Tag Archives: Stradbroke Island

Are you a local?

Last weekend our neighbourhood hosted the Sandcliffe Writers Festival, named after two of the participating suburbs, Sandgate and Shorncliffe. I missed the Saturday, but I spent part of Sunday afternoon in the audience at the Sandgate Town Hall for a session entitled ‘Loving the Australian Landscape’. I knew almost nothing about what to expect, except that it began at 1:30, was free and – most importantly for someone of my natural apathy on a Sunday afternoon – was happening about 5 minutes walk from home.

Foolishly imaging it might be hard to get a seat, I arrived early. As I came in the door 2 volunteers grabbed me, one with a camera.
‘Are you a local?’ they asked.
‘Well, yes…’ I live at the other end of the street.
So they hung onto me as a useful (and possibly rare) prop for photographs with Our Local Member, and in due course I was squeezed in between him and Matt Condon, the first of the speakers to turn up. I’ve no idea what they did with the photos, but as they forgot to get my name, if I feature in them, I will have to be labeled ‘A Local’. Continue reading

The Mullet Run in Southeast Queensland

It was about 30 years ago.  I had been staying with friends in Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast north of Brisbane.  It was an overcast day in early winter, with only a few desultory surfers in the water, when 5 or 6 people arrived on the beach with a long net.  Two of them waded out into the surf holding the net and dropped it into the water, enclosing about 10-15 metres between them.

Then the whole group joined in to drag the net back to shore.  It was hard work, for the net was brimming with frantic fish, swarming and jumping in the surf.  They had caught hundreds, perhaps thousands, of sea mullet.

Locals in the know turned up with buckets.  They sold a lot on the beach and packed the rest in polystyrene boxes to sell later.  They backed a 4WD on to the beach, packed away the catch, and were off before the Fish Marketing Board could know or intervene.  From start to finish, the whole affair took less than an hour. Continue reading

Eventide: the end of benevolence

As part of its austerity measures, the new Queensland LNP government has announced (not terribly loudly, mind) that it is winding down a number of government-owned aged care facilities.  Some are closing altogether.  Just down the road from me in Sandgate, two buildings at Eventide are going. Seventy jobs will be lost, 80 old people will be dislocated, and an army of local volunteers who help there have been stripped of their purpose. Locals are up in arms, and there has been a highly political rally outside the Home.

The argument is that the facilities are old, and it would cost too much to upgrade them to meet new federal standards that come in next year, but it’s hard not to suspect that the State Government has plans to eventually flog the site off to developers.  The site is wonderful: seafront land looking northwards across Hayes Inlet to Redcliffe, and eastwards out to Moreton Bay.

In any case, it looks like the end of an era.  Eventide has been in the suburb of Brighton since 1946, but its roots go back much further, to its origins as the Benevolent Institution in the early years of free settlement at Moreton Bay, before Queensland even existed as a separate colony.

Continue reading

On Shifting Sands

The British Library recently called for volunteers to help ‘georeference’ over 700 historic maps of London, England and Wales.  They digitized the maps but needed the assistance of real live human beings to read the maps, and link them to equivalent maps on Google Earth, in place, size and projection.

It’s yet another fascinating experiment in crowd sourcing – but I’m afraid you can’t join in, because they got so many volunteers that the work was completed within a week!  They now plan to load another 1000 digital maps.  If you want to get involved you can register and they will notify you when they are ready to roll.

According to the accompanying video, the technology of linking past and present geographical features seems fairly straightforward: they use the Tower of London as an example, and it’s been in the same place for nearly a thousand years.

Tower of London 1597

Other geographical features on a landscape are trickier.  Where is the Fleet River these days?  Rivers are particularly vulnerable – they are constantly being diverted by urban development, or silt up because of agricultural development upstream.

Coastlines change too.  Continue reading