Wednesday, 30 November 2011

About Dr May's Island

At the mouth of the Elliott River lies Dr May's Island (sometimes erroneously referred to as “Rock Island”). Once part of the mainland, it was the site of the May's house and farm. One part of the property was an old bus which was used for casual accommodation for their visitors.

In the fifties, the land joining the “island” to the mainland started to get washed away. This was accelerated by some fishermen carving a channel for them to get access to some fishing spot or other. Then cyclonic seas and stormy weather eventually saw the island become permanently separated and the bus and other farm infrastructure became victims to the sandy seas.

Recently, while walking on the beach, south of the Elliott Heads river mouth, I discovered that nature had given us back that bus - the chassis and tyres are clearly visible above the receding sands. Some 400m further south, the chassis of a smaller motor vehicle can also be found. In this area are several large pieces of concrete and steel - identity as yet unknown.

I had walked the 3km to the site now only accessible by this walk or by boat. But unfortunately time and tide didn't wait for this man - I should have checked before I left home. Still it was a beautiful afternoon, the herds of hordes had left, leaving the beach to me and my lengthening shadows from the setting sun.  The real bus photos will have to wait for another day, however here is a phone camera of the site with Dr May's Island in the background.

Dr May's Island in the background, from the southern head of the Elliott River - 19th Nov 2011  ©2011 WoJo12
Earlier I made mention of a rusting wreck of a smaller vehicle - it is currently disappearing again beneath the ever-changing sands of time. Well, for what it is worth, here it is!!!! Unfortunately for record purposes, there is a large immovable log lying diagonally across the chassis. The cross-bracing, normally behind the front seats, is clearly seen. The front is in the foreground and I recall that it had drum brakes at the rear.

Rusting vehicle chassis on Coonarr Beach - 20/11/2011                                           ©2011 WoJo12

Here is another piece of Dr May's Island history, barely above the sands of Coonarr Beach. I only took one photo of the concrete pit which has been totalled exposed in the past, but currently it is all but buried.


Concrete pit semi-submerged under the sands of Coonarr Beach - 20 Nov 2011                                                                                                                                              ©2011WoJo12

Earlier, I have referred to my discovery of various objects currently emerging out of the sand at Dr May's Point. Well, now the low tide has been at a better time to again walk the 6km round trip from Coonarr Beach.

With an easterly wind blowing, it was amazing what was on the normally quite clean beach - among the leaves littering the shoreline, were quite a few jellyfish, commonly known as bluebottles (or Portuguese man-o'-war, Pacific man-o'-war). This species is a partially beautiful blue, but that is where the beauty finishes - contact with them can be quite dangerous. Just for variety, there were also half a dozen or so dead fish, believed to have been rejects from a trawler operating off the coast this week.

As I arrived at Dr May's Point, I could see that this time I had timed the tides correctly and the bus chassis was clearly visible. I removed various sticks that had been caught in the wreck. I did not attempt to move the 100mm diameter steel pipe lying diagonally across the chassis. The front tyre as well as the two rear tyres are now quite visible.

The bus chassis at low tide - 25 Nov 2011
Now on further exploration of the area I found several concrete objects as well as a very vertical post. In one of Neville Rackemann's several good books on Bundaberg, I found reference to a sighting of the steps to Dr May's house as well as part of the septic tank. The book, "A Century of Progress", published by the then Woongarra Shire Council, talks about an inspection in 1985 of the erosion around the mouth of the Elliott River where the two relics of the former house were then found.

Believed to be the upside-down steps from Dr May's house - 25 Nov 2011

A very vertical post, possibly stump from Dr May's home - 25 Nov 2011

Another concrete relic in the sands - 25 Nov 2011
Here endeth the story, but who knows what history remains under the sands at Dr May's Point. Thanks to Barry B from Elliott Heads for the history of the bus.
One last note - for more on Coonarr Beach, look for a another post

Monday, 28 November 2011

Bundaberg's Hidden Gem

Most postcards of Bundaberg seem to picture one of our older steel bridges - the so-called "Traffic Bridge" , the similar style "Kennedy Bridge" and the rail bridge. I have yet to see a postcard with the newest bridge over the Burnett River, the Tallon Bridge.

