palaces and hot spot night clubs, and plenty of pubs. Not to mention the wonderful beaches which of course I will mention. All this is a magnet for people of all types and backgrounds including, unfortunately fools who wish to get involved in the drug trade, it is no wonder that some people wish to live here and break the law in the production of drugs.

I will get this drug reflection over quickly and at the beginning. Lazy, lousy self indulgent cowards who profit by ruining lives, without the slightest qualm or regret. Their lifestyle always seems to start out with the idea of some sort of Nirvana ideal and ends up in misery, tragedy and violence for themselves and others. Wake up you dopes, get a job and become real men and women.

Pheww, that’s out of the way so lets get on with the stuff that is 99.999% more valid to the area.

A good friend of mine, actually she was a great friend of my late Wife’s and sort of inherited me in a manner of speaking, Jenny lives up that way. Jenny is one of those people to whom life seems to roll along and money seems to materialise for her. Not that she is either rich or dishonest in any way, quite the contrary in fact, but she does always fall on her feet.

Jenny springs, to mind when she is not falling that is, because she is so typical of the people who have made this area their home in recent years. Jenny moved up to get away from the hustle and bustle and a former lover when they co-owned a charming cottage in Rozelle in Sydney’s inner suburbs.

Jenny bailed on the cottage and her paramour whose attention, it must be said, was between his genuine love for Jenny and the pull of the bottle. He subsequently followed her on up to the area and though I haven’t been in touch for a while I suppose they continue on in some fashion.

That is not to say the newer citizens of the region are running from but rather running to a place offering so much in the way of different lifestyles.

The family is well catered for with pre-schools, schools and colleges as the kids grow including the University of the Sunshine Coast. The whole area has gained in popularity as people from the south were looking for an equally sunny alternative to the Gold Coast with a more laid back feel to it.

In the seventies and eighties the perception was the Gold Coast was getting a little tired and with the emergence in Australia of the dreaded yuppy culture, the Gold Coast was seen as a little Passe and weary.

Mooloolabah and Maroochydore became popular first with Brisbanites looking for an escape from the muggy Brisbane summer days when sweltering was not alleviated by running a hose on the kids or setting up a mini swimming pool that generally collapsed just when the kids were having a great time jumping up and down in the splashy water.

One poor little mite always jumped, bumped or landed on the edge of the little pool and the side collapsed just as the kids collapsed in laughter until Dad told them the pool was kaput, no good, a pool no more just a wet blob in the backyard until it was soaked into the parched grass. With the demise of the Brisbane backyard pool came the advent of the Sunday drive to the beach. Slowly the beautiful beaches and headlands of both Maroochyadore and Mooloolabah, these strangely named twin beach side towns took on the attitudes of fully fledged tourist meccas.

Maroochyadore is from the Aboriginal word marukatch-dha meaning red bill which is also the aboriginal term for Black swan.

Mooloolabah is, you guessed it an Aboriginal word,……. ah…… but do you know what it means………. it means two things actually or is derived from one of two things Lulu means Schnapper which are in evidence in the waters off Maloolabah and the other interpretation is Mull meaning Red Bellied Blacksnake also abundant in the area. Your pick.

Both Maroochydore and and and Mooloolabah have rivers aptly named the Maroochy and the Mooloolah. Both rivers were navigable and used in the early days as transport by the various steamers and ships into the respective hinterlands and were a part of the economy which included fruit, timber, fishing and dairy.

We all tend to forget the incredible importance river travel and the commerce it brought in the development of our coastal regions and further inland. Without river travel the richness afforded by the rural industries couldn’t be made viable, so hats off to the river men.

The Golden Triangle is also the jumping off spot to the Glass House mountains which I will be visiting shortly. Inland from the beach and just a few kilometers from Maroochyadore is the charming village of Buderim.

The township is the epitome of the hillside village and of course the home of my friend Jenny, where she has so successfully found both refuge and the peace not afforded by the inner city suburbs of Sydney.

Friends….. before you write to me ‘up in arms’ about the inner suburbs of Sydney let me say, horses for courses, I love parts of those same inner suburbs, and the lifestyle choices they offer, in fact another friend (my first wife) lives in Balmain, and you can’t get a much more inner city suburb than that) and she loves it and with good reason.

Back to Buderim, which is near to the home to the famous weekend markets at Eumundi and this little place offers much for the visitor including the ginger factories in the area.

