OBSERVATIONS

Tony Gibson –  A Marcoola resident who is active in community

Why Explore the Maroochy Valley?

Eudlo Hall. Photo: contributed

I love to explore and get to know different places and people particularly finding some of the connections to our Maroochy River north shore. One such place is the tiny hamlet of Eudlo which is on Eudlo Creek that flows into Petrie Creek and finally into the Maroochy River.   

In many ways Eudlo is more a rural district from the Blackall Range in the west and it is bordered by Palmwoods and the Mooloolah Valley. It is a very green treed area with Eudlo Creek National Park and small acreages for country living, which have so far escaped new residential and industrial estates.

We rely on the maintenance of the creeks and estuaries like Eudlo Creek as largely low density green spaces to ensure the water quality of the Maroochy and provide connectors for wildlife from the country to the coast. The biodiversity of our coastal conservation areas will be significantly impacted should the land use change to be more urbanised or used for industrial use which is now progressing closer to the coast.

The hamlet of Eudlo has a community hall, state primary school, a café, general store, post office, rail station and only a few streets of houses. The preservation of the character of such a quaint historical town with the biggest events generally being the occasional market at the hall is important for everyone on the Sunshine Coast’s heritage, health and wellbeing.

The “biggest thing” to happen to Eudlo was the visit of the Dalai Lama to the Chenrezig Buddhist Institute some 10 years ago attended by thousands of people. The Institute which is on a largely forested acreage just below the Blackall Range welcomes visitors to the goompa, gardens, shop, library and Big Love Café upon making bookings.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama is also the author of many books like the “Art of Happiness – A Handbook For Living”.  A spiritual leader who encourages us to be compassionate, serve others and see “the very purpose of our life is happiness, the very motion of our life is toward happiness” is sure to be popular.  Go explore our valley for happy days and a quiet peaceful experience.  


No man is an island?

22nd July 2021

It was one of those magical winter days last Sunday when the sea is so calm, the sky and sea so blue and the water and air so clear that you can see forever or maybe just across the water to Mudjimba Island. I mused with the thought of going and living on the island for a while – as free as a bird.

English poet John Donne famously wrote that “no man is an island,” comparing people to countries, and arguing for the interconnectedness of all people with God. It is generally held to mean that every member of the human race must, at some point, seek or need contact with others.

This basic need for contact is being severely tested with COVID mask-wearing, lockdowns and a myriad of regulations. We were just hearing the latest COVID regulations were being tightened meaning that some of the important connections and celebrations of milestones like family birthdays were going to have to be postponed once more.

In our community, there are feelings of anger, anxiety and frustration as sporting teams and politicians were flying here and there around the world but our loved ones and those not as well connected were not getting the same privileges.

I had been so fortunate over the weekend to take a walk in a national park with a friend. Also, we looked after our grandchildren while watching my son and daughter-in-law participate in the Jetty to Jetty Fun Run with thousands of happy people.

The constant media coverage of the unfolding COVID challenges at times make us feel like taking refuge and being alone on a beautiful island like Mudjimba Island. With the weather the way it is you could snorkel with the turtles enjoying the corals and other wonderful marine life whilst just catching enough fish to fill your belly each day!

Of course this is not realistic as no person is an island. Without the regulations protecting Mudjimba Island national park values would suffer.

It is time to again recognise our interconnectedness coaching each other with generous loving hearts and observing the regulations for everyone’s health and wellbeing.


Does humility, calm, resilience and respect work?

15th July 2021

Mangrove wetlands at Maroochy River Conservation Park near Twin Waters – we should all be doing something to preserve our natural environment. Photo: Tony Gibson

Does humility, calm, resilience and respect work?

last week was NAIDOC week with a theme of working to heal the land or country. On the Sunshine Coast Kerry Jones – Kabi Kabi traditional owner opened the celebrations in Nambour at the Council chambers. “ Heal Country” called for stronger measures to recognise, protect, and maintain all aspects of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and heritage.

