Following National route 7 from Ipswich on our way to Esk, we come across the very busy growing town of Fernvale
Fernvale is located approx. 40kms from Esk.
It is a very popular half way point where many people stop for a Toilet break and a bite to eat from the Bakery. This time, we saw a group of three Murals. The murals are a pictorial history of the town of Fernvale. In-front, is an information board with a heading "How did a small town grow?"
After reading this, I found Fernvale had been devasted a few times from the Brisbane River flooding.
I thought the Murals were well done. They stepped back in time, to when Bullocks were used to cart the wool, wood, grain etc. It shows the main income was this and the people grew their own vegetable crops which they still do today in this area. The last mural is a little later, and shows the old school house and the children at school, some were playing a game of Cricket whilst others were going to Church and a Soldier in uniform - perhaps he had returned from the War.
Heading through the small village of Somerset for just a short way, we came to "The Spit"
This is an area of land that juts into Lake Somerset, a very popular area, especially in summer.
Boating is allowed here with powered Boats, so this is where you head for fresh water skiing, wakeboarding, jet-skiing, and if you don't know how, there is a person who provides lessons!
On one side of the spit is this area, on the other side is an area cordoned off for safe swimming, and its here where often the canoeists and kayakers are, along with sailing boats.
Fishing is allowed, so don't forget the rods if you like fishing!
There are plenty of picnic tables and chairs, electric bbq's, shelters, Playground, Toilets and a Kiosk.
To boat on the lake, you do need a permit, available at the Kiosk or at Somerset village.
If you come, you may want to stay for the day when you see the idyllic setting this area is in!
Wivenhoe Dam is a dam built across the Brisbane River that creates the artificial Lake Wivenhoe.
The dam holds a volume of water two and a half times the water in Sydney Harbour.
The main purpose of the dam is to provide a water storage for South East Queensland and to hopefully stop another terrible 1974 flood, when much of Brisbane was flooded and under water, a huge disaster!
It has a concrete spillway section on which five gates, 12 metres wide and 16.6 metres high are installed, these are amongst the largest of their type in the world. It is at the spillway common where on the viewing platform, we could see the water coming out of the hydro electricity generator.
The dam was 99.9% full, so in a few weeks, they might be releasing water, I have seen this before, and it is well worth coming for the look then, come to this area.
Facilities here include toilets, shelter shed, parking, canoe access to Brisbane River.
ON THE WAY TO ESK
To see the spillway, when heading from Brisbane via the Warrego Highway [A2], then the [A3], watch for the Brown Tourist sign on the left, just before Cormorant Bay Picnic area.
This is only a little village filled with a lot of small shacks that boaties come to for holidays and weekends. There is a store and Fuel can be bought.
A very nice camping area is located as you head into town, just below the Somerset Dam wall. There are Tent sites - (suitable for caravans), Amenities, Picnic tables, Shelter sheds, Water, but NO POWER.
If you are interested in Somerset park campground, contact
Esk Shire Council..........ph (07) 5424 4000
or check this site............
it really is a pleasant spot to stay, but be aware, in the holiday periods, it is extremely popular, and packed full of campers, so you would have to book for this time.
Cormorant Bay is a really nice picnic area on the edge of Lake Wivenhoe.
Lots of lawned area, with plenty of seating, electric & wood BBQ's, Shelter sheds, plenty of Toilets and excellent playgrounds, this is a beautiful area. There is a Cafe which was closed, but the notice said it would be opening soon, this is set in a nice high position overlooking the Lake.
There are walking trails and the Trees are the types you find Koala's in.
You are allowed to Kayak, Canoe, any unpowered type of activity is allowed and swimming and fishing is allowed.
Plenty of parking available.
You will pass by Lake Wivenhoe on your way to Esk
A Somerset Civic Centre is being planned to replace the 101 year old Lyceum which was burnt down in 2010. The venture is expected to cost $4.4 million dollars...so it will be a sight to see.
It will seat 350 and will be used for conferences , seminars, and local events....
I wonder if it will have a dance floor...the Lyceum did. Many an Esk ball was held here. And the library was upstairs...very well controlled it was too with a rigid censorship...I did not know what a naughty book was till I went to live in Rockhampton after many years in Esk.
Esk, is nestled below Glen Rock, a rocky Mountain which puts the town in a very pretty setting.
Esk is fairly old and there are many historical buildings throughout the town. One of the hotels was established in 1872 as a teamster’s camp, back then the town was called “Gallanani”, which is said to be an Aboriginal name for Eastern Swamp Hen. When the railway arrived in 1886 the town continued as ‘Gallanani’ and the station was called Esk, officially changing the town to Esk in 1913.
I have a soft spot for Esk, love coming here as Salt's antique shop is here, and many local craft shops. We have bought from the Bakery and enjoyed meals on various occassions indoors and outside under the patio at the Hotel. Esk has a Racecourse, I would love to go to one of the meetings, as Country race meetings in Australia are an enjoyable way of meeting locals.
Stop at the Visitor Information Centre, and head up Highland street for views of the surrounding mountains and Lake Wivenhoe, the Centre will tell you the way!
Follow the Highway A2 from Brisbane, then near Brassall Heights, turn right onto Highway A3 that will take you to Esk.
Standing there and waiting for your visit is the War Memorial situated in Esk Memorial park
It was erected in 1921 and bears the names of 462 Shire residents who enlisted during the First World War.
The memorial is significant as an unusual example of the work of Ipswich architect GB Gill.
The park is landscaped with native trees and palms, and includes pathways, a barbecue area, seating and a children's playground.
You can sit and rest awhile in this area or leave your car and wander to the shops.
Somerset Dam is another huge water catchment area located near Esk.
It is a pretty area where the dam is situated, with the wall being beside the little village of Somerset. Construction of the dam began in 1935 but had to be suspended due to World War II, so work wasn't resumed until 1948with the dam being completed in 1959.
Water from Somerset Dam is released into Wivenhoe Dam, which in turn supplements the natural flow of the Brisbane River and maintains an adequate supply of water to the Mt Crosby pumping station located 132 kilometres downstream near Ipswich.
When the dam is full, it is quite a sight to see the gates open and to hear the roar of the water as it tumbles over the wall. We just saw the water coming out of the bottom, that was quite a sight too!
Coming from Brisbane, head through the Village of Somerset, the Dam wall lookout is located on the right hand side of the road, on a corner, so be careful crossing the road. There is an informative sign located there.