You can drive down woodland lanes until they peter out in bushy splendor. Buderim is the only place high enough to see the entire sunshine coast in one magnificent panorama.

Go Visit it and don’t forget a side trip to Maleny another bushy wonderland and one place where the magnificent Platypus still lives in the wild. There is a hippie factor of about eight for those regular readers and that simply adds colour and charm to the whole thing.

All this and I still haven’t gotten to Caloundra yet, in this episode of ‘Where’s Roger’ I mean. So that’s where we will go next.

 

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AUTHOR NEEDS HELP WITH WEBSITE

Written By: Roger Crates - Jan• 13•11

 THE WOOD FOR THE TREES

WHERE"S ROGER

Where's Roger?

 

 

 

 

 

‘I can’t see the wood for the trees’, is as you know a well known expression and one which would be a shame to lose from current usage, particularly as it applies now more than ever before.

In my own case and I have put it on top of this article so you can see the pith in ‘the wood for the trees’ before you read the whole kit and caboodle. I have a website and I am a writer. I am retired as my old body has sort of creaked and cranked its way across the years and in the physical sense, I am not a good bet for an employer. That is not to say I am totally useless at some things, it is to say however, that I am totally useless at some other things.

One of those things is running this website, I wish to spend my time writing the stories and posts but writing them is only one part of the equation.  Getting them out there is the other and possibly tougher bit.  I seem to be increasingly spending my time reading articles about website marketing, SEO, RSS, keywords, ad words, crawlers and spiders. Yeech, I am also inundated with articles about how to do these things, which to be honest I have no great interest in doing.

Once upon a time I read comics and a little later magazines. There were, and probably still are adverts that made outrageous claims about products like Charles Atlas whose muscle hand grips or chest expanders would turn skinny people whose face and dignity would be covered by sand kicked into them by some bulging bully at the beach. This action was usually accompanied by laughing beach babes to the shame and embarrassment of the skinny one.

We all knew this was outrageous propaganda for the product but some bought the product just the same. It is probably worth saying, I did not buy the product and it is also probably worth saying, I don’t have a muscley bit on the corpulent mass that is my body.

I now see emails by the tonne with the same dopey claims, You can actually watch Joe Blow make a million in a minute and he will give you the secret for free, if you like the product or the idea of the product you can buy the premier version.  “This unbelievable value for money product is available to a selected few and you will increase your million dollars per minute” and so they buy them.

Here is an advert of my own which will not bring the applicant a million dollars but will bring the applicant a reasonable return for her /his efforts, I think.

 I write articles and I write books, I want to give away the articles and hopefully when people, possibly you, read those articles, you might like them or have a laugh with them.  Some people will, and want to read more in the form of a book or listen to an audio version, they will buy one. This website does indeed sell them.  I need someone who wants to take on the responsibility of running the website with all that SEO and RSS and keywords stuff etc etc for a proportion of the income from the site. So if you are interested in a position like that let me know on rogerc@visualguardian.net  and let’s talk.

So how does this lead into wood and trees, well the segue is there if you look a little harder.

What is it that you are doing? Well you are reading this website post. What am I doing? Well I am writing it.  I have the perfect vehicle for the ad you have just read. You use the internet to get your information, you may be interested in creative writing or at least reading it. So you read blogs and might even write your own, have probably read the same guff I have about website marketing and here’s the big point of difference between us, you might even enjoy doing all that marketing stuff. If you do contact me.

Point is I have been worrying about how to contact someone like you to help me, (and yourself), and here you are reading this.

I had the wood all the time while I peered around the trees looking for you.

TEXAS, BONSHAW AND THE DUMERESQUE

Written By: Roger Crates - Jan• 12•11
WHERE"S ROGER

Where's Roger?

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Moving along from Warwick I head on down the road to Texas, which is just on the Queensland side of the Dumeresq River, the Dumeresq has as it’s tributary the Severn River, the Dumeresque itself flows into the McIntyre to end up in the Darling river system.

At one point along the Dumeresq if you point the nose and follow it you will stumble into Texas named after the great state in the south of the United States. It actually got its name like so many things and places in Australia as a bit of a joke. Texas was originally a property settled by the McDougall brothers who left their property to take a tilt at the Goldfields and again like so many others in Australia found the chances of making it big as gold miners a bit of a joke. They returned to find their land had been taken over by squatters and a land dispute ensued.

