Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Journey - a story in 16 parts. J1. A FORK IN THE ROAD

The highway south once loomed as an epic journey in my mind. Getting out of Brisbane was an adventure in itself. From Morningside, Creek Road took us on a roller-coaster ride, through new suburbs on the one side and scrubby bush on the other. We were in a big city but the countryside was our daily neighbour.

After what seemed like half a day’s drive we’d race down the last hill on Creek Road and curl to the west to meet Logan Road where the second stage of the journey began. This really was the edge of the city. Now we’d start the real trip. Travelling beyond Mt Gravatt past the neglected fences and isolated petrol stations of Eight Mile Plains. we’d catch a glimpse of the mysterious OPAL Home for aboriginal kids from the country set discreetly back among the trees before entering a no man’s land of no interest.. The name Eight Mile Plains seemed to just about sum it all up. Gods forgotten country. Halfway to nowhere.

From that point a series of milestones marked our path to the Gold Coast or sometimes we’d be venturing beyond to the Tweed or annually to Sydney. First came the Logan River, hovering over cows and fertile river flats; then the Coomera River and finally after an interminable hour of boredom and games of Eye Spy and Spotto came the big decision. Fork left to Southport via the Coombabah swamps or right to Nerang on the dirt road. Nerang was the short cut to Surfers Paradise. Only those in the know took this option. No sign posts to guide us, only a few subtle landmarks to guide the knowledgeable.

The Coombabah swamps were full of bird life; white ibis in their droves nesting around water-loving paperbarks amid acres of water. The stink was overwhelming even with the windows up tight. At this point the largely silent passengers erupted with cries of phew! and pooh! and accusations flew back and forth in the back seat apportioning blame for the smell, each brother indignantly denying any responsibility and both whinging to their parents that their brother was picking on them.

This riot quickly died with the intercession of dad reminding us that at the next crest we’d probably be able to see the water. Both my brother and I, now best mates again, crawled up the back of the seats in front of us craning our necks for the best view. Despite the threats from mum we bounced around like tennis balls and clawed and climbed up and occasionally over the high backed bench seat to tumble ridiculously into the front. The car was now full of laughter, squeals, threats and cries of “Look Look”. On each rise our anticipation expanded, our eyes popped and strained only to have our expectations dashed time and time again until at last the glint of the Broadwater filled us with excitement and anticipation. We could already taste the salt and began feverishly searching for our togs and towels so as to be first out of the car and onto the beach. To our frustration, and even more so for our parents, this hint of a swim was in reality still 15 minutes away as we slowly drove parallel to the still water holding our breath for the burning hot sands of Main Beach and the magic of the surf. My father could never countenance stopping and swimming in the still waters of Southport. It was unthinkable. Literally.

Today, however, we fork right, but the road is sealed. It’s a four lane high speed bypass. This time there are five spirits in the car and we’re on a mission.

1 comment:

Zen Quill said...

This so takes me back to my childhood - with my brother and I fighting in the back seat of our Holden, scrambling to be first to spot water when we'd head down to the beach on what ever holiday adventure we were on at the time. You have captured that childlike excitement so well. Nice cliff hanger...I'm curious to know where this journey is leading, already...