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©2015 Anne Hanson
Hey there Mister Pine Tree
please tell me a story
you stand here so majestic
bathed in all your glory
Planted here by children
a long, long time ago
on this land of the Kaurna people
who watched seasons come and go
There’s brother Sun and sister Moon
the stars and unseen forces
combined with all the wisdom shared
to help steer us on life’s courses
What secrets can you tell me
as I stand and touch your trunk
you grow so tall and strong
and pine cones fall ker – plunk.
©2015 CS Dunn
The sheoak whispers and wails
A wattlebird warbles and whistles
The laughing bird claims the tree – my tree, my tree, mine
A possum tail flicks high in the red gum
Silver-green leaves dance in the morning light
Shivers of bark peel and curl and swirl down the trunk
The ancient tree claims the ground – my place, my place, mine
The shuffle and scuffle of leaves
Blown by a breeze that wanders aloft
Ignorant of the bossy grumble of creek that warns
Of the power of earth, of clay, of stone
The swollen ground claims the creek – my creek, my creek, mine
The sway of stems, green and gold
Lit by a dapple of sun and ripple
Grasses murmur and rattle
Flowers lure the bee, the bird, the possum
To the meadow, the stream, the enchantment
The restless creek claims the water – my water, my water, mine
Noise, croaking frogs, screaking insects
Water moves, slides, sloshes
Comes from somewhere to go elsewhere
Giggles and gurgles, splatters and swirls
Splashes and chuckles, titters and cackles
The music of water as it slides over, around, through
The water claims the rock – my place, my place, mine
The earth, sand and soil and stones
Rocks, grey, brown, tinged in gold
Deny the movement of time
They hold their place
Sentinel, foundation, strength
Streaked with white and silver, with memories
The rock claims the age – forever, forever, and now.
©July 2015 Carole Simmonds
I’m Possum Pete, and I live in a tree
I snuggle down in a hollow, you see
I sleep all day, ‘cos I’m up all night
raiding the gardens, for a citrus delight.
I eat many foods, no if ands or buts
native flowers and fungi, and boy I like nuts,
the odd insect and grub and even a moth
they keep me fit, not slow like a Sloth.
I can run on the ground, but prefer being high
I like climbing a tree, way up in the sky
I watch out in case I find I’m in danger
and I can look down, and see any stranger.
I’m called a Common Ringtail Possum
My fur is Grey, and my build is slight
with rings of black, my long tail is sleek
But overall, I’m really quite petite.
My cousin’s a Common Brushtail Possum
and like me, he loves to eat fresh blossoms
the difference is, his long tail is puffy
which makes him look kind of fluffy.
So when in Pine Park, walk quietly please
and look around, at all the tall trees
you may hear some snoring, or maybe a sigh
as I snuggle down to sleep, way up high.
© 2015 Connie Berg
The eldest dancer began to twirl and swirl in the centre of the circle. His leaf skirt flared out. His arms branched high. His feet stomped and rooted down into the earth. The elders thumped hollow logs stretched with skin; they blew on hollowed twigs as flutes, as pipes, as ‘doos. The circle of dancers began to stomp their feet with the beat. Yips and cries sang out, praise and promise to Father Sun and Mother Moon. Tears of joy turned into falling rain.
In the circle, the eldest began to grow, he towered, looming high above them all. His arms no longer branching, but branches. His feet no longer rooting, but roots. His majesty soaring up and anchoring the sky to the earth. The dancers dervishly whirled, the elders shimmered with sound, the rain caressed the earth and a spring began to flow. They danced the dance of the earth; they danced the dance of life.
Snow, Flo and Joe
© 2015 Don S Warren
My name is Snow. I once lived with my mother far away in the shadow of a beautiful mountain. Sadly I was stolen from her. I was brought to the city and given to a beautiful young girl. Her name was Flo. She lived with her mother. She had been very sad because her father had gone away to live in a very distant country because of a big war. He never came back. When she saw me she said, ‘His name will be Snow’. I became her good friend and learnt to talk to her and to play with her. This made us both happy again.
