Thursday, 21 March 2013

IPSWICH - A gracious lady.

The area where I live is a city not far from Brisbane, and the Bremer river that meanders ( most of the time) past the bottom of my street connects further down stream with the Brisbane River.

Brisbane was originally a penal settlement - Moreton Bay Penal Colony - and one of the commandants from March 1826 to his death in  November 1830 was Captain Patrick Logan who was known to be  harsh to the point of cruelty.  He was hated by the convicts and when he was speared to death  by an Aboriginal when out on an exploratory venture , it seems that was cause for celebration by the inmates of the convict settlement.

Capt. Logan discovered the area of Ipswich  on June 7th 1827 after sailing 57 miles up the river.  He named the area Limestone - due to huge Limestone deposits found there, and  that same Limestone is still very much in evidence today in the city, in its parks and buildings.  The walls around Queens Park, Limestone Park and Ipswich Girls Grammar School being made of  it.

This poem describes the feelings of a convict.  I don't know who wrote it as it carries the tag  of Anonymous.

Moreton Bay … by  Anon

One Sunday morning as I went walking
by Brisbane waters I chanced to stray,
I heard a convict his fate bewailing
as on the river bank he lay.
‘I am a native of Erin’s island,
though banished now from my native shore;
they took me from my aged parents
and from the maiden whom I adore.

“I’ve been a prisoner at Port Macquarie,
at Norfolk Island and Emu Plains,
at Castle Hill and cursed Toongabbie,
at all those settlements I’ve worked in chains.
But of all places of condemnation
and penal stations in New South Wales
to Moreton Bay I have found no equal,
excessive tyranny there prevails.

For three years I’ve been beastly treated
and heavy irons on my legs I wore;
my back with flogging is lacerated
and often painted with my gore.
And many a man dead from starvation
lies mouldering now beneath the clay;
and Captain Logan -  he had us mangled
at the triangles of Moreton Bay.

Like the Egyptians and ancient Hebrews
we were oppressed under Logan’s yoke,
till a native black lying  in ambush
dealt our tyrant his mortal stroke.
My fellow prisoners, be exhilarated
that all such monsters such death may find.
And when from bondage we are liberated
our former sufferings shall fade from mind.’


Ipswich today is a very different city, known around the ridges as +The Swich, a term that has been fostered proudly by the Ipswich City Council and embraced by +Switch Realty one of our local businesses as well as +The Switches Junior Speedway Club, and many others .  

 It is a working town with no frills or furbelows, but blessed with friendly people, gracious old Queenslander styled homes, and beautiful gardens and parks.  She may be Queenslands oldest provincial city but she has an alluring heritage charm .

 The Bremer river rolls lazily along through the centre of town and beneath the David Trumpy bridge, meandering past the city  and the beautiful River Parklands that our council have recently updated after the 2011 floods decimated them.

She is a city that stands proud and leads the way for Queensland industry.

This is a poem I wrote for her which won 3rd prize in the 2012 Ipswich Poetry Feast in the local poets section.  Ipswich is affectionately known these days by those who love her as  


We’re blessed with parks and gardens neat, 
old gracious homes on every street.
A history of flood and coal, 
miner’s lives lost beneath our feet.
And yet her spirit still shines through
 despite the devastating flood
that tried to tear her heart away 
and drain the town of its life blood.

It’s home to me a second time,
 this friendly place where coal is mined.
Each step you take upon her streets
 has history attached I find.
And it’s a history of toil, 
of blood and sweat and sacrifice
she relinquishes the black gold, 
but men pay dear for avarice.

Above the city tall cranes rise,
 their operators near the skies
have views that stretch for miles and miles 
as clouds float past their watchful eyes.
Our city heart is changing face 
as Ipswich scurries to keep pace
with other cities in our state - 
though in some things we lead the race

Today our military force 
flies friendly planes ‘cross skies above.
We can exert force if we must;
 we’ve Hornets but prefer the dove
of peace to fly our Ipswich skies – 
past webs of moving metal pyres
who through the day are dull and grey,
 but burnished bright with sunsets fires.

At day’s end when their work is done, 
their chains and moving parts are still
and slowly the town comes to rest, 
the sound of roosting birds is shrill
from river banks that pass through town, 
the mighty Bremer quiet today.
Hard to imagine how she raged. 
How many knew the price we’d pay?

And women weep and babies cry, 
a whole town mourns but time goes by.
We bring them back from foreign sands 
to home and say a last goodbye.
Flags flutter at half mast today, 
another soldier lost I see.
He gave his all for his country –
 they flew him into Amberley.

And yet despite the tribulations
 the Swich holds her head higher,
she may just be a working town
 but there is much here to admire.
Her people are a friendly mob,
 who offer help and congregate
when disaster dares rear her head,
 this is a place where mate helps mate.

We’re blessed with parks and gardens neat,
 old gracious homes adorn our streets,
our town is steeped in History ,
 it’s a great place, knows not defeat.
We’re working class no frills or fancies,
 we’re out there - nothing to hide.
and the best thing about the Swich 
is you can see her peoples pride.

Maureen Clifford © 07/12

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