Monday, 27 September 2010

Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers - blooming brilliant

The Queensland panagbenga known as the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers (TCOF) is now in its 61st year. The event has been growing bigger, brighter and more colourful each year. It is the longest running annual horticultural (floral) event of its kind in Australia, and renowned as a national icon, the premiere celebration in springtime. With the grand floral street parade, celebrations & flower garden competition, horticulture & fascinating floral displays, fabulous gourmet food and wondrous wine, awe-inspiring artistic diversity, interactive workshops and exceptional entertainment (sideshow alley, fireworks and live concerts), the TCOF has something for everyone! Up to 250,000 people were expected to attend throughout the 10 days of the festival. The festival culminated with fireworks just yesterday 26th inst.

A few years ago Bibak-Queensland were invited to take part in the street parade as guests of the Filipino community. (Bibak is an organisation of Filipinos who hail from the Cordillera mountains in the Philippines). That parade was enhanced by the participation of Igorots (Bibak members) in their bright costumes playing their gongs, while the crowds danced to the beat.

Picnic Point gardens.

This year Bibak members decided to once again pay that mountain city a visit, though this time as mere onlookers. Bibak set their bi-monthly meeting in Toowoomba to coincide with the flower carnival.

This trip for me was a solo flight. I had no company to ask ‘are we there yet?’, and no co-pilot either. Just me and a trusty old camera.

Some of the group arrived in Toowoomba on Friday, while others travelled there on the Saturday either early, or in the afternoon after work. I started mid-morning mainly because i slept in (as usual). It was no surprise that i got caught in a traffic jam. For about ½ hour, i negotiated about 2km of the highway in Redbank in Ipswich. But then it was a cruise for the rest of the way to Toowoomba. I called in at the Information centre for some maps.

Then I arranged to join two of the Bibak women on their mini-tour.
These two ladies looked like twins in their red garbs.

Many of the winning gardens were visited by Bibak members.

We visited the Japanese garden and winning exhibition gardens #1, #3 and #4.

That afternoon we met up with the Bibak group for a luncheon meeting. The venue is in the home of a member from Ifugao, living in Centenary Heights here in Toowoomba. Bibak extend their thanks to gracious Evelyn and her wonderful family for hosting us and taking us on a guided tour of their hometown. In the evening, we visited a couple more sites – Picnic Point and Queens Park.

At nightfall, we said goodbye to the two ladies-in-red who had to leave that day.
Then we trooped to our accommodations.

The pictures below are my entries in the Bibak photo competition.

Japanese garden

Exhibition garden #1. Holt garden – Rocky Ridge Court

 I said hello to a beautiful lady in white, but she ignored me. I think she’s frigid.

Exhibition garden #3. Fry garden – Dallang Road.

Exhibition garden #4. Martin garden – Dallang Road

Queens Park Gardens.

Blooming beauty!

Flowers brighten up the darkening day better than the streetlamps.

The following morning greeted us with blessings from the empyrean. The dose of extended drizzles fell well until around mid-day. That did not dampen the spirit of the group who took it for invigoration as the gardens did.

City Grand champion – Glen & Ida Kendrick’s garden at 11 Montclair Close.

Southern Queensland TAFE- 1st institutions category.

I tipped my hat off to the 2-metre trunk hoop pine.
It would have made up to a hundred ‘lusong’ in my village.

Acreage garden. Drew garden – Kevin & Dianna Drew 17 Ward Street, Highfields.

We found the secret Viagra falls here. Or rather Mr Con did.

Reserve Grand champion – Gordon and Maria Reynolds garden at 40 Smythe Drive, Highfields.

On the way back the Bibak convoy wound their way around South Queensland and the Somerset regions. From Highfields we went exploring towards Helidon via Murphys Creek. Then two stops on the Warrego Highway in Gatton and Crowley Vale for some farm fresh fruits and vegetables, and for some light meals. Then after refuelling in Plainland, it was on to Fernvale via Lowood.

Lake Wivenhoe.

Cormorant Bay.

That’s solo me.

But this time I insisted on company for the return trip. I reasoned that I can talk to myself but myself is not good at small talk. I prevailed on two of the ladies to ride along and be the navigators.

Lake Wivenhoe Information Centre.

Mt Glorious.

 At the western outlook. Overlooking lake Wivenhoe. But the group is looking for a bellbird, up in the gum trees.

