Thursday, 18 October 2007

Bastard scrub

I haven’t yet decided if it is a good thing or a bad thing that several of my neighbours read this. It does encourage me to keep some of my more pungent personal observations to myself. Yesterday I was hailed as I hauled our rubbish bins up the hill. I try to think of the task of pulling two wheelie bins 100 metres uphill as a form of exotic exercise, telling myself that other people would pay money for this workout. This mental exercise doesn’t always work. It has improved since my son has decided that he doesn’t need to be carried uphill at the same time.

The hailer was a neighbour, the subject rural water. Apparently what I thought of as rural water is merely low-pressure reticulated water. Rural water is a specific term for water provided by a local water board. These boards are formal associations with the right to levy charges for water supply. A local example is the Glamorgan Vale Water Board (founded in 1967) which pumps water from the Brisbane River and supplies it over an extended area (as close to Marburg as Postman’s Track). The water is untreated “raw” water intended for stock. Some people connect it to houses to use for non-potable purposes such as flushing toilets. Such water boards are under the authority of the Queensland government Department of Natural Resources and Water.

I also found out about the geology of the area, having confessed publicly to not understanding the geology underlying the Scrub. Apparently south of the Warrego Highway is “good Scrub” overlying the Walloon Coal Measure. North of the highway is “bastard Scrub” (laid over the Koukandowie Formation), prone to gully erosion and lacking the fertility of its southern neighbour. For a geological overview of the Clarence-Moreton Basin for those with a technical bent click here.

For the purposes of my task, I wonder if selecting good scrub or bastard scrub was merely a matter of luck or if there was any way that people would find out which was the better land before they got here (or even after). I suspect one clue may have been how quickly people wanted to sell selections of the bastard scrub compared with how tightly held good scrub was. The irony is that the bastard scrub is closer to the Brisbane River and would have seemed a better bet (and is currently within the area of the Glamorgan Vale Water Board) while the good scrub is further from the river and has no natural sources of water, not even an aquifer. So you could go for fertile and dry or poor soil and water. Life wasn’t meant to be easy for these early settlers.

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