Kabi Kabi’s Linden Davis also indicated that we all have a role as custodians to heal the land and I see the work of traditional owners and conservation groups working to protect the natural environment particularly pertinent to this healing. The work to rehabilitate plant and animal communities such as protecting the water mouse and mangroves at Bli Bli on the Maroochy River, or protecting pandanus on the coastal dunes to heal country are examples.

I find the resolve and determination of many of our traditional owners inspirational and they have so much to teach us about this country. The humility, calm, resilience and respect of our Kabi Kabi elders provide the type of leadership we need in Australia.

Like many of you on Saturday night I was up late to watch Ash Barty inspire us with her ability on the tennis court as the world number one female tennis player won the Wimbledon Tennis Final. Ash is a great role model and humility is one of those things that really great leaders possess.    As Ash says she aims to be a good human being – kind everyday and this certainly comes through in her attitude to life.

Her mentor and indigenous trailblazer Evonne Goolagong Cawley describes Ash’s humility and hard work. Ash made special mention of the way that Evonne had inspired her to reach the pinnacle of world tennis when receiving the trophy.

Yes, humility, calm, resilience and respect really does work and all Australians would be proud of the efforts of indigenous and non-indigenous Australians who can inspire us in endeavours to make it a better world. 

Measures that recognise, protect, and maintain all aspects of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and heritage need to be our focus as the custodians of today.


We should show gratitude?

8th July 2021

The Point Glorious lookout, which is located just up from Yandina – a place where gratitude prevails. Photo: Tony Gibson

When I think of being grateful it seems to me it is about opening the heart, being kind to yourself and others, and being positive and mindful. Why I have started to think more about being grateful is certainly our experience with the COVID pandemic that has been a prompter.

We have just come out of another lockdown and the death toll in comparison to countries like USA, Britain and India is relatively small. Many older and more vulnerable people have been able to at least get the first jab for the vaccine and by the end of the year hopefully the Australian borders will start to open up.

My experience of the restrictions have been quite good, though this is not everyone’s experience and having loved ones overseas, losing jobs, wages or business are significant downsides.  Therefore, businesses and wage earners need some financial compensation for these forced lockdowns.

Our outdoors or open spaces have received an appreciation from the community whether it be at the local park, beach or national park – these places mean we can easily socially distance.

On Sunday after the lockdown finished we headed for the hills for a picnic in the bush. A favourite spot with 180 degree views is Point Glorious at the end of the Blackall Range. Point Glorious is just up the road via Yandina and Cooloolabin with the final stretch recommended for 4 wheel drive or high clearance vehicles.

Places like Point Glorious are at our backdoor and it is easy to see why people are moving here and pushing up property prices. We have a housing crisis with people sleeping rough and in their cars. We need to open our hearts and be kind to those less fortunate with social housing a starting point.

I certainly feel positive and mindful due to the way the pandemic was managed by governments but access to vaccines for all ages is now critical in order to avoid further lockdowns and get back to business and personal lives as normal.

Yes, we should show gratitude and ensure our country remains the lucky one for all citizens, non-citizens and refugees.


In my backyard?

1st July 2021

Alan Hayes (centre) and North Marcoola coast carers in June 2021 – why not join a local environmental group such as coast care and help preserve and maintain the flora and fauna in your own back yard. Photo: Tony Gibson

I am a citizen of the universe and call the planet earth home. I am not one of the mega rich like Richard Branson (VIRGIN GALACTIC) and Elon Musk (SPACEX) and have the resources to start looking for new places to live away from earth’s gravity.

The planet Earth is our precious home for humans, plants and animals and we have international agencies like UNESCO to protect the world’s heritage and potential future threats. Whilst here on Earth I am quite aware of threats to the planet caused by climate change and acidification of our oceans, and I realise there are solutions to the problems of fossil fuels like renewable energy from the sun, wind, and water.

In 2013 I made submissions on behalf of Coolum and North Shore Coast Care under the federal environment legislation against the proposed Carmichael Coal mine and railway in central Queensland. This was due to the failure to provide and assess greenhouse gas emissions and ensuing global warming, rising ocean level and ocean acidification externality impacts. This was on the Great Barrier Reef NP, Commonwealth Marine Reserve environmental resources and on coastal communities throughout Australia.

