Friday, October 10, 2014


Sunshine Beach

Tin Can Bay...circa 2014
Goomboorian Landscape
Another  view of Goomboorian

Yeppoon...circa 2014
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 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!


  1. Love your emu stories! Very funny yet I can see how startling and frightening it might be......

    I was never good on trips like that----Give me The Four Seasons, PLEASE!!! LOL!

  2. I'm with you on that one, Naomi....I prefer the Four (or even Five) Season method, too! lol

    Good to hear from...I do hope all is well. Take good care and thanks for calling by. :)

  3. Capricorn Coast ~ another beautiful part of the Queensland coastline. My mum and extended family are still in Rocky. You are right, it can be very hot because of the Berserkers. No way I would want to come face to face with a mob of emu.

  4. Hey there, Carol. It sure was a wake-up call, I can tell you! I got the fright of my life....both times! lol

    I was born in Rocky, but left when I was still a toddler.

    Thanks for coming by. Have a good week. :)

  5. Thank you for clearing up my confusion. For I have had several very unpleasant experiences with ee-moos, and I could never get why anyone would want them around for any reason. Evidently, eem-yous are quite different--right?

  6. Right, Jerry. You have nothing more to fear! You can now rest easy. Thanks for coming by. :)

  7. I'm not at all fond of emus so would be horrified to be confronted by a group of them as I exited the toilet block. They are known to be very curious birds though aren't they? Do you know the story about how to attract emus in the wild? You walk out into the middle of a paddock, lie down on your back on the ground and pretend to ride a bicycle with your legs in the air ! They are supposed to come out of nowhere to investigate this strange sight !

  8. Hi Helsie...I think if I did what you described it'd be more likely the guys in the white jackets would arrive and take me away in their van! :)

    They certainly are curious creatures...emus, that is, not the guys in the white jackets!

    Thanks for popping in. Have a good week. :)

  9. That last shots is rather horrific!

    The video to do the rounds will be about snakes or spiders in the toilets no doubt!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  10. Did you catch that last photo yourself? Can't read the story but will come back when I have time to thoroughly digest what I am sure will be another of your wonderful tales.

  11. Lovely story!
    I would love to visit that place, the sea, the bay, the emu's!

  12. It is, isn't Stewart? That was the purpose! lol

    I abhor snakes. Spiders don't worry me, but snakes...I just hate, hate snakes.

    Nice to see you. :)

  13. Hi first I thought you meant was that last pic of me! :) It very well could have been because I think that's what I looked like both times...but's a digitally-altered image I found online.

    Thanks for coming by. :)

  14. G'day Adullamite...You'd love the areas depicted. You'd not even have to bring your could hire a moped or a bike and trip about to your heart's delight. Thanks for popping in. :)

  15. Love your photos! How you doing this weekend? I have never seen an emus, but have heard of them on the Wiggles! lol

  16. Hi there, Sandie...our weekend is over down this way Down's now 8 am Monday as I write this. You guys up there are going to have to hasten your step and catch up to us! :)

    All is well here with me, thanks, Sandie. I hope similar applies to you. Thanks for coming by. :)

  17. Emus are crazy critters. I was with Toni and the grandkids when we visited Alma Park Zoo 20 odd years ago. They had a section where we could enter and interact with the animals (and emus). An emu took a shine to Toni, following her around, bobbing it's head and making that funny gulping noise they do. Like you, she wasn't impressed while the me and the kids were hysterical with laughter! We've never forgotten that little incident.

  18. The thing with me re emus, that mean looking beak of theirs always seemed to be level with my eyes. And remembering Nana's stories about emus liking bright objects...I was always very wary when in their presence! lol

    Thanks for coming by. :)

  19. OK I always thought it was ee-moo (like milk.) Now I know! Amazing how times have changed since our grandparents and great-grandparents times, isn't it?

  20. Hi, RK....that's why I put the correct pronunciation in my post...because many of you good folk up that way do think emus are related to cows! ;)

    Yes...times they are a-changing and have changed drastically.

    Thanks for coming by. :)

  21. That 's one scary looking bird! Only a mother could love a smile like that. :) I love the ship monument though. Very impressive.

  22. I reckon, AJ! lol But it has been digitally altered. In saying that...coming face to face with just a regular emu can be a bit off putting. ;) is quite impressive, the ship monument.

    Thanks for coming by. :)

  23. I guess that means Rod Hull's puppet emu was a pretty accurate portrayal.

  24. Hey there Dexter. Do you know what? I don't think I ever watched Rod Hull. I knew of him, of course, but I never watched him. (After all, it was a kid's show!) What were you doing watching kids' shows? Huh? :)

    Hull kicked off his and his emu's TV career here, but then returned to his home country - and the rest, as they say, is history!

    His, Hull, is/was an interesting tale, though -

    Quote: "A 2003 Channel 4 documentary, Rod Hull: A Bird in the Hand, revealed that Hull nursed an increasing resentment towards his puppet, believing that the success of the bird prevented him from pursuing other avenues in show business. He saw himself, according to the makers of the programme, as a talented performer who could have developed a more varied career in the entertainment industry had he not been repeatedly forced to play the 'and Emu' role. Hull once complained, "I want to write but Emu doesn't leave me the time. I want to be a comedian in my own right, but again Emu won't let me do it." End Quote

    I found this quite amusing, too...but I doubt the late Queen Mother and her minders would have:-

    Quote: "There were apparently no boundaries for Emu's outrageous behaviour. In 1972, it destroyed The Queen Mother's bouquet of flowers during the after-show line-up at the aforementioned Royal Variety Performance, after which he appeared in many other shows." End Quote

    You raised my I did some research as you can see from the above. Thanks for coming by. :)

  25. I prefer my emus at a far distance. We lived in Puckapunyal army base for a while where emus and kangaroos were often seen coming in from the surrounding bush to forage in the garbage bins of the local shopping centre. Some people were foolish enough to actually feed these buggers and if you ran out of bread while doing so they would chase you thinking you still had some. My older boy has a small scar on his head where an emu chased and pecked him thinking M had some bread.

  26. Hi River...I'd never take chances with either emus or kangaroos, or dingoes...but people still don't heed the constant warnings. They always think they know better.

    I sure as hell wouldn't like to be pecked in the eye by an emu...I know who'd come off second best, and it wouldn't be the emu, that's for sure.

    Thanks for popping in. :)

  27. If I saw a pack of emus like the one in that last pic I'd have been startled, too!

  28. I'd be still running, Lynn! lol

    Thanks for coming by. :)


  29. The world will have grown strange indeed if I am at risk from a sundew!

    I escaped with all limbs intact!

    cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  30. Hahahaha, Stewart! I'm glad you're still in once piece! :)

    Thanks for dropping in to let me know! :)

  31. A very enjoyable read once again Lee. You have a pleasantly comfortable way with words. Back in the day wouldn't bush travel have been much easier if you had ditched the Suzuki in favour of a trained emu? With a saddle on its back you'd have got around much quicker and you would also have made a companion for life.

  32. G'day may be onto a good idea there. I should've thought of it myself. Either have thrown a saddle on the emu, or hitched a ride in the pouch of a kangaroo!

    Thanks for hopping by. :)

  33. Goodness, I'd have been terrified!

  34. Hi Pat....I certainly got a fright, I can assure you! lol

    Thanks for coming by. :)