Flo called me ‘Snow’ because I was so white. I am a big cockatoo with a yellow crest. I am a native of Australia. I like to eat all kinds of nuts and fruit. I like sunflower seeds best of all. I spent my time sitting on a perch with a light chain on my leg. That way I couldn’t wander off or fly away. But often Flo would come, undo the clip on my leg and take me for a walk. I sat on her hand or on her shoulder. Sometimes I went with Flo when she rode her bike. I also liked to run around on the ground.
Another friend came to live with us. Flo called him Scamp. He was a fox terrier dog. I enjoyed having him around. I learnt to say his name, so could call him to come and see me. I could say ‘Flo’ also. If I was thirsty I would say, ‘Want a drink’. If there was any strange happening I would warn Flo and her mum with a very loud screech. I kept this up until they came to see what was wrong. If Scamp was there he would be barking.
When Flo grew up she worked in a food and drink shop near her home. In her spare time she would play tennis or netball. She was a good dancer, so she joined a club which sometimes did concerts. Flo taught me to dance. I would love to do this, up and down my outdoor perch, or in the cage where I slept at night.
As Flo grew older she made many friends. One day she met someone who became her very special friend. His name was Joe. They spent lots of time together. Joe had a car. Sometimes they would take me on an outing. Often Scamp came along as well. Joe came from the far north of Australia. He was an indigenous person. He was such a friendly and kind person that Flo decided that she would like to be with him always. So she told her Mum, left home and lived with Joe.
They lived in a very big house, the hotel at Tea Tree Gully. It was very close to this Park. I lived with Flo and Joe but Scamp cared for Flo’s Mum. Because Joe had come from the Bush, he loved to visit here. Flo and Joe loved the smell of the pine trees. Most of all Joe enjoyed the odour of the gum trees. He loved the canoe tree and the red gum with the large hole in it where birds and small animals liked to sleep.
One lovely day I was with them in the park. They were eating lunch and talking. They did not notice that I had quietly walked away. I flew high into one of the pine trees. When it was time to go home, I was nowhere to be seen. I was enjoying myself eating pine nuts. So after searching, they went home without me. I saw them go and thought that I’m old enough to look after myself. As I kept eating the delicious nuts the sun was slowly sinking in the sky. I began to worry about where I would sleep. Just then I heard laughter in a tree nearby.
What was that? I was curious so I flew towards that tree. I heard that loud laugh again. I discovered that it was coming from a brown bird with a very large beak.
‘Was he laughing at me? Perhaps he knows that I am beginning to be afraid?’
I decided I would fly onto his branch and talk to him. I asked him why he was laughing. He said that it was just what he and his fellow kookaburras did as the sun went down. They checked that all was well with one another. Now I felt brave enough to ask him a question.
‘Where do you sleep in the night?’
He said, ‘Quite close to here. You noticed the old tree by the path down there? It has a wonderful, cosy place where many of us spend the night.’
I said, ‘Yes, I have noticed that tree with its hollow. There would be plenty of room there for several creatures.’
He said, ‘Let’s go and get settled, now the sun has set.’
That’s just what we did. I was so glad to have found a good friend. He made me feel safe. That big beak of his would soon deal with anything that came snooping around.
We woke up very early. My friend nearly deafened me, when he laughed at the rising sun. I decided it’s time for home. I thanked my new friend for his kindness. Flo and Joe found me sitting on my perch just outside the kitchen door of the big house.
Possum Tales of Old
© July MMXV Douglas Allington
The gums along the creek are old
and under them some tales are told.
The stories tell of many friends
like possums, kangaroos and wrens.
Pine Park is the place to start,
where tiny wrens can do their part.
While magpies sing a background chorus,
the possum has a story for us.
“In times that ended long ago
the Kaurna people, as you know,
belonged to water ways and land
and this is where their dance was planned.
They gathered for Corroboree,
a special time for all to see.
Fires were lit and songs begun,
while everyone joined in the fun.
Dancing – it was all about,
with paint and smoke and many a shout.
And all the girls and boys were there
with clapping sticks – to do their share.
While all the folk enjoyed the song
and possums too could sing along,
there came a howling through the trees,
a howling sound was on the breeze.
