Presenting the Aftermath story is quite emotional. I have to hold back tears as I hear Carolyn’s story once more, even though I know things are pretty cool for her family these days – it makes me think of all the people who have been forced to move away from the area.
News stories are about real people, and if everyone saw news about wars, floods, famine, the way ABC Open is covering them we might just fix the world up a bit quicker.
A funny moment during the presentation is when my son is photographing us speaking and forgets to keep the flash down as instructed; I know flashes distract speakers and have instructed to him to not use it. I give him a little signal and this is immediately followed but not just by him – by the whole audience – who giggles. He is so cute – mini documentary maker in the making with his doting mentor mum forgetting about the audience oops. Later I will I mix many of his photographs into a slide show.
There are some special moments immediately after the presentation, like meeting Heidi Den Ronden who went through the floods in Brisbane, and a facebook buddy Clara Guy and her Mum.
Being the avid documenter I ask them all to be in photographs, but this time Roly and his buddy and Karen help take the photographs. There is one taken of me and and my son!
Most of the time it’s going to be him enjoying Brisbane in these pics so this ones a precious one.
After the presentation it is time to devote some time to my dear son, he has been so helpful – handing out ABC fliers and being a junior ambassador for the program.
He is keen for the science centre but first we purchase some presents for the family as I am sure we wont get the chance after this. I find a book on women illustrators and collectors from Queensland and some illustrated science books. We find a limited edition owl necklace for my daughter and a grow a dinosaur in water egg, which is for my son to enjoy with his sister. He amazingly doesn’t opt to buy anything for himself.
We are given free entrance to the science centre by the museum staff, who realise I have just given a talk in their museum, this is a surprise that a keen ten year old develops springs in every single step from and my son is bouncing as if from wall to wall with energy drink delight. We head off to the science centre, and he has an absolute ball and sees some balls with very flash zippy lights in them too. First of all we solve a crime in a forensic exhibition. It’s an engaging exhibit and very hands on, encouraging kids to observe, reflect, take notes and put together all kinds of clues.
Then we go to the science show, which is announced on the loud speakers. Here my son’s hand is up for every question. He loves it!
We learn about the nature of light – and I have the feeling that this is something my son is never going to forget. Our presenter for the day invites lots of audience participation and has a wry sense of humour poking fun mostly at himself. We see demonstrations of reflection, refraction and the colours that make up white light.
My son impresses the presenter so much with his enthusiasm that he talks to us at the end. Turns out he has connections to Tully – small world hey!
Now we explore the rest of the exhibit. My son has fun with this optical illusion which results in his head appearing on a platter. Needless to say every second parent was taking this photograph of their kids in this exact pose. Can you work out how they did it?
Now for the sporting fanatic a short sprint and a chance to be timed is just the ticket.
There is so much more, and of course I took a lot more photographs, but you should probably just visit the museum so I won’t spoil it for you. It’s probably worth making my son a photo book of our visit – he loves looking through our holiday pictures so much.
So that was Saturday afternoon – luckily they had places for exhausted parents to sit, as I was feeling a bit worn out by my bounding happy son. Next stop – off to the station to be picked up by Karen – and a visit to the cinema to see HUGO – a wonderful film and a post in its own right – a movie review. And as for Sunday – we went for a pilgrimage to the outside of the GABBA and on a ferry trip. All that to look forward to in my next posts on our trip to Brisbane. I want to write this up the whole trip so my son will have a this blog to refer to in future times. It takes me back to the whole reason I started a blog, which was to document and share our family’s special events. I better write up my parent’s in law’s fiftieth wedding anniversary at some stage – and our visit to Melbourne, but I was just too busy enjoying and photographing it to write it at the time.
The morning of the aftermath presentation arrives and my friends ask if I’d like to go to the West End Markets before my talk. It seems like a good idea to quell the nerves.
It is something to behold though, we arrive to a mellow saxophonist sitting by the entrance. The car park is almost to capacity but we are directed to a spot near an oval and park a short walk from the stalls.