Texas

Up high near Texas

 The McDougall brothers won the dispute in the courts and then promptly named the area Texas after the rather larger and more deadly land dispute between the United States and Mexico, joke or not the name stuck. Texas or more accurately the district in which it belongs was the first Australia area to grow tobacco commercially and Italian families flocked to the area in a gold rush of their own to grow it. As a reformed smoker I guess the benefits of losing the crop was greater than the prosperity gained from growing the stuff. Luckily the Italian farmers are an adaptable lot and they live there still partaking in the local horticultural pursuits. There is a huge feedlot operation in the area and although the employment opportunities are limited it does bring commerce into the area.

 If you then head on down a bit further down that same road this time going south east you are following the Dumeresq to Bonshaw which has as its main features a postcode and a weir.

 The post code is simply what it is and the weir is one place in which the lucky angler might catch a mighty Murray Cod, this has some relevance because the river system which is called the border rivers eventually make its way south. The rivers hereabouts make up a great part of the wriggly bit that makes up some of the eastern part of the NSW/Old border.  

Dumeresq River

The reason I have mentioned some of the more obscure places in Australia is the tremendous consequences for the local Aboriginal peoples that habituated this lovely and fertile area. These people were of the tribal group known as the Bigambul people which is a sort of generic name for a conglomeration of smaller sub groups. The entire peoples of the Bigambul people took up arms against the white intruders and waged a different type of warfare against the settlers. The focus was on the commercial aspects of settlement that is the farms and buildings of the white settlers. Usually the enmity between the warring parties took the form of violence against the person of the opposing group. The Bigambul people realised the white settlers were there as part of an economic reality and attacked the means of that economy. White settlers found the danger and inconvenience of losing homesteads and outbuildings a serious impediment to the economy of the district.

 The outcome was signified by the formation of the Native Police by the Governor in 1848. The Bigambul people eventually lost and the small remnants that survived the encounters soon found the only thing left to them was to work for the settlers who offered almost non existant wages and many of these former foes worked for survival rations.

 The tragedy has been somewhat rectified by the winning of Native title rights for the original peoples in February 2001. the area encompassed by the Native Land Title covers most of the original 26, 000 sq. kilometres of the Original peoples.

                www.ozscootersdirect.com.au

MANLY, MACHISMO AND THE MURK

Written By: Roger Crates - Jan• 06•11

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The entrance to Sydney Harbour is flanked by two great sandstone bulwarks that are called somewhat obviously South Head and North Head. South Head is the shorter of the twins and although not as high above the pounding water below is a favourite place for some sad and disturbed folk to hurl themselves off. My particular view of this activity is that it is just overwhelmingly sad that someone, anyone who would do such a thing simply has lost the strength to protect those who love them. Somebody does and that somebody is the one that bears the brunt of the sadness and despair of the suicide.

 

Some of our business in this article is connected with the edifice known as North head. The terrible theme of suicide has also some relevance too. We all do foolish things, me probably more than most, certainly when I was younger which of course encompasses anywhere within the last sixty two years. Having said that it is also it is fair to say, I was not particularly dangerous to myself or others for the first five or six years, unless of course you count very messy faecal episodes or the dangers of projectile vomiting.

 There is a wonderful lagoon at Wattamolla Beach in NSW which is situated south of Sydney in the Royal National Park. The beach itself is typical of an Australian beach and will not be found wanting in golden sands as it sits neatly between two gracious headlands that face stoically east. The lagoon is mostly fed by a creek which eventually empties into the lagoon over a picturesque waterfall. The waterfall has always been a place for daring do as people gird their loins and make the ten or so metre leap into the tannin stained water below.

The beach itself joins the land to the sea at the end of a small inlet. The beach precinct is surrounded by walking trails and boasts a wonderful lagoon, which taken in by the discerning eye might give rise to the images of a film set about castaways and young love amidst idyllic settings. Every few years after the creek dwindles, the marvelous lagoon is cut off from its parent sea by the golden sands of the beach. Mother nature will reunite the lagoon and the sea, by creating higher than normal tides or causing the rainfall to swell the creeks and the brackish water will flow again across the sand at the southern edge of the beach.

