|Tin Can Bay...circa 2014|
|Another view of Goomboorian|
|Singing Ship Monument, the Emu Park land area was first discovered by Captain James Cook in 1770.|
|Emu Park Beachfront|
Emu: Correct pronunciation – “eem-you”…NOT…”ee-moo”.
While on the subject of emus …those of the long, legged, feathered variety, that is, not restaurants wantonly using their name at will…I’ve a tale or two to relate about our large, inquisitive, native birds.
My grandmother, Ivy Flora Hose, was born at an area named “The Dawn”, across the Mary River on the south-side of Gympie. Not long after Nana was born, sometime in the late 19th century, I don’t know the exact date, the family moved from The Dawn to Goomboorian, a country area 20ks (12 miles) east of Gympie.
My grandmother’s parents (Scottish, Irish and mixture of both) originally went to the Gympie area because my great-grandfather, Nana’s father. He gained worked at the Scottish Mine at Monkland, which is 2kms south of Gympie.
The Gympie region from the late 1860s onwards to the early 1900s was the site of a gold rush. Many Scots ended up in the area in search of work and somewhere to settle to raise their growing families. Monkland, in fact, was named after a Scottish town by a gold prospector. By the 1870s the township of Gympie was well on its way. Shops popped up as did hotels to servicing the growing population.
It’s a slight exaggeration….slight…but at one time on almost very corner in Gympie there stood a pub!
By the way, Gympie was originally known as “Nashville” – named after James Nash. In 1867 Nash, a prospector, born in Beanacre, Wilstshire was the first person to discover gold in the area later to be known as Gympie…and the rush began. James Nash died in Gympie on 5th October, 1913 at the age of 79 years.
In 1889 Gympie was connected to Brisbane, the state’s capital, by railway. Those who built the line didn’t take into consideration the fairly steep gradient between Monkland and Gympie.
For the ensuing half century and more the wonderful old steam engines had their work cut out for them as they huffed and puffed along the railroad tracks to their destination, the Gympie Railway Station; but in saying this, the sturdy steam engines did their job without fail, and in romantic style.
When my grandmother was young their mode of travel was by horse-drawn buggy, on horseback or by Shank’s pony (by foot).
Goomboorian, on the road from Gympie to the sleepy little fishing village of Tin Can Bay, is approximately halfway (32kms – 19 miles) between Gympie and The Bay. Driving from Goomboorian to Tin Can Bay these days takes less than 30 minutes, but back when Nana was a girl and the family went to Tin Can Bay for fishing trips they’d break the "lengthy" trip and camp overnight at Coondoo Creek before travelling on the following morning; and similar occurred on the return trip from The Bay to Goomboorian.
In the latter stages of the 19th Century, into the early years of the 20th Century Goomboorian was an unspoiled rural area; and to this day it remains so, pretty much. The surrounding rolling hills and lush pastures lure many who enjoy a quieter existence to that of living in towns - in the built-up areas. Small crop farming is one of the main activities, wherein a wide variety of vegetables and fruit are grown. Pineapples, in particular, are a popular crop amongst many of the farmers. A few dairy farms still exist, as well. People from all walks of life enjoy the rustic ambience. Houses are on country acreages, and the population today stands below 500 (they do sometimes sit)!
Goomboorian houses are of the more up-market modern variety these days than they were when my grandmother and her siblings grew up in the area.
Back in my grandmother’s day the life was far different to what we experience now. For one thing, emus visited daily. I doubt many, if any, do nowadays
My brother, Graham and I lapped up the stories Nana told us of the “olden days”. We’d urge her on to tell us more, and we never cared if we’d heard a story many times before. Nana was happy to relate her tales; she was a very good storyteller; and we could vividly picture the scenes and events as she described them.
Nana told us of how the family cutlery – silverware – had to be, at all times, hidden away out of view. Once the dishes had been washed and dried the cutlery, in particular, was immediately put into the respective drawers or wherever else it was kept. If, perchance, the wooden hopper windows in the kitchen were left open over the washing up area often inquisitive, passing emus would poke their heads through the open window to steal the silverware if it had been left out in clear view on the bench or table. It was a lesson soon learned by the humans, not to leave the cutlery lying about within easy reach of the long-legged, long-necked, feathered thieves.
Many years later in 1981, a couple of years after Randall, my then husband and I moved to live on the coast at Sunshine Beach, he and I decided we’d hire a small caravan and go off on a trip north from Noosa to Mossman, in Far North Queensland, stopping off at beaches on our way north and on our return trip home.
Actually, it was Randall’s idea to do the expedition. He was very keen to do the Lucille Ball -Desi Arnaz “Long, Long Trailer” imitation. Our trip ended up a bit like that movie by the time we returned to Sunshine Beach, actually. I collected coconuts along the way. There was hardly any room left in the caravan. Any spare space was filled with coconuts! If you recall...in the movie Lucille Ball collected rocks....much to Desi's dismay, and their almost disastrous demise. Well, instead of rocks, I stripped all the coconut palm trees in North Queensland of their crops!