Everyone got quite a scare
at first, but then in firelight glare
a lonely dingo joined the ring
of dancing feet – and could she sing?
She didn’t always keep in tune,
for she was howling to the moon.
But all the folk were glad to share
their dance; and know that she was there.
There’s room around our fire for all,
dingoes, possums, birds to call.
The Kaurna people welcome you –
learn our stories – share our view.”
The Legend of Pine Park
© June 2015 Ida Lee
‘Nana!” The back screen door slammed, and with the sound of running feet, a small girl dashed into the kitchen. The woman put her cup carefully back in the saucer.
“Lordy girl, you scared me, what has happened now?”
“Nana, look what Esperelda gave me.” Thrusting her cupped hands up towards Nana’s face, she revealed a tiny green lantern.
“It’s very pretty dear, did you find it?”
“No Nanna, I told you, Esperelda gave it to me. Cindy and I were down at Pine Park, you know down by the Gully hotel, that little park. Well any way, we met Esperlda and Miranda and I think their mummy, I think her name was Kymberly or something like that. They said if it was sunny tomorrow, we could go back and listen to their stories.” Her chatter as quickly as it had begun, and then she ran off.
Nanna was preparing the evening meal when she suddenly stopped. “Now what made me think of that” she muttered aloud. As soon as the table was laid she hurried upstairs to the attic. Dragging a large tin trunk from beneath a pile of dusty pictures and old curtains, she stooped down and pulled at the stubborn latch. It wouldn’t open. Looking around for anything she could use as a lever, she saw Grandpa’s old tool box in which she found a screw driver. This should do it she thought as she hurried back to the old tin chest.
Getting down on her knees, she began poking at the latch. “Stubborn thing” she muttered. She was about to give up when the latch snapped open.
“Nanna,” Carol was calling, “where are you?”
“Up here. Be careful when you come in, I’ve made a mess in here.”
Carol entered the attic stepping over a pile of picture frames and squatting down next to the chest. “What are you doing?”
“I might not have kept it.”
“What didn’t you keep?”
“Don’t be impatient child, just wait a moment. Aha,” she said and lifted from the depth, a dusty green lantern.
“Nanna” Carol squealed, “you’ve got one too!”
“I’d forgotten all about it, let’s go down, have our dinner and I will tell you all about it.”
Dinner was eaten in record time. Nanna cleared the table and began washing the dishes. Carol helped so that they could to get the job done quicker.
“Tell me now Nanna.”
“Well, many years ago when I was as old as you, my father who drove a horse and dray (a big long flat cart) worked for the flour mill. (It isn’t a flour mill now) He had to take a load of flour…somewhere, I can’t remember where. It took a long time to load all the drums and sacks, so mother and I took our lunch across the road to that little corner by the hotel. It was just a creek and grass back then. We spread out our rug and had lunch. Afterwards mother went to sleep on the rug and I wandered along the creek.
“I saw this fig tree growing in the edge of the water, and decided to pick some for mother. I leaned out over the water and heard a voice cry, ’No! No! Be careful.’ I almost fell in the water. I looked to see who spoke, but no one was there. Mother was still asleep on the rug. I searched for the voice I had heard.
“Just to the side of me was this old gum tree, it looked as though it had been struck by lightning it had two gaping holes, a smallish one over a much larger one.”
“That’s the one,” Carol began, but Nanna continued.
“It looked very spooky to me. The top hole lit up with this greenish light, as I remember, and there standing right on the edge of that hole was a fairy.”
“Go on Nanna!”
“Yes, a fairy, she was only about as big as a teaspoon, but oh so pretty, golden curly hair, just like yours, a skirt that seemed to be made of flower petals and bright shiny purple shoes. I remember those shoes.
“Her wings were like, like gossamer and sparkled…oh how they sparkled,” she said dreamily. “She explained how dangerous it was to lean out over the running water. And then she gave me the little green glass lantern, and asked me to come back the next day, and to bring it with me.
“We left to go home soon after that, and I forgot all about it. Showing me yours must have jogged my memory. Would you mind very much if I was to go with you tomorrow?”
