“MOUNTAINS TO MANGROVES”
Copyright Liz Hall-Downs/Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland, 1999
In June, 1999, I was commissioned by the Mountains to Mangroves Festival to write a suite of poems focussing on the social and environmental histories of the wildlife corridor from Camp Mountain to the Boondall Wetlands in Brisbane.
My response to this has been twofold. I have produced a series of poems based on historical characters and events from the 1840’s through to the present, and the ‘Mountains to Mangroves Haiku Cycle’, a collection of haiku describing some of the flora and fauna of the area.
I chose haiku, the ancient Japanese verse form, for its brevity and its traditional links with the natural world. In recognition of the original inhabitants of the area, the Turrbul people, I have used, where possible, the Aboriginal names for the species described as well as the English names we are more familiar with. Although the Turrbul language is no longer spoken, word lists exist which were compiled by anthropologists of the 1930’s. More recent lists have been compiled by John Bowden in consultation with Aboriginal elders. Using these words serves as a reminder of the not-too-distant past, when an eagle was a “bugawan”, and a pelican a “kulukan” – beautiful words for beautiful creatures, words which possess a lyricism and musicality well-suited to poetry.
The historically-based prose poems are intended as a representation of aspects of life in the young city of Brisbane and surrounding areas. Naturally, there is far more historical material available than is feasible to include here. In the text I have sourced only direct quotations. Readers whose interest is stirred can consult my sources listed in the Bibliography. Obviously it is impossible to give a clear picture of life in the past in what is now referred to as the Mountains to Mangroves Corridor without also referring to events in central Brisbane. As much as the agricultural and religious activities of new settlers to the north of Brisbane influenced the quality of life in the city, so the social and political conditions in the city impacted on the lives of those in the farming communities.
Most of the characters encountered in these poems are fictionalised versions of real people, where I have tried to imagine how they might have spoken, and what issues might have concerned them; other characters are pure invention. In all cases, however, I have attempted to create a sense of “the real” by including historical details as described in the source materials.
Liz Hall-Downs,Writer & Community Artist,Brisbane,July 1999
1. Women’s Days
bundal, yugam and mai lie
in dillys in the creek
till the poison washes out
and then we eat.
we lay rotting logs in water
so the kanyi come,
collect bungwal roots
and pound them into flour.
we gather cumbookie, dubi
and winyam in the morning
while the men take their
mandins, and go fishing
during booral we are frightened
of the sound from the men’s camp,*
of that scary big blackfella who eats
our boys then throws them up!
after two moons they come back
to fight and dance and feast
for days with all our neighbours
Bundjalung, Yuggera, Waka Waka**
bundal – roots
yugam – a large bean
mai – Moreton Bay chestnut
dilly – lomandra plant fibre woven into bag
kanyi – shipworm; bungwal – fern roots
booral – men’s initiation ceremony
cumbookie – yabby
dubi – mud crab; winyam – soldier crab; mandin – fishing net
* bugaram and wabalkan (bull roarers) were used to make this sound to frighten the women away from the men’s ceremonial areas
** Tribes from Tweed, Ipswich and Upper Brisbane River
2. Young Men’s Ceremony
they take us boys to the bul called keperra
the turrwan whispers in my ear my new name
then shouts it out to all the men!
our noses pierced and scars cut on our bodies
we’ll be men too, soon, and will make braggan
and pilar from the kanaipa.
we’ll make tabri and bakkan
and canoes from bulurtchu or diura.
it takes many days to make a good canoe!
(it takes many days to make a boy a man!)
bul – ceremonial ground
turrwan – great man/men
braggan – boomerangs
pilar – fighting spears
kanaipa – ironbark
tabri & bakkan – clubs for hunting & fighting
bulurtchu – mahogany
diura – stringybark
3. 1845 JOHN DUNMORE LANG AND HENRY WADE, SOUTH PINE
On our surveying expedition we noted how
from Breakfast Creek to the South Pine River
the country was at best indifferent. On crossing
the river, there was a marked improvement.
We found wild raspberries (that tasted insipid),
and some nice native strawberries and currants.
We sat in the bladey grass and gorged ourselves,
remarking on the infinite variety of flowering shrubs
and how, in this place so far from town,
their beauty and fragrance seemed wasted . . . .
4. 1840’s GEORGE GRIFFIN, NORTH PINE
We settled on the north bank
of the Pine River, and happy I was
to renounce a life at sea for one
as a squatter on this land
so perfectly suited to sheep grazing.
We had a visit from Mr. Leichhardt once
on his way to collect rock samples
from the Pine. The rocks he’d already
saved from his travels in the north
he’d left with one of the native guides
to deliver to Mr. Petrie in Brisbane.
