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On and off the Island: Minjerribah to Maleny

Our last post featured the bounty of autonomous food on Minjerribah in early winter. This post begins with the array of social warming we encountered there. 

While on Stradbroke Island we hooked up again with fellow cycle tourer Tom, who once more became uncle Tom,

his portable cabin a hammock tent.

We spear fished and foraged with Tom and went along to the community jam at Point Lookout where Woody was handed around among the local tribe.

Along with Tom we free-camped with Tim, who we met back in Uki and then again in Brissy, and his mate Luke. Both had a passion for free food and simple ways of procuring it. We shared knowledges and food together.

We snapped this image at the North Stradbroke Island Historical Museum, it shows Indigenous folk on the NSW midcoast collecting eugaries (pipis). The image for us represents the ecological intelligence and social inclusivity that our little mutable tribe was perhaps attempting to emulate – the utter sophistication of non-damaging simplicity.

On our return to Dunwich from Point Lookout we stayed a night with Shelley and Milla again, and this time got to meet Milla’s dad/ Shelley’s man, the musically talented Chris.

We harvested macadamia nuts from their produce garden,

and learnt to crack them open with this simple tool.

Our sense of an ecotopia was drowned when it was time to leave the island, our reliance on damaging industry to barge back to the mainland was all too painfully obvious.

But this life is about generational transition, and learning to maintain our bikes (after the sand and salt of the island) is certainly a part of that movement.

On our first night off Straddie we made camp in a hidey spot in a large public park off a bike track in a north-eastern suburb of Brisbane.

The next day we crossed the Brisbane River by climbing a monumental achievement of industrialised culture,

before coming down the other side of that story:

As cyclists we are painfully aware of what motorised transport is capable of committing. Everyday we face the reality of death in a much more direct way and feel the pain of those who have suffered as we pass by at a speed slow enough to acknowledge it. We are flesh and bones on wheels and bitumen and the violence of cars and trucks is forever present, deafening and exact. Then occasionally, we find a motor-free track,

or road,

like here between Woodford and Maleny, and somewhere quiet to stop for lunch.

And even if such remoteness brings its hurdles,

crossing creeks and slipping around on gravel can be more preferable than the constant noise and sometimes terror of more populated routes. And after such a physically difficult but relatively peaceful day on and off the saddle we arrived on top of the range to treats of naturalised citrus,

and views of the Glass House Mountains.

We arrived in Maleny on dusk, caught a pub meal and a beer and pitched our tents on the lawn behind the hotel on the banks of the Obi Obi Creek.

In Maleny we bumped into two locals prone to bouts of cycle touring. The first is Hamish who, for want of a better description, is a bee health scientist and knows firsthand what Monsanto and co are doing to the biosphere.

The second is Garry, a retired English teacher who dons great t-shirts and excellent facial hair. Garry met us by chance at the community garden after he had finished his shift as a volunteer at the UpFront Club, a co-operatively owned venue.

Garry invited us back to his home where he lives with his partner Susan in their hectare permaculture garden on the outskirts of town. The garden features a mature copse of bunya pines, an extensive chook area, raised beds packed with produce, diverse insect-attracting flower beds, food forestry and indigenous revegetation. Needless to say we were well impressed with this model garden for the future.

We had two gentle nights with Garry (Susan was away). We walked into town picking a pharmacopeia of health-packed edibles from the roadside, including the super herb Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica), which according to the Maple Street Co-op newsletter, has been used to aid “fatigue, anxiety, depression, poor memory, senility, epilepsy, bacterial viral or parasitic infections, trauma and tissue repair, leprosy, circulation problems, tuberculosis, arthritis, rheumatism and skin conditions such as psoriasis.”

We noted loquats coming into fruit,

and chewed on the white base stalks of lomandra leaves that Woody generically calls oosh ucker (bush tucker).

Maleny is the first place we’ve been to that is so ideal for citrus, that trees have naturalised along the roadside,

and we sampled various varieties of lilly pilly (Syzygium spp.), these being the most desirable.

When we arrived in town we bee-lined for the co-op, which has been going since 1979, and brought bulk foods to restock our panniers for the next leg of the trip.

Thanks Tom, Tim, Luke, Shelley, Chris, Milla, Hamish and Garry. We’ve so enjoyed our time together.