Friday, February 4, 2011

Return to Murphy’s Creek 2011

Now that I’m home, in the safe confines of my own house, I can write. Even now as I sit here, my fingers hesitate over each keystroke. What to say, and how to say it? How to write about returning to Murphy’s Creek - my home for a year – and to put down on paper what I saw, and how I felt. Be patient with me, I’ll do my best for you.

I filled 2 books of poetry living at Murphy's Creek.

“I returned to the creek/listened to the spring to come/felt the grass grow tall.
And look, there/Darling/still the yellow flowers are bursting!”

I lived in a single skin, round one-bedroom house at Murphy’s for a year, when I was a single girl; weighed down only by 8 chooks, a rooster, and various wildlife and animals. I loved that house. It was isolated, innovative, interesting and unique. Once I had turned on all the outside lights, at night it looked like a UFO about to fly off into the darkness. The owls would swoop on the insects the floodlights attracted, and I spent most of my time there writing poetry, feeding open mouths and working hard as an Advertising Rep for The Land and Qld Country Life. Gumboots and field days were a wonderful part of my life, I enjoyed mixing it with the menfolk, and I loved being back in Queensland, my home state; closer to my parents in Rockhampton.

It was only a full days drive away!

When you live at Murphys, you cop a lot of criticism from the Toowoomba community. “You live at Murphy’s Creek? Why?” they demanded. “You have to go up and down the range, all that way!”

Well, yes, that’s true, but it’s not like I had to walk, I had a car for crying out loud. What was wrong with these people that they were not only so disinterested in living down there (too hot, too cold) but so against the whole concept of driving “The Range.”

Me? I’ve always loved to drive. I marched into the Rockhampton Police Station on the morning of my 17th birthday and got my drivers licence. I had already sat for and passed my written test, the rest was easy. I have always loved my road trips, and I married a car enthusiast, so yeah, me and cars go hand in hand, but I digress.

Murphy’s Creek, as you may recall was the flashpoint for so much destruction recently with the floods, beginning first in Toowoomba (who hasn’t seen the you tube clip of the blue car floating nose-first down the street?) and making their way to Murphy’s Creek, Grantham, and eventually to Brisbane, the waters included in the flooding river and as they say, the rest is history.

My dear friend CJ is with me today. I have work to do in Toowoomba for my client, and she has personal effects to drop off to a young girl who lives here. We head to Toowoomba, an early start; along the amazingly easy but complicated new highway, out to Ipswich, past the flooded paddocks and scoured-out creeks, past the road-work gangs mopping their foreheads in the 30c heat, and past the numerous Police Camera radar sites. So many!

We drive, and chat, and as we slow for road works at the most damaged community, we point. First me. Then CJ. We point, and mouths open and close slowly, we are speechless. Really, there’s nothing say either; nothing more to add to the media and the commentators and the blame being apportioned for the flood.

Our work done in Toowoomba, we spend ten minutes trying to locate the grave of my grandmother, Minnie.

I drive slowly along the old road of the Drayton Cemetery, calling her name. Minnie? Minnie? Min? Minnie! We get out in the scorching heat. The graves lie baking like gingerbread men. We can’t find her. This will have to be another road trip and we make our way home, first discussing if we should drive to Murphy’s, or not.

We should go, it's history, and relevant to me. We shouldn’t go, it’s ghoulish. I need to get CJ back to Brissy by 3.30pm so she can clean her church.

Eventually we decide that we should go and see, to witness for ourselves, and to check out my old home. At first, it’s shocking, the carnage. Then it becomes appalling. At times we gasp together, and then the silence settles again, and we point.

Here. There. At once I want to turn my head, look away. At the same time I need to stare, to absorb it all.

I am not going to describe what we saw, and I didn’t take one photograph. It wasn’t necessary, these images will be with me, and we have all seen too much in the past few weeks. Way too much. At Murphy’s Creek there is a new pub, where the locals and visiting officials have gathered.

We stop for a quick drink, to toast to the new pub, and the survivors of the horror.

We toast to the destruction; Mother Nature; and we toast to the dead, the missing; the lives torn and ripped apart by my beloved creek.

Do I feel betrayed by my meandering, pristine water course, the source of so much of my poetry. You bet. Will I be back? Of course, but for now, a community needs to heal, to settle. Homes need to be demolished and rebuilt. Trees need to be removed, boulders shifted, roads and bridges rebuilt.

Murphy’s Creek remains a strong resilient community, and I pray the scars heal, and quickly. Actually Murphy’s Creek, take your time.


Karen Tyrrell said...

Hi Patty,
Love tour story and your writing style. Straight from the heart. Keep doing what you do :)) Karen T

Pattycam said...

Thanks Karen, that means a lot. x