On his return, Leichhardt was surprised
to find that the bag had indeed been left
with Petrie, but the geological specimens
had been thrown out, and replaced with local
ballast. That blackfella’s logic appeared
to be this: Why carry rocks to town
when they already have plenty!
5. 1858 LOUIS WITTGENSTEIN’S APPLE WINE
(A found poem, source Moreton Bay Courier, 27 November, quoted in BHG Papers No.5, page 68.)
Oh! Have you heard of the APPLE WINE!
That out of Beer now takes the shine,
If you have not then now’s your time,
Send down an order to Brisbane.
In Queen-street, there right in a line
“Forenint” the stores of “Southerdine”
You’ll see the shop where they makes the wine
Everybody drinks in Brisbane.
In Germany, England, every clime,
On the Melbourne diggings was heard the chime
Of praise for the CHAMPAGNE CIDER WINE,
That now is made in Brisbane.
Twelve shillings a dozen’s the price to be paid,
By those who prefer it in bottles made,
But, in gallons, at THREE it is sold to the trade,
By Wittgenstein of Brisbane.
Now, all who want a refreshing drink,
To you old Louis tips the wink,
You can’t do better than go, I think,
To the Brewery in Brisbane.
The Doctors all say ’tis worth your while
To give the champagne cider a trial,
For it surely will not capsize your bile,
Like some of the drinks in Brisbane.
Then now you’ve heard of the Applewine
That’s made by Louis Wittgenstein,
And out of all drinks takes the shine
Send down your order to Brisbane.
6. 1859 JOSEPH AND MARY CASH, PINE RIVERS
The Cash family were the first white settlers in the Pine Rivers District. By the 1850’s there was “renewed resistance to pastoralists pushing forward into the Pine River and Caboolture districts.”
(Brisbane History Group, Papers No.5, 1987)
In 1849 I was working at an Ipswich cattle station
when the boss asked me to accompany him to Brisbane
to meet his prospective bride. He was in high spirits
(and full of them too!) so it fell to me to meet the boat
and when I laid eyes on Mary, I knew I had to have her
for my wife. She was only seventeen; I, forty-six
and a widower. This didn’t seem to bother her,
so we married and ran off to the South Pine River
where we built our slab hut on the rise.
The blacks, they didn’t want us there – they
made that very clear. One day we were working
in the garden, and looked up to see a group of them
right near the house. By now we had baby James
– he was lying in his cradle – and the blacks started
dancing and jumping around him. Too scared
to confront them, we waited and watched
and worried for the safety of our baby. But
our fears were all for nothing; they left little James
unharmed. I guess they just wanted to look at him.
Home alone with my friend and the family away
we woke to the sound of feet on the ceiling!
I was afraid, and thought quickly, broke
my sheep shears in two, tied one blade
to a stick, and jabbed it through our bark roof.
It was mayhem, with their screaming from
their feet wounds, and my friend firing
the shotgun poked through cracks in the slabs.
We scared them off, watched them carry
the injured ones away. I wager they never
knew they were dealing with two women!
And I wasn’t about to tell them!
After ten years and several children
we purchased the land we’d been using
– thirty-five acres at five pounds per acre.
In another ten years I had three hundred
and sixty acres, two buildings, two
stockyards, a large garden on the river flat.
I’m out a lot with the cattle, and Mary,
being a little too fond of the rum, has
a fine time without me! I’ve tried tying
the keg to the rafters, but she shoots
at it with my carbine, holds a tin pan
under the flowing stuff, and drinks it all up!
Oh the perils of wedding an older man!
Joe’s gone and died and left me – his heart
gave out – and I have six children now
and a farm to run. Every night I sit up knitting
my quilts and pillow shams, which helps me feed
the family. I couldn’t keep up the bank payments,
had to forfeit three-fourths of the land.
The Leitches, the Eatons, and the Mecklems
bought it all up on reselection.
My boys, James and William, they seek to control me,
just because I jump my horse at the splitrail gates.
Well, why dismount, I always say, and I do so love
to jump! But those boys, they worry I’ll break
my legs and have hidden my riding habit. In return,
I’ve slaughtered their two pet goats, and fallen out
with both of them these past months.
I know I cannot go on like this
and have accepted an offer of marriage
from one Edward Cain, a kindly man,
who does not mind that I smoke a pipe
and ride my horse like the devil!
7. 1860 TOM HOWARD, BREAKFAST CREEK (a fictional character)
I am the boy who saw them burn the gunyas.
I was there, me, Tommy Howard, on the Eagle Farm Road,
was on me way to town that fine Saturday
when the five footpolice marched in with loaded carbines.
There were twenty-five gunyas there, and I seen
the blighters burn the lot.
That Duke of York’s Clan, I seen ’em,
there at the mouth of Breakfast Creek.
