Living in Brisbane is enhanced by knowing how handle public transport, but in the Cassowary Coast there isn’t any to handle so I am seriously rusty about how to do it. So settling in well has meant rediscovering how to navigate it.
The internet makes it relatively easy to journey plan your trip by rail, bus, ferry and walking. You go to this site Journey Planner and plug in where you are and where you want to end up and it gives a number of options to consider and maps for any parts you have to walk as well as the cost (travelling in off peak times is cheaper.) You can even go to google earth and prewalk the area.
There are lighted scrolling signs, labelled platforms, timetables at bus stops, and audio announcements to further help you in your journey, as well as some kindly Brisbanites who don’t mind answering questions.
The next key to public transport in Brisbane is the Gocard, and knowing how to swipe it at the railway station and on the buses. I’ve learnt that you need to swipe on at the start of the journey before you get on the train and as you leave the station, you must swipe in and out of all transport as this calculates your cost for the journey!
Another cool thing is that when you have your gocard you can top it up and protect your balance by registering your card, but don’t forget to write down the number on the back of your card in case you lose it. I thought I’d lost mine, and went to shift my balance to another card, and realised I didn’t have the number written down anywhere!Luckily I found it or as well as my deposit for the go card I would have lost my travel balance.
The other day I made an honest mistake and thought I had to swipe on when I was on the train because I had done that when getting on the bus. Eeks. The station master was lovely and said, ‘not to worry, you can’t do much about it now, just swipe on the next piece of transport you get on, but don’t swipe off when you leave the station today or your journey will be out of wack.’ So we did and that was all cool.
I reckon it is good to take a gocard pro with you (not always possible) and ask specific questions at the ticket stations (which are not open on the weekends in some of the smaller stations because there are gocard and ticket machines everywhere not actual people.)
One thing enjoyable about a new city is finding new things to photograph. In Brisbane there are leafy suburbs and then there are more industrial ones. We went to Milton and if I was writing that into a novel I’d add to my writer’s notes that it should smell of the Castlemaine Brewery.
Many of the stations have a mural which you can look at as you stop and pass the stations.
I have been on the lookout for painted traffic signal boxes on every trip. Walking Brisbane makes it easier to take a photo, than take one from a moving car whilst your partner is driving.
So there you have it some simple tips to using public transport. My next adapting- to- new- home- project, is to navigate the interesting cultural and arts groups and find some to join as well as exploring more of the diversity of Brisbane. I am on a bit of a budget until I find some bread and butter work, so can’t really head off everyday, but can make the most of each trip I am able to do, and each group I am interested to connect with.
The great thing about mastering navigating the public transport is it will help my confidence in job searching, as it will be a while before we can afford to run a second car.
The weekend was full of sparks – from nature and events – for stories and poems. It was a time for reconnecting with ABC Open.
I met Jo Joyce (producer for the South Coast) in person for the first time. I had worked with her ‘virtually’ for ABC Open when editing with the 500 words project and had viewed her stories, photographs and videos. The local producers from my old home area who I was mentored by were: Mick Bromage, Leandro Palacio (now in Tassie), and Suzy (retired), but ABC Open feels like a family and it’s very cool meeting more producer sisters and brothers, and keen ABC Open contributors. We all love ABC Open.
The family headed up to Noosa to check out the From Country to Coast exhibition which Jo had put together. It consisted of local contributors work from various ABC Open projects, particularly Now and Then, but with samples of others like photography challenges and 500 words. The excited buzz of contributors with their families and friends, and the public who had come along to support them, filled the exhibition space.
Jo introduced me to quite a few of them, and some introduced themselves. They’re a friendly bunch! They told me which were their contributions. An ABC reporter was taking photographs of each artist next to their works!
ABC Open has been building momentum since it began in 2010. More and more locals are building a relationship with the producers, their town and other contributors. Contributors, who are from regional communities, share a passion for their home, photography, writing, storytelling, video, documentary making, and where they may have had limited skills to begin with, they grow in confidence and take more risks than when they began. They discover more about their camera, themselves and their community.
The exhibition is still on for anyone heading to Noosa, just go check it out at the Noosa Regional Gallery in Pelican St. Allow some extra time if you want to watch the video selections as well.
