Posts Tagged ‘Maryborough’

You know that awful feeling that you get in the pit of your stomach when you receive an ‘official’ government letter?  Well, I have had cause twice recently to wonder and on opening the letters have discovered that big brother is indeed alive and well and watching (out) for us.

I have always thought that its  bad manners to discuss with a lady her age, but oh no – there it is boldly emblazoned on both the letters –
Dear Maria (hmm – very familiar given that I don’t know this person from a lump of coal) – Congratulations on reaching 50!  Congratulations my arse – so what – we all get there sooner or later.  And then proceeding to tell me of the possible decline of my health and offering all the screening tests under the sun!  Hey gently guys, gently – many people start to feel a little fragile around that blessed 50 number!  Yep, BB is watching us all…

And that throw-away comment I made a few weeks ago about the loss of Spring was a tad too quick.  This week we have been sweltering in Summer temperatures with the last four days reaching the high twenties – and with little relief in sight!  Still, we shouldn’t complain – at least we are coming in the warmer weather unlike our European friends who can only look forward to cold and colder!!!

Busy getting ready for the departure of good friend Meredith who is heading west to the tiny community of Mt Perry and her hubby Andrew.  Wonder what the weekend will bring?



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We have woken each morning this week to the heavy all-pervading smog of thick smoke.  Not that unusual for this time of the year – they often back-burn the state forests and sometime also on Fraser Island, but this year it is heavier than usual.  The very wet summer last year meant that many of the local sugar cane farmers could not harvest all their crops and were left with a lot of stand-over cane.  This grows thick and full of thrash (outer leaf) to the point where it becomes a thick, matted mess that doesn’t allow the sunlight to penetrate to the ground – and that means that the ground doesn’t dry out.  And the way they deal with it is to burn the cane, something that doesn’t happen too much in a good year much these days.

Hence the smoke.  And of course, where there is smoke, there is increased particles in the air. And of course when this occurs, you get the most amazing red moons rising.  With the full moon this week, the nights were just stunning! 

Reminds me of our trip out from Beijing to the Ming Tombs, with the pink moon just dipping to touch the horizon on our left and the red red sun just having emerged from the horizon on our right!  When we asked our guide about why the sun was red that day, he looked at us most quizzically and said “Today?  The sun is red.  It is always red!” And no matter how much we tried to explain, he could not comprehend that the sun in fact is not red, and that he was always looking at it through a pollution haze.  I felt really sad for him.

Its been a great week.  Monday night saw Don and Catherine visit.  We love their annual stop on their way north or south – they are great company and there are always plenty of travel and family stories to share.  Of course the topic of conversation with any of the family at the moment is the upcoming wedding of Michael and Carline in Jamaica.  We are all frantically trying to find ways to get there!

Last night was our annual fondue party.  Now, this is often a big affair held downstairs with upwards of 6 + fondues and often 30 – 40 guests.  But this year we decided to just go intimate.  So 8 of us sat down first to a Neuchâtel Fondue (cheese fondue to the uninitiated!) then to a Chinoise Fondue (thin slices of meat cooked in broth).  These were followed by a Spiced Dark Chocolate Fondue and a Caramel Fondue (requested by Shayne!)

We dipped sourdough bread and mixed vegetables (mushrooms, asparagus, cauliflower, broccoli, baby sweet corn and potato) into the cheese.  Now, that cheese was the best.  I buy the Fondue blend from Fromart Cheese where they take all the effort out, selling pre-grated, blended packs of  cheese suitable for fondues.  We ate the lot, and yes, we even scraped out that small round disc of baked on cheese from the base!  Then we sat back as chicken, beef and pork simmered away in the broth.  I had made the most amazing chicken stock for the broth earlier – well worth the effort!  These were accompanied with home-made tomato and piquant sauces. Mmmm.  We drowned them with glasses of Vicars Choice Sauvignon Blanc, a lovely Torres Spanish red that I was given for my birthday and an Eaglehawk Cab Sav.