The market itself is a sea of people. We are moved on a wave of humanity and have almost no individual identity. Stopping to look at stalls is a mild relief but hard when you want to hop back on the wave and move. It’s crowd surfing on the edge for someone who now has the soul of a country girl.
My hosts are apologetic saying they usually come later and it’s not quite this fast moving sea. They are tired out by the moving wave. I stop to find some material made flowers, and the seller of these is a very arty looking young lady who also has an array of colourful scarves. I will place one in my hair as goodluck for the looming presentation.
I keep my wits about me, to make sure my son is not swept away by the wave. Karen orders some pumpkin and curry puffs for a small snack.
We head off to where there is usually music, but instead there is a loud performance and a couple of people are in what appears to be a television studio on the go. It could be pantomime, I am not sure. We don’t stop long. It’s not our cup of tea.
Soon we escape though and sit under a large avenue of trees and Daryl dives back into the sea to grab coffees and a hot chocolate for us.
Karen tells me that she grew up in the country too, and isn’t that keen on the state of the market today; they like to come when it is less crowded. She tells me about other markets in the area and their character.
Daryl tells us about the trees and how they had been roped off for a long while to recover from all the trampling on the ground near their roots andthe disease they had. Many trees have been lost. The hope is that the break from people and treatment will assist them to survive. I share a little of our lost trees in Tully and the cyclone hit areas. So many humans love trees – and associate them with memories. I wonder what happened to the lost Kauri Pine out the back of our old place in Feluga. It was so tall and so attractive to birds that nested there. Now it’s just a photograph. I wonder if the wood was put to good use.
My son chatters as well, about all the things dear to him and what he’d like to do for the rest of the trip. He is keen to go to the movies that evening or afternoon if we can.
Soon we are away again, back to Daryl and Karen’s for a brief break before heading off to a café near the Queensland Museum.
They drop me and my son off as we are there early to prepare before the talk – and they will return later. We are at The Café waiting for Miranda, Scott and Solua to arrive. We seem to be first on the scene. Whilst we are waiting we notice people hiring picnic baskets and going and sitting on the lawn to be served as if they are high class society people with butlers.
Miranda arrives with her brother Roly – and we take a table ready to have a last minute discussion before we head off to the Museum to present. Scott and Solua are not far behind and discussions begin.
I ask my son to photo document, and he takes to his task with relish. I realise how much he has been watching me take photographs. He is not at all scared to take on this role.
To read the account of the Aftermath Presentation at the Museum click here. I’ve posted it at ABC Open. But our Brisbane Adventure doesn’t end there …
Tiny moments strung together in journeys are markers on the way to experiences of epiphany. Like multi-coloured pearls strung on a string my last weekend in Brisbane can now be crafted together and worn in the memory.
Thursday 8th March 2012
It begins when like Goldilocks entering the house of bears I enter the seemingly empty house of the friend in Cairns I have organised to stay with before going to the airport next day. Not a sign is stirring, yet the lights are on, and she has left the door ajar, knowing I am arriving.
I go in, make myself comfortable on a chair, and ring her on her phone so she’ll come out and answer it and not be scared that I have suddenly appeared in her house. Like a pixi I turn off the light in her car, we later discover it was switched on by one of her sons.
Our sleepy looking host appears and apologises for she hasn’t sleep for several nights due to her youngest son waking up, and she did kind of know we were there. She is warm and welcoming offering us food and beverages and conversation.
We have a chat and leave the world of goldilocks behind to speak of upcoming university reunions and being at the cross roads of life making all sorts of decisions for the future.
Friday 9th March 2012
Next morning we have yoghurt and fruit for breakfast and my son plays trains with one of her boys. He has the magical name of a book character Tashi and I am transported back to when my children were smaller and lived in the land of make believe. Even not that long ago my daughter said she would one day like to grow up to meet a dragon.
