Visiting the Lockyer Valley

20 May 2013
A couple of years ago, Queensland experienced severe flooding in many areas. I still remember the shock and sadness I felt when I watched TV coverage of the floodwaters rushing through Toowoomba and the Lockyer Valley in 2011. Ordinary life was being lived in Toowoomba one minute, the next, a wall of water shot through the city centre, carrying with it everything in its path. That wall of water moved west across the ridges and then down into the Lockyer Valley. Many people died, houses and cars were washed away and entire townships devastated. My father's family were early settlers in the Lockyer Valley, he was born in Forest Hill and many of my ancestors are buried at the Laidley Cemetery. When I watched that flooding disaster unfold, I was heartbroken. I will always remember it.

Hanno and I visited the Lockyer Valley on the weekend. The small community group, Citizens of the Lockyer Valley, invited us to present a workshop in the beautiful old hall at Stockyard Creek. Inside, not only did we find members of this strong and resilient community, we found framed collections of flood photos - a solemn testament to what happened in the valley.

 In the kitchen getting ready to make laundry liquid.
Outside the Stockyard Creek hall.  Photos by Hanno.

The workshop began with a welcome and short speech by the local mayor. His council provided funding for the weekend and I was delighted to know there was strong support for the event. Soon after we got down to the business of sharing, discussion and demonstrations. We spoke about simple living, budgeting, growing vegetables, composting, heirloom seeds and chickens, dishcloths, preserving, freezing, green cleaners and grocery shopping. We made up 40 litres of laundry liquid and showed how to blanch vegetables. It was a busy workshop, interrupted only by country hospitality - the urn bubbled away, cakes, slices, scones and salad rolls were laid on the table. There were a number of people there who read this blog so I was delighted to meet them and put faces to what is sometimes "the great unknown" to me. We ended late yesterday afternoon with a community forum. That resulted in several suggestions for projects the group may take forward to help local people transition to a simpler life. It was such a positive way to end what had been a wonderful weekend.

Many of the people who came along thanked us for being there and for sharing our lives with them, but I felt thankful that we'd been invited. This little group is the first grass roots  group to ask me to present a workshop for them and from what I could they were are the perfect model for how small communities should be and what they can achieve. I loved every minute of it.

ADDITION 1: If you're attending the Simple Living workshops in Blackheath on June 1 and 2, and will be travelling in from the Bathurst area, can you email me please. Hopefully, if there are a few of you, we might be able to arrange a car pool.

ADDITION 2: Jill, a local from Laidley, emailed and told me my explanation of the flood waters was not quite right. Here is her explanation: The flood waters in Toowoomba in 2011 did not come into the Lockyer Valley. Rain fell along the range and some water fell in Toowoomba and went west and some fell down the scarp and went east to parts of the Lockyer Valley and probably hit Withcott, Helidon, Grantham and Murphy's Creek.
Mind you it rained and thundered all day on the day of the flood here in Laidley so the flooding here was locally manufactured. There is no gap in the range at this point to let the water through and all creeks in T'ba flow westwards.
I also need to point out that the flooding here in Laidley and also in Glenore Grove was far worse on Australia Day this year but we are small settlements and easily forgotten.
The flood in 2011 was 1 metre and in 2013 it was 1.5 metres and also much faster and more destructive, dragging away the topsoil from many farms (remember this is one of the few areas of good agricultural land in Australia) and digging holes of about 50 centimetres in all sorts of places around town. Some businesses have just re-opened and there is still a lot of repair work in individual shops and homes.  
Thanks Jill.