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Such a beautiful Queensland spring day – too nice to be inside, it would be wasted on mowing the lawn, nothing for it but to go for a ride…
Since the dreadful “inland tsunami” swept down from the high country around Toowoomba and wrought devastation to several of the townships in the Lockyer Valley I had been wanting to go and have a look for myself but I did not want to be seen by the locals as some sort of ghoul. I figured that after eight months enough time had elapsed so today was the day…
The new Centenary Highway extension allows a quick trip out to the air force base of Amberley bypassing the roadworks nightmare of Ipswich Road. Take the Boonah off ramp and the real ride begins.

Just as well I’d filled up earlier.

Churchbank Weir near Coleyville.

Out through the pioneering district of Peak Crossing.

And in to the Fassifern Valley and one of my favourite pubs at Harrisville. Time for a cuppa and a fruit toast. I try not to have a beer during the day while I’m riding. :yesnod:

Smoky haze over the valley from bushfires up in the mountains.

Or not.

The paddock with this open gate had recently been ten-80’d for foxes and feral cats.

Unfortunately it is an indiscriminate poison and takes out everything—native animals, stock and humans too. Nasty stuff.

Then it was out of the Fassifern Valley along past Mt Walker.

What am I doing on dirt?????

And in to the pretty little village of Forest Hill in the Lockyer Valley, the scene of so much destruction in the wild flooding earlier this year. Time for a roast beef and three veg and a soda squash. True!

The farms around Forest Hill and Gatton are looking a picture. They’ve recovered beautifully, and have had some good rain over the last two months. Sounds silly to think they need more rain but it’s been eight months since the floods. I talked to a farmer who told me that the underground aquifers were brim full and would provide plentiful water for irrigation for years to come.

Finally I came to Grantham, the epicentre of the region’s devastation. You ride in off the highway under this railway bridge on which people sought refuge before being washed away.

The railway line itself is only about two metres above the surrounding area and offered little in the way of escape.

Some of the remains of houses along Railway St. This street once had houses on every block.

This shook me up.

The servo was the first business in Grantham to reopen after the floods. Five months after. There is a small demountable selling drinks and pies but otherwise any shopping has to be done in the nearby towns of Gatton or Laidley.
Here’s Chris the servo manager trying not to do a Frank Spencer imitation.

Where the waters reached.

I parked in front of this cleared allotment, one of many in this part of the town where houses had been either swept away or reduced to matchwood. This particular house had gone past where I'd parked and over to the farm across the road.

Look past the bike and above the top box you can see a power pole in the middle of the cauliflower paddock. To the left of the pole is a clump of greenery which is a bore-head. It’s one and a half kilometres away. The house snagged on that bore-head!

The chap who lived in the house was in it at the time! He estimates they were travelling at about 45 kmh, and says the sound of the house splintering together with the roar of the water is something he’ll never forget. He had ten back steps. He saw that the water was up to the second bottom one. He spent five minutes trying to get some of his effects together and the water was into the house.

The Beemer in the tree was not his. It came from a property further up the valley.

It hasn’t been removed because there’s a police investigation still under way.

I rode back through Gatton with thoughts of how badly this community had been affected and how bravely they were battling back. Slabbed it a short way before stopping at the emu farm at Marburg for some of their tasty emu sausages.

The girls looked at me accusingly as I left.

It was then off the slab and down to Rosewood in the Bremer Valley. The Bremer carried much of the water from the Lockyer and damaged Ipswich severely before joining the Brisbane River and continuing the destruction further downstream.
This is coal mining country. Although it is open cut these days, the old underground workings are constantly shifting and subsiding so that the Rosewood – Amberley road is always something of a roller-coaster despite constant upgrading. The alternate road to Willowbank, past the famous Ebenezer mine is better, but it’s bad roo country.

More black stuff heading for China.

And so to home. Another great day in the magic south-east. Perfect spring weather, the Strom humming along, the spring smells of the country-side, and yet some sobering sights to make me hope that this summer will be milder, and that the people of the Lockyer will get to celebrate the Christmas season they deserve.
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