“Oh Nanna, that would be wonderful.”
The following morning off they went. Carol, Cindy and Nanna, a rug strapped to the picnic basket with the two precious tiny green lanterns safely wrapped in a tissue and tucked inside the basket.
They spread the blanket at the base of the great gum tree facing the two holes.
Within minutes, six other little girls had all made themselves comfortable on the picnic rug, sitting cross legged with nanna in the middle all clasping in their laps their tiny green lanterns.
The leaves on the gum tree sounded like they were whispering when suddenly the little hole on the top glowed green and three tiny fairies appeared.
“Ah! You are all here,” one began, “and one from long ago. I knew you would return. Welcome, my name is Kymberly. Seventy years is a long time to wait, Edna, but I am so happy you are here at last.”
Esmerelda and Miranda told many stories but the most astonishing one was the preservation of the little park.
“Although our home is old and gnarled we can save it forever if you all place your little lanterns into the hole beneath us. This will ensure our home and the area around it will survive for all time. This joyous place will remain a safe and happy place forever.”
The Gully Winds
©2015 Jeanette Pederick
People toss and turn,
rest eludes them.
air conditioners grind out their crazy tunes.
As the sun rises it holds all living things in its grasp.
A lethargy steals over the sunburnt landscape,
hard baked earth cracks,
thirsty trees droop.
An eerie silence greets the midday sun,
leaves shrivel, birds’ heads under wing.
Dogs panting, slurping at water bowls,
while others patrol the urban streets in search of shade.
A hot dry wind blisters the skin.
The mind is fogged, where to go
somewhere else, the beach, air conditioned shops, the cinema?.
Or stay in shaded bricked houses,
boxed in, like in the darkness of a northern winter,
waiting for a cool change.
In the evening, a soft breeze lifts the curtains from the windows.
Refreshing gusts blow over heat-charged bodies.
The wind rises moaning and howling.
from lofty peaks through ravines,
spent only when it reaches the sea.
Eucalypts sway in the wind,
Objects rattle and fly around
but, oh, what a blessed sound!
For there is nothing quite so unique
that gives inhabitants relief,
as the fresh air of the Gully Winds.
In the morning hope returns,
tired brains rejuvenate.
Birds greet the dawn
singing and foraging for water and feed.
Then with the spatter of a few precious raindrops
on the sun baked earth,
new life begins.
Bushfire in the Gully
©2015 Joanne Baker
There’s a whisper of smoke, a ghost on the air
my pulse starts to quicken, dispels my despair
my swift warning glance, shared with my mob
to keep them all safe, well mate, that is my job.
With scarcely a sound, we’re up to our feet
for survival is left to the smart and the fleet
the wind shifts direction, it’s my greatest fear
smoke’s become thicker, the fire draws near.
We rush at an angle, away from the smell
from the all too familiar, dry, burning, hell.
A bushfire can burn for weeks we have found
we cannot out-run it, we’ll have to go round.
So fast as we can, we speed through the smoke
through hot burning embers, and air that will choke.
The crackling of tree trunks is an ominous sound;
fire flickers quicker, there’re flames on the ground.
With a last burst of speed we dash past the flames
where the grass is much thinner and the fire is tame.
It’s a slow flowing river, we splash straight on through
the water’s so sweet and it’s safer there too.
The fire roars past as we capture our breath
relieved once again to have cheated death
we amble on slowly through the soft, smoky haze
looking for somewhere for the whole mob to graze.
This is the life of a bull kangaroo
forever alert, always something to do
just me and my family, the rest of my mob
and to keep them all safe, well mate, that’s my job.
©2015 Karen J Carlisle
Hooves thudded on the road, kicking up dust. The Birdwood coach had arrived. Alfred ducked behind the old red gum, pulled his cap down low and peered across the road. In two hours, it would be on its way, passengers and horses fed. He just had to stay out of sight and hope Ma wouldn’t scold him for missing lunch again.
Wood cracked behind him. He held his breath and leaned into the gum’s trunk. Had Mr Dunn the storekeeper followed him?
