Captivating and unexpected

Heading in opposite directions,

I saw her across the intersection.

The lights changed,

we both stepped into the street.

My eyes instantly locked onto her attractive pale oval face.

As she came closer our eyes met fleetingly.

She was captivating and unexpected.

After that first time I saw her

she became a recurring

dream.

 

And yet, we had not exchanged a word.

It was the light in her eyes that concentrated my attention.

They sparkled with mischief, fun, delight and  joy of life.

They were irresistible.

I intuitively knew they were telling it true.

Despite never knowing it before,

I knew Immediately I had been looking for those eyes forever,

looking for the person behind them all my life.

And there they were,

passing me on the road,

disappearing as fast as they appeared,

part of a human wave heading home from work,

also irresistible.

 

I have heard people say the first thing they fell in love with

were their partner’s eyes.

Well, these were those eyes.

They spoke to me directly, urgently.

of being together,

telling me there was more I must learn here,

all the things I needed to know for the right future

were behind those rich brown eyes

with the big dark pupils of evening.

Just those two deep pools of enticement alone were enough.

They called on me to throw caution to the wind,

to surrender myself to the yearning,

to give up everything for her

 

And I would have right there and then too

had not we been separated

at the very same instant we didn’t meet.

Moved by the pressed bodies of a dense compacted throng

going one way and the other,

as we passed I turned trying find her,

earnestly scanning the back of

as many sombre grey hats, coats and heads as I could,

engaged in a process of rapid fire elimination

until I caught my foot on the curb and stumbled.

I looked again.

She was gone.

 

Every following evening I waited at that corner.

Enveloped in my own dark winter proof cladding.

Examining the crowds.

Scrutinising every office worker heading home to dinner.

Muffled and reserved.

I sought that same light, that one bright spark, that point of difference

in the fast fading dusk of shortening days.

My own hope fading

as each short day felt longer and lonelier.

 

It was on the same day of the next week

she reappeared.

A Thursday.

How could no one else be alert to her quiet warm aura,

gently glowing against a background of gloomy evensong,

the trudging of homeward bound feet.

I fell for her.

I mean literally.

I was so preoccupied with not losing sight of her

I darted across traffic and was bowled over at her feet.

She almost fell over me.

She quickly sidestepped,

bent over,

put out her hand

and pulled me up.

All in one graceful movement.

She saved me from a trampling

and alternate futures

I didn’t want to contemplate

 

We stepped out of the human tide

into a shopfront vestibule.

She asked if I was alright?

I wasn’t. I was so embarrassed

I couldn’t speak but,

she just smiled

she straightened my coat, looked

me up and down,

said “That’s better” and asked would I like a cup of tea?

Three hours later we were still at that little table for two in the Block Arcade café.

 

Those eyes told no lies.

 

After I climbed the mountain

When I climbed the mountain

to stand at its summit

and declare

my love to the world

 

I had no idea

you were preparing

to leave

down there on the flat.

To turn away from my

rugged individualism

my heroics

my boyish raffishness

 

I had no

idea it was coming,

your going.

No insight you might even

have entertained

the idea or could be

thinking that way.

I didn’t know I was that way,

in your way

 

You never told me

what it was that got

your goat.

How was I to know I had to

change to keep you

or is that?

how was I to know I could

never keep you,

no matter how

much I tried or thought

I needed too

 

When I came home

from my victory

and declaration to

the world below. I was

still walking on air.

On the cloud of

the conquering and

the anticipation of you

 

You said there was

no evidence that

was the way

I felt

and there was never

likely to be.

That I was the only

one who knew

what was going on

in my head.

You said I was

my own best company,

that I should go

back to the mountain.

