Friday, October 02, 2009


A friend and her partner are in the process of buying a house on a small island just off the coast of Brisbane--Coochiemudlo.

This sign explains the Indigenous origins of the Island's name. (Click to enlarge).

Today, and last Friday, I was lucky enough to be invited along for a trip to the island, as R- anticipates her new home and small community lifestyle.

It was an invitation I jumped at because it presented the opportunity for a kind of power holiday. To be able to visit a quiet island beach seemed just the salve I needed for my recently tired and emotional state; and Coochie is only a 50 minute drive and a short ferry trip away from where I currently live.

Coochiemudlo isn't a particularly large island, but on our first visit we were surprised to find we hadn't covered nearly as much of the island as we'd thought on our wanderings.

After brunch at a cafe near the ferry dock, we had walked away from that beach around to Norfolk Beach, where Matthew Flinders had landed.

We'd taken a trek through a Melaleuca forest.

We'd spent plenty of time swimming in the ocean and kayaking on the smooth seas.

But it turns out we hadn't even covered a quarter of the island!

Today we went back to Coochiemudlo, determined to see the ochre for which it was renowned by Aboriginal tribes in the region. And we thought we might attempt to walk around the island too.

All was going well until we encountered these steps, just one of the many structures built by Douglas Morton on the island.

Morton also built this jetty. It was at the bottom of the steps, amongst the mangroves and today seemed to lead into the mangroves' reclaimed territory.

I think we were lucky it was low tide when we were wandering around. Later we saw evidence of more jetties and bathing enclosures.

To get here we walked past a community golf course and building, and then more old-fashioned wrought steps.

As you've no doubt deduced, we had finally encountered the ochre on the island.

To me, it seemed to be the texture of Cray-Pas: hard, but soft enough to be scraped away with my finger nail in a smooth, dense paste.

I fancied that the various holes on the surface of the rock were places where Indigenous people from long ago had scraped out the ochre they required.

Of course, I'm not sure I can discount the effects of the sea and tides on the texture of the surface.

Eventually, we left the ochre behind us and made our way back to the beach near the jetty.

It was only when we got off the ferry and back to the Brisbane side of the bay that we looked at a map and, once again, realised we'd covered less than a quarter of the island.

While we were surprised at our lack of ability to judge the distances we had wandered, we weren't at all disappointed to have more of the island to discover another day.

Indeed, it seems there's a whole other beach to explore...