Alfred cupped his hand to his ear. Leaves rustled. The creek trickled. The postman’s bugle cut through the scrub. A flurry of birds darted skyward, tittering in protest. Alfred tilted his head toward the road.
He fingered the paper in his pocket. One of the toffees had escaped. Wool strands clung to its surface. He popped it in his mouth and pressed it hard against his cheek, covering his tongue in sweet fluff.
Still no footsteps.
Alfred let out a slow breath.
A tinkle of laughter drifted over the road, joining the birdsong. Another crack. Closer. From behind the tree? Alfred peered around the red gum.
The toffee clacked against his teeth and rolled over his tongue. The pungent scent of tea trees filled his nostrils. Alfred grinned. Time to explore. He jumped the creek and landed, with a squelch on the other side, beside a curious pawprint. He traced along its edges with his finger. The back pad was enormous. Claw marks cut deep into the earth. Five toes? Not a fox.
A popping sound echoed off the hill. Alfred glanced back to his red gum guardian. A branch, thick as his torso, quivered. It drooped, groaning under its own weight. With a deafening thwack, a deep wound opened in the trunk. The branch ripped free and landed where Alfred had sought refuge.
A woman shrieked. Men shouted. Alfred gulped.
He scanned the bushland..A faint path followed the creek eastwards, narrowing as it entered the thickets of pine and tea trees. Strings of leaves dangled from a tree at the edge of the creek, beckoning Alfred to safety. He crouched near the trunk and watched from behind the curtain of branches.
No one came.
Alfred whipped his head toward the sound. Wavelets lapped the creek bank. Branches swayed in the gully wind. Shadows danced between the trunks.
He spat sweet fluff balls into the creek. Ripples hit the bank, ricocheted off a small branch and melted into the gurgling surface. A branch? Yes, it must’ve have fallen into the water.
He sucked on his toffee and swallowed. Sweet. Familiar. Filched.
A gunshot echoed between the trunks. Alfred dropped to the ground.
Had Mr Dunn followed him? Ma’d make him do extra chores for a month if he was caught.
He left the track and scrambled up the hill into the trees, following the smell of manure towards stables tucked behind the Council Chambers. He’d hide there until it was safe. A faint tap-tap rattled the stable wall. He pressed his ear against it. Horses snuffled. No sanctuary here.
“He went that way!”
“We’ve got him now.”
The voices were close. A pistol hammer clicked.
Alfred buttoned his coat, shoved his hands in the pockets and slipped into the dense thicket of native pines and bush. Sweet aromas of vanilla and chocolate filled the air. Shadows elbowed him. Something tugged on his coat.
The tugging stopped. He turned. No-one. Sticky pine leaves pulled on his sleeve. He flicked them off.
A bullet whizzed through the branches above him. Surely Mr Dunn wouldn’t have . . .? Not for just a few toffees.
Alfred raced down the hill toward the creek, back to his red gum guardian. He wouldn’t be caught!
Another pop, this time closer. Alfred ducked behind the fallen branch.
“Mr Dunn?” Alfred’s voice wavered.
“Please, sir. I’m very sorry.”
A low bush hissed at him. It shook.
Alfred backed away.
Alfred squinted into the shadows. A pair of yellow eyes stared back. They blinked. Alfred jumped back, landing on his elbows. A narrow muzzle poked through the foliage. A curled lip revealed long canine teeth. The nose twitched.
The creature stepped forward. Water dripped from its brown fur. Stripes covered its flanks. The breeze shifted. It stank of wet fur and old herbs. Alfred wrinkled his nose. It edged closer and sniffed.
Alfred slipped his hand into his pocket and pulled out a wad of wrinkled brown paper. He peeled away the remaining toffee and held out his hand. The creature sniffed and tilted its head. Its lip relaxed.
The creature froze, lifted its nose and sniffed. The voices circled back toward them.
Toffee syrup oozed down Alfred’s throat.
“I saw it go this way” said a gruff voice.
“We got it, this time.” replied a second.
The footsteps thudded closer.
“Run,” whispered Alfred.
The creature looked him in the eye.
The animal coughed and skittered into the bushes, its distinctive paw prints left in the wet earth. Alfred bit his lip. Neither of them would be caught if he could help it.
