Home > Online Magazine > Online Magazine: Edition 36 - August/September 2010 > Springs of Living Water (by John Morris)
Springs of Living Water
by John Morris
Springs of Living Water - Natural and Biblical Springs
It is the biggest drink bottle that I have ever seen. (1)
In the middle of the New Zealand north island town of Paeroa stands a 7.0 metre "bottle" of the "World famous in New Zealand" Lemon & Paeroa beverage. I came across the bottle and the town in the 1990's when on a business trip to the North Island. I was investigating the potential of a new construction product that offered near cyclone proof qualities. I caught up with my cousin and her husband in Auckland and having finished business suggested we team up for the weekend.
We headed up the Corromandel Peninsula - my first visit to the area and found a pleasant motel where we stayed Friday and Saturday nights . We came down the east coast and turned west through Waihi and the Karanghake Gorge. Picked up a few glimpses of the Goldfields Railway on the way. I thought that I could at least get a look at the Paeroa Spring.
Lemon and Paeroa had caught my palette on previous visits to New Zealand and I liked it so much that I brought a shipment in for the guests at Cathy and Colin's wedding.
"The early Maori who arrived in the Ohinemuri area around 1600, the European pioneers who settled here from 1842, and those associated with the development of the goldfields and the township of Paeroa from the early 1870s, quickly recognised the unique mineral waters bubbling from a deep underground spring for its medicinal and thirst quenching qualities."
"A report compiled by a noted Government balneologist A. S. Wohlman, OBE, MD., BS (London) in 1904 stated: "The Paeroa spring is a large warm effervescing spring of similar nature to the Te Aroha spring, but containing 73 grains of magnesium bicarbonate to the gallon." "It is good for dyspepsia and pleasant to drink and in older times had the reputation among the goldminers of the district as a Sunday morning drink after a Saturday night "burst". It can be beneficial for constipation."
The Paeroa spring water is a mild alkaline water with iron salts and was valuable for medicinal purposes and as a table water." (2)
The addition of lemon juice to the mineral water produced an extremely palate pleasing drink. And from casual individual action a marketing opportunity was recognised and the Paeroa Natural Mineral Water Company began operations in 1910. Various bodies were associated with the product from that date with sadly, Coca Cola purchasing the operation in (I believe) the early 1990's. The manufacture changed from the real McCoy to standard methods of soft drink production. It is no longer Paeroa mineral water and lemon juice though tests are regularly done to compare the product with the spring water. Ann Harris, the Paeroa Town Promoter, states that "The original spring is capped and on private land and as far as I know there is no available water from the original source - L&P is now made in Auckland and certainly doesn't contain Paeroa water any more".(3)
Maybe, one day, I might take another trip to New Zealand and see if I could find the landowner and get a bottle of fresh Paeroa water.
Have you ever been to Ban Ban Springs?
Ban Ban Springs is one of the non-entities of the tourist destinations. You do not see it advertised in the press or highlighted as part of a tourist package.You will either know where Ban Ban Springs is and make a deliberate decision to visit, or you will blink your eyes on the Burdett Highway as you pass through the junction with the Isis Highway and miss it. It is a good spot to Stop, Revive and Survive as the Roads and Traffic Authority tells us (New South Wales residents that is). With the advent of the internet, the local councils and tourist bodies have included snippets of information to alert visitors to the area that there are attractive little corners in the area that are worth visiting.
Ban Ban Springs are somewhat unique. In the middle of grazing land and undulating country the springs flow into an adjoining wetland where you can discover many native plants and the occasional local wildlife. The Springs are demure and dainty but produce the sweetest water. Picture (4) On our visit we were able to add watercress freely available in the springs to our salad lunch. The water outflow is quite gentle and small in volume, nothing like the millions of litres that pour out of Eli Creek on Fraser Island.
Not far away from Ban Ban Springs is Queensland's smallest national park, the Coalstoun Lakes National Park. The park area is only 26 hectares. The park preserves a unique natural formation of twin volcanic cinder cones. Inside the craters are lush vine forests dotted with Queensland Bottle Trees surrounding the grassy lakebeds. The area is home to much birdlife. It is only after rare extended heavy rains the craters fill that justifying the park name..
We came across the springs quite by accident. We were living in Maryborough in 1967 and 1968 over a total of some 15 months. Occasionally the Maryborough church minister would make a trip west and visit some of the "isolated" church members in Biggenden and Gayndah. We accompanied him on a couple of visits and dropped in at the springs for lunch and free drinks.
1983 between jobs we headed for a break at Alice Springs, hired a car and put over 2,300 km on the clock in the fortnight that we were there. We went north, south, east and west. The weather was kind that year. The desert was green over the red sand base. There was what I thought was reasonable quantities of water at the various tourist attractions we visited. Trephina Gorge is situated 85km east of Alice Springs, and is now accessible to all vehicles via the Ross Highway and then 9 km of Park Road. At the Western End of the West McDonnell Ranges and 1 hour's drive from Alice Springs is located the wide and deep Glen Helen Gorge. You could swim through the gorge (though being May, the water temperature was on the chilly side). It is within easy distance from other features of the area including Mt Sonder & Ormiston Gorge. Our target north of Alice was the Tropic of Capricorn because it was there. To the south are the major features of King's canyon, the Olgas and Ayer's Rock (Uluru).
