Train to Emerald, Central Qld
Car to Springsure 66 km south, Plane back to Brisbane
The reason for this trip was to attend a funeral of Dot's brother-in-law. Dot grew up in the town of Emerald in Central Qld and lived there from the 1930's - 1960's. Her inlaws were all foundational people from the town of Springsure i.e. they'd lived there going back more than 150 years.
Travelling by train was a big part of her early life as it was the common method of transport to get to Rockhampton for the better variety of shopping; Brisbane or Sydney for holidays. Dot then continued the trend taking her children on train trips and many were the times when we'd arrive in Emerald in the very early hours of the morning, chilled to the bone in winter and having the guard come along and wake us up .. in those days the windows used to have to be levered out before dropping open .. if we were still asleep, it would mean bundling out onto the platform in curlers or sleeping gear.
On this trip back in 2007, it was a memory filled moment to arrive in the town again in the early hours of the morning and watch the sun come up. Even though it takes a bit of extra effort, it was a far more richer experience for Dot to have the chance to revisit her old home town rather than be in a respite centre while only the family went to the funeral. Rather than have the same routines at home, she had the chance to interact with new people, sit in the lounge car and watch dvd's, enjoy the different food on the train and sleep in those charming bunk-bed cabins.
She was able to drop in and surprise a childhood friend, see the grave of her 4th child who died the same day he was born and the house where she grew up and her home where she began her own family. To get to Springsure, there is no public transport (only a school bus moming and afternoon). That is one of the reasons why it is such a quiet town. We hired a car and right from the beginning, crossing the bridge over the Nogoa River where she spent many times fishing for yellow belly and then to feel the freedom of the open road and perhaps, familiar, sites of cotton fields along the way to Springsure were all memory moments. Many times her family made that trip in the 1950's-1960's. One time Dot stopped to pick up an orphan joey which came to live with us and was hung in a hessian bag on a door. Other moments were stopping to collect wild honey from bush logs.
Springsure, to this day, is a town which has retained its connection to the past. It is a town where, in peak hour, sometimes the only sound you can hear is your own car; where cockatoos are plentiful; where the sunsets take your breath away; where you can cover the whole CBD in two streets; where strangers will wave or talk to you. They were peaceful moments for Dot to simply enjoy the slow pace of country life.
The main attraction in Springsure is the Virgin Rock at the start of the town, which in its heyday did resemble a large natural stone likeness of the Virgin Mary at the end of a mountain range. Over time, that has weathered but is still a tourist attraction. Mountain ranges are predominant ringing the town and the photo below is where Dot went to see the township of Springsure from the top of the range. It is a peaceful town with mining companies only now making inroads. It is also significant to Dot because of her connection to her in-laws who lived to be around 100 years old.
The decision to take Dot on this trip probably was a defining moment in undertaking all future adventures. To see the brightness and alertness in her personality, her attention on the scenery and the longer time she stayed awake meant that something resonated inside her by experiencing something different.
Whatever adventure you are able to take an elderly person on, there will always be kind strangers who will help achieve your outcome. So just decide to go somewhere and the rest will fall into place. Both you and the older person will be much richer for the shared experience.