Thursday, 22 July 2010

booked for mountaineering

Life is a cycle of work and rest and everything else in between. And when one is in financial dire straits, the balance is heavily weighed in favour of work, that one can only try to relax from job to job and day to day. Isang kahig isang tuka.

A couple of weeks ago at work, i was booked to deliver to Ocean View, a hamlet on Mount Mee on the Moreton region hinterland of Queensland.

On the way there, i popped in on a bookfest at the Brisbane Convention and exhibition centre. The Lifeline Bookfest raises funds for counselling services for families. The Lifeline Bookfest is divided into three sections.
Within each section, books are divided into over 20 categories: Children's; Australiana; History; Reference; Humour and Oddities; Biography; Literature and Classics; Textbooks; Travel; Health; Science Fiction; Hardback Fiction; Art and Music; Paperback Fiction; Cooking; Computers; Religion; Foreign Language; Vehicles and War Craft; Hobbies; Sport; Gardening; Animals; Penguins and Pelicans; Economics; Sociology; Philosophy; and Science.
In addition to books, each section carries a range of magazines, stationary, videos, CDs, cassettes and records.

The event started in 1989, and i try to go every few years or so. This year had over 2 million books for sale.
There were piles of books everywhere in two halls, on all sorts of topics.

Sometimes you don’t know where to start.

I snapped a couple of photos and by the time i turned back to the fiction section, the lot had almost gone.


I quickly picked out from the leftovers, a half dozen mixture to while away the time up in Mount Mee. Lessing’s ‘The Golden Notebook’ is for my retirement bookshelf. Actually so will the rest of the pile. But maybe i can discard Baez’s autobio afterwards. The others will serve for the short sojourn to Ocean View.

I am not sure if I have read the novels before, but i’ll worry about that later. With these books you’re never sure. They often have the same plot and storyline. I don’t mind reading the Cromwell books again after a decade or so. These books might also accompany me to the port city Gladstone if the job there comes through. A good read and some good port wine is always a good combo.

So with my lootful of books I headed north, past the busy suburbia of northern Brisbane. Soon after I picked up my workmate, we were zooming merrily along the Bruce Highway when i slowed down for what i thought was a mobile camera van. It was a police speed trap and I would have been booked had i not slowed down.
Now that is one booking i did not want.
We took the turnoff  into the plains of Burpengary, Narangba, then through Morayfield and Caboolture.
It wasn't long before we hit the backroads and followed the Caboolture River to where it starts below Campbells Pocket. The River is only a short one (46km), but it provides enough for fishing enthusiasts. Fishers here have caught or seen salmon, bass, catfish, cod, grunter, catfish and yabbies.

We drove up the zigzagging winding narrow mostly dirt (with bitumen seal in some sections) Campbells Pocket road up to the hilly slopes, slowing down and pausing to catch some panoramic views over the vast expanse of Moreton region stretching from the hilly ranges to the islands and the pacific ocean.
Ocean View here we come.

We topped a rise and suddenly we join the main Mount Mee road at a tee-intersection. We sped past rolling green pasturelands and eucalypt forests. The tree-lined road continued all the way to our destination in Ocean View.

The job is pleasant enough. So for a couple of days we rambled around some lush rolling hills and took in some touring on the side.

On the second day, we took the southern approach from the lazy undulating hills of Samford valley and the flat pastures of Dayboro. The scenic countryside town of Dayboro has a bit of rustic hospitality with a historic bakery. We stopped for a serving of country baked sweets and brewed coffee from this town of yesteryear .

We then ascended up the beautiful winding hilly backroads to the heights of the D’Aguilar ranges in Ocean View, gateway to Mount Mee.

The job site is a rural retreat which offers camping and cabins to city dwellers. This mountain hideaway provides the chance of staying in an unpolluted country farm environment, even if just for a bed and breakfast package that many people look forward to. The place also has a function centre and bush honey retail outlet. Business decisions are now about to transform this unique destination into acreage blocks.

While delivering around the site, we chanced on some trees near the fences, with strange marks branded on their trunks.

Another tree had a kind of benched out hollow near its base. Our records show these trees to have been blazed and cut out during the early settlement of these homesteads dating back to the 1870s. The early settlers were attracted to the timber growth in this hilly range, especially the red cedar. The timber mills have been shut down and have not operated for nearly three decades. This has enabled the forests to regenerate and are now nature preserves. Some have reverted to rainforests of mostly eucalypt and hoop pines.

There's not too much excitement in those two days up in Ocean View. We did do some trekking over hill and dale and through creeks, gullies, muddy draws and some thick lantana. We also jumped a few barbed wire fences, thus tearing up some shirts and trousers. We also collected a few tonnes of cobbler's pegs (noxious weed).
On the second day, i sent my mate John to collect some gear we left on a hillside slope. I was heading the other way when i heard the what sounded like whooping and yelling, the war cry of a band i thought. Looking around i saw John jumping 10 feet up in the air, screaming and running down the hill quicker than a hare. He was puffing and very much excited but also sounded worried and scared.
'I found a black snake!' he said.
'Oh. Did you get bitten?' i asked very concerned.
'No mate. But the little fook scared me!'
Relieved, i said 'Settle down Johnny. You know the trick with snakes is to scare them back. Where i come from we threaten them by saying we like wriggly adobo, and that scares them away.'

John didn't seem convinced. He still had to pick up the gear.
I learned later that he had a cultural fear or phobia of snakes.

Seriously the red-bellied or spotted black snake of Queensland are among the most dangerous in the world. These are common to the east coast and southeast corner of Queensland. And Mount Mee is smack bang in the middle of these places.
I cautioned Johnny about the safety considerations of the job, and to make a lot of noise when walking through the tall grass and brush. He carried a stick with him from then on. Me i put my mobile phone on full volume and was playing 'Badlands' the tribute album to Springsteen's 'Nebraska', all the time. Johnny's musical taste is different to mine, but he saw that it worked because i did not spot a snake in the two days we were in the badlands of Mount Mee.
I commented to him 'maybe the snakes don't like my music either, because they leave me alone'. He just smiled and nodded.

We did our business up there in that beautiful corner of Mount Mee, delivering for two good days.

And on the way out we drove around the tourist roads away from the main drag, looking out over towards the Pacific to the east, and around to the green dense eucalypt cover of the great dividing range on the south.

I will be visiting these beautiful rolling hills again.

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