Up the Creek (not game to paddle)

Today’s article came about while I was doing some digging for a reference question about the Oakey railway bridge. There was the usual engineering reports and train disasters but buried down in the strata of results the headline “Fossils” caught my attention. Well this piqued my curiosity, and off I went looking for information about fossils in the Oakey area (after I dealt with the train question of course).

I found quite a bit of interesting information about fossils in the Darling Downs area. Leichardt’s 1844 expedition journal mentions that;

“Mr Isaacs’ Station is particularly rich in these fossil remains; and they have likewise been found in the beds and banks of Mr. Hodgson’s and of Mr. Campbell’s Creeks, and also of Oakey Creek.”  

After a bit of reading I discovered that the “Isaacs’ Creek” that was mentioned is now known as Gowrie Creek, and so it follows that the “Campbell’s Creek” could possibly be what is now called Westbrook Creek as it ran through, or very near, the Campbell Property. Another part of the article gives a longer list that that includes; King’s Creek, Emu Creek, Hodgson Creek, Clifton, Gowrie Creek, Myall Creek, Bowra Creek and Dalby as locations from which bones from extinct animals have been obtained. The Darling Downs Gazette article, which started me on this search, provides very specific detail as to the location of these fossil beds. The Gowrie Creek ground begins at the railway bridge and continues down to the junction of Gowrie and Westbrook creeks.

Image: According to acquisition documentation skull thought to be that of a bunyip Source: Attributed to John Skinner Prout

Image: According to acquisition documentation skull thought to be that of a bunyip
Source: Attributed to John Skinner Prout

Image: Argydometa Aquatica 1884 Source: http://www.zeno.org/Naturwissenschaften/I/bt09664a.jpg

Image: Argydometa Aquatica 1884
Source: http://www.zeno.org/Naturwissenschaften/I/bt09664a.jpg

And then my eyes skim up the page and latch onto the word “Bunyip”, at which point my excitement level hits the roof and I think I’ve found pay dirt and so I start reading the full article to find out where the bunyip is from. What actually happens is I find myself reading a rather interesting paper on palaeontology and ethnology of the Darling Downs by Cliff Mackay. Towards the end of his paper tell a story about stopping by a waterhole to fill his billy and watching spiders race across the surface of the water. When he stoops down to fill his billy he watches some of the spiders dive under the water and has his first encounter with Argydometa Aquatica the diving spider. Mackay’s, commentary continues with his observation that leeches will not infest waterholes that have spiders and that water fowl will steer clear of leech infested waters or else be dragged down by the sheer weight of leeches attaching themselves to their legs. Where’s the bunyip you ask? Mackay raises an interesting theory that it is perhaps luckless swimmers that go swimming in these leech infested waters and drown that has given rise to the superstitions around certain waterholes associated with Bunyips.

Well that’s all I’ve got for today. I’ll see what I can dig up again this Friday.

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