East Kunderang, The Fitzgerald’s homestead, Dunghutti Country Part 1

East Kunderang, The Fitzgerald’s homestead, Dunghutti Country    Part 1

October 2014

Homestead Goanna
The homestead Goanna

This valley is isolated, 4 wheel drive access, no signal, still no mailbox

and power came late. They had to collect the mail. Ed Fitzgerald died at 14

returning with the post, his horse dropped him in the river in 1900.

Calistemon forest, Macleay River edge
Calistemon forest, Macleay River edge

Mick Leonard, Ben Supple and his two lads worked the station then,

Ben and his kid George, aged ten, both died downstream by Fingerboard

Basalt swallow
Basalt swallow

where Ed had died a few years earlier. Mick went not long after. He liked to work

alone, ring-barked trees on the slopes, started refusing food, fearing poison.

Coaxed closer he lived in the Hayloft with the owls, but his paranoia worsened.

Sepia Range
East Kunderang, spent the weekend at the old homestead birding in the gorge country upriver from Kempsey, 42 degrees hot.

The police came and he refused to go, a doctor was called but he just dismantled.

Ed’s fine grave up the hill is visited by sitellas and trillers, their graves elude me.

Wyn in cascade
Wyn in the small cascade

Ribbons of algae stream from emerging basalt sculpted by Arp. The river’s low

but the water’s perfect, I let the current float me down, watch a Red-bellied Black

winding along the bank, sensing me it straightens, zips straight down diving into

Macleay River algae
Macleay River

the water swimming straight at me. I try to retreat but slither on slick river stones,

within reach the snake makes a sudden U turn, slips back up the bank and away.

Macleay River

Dawn bleeds above the fortress of Carrai Tablelands, mountain crests overlaid

like a Sung landscape. Here the earth reveals its solid bones, its frame offering

unlimited photographs, but leaving I felt something was missing from the ranges,

Early light, St Mary's Peak
Early light, St Mary’s Peak

their proper names and the stories and skills, that’s to say the how of the ancestors.

We stop for the birds, but as soon as I get home I connect to the archives.

The road out, East Kunderang
The road out, East Kunderang
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