The Write Way
23 May 2008
Close to Home
You know what it's like, I bet ... You can live somewhere for years, but you only really get out to see it when you have visitors staying and you want to show off about your good taste in choosing to live where you do.
And even though I have -- on the rare occasion -- had cause to mention where I live (Yes, all right then, I bore you witless with my raving ... I know, I know ...) but even though I'm aware of how lucky I am to live here, there are still lots of places I've just never been.
Funny you should ask ...
From our front verandah, we're able to look down to Moreton Bay and its islands. The largest of these are Moreton, North Stradbroke and South Stradbroke ... then there are quite literally hundreds of smaller islands dotted around the bay. Some are really no more than strips of sand and/or mud that are visible at low tide, but others are home to thousands of lucky residents (except in holiday time when they're invaded by hordes of tourists!) See more about our islands here.
We've been to Moreton Island, but it wasn't until last week we finally made the epic trip to North Straddie ... and what a little ripper of a place it turned out to be.
You may be wondering at the lack of imagination in the naming of the Stradbroke islands, but there's a very good reason for this.
They once were one.
Until that is, the Scottish Prince ran aground on the Southport Bar in 1887 during one of the region's regular storms. This wasn't just any old ship, but one that contained a cargo of whisky. Naturally, this was seen as a gift from the gods by the locals, who made short work of the cargo they salvaged and, incidentally, had one mighty party in the process.
Not long after, in 1894, yet another ship ran aground (this time a steel barque called the Cambus Wallace, also carrying whisky ... Don't ask ...) The ship was on her maiden voyage from Glasgow to Brisbane, but she ran ashore on what is now North Stradbroke Island, and by the time the storm had subsided, five crew had drowned and the authorities, mindful of what had happened with the Scottish Prince, sent police and customs officers to prevent this load of whisky also disappearing.
The story goes that the government, in its infinite wisdom, decreed that her remaining cargo ... not whisky this time but dynamite(!) be blown up to prevent it falling into the hands of undesirables.
Unfortunately, the resulting explosion weakened the sand dunes, and storms in the following years wore a passage through and created two separate islands.
And such are the dangers of the demon drink, boys and girls!
However, before that eventful day, Stradbroke Island was whole, and it was chosen as the site for a quarantine station for the rapidly growing free settlement around Brisbane. In 1850, the station opened at Dunwich, with the Queensland Surgeon-General, Dr David Ballow, being appointed to take up residence with his family and to care for the occasional contagious disease that might appear.
A few short weeks after opening, the quarantine station had to deal with a major outbreak of typhus on board the ship Emigrant, which was bringing free settlers eager to start a new life in a new land. In one of those dire ironies that beset the human condition, the majority of people aboard came from Ireland and consisted of families trying to escape the ravages of the famine caused by potato blight.
During the last leg of the voyage, typhus broke out, and by the time the Emigrant had reached Moreton Bay, 19 people were dead. More died as she lay at anchor and a further 26 people, including that most unfortunate of men, the Surgeon-General, died in the following weeks as the quarantine station staff struggled to cope with the tragedy.
The reason for this sombre story is that one of the places we visited on Straddie was the Dunwich cemetery. (What can I say? The Love of My Life sure knows how to show a girl a good time ...)
It was a perfect autumn day when we were there, the sun was sparkling on the water, there wasn't a breath of wind and as I stood and read the names on the plaque for the Emigrant's passengers, I couldn't help but think about what it must have been like to have made that decision to leave behind your birth land, uproot your family, embark on what must have been a very long and extremely uncomfortable journey to the other side of the world and then to have your family die when they reached the shore ...
It was so sad to see whole families listed -- first a young baby, then the mother, then the other children and finally the father.
So this week, dear reader, we're thanking our lucky stars or whatever god or gods watch over us for simply being alive ... it beats the pants off the alternative!
Here are some happy snaps of North Straddie to see what these poor folk missed.
And spare a thought for the good doctor and people like him who, despite facing such losses every day, never seem to get inured to it and can come back week after week to more of the same.
Yes, inure is one of those words that's quite difficult to pronounce, isn't it? I always feel as if I have peanut butter stuck to the roof of my mouth when I say it.
It means 'to accustom to hardship, difficulty, pain, etc.; toughen or harden; habituate' and comes from the French phrase in ure, en ure meaning 'in use; customary; at work.'
A similar word is indurate, which can mean the same or the opposite (just to keep you on your toes!)
It can mean 'to inure; accustom' and dictionary.com gives this example of its use: "to indurate oneself to privation and suffering."
