Rooney’s Bridge

Rooney’s Bridge, connecting Railway Estate to Oonoonba (Railway Ave – Abbott St), was for a long time the road bridge nearest to the mouth of Ross River. It was built in 1954 right beside the already-old railway bridge, to improve access from the South to the port and railway yards (see Trove – 123 and this old TCC history page if you’re interested in more on this.)

Rooney’s Bridge was built without any pedestrian access because the rail bridge had a pedestrian footway, so the old railway bridge was not demolished when it was replaced by a new one. Instead, a new footbridge was laid across its sleepers. The result is a mess of three bridges within 50 metres or so, and a forest of pilings which must present a significant obstruction to floods coming downstream or tidal surges coming the other way.

view of rooney's bridge
Rooney’s Bridge from downstream on the Railway Estate side

Townsville only exists because of Ross River, which provided a useable port and a water supply. It is not a particularly good river for either purpose, being shallow and flood-prone but intermittent, but was better than the other options when the hinterland was being opened up by pastoralists and gold miners. (As I noted a year ago, the whole NQ coast is flat and low-lying.)

Mangroves and mudflats

Below Rooney’s Bridge, big areas of Railway Estate and almost all of the Oonoonba side are mangroves and mud-flats. We discussed those low-lying areas at some length in relation to the 2019 floods; what happened to Rooney’s Bridge at the time is featured on this video collage.

At present we’re more interested in the wilderness areas, right beside the city and threading through it, that they represent. They are, in fact, a counterpart to the Town Common (warning: 40 posts here) but have never been so well known.

townsville map
Ross Island and the mouth of Ross River

This screenshot shows the lower Ross, and clicking on it will take you to Google Maps to explore at will. We have recently begun exploring it on the ground and will share our findings in future posts.

“Ross Island” is a term which pops up constantly in discussions of the area. It refers to Railway Estate, South Townsville and the Port. Its boundaries are Ross River to the South and East, and Ross Creek to the North and West.

Why “Island”? Because it was one. Ross Creek was a secondary mouth of Ross River until the river bank was raised to cut it off, and Bicentennial Park created.

No new posts but lots of comments

The last two weeks have been interesting in real life but dull on Green Path because of variable and limited IT resources. All I have been able to do easily is add comments to older posts, so there are lots of them – mostly on EVs and solar power. I have temporarily increased the number of comments displayed in the sidebar to make them more visible.

Etty Bay

Etty Bay is a short side-trip from the highway between Townsville and Cairns. More specifically, it’s about 7 km from Mourilyan. It is a beautiful little bay, with rainforest right down to the sand.

It reminds me most strongly of Bingil Bay, at the northern end of Mission Beach, but it has a little more infrastructure. There’s a camping ground with the usual amenities including a shop, and a lifesaving club. That’s about all, but it’s all any reasonable person needs in such a beautiful place.

Etty Bay view
Looking South along the beach

Continue reading “Etty Bay”

Ticks and mites, itches and fevers

Ticks, ‘scrub itch’ and the illnesses that go with them are known hazards of life in North Queensland, especially for people who spend time in the bush as farmers or bushwalkers. I have wanted to write about them for years but the subject is complicated and I have only recently found time to sort it all out to my own satisfaction.

Here we go, then – but first a disclaimer: my information is the best I can offer but I’m not a health professional. If you’re sick and suspect ticks or mites, please see a doctor. Tell them where you have been, too, as it will probably help their diagnosis.

In brief:
  • Ticks and mites are arachnids. They are not insects but related to spiders.
  • All of them need a blood meal at some stage of their life cycle, and many of them will take human blood instead of their usual fare (i.e., the blood of marsupials, rats, cattle, dogs, etc).
  • Some of their bites provoke an allergic reaction.
  • Some of them inject poisons (toxins) in their saliva as they feed.
  • Some of them inject bacteria (Rickettsia family or others) which can make us very sick with typhus or other diseases. Antibiotics normally clear up these illnesses quite well, if we act quickly enough.
  • Ticks should be removed as quickly as possible when discovered but (importantly) without squeezing their bodies.

Each of these points will now become a longer section, in the same order. Scroll straight to the bottom if you simply want to remove a tick safely.     Continue reading “Ticks and mites, itches and fevers”

Drinking water from Keelbottom Creek?

Here’s a little-known bit of Townsville history: we could easily have been drinking water from Keelbottom Creek for the last half century – or until we found out that it was radioactive, whichever came first.

The tale is recounted in A Majority of One: Tom Aikens and Independent Politics in Townsville by Ian Moles (UQ Press, 1979). I will quote freely from pages 143-148, re-arranging and omitting material to make my summary more readable.     Continue reading “Drinking water from Keelbottom Creek?”