My wife Dorothy and I spent our teenage and courting years in Sunnybank. It was then a semi-rural market garden and fruit growing area linked by train to Brisbane. We met at church and on the train and our lives blended from then on. Six decades later we are still together in the Sunnybank area, but the suburb is so completely changed. Gone are the farms, the dirt roads, the undeveloped recreation reserve later to become the grounds of Sunnybank High School. Gone is the Sunnybank Bus Company service from Moorooka with its terminus at the popular Oasis swimming pool and ornamental gardens. Gone is the sound of steam engines pulling the passenger trains through Sunnybank on the way to and from Beenleigh. And most of all are gone the freedom to roam and the many hours of peaceful tranquillity that we loved.
Today it is all busy roads with chaotic vehicle traffic. There six shopping centres of varying sizes, a multiplex cinema, five pharmacies, at least seven medical centres and indeed a private hospital and a public one in the next suburb. There are four primary schools, two secondary schools, with the Griffith University Nathan campus also nearby. There are multiple sports clubs, playing fields and parks; enough Asians restaurants to feed half of Brisbane; and house property prices soaring because of hundreds of Asian investors. Sunnybank is now a little Shanghai. Caucasians are in the minority in the streets, in the schools and on the buses.
In my memoir, To and From God, I reflect on change and how it colours one’s life. I write about how my beliefs and values have been moulded by family, church, outdoor experiences, education and reading. It is my journey in and out of religious faith, eventually finding eco-spiritualism more encompassing and honest. The simple obedient acceptance of the Christian message, the doctrine presented to me in my childhood and youth, has never truly been my scene, but I do hanker for that peace and tranquillity lost to Sunnybank.
Natural bushland has become my refuge. It is where I love to be for recreation and meditation. Fortunately the Toohey Forest reserve is not far from Sunnybank, and this island in suburbia still has some quiet nooks where one can appreciate the spirit of Gaia, and wonder what it would have been like to live more primitively, much more in harmony with nature. But there you go, even to bring my memoir to life as an Ebook and print version available to fellow humans to read means exploiting the world of high technology and modern media, and by default expanding my human footprint thus adding to that impact which a century of two down the track may lead to the collapse of human civilizations.
I won’t be here to see, yet I fear it is part of the legacy I am helping to bequeath to my great-great grandchildren, who will never know these sentiments, and wonder why I didn’t protest more about the pace of ‘progress’.
I just want to say that I like Sunnybank as I remember it when I first kissed Dorothy.