 It was not until I was about six when my predisposition for danger was somehow directed to watery places, like lagoons. where I was doing the usual running away from my carers, usually Mum, and giggling fit to beat the band when my Mother was distracted to a particularly strapping young man stretching his bronzed muscles nearby, caught both her eye and her attention. It appears I took this opportunity to run headlong into the lagoon and begin to drown. Mum never did have a particularly large span of attention or the man wandered off someplace and naturally she returned her gaze to her errant baby boy, only problem was, he was in fact nowhere to be seen. “Let’s see he was running toward the water and the young man took off his shirt and Roger is not in sight”, running toward the water was the clue and Mum sprang into action with more speed than seemed possible and raced fully dressed into the briny Wattamolla lagoon.

 She found her little boy still giggling madly as he blundered away under the water with little giggle bubbles shooting out of his mouth. I was also told, on another visit to Wattamolla a few years later that a child was taken by a shark from the same lagoon, little did I know until now that this was my Mum’s way to discourage me from swimming there on a wet blustery day. It was only while researching a fact for this article that I found this was a work of fiction on my mother’s part.

 I did have a curious episode in another lagoon about six years later in Terrigal Lagoon, where I once kissed a lovely girl under an overturned canoe, I was never sure which one of us actually tipped the canoe over but it was a nice first kiss with this particular girl. This is not the curious episode though, that was on another day and another canoe. This time a friend and I, a mate, a soccer team member and definitely not for kissing, were paddling around away from the swimming area and a large shadow moved under the craft. It was a shark a large shark, thankfully for us a large dead shark, but it scared the heck out of us at the time.

 So Wattamolla was my first brush with a watery end. My next one was when my brothers decided to help me to learn to swim on top of the water which unless you are Jacques Cousteau is the recommended method. Up until this time my own personal style was beneath the surface and flailing around with eyes tightly shut. It was very important to sink entirely to the bottom to gain purchase with my feet to push myself skyward and a gulp of reviving air.

 My brothers threw me into thee deep end on the North Sydney Swimming pool in 1954. This coincidentally was the year of the Melbourne Olympic Games, the first ever in Australia, I would have loved to have gone and compete, but my technique and age was against me. My brothers did not allow me out of the deep end of the North Sydney Swimming Pool until I able to convert floundering under water to floundering on the surface. They had figured I wouldn’t be able to sink to the bottom and push off for the surface as it was sixteen feet deep. As it turns out they were right.

 The next time danger raised its head was about a year later when my brothers and I went to a fresh water tributary of the Lane Cove River a creek fed large water hole called The Crystal. I walked, as apparently I do, into danger by wandering over an unseen ledge and promptly got my leg snagged underwater about two and a half metres down. This was not a recommended way to continue breathing as I was about one point two metres tall at the time. Once again I was rescued, this time by my brother Peter.

 The next few episodes were all of my own making, of my own stupidity actually. The last couple of years of high school way back then were also the beginnings of the surfing culture and lots of lads were bleaching their hair and stomping was the latest dance craze. I didn’t bleach but I was a great stomper. On those days when school seemed a poor option a few of us would hitch hike to Long Reef Beach using the golf links shortcut.

 We were all keen body surfers and when Long Reef was on it was truly a wonderful place with both left and right cuts, on long glassy swells. At low tide and with a large wave, it wasn’t that hard to get cut up on the reef and the many rocky shoals if you made the wrong choice of wave to attack. If you get the chance visit Long reef, but don’t do as we did and leave the golfers alone as they wander around following the little white ball.

 On one of these illegal excursions from our beloved high school, a mate, Daffy by nickname and Daffy by nature, and I decided to make the trip to Manly Beach. We changed out of our school uniforms at back of the bus shed, and caught buses to

 Manly. Why we had decided to go to the beach on a wild, wet and wintery day is the subject of a debate about how truly stupid one can be when one is fourteen years old. Is it hormonal, plain stupidity or willful disobedience, I personally lean toward good old fashioned stupidity with a pinch of inexperience.

 Daffy and I were basking in the cold rain as we discovered the beach had been closed due to the bad weather and the huge waves were rolling in at North Steyne beach, which the minds of the paid Beach Inspectors of the day considered far to dangerous for swimming. Naturally Daffy who was also a rather smaller fellow to go along with his general Daffyness, and I must admit, I agreed with him, that we were not run of the mill swimmers but gifted body surfers. Just how we had come to this conclusion and the general delusion has never been explained, but we decided to go in and ‘ride,ride,ride the wild surf as the Jan and Dean sang in those days.