The environmental impact assessments submitted by Adani Mining were inadequate in failing to address strategic sustainable development mandates of the Queensland Government’s Sustainable Planning Act (2009) (the Act), and its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

For nine years Coast Care has been going to the Great Barrier Reef undertaking environmental works. The interdependency of our oceans has been appreciated for a long time and work on the Sunshine Coast to protect the environment flows across our Earth.

Thank you to UNESCO scientists for the draft recommendation to list as “in danger” the Great Barrier Reef – the greatest living thing on this planet as this is in everyone’s backyard who lives on the Earth.

This draft recommendation gives hope of change and that we will get support of the international custodians.

Thank you to all the environmental groups and volunteers working to save the planet and give us hope. It is a very beautiful and fragile planet so why not consider joining a group to look after your backyard?


How can we restore hope, rebuild trust and inspire optimism?

24th June 2021

We travelled to Brisbane by car last Friday. The journey took us 6 hours in total to travel the 200km return from Marcoola even though we tried to avoid peak hours.  We have used the train from Nambour for this journey a number of times.

Also, earlier that week I had attended the OSCAR (Sunshine Coast peak residents group) meeting which was considering responses to the Sunshine Coast Regional Councils’ mass transit strategy. The strategy has identified a range of options though there is feeling in the community that the light rail option is the clear preference from Council.

There have been concerns about the lack of transparency by Council in the process and for me the proposals appear to be a Trojan horse for increased population density development.

The Federal member Andrew Wallace has indicated that he will not support light rail and should the Council go it alone we can see a significant transport levy for all Sunshine Coast ratepayers. I would like to see high speed rail to Brisbane and improved bus services, but without funding and levels of government working together this will not occur.

We would need continual road traffic gridlock crises for a good public transport strategy to develop. On February 29, 2020, Luxembourg became the first country in the world to make all public transport in the country free to use. A public transport strategy that includes no charge for users sounds inspirational to me.

There is much behaviour change necessary to get people out of using private cars and here at Marcoola the roads are not yet in crisis. The urban densities like that proposed for the Sekisui site at Yaroomba could increase traffic considerably and bring on a crisis.

Author Hugh Mackay in the Kindness Revolution believes that we can see positive changes happening and the COVID crisis showed we could work together. He comments that we will get more “constructive and collaborative politics” that we can trust. 

By acting with kindness and demanding that our politicians operate from the same values we can hopefully restore hope, rebuild trust and restore optimism.


Who loves the Sunshine Coast Show at Nambour?

17th June 2021

Fruit displays at the Sunshine Coast Show, which was just held over the past weekend in Nambour. Photo: Tony Gibson

Our Sunshine Coast Show has just finished for another year and it was cancelled last year due to COVID. The rural show which is held in the green hills of Nambour has become one of those go to events where we enjoy the nostalgia and honesty of a much simpler time.

I experienced an early childhood in regional Tasmania with my grandparents on the family farm with dairy, mixed crops and a small orchard. Occasionally I helped out with the mainly friendly jersey cows at milking time. There was not much to be purchased from the shops with vegetables, meat and fruit all produced on the farm.  My granny would make preserves of fruit and vegetables plus bake beautiful cakes and biscuits.

Each year when the Devonport Show came around granny would enter her cakes, biscuits and preserves in the show competition as well as enter displays sourced from the garden with floral art.  

When moving to Marcoola and living only a short distance from the Nambour Show grounds we started to make the Sunshine Coast Show an annual event finding the charm of the smaller regional agricultural show.

I find there is so much love and attention that goes into the Sunshine Coast Show and try to get around to all exhibits, wood chopping, ring events, art and handicrafts, farm animals and much more. This year the winning iced cake was a beautiful turtle cake and the love theme came across in many of the wonderful handcrafted quilts. Of course there are plenty of tasty food, beverages and side show alley attractions to enjoy as well.

Clearly, I love the Sunshine Coast Show and so do many other people with over 8,000 people attending on the Friday public holiday. The bringing together of the rural and other regional people for a celebration of what we treasure in our community is special.  I really was impressed by the young girls and boys competing hard in the woodchops or leading feisty cows around the show ring following on family traditions.

