LIKE visiting a new city without a map, the thrill is in wandering aimlessly and then stumbling upon a place that, had you been making a must-see list, would have been on it.
It’s like roaming the back blocks of Rome and finding yourself standing in front of the Forum or, as happened during my recent absence from Brismania, randomly getting off a Malaysian bus and discovering a tropical island paradise.
Such was the moment when I stepped on to a bridge in the wedge of green between Herston Road and Gregory Terrace in Spring Hill.
The day, as they say, had started out like any other with the decision to take the brisk “10,000 Steps” walk promoted on a sign near a Stone Henge-like arrangement of stones at the Kelvin Grove Urban Village.
From there it was up a hill and past the noble old building with its classical pillars that was once the Kelvin Grove Teacher’s college entrance and remain part of the QUT. Duck through a carpark and it was onwards towards Royal Brisbane Hospital without a great deal to commend the scenery.
Not far from the hospital, a set of steps near the bus station beckoned and we headed down to Gilchrist Avenue which, with its poincianas, old stone walls and an intriguing staircase to nowhere, added a tad more interest.
And then we spotted the picturesque bridge across a lagoon filled with waterlilies.
This, in itself, was attention-grabbing but once out on the bridge a remarkable sculpture slips into view at the far end of the lagoon.
It’s of a giant serpent being held aloft by a group of Aboriginals while their children play at the water’s edge.
There’s something intriguing about it – wistful … Dreamtime … so close to the city and yet in a world of its own.
There’s a walk beside the lagoon, grassy banks and native gardens and a staircase leading up the hill where again, time becomes confused with an unexpectedly beautiful green space on one side and the busy six lanes of inner city bypass traffic and train lines on the other.
The walk continues on the edge of the Victoria Park Golf Club, along some unexpected paths and stairways to end where it began.
A little research reveals that the surprise package is called York’s Hollow and, at the centre of what is now Victoria Park, it was once the meeting and corroboree grounds of the Turrbal people who roamed the areas around the Brisbane River.
They called it Barrambbin which means “windy place” and it no doubt became much windier after the Europeans arrived to fell the trees for timber to make their houses.
The story for its current name though, is worth telling.
The Turrbal tribe had a regal leader, an elder who the settlers called the Duke of York.
Some thought the nickname was bestowed by the British (The lyrics of the children’s rhyme Grand Old Duke of York have become synonymous with futile action, which could well have been the case here).
However well-known local Aboriginal spokeswoman Maroochy Barambah, who claims to be a direct descendant of the Duke of York, says the name is merely an anglicised version of his real name, Daki Yakka.
York’s Hollow later became home to white itinerants and a “tent city” but with the sculpture and the beauty of the area on the fringe of the city at Spring Hill, it’s a nice place to pause and imagine it in its previous life.