Where I belonged

The Way

The way a beloved dog rests a lazy head upon your knee

The way a wooing look invites you toward mutual intimacy

The way a cup of tea slows time and calms an over active mind

The way a good book immerses you in new realities that bind

The way a word becomes a story, a poem comes of rhyme

The way a voice becomes emotion, movement becomes a mime

The way a favourite song transports you back to that special place

The way a touch can speak of love as it brushes across your face

The way a first wildflower discovered announces coming spring

The way a view from a mountain can make your heart leap and sing

The way a beautiful landscape incites gratefulness, awe and joy

The way a true love will not  waste time with you by being coy

The way a walk in the forest restores hope, balance and well being

The way a look deep into the stars can change your way of seeing

The way a composted garden grows better in space and over time

The way a perception can be a knowing, a knowing can be a sign

The way a naked body is a beautiful body as long as there is beauty inside

The way a grievous loss becomes warm memory after someone special has died

The way a child’s innocence equates with unqualified trust

The way our lives play out

Live best you can

After it’s just

Dust

Australian Rules Football: the best game in the world. A game good for bad times.

Thank you Australian Rules Football: The AFL, Administrators, Organisers, Players, Coaches, Support staff, Promoters, Deliverers and Volunteers.

Thank you for managing to organise an ongoing fixture in these sad times. Thank you for overcoming obstacles, learning your way to solutions and giving us back the game. The best game. Australian Rules Football is the best game in the world. The continuity of competition is a welcome fraction of “normal” that reminds us good things can still happen (even when Collingwood gets a complete shellacking).

I still feel this way after watching the second half of West Coast vs Collingwood because the Eagles played with such athletic beauty. A team of well prepared AFL players can perform most of the feats achievable by the human physique in the course of a season. However, the Eagles delivered many in a single game.

The second half was a virtually flawless display of sublime skill and football smarts by West Coast players as individuals and as a team. The goal kicking was extraordinary. One slotted after the other in a peerless demonstration of accuracy and purpose. The strength and dominance of their aerial work included some lovely speccys. The immediate and right decision making delivered ball after ball to a teammate. It was uncanny.

The procession like waves of players streaming in absolute synchrony down the field as they passed the pill in bullet like hand ball and short passes was a joy to watch. Every long bomb seemed to hit a target. Every spill was gathered and spat out. Players propelled themselves at their opposition in irresistible tackles. Their defence ruthlessly puounced on turnovers and relentlessly deflected every move into the Magpie forward zone. They were the launching pad for one successful offensive attack after another.

Did I mention full forward Josh Kennedy yet? No? How could I have come so far without acknowledging 7 majors from a veteran star? Still waxing, rarely waning, always a threat, he did it again, one perfect line after another, one perfect goal after another, one reason to celebrate football after another.

And through it all, there was Nic Nat. I have never seen such a dominant demonstration of the art of ruck work. His vision, his leap, his taps and his persistence once the ball hits the ground is astoundingly glorious. Even more astounding, his opposite number was Brody Grundy, arguably the best ruckman in the game. On this occasion it was a total eclipse!

Tracks and Trails

Today, I wrote, edited and proof read in preparation for publication of many more tracks and trails. I did it for myself because of all the wonderful experiences I have when bushwalking. I did it for the community because I believe the natural world is one of the best places to restore yourself and others. I did it for habitat improvement, to help everyone learn the conservation values important for saving our future.

Hughes Creek Hill Wildflowers

I am trying to learn the names of the local wildflowers as I walk. I was surprised to find so many on Hughes Creek Hill in mid winter. The file names are what I think these are. Corrections welcome. There is also one unknown I need assistance with.

Recognise me? Recognise me!

Am I really

the one you see?

Or do you superimpose

someone else

over me?

 

Someone

I will never agree

to be

 

In your expectation

I will

dutifully

bend to your will

as a vassal

bends the knee

 

That’s not really me,

part of your hegemony.

 

Just now I need you

you see.

But, my duty to you

is not my duty to me.

As I strive for self determination

and security.