 Interestingly Manly Beach was named by Captain Arthur Phillip who was actually appointed Admiral as he was Governor General of the Colony of NSW, for whatever the reason he is best remembered as Captain Arthur Phillip. While this erstwhile gentleman was scouting the shores of Sydney Harbour, he came across members of the Jay-ye-my clan of the local Guringai people. He was admiring the stature and apparent strength of the men of the group, when one of their number took exception of this pale fellow with the funny hat, and promptly threw a spear at him which sat quivering in Arthur Phillips’s shoulder. Much to his credit the pale one ordered the other pale fellows he was with, their hats were not so funny, not to retaliate. He was so impressed with the Jay-ye-my darker fellows, that we called the place Manly.

 Manly is surrounded on three sides by water, it is in fact a classic isthmus with the narrow neck of land connecting the area known as North Head and the rest of Australia via the northers beaches. So in this wonderful place we have the Tasman Sea on one side and beautiful Sydney Harbour on the other , the third side is, what for many is their first experience of continental Australia, the Sydney Harbour Heads, which is a narrow stretch of water that forms the entrance to the harbour itself .

 The southern end of the beach itself was considered Manly Beach and further north on the same stretch of sand are South Steyne, Mid Steyne and as you may have guessed North Steyne the last name to be given on the northernmost part of the golden granules is known as Queenscliffe.

 For whatever reason, no doubt foolish, we decided to enter the potentially treacherous water at Mid Steyne, the beach was closed and deserted and the surf was pounding, we became separated almost immediately. The hardest part of body surfing is getting beyond the take off zone. The surfer must get past all the broken water to be able to eyeball the next wave or the sets as it forms further out to sea. This allows the body surfer to get to the most promising spot to catch the wave before it crests and use the power of the water along with a few really hard strokes to whiz you down and along the wave. It really is the most exhilarating feeling and I can understand the way many people wax lyrical about the spirituality of it all.

 As for the day Daffy and I took on the Mid Steyn surf. I went as hard as I could and within about fifteen minutes I was ‘out the back’, trouble was I was out the back alone, no Daffy.

 I called and coo-eed and yelled, but no Daffy, I swam in a bit, no Daffy, out a bit, no Daffy and finally went way out to see if I could see him as I lifted myself up on the cresting swells, no Daffy. I was becoming very very concerned, for some reason and, quite incorrectly of course, I felt responsible and as I considered myself a strong swimmer I felt I should find the little guy before something awful happened. While I floundering around looking for Daffy I noticed on the far off shore a crowd of people forming. Some them were pointing out toward the dumping swells and for some reason I felt they were trying to point toward the missing Daffy.

 I swam around calling him between ducking from the large waves. I was now opposite Queenscliffe the northerly aspect of the whole Manly beach. I was becoming very tired and if I didn’t get in soon I would be swept around the headland and who knows where my dead body would be swept up. Incidentally I was with some guys when a body was found jammed in some rocks at freshwater right around that same headland a couple of months before.

 I struggled in and that took at least another ten minutes, the small crowd on the beach seemed to move south with me as I came closer to shore and let the natural wave action wash me in. I expected to be told the worst when I staggered out of the water and people came rushing toward me. At the front of them all was Hmm! you guessed it… Daffy.

 It turns out he decided at the first watery hurdle to go in and watch me as I battled the elements, I wasn’t sure if I should hug him or hit him, but I decided, we should clear off fast before the Police Rescue Squad became involved.

 Daffy told me the Beach Inspector was considering calling them as he wasn’t going to go after the stupid bastard out there. I received a justified telling off although I felt I was in control most of the time at least foolish, foolish boy.

 About a year later when I was approaching fifteen, I had the exquisite pleasure of surfing the Bommy at Queenscliffe. A bommy is the shortened name for a bombora which is a reef generated swell that caused wave action under certain circumstance. The Queenscliffe bombora doesn’t form often and when it does on the rare occasion it does it comes up from the sea floor about a kilometre off the shores of Queenscliffe. The conditions for its activity are generally storms off shore and combined with certain tidal and prevailing wind conditions can throw up the most perfect waves. The bommy throws up huge perfectly formed waves with plenty of power in them to push the surfer, body surfer or board rider thrusting forward back toward the far off shore. The waves are often superbly glassy as they rely on conditions generated from maybe hundreds of miles away.

