Walkabout at Wooloo Wooloo
On a blueberry farm near Tabulum, where the pickers live, in a dusty forest camp that is like a throwback to the Australian gold rush. Here i sit next to a house made from yellow straw and blue tarps, surrounded by the pickers tents, with bits of wood, rubbish and a mess of what looks like pigeon feathers next to a chicken wire trap. Out in the dry scrub in a smokey smelling eucalypt forest. Five foreigners live here, blueberry pickers, 3 Japanese and 2 Americans. They’re talking about going on strike this week because the pay is too low. It looks like a refugee camp.
Four of the young workers are cooking up their dinner, the smells of sweet meat fried in sunflower oil wafts on the wind. Everyone smells like smoke which masks their unwashed bodies. One fella is sitting on the roof of the straw shack, a dark brown Japanese tanned by days out in the sun, he’s reading a book up there on the mount of his shanty temple; at peace with the world. Bare feet tread soundlessly everywhere, dirt stains between the toes. A bag of weed next to a stray bud sits on the table inside the hut. No matter where you are, people always find a way to get their high. One of the other Japanese fellas flicks on a Tupac track and starts nodding his head back and forth, the cracking snares and cool bouncing black male voices of ghetto rhythms sound strange against the rise and fall of the cicadas singing clinging to the trees.
These cats are having a true Aussie experience, like the swagmen of old. Everything’s peace, everything’s love, we all co-exist seamlessly, a family, striking out for gold in the middle of dusty ol’ nowhere.
As the sun fell over the horizon we cooked up a meal and took it through the bush to a dinner party in another camp. All around the fire we sit, we all love to eat, and as we do this we talk about how the presence of God is unquestionable, since something was thoughtful enough to make food so delicious, imagine if eating food was painful… no no, there most certainly is a God.
After the food is finished, big red grinning faces from all around the world sit in a circle around the fire because 20 minutes ago a joint was passed around, and now we start to connect heart to heart and talk about those kinds of things that touch us at the core. The Spanish yell and roll their tongues, the french lift up their chins and bitch about the small things, the Bosnians sit on their thrones made from cut logs and talk as a matter of fact; no time for bullshit, the Japanese smile and nod their heads in agreement to every word said, the two local Aussies including myself are out in the bush bare foot with no torch looking for fire wood. Limbs crack like gunshots through the night as we hammer the wood across giant gums to break them into smaller pieces.
Everyone’s peace, everyone’s love. We are so similar, we love to eat food, have a smoke and drink a beer. The 18 year old German girls who look fresh from the womb sit in a tight nit circle speaking quietly among themselves, concentrating hard on their marshmallows that roast above the fire stuck to the ends of sticks. Even when the fire burns down to embers they sit and wait for their marhmellows to cook, expecting the firewood to come from nowhere with no effort and reignite the flames. They sit oblivious, cross legged like little buddhas, unaware of the band of Hare Krishnas who play music of veneration behind them for all of us, who are now blocked out by the ignorance of youth and the warmth of the fire, but still they sing their praise of God in a blissful djembe trance and warm our spirits.
The Aussies return again with more wood and the fire blazes anew ,brightening our still red grinning faces and glistening eyes and the music grows louder in harmony with the flames. We are all here together, the world is at war but we are all getting along just fine.
Here we go now, onto new country, Granite country, where the ghost gums grow twisting in spirals around the boulders. Here we go, bumping along a dusty road in a Toyota Hilux that steers like a boat.
The three of us, here, turning our lives around. We talk about our broken hearts, the world, and our visions that pierce into the future. Our past plumes behind us in a cloud of dust. We’ll get to the bottom of Wooloo Wooloo (Bald Rock) and ask country for permission to walk. Wooloo Wooloo is where the bush stops and the desert begins, where the tribes from all around would meet and celebrate who knows what, only Blackfella knows, but we are here, and that’s what counts.
A wallaby on the side of the road flicks it head as we pass, speaking to us on behalf of country. My mate next to me squished up in the middle seat of the Hilux passes me a cigarette made from a mix of mint and mugwort, it feels cool on my throat, refreshing. We laugh about how we were kicked out of the “Bohemian Teahouse” in Tenterfield for having bare feet. The Granite rolls up and down along the county, here we are together, sharing ourselves with the land.
Now we walk in silence, the three of us, up to the great mother rock, Wooloo Wooloo. The Kookaburras laughed above giving us permission to ascend. Upon our first steps a lone Kookaburra perched his fat belly on a branch over our heads. It’s Uncle Lewis saying G’day, another sign for our safe passage.
The great gum trees twist towards the heavens. Little Eucalyptus shrubs stick up with yellow balled blossoms, a black ant that glows metallic green in the sun crawls on one. Ferns speckle the forest floor highlighted with yellow tinge. A sheet of Gray cloud calmly covers the sky and the birds chime their golden songs beneath. Towers these trees are, shooting up from the ferns, their bark peeling like the beards of old men that fall off and crunch crisp beneath our bare feet.
Whoa there! Big Rock ! Wooloo Wooloo in front of us now, the sister of big red Uluru. The wind, it whispers in tongues not heard by the rational mind but known all too well by the heart. We walk up in silence, the three of us.
We took a vow of silence as we walked up the big mumma granite that broke my feet back in, been a while since i last went bush. Now we sit on the summit and soak in nutrients of the 360 vista of the great dividing range that lays out around us and we all breath in unison. It almost feels like blasphemy writing these words, after two hours of silence these words seem unholy.
We took our time as we came up here, smelling the flowers, touching the trees and just sitting down until out hearts told us that it was time to move on. Half way up i sat down and just held my face in my hands. The sadness of my broken heart rose up in me and fell through the Granite down into the centre of the earth. If i havn’t mentioned it yet, out of us three, two are men and one a woman. She brought us here today, sharing what Uncle Lewis had shown her. As i sat there in sadness she came up behind me and sat down too, her arms wove themselves around me and her head lay on my shoulder. On behalf of the mothers, sisters and daughters she held me like her son and poured her healing heart into mine.
After a time, she stood up and walked on. A great big voice rose up from the mountain and sung a song through me. I fell on my back with a great big breath and begun to laugh hysterically with my elbows and heels thudding themselves upon the granite until they bled. After a time again, i stood up and walked on, and now here we are, lighter then when we were when we began our ascent towards the heavens.
Down the river and over
The water swims
To the ocean.
On the river now,
The water foams,
A cold misty morning,
Floating on the canopy.
The wind moves in,
I love this land, this country,
It is in my bones,
In my blood.
Thank you to the mother,
For all that i have ever had.
My flesh is of you, my heart beats
You are a piece of art.
If you ever need my life,
Oh mother of mine,
Then please, take it from me,
For you gave it to me.
You are my first love and forever
Oh Rocky River.
It is the inner child that shines through the artist!
it must be! Lest we go m@D!
Return back to where you come from!
That first impulse, that first light that blinds the eyes into delight!
The first light will never be the last!
Your last breath is the first one before the calling that brings you home,
Back we go to the song of
Under the canopy we sit, our kingdom, so serene,
The mind ticks away,
Ticking off its lists and all that whitefella way.
Oh i am proud of my people,
How far we have come, how hard we have worked.
ALL TOGETHER NOW!
Lets do it! Lets make it happen!
The moment, the one, The life, THE SUN!
So hear it sung from the beaks of birds
In the song
Of the ever beating heart!
We have won.
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