The Right Lateral

My left wrist between your breasts

My left hand upon your chest

My left forearm lies across your left ribs

My left elbow beside your abdomen

My left bicep hugs your flank

My left temple on your left shoulder blade

My chest against you back

Your buttocks cushion my groin

My quads align with the back of your thighs

The front of my knees inside the back of your knees

My tibia parallel your calves

Your soles rest softly on the dorsal aspects of my feet

Your soul binds my heart

Believe in me

Believe in me, believe in me, believe in me

Said each of the the guiltless emphatically

Ministers in the State Labor Party

Said each of the blameless emphatically

Ministers in the Federal Coalition Parties

We’ll create a safe and free society

Where rule of law and democracy

Are the state of play and how it should be

Trust in us, trust in us, trust in us

To build a world of justice without the fuss

Where all are equal and none are hushed

None are corrupted by power lust

Faith and hope, faith and hope, faith and hope

To save the civilised world, give us enough rope

See us tie it in knots and we’ll see how you cope

See us twist it and turn it, make it slippery with soap

Deceit and lies, deceit and lies, deceit and lies

We’re the cream at the top of reformist deniers

We laugh as the piss weak we hang out to dry

As our robodebts and branch stacking see due process die

Watch and despair, watch and despair, watch and despair

As we bring down noble institutions without a care

As we turn our society into one where no one will share

As we promote vested interests beyond repair

Calls to and from our small corner

Our connections to the world outside

Digital threads off the Tableland

Are brittle lines

That disappear into the ether

Whispers into the virtual world

Where they really go

I don’t know

I find an number, a url, an IP address

and click

To send or receive

My message goes out to somewhere

A response comes back from somewhere

So distant, is it real, this ethereal contact?

As real as a handshake, a hug or a kiss?

Y C U?

I wonder what it is I see you for

When all I crave is to see you more

There’s your smell I can’t resist

My melting heart after we’ve kissed

Your fingertip pressure upon my spine

Body electric your touch divine

The texture of your warm soft skin

The brush and rush of lovemaking

The way you walk and swing your hips

The way you talk with precious lips

Your voice a sound of sweetest measure

The sound of true love‘s spoken pleasure

The way you think and make me wonder

You shake my world, views torn asunder

And when you challenge it stirs in me

New hope and ways that I can see

 

Your hair holds aloft a thorny crown

You turn the wind right way around

Your shoulders strong they carry me

Arms embrace me meaningfully

Our limbs entwined our hearts on fire

Together, inspired, alight, desire

When your nose nuzzles my neck

I feel the comfort of a future set

The deep, dark pools behind your eyes

They drive me to resist good byes

I love to love you in every way

I need to see you every day

These are the reasons

Y I C U

Dreaming of Salt Water

Having just finished the complete series of inspirational Aubrey / Maturin historical novels I am left to reflect, had I read them as a boy I may well have run away to sea.

The sea the sea the rolling sea
Is all that I adore
Let me let me be upon the sea
Mother dear, I implore
Beside stern lantern’s fading light
I’ll wave to fading shore
To sail away year and day
And learn the ocean lore
A seaman right and able I’ll be
A landsman never more

Polly’s to Gooram (by kayak)

This can be a challenging, but gorgeous walk anytime. However, when in flood it is an amazing place for chuting with daggers as well.

I met these guys at Polly’s one year as they were preparing to take on the large number of falls and cascades in these highly manoeuvrable kayaks. They watch BOM for a certain flood level as a trigger point to take on the raging water. They emphasised this was only something to do when the water level was right. Otherwise, the risk of disaster was manyfold higher.

I hadn’t seen the video until Sim posted it on bogietree enjoy: shooting the flooded Sevens

“Whroo” by Vonnie Deering

Vonnie sent me this lovely poem after seeing my recent post about Whroo Historic Area. It has been a favourite site for her and husband Graham over the years. I can see why. I have Vonnie’s permission to reproduce it here.

This place is littered with broken brick,

discarded bits of crockery,

signs that once this was a home

to those who dug for gold.

They have been gone a long time now –

gone with the spoils of their sojourn –

leaving the bush, now done with,

to its thoughts.

 

Neglected fruit trees struggle to survive,

the wells are dry and mine shafts filled

with rubbish and with rubble;

peppercorns droop,

their pale pink seed pods dangle,

their spicy scent hangs in the warming morning;

tired pines lean into afternoon

with limbs like old bones, twisted.