The dessert fondues this year were also great – served with sliced bananas, whole local strawberries at their peak from Boswell Strawberries, marshmallows, cubes of the last piece of pannetonne from last Christmas and for a fun touch, with part mix soft lollies.  Yep, were good – not a single drop of either left!!!  To match them we drank Moscato, some of that magical Francois Peyrot Pear Cognac and more of that rocket-fuel Caol Isla whiskey.

James phoned this morning with another food distributor that sells all the chemicals need to prepare spherical foods – goody goody – more new toys!  And Antony and Amanda are looking forward to Monday when they collect their new car.  Yep, a great week!

And to cap it all off – it is our darling little Mathilda’s first birthday.  I am waiting for Michael to get home from volunteering at the Maryborough Military and Colonial Museum and for Gen to wake up after a nightmare night shift so we can Skype with her and mum and dad, Steph and Felix, loudly singing Happy Birthday.

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This weekend was the annual Technology Challenge Maryborough here at home.  It is hard to believe that it was ten years ago that this iconic event began and my involvement began in earnest a year later. 

These days I am a volunteer and do not need to put in the 96 straight hours that I once did!  It’s great to see the thousands of young people converge on the site, renewing old friendships and making new ones and all the time competing in teams that bear none of the dog eat dog attitude that we see so much these days.  Yes, there is much to be proud of.  And with the community of Maryborough out in full force to support it with every service club, the scouts and many sporting groups helping out, this is the City at its best!  Michael has gone down to marshall one of the corners today and I take on the graveyard shift at Admin from midnight tonight!

With the arrival of September coming the start of the preparations for Christmas.  Don’t groan – at least this year I am on time!  When we were in Brisbane last week, one of the purchases at the wholesalers was the bulk dried fruit for the fruit cakes.  It has now begun its journey into drunkenness with the first of a bottle of rum and brandy added!

Winter continues its late visit to Queensland with the temperatures plunging again last night, although not as cold as the 4 degrees on Sunday morning at 5 am – just an hour before my shift at the Technology Challenge Maryborough finished!

My aunt and uncle from Newcastle are visiting tonight and so I have spent a couple of hours preparing rolled pork belly stuffed with prunes and pistachios, potato and celeriac mashes, veges and a bread and butter custard with a difference – made from the last of the panetonne left over from last christmas!  You should smell the house just now – amazing!

Plans are now being considered to go to Jamaica for the wedding of my brother Michael and his lovely fiancee Carline.  This event was a big surprise for the whole family – and I think even Michael has surprised himself somewhat.  The Caribbean is not somewhere that I have actively considered before, but I’m liking what I see in doing some research!  Quite a few in family are going to try to get there – so it should be a blast.

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Well the job of cleaning up is well underway.  There is the Rally for Relief, the Sound Relief and now Operation Bounce Back. Enough with the jargon!
This morning is bright and sunny, but still with lots of those thick fluffy clouds towering into the stratosphere above us.  The thermometer climbs quickly, pushing towards yesterday’s hot of 35.9 °C, the hottest so far this month, but still short of the January record of 38°C!

And as the temperature climbs, so does the humidity!  Ah yes 79% – ugh!
At least the awful smell of the mud rising from the drying surfaces all over town is dissipating somewhat – that lurking, rotting smell that belongs in some horror film.

This morning was the first meeting of the year for the Rotary Club of Maryborough Sunrise.  It amazed me just how much I missed them, given that such an early start every Wednesday morning is not always welcomed by the body – this morning being one of them when I woke with at start at 6:10 am (we begin on the dot of 6:30am).  With Australia Day looming next week and our long-time support for the Council activities, Service Director Lisa was in full swing organising all of us to cook and serve 1,000 breakfasts followed by the Australiana Games.  In deference to the recovering Queens Park, this year we are using the City Hall and the Green surrounding it.  We will also have a representative of the Shelter Box team displaying one and answering questions.

This morning was also time to farewell Nathasja and Nanna from Denmark as they continue their holiday north to Cairns.  Maybe the Danes are particularly reserved people, or maybe the shock of meeting us quietened them down!  Either way, they were two of the shyest visitors we have ever had through Couchsurfing.  Maybe they will come out of their shells as they grow a little older . . .