They been there for years, it was their place
and everyone knew it. There were hollow logs there
filled with the bones of their dead, all sizes,
and they’d marked all the trees with strange symbols.
I seen ’em with their nets when the mullet was runnin’
when the tribes from all around came specially
for the singin’ and dancin’. I tell ya, I seen ’em!
That constable, Cox I think his name is,
I heard him say to ’em, “We burn camp, you go
set down bush,” saw them scatter as their gunyas burned,
saw the coppers fire so randomly, even on the family
with the sick old man while they carried him down
to the canoe. They had to leave everything
– blankets, nets, and all their food.
Then three toffy-lookin’ riders joined in,
and they all took off up the hill to the other camp.
But the blacks had heard the shootin’ and they’d bolted.
The only sign of life was a scrawny old dog. I winced
when Cox shot it, ’cause I like dogs, and I seen how
the blacks treat their puppies, carryin’ ’em
around like babies. That poor old dog,
he’d never done nothin’ to no-one …
Imagine how many years those blacks’d been
meetin’ there, before we came and started killin’
and diseasin’ ’em, runnin’ ’em off their places,
rough Englishmen (and some gentlemen too!)
chasin’ after their women …
Why can’t they just leave ’em alone?
They weren’t even close to town!
I know where they went to, those people.
They’d have gone up to German Station.
At least the missionaries there are kinder to ’em
– they have to be, it’s their religion.
8. 1878 GEORGE EDWARDS DRAPER, ALBANY CREEK
I started at the new school four years ago
when Mrs Cooper was the teacher. She was
kind to us, though some of the boys behaved
badly for her. Last year, they sent her back
to the Normal School, and now we have to tolerate
Mr Beattie. He’s strict! He makes the girls
write out, “I’m a sinner, because I ate my
breakfast before my dinner”. I don’t know
why that should be a sin, but Mr Beattie claims
close contact with the Lord. The classes are growing
smaller and smaller, as Mr Beattie gets meaner and meaner.
Mother says he’s a curse on the neighborhood, and that
some fathers have written to the board of Education,
asking for his removal. I hope we get a new teacher
who’s good. I’ve learned so little from this one
and now that I’m twelve, my schooldays are almost over.
9. 1886 HELEN McCONOCHIE, NORTH BRISBANE
Life in this colony is far from the conditions
I left behind me in the home country. I work
harder than I have ever, ploughing and sowing
alongside the men, controlling the stock,
and toiling in the dairy. And every year,
there’s been another baby! I labour
at the wood stove and the wringer in such heat
of which manners demand no discussion.
My white ladylike complexion has turned brown
and lined, though we women wear sunbonnets with
wide side flaps to shield our poor skins from this
relentless sun. Concerning European fashions,
I have long given up, preferring to buy swathes
of lightweight muslin and gingham, from Finney
Isles and Company in Brisbane. Significantly,
many women here are still in crinolines.
I myself have, over these years, constructed some
semblance of serviceable hoops from various local
timbers and vines, to keep those heavy petticoats
away from my legs, and myself cool enough for the
daily chores, the relentless round, with no servants
to order, or mother or others to pity my plight,
with a hungry, hardworking husband and a rapidly
growing family … Oh who would be a colonial wife!
10. 1898 A BOY, UNITED METHODIST FREE CHURCH, ALBANY CREEK
I can’t tell you my name for fear of getting
into trouble. But me and my mates had such fun
with that preacher, Reverend Brown! He still
hasn’t noticed the hole in the church floor.
We sit underneath, and wiggle sticks through it
during his sermons. It’s cool under the church
– we are not heathens, we listen to what he says –
but yesterday it was all about the sufferings of hell,
and we just couldn’t resist lighting a little fire
so’s the smoke would seep in like a spectre. We could
hear the murmuring building inside, even the grownups
were laughing. My mates and me, we ran off into
the bush, before anyone came out looking!
11. 1904 TOM PETRIE (THE STORY OF MILLBONG JEMMY)
I knew a blackfellow in the 1840’s.
His native name was “Yilbung”, really,
which was somehow truncated to “Millbong Jemmy”.
“Yilbung” meant “one-eyed” and referred to the accident
he’d had with a fire as a child. He was the only
blackfellow I knew who was unafraid to travel at night.
There’s no denying Jemmy stole. He took clothes
and provisions from the German Station, and corn
from the Windmill store of Old Marten. This last
episode saw him there imprisoned by the local
constable. But I was a boy then, watching,
and I saw for myself who struck the first blow.
I saw Redcoats lined up at the Windmill’s doorway;
they marched Jemmy downhill to the Queen Street
triangles, where Gilegan flogged him and Jemmy,
poor fellow, cried out to his mother to save him.