We head off to the airport – and her children love the airport- it’s like a treasure trove full of bright lights, mechanical aeroplanes just for kids (if you slot the money in they fly) and lolly shops with too much just in reach of small hands. I marvel at the strength of single Mums as she gently steers them past temptations again and again as they enter the bear cave of the airport sales shops. Open Sesame and we are away with boarding passes pre-printed from the internet and a small amount of carryon baggage for what will be our quest.
Right now I wish dragons were real and they had chased away a nasty cyclone called Yasi, which is part of the reason I make this journey now. My youngest son is happy to have the window seat, but there are so many clouds he doesn’t get to see too much of the world below. Pity, but he loves the plane trip. He has reached his first decade and his birthday present is this trip, to come away to Brisbane where I am about to be on a panel with ABC Open producers.
The journey in the air is full of tiny moments, like playing Mr Squiggle and noughts and crosses with my son, and eating the fruit my friend has given us for the journey. Every now and then we see the snaking rivers winding below. My son keeps an eye on the statistics of what we are flying over, our altitude and so on. He informs me, entertains me and I can see already he is soaking every moment of this trip up like a sponge.
When we arrive we catch a taxi across the city to my friends, Karen and Daryl both of them into arts, Daryl is a storyteller and Karen sometimes works with him. She is also an esl teacher. I know them from working with Karen as a volunteer for QCAN when it still existed. We’ve stayed in touch via facebook ever since I left Brisbane.
Karen is still at work when we arrive, but Daryl is home and fixes us a sandwich. We then head off to South Bank, me with camera in hand, my son chirping by my side. Although very quiet from the airport into Brisbane, now he begins to speak and continues to chatter for our whole trip from this point on.
We follow Daryl’s instructions, and I do have my phone as back up, but it is good to have verbal instructions as well. We head down to South Bank and I am happy we navigate ourselves there without too much trouble, although my son is initially not so sure on his Mum’s finding away around skills in the big smoke.
We’ve been living country for 6 years now and this is my first trip since to Brisbane. Still I am determined to show him Mum does know what she is doing. So we wander South Bank, in search of the museum and science centre, and other wonders.
We walk under the trellis’s covered in purple flowers and stop at statues for photographs as well as me photographing ibises scattered around.
We decide to go up in a Ferris Wheel, considering neither of us is a big fan of heights this is a courage step. I just want to break out of such fears and it’s not like its bungee jumping. So we book our tickets and up we go.
In front of us is a Monk in saffron robes, it seems like he is on a tour with a trusted translator. We are to run into him a few more times as he is exploring South Bank. He goes up in the wheel alone, his translator, tour guide watching as he goes around and around.
We see a green bicycle taxi man, who is happy for us to take a photograph of him, and he even offers for my son to sit on the bike if he wishes for no charge, but my youngest son is not having any of it.
Sophie Formica’s voice can be heard telling us what we can see from the wheel, and every now and then it stops – we look out to the Gabba and several other buildings below. I am busy taking photographs, of me, my son, and all below us. Later I will photograph the ferris wheel from the ferry on our last day in Brisbane.
My son has only a tiny glimmer of slight anxiety when the wheel stops but for the most part he loves the trip. His anxious frowns turn to wonder and he has faced them off and come out victorious.
We head off still in search of the museum – and on the way through the labyrinth of South Bank we find the enormous state library and the art gallery. At the Queensland Arts Gallery my son and I spot the monk again.
His translator/guide talks to us at a sculpture made out of old typewriters and other recycled goods and asks my son if he knows what it has been made of. It is as if in seeing him twice we know have become part of his journey.
My son is impatient with the art gallery and still hankering for the museum, so our view of it is rushed and punctuated by a ten year old boy’s frustration with walls and walls of painting. He’d much rather be somewhere interactive and less static. He points out a few photographs he’d like me to take and then is begging for us to continue onward in our journey. At this point perhaps we should have followed the monk’s translator but instead I patiently take him where he wishes, after all he is the birthday boy.