An added highlight of TCOF grand parade is the classic show & shine featuring show-worthy veteran, vintage classic cars. I missed the parade, but I saw some of these cars on display in their garages.

Exhibition garden 1. Holt garden – Rocky Ridge Court. Caddilac.

Exhibition garden 3. Fry garden – Dallang Road. WWII trucks (above),
and a miniature 1939 vintage (below).

 Queens Park Gardens. Vintage cannon.


Acreage garden. Drew garden – Ward Street, Highfields.

Caravan park. Vintage accomodation and utes (below).

Vintage mountain. Tabletop mountain viewed from Picnic Point.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Ripley - believe it or not

There are several rural-residential localities south of the Cunningham Highway in Ipswich (Southeast Queensland). Located in the area known as Ripley Valley, some are envisaged to become large suburbs by the 2030s. In May this year, Queensland Premier Anna Bligh announced Ripley Valley as one of three new master-planned communities. Ripley Valley, and Yarrabilba and Flagstone in Logan are intended to be home to a projected 250,000 residents. Spanning over 100 sq km, Ripley Valley has been earmarked for development and to be home to over 120,000 people with an estimated 50,000 homes to be built. The Valley will support a potential 200,000 new jobs in the surrounding existing areas. The development is seen as a driver for jobs in Ipswich city.
The sun is up
Time’s at hand
There’s a stir across the land
And so begins another day
On life’s highway

The origin of the name Ripley is uncertain, believe it or not.

From a hill overlooking the valley, one can see for miles around. The gum trees 'reached as high as the eagles in the sky, it will only take one day to bring em down - when the bulldozers' rumbles, turn the ground...' (apologies to the writer of Darby's castle).

Ripley is generally flat with vast open spaces of grasslands pockmarked with rolling hills and patches of eucalypt forests.

It is criss-crossed by powerlines, gaslines and coalmines. The roads networks have started densifying and branching out into the hierarchies required for the projected large master-planned estates.

The Valley will have over 40 km of dedicated pedestrian and cycle paths, as well as recreational facilities in each neighbourhood precinct.

Ripley, at the crossroads.

The odd homestead still exists amidst the pockets of development sprouting out all around.

An Australian property development company has joined forces with a major Japanese building company to develop commercial and residential land in the Ripley Valley. Six themes have been outlined in the Ripley Valley Community Plan: A Designed, Prosperous, Accessible, Functional, Living and Natural Valley.

Ripley is adjacent to Swanbank, the largest master planned industrial estate in South East Queensland. Built around an existing power station, Swanbank will deliver more than economical energy. 1,400ha have been set-aside as conservation and buffer areas. Proximity to this burgeoning growth corridor provides an outstanding resource from which skilled workers can be drawn. Industries at Swanbank find themselves ideally situated at the main transport gateway to South East Queensland and Northern New South Wales. Access to the national, interstate and regional transport networks should prove invaluable to industries locating within the development. The development is also surrounded by some of Ipswich's greenest and most vegetated areas that link to Greenbank, Spring Mountain and White Rock Conservation Park.

Ripley is near White Rock and the former Blackstone coalfields. Swanbank, along with South Ripley, Ripley and Deebing Heights, comprise the Ripley Valley urban growth area. Ripley's western boundary is Deebing Creek, and beyond it there is Deebing Heights. It is thought that Deebing was an Aboriginal expression describing a mosquito or winged insect. Further west there are Purga, Willowbank and Mutdapilly, all rural areas.

A bus stop on a quiet country road will soon be swallowed up in a bustling arterial road.

Majestic gum trees will also be giving way to residential and industrial estates.
The price of progress indeed. I'll have to buy a tree to have lunch under.
I'll need Joni Mitchell's big yellow taxi for that too.

In the late afternoon breeze I turn to the west to catch sight of the setting sun.
Is that the scent of flowers I smell?
I reckon it is. From out Toowoomba way.
The Warrego is beckoning...
I should check it out.
But a bridge also beckons to the east....
Ahh dilemmas. I luuuv it...

Just another waymark on life’s highway.

There is hope with ev'ry turn
A bridge to build A bridge to burn
Like the roses bloom and fade
On life's highway

Life's Highway - Steve Wariner

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

The Lakes College 2010 Fun Run

The Lakes College is in the new satellite community of North Lakes in the former shire of Pine Rivers in southeast Queensland. In August I travelled there for the 4th running of the TLC 10km fun run.
Map of the 10km fun run.

