Margaret Silf wrote a book called Sacred Spaces in which she explored the various stages of our life-journey in terms of geographical locations. Everything has a symbolic meaning – bridge, crossing place, lake, wood, ford, spring, river, well – in the ancient Celtic view of the world. And I believe many of us find that the value of a special place lies not only in itself but in the extent to which our memories, dreams and reflections are threaded through it.
So it is for me with Jolly’s Lookout – number 7 in my mini-series Places of Inspiration. Halfway up a mountain near Brisbane in Queensland, Australia, it’s a place where I’ve meditated, socialised, and reached turning points in my life. Jolly’s Lookout is equally loved by picnickers and kookaburras. It holds memories and has inhabited my dreams. For me, past and future coalesced here. The view has it all, in terms of “soul space” – a valley, a city, a bay, distant mountains. All these hold a symbolic power, a special symbolism for the life-journey.
You can see where Brisbane is here on this map of Australia.
Jolly’s Lookout – so named after William Jolly, the first Lord Mayor of Greater Brisbane – is a place of happy times – lunchtime picnics, night-time barbeques, gatherings of local groups who come to eat together then play games afterwards. In 2007 I was able to take my 12-year-old daughter there and she has shared my love of this inspiring mountain viewpoint ever since.
This lookout is in open eucalypt forest. If you continue up the road from here to Mount Glorious, you may hear bellbirds, and enjoy walks through subtropical rainforest.
At night it is the haunt of possums, their bright eyes shining in the torchlight as visitors come to hang their storm lanterns from the overhanging branches and prepare their barbecues.
And often if you come at dusk you will find a visiting goana, also keen to share your picnic.
It is likewise home to numerous kookaburras, who love their opportunity to swoop and snatch from a hapless visitor’s fork perhaps a nice chicken breast or piece of steak, foolishly lifted into the air, and held there for a split second before the mouth of the picnicker can close around it.
The view from Jolly’s Lookout is breathtaking. It takes in the Samford Valley, the city of Brisbane, Moreton Bay, and beyond that, further north, up towards the Sunshine Coast, the bizarre and fascinating shapes of the Glasshouse Mountains, so named by Captain Cook purely from the impression they made on him as he sailed past in 1770. During the time I lived in Australia – four and a half years between 1986 and 1990 – I visited Jolly’s Lookout many times.
Is there a special place where you have happy memories, perhaps of wandering alone, or a place where you were part of a social gathering or party that comes vividly to mind whenever you think of the place? Are your memories, dreams and reflections threaded through it? Please share your thoughts about your special place, in the comments below.