Monday, January 31, 2011


My back garden has been a mess recently. After we cleaned up the flood mess, it became a place of storage. Our rescued kitchen contents sitting in old cupboards on top of the garden table. Over them was a tarp held down by plant pots with limp flood-worn Aloe Vera in them. My job yesterday was to not venture into the garden (thank goodness) but to get the remainder of our belongings out of the flat and into the stairwell in preparation for the tiler. I was about to grab a broom and start clearing a spot for our stuff but all my fella was doing was try to get me into the garden to discuss the cupboards. I ended up following him all the while saying "what do you mean we can leave the cupboards with the stuff in here why are you worrying about this stuff it's already out of the flat" etc. Then...

Surprise! I walked out to a garden table with a beautiful cloth on it laden with food and drinks and  friends cheering. What a treat! It's my birthday today but I had pretty much decided to postpone it until we had moved back in someone even brought some fresh yabbies (pictured).

Saturday, January 29, 2011

You've Been Framed

This is Peter of Nobel Framing in Highgate Hill. He's framing and mounting the five photos I'm putting into the Avid Reader Exhibition, free of charge. We probably talked about the job at hand for about 5% of the time I was at his place and then everything else under the sun and beyond for the rest of the time.

Top bloke!

Friday, January 28, 2011

One out, One in.

A strange thing happened the other day. One of the chickens had a fit and fell down to die. There was a burial and a wake (well it may have been co-incidental that there were guests and beers). And if that wasn't strange enough, later on that day after a delicious chicken dinner (unrelated) some friends found a lone chicken wandering around outside with nowhere to go. Our hosts took her in, gave her a coop over her head and some very nice leftovers (not the chicken bits heaven forbid).

It's possible someone is looking for her and wondering what has happened to her..if so let us know. Or maybe her arrival is just Chicken Karma.

Here she is getting her wings clipped for her own protection.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Making A Day Of It

Australia Day celabrations down our way followed a very traditional formula. One of the small side streets got blocked off with wheely bins and the ubiquitous game of street cricket ensued. Anyone who wanted to play was in regardless of gender, age or ability. 

Naturally, someone fired up the barbie and we all had a feast.

And as the sun went down and the music was turned up, some of us slipped off to watch the tennis, some of us went to bed and those that were left partied on into the warm Brisbane night.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


It can definitely be said that without good friends these past two weeks we would have been in all sorts of trouble, especially emotionally. So I think it's appropriate, being Australia Day and all that, to celebrate having great mates - just like mine. We returned to our friends with the warped wooden walls last night for a few beers in the not-so-pongy-anymore garden. Other friends were there too, laughing and enjoying themselves despite the fact that we are STILL living in their house. We laughed about the cracks in her bathroom tiles where it looks like there's been a miniature earthquake... and the doors that don't close. Cosmetic stuff in the scheme of things. The house is still standing thanks to the strong foundations and the pillars of strength that keep it supported. A bit like me and my bloody great mates!  

Happy Australia Day. 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Life Will Find A Way

It takes more than five feet of dirty water to keep my garden down. This red flowering ginger refuses to die. Incase you were wondering, the flower has been carefully wiped a few times and there has been quite a heavy rainstorm.

And while the lower parts of my passionfruit vine and birdseye chillis were a mess, this is what it looks like now above the floodline...

                              Whatever was in that sludge seems to be working a treat!

Monday, January 24, 2011

We Need A Montage!

A local bookshop in West End called Avid Reader has decided to raise money for the Premier's Flood Appeal by having an exhibition of photos next month surrounding the events of our flood.

I managed to tee up a printer immediately.
Ted's Camera's in Adelaide Street printed out these 8"x12" photos for me free of charge. I've also managed to find a generous framer so I"ll introduce him to you when I meet him myself.

Back at the ranch, things are moving slowly but at least they are moving. The place is dry and clean and we are in the process of finding a suitable floor. As life in Brisbane returns to some semblance of normality and all the kids return to school after their long summer break, here's a nice little piece put together by one of our neighbours Kevin - one of many I got to know better through these floods.  A few of my shots are in there amongst others. 

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Checking Out The Rowing Club Jetty

Here's the jetty that was alongside the rowing club in West End, It's all looking a bit vertical at the moment!

Saturday, January 22, 2011


This is the aptly named "drift" restaurant in Milton. After being Oxley's on the River for years, new management took over only a few months ago. It prided itself on being "Brisbane's Best New Restaurant". The dramatic images and videos of it breaking up, heading down the river and crashing into a bridge have become iconic.Click here to see it on the move.

I went down there last night and had a look around. It's looking very sad.

Evidence of the destruction is all over the bike path and the restaurant itself has been torn apart and now lies open to the elements...

I'd say those cleaners have had their work cut out for them.

They've got a huge task ahead of them.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Warning: Wet Floor

This house was high and dry but I like the sentiment. And the grass. I have grass envy.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


After some heavy rain last night to wash away the dust and mud, our neighbourhood looks like a different place to last week.

We'll always remember those who came and helped, devoting their days off, money and energy into getting us back on track. Even Kev came back to see how we'd recovered and he lay on a breakfast BBQ in our once green and pleasant local park. Queensland Premier Anna Bligh and the British Foreign minister William Hague turned up too.  Our local councillor Helen Abrahams, who has been working like a trojan in our area, didn't really get much of a look-in. And of course, there were plenty of representatitves from the media.

