Folks, as lads, my brother and I spent one set of Christmas holidays navigating Gladstone’s freshwater creek systems; on leaky, inflatable, sleeping mattresses.
Our main goal was to find the source of Police Creek, which fed into Auckland Creek, so we paddled up the major creeks of west Gladstone (Briffney, Tigalee and Carthurbie), with the fervour of pioneers searching for the source of the Nile.
Of course, while those intrepid folk had to contend with lions, crocodiles and malaria, at least they didn’t have to stop every ten minutes to blow up their air-mattresses.
We eventually navigated our way upstream to the old reservoir which now sits inside the Botanical Gardens. We scrambled over the massive concrete spillway with the astonishment of explorers stumbling across a hidden temple in an Amazonian rainforest.
But daylight was running out, so we thrashed our way back home, stopping frequently to re-inflate our mattresses, then returned bright and early next morning to traverse Tondoon Lake. If only we’d told someone what we were doing, they might have warned us about the large, bad tempered eels and curious turtles!
By paddling with our fingertips, and screaming a lot, we eventually crossed the pond and sailed into a waterhole that was full of kids from nearby Toolooa Estate. A member of this ‘lost tribe’ told us that the creek petered out in the nearby hills just beyond the current site of the Meteors soccer fields.
So, our quest over, we floated back downstream, walked around the lake, then re-inflated our mattresses before slipping into the relatively eel-free section of Police Creek and splashing home.
Although we’d had an adventure, and found some neat swimming holes, we were slightly disappointed that our names wouldn’t go down in history as the discoverers of the source of Police Creek.