It also means 'to make callous, stubborn, or unfeeling' as in: "transgressions that indurate the heart."
This week's quiz:
Let's see if you know the pointy end of a boat from the blunt end ... match up these terms:
frigate, barque, caravel, galley, bilander, clipper, brig, cutter, dhow, galleon
1. a single-masted sailing vessel, very similar to a sloop but having its mast set somewhat farther astern, about two-fifths of the way aft measured on the water line
2. sailing vessels used by Arabs on the east African, Arabian and Indian coasts, generally lateen-rigged on two or three masts
3. two-masted sailing vessel square-rigged on both masts
4. sailing ship built and rigged for speed, esp. a type of three-masted ship with a fast hull form and a lofty rig, built in the U.S. from c1845, and in Great Britain from a later date, until c1870, and used in trades in which speed was more important than cargo capacity
5. a sailing ship with 3 (or more) masts
6. a large sailing vessel of the 15th to the 17th centuries used as a fighting or merchant ship, square-rigged on the foremast and mainmast and generally lateen-rigged on one or two after masts
7. a seagoing vessel propelled mainly by oars, used in ancient and medieval times, sometimes with the aid of sails
8. small two-masted merchant vessel, fitted only for coasting, or for use in canals, as in Holland
9. three-masted fast naval vessel of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, generally having a lofty ship rig and heavily armed on one or two decks
10.small 16th century vessel with broad bows, high, narrow poop, four masts and lateen sails
And a short story about sailing in days of yore ...
The captain of the galley (oops ... just gave away one of the answers to the quiz), was taken aback when he walked aboard his ship and saw all his sailors frolicking with ladies-of-the-night on their laps. Turning to his first officer, he roared, "I said oars! Don't forget the OARS, I said!"
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Last week's quiz:
Let's see how well you know the universe ... Match up the terms and definitions below:
proton, isotope, penumbra, neutron, nebula, electron, chromosphere, positron, corona, neutrino
1. extended outer atmosphere of the Sun or other star - CORONA
2. any of two or more forms of a chemical element, having the same number of protons in the nucleus, or the same atomic number, but having different numbers of neutrons in the nucleus or different atomic weights - ISOTOPE
3. an elementary particle having no charge and mass slightly greater than that of a proton - NEUTRON
4. outer layer of the solar atmosphere sandwiched between the photosphere and the corona; prominent features include spicules, bright hydrogen alpha emission lines and calcium H and K emission lines. These emission lines suggest a temperature higher than the photosphere - CHROMOSPHERE
5. fuzzy, diffuse astronomical object - NEBULA
6. a positively charged elementary particle that is a fundamental constituent of all atomic nuclei - PROTON
7. subatomic particle with very small mass and zero charge, that rarely interacts with matter - NEUTRINO
8. an elementary particle that is a fundamental constituent of matter, existing independently or as the component outside the nucleus of an atom - ELECTRON
9. partial shadow cast by Earth or Moon that surrounds the total shadow - PENUMBRA
10. an elementary particle having the same mass and spin as an electron but having a positive charge equal in magnitude to that of the electron's negative charge; the antiparticle of the electron - POSITRON
A Little Something Extra
If you can't tell a barque from a brig or a cutter from a ketch, this is the site for you!
It shows sketches (and photos) of different rigging on ships so you can stun your friends with a jaunty cry of, "Oh! Look at that Yawl, will y'all!"
Word of the week: Quinquereme (n) galley having five benches or banks of oars; as an Athenian quinquereme. Quinqueremes are thought to have had three rows of oars, with two men pulling each of the top two oars.
"According to Polybius, a quinquereme had a complement of 300 oarsmen, 120 marines, and 50 crew. Historian Fik Meijer suggests that on each side of a quinquereme there would have been 58 thranites pulling 29 oars, 58 zygites (the middle row of oarsmen) pulling 29 oars and 34 thalamites (the bottom row) with an oar each." (Source)
Oxymoron of the week: And an oxymoron for all our sailors this week: sailing holiday
And a Latin phrase for our rowers ...
Salve nauta, genio indulgere ames?
[SAHL-way NOW-tah, GAYN-ee-oh een-dool-GAY-ray AH-meys?]
(Hello sailor, fancy a good time?)
Did you know that you can have your very own Latin reminders? How about undies proclaiming, Bene est rex esse? (It's good to be king) Or a shopping bag that warns, Emptrix nata sum (Born to shop)?
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Copyright Jennifer Stewart 2008
Individual articles copyrighted by their authors.