Biographical Log of Michael Furstner - Page 124
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Monday & Tuesday, November 16 & 17 2009
I leave Mitchell (140 km West of Roma) early Monday morning at 7AM on my last leg of the
journey. The road from Longreach to Brisbane (A2) is an absolute shocker ! It is
the main connecting artery from Queensland's capital Brisbane to the State's two most
important producing inland centres, Longreach and Mount Isa. The road is subject
too very heavy traffic from road trains and other trucks for which the road base
is clearly not designed.
Although repeatedly resealed over large stretches,
within 6-12 months the surface is undulating and rough again as before, making
it most uncomfortable to travel on. Unless this road is rebuilt with a stronger
base, this problem will persist indefinitely. I love traveling via Mitchell and
have a dip in its attractive spa there, but the road to and from it really puts me
After three and a half hours driving I reach Dalby and there turn off to take a
short cut via country roads (which are much better to drive on than the A2) to
the Sunshine Coast (located 100km North of Brisbane).
I arrive there just in time for lunch at the Mooloolaba Surf Club.
I am greeted by several of the staff members with "Hello, welcome back, where
have you been all this time?" and settle in for a relaxed lunch and a meditative
look over the sea (Pacific Ocean).
Then onto ThreePonds to unpack. In the
evening Babette and
Doug return from work in Brisbane and we celebrate my return with a few
bottles of bubbly. I am in bed early and sound asleep within minutes.
Tuesday morning I am back at the Diddilliba Bridge Club. It is good to see everybody again
and we have a pleasant morning of very social bridge, three and a half tables.
It is very hot around 38°'C, so after the bridge it is straight on to the
There is quite a strong wind and some rough choppy waves, but I jump in
immediately, and find it exhilarating and most refreshing with the sea temperature at 23°C
according to the Lifesaver's notice board. I love it, back tomorrow for sure.
For lunch I have a great pasta dish at the Surf Club, then do some shopping and
in the evening have drinks, dinner and some catching up talk with Babette and
Doug. A storm is brewing and finally releases some wonderful refreshing rain as we sit, drink and talk on the back veranda.
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Wednesday - Friday, November 18 - 20 2009
I just received my first Christmas card, from my Primary School friend in Gorssel, Dick Matthes and his wife
Lydeke. With the card they also sent me a small book, 'Uut Gossul'
by Gé Dikkeboer, just released in Holland only one month
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The book consists of a collection of short stories, many of them earlier
published in the local Weekly Newspaper De Gids, about past events and
well known landmarks in and around Gorssel, the village in which I, like Gé Dikkeboer, grew
up in the 1940s, 50s and 60s.
Gé was born in 1946 (undoubtedly as a happy result of the 1945 Liberation
Celebrations in Gorssel) and is therefore almost 10 years younger than I, so that, although we
went to the same Primary
School we just must have missed one another, as I had moved to the High
School in Zutphen a year
or so before he started in Grade 1. Nevertheless many of his recollections
resonate strongly with some of my own of that happy period of our lives.
His book starts with his memories of De Houtwal, and its devastatingly sad
recent demise as Gorssel's historic focal and emotional heart.
De Houtwal was a lovely small Pub on the outskirts of Gorssel, right on and
overlooking the river IJssel. It had a large terrace on which visitors could sit
with a drink and watch the ships go by on their way to Zutphen (upstream) or Deventer (downstream).
There was a small inlet, used as a convenient mooring for the wooden rowing
boats Tuitert (the Pub owner) hired out during the summer months to those
(like my mother and I on many occasions) who wished to row up the river, then
land somewhere on one of the many small beaches for a swim or a lie in the sun.
Across the river, right opposite De Houtwal, there was a brass bell on a
wooden pole. Walkers, cyclists or beach goers stranded there could ring the bell
and Tuitert would row across in one of his boats to pick them up.
Just after the war the small inlet was dammed off by a cement wall forming a
makeshift swimming pool and it was here that I, like many other kids then, had
regular swimming lessons, splashing about in the water hanging in a harness from
a large fishing rod like pole.
It was also right here at the Houtwal that Sinterklaas would disembark
to come and visit us at school every year on 5 December. All us school children would walk in the early morning in
a large procession out to the Houtwal, then wait there with thumping heart,
until we finally saw him coming down the river towards us on his steam boat.
Sint's disembarkation he was officially welcomed by the village Lord Mayor and
School Headmaster and then on a horse drawn cart driven to our school with us all in procession right behind him.
Those wonderful times have gone now, perhaps forever.
Only a few years ago De Houtwal was closed and sold privately. Entry by the
Public is now barred with a threatening high wall and signs of "No
trespassing, Private Property!" No wonder Gé Dikkeboer is mourning,
and so am I and all those other Gorssel old timers who have found some of their
dearest memories now imprisoned in this horrible tragic way. A large part of
the spirit of Gorssel has therefore gone, perhaps forever, and all those who
remain there have become much the poorer for it.
Bollocks!! Nothing but pure materialistic and selfish greed.
Copyright © 2009 Michael Furstner