Yes, there is a great deal of love in Nambour especially at show time.


Is our environment worth celebrating?

10th June 2021

Previous World Environment Day Festival celebrations at Cotton Tree Park. File Photo: Tony Gibson

Last Saturday was World Environment Day, which has been an important date on my calendar for many years – usually with attending celebrations at Cotton Tree Park or at the University of the Sunshine Coast at Sippy Downs.  In the past I really enjoyed what was a real festival atmosphere with people of the Sunshine Coast coming together with colourful stalls, displays, music, speeches and tasty foods.

This year with COVID restrictions the celebrations were more modest across the region and at Marcoola we continued on with our regular monthly Saturday tree planting and weeding on the dunes at South Marcoola.  I was able to continue my personal celebration of World Environment Day with a walk in the Noosa National Park.

However, an incident that morning between a kangaroo and a motor cyclist on the David Low Way where the cyclist ended up lying in the middle of the road highlighted, yes we still have native wildlife needing protection.

Also, a walk within the Mount Coolum National Park several days earlier and coming across three beautiful swamp wallabies had given me the hope that in 2021, we still have a wonderful legacy to share with the wider community, our children and grandchildren.  My partner had come across an echidna while crossing the Marcoola to Yaroomba Conservation Reserve to the beach several weeks earlier and her excitement was wonderful to see.

I really believe our environment is worth celebrating and had just completed an expression of interest for Coolum and North Shore Coast Care for the Sunshine Coast Wildflower Festival in August and September.  This festival is being organised by the Sunshine Coast Council and supported by environment groups and the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service. The wallum heath will shine with touches of white, purple and gold and we just need to take a short walk in nature to enjoy it.

I give thanks to the Kabi Kabi traditional owners and the elders past, present and emerging who have managed this land for 60,000 years and hope more and more people will take on a custodianship role so that future generations will be able to celebrate.


Olympic Dreams

4th March 2021

Like many others, I enjoy regularly swimming in the Coolum Pool and have moved from competitive swimming to being a lap swimmer as part of a fitness program. The pool facilities are in high demand with surprisingly many schools not having a pool. The public pools at Cotton Tree and Nambour are in high demand being the closest other public pools. By having facilities like the public Coolum Pool and the private St Andrews College pool, we can aspire to be Olympic champions.

To fulfil the dreams of excellence in sport it is necessary to have world-class facilities and the investment in sporting and recreation infrastructure available. It appears the priority will increase with the potential for a 2032 Olympic Games in South East Queensland.

With people wanting to move from capital cities to the regions without COVID, the pressure put on transport, affordable housing, the natural environment and sporting and recreation facilities continues to grow.   

I have looked at research on the advantages and disadvantages of holding the Olympic Games around the world.  With the plan to use existing facilities, investment in social housing, national parks, sport and recreation and development of rapid transport infrastructure – these key items should be a long term benefit.

Further investment in sports science and centres of excellence for sports like cycling, swimming, triathlons, surfing or kite surfing will be required for the Sunshine Coast to be able to participate as a South East Queensland Olympic Games partner. Some long-term jobs in sport and leisure as well as the tourism industry should flow from this event.

People have moved to the Sunshine Coast for lifestyle, health and wellbeing and a clean and green natural environment benefits. The greater ability to work from home has meant many jobs can be undertaken while residing on the Sunshine Coast rather than a capital city to enjoy these benefits.

There is a need to ensure we have diversity and equality for people and wildlife having a place to call home as well as letting us aspire to win an Olympic medal. We need nature and community connected and sustained for this to work.


Everyone is a surfer?

11 Feb, 2021

Waves at Point Perry. Pic: Tony Gibson

At the end of last week lots of vantage points like Points Perry and Mudjimba were filled with spectators watching the large waves crashing on the shores. The advanced surfers were out there testing their skills on the steep faces and I got to see some advanced surfers on the Sunday morning with some of the rounds of the Mudjimba Boardriders competition. 