And so it is back into the business year.  Already I have a couple of jobs on the go and I have been fielding enquiries also.  Despite the heat in the office (fans in over-drive and wondering whether I should buy a small air-conditioner), it is head down and fingers to the keyboard grindstone.  Planning for meetings in the coming week, then back to a large application for a Healthy Communities Coordinator who is to be based with the local Fraser Coast Regional Council.

I will also ramp up the planning and preparations for my first Japanese English Group who will be here in March with AIIU.  Time to interview the first of the families and to get newsletter articles ready for the school.

A phone call from Lisa at Council saves the day.  The first of the lunch dates for the year – we all meet at the Federal Hotel – all the old crew that I used to work with at Council.  It was lovely to catch up with them all and hear their Christmas season news as well as sharing their frustrations of the flood dramas.  With a major building evacuation, I fear that Susan was the one that bore the brunt of much of it.  If only the same processes and people were available as in the last flood!  Thankfully, the pub is air-conditioned.

Midway through our meals, the storm that had been threatening hits and even though we are there for an hour, it is still pouring as we leave.  After standing chatting for 5 minutes, there was nothing for it but to make a dash for the car parked two spaces from the door.  Succeeded in getting drenched even though I was so close.  Lennox Street is again covered with water in this flash flood and even Ann Street in the block before home is inches deep.   Amazingly the yard is filled with water – more that we have seen in the last two weeks combined – yep, the rain was as heavy as!  The saving grace is that it has bought us some relief from the draining heat and humidity and at 3:24 pm, the temperature is now a much more bearable 24.3°C – bring on autumn and winter I say!

So quite a social day to push on into summer.

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Modern communications are very much a double-edged sword.  Never before have we been so well-informed in the midst of a major crisis. 

And it brings out the best and the worst in people.  There was the editor of our local newspaper who filled the front page – not just a small item, but the bulk of the front page – with the photo of a cow in its dying throes, caught by its hoof in the railing of the local bridge.  It took more than a heartbreaking 30 minutes for it to succumb, much to the horror and distress of onlookers that included young children.  It surely did not need the added exposure that the sensational-hungry editor gave it.  Shame on you – shame.

And then there is the surge of volunteers who have come out to help those who really need it.  As the saying goes, ‘when the going gets tough, the tough get going’ !  As I sat in the comfort of our loungeroom this morning, watching the Channel Nine coverage of the massive cleanup underway, it was heartening to see the thousands of people in Brisbane who showed up to help out with the massive cleanup.  The footage of bus after bus after bus being boarded by people armed with brooms, rakes and shovels shows Australians as we really know that we are – determined to help out a mate or anyone else that needs it.  Sure, it is probably good therapy for people who were the least impacted, but hey – who cares what the motivation is – when the going gets tough – off we all go!  Aussie, Aussie, Aussie. Oi, Oi, Oi!!!

In the midst of the tragedies of the flood victims, we have a small tragedy of our own.  Michael’s brother has had a heart attack and is indeed very unwell.  In another demonstration of the Australian character, when neighbours worried about him, they called the ambulance.  So he is safe in hospital receiving the best care that he can get, and now awaiting surgery for a bypass.  As the proverb goes, ‘It never rains, but pours’ – yes, I know quite a sick quote given the moment, but very very apt!

On a lighter note, we are all high and dry and the roads around us are now open.  You can now travel all the way from the Gold Coast to Cairns via the state’s main road, the Bruce Highway, for the first time in two weeks.  We take so much for granted! 

Today we welcomed Nanna and Nathasja from Denmark – our latest Couchsurfers.  They are travelling in Australia and New Zealand until the middle of the year, and could not have chosen a more in-opportune time!  We had been quite worried for them with Michael texting them with updates over the last couple of days.  However they arrived safely after staying in the Maroochydore area yesterday. 

