Sue Wighton is a Brisbane writer and frequent Bribie visitor, who wrote weekly opinion pieces for the Courier-Mail from 2011 to 2014. Sue is keen to contribute regularly to the Bribie Islander, sharing her observations both serious and amusing. She has been known to bake.
I’ve been visiting Bribie for about 25 years. This daggy, lovely little island and I have become great friends. How did this friendship begin? Like most friendships, there was a chance meeting and a sense that we have much in common. An old mate (let’s call her ‘J’) has a house on Bribie.
This place has been in her family for a couple of generations. It’s not flash but it’s comfortable. In fact, it’s where her grandparents lived for many years. Her grandma had a gift cum haberdashery shop. Haberdashery – now there’s a word you don’t hear much these days! The house is well stocked with crockery and linen from Grandma’s shop. In fact, it looks like Grannie just popped next door for a cuppa and never came back. When my marriage went south, I headed north.
Here was the chance meeting with Bribie that would blossom into a lifelong love affair. Visiting the island became a welcome antidote to the grind of single parenting. And I wasn’t the only one. My memories of those days are of lots of women, some single, some partnered, but many of us failed wives with children in tow – converging on this island sanctuary, thanks to J’s unfailing generosity.
My dear dad dubbed us Bribie girls the Failed Wives Club. We swam in the benevolent waters of Bribie Island, chronically ignored our own kids, cogitated over cryptic crosswords, gossiped about absent failed wives and disappointing men, drank wine, rode bikes along the dappled Bribie bike path, cooked, drank more wine, ate ice-creams and generally had a lovely time. There’s something reassuring and heavenly about the downright dagginess of Bribie that I love. Who wants a world where everything is designer slick?
Daggy is being natural and enjoying some of life’s simpler pleasures. Sitting under the back verandah of my friend’s house at Bribie eating ice blocks with the sprinkler cooling our toes. Now that’s my idea of Heaven. Over the years, these Failed Wives Club visits became a tradition, with major holidays seeing a bunch of women and kids descend on J’s place – trailing eskies, beach towels, boogie boards, soft toys, and books.
Such wonderful times. As the years passed, some failed wives acquired partners – a motley crew of Failed Wives Club associate members. So baritone voices augmented the female chorus as we idled away the hours on beds and lounges strewn about the place. Nowadays the children have grown and moved away – all the better for the indolent ignoring by their single parents and the undivided attention of a bevy of kindly ‘aunties’ on these languid Bribie weekends.
The friendships forged in those regular visits remain strong. We all still visit on high holidays, sharing stories, old and new, our sorrows, our joys and of course delicious food. At Easter, it’s Di’s fish pie. Lamb roast lovingly prepared by one of our associate members is always a weekend crowd pleaser.
Rumbledy-thumps for breakfast. (Don’t ask.) And the Australia Day weekend wouldn’t be the same without Henk’s pies and mushy peas. The writer, PD James reckoned that ‘every island, to a child, is a treasure island’. She was absolutely right. I hope I never grow up.