“I learned more about this place than I imagined was possible.”
FOR more than three decades I lived in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney, until the call of the subtropics saw me relocate to Moreton Bay in South East Queensland in 2012.
From the very beginning, this place has been beautiful and story-filled, but it was also undiscovered country for me.
My sense of place is one of the strongest sides of me, but I knew it would take time to come across the stories and culture of this new place. I also undertook a petition in this community about marriage equality, which meant coming out publicly in a place where I was unsure what the general reaction would be.
So it was the perfect antidote, and an inspiring challenge, when VoiceMap approached me in 2015 to produce an audio tour for Coochiemudlo Island, right at the geographic centre of this archipelago.
I approached a friend, neighbour and author David Paxton, a member of the Coochiemudlo Island Heritage Society.
David has engaged in an ongoing conversation with the traditional owners of this part of Moreton Bay – the Quandamooka people – about the cultural heritage of Coochiemudlo Island. He’s also researched its European history.
Walking around our island home, in under an hour I learned more about this place than I imagined was possible, and through a process of editing and researching, we came up with a tour: Escape to Coochiemudlo Island, which is now available to download on your mobile phone via the VoiceMap app.
Everyone’s heard about Pokémon Go and many are into Geocaching. VoiceMap is similar in that it makes use of GPS (Global Positioning System) to navigate.
There are no signs on the tour, just David’s voice guiding you around Coochiemudlo Island, narrating its stories while you stroll the island foreshore and through its interior.
Some of the highlights include one of Coochiemudlo’s iconic accommodation destinations, Quirky Cottages, a holiday farm-stay like no other.
Sites of ancient Aboriginal culture and tales of explorers, settlers and farmers are woven into this unique way to interpret and understand the island.
The tour also passes through the island’s Ramsar Wetlands, a place replete with bird life; and it touches on stories of Matthew Flinders’ visit to the island in 1799.
Getting to know my community’s social fabric, its past and its natural beauty, has been a pleasure and a privilege. Our VoiceMap is just the third such tour in Australia, and Queensland’s first.
Coochiemudlo Island is not far from civilisation – we’re just 35 kilometres from Brisbane’s CBD – yet here beyond the edge of the city’s seaboard, life moves at a very different pace.
Our VoiceMap doesn’t give away all our secrets, or cover everything about Coochiemudlo, but I encourage you to come and experience a bit of what the island has to offer.
© Michael Burge, all rights reserved.