Their plan is a couple of days here to see Maryborough, Fraser Island, to feed the dolphins at Tin Can Bay and see the coloured sands of Rainbow Beach before heading north to Bundaberg and hopefully turtle sightings before they continue up the coast to Cairns.

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“We are Queenslanders,” she said. “We’re the people that they breed tough, north of the border. “We’re the ones that they knock down, and we get up again.”

Love her or hate her politically, no-one can have anything other than sincere admiration for our Premier, Anna Bligh.  The quote above comes straight from her mouth only moments before she finally succumbed to tears on national TV today. 

It has been amazing to watch her hold her composure, to remain calm in the face of overwhelming adversity, to speak with compassion and sincerity to ‘her’ people – the residents of Queensland, and do it every two hours over the last three days.  Sure, there were times that she looked tired and haggard, but all the time, she has kept us fully informed.  This all kicked in after the horrific storms and deadly consequences around Toowoomba and the Lockyer Valley west of Brisbane.
And talking of presenters, Wendy leading the broadcast on Channel Nine has done a similarly incredible job providing a level of decorum that must have been hard to maintain as she sat there providing the link to all the reporters so efficiently between 10 am and 5 pm each day – well done, and also to the ABC radio host visiting from Victoria who has relieved her local counterparts for a while – job well done the lot of you!

And now to Maryborough  . . .

Since I last posted, the mighty Mary River had held steady – even subsided a little before again rising to a peak just under 8 m last night (Wed 12 Jan) around 9 pm.  This was the expected water – the water that had been pouring from the heavens on the upper catchment at the back of the Sunshine Coast.  It hits Gympie first, and so we usually have a few days notice.  The Lamington Bridge never surfaced between the two lots of water and as we watched the water buckling over it today, it is very uneven – could just be debris, but could also be very serious damage!  We won’t know until the water subsides and the bridge is inspected.

We have friends who are stuck between two flooded creeks on the Granville side of the Mary River who have not been able to get into town since last Friday – they are all starting to feel the strain of the loss of social contact – as Robyn put it, “there is a very big difference between chosing to stay at home and being forced to!”  Added to this are the great difficulties that they are having in getting food supplies.  And there was a truly frightening moment for them yesterday when Ergon cut the power as the rising river caused concern for the high voltage feeder lines.  For these people living in rural settings, no power = food spoilage, but more devastatingly, no water as they all pump water.  The panic was short-lived and the power back on within a couple of hours – phew.

The news today is good – Council hopes that they will be able to open the Granville Bridge that connects them and the City proper tomorrow!  All I can do is to phone occasionally and feed through information that I can get from people at the Emergency Management Team.  I hope it helps somewhat – they are preparing for a food drop tomorrow, but most of our friends will be able to get across the bridge then.

In fact, we have been one of a number of Wide Bay cities that have been isolated – cut off from supplies both north and south by flooding that has closed the Bruce Highway – the State’s main road.  Supplies have been drying up of things like milk – Burton’s Dairy is still milking and producing, but they are just a small dairy and unable to produce sufficient to provide even the whole city of Maryborough – but at least they can supply places like nursing homes etc.  And while the local bakers are all working overtime, their supplies of ingredients such as flour were at depletion.  Then, joy of joys, a couple of trucks were able to get through this morning with much-needed supplies – so all is good.

Following on from the storms of Tuesday night in the south-east of the State, we have really had nothing to complain about.  There are a few houses inundated here, but for the vast majority of people here, it is really little more than an inconvenience.  Nothing like the horror of Toowoomba, Ipswich, the Lockyer Valley and Brisbane where 12,000 homes are under water – and for most of them that mean UNDER water – to the roof line, and at least 15 people have lost their lives with many more still missing.  There are no words to say – everything is inane at this point, all we can do is to sit glued to the news broadcasts, aching for the loss and suffering.

But the Premier is right – we are resilient.
We will recover – no matter how long.
We will grow together through this tragedy.

