Origin of the name Ithaca
According to photographic records found in the Queensland State Library, Ithaca Creek was named after the birthplace (the Island of Ithaca, Ionian Islands, Greece) of Lady Diamantia Roma Bowen, wife of Sir George Ferguson Bowen, the 1st Govenor of Queensland (in office 1859 - 1868).
However, Lady Bowen's birthplace is listed in the Australian Dictionary of Biographies as Zante, another of the Ionian Islands.
The town of Roma in south western Queensland was also named after Lady Bowen, as was the Diamantina River.
Stories of growing up on Ithaca Creek
Nurdon Serico is a Gubbi Gubbi aboriginal elder who has lived in the Bardon/Gap area for the last 70 years.
Nurdon is an active community member, sitting on the board of South East Queensland Catchments and South East Queensland Tradtitional Owners.
Nurdon moved to Brisbane at the age of 5 and spent his childhood years playing on Ithaca Creek. He has been kind enough to share some of his stories with us.
Many thanks to the Ashgrove Historical Society for providing copies of Nurdon's stories.
The Turtle Pool
Location: Upstream of the Glen Pde footbridge, opposite Alexandra Street, Bardon Lyons Park.
Known to the local children as 'The Turtle Pool' because of the many large tortoises which we tried to catch on our very flimsy fishing lines. It was approximately 20 metres long, maximum depth of about 2 metres. There were also some very large eels which took refuge there. We boys never caught the big ones, however some were caught by local men and released. One I saw that was about 2 metres long and as thick as a motorcycle tyre. Schools of mullet frequented the pool - good meals for the eels but never used for the table.
The size of the eels and the fact that a drain emptied into the pool dissuaded use as a swimming hole (many very large eels were often seen in the deep and long pool in Enoggera Creek which extended the full length of Dorrington Park - just a mere trickle today).
It was however the entrance, with pipes nearly 1.5 metres in diametre, for flashlight trips for some 100 metres in non-stormy weather. We often wore old gasmasks during these forays and exited the drains by pushing manholes upward normally on footpaths. On one occasion, we scared the daylights out of one chap who was watering his footpath. With the gasmasks being the first thing he saw, he told us he thought the earth had been invaded.
Location: Upstream of 'The Turtle Pool', Bardon Lyons Park, Fletcher Pde.
This pool, approximately 30 metres long with a maximum depth of 2 metres, had a sandy bottom and was a favourite swimming hole in summer. Often after school on hot days we would 'bathe in the nuddy', girls and boys with not a care in the world except to dodge the heat. This pool was the best fishing spot with large rocks offering protection for jewfish and perch. I fished this hole about every two months and often caught enough fish, mostly good sized freshwater jewfish and mullet to feed three or four neighbours.
It also supplied the dressing to be served with the catch. At the western end of the pool ws a fine garden of water cress in clean running water which we ate by the handful. This was an indicator as to the water quality. All that grows now are imported noxious aquarium weeds. We sank our tin canoes loaded down with stones for later use in areas where diving from the banks was not done.
Location: Dawn/Kamber Street (bordering what was the Ozanne Dairy).
This was called Ozanne's Pool due to its location. It was 100 metres long, 8 metres wide and had a sandy bottom. It was the most secluded of the pools, completely surrounded by very thick lantana and lawyer cane (wait-a-while) which gave protection to a host of wildlife and birds of all description. The pool also was used by myriads of domestic ducks owned by all the people whose backyards abutted the designated creek-line. This phenomenon occurred on any area of the creek. The main danger to the birds being dogs and many foxes.
As well as a fine fishing and swimming spot, I found this to be the best area of the creek due to the presence of many snakes, lizards, birds and most interesting of all, water rats. Late afternoon just before dusk was the only time to see these magnificent fellows. One had to lie on the bank, motionless to see them swim out from their nests which had an underwater entrance to a nest about water level. The only indication of their presence would be the appearance of ripples in the form of a 'V' on the surface of the water. They swam with their bodies completely submerged with only their noses above water, a spectacle I was very privileged to observe. They were beautiful animals, bodies about 30 centimetres long and rounded, with fur 6 - 7 centimetres long which gave them a very sleek appearance while swimming. I believe they are the Eastern Blue Water Rat, so named for the beautiful blue/grey of the fur.
This pool also gave one of our mates and I a fright which ended as a bonus. Among our group ws one bloke who was asthmatic and very protected by his family. He was very strong but not permitted to indulge in any 'boy' sports. The creek was in flood and canoes were to go down the rapids. We decided that our mate should have a go but in the deep smooth water. He had never been in a canoe, so he was instructed what to do and we would watch closely. He hopped in the canoe O.K but as we pushed him gently out, he grabbed a tuft of long grass which caused him to capsize. Not being a swimmer he went straight to the bottom - the pool with floodwater being about 2 - 3 metres deep. Two of us dived in and dragged him to the bank - we were fully clothed. When he could speak his main concern was for his parents finding out. We of course like all kids had an answer. One of us used his shirt for trousers and gave his pants to our cold mate. We placed his clothes on the lantana where the sun and wind worked for us. We always carried a tin of the famous wax matches, so we lit a fire to warm our mate.
His parents never found out about the episode. We later taught him to swim, canoe, ride horses, play cricket and footy and he became a good all round sportsman. He never suffered his sever asthma again and became a very strong man and a first class builder. We all reckoned in later years that we stole a jump on the medical profession in his case.
Ozanne's Pool is still somewhat secluded but I doubt that it now affords the hours of entertainment nor food for the neighbours.