 It was the summer of ’63’ and I decided to tackle the Queenslcliffe bommy if I ever got the chance. It did come a month or so later and I started swimming out to join the half dozen or so truly expert and experienced surfer dudes who took on the daunting challenge. So out I went once again alone.

 The swim out is fairly ordinary once you are past the normal surfing area. Strangely the bommy when it appears is no guarantee of large swells on shore. It is really like swimming out at sea which I suppose it was. The actual surf break on this day was about four metres over the falls that is the wave height at the time of water cresting. To get past this, which is in fact thousands of tons of churning rushing water it is best to swim around the take off area and approach it from behind.

 To surf the bommy is in fact a commitment from the surfer, to not only get there, it is a kilometre swim plus edging the break area, and there is no use putting in this effort if one doesn’t catch a wave. The sets do not come in all the time so it is quite usual to wait out there treading water for extended periods waiting for the right wave. I hasten to add not the biggest wave as it is no use to get smashed if the wave is unsuitable to ride. So a surfer can wait up to half an hour for the conditions to be right and when they are, heaven on a stick.

 As I approached all the other insane half dozen I noticed they were all considerably older than I was, I was conscious of such things at the time, all had on terry toweling hats and were plastered with zinc cream to stop burning the face during the wait between opportunities. Not for me, I didn’t know better, I was fourteen.

 The next set was upon us as I maneuvered behind them, trouble was they all caught the third or so monster coming across the submerged reef before I could get to the take off zone. I watched in awed dismay as I saw them all slide over the falls and they were lost to my sight as they all zoomed beach ward. It turns out they all knew each other and had decided to go in on the next available wave. Being expert surfers that is exactly what they did.

 Luckily this was before the Steven Spielberg classic movie Jaws. So there I was folks, first time on the bommy, all alone, with a kilometres of seawater between me and safety, all alone, with the bommy pounding as the last of the set went past me to go crashing and swirling toward the shore. Did I mention I was all alone, naturally there was a time delay between sets so I spent the next twenty minutes waiting for the next set with my head under the water looking to see what was down there. Some of my time was spent watching the sets generate to the perfect wave and after an eternity of waiting, here they came. I took the third on offer, I had watched from the beach for half an hour before venturing out and the third wave was usually the best formed.

 All I can say now some forty eight years later was that was the best few moments of watery delight in my life. Sheer exhilaration, sheer beauty and grace, sliding down an almost vertical wall of green glassy heaven, bugger the sharks. The wave allowed me to ride its forward edge as if we were friends, I think I cut back at least twice maybe three times keeping the white foamy leading edge just behind my left shoulder. After what seemed an eternity the wave petered out but not before it allowed me to suck out the marrow of its glory.

 After stopping any forward progress I tumble turned off in my delight and continued the swim for shore, which was now only about 800 yards away. So by my reckoning which is no doubt not accurate I went in about 100 or so yards from going over the falls but the real thrill of such a ride was that I had transversed maybe another hundred yards sideways. Simply wonderful. I was not so foolhardy as to turn around and try it again, all alone.

 The northern end of the Manly isthmus is North Head and although south Head has the reputation for sad ends the Norh Head has its fair share of dangers to life and limb. Quite a number of deaths occur by fishing off the rocks as the waves crash against the sandstone cliffs. The cliffs are over thirty metres high in mostly sheer sandstone walls.

 In places the cliffs appear to stand on tables of sandstone and the waves smash against the forward edge and sweep across the flat surfaces of the sandstone table.

The tables fall off again at water level and are a perfect habitat for the fishy dwellers of these swirling and dangerous depths. At North Head there is one particular spot that offers the sports fisherman the very best chance of catching a whopper and an awful chance of ending his life.

 My elder brother Peter introduced me to this spot which on refection is not a nice place and not worth the bragging rights of catching that same whopper. The place is named ‘The Murk’

 First danger to get past is the climb down which includes a bit of rock hopping, traversing and repelling down a large but well worn rope tied to a rusting stake driven into the rock face. The climb is rather daunting but I was with my brother at the time and naturally the machismo of the moment took over and against my own thoughts of self preservation down I went with half a ton of fishing gear. How on earth one climbs back up with all this gear and a haul of fish is a minor miracle in itself, but bragging rights hold a strong grip on the rock fisherman’s ideology.