We make it to the museum. We walk past a dinosaur display for small kids mostly, and my son has some photographs with the dinosaurs. We go up to the second floor and discover a display of animals, sharks and microscopes. My son enjoys the displays and takes off with my camera to photograph what he wishes. At one point he plays with the microscope to check out the patterns of his hand and even trying to have it look at his hair follicles. We don’t make it to the science centre in the bottom floor of the museum and have to leave that for another day.
I wonder what the monk in saffron robes would have made of this museum.
We have always seen the sign when we are in Ingham (usually for medical appointments we can’t have in our own town) Wallaman Falls 49km and thought maybe we should go have a look at it. I love waterfalls, especially when they are in flow. Somehow we never quite have the time. But this time is different.
Where do you want to go?
Cryptically I answer, ‘there’s a sign,’ directed us to the sign and then our journey begins.
The road to Wallaman Falls begins as 30 km of roads past (and almost through) the cane fields punctuated by cattle wandering the roads. If you like seeing cows up close that’s a highlight. This is followed by 19 km of winding road which has just been newly repaired. Road work signs are a little bit off putting and we did hope we weren’t going to go up all that winding road and find it closed before we reached the waterfall.
The trees overhang the road the more the journey progresses until you know you are going into the heart of nature. Shadows dart on the road from these overhangs and they and trees that cast them are very tempting to take photographs of, although it is not safe to stop except in two or three designated look out areas on the way back (so don’t forget to plan for this on the way back down that windy road or you’ll go straight pass those spots.)
There are hook signs, and the suggested speed limits are for 40 to 20 km around certain bends. This is a good road for a skilled driver to tackle not a learner. One can only imagine the intrepid builders and repairers of the road.
Our kids, ranging from 9 to 15, keep doing the obligatory ‘are we there yet?’ ‘what is the time’ chant as we set out on our windy upward part of the journey. Youngest becomes a little excited as the road thins and winds higher and higher. Eldest skeptically says, ‘why would you drive into the middle of nowhere, what is the point’ and ‘well there’s a waterfall, ’ are not convincing to him at this stage.
Some of the 19km windy road is unsealed, but at the beginning and end of the unsealed road, the road is bitumen. We surmise, as a family, that this is because the mud at the end of the road is being kept from the car park by a nice clean road when people end their journey.
Arriving at our waterfall trip – the waterfall does not disappoint. Gasps from even my eldest and we know we have a winner for a family day trip. My eldest asks for my camera to take photographs of his own, whereas usually he tends to avoid the camera behind and in front of. We share the camera between me, hubby and my eldest. I am a bit wary of the height, but then I am a bit sensitive to heights. There are railings and it is perfectly safe as long as you stay on the path.
Curious young children do need supervision as it’s a long way to the bottom of that waterfall, but it is breathtaking and they will always remember seeing it.
‘Just imagine Niagra — if this is so great,’ says my newly enthused teenager son. A few more visitors turn up whilst we are there, and like us feel it has been well worth the trip. They live in Townsville and have never seen the falls before.
We take a short walk to one of the look outs – to admire the areas around us. A few more photographs and then it’s time to head out. For practical parents there is a picnic area and toilets so definitely use them before heading off down that hill as you won’t be stopping until you are back in Ingham.
Returning down that long windy hill we stop twice more for views. It is worth those stops and helpful the road engineers and designers have put these in with photography in mind.
When we refuel for our trip home we mention the trip to the falls to the petrol station owners. ‘Only been there once, in all my time here, hate the road’ says one, and another says ‘we used to be able to swim up there, but they changed it all, occupational health and safety.’ They ask how our cyclone ravaged town has been going, and it turns into quite a chat.
We comment that we haven’t yet been to Dunk, ‘But we’ve been twice,’ they laugh. It seems quite common that people go to more distant tourist sites than what is around the corner. This is something to change I think.
I for one though am glad that we took the beaten road and headed up to the falls. So are my kids, my eldest even comments ‘it was like something out of Lord of the Rings.’ There are no complaints on the way home; they even let me indulge in a sunset stop to take the sun setting over the cane as we left Ingham. This has been a special family day.