Randall had to do quite a lot of persuading and cajoling to get me to agree to the trip. At heart, I’m a home-body when it gets down to the nitty-gritty.
We were living just a hop, skip and a half leap from the beach, anyway; one of the best beaches in Queensland. I couldn’t see the point in going elsewhere. Also, I didn’t want to leave my very spoilt, sooky, beautiful ginger cat, Ruska, for a length of time; nor was I looking forward to the idea of being away from the comforts of home.
I put up many arguments (even making up a few, I'm sure), but to no avail. Eventually, Randall won out; the van was loaded, overloaded. I packed everything bar the kitchen sink and Ruska. Off we went headed north, the little caravan in tow. A good friend looked after Ruska during our absence.
Our overnight stays were always at beach-side caravan parks; the main purpose of the trip - visiting all the beaches along the way while making up our minds which ones we preferred and would stay longer at on our return trip south.
I have a phobia about public toilets/shower blocks etc. The first thing I did when we pulled into a caravan park before setting up was to check the facilities. If they weren’t clean and in good order there would be no way in the world we’d stay there. Fortunately, we never struck out. Top marks for Queensland's caravan parks at that time. I hope same can still be said these days.
We’d reached the Capricorn Coast. Central Queensland city of Rockhampton sits reasonably comfortably a short distance north of the Tropic of Capricorn; the city has capitalised on the fact that it is so close to the Tropic of Capricorn, which is fair enough, too. Tourist dollars are important, as are beef dollars.
Rockhampton is also known as Australia’s beef cattle capital; and that’s no bull!
The Berserker Range lies on the eastern side of Rocky and unfortunately the range blocks a lot of the sea breezes. Rather than set up camp in Rockhampton we decided to head to the beach - toYeppoon, 40kms (25 miles) east of the city. Yeppoon is the major centre of the Capricorn Coast; but we were looking for something more laid back, so we continued on to Emu Park, a smaller, unspoiled seaside township 21kms south of Yeppoon. Emu Park overlooks Keppel Bay, a bay that is home to Great Keppel Island, a popular spot for holidaymakers.
Having pulled into a suitable, shady spot at a local caravan park I made a quick dash to do my normal inspection of the public facilities/conveniences. All boxes were ticked, so I began to exit the amenties' block to assist Randall in setting up our van.
I stopped dead in my tracks when I came level with the doorway of the toilet/shower block.
Gathered around the door, peering inside were about six curious emus. They’d seen me go into the building so decided they, too, should have a look.
Meanwhile, Randall had spotted the antics of the feathered, nosy critters and he was in fits of laughter, waiting to see my reaction. Who was I to disappoint him? Randall got what he'd eagerly anticipated - my response.
I received the shock of my life when I came face to beak/s with the emus. I had no chance to disguise my surprise. I sure as hell wasn’t expecting a welcoming squad…and definitely not one comprised of about half a dozen emus!
Randall continued to laugh his head off at my unbridled shock.
In a variation of the words once uttered by a stiff, upper-lipped Queen Victoria – “I was not amused!”
It didn’t take me long, however, to be amused at the image. We laughed for ages, and still do to this day whenever the episode comes up in conversation. What a shame the emus and my reaction wasn’t captured on film!
There is little wonder from where the name “Emu Park” originated!
Years later when I was chef/manager of the Mess and single men’s accommodation at Collinsville, for Collinsville Coal, I had to drive across to Glenden, another town servicing the coal mines of the Bowen Basin. The company I was employed by also had the catering/accommodation contract in Glenden.
Rather than go the long route, via Bowen along the Bruce Highway, south to Mackay, and then west to Glenden, I chose to take the “back” route, which in 1991 was just a narrow, dirt bush track.
The distance between Collinsville and Glenden via the bush track was 119 kms; whereas the other route via Bowen/Mackay is much longer - approximately 437kms. One didn’t have to be a brain surgeon to make the decision.
At the time I had a little Suzuki 4-wheel drive. It was the company’s car. A nifty little vehicle that stood only a little taller than me; but it did the job required of it (as did I).
So off I went on my merry way; country music cassettes at the ready on the passenger seat to help me while away the time and distance as I bounced over the rough, dirt track. Thankfully, it hadn't rained for a few months.
In a world of my own surrounded by vast, beef cattle country of flat, grassed, barely-treed plains with George Strait or Ricky Van Shelton serenading from the car’s cassette player, I rounded a bend. And then, without warning, I nearly jumped out of my seat…out of the vehicle.
At eye level…level with my right eye (that’s where the driver’s seat is in our cars Down Under) – was an emu! I’m not sure who got the biggest fright...the emu or me!
To this day I reckon the car and I lifted about three feet in the air; and I reckon the emu did, too.
For a brief moment in time, the bird and I eye-balled each other, and then it veered off to the right. At a reasonably leisurely pace it loped away without a backward glance. It’s long, lean legs easily scaled the brown grass and short bushes.
I took a deep breath and continued on my way to Glenden without further excitement.
Both the emu and I had a story to tell when we both reached our destinations!