 

Absence has brought wildflowers to

the graves within the little cemetery –

bindweed and finger flowers are bright

against the dusty ground;

the headstones slump and mutely spell out

lives in gaining spent.

 

The ironbarks have staked their claim;

the native cherry and the wattle stand

amongst the straggling Chinese scrub;

mounds of mullock have grassed over and

the hard earth, spread with scats,

is rich again with golden everlastings.

 

Choughs in dozens protest at approach;

loudly, harshly they insist

this place of strange abandoned beauty

is their territory.

Whroo Historic Trail

Map

GPS coordinates -36.646502 145.026763

20200427_map_Whroo Historic Trail

Distance
7km
Difficulty
Grade 3
Duration
3-4 hours (bushwalking)
Alternative Recreational Uses
Birdwatching, mountain biking, photographing, picnicking, orienteering and driving (on formed roads only). Prospecting and fossicking require a Miner’s Right.

Motor bikes / 4WDs must be registered, riders / drivers licensed & stay on formed roads.

Seasonal Information
Wildflowers in spring and autumn. Muddy tracks in winter. Very hot and dry in summer.
Cautions
The Information Centre is permanently closed.

Signs and trail markers may be damaged Unauthorised and poorly defined tracks and trails exist. Take care not to get lost! No potable water is available.

No pets. Take your rubbish with you.

Grass trees are vulnerable to cinnamon fungus transfer: keep to formed roads and tracks.

Amenities
Car parking, public toilets, picnic tables, fire grates, interpretive signs, trail markers and camping
Management and Support Groups
Parks Vic

Location

To access the Whroo Historic Area, drive through the Rushworth State Forest via the Rushworth – Nagambie Rd. 7km south of Rushworth Township, turn left into Reedy Creek Rd. The central car park with public toilets is 0.5km from this intersection on the right.

Track Notes

This is often a quiet, empty place of bushland, native flora and fauna. Exploration of the Whroo Historic Trail unearths evidence of a different, busy, crowded and culturally significant past. The open cut of the impressive Balaclava Mine marks one end of the journey. Remnants of Victoria’s gold rush era can be discovered all along the way. Underground storage tanks, mining shafts and tunnels, building rubble and foundations, century old rubbish dumps and gold mining infrastructure comprise an historic treasure trove. Once spring fed Aboriginal rock wells close these historic trail loops.

You can enter the trail loops at any point. However, the sizable central car park with picnic and toilet facilities is probably the most convenient place to start and finish.

Head uphill to the right of the public toilets to join the Balaclava Mine section of the trail. The trail is well-defined, being constructed of a crushed quartz and gravel surface. Be wary, the gravel can slip. There are 2 viewing points into the open cut. Watch out for locked gated tunnels through the hill. The larger was for a tramline. Access into the open cut is now prohibited due to the high risk of rock falls.

After you pass the second viewing point, cross nearby Rushworth – Nagambie Rd to see the original battery dam. If you are lucky, you may see tortoise on the bank. Fish live in this water.

There is great mountain biking below the dam wall. Procced downhill parallel to the road while looking across the road to your left. Cross the road to the first trail on your left to rejoin the Balaclava Mine loop. You will return to the central car park via mullock heaps  and the site of the Lewis homestead.

Once back at the central car park, this time head downhill, towards Whroo Cemetery. Keep to the left of the open grassy space you initially traverse. Imagine it humming with the sounds of a 10,000 strong population. Take care, like this space, some walking trails may not be well defined due to variable local conditions. You will arrive at a dirt road. Head along the road to your right to resume the trail on the opposite side, beside Poor Man’s Gully. Observe the mullock heaps of gold mining detritus as you pass by.

You will come to Cemetery Road. Cross here to follow the cemetery driveway into the cemetery itself. There are 400 graves here, many unmarked. Take time to reflect on the timing and causes of death in gold rush Whroo.

The next stop will be the Aboriginal waterholes. Follow the trail behind the cemetery around the base of the nearby low hill to the left of the cemetery. Passing through stands of grass trees, you will come to an intersection. Follow the trail marker on your left pointing up the hill. Cross the next dirt road to the ramp that leads to the waterholes.

