What do kids, cows and nuns have in common? The answer is Western Creek — a special part of Western Creek that no longer exists. For at the bottom of Couldrey Street, where there now is just a clearing, there once was a waterhole! As recently as the late 1970s or early 1980s, this was the local Wet-n-Wild for the neighbourhood kids, at least when there was enough rain to get the creek flowing through the bush. Going further back, before the suburb had fully moved in, the pond was used as a swimming hole by the nuns at Stuartholme when they ventured down to fetch the convent milk.
The clearing at the bottom of Couldrey Street
This is just the kind of story I was hoping to uncover when I started this website. And I owe it to Jonathon Freer, who is an ex-resident of Couldrey Street, and his mum Di, who still lives there in the house where Jonathon grew up. You can read all about it on this new page.
There must be other past and present residents of Couldrey Street out there who have stores and (I’m hoping) photographs to share about the waterhole and surrounding creek. If this is you, please get in touch with me!
History can be told in so many different ways. I’ve chosen a buried suburban creek as my narrative thread. Magnus, a resident of Auchenflower, is using the renovation/restoration of his own house as a window to the history of his home and neighbourhood. His blog, A House in Auchenflower, delves into the history of the materials, the designs, and the people that have shaped his classic Queenslander and its suburban surrounds.
If you have any interest in the history and/or architecture of the Auchenflower area, this blog is well worth a look.
A waterbird sitting on the fence by the pond at the bottom of the Fernberg grounds
I walked past the pond at the bottom of the Fernberg grounds today and saw this bird sitting on the fence. It looks familiar but I have no idea what it is. I’ve never seen this sort of bird around here before.
It let me get surprisingly close — within a couple of metres. Even at that distance, this is the best I could do with the camera on my phone. Though it stayed in the one spot on the fence, it frequently moved its body, occasionally stretching out its long neck. When I finally got too close, the bird flew down into the pond, and proceeded to dive over and over again, seemingly combing the bottom with its beak, looking for things to eat. A very able diver, it reminded me a bit of a platypus.
It’s nice to know that this little restored remnant of Western Creek holds an attraction for wildlife in the area.
So… does anyone know what sort of bird it is?
Today I went up to the summit of Mount Coot-tha. It was another glorious, cloudless winter day, and while I did spend some time looking out over Brisbane while enjoying an ice cream, my main objective was to explore some of the walking tracks that begin from the summit and lead in various directions into the bush.
The Caladenia Creek
A small creek near the Lookout Trail leading from the summit of Mount Coot-tha towards Caladenia Street, Indooroopilly.
The first track I took was the Lookout Trail, which starts at the bottom of the carpark leading up to the cafe. After first following a gentle slope, this track quickly plummets at a perilously steep angle down towards Indooroopilly. The slope then eases again and the track heads along a slight ridge. To the left lies a residential estate, and to the right, a gully leading down to a rocky creek bed. The track and the creek then converge and come to an abrupt end top of Caladenia Street. The track gives way to a bitumen road, and the creek is swallowed up by a large drainpipe running beneath the road.
Where the bush becomes suburbia and the creek becomes a drain at Caladenia Street, Indooroopilly.
I’ve spent considerable time wandering around Western Creek trying to imagine what the landscape looked like before it was developed. It’s not easy to do, because so little bushland is left there except for a few patches around Government House and around Tristania Drive. But here at Caladenia Street, the before-and-after comparison couldn’t be easier. The past and the present are conveniently juxtaposed, divided neatly by a straight line. On one side there is the bush and creek, more or less as they always would have been; on the other side is the modified suburban landscape, bearing absolutely no resemblance to what it replaced.
Where the forest meets the suburb, at Caladenia Street, Indooroopilly. View Larger Map
Last Sunday was open day at Government House, the big white mansion at the top of the hill on Fernberg Road. These events only happen once or twice a year, so they are a rare opportunity to see inside the Governor’s backyard — and the Governor’s house, of course, if that takes your fancy.
This was the first open day since I started working on this website (there would have been one on Australia Day but it was rained out), so I did not want to miss the chance to explore and photograph those parts of the grounds that you can’t see from the outside. Along with the weedy scrub up around Tristania Drive and Stuartholme, these grounds contain the only substantial remnant bush in the Western Creek catchment. They also contain three ponds (one natural, two artificial), some steep overgrown gullies and even (thanks to the wet weather) a running stream.
I’ve put the results of my little expedition in a new page called Fernberg from the inside (Fernberg, meaning ‘distant mountain’, is the name given to the property by its first owner, Johann Heussler). I’d be interested to know what other people think about the Fernberg grounds, and particularly whether they could be improved or made more accessible to the public.
The lower of the two ornamental ponds at Fernberg