It was very, very hot to an non acclimatised pom arriving in Sydney in the summer of 1974, there was little air con then and I used to dream of the cool, clear waters of the Misbourne. Rivers in Australia are different, I went to an evening course at Sydney Uni about the river systems in 1976, wanting to understand this eco system in my new home. I've never forgotten what I learnt about the completeness of what happens in the water itself, but there was no mention of the red bellied black snakes that I later lived along side and that always live beside fresh water.
When it came to Brown's Creek I knew that we were fortunate to have water out in the bush but it really was a dark, snakey place, water twisting round rocks with overhanging trees making sure that the sun light never reached the bottom of the valley. We had no running water for the first year that we lived out there, we lived half way up a steep hill and carried jerry cans from the river up to the shack where we lived. Eventually we worked out that this was pretty stupid, so we filled the cans in town and carried them half as far.
Plants grew by the minute in that valley, tendrils crept across the windows and up through the floor. It was an old failed farm on three titles, it had been cleared and some of it fenced but it was poor land for European style use. Forty years ago it was scrubby with pockets of rainforest and a few large seed trees with a rough track through it. Today it's a triumph of re-wilding, the trees are huge, everything has grown lush, luxuriant and very dense, the whole place pulsates with life, singing, sliding, flying, gliding, climaxing, in that amazing oasis just two hours from Brisbane.
There were great swimming holes along the river, and being an alternative community in the seventies, we'd all strip off and jump into the cool dark water to be refreshed for a minute in the tropical heat. It was like jumping into ink and was definitely not up to my criteria of being able to see the bottom but it was so hot I even had to paint with no clothes on. The locals used to hide in the bushes and get their thrills from seeing naked hippies, we were brown, hairy and carefree, draping lovely colourful sarongs over ourselves, we must have looked like another species. I certainly felt that I'd arrived in a paradise and that I had to shed contemporary values on beauty, cleanliness and convenience.