Return back down the same trail section to the intersection and turn left to resume the trail. This will now run parallel with Reedy Lake Rd until it reaches Cemetery Rd. Cross to the picnic tables on the corner. To return to the central car park, continue uphill parallel to Reedy Lake Rd. You have completed your trail loops.

Options

  • Visit the puddling machine and cyanide vats 300m south of the Balaclava Battery Dam along the Rushworth – Nagambie Rd.
  • Follow the track opposite the Balaclava Mine on Reedy Creek Rd up and behind Malakoff Hill. Then travel downhill along Surface Hill Gully for 300m. Turn right to head back towards the central car park.
  • Free camping is available at Green’s Camping Ground on Green’s Rd.

Topography and Geology

Of the undulating rises to low hills, Balaclava Hill is the highest point in the Whroo district. It was a very rich mine. During the Silurian period, an intensely heated earth’s crust beneath the gold fields pushed volcanic rocks into extremely-hot salty water. As the water moved closer to the surface and cooled, gold crystallised out with quartz. 600 million years later, this resulted in a 19th century fortune of more than £1,000,000 from quartz bearing gold veins of up to 15cm across. Whroo goldfields are estimated to have produced 40,000 ounces of gold.

Flora

Whroo Historic Area comprises 490 hectares within the world’s largest ironbark forest of 24,300 hectares. The forest itself harbours a canopy of red and mugga ironbark, grey box, yellow box, white box and red stringy bark. The mid story contains grass trees, blackwood, golden wattle, spreading wattle, casuarina, melaleuca and dogwood. There are occasional patches of mallee. The understory consists of grevillia, drooping cassinia and bush pea. A ground layer of native grasses, woodland flowers including orchids and bulbous plants completes a unique native bush landscape.

Fauna

Kangaroos, wallabies, yellow footed antechinus, brush tailed phascogale, squirrel glider, common dunnart, legless lizards, tree goannas and tortoise may be spotted. Particularly, if you choose to camp overnight.

Birdlife

Rushworth State Forest is listed as an eBird Australia hotspot with records of 150 species, including the powerful owl and threatened swift parrot.

Local History

The Nguraililam-wurrung aboriginal people used ironbark forest timber to fashion canoes, hunting implements and construct shelters. Ironbark blossom made a sweet beverage. The name “Whroo” is said to come for the word meaning lips. This was a reference to the aboriginal watering holes in the area.

Gold was discovered in Rushworth in 1853. In 1854, a gold nugget was discovered in grass at Balaclava Hill by John Lewis and James Nickinson.  The consequent goldrush lasted much of the decade, recurrently bringing thousands to try their luck. Gold mining began with alluvial diggings, proceeding to open cut methods as alluvial returns diminished. By 1860, a population of just 450 remained. The Balaclava Hill Mine continued to be productive until it was shut down in the 1870s due to water management problems. However, shafts have been mined since. The last active shaft was filled by the Mines Department in the 1960s.

In its time, the Whroo township accommodated a Mechanic’s Institute, a state school, a post office, a savings bank, a free library, 2 churches, 3 ore crushing mills, 3 hotels and a cordial factory. 139 buildings were still present in 1871.

Rumour has it Ned Kelly and his gang visited the area. Prior to anticipated trouble with the local constabulary, it is said a cache of Kelly gold was stashed in the area and never found again …..

Whroo cemetery reflects the undiscriminating difficulties of life in a harsh environment, where neither age, nationality, culture nor religion provided protection. Chinese miners make up 15% of those buried. They were a significant part of the community as miners, for operating puddling machines and growing market gardens.

However, by the 1920s ironbark timber cutting was the principal remaining industry. By 1933 the population had fallen to just 52. By 1955, Whroo was a ghost town.