He wiped away the tracks. Splinters pierced his palms as he climbed the Redgum and nestled into the newly created hollow.
The footsteps stopped at the base of the gum. The smell of sulphur wafted up to Alfred’s hiding place, mingling with fresh eucalyptus.
“Hey, look at this.”
Alfred’s toffee paper rustled.
“Blimey. We’ve been chasing a kid.”
“But I know I saw The Howler.”
“There’s no blood, and the kid’s foot prints head toward the road.”
“Let’s go before the Coppers arrive.”
Across the road a whip cracked. Hooves clattered over cobblestones by the Post Office and trotted up Northern Road.
Alfred smiled and crunched his toffee.
Where Have All the Tea-trees Gone
©2015 Michael Sneyd
Water once had a deeper voice
A greater volume
A ground more moist
From the sky it rained
From the springs it surfaced
It collected in pools
Gave Tea-trees purpose
Roots of Tea-tree helped hold the banks
Where other roots rot at the water-course flanks
Then came a time when the rivers flowed less
The land edges widened
The Tea-trees stressed
The land was divided
For farms and their hosts
The farms needed fences
Fences need posts
And which tree’s timber held moisture back most?
The wood of the Tea-tree
The bones of its ghost
Tall Pine Waltz
©2015 Michael Sneyd
Here in the gully where the wind blows a gale
Tall pines flex with a texture like braille
Whispers within wait for rain like a snail
To spiral through time on a silver-lined trail
Sway but to stay a static dance where birds fly
Pine-cones dropping like tears from up high
Thousands of needles sowing seeds where they lie
Growing new gowns for the dance in the sky
Paint the Town
©2015 Michael Sneyd
Hooray for the full moon has painted this night
The clouds slip away with brush strokes of light
Much can be seen so invite everyone
To travel in safety for celebrations and fun
We’ll dance and we’ll sing
Stoke the fires of life
Pick up a smile
Lay down the scythe
As a pack, as a flock, as a herd, as a tribe
As creatures of earth
With the moon by our side
©2015 Michael Sneyd
Nothing’s as snug
as a possum-skin rug.
The nights aren’t so cold
with a possum-skin hug.
As the tortoise knows shelter,
winter’s possums know dry.
is what a possum-skin provides.
A Glimpse into the Past at Tea Tree Gully
© July 2015 Pauline Smith
Zac and Jacob ran along by the creek loving the freedom to explore. There was only a trickle of water coming down the creek so it was very safe.
Their mother called to them. ‘See the pines growing up the hillside?’
The brothers stopped to look up the hill. ‘They are very big,’ said Zac.
‘That’s because they were put in many years ago and that’s why it is called Pine Park here.’ Megan continued to talk. ‘The Kuarna Aborigine people used to come along this creek a long time ago, thousands of years before the white people came. The tree over there, you can see where they cut out a canoe from the trunk. So clever and resourceful.’
The boys looked closely at the tree and could make out the shape of a canoe.
They continued to explore along the creek, running their hands over a gnarled, thick trunked red gum. Megan suggested they make a shelter from the twigs and branches lying near the pathway. It was hard work for the little boys picking up the sticks, but they soon had a big bundle.
Their mother was very clever as she’d figured out how to make the shelter with a roof, by placing the sticks and branches in the right place, so that very soon, with Zac and Jacob helping, they’d finished it.
The boys scrambled inside and sat down on the dirt floor, facing out towards the creek.
‘We won’t be able to stay here long,’ warned their mother. ‘It’s starting to get dark.’
The boys sat quietly, then the scene changed. Now the creek was strong and wide, with water running down it. They could hear a splashing sound come towards them and then a canoe appeared with two Aborigines in it.
Zac nudged his brother, putting his fingers to his lips, but the Aborigines seemed not to be aware of their presence. They got out of the canoe and began to collect twigs. The boys watched in fascination as one of the Aborigines rubbed a stick and very soon had a fire going.
The other Aborigine was poking at the edge of the creek with his spear, and then with a sudden movement, he plunged it downwards. When he pulled it up, the boys could see a turtle on the end of the spear. He continued along the creek collecting berries from the bushes and then he returned to the camp.