Everyone is certainly not an advanced surfer and many of us may never or rarely paddle out to ride a wave but the appreciation of the five elemental forces or energy in nature should be fundamental to our wellbeing. The five elements in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) are fire, earth, metal, wood and water, and how our body and mind interact with nature.

The five elements are based on the natural rhythms of our planet and universe and we have those natural rhythms within each of us. The human body is 45 to 75 per cent water so many of us have this great affinity with the water. 

I recently reread the “The Zen of Touch – The Art of Zenthai Shiatsu” by Gwyn Williams, a Mount Ninderry resident and an avid surfer. Gwyn describes “Oneness with the Elements and how spending time in the ocean, surfing until my arms can lift no more, remains my favourite fill-me-up pastime. I describe it to my friends as my health-pill…”

We may not be spending significant times in the ocean like champions Isabella Nichols or Julian Wilson or surfing the huge rollers on the point breaks. However, we can all work with the elements in nature to find that state of wellbeing. It is wonderful that champion surfers can make a living and lead in what has become an important industry to the Sunny Coast.

Not everyone is a surfer but we can all enjoy the energy in nature with a swim or bathe in the nourishing and refreshing waters of the clear and clean ocean, river or stream. 

We still will have plenty of opportunities to enjoy the natural elements in our piece of paradise here on the Coast as long as we all continue protecting the natural environment.


Adopt a local patch

4 Feb, 2021

Asparagus Infestation Maroochy River Conservation Park Near Twin Waters. Photo: Tony Gibson

On Saturday it was great to see Surfrider Foundation coordinating a Clean Up For Hatchlings site at Marcoola. This annual event overseen by the Sunshine Regional Council from Coolum to Caloundra is really important to get the community involved in appreciating and maintaining biodiversity.

I had been able to bin some cans, water bottles and plastic packets on my walk in the Maroochy River Conservation Park. As a member of Coolum and North Shore Coast Care working with the community and government agencies, I am committed to preserving the natural environment keeping our beaches and waterways clean and maintaining habitat for wildlife.

If everyone could adopt a local patch to keep clean, weed and plant trees we would be much better off. By this patch I am not just talking about your own yard but going a bit wider to your local park, conservation park, beach reserve or other public spaces.

With the population expansion on the Sunshine Coast and South East Queensland generally more people are living in higher density communities. There is limited open space and much pressure on public spaces with this change. The difficulty in getting a car park space close to the beach on Australia Day in Coolum and on the North Shore was an example of the challenges to be faced. 

The Councils and the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Services support a range of volunteer bush and dune care groups along the Sunshine Coast and I invite you to adopt a local patch and get involved on a regular basis.

While it might suit some people to volunteer their time during the week, at Marcoola there is also the opportunity to undertake revegetation work on Saturday mornings.

You can email me at tony.gibson@spirit3h.com.au or phone 0419791860 and I can assist you with further information on getting involved.

I am grateful for a wonderful natural environment but the challenges of climate change and increased population mean we all have to work together to retain our special places. By acting locally by adopting a local patch you can make a difference.


Reflect, Reconcile and Heal

25 Jan, 2021

Maroochy Reflections. Photo by Tony Gibson

This Australia Day weekend was much quieter with Australian flags appearing outside houses in our Marcoola streets. There were few official celebrations in the community with COVID and Australian indigenous people seeing 26 January as a sad survival day.

I think it is important to celebrate a national day and it was interesting while travelling in India to see very happy people celebrating the Indian National Day. This was firstly celebrated on 15 August 1947 following independence from the British after a non-violent independence movement led by Ghandi

I can appreciate how indigenous people see the 26 January, 1788 first fleet arrival date as the invasion day. The British did not recognise the land was occupied by a culture that had existed for 60, 000 years. I believe the date of federation of the states may be a better date but I would be happy to see a date that all Australians can celebrate.

The Happy Australia Day song by Luke O’Shea on the history of black and white won two (2) awards at the Tamworth Country Music Awards. This song asks for “respect as we all love this land and everyone drinks from the same poison well”. There is a need for much healing with all Australians acknowledging the history of dispossession and deaths with the invasion.