In case of emergency

Call 000

Melville’s Lookout Track (revisited)

Title

Melville’s Lookout Track

Map

Lat: 36.812930

Lon: 144.996363

Distance, Grading and Cautions

Distance
10.5km
Difficulty
Grade 3
Duration
3 – 4 hours bushwalking
Alternative Recreational Uses
This is a good location for multi recreational use: bushwalking, mountain bikes, orienteering, rogaining and driving (on formed roads only)

Horse riding, motor bikes and 4WDs are only permitted on formed roads.

Seasonal Information
Wildflowers in autumn and spring. Muddy tracks in winter. Very hot and dry in summer.
Cautions
Grass trees are vulnerable to cinnamon fungus transfer: keep to formed roads and tracks.

Unauthorised tracks exist. Take care not to get lost!

No pets or firearms. No drones without a permit.

Rough ground, snakes, falling limbs, no potable water.

Amenities
Picnic tables and fire grates at the Lookout
Management and Support Groups
Parks Vic

Location

Embark from and return to the carpark (of sorts) on the corner of Mt Black Quarry Rd and Heathcote Nagambie Rd., Wirrate.

Track Notes

The main part of the track comprises Mt Black Quarry Rd. This is a dirt vehicle track with very little traffic. Take care, loose stones can make the track slippery. The track rises gently for 3.6km, where it arrives at the base of a steep, rough foot trail that ascends directly to the Lookout (at 4.2km). This foot trail then joins the dirt vehicle track on the opposite side of the summit. This dirt vehicle track loops back to the base of the hill. If the initial steep foot trail ascent looks too daunting, keep walking along the road approximately 100 metres until you get to the Melville’s Lookout 2km directional sign pointing left. Follow this track up and back down for a less demanding walk.

To the right of the Melville’s Lookout sign you will see remains of the old Goulburn Weir quarry site. Rocks from this location were cut to build the Goulburn River Weir wall at Nagambie in 1890. This area invites exploring. Kids will love it for all the climbing and hiding places. It makes for excellent mountain biking as well.

Options

  • For a shorter walk, you can comfortably 2WD drive in on Mt Black Quarry Rd to the base of the Melville’s Lookout.
  • A 4WD can take you all the way to the Lookout on the summit vehicle track, 2km from the Melville’s Lookout directional sign.
  • Walking 800 metres further along Mt Black Quarry Rd brings you to a walking track on the right going up to the Mt Black summit.
  • The nearest camping is permitted at Spring Creek or Dargile Camping and Picnic Grounds or the Whroo free camping area.

Topography and Geology

The National Park is composed of forested hills and gullies. The sand stone ridge lines are a result of folds in the earth’s crust. Look out for fossilised sea shells from the ancient sea bed.

Flora

This park comprises Victoria’s largest remaining box – ironbark forest, consisting of open woodland including ironbark, grey and yellow box and stringy bark. The understory features blackwood, gold dust wattle, silver wattle and drooping cassinia. Grass trees are numerous. Green rock fern is a common ground plant in milder months.

Wildflowers include grassland wood sorrel, shiny everlastings, tall bluebells and Nodding Greenhood orchids, with many more according to the season. Rare spider orchids may be also found.

Fauna

Eastern Grey kangaroos and goannas may be encountered.

Threatened species you may be lucky enough to see are the tuan and swift parrot

Birdlife

White winged choughs love the ground layer and white throated tree creepers are commonly seen running up midstory trunks. Red and little wattle birds and parrots particularly enjoy the canopy when eucalypts are in flower. And, of course, cockatoos abound. If you keep your wits about you, there are plenty more birds to be seen.

Pests

Damage from 4WD and motorbikes is not as bad as elsewhere, but sadly some clowns will always take pleasure in littering and tearing such places up.

March flies can be a problem in Autumn.

Local History

Naming:

Dargile (formerly Heathcote – Graytown) National Park.

Melville’s Lookout: Captain (Francis) Melville was a notorious goldrush era bushranger. After being transported to Australia at age 15 for housebreaking, he escaped Port Arthur to live with local aborigines for a year. He came to Victoria in 1851. Within a short time he had formed the Mt Macedon Gang that robbed travellers heading to and from the goldfields.