Gertrude’s Diary #60 – Australian Story

This week I visited the goats. I’ve written about them many times, so I won’t describe their gentle and curious ways: the way the young ones frolic and play on the green hillsides. The way the tame ones come up for a scratch behind the horns or the bite of an apple. The way the ovulating does bleat incessantly for hours when separated from the bucks.

On Wednesday I went down the escarpment to the lake, and walked out onto its mysterious face. It is beautiful and strange there, with patches of alien-looking sedges; unexpected water plants among the pasture.

It is a place where you might expect to meet mythological beasts, sitting melancholy and marooned by the receding water. Or perhaps the ghosts of drowned cadets sailing a spectral yacht, on a lake that holds only grass and sky.

The mysteries of time are suggested in the moraine of an ancient glacier, or the brilliant light in a piece of sunwarmed quartz.

There are eagles out there; they attack the intruding hang-gliders, the pilot’s small voice carrying over the trees: “fuck off! fuck off! get out if it!”.

In the evening, a great flock of magpies come in from the broad grassland of the lake and roost in the tall trees that clothe the hills. Their wings make a purposeful rushing noise in the stillness of twilight.

I have seen it written that the area around the lake has the highest concentration of deadly snakes in the southern hemisphere.

I have heard it said that Weereewa marks a special site in the path of the rainbow serpent.

I have rescued snakes there, clipping the strands of bird-net from the writhing, dusty-brown body. People shoot snakes. Or hit them with a rake. They do not thank them for eating mice and rats. They do not marvel at their supple movements and lean beauty.

Of course, to see the sacred face of the lake you have to look past the sandmines and the fence posts, forget the beautiful and long-destroyed billabong, and ignore the unbearable sense of loss that haunts much of the Australian bush: that persistent silence that speaks more eloquently than words could, whispering the forgotten crimes of the last 200 years.

2 Responses to “Gertrude’s Diary #60 – Australian Story”

  1. Happy Australia Day!

    Can you believe I got a free full size flag with my 30 can block of tooheys new today? and the deer on the can turns BLUE when the beer is cold enough!

    And the flag comes not with pesky hooks for going up a flagpole, but a velcro tag to hold it around my neck!


  2. You are a man of facets JB.