October 26, 2010

Settling into Beachmere. Bird and dog life.

Now that we have notched up two whole weeks of residence in Beachmere the place is becoming familiar. It is like being on holiday as the neighborhood has all the attributes of a down scale resort -- sun, sea and lifestyle activities.

But all that aside living here is close to everything. So much is just a walk or cycle away. The terrain is flat so cycling is a major transit medium. Among the young it's micro scooters (the scate bowl is the main youth mecca) and the cycling culture embraces all demographics including the grey hairs. Like me other locals walk to the shops with shopping trolleys in tow and I get many envious looks when I 'shop' using my large two wheel -- 26 inch wheels -- bike cart as a hand cart.

Flat and close makes all this so easy to handle. So you don't need a car to traverse Beachmere although obviously the town has it's petrol heads and octane dependencies. This cosmopolitan street usage is encouraged by the very wide avenues with generous cycle lanes marked each side of the main section of the roads. People walk along these lanes as well as using them for cycling and they are the major thoroughfare for the aged and infirm on their electric scooters.

So there is a lot of traffic that is not petrol generated despite the town's seeming preference for four wheel drive vehicles and , among a section,for motorcycles. Harleys rule.

The irony being that while getting around town may offer many benign options, the road in -- from the west, from Caboolture, Beachmere Road -- is a narrow, rat run that every so often notches up another death. You wouldn't want to cycle it for instance as the road is too narrow and the speed limit too fast for all of it's 12 kilometers.

So you cycle Beachmere in isolation from the rest of Australia.

The other out and about activity here is walking the dog. This is dog town in a very canine way. Along the foreshore there may be signs that read 'No Dogs' -- the legal meaning of which I cannot decipher -- which suggests some tension over the issue of walks, but the sea shore closest to us includes an off leash area that opens to the swamp and Moreton Bay at low tide so that you can walk with your dogs for two kilometers to the mouth of the Caboolture River -- and do that up to half a kilometer ' out to sea.'

From sun rise, the streets are occupied by owners walking their dogs... Or just walking.

So this is dog heaven. Cats would only exist here to slaughter the local bird population and since Beachmere is one giant aviary--who wants to kill off the locals?

'A giant aviary' does describe the built up environment here in a phrase. When I head to the outskirts of town, birdlife, and the accompanying sounds, fall off. But when you head back in , among the houses and avenues, the aviarian cacophony explodes as does the medley of species.

This fauna interface is a big surprise as I have never experienced so much birdlife in one spot as here -- in the town, and very much so, in our own 700 square metre block ( and we have only one tree on it -- a magnificent Silky Oak). With the sea, wetlands to the north and south, farming land all around and the Moreton Bay islands in bird cooee, you can see why Beachmere could function as a species hub for birds. Aside from that, when not killing cane toads, I escorted the biggest green tree frog I've ever seen out of the house three nights ago. Living In suburban Brisbane I saw only two green tree frogs in 15 years.

At night in the swamps the marsh frogs staccato dup drown out the bass notes of the cane toads such that the small marsh frogs sound like Chinese fire crackers at New Year.

That's Beachmere: birds, dogs, frogs and bicycles.








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