The smell of cooking stretched across the water making Zac and Jacob feel hungry, but they had come to realize they were invisible to the Aborigines who were now eating the tucker and talking in a language the boys could not understand.
Eventually the Aborigines put out the fire and returned to their canoe. With one last glance around they got into the canoe and continued on their way.
‘It really is time to go home,’ said Megan, coming to stand close to the shelter they had built.
‘We’ve just seen some Aborigines in a canoe come down the creek,’ Zac told her, still very excited at what they had witnessed.
‘And one of them caught a turtle and they cooked it on a fire,’ interjected Jacob.
Megan laughed. ‘You’ve really have been listening to the stories I’ve been telling you. Well done boys.’
But both Zac and Jacob knew they really had been part of a time long gone in the Aboriginal ancient history.
The Permanency of Kookaburras in Pine Park
© July 2015 Rick Coy
I sat in my tree and just laughed,
As the Kaurna hunters crept past.
I continued to laugh at surveyors,
And then with their carts, the purveyors.
The settlers came in droves,
And I laughed at their woes,
So there’s nothing that’s new
As I just laugh at you
With your vehicles, no wonder I laughed,
And I’ll still give a bray
When you’ve moved away
And aliens zoom through in space craft.
© 2015 Roshana Ferrie
Black and white with beady eye,
feet step light, as they stalk by.
Majestic in their arrogance,
we’re hardly worth a second glance.
Protectors strong of their domain,
they warble musically their sweet refrain.
With song they greet the dawn each day.
Is this the way that magpies pray?
On nights when moonlight floods the skies,
they sit ‘til dawn and harmonise.
Their conversations flow musically on,
‘tho bedtime for people had been and gone,
then their previously melodious song,
increasingly sounds like it’s all gone wrong.
Can’t they see that it’s past time for bed?
We’ve had enough of burying our heads.
When springtime comes, they build their nest,
high in the foliage overlooking the rest.
Sticks and grasses are poked together,
maybe with luck, a soft, downy feather.
They watch and wait for their young to hatch,
menacing all who dare cross their patch.
They loudly threaten, then rapidly swoop,
flapping strong wings as spooked victims droop.
Magpie beaks are both long and mean,
so if they peck, you feel where they’ve been.
Kids wear containers daubed with big eyes,
to scare those magpies up into the skies.
They act much better once their chicks can fly,
‘cos if danger threatens they just fly up high.
One thing they learn, that is surely passed on,
is their gift of lyrical, harmonious song.
The Houghton Howler
© 2015 Ray Ginn
The Houghton Howler runs all day,
through Pine Forrest he trots, howls and plays.
Houghton Howler loves to pass by Henry the Eight’s,
He runs and howls and the patrons take the bait.
He leads them on a merry chase,
passing bark cut canoes, he runs with haste.
He watches the Ghana people shaping their boats,
He yells with all his might, ‘I’d like to be one of you blokes’
And now Rump’s bakery he sets in view,
pasties and sauce he wants to chew.
He sits down to eat, all that lovely vegetable and meat,
and in the Tea Trees he waits the Kaurna people to greet.
© 2015 Anne Hanson
Language fills the air
a lone cricket calls
grass whispers while moss rocks
humble and defiant hold silence.
Between dream and waking
sunlights lace delivers light and shade
winds breath carries the aroma of syllables
still water sings.
Story suffused in bark
carrying the weight of distant ancestors
steeped in history, ripe of moon
fallen leaves shed secrets.
Canopy over winged ones
branches reaching high
voices of bees, notes of birdsong
new seasons grow.