 When and if you make it down safely you are now confronted with the raw sea and the power it has to swallow you whole and completely, I can understand how prime Minister Harold Holt disappeared in rough conditions at Cheviot Beach in Victoria in 1967. The next danger to face after leaving your tackle high and dry is to make it to the waters swirling edge across the flat table of rock.

 Not many Sydneysiders know that there is a sewerage facility at the top of the cliff and an outfall tunnel blasted vertically from the top and turning into a horizontal tunnel below sea level. Now we all know the powers that be never, ever, ever allow raw sewerage to go from the citizens home, or wherever it may be introduced into the system to end up in the Pacific Ocean. They would never, ever, ever allow that to happen in the mid seventies and yet on certain days a brown streak can be observed emanating with some degree of suspicion from the cliffs co-incidentally where the outfall of treated perfectly,completely treated ex sewerage enters the sea.

 The brown streak generally follows a thirty degree path on its northward journey to dissipate a few miles off Sydney’s northern beaches. The increase in protein in the water is what makes such large fish inhabit the underwater caves and nooks and crannies, which the sports fisherman craves. I wouldn’t recommend eating the fat fellows though. The increased protein also causes the next danger to be faced, the slime that treacherously coats the rocks. Most rocks are covered with some degree of water weeds and they are often slippery but this is exaggerated by the slime factor of the murk.

 A fisherman must wear climbing cleats on the shoes or boots to ensure some form of, at least surer footing. Every year the bodies of rock fishermen are found floating off the waters around Sydney and they have been washed off rocks because they were not using cleats on their footwear.

 There are also has additional dangers for the rock fisherman at The Murk. Between the cliff face and the waters edge is a channel, through which occasionally rush waves which have hit the cliff wall forty or so metres off to the south. The fisherman must watch the waves in front of him for that ‘rogue bastard’ that seems to come from nowhere and he must hold on for dear life if it decides to sweep over the slimy rocks on which he is standing.

 The channel behind him can fill up with swirling foamy death as it rushes from where the water enters it, forty metres south and hits him from behind as he blithely watches what is happening in fron of him. A dangerous place ‘The Murk”

 Peter and I fished there a few times and we would sit atop the cliff and wait and check out the idiosyncrasies of the sets of waves as they pounded the rocks below. I learned this patience myself from surfing. We often revised our decision to fish the place after watching that ‘rogue bastard’ sweep behind the fishing spot.

 In the late seventies my brother and I had a small business, the actual work of which was carried on outdoors. This allowed us some inclement weather days off and on one of these we found ourselves on the northern beaches of Sydney. There was a hurricane brewing out at sea and Sydney was on the outer edge of the big blow. We decided to watch the sea from the cliffs above ‘The Murk’.

 We parked our car and sat on the edge of the cliffs as the odd gust of windy rain swept over us. The sea so far below us was a churning mass of swirling, smashing, blasting and most noticeably huge waves.

 They talk about the angry sea well this day it was absolutely apoplectic. Naturally being the foolish people we were we decided to have a closer look, why, well who knows but we did.

 The first part of the descent of the cliff is a scrambling few metres down, the next short section is a five metre drop down on a frayed old rope. This terminates on a rock ledge and if you were to ask me how high this was above the churning sea below I would hazard a guess at twenty five or more metres.

 So there we sat both pretending we were not cold although my shivering might have given me away, we were in fact cloaked in our own machismo as we watched the pounding waves from miles out at sea as they crashed over each other in a frenzied attack on the cliffs of Sydney. Every now and then as is normal there would be one super monster who would shoulder the rest aside it its anger to get at the land and crash with unbelievable force against the shore.

 The rain became insignificant as we were being soaked from the sea spray. We sat in awed silence as one behemoth towered above the rest and actually seemed to be on our eye level, the silence was broken between my brother and I as we realised the wave was actually coming at us at the level we were above from the seas below.

 The word tsunami might have been called for but of course it would not be correct. The wave crashed against the cliffs just below our feet and we rushed into the shelter a fallen boulder learning against the rock face, I wedged myself in by the shoulders and my brother selflessly pushed me further into the crevice and wedged his own shoulders in and we hung on for our lives.