As I write this, it struck me that many of these fun runs are held in educational institutions. I have ran in the campus of the University of Queensland in St Lucia (Twilight running festival and Rotary fun run). The Gold Coast marathon had the Southern Cross University 10 km run. The Brisbane running festival took in the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) campus in Gardens Point. The rail trail fun run finished at the grounds of the Lowood high school.

I remember my first attempt at running. This was 25 or 30 years ago in Quezon city in the Philippines. It was in the grounds of a university, a 5km run along a road loop aptly called Ikot (going around). This 5km course followed the tree-lined outer perimeter of the university’s road network. At the time i was a smoker, but i thought i’d run to test my lungs. I ran 400 meters and then promptly gave up. I had collapsed and thought that i was dying. All those cigarettes I’ve been smoking felt like nails being hammered into my coffin, er my coughin’ lungs. I did quit smoking later, but talking of fond memories – those weren’t. Definitely not fun times either. I did not run again for the next 25 years after that aborted ikot run.
So take note smokers, smoking could cut your running life by 25 years, and your life by N number of years.
In those days I liked listening to the hit version of a song performed by 'The Animals'.
There is a house down in Diliman
they call the 'kalayaan'
And it's been the ruin of many a poor boy
and me, oh God, I'm one.
I do recommend doing the Ikot. You can run, ride, jog, walk or stroll... etc. Just don't collapse like me.
But I digress... point of order Mr MP.

North Lakes is a fast growing area right in the middle of the former shires of Redcliffe, Caboolture and Pine Rivers. These local councils have been amalgamated and are now part of the much bigger municipality of Moreton Bay regional council.
Deception Bay to the north is an out-of-the way community that is almost country but with easy access to urban areas. Scarborough and Rothwell in the east are also on the coast. These are great destinations for a quiet weekend trip to the beaches, picnic grounds, or even to try some fresh seafood. Mango Hill across the main road on the south is a growth community same as North Lakes. They are merely separated by a line of bitumen called Anzac Avenue. To the west of North Lakes beyond Bruce Highway are the lazy suburbs of Moreton region under invasion by the urban sprawl from Caboolture and Pine Rivers.
These are all play areas in the game (not unlike monopoly) called conurbation. I don’t know the big players, but in my game, I have set foot in many of these places.
Digressing again Martin.
At the college grounds I went through the drill: pick up registration kit, then on to pre-race routine.
Attach bib, apply some sunscreen, stretching/ warmup.
The Lakes College 10km Run takes in the bulk of the community of North Lakes. The run commenced in bright sunshine at 8:20am. Over 1000 competitors signed up to tackle the enjoyable and beautiful setting at North Lakes.
From the College grounds, the 10km Run followed the northern banks of Lake Eden before joining the length of the picturesque North Lakes Resort Golf Course. From the northern edge of North Lakes, the route passes Lacebark Park before following the tree-lined eastern perimeter back to The Lakes College.
The entire 10km Run criss-crossed the established pathways of the North Lakes community. This is a great course with some hidden challenges. The picturesque backdrop of landscaped gardens, lakes and bushland provides visual diversions. It had something for everyone. There are some tight bends and rough sections, uphill inclines and downhill slopes, on the byways pathways and roadways.
I entered the open 10km Category (for competitors aged up to 49 years). Medals are presented for the first three placings, so I was hoping to finish in the top 3. Yes the top 3rd of the race – same thing, isn’t it?
If I keep at it, I’ll be lacing up for the Veteran Category ( 50 years +) soon. Fancy being called a veteran.

The photographers took pains to get their photos. One mounted his camera on a 2.5m pole.
That's the bridge over Lake Eden. And a bird's eye view of my melon.

Another was right at the start/finish. And that's me about to collapse in front of him.

I like my net time better.

Another tee, another bib, another race ran.
These races that we’ve run were not for glory - No moral to this story –
We run for peace of mind
But the race we’re running now is never-ending – since space and time are bending
There’s no finish line
Don’t wait up – Leave the light on
I’ll be home soon
Chris Smither - Singer/songwriter

I barely managed to finish in the top 50. That's right the top 50%.