Toby’s Day Trip to Tea Tree Gully
© 2015 Kaye Jones-Ginn
It had been a miraculous day. Toby had never had a day anything like it before. His first stage coach ride. He and mother had boarded in Adelaide and it had taken all day to travel the 18 miles to Steventon, or Tea Tree Gully as the locals called it. The stage coach could seat eight people if everyone squashed up. Today, there were just four passengers, mother and me, an elderly gentleman with a fob watch that he consulted regularly, who introduced himself as Mr Percival Grimes and nice looking lady, a Miss Willerton, spinster, who smiled a lot and tried to knit. Four big horses pulled the coach along, they were beauties. Sometimes they looked like they were snorting fire as they pulled up a hill. What a wild ride they had had down the rutted North East Road, lurching around potholes and rattling over rough ground, we hung on to straps hanging from the roof, sometimes it felt like the coach would come loose from the horses. The sights from the rocking coach had been glimpses of farm animals and market gardens and wood yards, people walking, children playing and dogs barking.
A stop for midday refreshments and an hours break for the horses, then we were off again and the driver gave the horses their head. The coach careered along, bumping and swerving from side to side. It was around four in the afternoon that we screeched to a halt outside the council chambers at Tea Tree Gully, dust was still flying around in the air as we alighted and joined the porter who was to direct us to the hotel where we would wait another hour before concluding our journey to Houghton. Mr Grimes was coughing into his kerchief and Miss Willerton adjusted her hat which was in danger of falling off her head. Mother picked up her valise, took my hand and we followed a man in a navy blue, policeman like uniform. Mother took her ease in a rocking chair with a cup of tea and I went outside to have a look around.
A groom had released the horses from the coach and was giving each a rub down. They were still panting but they looked interested in the fresh fodder that was waiting for them. Toby walked across the road to the Council Chambers where the coach had pulled in. Mr Grimes had told him earlier that the building was built from stone quarried locally. It was a very handsome building. As he ran his hand over the stone he marvelled that men could cut the stone and place it so perfectly. It had been built in 18555.
Suddenly a flock a yellowtail black cockatoos flew over, the screeching noise was deafening, there must be fifteen or more. Toby put his hands to his ears to drown out the noise and thought what it would be like to touch one. He knew they had huge sharp beaks that could take a finger off in a second, but they looked so sleek and shiny that he would still like to hold one. Rushing around the side of the building to catch a final glimpse of them he noticed that there was a stream and flat green banks of grass with the biggest trees he had ever seen. Giant gums, intermingled with wattles, acacias, wild olives and blackberries.
He was still in his travelling clothes and knew mother would not be pleased if he got dirty but the water and the path beckoned. Just at the back of the building was a closed in area, it looked like a holding pen. This must be the place where Mr Grimes said they kept stray farm animals, apparently farmers had to pay to get them back. Walking further down a narrow track alongside the winding creek, he could hear frogs calling, dragon flies humming and rippling water. There were blue tongues sunning themselves and fairy wrens darting from branch to branch overhead. The smell of eucalypts filled his nostrils, and the water was bubbling along up and down over rocks and was as clear as ice. What a great place, Toby did not know it but it was a very special place to the Kaurna people, they felt the peace that he was feeling, they enjoyed family evenings around the campfire, making coats from possum skins, and cutting canoes from the huge trees. They came here every year on their travels to hunt the big western grey kangaroo and to find the bush tucker that was so plentiful. Toby looked at a big tree and wondered how a boat shape had been cut into it. He looked closer and could see a pair of white cockatoos had nested in the top branch. One day the Kaurna people would not come here again because the white man cleared the land, taking out the big trees leaving no land for the Kaurna or many of the native animals and plants. They would all but disappear from this beautiful natural paradise.
A short beaked echidna ambled by, Toby stood very still in case it decided to come his way, the spikes on its back looked lethal. Suddenly a kookaburra started laughing, acting like an alarm, reminding Toby that the coach was only stopping for an hour in Tea Tree Gully to pick up mail, extra passengers and to rest the horses. Reluctantly he retraced his steps along the creek’s edge catching sight of a sleepy koala high in a gum tree. Rounding the corner of the building he noted that mother, Mr Grimes, Miss Willerton and the hotel porter were all looking anxiously up and down the track and that the coach driver was furious. Catching sight of him the driver yelled “Get in boy, we are going to be ten minutes late tonight, and it’s all your fault.” They were barely in their seats before they were thundering along at breakneck speed heading for Houghton and beyond. What a day it had been, he would tell mother about his exploring when she did not look so cross.