We're not back home yet but we are looking good. Talk amongst our refugee household has turned towards electricians, plumbers, plasterers and painters.
And the good will continues - a friend's son has offered to paint our walls for free!  

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Exposed Memories

Friends of ours were overseas when they eventually found out their house had been flooding. Not the upstairs living bit but the downstairs bit with all the stuff that you put under the house.... like a lifetime of photos...

Last night we cleaned them up and laid them out to dry.

They were everywhere, these precious moments...

Spread out, covering every available surface in every available room...

Monday, January 17, 2011

Thought Of The Week

I went to Kangaroo Point today. They've set up a one-stop flood victim centre where you can go and receive advice and government grants to help with food, clothing and basic necessities. When I went to the bank to cash the cheque I saw this sign and had a chuckle to myself.
I would have brought those bloody sheets in off the line for a start!

Over at Bron's place - her beautiful old wooden Queenslander home has become very bumpy...

And the froggy park where we have spent so many kids' parties and lazy afternoons looks a bit wonky...

The river itself is still really high and the colour of drinking chocolate...

But as life turns back to normal (or as normal as it can be amidst the rebuilding chaos) and the mud gets hosed off and scraped away, there are still reminders of what happened everywhere you go...

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Road Is Long...

River sludge gets everywhere. You think you've cleaned up and then a slightly warped cupboard has to get ripped up and underneath there it is greeting you again. After a while it gets a bit demoralising.

Yesterday's mammoth volunteer effort in West End meant people like Stefan just walked into my flat, rolled their sleeves up and got on with it.

His wife, Hunnybun with the blue wig, kept us all laughing and that's Steve with the high pressure hose who put in many hours at our place.

Jo is a neighbour and a friend. She and her husband, like many other parents in the area, found friends to babysit and got stuck in helping wherever they could despite not being victims themselves.

The rural fire brigade came in with their huge hoses and blasted everyone's houses. You have to get that mud out before it dries and starts spreading mould, rot and disease. Once all the mud is out and the place is clean, you have to go over it again with bleach to kill all the bacteria. For me, after the bleach stage, vinegar to dry out the concrete rendering. My place will have to be dried, re-rendered, repainted, new electrical fittings, new kitchen, new wardrobes and new skirting boards (which we have already bought but my fella was still getting around to - luckily we hoisted them up to the upstairs landing).

So much to do but still so much to be thankful for. Friends in Fairfield and Rocklea have lost everything with the floodwaters up to the roof. I haven't been down there yet but everyone says it's like a warzone. The folks in the Lockyer Valley who had the "inland tsunami" terrorise them causing death and destruction... Just when you start to feel a bit sorry for yourself you realise there is someone worse off than you. At least we have found things to laugh about...

And the story that made me laugh so much yesterday was a friend who was cleaning a lifetime of photos - some rather private -  for another friend down in Fairfield. If they weren't close before, they definitely are now!

And so to the long task ahead...

With the kindness of friends and strangers we can't go wrong. 

If you know Brisbane at all, I urge you to check out this aerial shot taken at the peak. That's it for tonight I'm absolutely exhausted!

Thanks to Damian and Marilyn for letting me use their home as an internet cafe xx

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Many Hands

Early yesterday morning when we came down to our flat we were shocked to see that the river had dropped 2 metres overnight and where my fella had canoed to the first floor the previous afternoon was now just an ankle-deep sludge.  

At 6am the streets were eerily quiet but the tell-tale signs of destruction lay all around us...

 I had been meaning to get the sheets in off the line but with all the rain I just never got around to it!

Our garden didn't look too inviting...

 And my friend Bron's place around the corner looked even worse...

It was a bad morning... made worse by our next-door neighbours getting this note when they returned to their possessions covered in toxic sludge...

Then the clouds parted and we had a ray of sunshine... This is Wayne. He had just turned up with a high pressure water-hose on the back of his ute and wanted to help in any way that he could.  Soon our home was open and people started arriving with mops and buckets, sleeves rolled up, ready to go.

They turned up from all over the place - miles and miles away. Some kids had come up from Logan after hearing about it on facebook and twitter. At one point I walked downstairs to find 10 people in our carpark sweeping out all the sludge. I nearly cried!
(Actually I did cry)

Kevin turned up...

So did the army, the police and the red cross. Our local councillor co-ordinated all the volunteers directing them to people who needed them. Soon we were turning people away because we just had so many people helping. It was unbelievable. People arrived with sandwiches, fruit, water and they set up barbeques on street corners.

People needed the fuel: there was a lot to do...

Today work continued in earnest with special bus-loads of volunteers arriving at 8am along with the army and a convoy of front-end loaders. Followers of this blog might recognise the Billy Tea shop. I helped clean that out yesterday. All the food in it was rancid and the stink in there was unbelievable but the crew of volunteers were cracking jokes and made light of it.

And of course we all made time for a beer...

My neighbour has opened her house to my family and another family. Her house has become a child-minding facility and she still is managing to organise sandwich drops and refreshment drops whenever she can. It's a mammoth effort from everyone in the neighbourhood and has brought us closer together.

Apologies for the erratic posting ...been a bit busy.

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