 When the water had finished rushing over us and we emerged out of the green doom and could breathe again, we both started to laugh. I am sure there was a sort of hysterical relief in our guffaws. Until we looked seaward again to be stunned with an even bigger monster bearing down on us with what we perceived to be pure malice. This time we were looking up. Again we wedged ourselves into the crevice and held on and prayed to be given the chance to see our families again. We were given that chance as the monstrous wave crashed over us and I swear my hand prints are there as I grasped the rocky sanctuary with all the strength I have.

 What can I say only foolish, foolish boy, and foolish foolish men, as for the sea, I love it.

WARWICK AND STANTHORPE

Written By: Roger Crates - Jan• 01•11

 

WHERE'S ROGER?

 

If you get the opportunity for a weekend away from Brisbane, and want to get in some high altitude fun, no I didn’t say high octane fun, I said high altitude fun go for a drive out west. Have a picnic at Lake Moogerah where there is what I think is an unlikely place for a dam. The catchment is from the high ranges of the Great Dividing Range and the river that flows from it , well river might be overstating the water course but it does persevere and become as it grows up into the same watercourse we know as the Brisbane River.

From Lake Moogerah, head west up the Cunningham Highway and you will crest the gap between Mt. Cordeux and Mt. Mitchell. The view is stunning but be a little

Cunninghams Gap

Cunninghams Gap

 wary as in most places the locals are only looking at how to get to work or home or wherever and not like you looking to turn around and park in the small lay by on the northern side of the road. The name Cunningham is well know in explorer terms in Australia and this is simply one of his accomplishments. He specifically looked for a route across the ranges to help open up the Darling Downs region and the burgeoning markets of Brisbane and beyond.

 
 

 

The road is well constructed and although a little steep at 8 degrees in places it is safe and has plenty of forward vision even when seeped in fog as happens occasionally. The road then goes through a series of dales through the Glengallon Valley, until it meets with the New England Highway as that mighty road wanders South to the hunter Valley in New South Wales. About fifteen kilometres further along and there is Warwick.

Warwick is the epitome of a modern rural town, take a moment to see the wonderfully ornate Town hall. The region is blessed in that it offers the people on the land a variety of crops including cotton, wheat, barley, sorghum, table vegetables are grown here as well. If livestock is the main source of farming there are sheep cattle and pigs which all thrive on the fertile gently rolling hills of the district.

Condamine River Warwick

Condamine River Warwick

The area is well served by the Condamine river as it flows its stately way south/east joining up with the Ballone and others to eventually enter the Murray River system making for South Australia and Lake Alexandrina and eventually the Great Southern Ocean ‘

Warwick is actually responsible for the formation of the Commonwealth police as it was here in 1917 that the unpopular Prime minister Billy Hughes who was unpopular because of his insistence for Conscription had an egg thrown at him as he addressed a crowd at the railway station. The egg thrower, who was plainly in sight and known remained at large as the local Queensland police refused to arrest him such was the level of his unpopularity. The Prime minister had his commonwealth police with a very short time and we have had them ever since.

Leaving Warwick and heading further south about sixty kilometres and we come to Stanthorpe who disprove the theory that cold weather fruits cannot be grown in Queensland, as their wonderful apples and stonefruit thrive on the higher elevations of this loverly darling downs town. Have another picnic at Quart pot creek just outside of town. The idea of a quart pot for a cup of tea is quintessentially Australian, and I can hear the insects droning as I pull a couple of gum leaves of a eucalyptus tree, to add to my billy tea before I swing it about in the way of the Australian bushman, before I cut open my steaming damper to have with my scalding black tea on a sweltering summer afternoon.

Quart Pot Creek Stanthorpe

Quart Pot Creek Stanthorpe

 This photo courtesy of Gail Paulson, for more fabulous photos visit www.panoramio.com/photo/15766298#c4920969

Stanthorpe was originally a mining town with tin mines scattered around the place, in fact the name of the town owes its origins to the many and varied groups of people who came here to mine the ore in 1872. Stannum is Latin for tin and Thorpe is an old English name for town so Stanthorpe literally means tintown. Wine is now part of the expanding agriculture base and I am told the Stanthorpians produce a very good drop of wine. Maybe it has something to do with the excess heat and cold that can be experienced in the region, or maybe it has something to do with the Granite in the earth. The area is the start of the famous granite belt which stretches south and is one of the geographical features for hundreds of miles.

All in all The Stanthorpe and Warwick areas are delightful places to visit and naturally you must take a day or two to see the many and varied aspects to this lovely corner of Australia.