Thursday, 12 July 2007

Selecting the scrub

As you approach Marburg from the east, driving from Ipswich or Brisbane, you pass through the river plains and by Blacksoil. The mountain ranges separating you from Brisbane march along to the right of your peripheral vision and flat land spreads out to either side. Almost unnoticeably the road begins to climb until a long steep slope sweeps you past Haigslea and into the hills. Making a sharp turn off the highway, you descend into the Marburg valley. Black Snake Creek and assorted swampy patches mark the town’s centre. At the main intersection (pub, community centre, corner shop, post office cum real estate cum antique store) you look west to see the road rising sharply from the valley floor, climbing back up to meet the highway partway up the hill.

Driving from the north, you wend your way through various tiny townships, following the course of Black Snake Creek until you enter the Marburg valley. To your west and east are the hills. Traversing the valley you start to climb again to the hills of Tallegalla. Over these hills, you drop sharply past the coalmines to the wide floodplain of the Bremer River and its associated towns, Rosewood, Grandchester, Amberley airbase and points further south.

From the west, you cross the fertile salad bowl of the Lockyer Valley. Travelling at 100 kph you speed through Plainlands and Hattonvale. Across your windscreen spreads a scrubby stain of hills slashed by the climbing highway. Over the first low range you descend again into the Minden valley before climbing steadily and finally dropping into the Marburg Valley. Smoothly accelerating past the labouring trucks, I always think of the early settlers, getting out of their wagons and later their cars, so that the climb over the hills could be made. Cutting across the highway, you open your window and undulate slowly down into the valley, passing hoop pines, old houses, frangipani and bouganvillea-festooned fences. It feels as if you have entered a different world simply by leaving the highway.

This Rosewood Scrub, bracketed by the more fertile Plainlands and Blacksoil was the least valuable land, at least in the eyes of Queensland land selectors. These hills were the leavings with the plains being the preferred choice. Yet the irony today is that the farms so painstakingly cleared from the scrub are prime real estate. The hills harbour judges, retired real estate moguls, medical specialists, retired academics, accountants, builders, architects, professionals of all kinds. Long-time residents co-exist with “tree-changers.” Many of these new residents are active in community organisations with new ideas and ways of doing things. Some write blogs. Generally, conflict is avoided or at least, no more than in any other small town. It is clear though that the Rosewood Scrub has changed greatly over time.

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