Saturday, September 6, 2014

Three Rivers

The three rivers are the Misbourne, Brown's Creek and the Never Never River, rivers that I've lived alongside, crossed, recrossed, swum in, fished in and, in the case of the Misbourne, lived on top of. Only the Never Never is a proper river, so called because it never dries up, running straight down a thousand meters from the Great Dividing Range into the Bellinger River and then into the Pacific Ocean. It's a short potent river, not only because of it's name.
The name says everything about Brown's Creek, the water is muddy, turbid, ordinary, an unreliable water source of small stagnant pools in hot weather, a roaring beast in the wet season. The creek runs through a narrow valley in South East Queensland to flow into the Maroochy River which meanders across a small soggy plain before running into the Pacific.
A bourn denotes a small stream of water that runs sometimes and the Misbourne is certainly true to that, some years there is a dry river bed, dead fish, rusty cans and other years a very low water table devoid of oxygen. In the winter of 2013/14 it surprised everyone by going rogue, it burst it's banks to follow it's own course, rampaging through gardens and outbuildings. It seemed like a war of logs smashing into each other was going on underneath my studio, where the river runs, a dark space previously home to some sluggish crayfish and a few trout that never seemed to grow big enough to eat.
My brother and I grew up beside the Misbourne, we were considered fortunate kids because we had access to the stream to build dams, to swim and float on lilos on glorious summer days, to fish for trout on cloudy days. It's a clear chalk stream that you can watch for hours to see creatures moving about. Fifty years ago there were large grey water rats living in the banks beside where we sloshed about, nobody had heard of the waterborne diseases that terrify people now.
There were leeches that we used to put in jam jars beside the house and watch as they made their way back to the river, one body stretch at a time. We caught minnows and newts and tadpoles in nets, there were many things alive in the water to interest a child fifty years ago.     (cont. later)

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