A much needed nature fix on the weekend, we went down the range to Colleges Crossing, gentle idyllic part of the Brisbane River before it becomes the thick brown artery of the city. We used to live in the area when we first moved back to Queensland after ten years in the ACT.
Colleges is a magical, idyllic location but don’t let the beauty of the area lull you into a false sense of security there are monsters lurking out of view in the serene waters. Even though the area is approximately 45kms inland from the sea and a fresh water river, it is still a tidal river connected to the sea and the area, particularly around Barellan point where the Brisbane and Bremer rivers met acts as a bull shark nursery. The Brisbane and Bremer river are quietly notorious for their bull shark population and local dog owners have learnt to be wary about letting dogs swim in the rivers: https://www.qt.com.au/news/these-chihuahuas-were-almost-shark-bait/3306531/
During the 2011 floods there were several confirmed sightings of bull sharks prowling the streets of Ipswich, like this one: https://www.qt.com.au/news/butchers-scary-shark-encounter-bull-steve-bateman/747220/ The good thing about the local bull shark population is that they tend to be primarily juveniles ranging in size from 1m to 1.5m. Adult females come up river to have the pups but I think general consensus is the larger adult sharks tend to return to salt water fairly quickly. Still the juveniles are large enough to pose a threat to dogs and children. Just for the curious the wikipedia article on bull sharks.
The only monsters we saw on the weekend were a lot smaller and more terrestrial, lots of dragonflies and damseflies.
The area is also a great spot for fishing, as evidenced by the success of the feathered fishers but humans too can catch a feed, bream and other species like bass are prevalent in the area. The area is also great for kayaks, another way to fish or watch the birds. Colleges and Barellan Point are part of the Ipswich canoe trail.
Now that we are getting a bit more freedom of movement, the area was fairly busy with families escaping the confines of home and it is a great area to bring kids, aside from the natural attractions, there is a decent playground, open spaces, bbqs and a decent coffee shop, that is also dog friendly, (still on limited service at the weekend because of pandemic restrictions). That should change from the 1st of June with things loosening up even more.
On leash dogs are allowed in the area which is great and Ada had a very enjoyable walk. While she can still be a rambunctious puppy she is becoming a joy to take on bush walks as she is getting super responsive to even whispered requests to stay still and quite, allowing us to get close to bird life. Despite her strong prey drive I can get her to stay quite and calm allowing us to just peacefully watch and relax in the environment, (all the obedience work is paying off).
Bird life abounds, everything from pelicans and black swans to moor hens, darters and assorted duck species, grebes and cormorants and smaller birds like swallows and wrens.
After we had walked the area including walking out to the tranquil island in the middle of the lake, we decided to drive a couple of ks down river to the point the Brisbane and Bremer rivers meet; Barellan Point, stopping at Joseph Brady Park for a bit more of a wander about. The Joseph Brady park is a bit of hidden gem but well known to serious fishing locals.
This is where we used to live, just a couple of hundred meters from the point on the Bremer side. We had a queenslander that backed onto the river itself. I hoped to get a photo but the house is to obscured by trees to get a photo from the road. It is a gorgeous location, with open paddocks on the other side of the river. Water dragons and kingfishers were common on the river bank and I always thought of it as our Lady of Shallot house:
On either side the river lie
Long fields of barley and of rye,
That clothe the wold and meet the sky;
And thro’ the field the road runs by
To many-tower’d Camelot;
or these lines:
Willows whiten, aspens shiver.
The sunbeam showers break and quiver
In the stream that runneth ever
By the island in the river _ Tennyson Lady of Shallot.
Although the vegetation is different, swap willows and aspens for blue or red gums and moreton bay figs. The nice clear stream of the upper Brisbane is not what you get on the Bremer side, it is brown and lacks the flow to keep the river clean, in fact it has been a notoriously polluted river in the past, although I believe efforts are in place to improve the water quality and Barellan Point is considered a prime fishing location. The Bremer was definitely a river I tried to keep my dog out of, the bull sharks are no urban myth, they are prolific and for dogs a real threat, with the murky water you would not see them until it was to late.
All and all it was a lovely day, at the end of autumn the weather was warm and sunny, the walk was easy and relaxing, the scenery was magical with all the bird life and dragon flies. I sometimes forget how lucky we are to have such easy access to gorgeous locations.