On our recent trip to Stradbroke Island we met Rebecca's good friend Rowley Dowling the Park Ranger who took us across to the deserted Peel Island in the middle of Moreton Bay. Peel Island used to be a leper colony and due the to the care and hard work of the Rangers the compound comprising of the hall, official residences and the leper huts is still standing. We drove along a rutted track through wild looking cypress and gum forest. It was very dry and the trees had dead branches ripped off by storms or drought hanging from the the canopy, many trees were covered in veils of dusty green "Old Man's Beard"
Suddenly the forest opened out into the lazaret, a mown, green lawn dotted with little wooden huts.Two of the leper's huts. The Rangers have repaired some of them and left others in various stages to show the history of the site.
This is one of the official residences where we stayed the night.
The best thing that we did on Peel Island was go for a real bushwalk. Rowley took us right into the wallum. It was hot. The wallum is extremely dense vegetation and we had to push our way through scratchy, prickly branches and grasses with sharp razor like points (I've learnt my lesson about wearing shorts when bushwalking!) To get back to the road we walked through head height ferns n a dry peat swamp, every so often our feet would plunge to through the dry crust to the knee and as you grabbed a paperbark stump to get your balance that too, would just come away in your hand. I loved it! When I was a kid we used to go "exploring" all the time time, my mother was surprisingly blase about this and would just call "Take the dogs in case of snakes!"
Artistically it was great to really get in amongst the wallum vegetation. Your eyes, nose and all the senses are taking in information and filing it away for later. We took heaps of photos but they really couldn't convey the excessive heat, prickly scratchy, fecund vegetation, the colours of the leaf litter, the cicadas shrilling, the smell of the dust as a dry papery stump crumbled in your hand.