On the south west corner of Uluru, is Maggie's Springs. It cannot be called a true spring as the water found in the "Springs" is water that has fallen in irregular rain on the Rock. "A close ring of green around Uluru (and Kata Tjuta) marks the presence of water. The southern side - Umbaluru - which gets most shade has the most plants. Mutidjula is here, Maggie's Springs, which is not a real spring but a dreamy basin almost permanently filled with water and surrounded by prolific growth: mosses, ferns, sedges and several grass species." On our visit to the rock we all made the climb with the girls waiting at the end of the assisting chains while I went on to the top. I forgot to sign the visitor register and next morning made the climb again to sign in.
Before we left that day we went around to Maggie's Springs and filled a 2 litre bottle of water. The water is brought out on special occasions and there is still about 500 ml left.
One of the great bushwalks in the Blue Mountains (west of Sydney) is down Pierce's Pass to the Grose River, then up out of the valley via Perry's Lookdown. It is only about 10.5 kilometres and takes about 6 hours to cover the distance for the reasonably fit. The Pass and the Lookdown are roughly the same altitude above the valley floor - 650 metres - so the full trip will see you move vertically 1,300 metres.
Pierce's Pass is one of the few natural passes into the Grose Valley, and was probably a traditional Aboriginal route. Tool-making stone can be found in the valley floor below. The Pass leads you down a narrow gully and you break out of the gully to look directly at the other side of the valley west of Perry's Lookdown. If it is a sunny day the rock faces will reflect the sunlight back to you in brilliant colour. A cloudy day and you will be impressed with the natural reclining sculpture and rock forms as it were in silhouette.
On the valley floor we would usually aim for Blue Gum Forests and its magnificent stands of, yes, Blue Gums. The forest was saved from destruction at the hand of the timber getters by private subscription in 1932. It was severely burnt in bushfires of 2006, but has has been reopened and reportedly is recovering well.
Perry's Lookdown is one of the steeper routes out of the Grose Valley. The route ascends steeply but steadily to a cleft in the cliff. Some crude steps have been provided from concrete and stone and the occasional handrail helps with the climb through the cliff line. Many stops are required to pay back the oxygen debt and it is no disgrace to stop and admire the view while getting your breath back. You have to make sure that you have water with you - you will need plenty.
At about 100 metres from the top of the Lookdown, you will find a tiny-cup like corner in the rock face at the bottom of what I would call a moss garden. On the visits that I made to the site in the 1950, and 1960's it was always full of water, cold, clear and clean. What a relief to the parched mouth and hot face to scoop out a cupful and gratefully indulge. On a recent visit (2010) I had to clean out the "cup" of accumulated leaf matter and wondered how pure the water might be. It was still refreshing to get close enough to allow the water dripping off the rock to give a refreshing shower.
One common factor for each of these locations is that every one will fail at some time - perhaps a drought - maybe the water source has become contaminated. Expansion of the town of Paeroa may have contaminated the spring and it has been shut down to avoid disease transmission.
There is a fascinating bible story about a Samaritan woman who came to Jacob's Well outside of the town of Sychar in the middle of the day to draw water for the household. It is fascinating for a couple of reasons.
- The well is one of the "authentic Christian sites: its identity with what is told in the New Testament is not subject to doubt" (4) The well is about 75 feet deep but appears to have a lot of rubbish in it and is probably a lot deeper. The woman drew Jesus' attention to the fact that the well was deep and the water inaccessible without a rope and a bucket (or the local equivalent). The location fits the description given in scriptures.
- The woman turned up alone, in the middle of the day. Water collection was a social event of the morning and the evening and women came together to chat, compare notes and help each other to draw the water. Coming alone in the middle of the day to draw water was an experience of the socially rejected.
The woman was astounded when Jesus asked her for a drink. Jews and Samaritans just did not get along together, except if there was money to be made, then they would put up with each other.
Jesus turned the conversation around with an offer of living water. This was indeed an attractive thought for the good lady, to have living water and not have to suffer the ignominy of that lonely task each day. Jesus disclosure that he knew that she had 5 husbands in her chequered life and that she was in her 6th relationship, wrapped up the offer, and although she tried to (changing the metaphor for a moment) wriggle out of the net , she was caught. She forgot about the thirsty Jesus to head for town and bring back the residents, no longer afraid of their reactions. She was a changed lady.
Jesus words were to her and can be to you "living waters". Take time to drink deeply. It will be life changing.
(1) http://www.newzealandnz.co.nz/coromandel/paeroa.html (Accessed 11.05.2010)
(2) http://www.paeroa.org.nz/History/The+Lemon+and+Paeroa+Story.html (Accessed 15.05.2010)
(3) Personal email 22 April 2010 (email@example.com)
(4) http://dealermatepro.com/austrip/testday2/testday2pic7.htm (Accessed 17.04.2010)
(5) Madrich Yisra'el Vol 8 p 384. Quoted in NET Near East Tourist Agency - Nablus (Shechem) Accessed 09.05.2010.
This article and the pictures it contains are Copyright © 2010 by John L Morris. Used by permission.
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