Silver sprayed on the playing fields leaving town, down
to one degree. What I want is a photograph of the black
Angus standing the far side of a dam, reflection perfect,
his surrounds furred white with frost – but a van right
on my tail left me nowhere to pull over safely.
I’m glad to live by the sea, neither Yakutsk nor up here.
We stop on the dirt road into the park, photographs are
waiting for me. A Ute speeds past churning dust, I hide
my camera. A truck follows, slows down, a guy waves.
The car park is full, men are chatting by a fire getting
ready for work, repairing the track after the fire. They warn
us that half the loop track is closed. I ask if they’ve seen
a Rose Robin recently, but receive no offers.
An arena of peat, grasses, sedges introduce the tors,
walls of sundered rock balancing granite boulders
surfacing after 250 million years underground.
The land weathers, giant skulls, some fractured, some
rounded epiphysis have lost contact with the sockets
that pit the planet but maintain telluric pulling power.
We head towards the rocks, the kind I recall favoured
by outlaws to ambush the sheriff and posse tracking them.
We are taken by surprise, with a thud a roo bounces off.
She was two metres away, doesn’t go far. After four
dead kangaroos by the road, the last a joey, body perfect,
skull cracked open, fresh, brains spilling white porridge
on the dark asphalt, it’s reassuring to see one alive.
Her joey is watching us. These Eastern Greys wear
thick, soft fur, brown as portobello mushrooms,
ours coastal roos are light grey darkening in the rain.
We hear the Rose Robin calling, slipping further away,
then another closer, the last two notes seem to belong
to a different bird. We focus on the ground, Donkey Orchids,
Fairy Fingers, and regrowth sprouting everywhere.
Behind thin pale screens of dead Banskias, images
worth an attempt on the aesthetic are everywhere you look.
Wyn whispers fiercely – a Rose Robin is perched directly,
I just catch a hint of that colour as the tiny bird scoots.
I take a photograph of young ferns to remind me of
their music, the acoustic of water centered beneath
their roots, a hidden magic that is subterranean.
Walking back, chatting to the foreman Jayden,
still excited about the Rose Robin. I find that he’s
a Ngarbal man and CEO of Glen Innes Land Council.
I talk to my acknowledgment of country since moving
to Gumbaynggirr Country. Language, story, culture,
Country. Jayden says not enough is being done at school
to educate. I say that from my perspective, that is still
not enough. The European mind fails to make connections
between language, ceremony, story, Country and won’t
until they feel Country – respect and love the land,
flora, fauna and realise the brutality of white mythology.
I stop on the way out for black cattle in amongst the trees.