It was the first time I had been to Noosa in over 19 years, and I didn’t remember much about the place. It reminded me of Port Douglas and Cairns in its shop fronts and road winding by the coastline. One way it was massively different was the crowds, which were enormous, partly due to a food festival but also because Noosa has a beautiful beach and it’s still not full winter yet.
We tried to go and visit the National Park and local beach but there were absolutely no parking spots for kilometres. So we ended up going to a beach called Castaway, which had sand dunes and windsurfers and less than 20 people.
I loved feeling the sand and the wind (which was giving the wind surfers lots of blissful flight) – and watching my youngest son have a great run up and down the sand dunes with his older brother.
David was a bit concerned about how long it took us to find the main highway again, only because it might mean travelling 60 km an hour for the 120 kms we still had to make home. Not to worry we made it back to the main highway with sand in our toes and the memory of wind singing in our ears. We made it home to Brisbane metropolis, or as some like to call it Brisvegas.
Since moving back to the city I miss that the country heart knows the families of the people the streets are named after, and always has the possibility of running into people well known when on a trip to the supermarket.
I found that like a security blanket, because everywhere I went there was nearly always someone known and trusted who would help you out.
I knew all the people in the stores and every outing to buy something came with a conversation. I had so many friends so easy to drop in on, and they were all ages. I loved some of the older members of the community who knew stories about so many things.
I could navigate my car trips very easily in and around Tully and the outlying townships, and drive by suburb, then cane, and banana field just outside the town. The changing landscapes were interesting and sometimes we’d go on photography adventures to find hidden creeks that were beautiful to photograph. Nature was so near.
The country wasn’t perfect though. Sometimes that feeling of safety was interrupted and random things happened like someone trying to make us open our doors in the middle of the night when they were drunk or drugged and our car window being smashed outside our home in the middle of nowhere happened. It hurt knowing that someone who knew us felt the need to do that. We always thought we just got along with everyone.
But most of the time people have to be pleasant to each other as they are always going to run into each other, and conflicts need to be resolved. There are some people who don’t understand that and treat people as if they can avoid them and they just don’t have a country heart.
The friendships I made there are some of the truest I have ever made. They can be much harder to make in the beginning, but after time, a couple of cyclones, and even being a fellow mother trying to find a school community that makes your children feel at home, with very small choices, you find people and the place grow on you. I will never forget a mum from Kindy running up to me and saying, ‘you have to swap classes, the best teacher is this one, ‘ how right she was!
Yet, I struggled to find regular, fulfilling paid work to use my university education . My occupations in the country were a patchwork of projects, the occassional consistent job and short term work I absolutely loved but which ended, lots of voluntary work, and of course the bounty of being a parent who could become involved in the community. One of my best memories is a parent/ teacher race at an athletics carnival and the kids yelling out ‘ Go Mrs Perkins.’
There are possibilities in the city that suit the things I learnt in the country though. The country was the place where I have found my writing and photographic voice. It is a place full of artists and writers who want to be close to nature and part of vibrant community.
Now it’s a journey to try and relearn city life, and to find security in building new networks. I am not there yet. But I do find corners of green, people who care and want to assist me to learn how to be a city girl.
I have a country girls fears of the city, and a murder of a student at South Bank has had me worried, but sadly there’s another back at the quiet community I came from. Perhaps the whole world, city or country needs to build protection for all, so women, children, and men can truly be safe any place and time of day.
The first signs I have that the city can open its heart to us, are people who reach out to talk with us at the park. An American with a basketball wonders what I am photographing and comes to ask me.
A small boy watches my son and the rest of the family playing AFL whilst his Dad is playing a community soccer game. He comes and joins us.
I find the patches of green in the city, and love to come across a creek, and an inviting park with my family with me.
I don’t miss our old home when the cyclone season comes, because those butterflies as you wait to see how strong and which direction are horrible when you know what a large one can do. I don’t miss the flooding, but I do still love our flooded in times as we had extra family time, and tales to tell. I will always remember the canoe across the road.
I have to now take those first steps more boldly in our new home, just as my children are managing to do and add to my country heart, an openess to the city and the skills to navigate, use public transport, and connect with people. Yet somewhere deep inside I can feel that my priorities have changed and will never be as they once were.