Unbeknown to a lot of Bundabergians and to our visitors, our most awesome bridge lies less than 7km west (if you are a crow) from the Bundaberg Post Office. Formerly part of the Bundaberg to Mount Perry railway line, this bridge over Splitters Creek is now landlocked by private land and can only be accessed by negotiation by the land owner. I had originally thought I may be able to kayak up Splitters Creek to the bridge. But because of the meandering nature of the creek, the tides and the fact that the nearest launch-point I could find was beneath the Traffic Bridge, it was going to be marginal whether I could get to the bridge before the tide receded and left me high and dry.

So don't tell anyone about it - you must keep a secret less the Bundaberg Regional Council find out about its existence, its tourist value and the fact that it is an important part of Queensland's history.

 All photographs taken on 26th April 2010. ©2010 WoJo12

This bridge is believed to be the longest and highest wooden trestle bridge surviving in Queensland.

Many thanks to Greg M for organising the visit with the landowner.

Kolan River Kayaking - #1

I was introduced to kayaking by a friend in 2008. Since then I have paddled most of the lower reaches of the Kolan River, just north of Bundaberg. From its entrance to the Coral Sea to the weir at Bucca, the river scenery varies from the estuarine mangroves near its mouth to the pebbled beaches, to the tunnels of trees in its upper reaches.
There are several launch-points along the river - my first cruise began from Bucca Crossing, a lovely picnic spot and it has good access to the water. From here one can paddle easily upstream in normal conditions.

Upstream from Bucca Crossing 29th June 2008                                  ©2008 WoJo12
I thought this is very beautiful and serene. But then I stopped for a longer break, hanging on to an overhanging tree - there IS a current in this river after all!!! After a few moments the air became alive with different sounds - the river itself was silent but its residents were not. Various birds were singing, and then out of the corner of my eye I heard a splash and just managed to see a turtle ducking for cover into the waters. I waited and I waited, camera at the ready. Then I had a good look at my first Kolan turtle, as it clambered back onto its precarious position on a sunny log.

Krefft's (River) Turtle - Chelymys krefftii   17 Jul 2008                     ©2008 WoJo12
I waited for another half an hour or so, and soon the single sunning turtle was joined by another, and by another - it was hypnotic - my eyes were constantly scanning the river for others - it really was alive.

More kayaking and uncovering the inhabitants of the Kolan in later posts.

Pemberton - the railway terminus

One of the last remnants of the Bundaberg-Qunaba-Bargara (then Sandhills) -Pemberton railway line is up for sale. In the early 1900's, a railway line, or tramway, was built from Bundaberg to Sandhills, then inland again to finish at Pemberton. Where is Pemberton you may ask - read on!!!!

Now - back to the subject. Believe it or not, the railway came from the vicinity of Seaview Road/Windemere Road intersection and headed south, crossing Innes Park Road at the eastern boundary of the now Innes Park Country Club. The remains of the permanent way to the north of Innes Park Road was until recently quite visible, but now a farmer has salvaged the gravel  and it is a lot lower than it used to be. The rockwork on the southern side of Innes Park Road is still visible, and when the grass is greener, the distinct curve of the permanent way is quite clear.

From Innes Park Road, looking north, showing the old permanent way 27 Nov 2011  ©2011 WoJo12

After sweeping around the southern boundary of the Club, the track finished beside Elliott Heads Road. At the terminus, a triangle was constructed which enabled trains to turn around to proceed back from whence they came ( a modern example of such a triangle can be seen in Hoods Road, near the main North Line). This section of the railway was last used in 1948.

The curve of the old triangle is easy to see 27 Nov 2011               ©2011 WoJo12

                                                                                                                                                            [Map Overlay  ©2011 WoJo12]

A few years ago the land that was a part of the railway terminus was subdivided into 5 acre blocks. Now one of those blocks contains the remains of the Pemberton Grange Sugar Mill, and another borders the curve of the triangle.

Pemberton Grange Sugar Mill 1898                [John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland Neg: 12345]

 Pemberton Grange Sugar Mill  27 Nov 2011      ©2011WoJo12

 Now is your chance to own a bit of history!!!!!