Australia is one of the countries not to reconcile with its indigenous people. Canada and New Zealand have treaties with their indigenous people to ensure rights and respect. Like these countries there needs to be education of all Australians about indigenous culture and their connection to country.

Indigenous peoples have poor outcomes in health, high rates of incarceration in prisons and land rights recognition dragging on. It is time to work for human rights that make Australian indigenous people fairly treated.  Action for crown lands like the Maroochy River Conservation Park under native title and legal custodianship are overdue.

We need to reflect, reconcile and heal coming together to celebrate Australia Day in a wonderful lucky country for indigenous and non-indigenous Australians.


HAPPY REFUGEES

18 Jan, 2021

Marcoola Markets. Photo contributed: Tony Gibson

Who loves food like that served at the Friday night street food market or purchasing the ingredients at the Saturday morning fresh food market at Marcoola? I certainly do and I particularly like Asian cuisines from India, Thailand, Japan and China not far across the seas in our modern world.

Our culture in Australia has been formed by the waves of refugees. I believe many of us could be considered former refugees and we have only been here a couple of hundred years that is apart from the Traditional Owners who have been here 60,000 years. Many people early on in the 1800s came from Europe, China, Afghanistan or the California gold fields as largely economic refugees to make a better life in a new place.   

A definition being “an economic refugee is a person who leaves his or her home country in search of better job prospects and higher living standards elsewhere. Economic refugees see little opportunity to escape poverty in their own countries and are willing to start over in a new country for the chance at a better life.”

I was fortunate to go to a high school in inner Brisbane which was a melting pot of different cultures Chinese, Russian, Italian and a large Greek contingent who were the more recent arrivals in the 1900s. Many of these families had escaped war, persecution and were seeking asylum or were economic refugees.

Recently, I enjoyed the wonderful inspirational story “The Happiest Refugee” by Anh Do.  Anh suffered starvation at sea and a perilous journey being robbed by pirates as his family escaped Vietnam for a life in Australia.

Anh the storyteller is probably better known as a comedian, artist and interviewer.   Anh’s simple view of Australia is “what a great country!” and he and his family are continually giving thanks like so many who have come across perilous seas.

The Sunshine Coast is becoming more multicultural and we are all benefiting from a diverse multicultural Australia. Thank you for the gifts and special skills of the happy refugees.


RED FLAG ALERT

11 Jan, 2021

A SLSQ Red Flag on Marcoola Beach may have served as a greater warning over the recent welcoming in of the New Year. Photo: Tony Gibson

Last Sunday the trees were bending and flexing with the strong wind and rain and the waves were pounding on the beach. This had persisted for days and this is often the experience in our wet and windy summer weather here on the Sunshine Coast.

Considering the recent dramatic changes like COVID lockdowns in Greater Brisbane and hot spots at Maleny in the hinterland, it seemed that the red flag on the beach was much more than a warning about dangerous surf conditions but a potentially dangerous start to the New Year.

The New Year is still young, however we have experienced dramatic events requiring the population to be alert, courageous and flexible to deal with rapidly emerging changes and uncertainties.

Across the world in the USA the pandemic was taking a deadly toll and the foundations of liberal democracy were being challenged by the outgoing President and his poorly led supporters. Luckily we are fortunate to have so far managed the pandemic more effectively and we have a much more effective and stable parliamentary government and emerging national cabinet leadership process.

As Dorothea Mackellar tells us in “My Country” we live in a land of “droughts and flooding rains” plus cyclones, bush fires and much more. We write many songs and poems to chronicle these special challenges and develop folk legends about how we are able to overcome adversity.

As the ancient wisdom tell us “a branch that is rigid is easily broken …The ignorant person’s strength comes from force and rigidity, eventually resulting in suffering. The wise person’s strength comes from flexibility and gentleness”.

My hope is that we will all rise to the occasion showing that we can be compassionate and flexible as I can see that everyone has a leadership role and these attributes are already present in many of our community members.

Welcome to 2021, a time of change with the need to be compassionate and flexible ensuring that you take responsibility for your health and wellbeing and this is reflected positively across the entire community.