East Kunderang, The Fitzgerald’s homestead, Dunghutti Country Part 1
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.
Mick Leonard, Ben Supple and his two lads worked the station then,
Ben and his kid George, aged ten, both died downstream by Fingerboard
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.
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.
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
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.
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,
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.