Thank goodness for the foresight of planners following the last flood of this magnitude in 1974 – the Wivenhoe Dam in the upper catchment of the Brisbane River (now at 189% capacity after a few short months ago when it was down to 16% capacity) has mitigated the effects of the flood on the much more developed ‘River City’. 

I believe that these events are a natural occurrence and that all we will be ever able to do is best plan to minimise the risks, take the warning advices when they come and look after ourselves and our mates – a truly Australian way of doing things.

So my friends, cry with us, but also be prepared to rejoice at all the little joys that we discover – friends found safe, the kangaroo about to drown plucked by someone “who couldn’t let the coat of  arms drown” and if you are in a position to do so, donate to the Premier’s Flood Appeal.  You can donate from the Qld Goverment main web page – http://www.qld.gov.au/.

Oh, and pray to whatever God you believe in that the cyclone currently developing to the east of us just peters out before it gets here!  The rain has stopped for the moment – please no more for a little while!

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The source of this quote is unknown, but I could not find a more apt title for this post if I spent forever searching!
Since I last posted, Maryborough has been inundated.
We have had inches and inches of rain in the past 36 hours – I can’t tell you how much just here because our little domestic rain gauge only holds 4 inches, but friends to the west and south of us have both recorded around 9 inches of rain!  Now, THAT is a LOT of water for any watercourse to manage.
The Mary River crept up swiftly and almost silently with the high tide on Friday night.  By 1 am on Saturday 8 January, the bridge deck was awash and by the time I saw it around 8:30 am that morning, it was about 1 metre under water and the debris was piling against the railings (which they didn’t get time to remove and lower this time).
Mind you, I had no idea that the river was in flood – I went into the Supermarket to do some shopping to cook for a Cocktail party happening and Andrew and Meredith’s that was subsequently cancelled.  Took the route towards the seafood shop and realised then that Queens Park was under water – even the new Rotary Chapel was half filled with water – you know – the stinking smelling sort of muddy backwash – yuk, that is not going to be a nice cleanup!
Water was creeping into the lower CBD streets and as the day progressed, the river continued on its fast rise up to and beyond the high tide at 1 pm yesterday.  And still it rose.
The Granville Bridge went under, Lower Kent Street and Wharf Street were navigable only by boat and the City’s first water supply at Ululah Lagoon was getting a long overdue major flush out.  Council workers have now completed erecting the portable LEVEE (someone needs to learn how to spell!!) system in Adelaide Street to protect the CBD businesses and especially their basements.
As I type this I am looking out to blue skies with high wispy white clouds from my office – ah, but we cannot let ourselves get complacent – just to the south-west another big storm cell is looming and the powers that be are still saying that the flood peak will be at least 9m and maybe even a little higher.  And that does not include the water that fell in the headwaters overnight (300mm) during one of the most spectacular storms we have seen in about 15 years.
But we are all OK.  Our home is high and dry and the greatest inconvenience for us is when the storm water system is full, it backs up under the house giving us a couple of inches to wade through.  Many other are cut off.  The suburb of Granville is isolated from town, Council has suspended the ferrying of groceries because the river is running so fast that there is no-where to berth on the other side, and reports are that the supermarket over there is absolutely empty – so they may need to helicopter some supplies in. 
Other friends in the Bidwill area are trapped between two creeks that are very over – Jumpo Creek and Tinana Creek – with more water coming in to these systems from the south today.  Helen and Geoff have reported 15 inches in the last couple of days and near neighbours Jan and Peter have more water on their farm than they have ever seen in 20 years!
So guys, keep posted – we could yet float away.  It is certainly providing lots of topic for conversation and the sightseers are out that consistently that Mr Whippy is now trawling Queen Street!  Thanks for all the messages of concern from friends all over the world.  Yes, there is a lot of footage in Europe about the Queensland floods – we are having flooding of ‘biblical proportions’ according to the politicians. 
And while Maryborough is well and truly under water, the City fares reasonably well in these major incidents – we generally have a couple of days notice before the headwaters hit us and we have an idea of the volume.  And most of the City is built on higher ground – not all mind you, but most!
I’ll keep you posted!!

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