Soon released, he was said to be stealing again
– he took tobacco from the soldiers, and all
were seeking him after David Petty, at Norman Creek,
fearful of a group of blacks, accidentally shot himself.
Then Mr Gregor, the North Pine sawyer, was murdered
and, not knowing one blackfellow from another,
the authorities offered ten pounds for Jemmy’s capture.
Jemmy, in his conversations with me,
“never would own he had killed anyone,
but admitted he had often stolen, saying
he did not see any harm in taking flour when hungry,
and that as the white men had taken away his country,
he thought they should give him something for it”.*
Well, I couldn’t argue with this perspective;
it redefined for me the notion of “stealing”,
and I gave him a plug of tobacco.
A petty thief he may have been, but others’
behaviour was more disturbing. Those sawyers
at Bulimba offered him dinner, then tied him
and in the head shot him. He was thrown onto
a bullock dray and taken to the settlement,
dying on the way. At the banks of the river,
they dragged his body down, and “let it fall
like a log to the ground”.*
I heard his head was severed
and boiled free of flesh
so the scornful colonists
could make a cast of it.
Poor Jemmy, though no angel,
had an ignominious death, he
paid the price of being a well-known
personality. And I can’t help
but wonder if he took all the blame
for the various sins of the many …
* Petrie, p.169
12. 1912 JOHN FISCHLE, ASPLEY
Twenty-seven years ago my family came here
from Germany, staying at Downfall Creek
with Uncle William at the beginning. Father
worked at clearing land, and we rented for a year
from Mr. Whickam, the printer. Finally, we
leased a section of the Bishop’s Paddock at Aspley.
It was good land for farming, though at first
the work was hard. To our tomatoes, potatoes,
and melons we added seventy-five beehives, and had
a surfeit of lovely honey till the wax moths came!
After that I turned to pineapples, bought a ship’s
tank for boiling, and a soldering iron for sealing.
I’ve been canning my own now for the past eight years,
and the transport strike’s worked in our favour.
All the farmers sold us their crop this year,
and I’ve readied some eight thousand tins. I’m going
into pawpaws next, I have to mind to can fruit salad.
And maybe some sauces, tomato and worcestershire, maybe
some gherkins, or beets. I know we’ll do well here,
for no matter what, everybody has to eat!
(By 1920, this family business was processing 20,000 tins of
pineapple, 14,000 tins of beetroot, and 10,000 tins of gherkins
13. 1918 QUEENIE BUNKUM (NEE KERWIN) , ASPLEY
I was happy to join the Bunkum family. For years
I’d listened to Mr Bunkum calling his cows in
of a morning. And a few times I’d helped, with
the other children, to drag home his amorous bull.
You could hear that bull bellowing for miles!
I married Harold Bunkum the night before he left
to fight the Great War in Europe. We’d decided not
to wait, not knowing how long it would last. Three
years now he’s been gone, and now this news has come,
that poor, dear Harold is never coming home.
14. 1940 I. J. WILLIAMS, ASPLEY
My father bought a strawberry farm in 1908
along Neville Road. As soon as I was old enough
I went to work for Huttons, but after hours I
farmed a plot of my own. I soon realised that
a farmer was what I wanted to be, and I took it up
full-time, planting three hundred rows of beans …
People usually lost their crops in drought season,
so I experimented with irrigation. I filled
hundreds of kero tins down by the creek, and
lugged them up to my seedlings by hand. Then
I bought a pipe and pump to save my poor legs
and planted lots of pineapple trees. These
shaded the cabbages, and on the other side
I had a go with spring vegetables. I grew the
first celery in the region, and my lettuces did
so well with this system that people nicknamed me
‘The Lettuce King’. Now, when asks about my success,
I tell them, ‘It’s all due to irrigating’!
15. 1947 BILL “CIRC” PETTY OF PETTY’S FLAT (EVERTON PARK)
Grandmother Petty sailed here from New Zealand
in the late 1880’s, with her family. They started
a circus called “De Vere’s”. They cut costs by buying
tired old horses, that wore out and died, leaving
the wagons stranded in the paddocks of kindhearted
strangers. Rumour has it the wagons were never
collected; it’s no wonder the business went bust!
We never owned land of our own. In the twenties
a bag house on Old Northern Road was home! We
dipped potato bags in the lime and cement mix,
then hung them between our home-made frames.
Later on we built another house, this time
of corrugated tin, and wasn’t I a happy boy,
with a house with real walls for living in!
Before the war I sold firewood I’d collected,
and clothes props I’d made myself; after all that
madness had subsided I bought a truck and sold fresh
fruits and vegetables off the back. But the circus
in my blood just had to come out, so I started it up
again at Petty’s Flat. Now there’s birds, snakes, possums,
a cocky in the kiosk, and a lovely flower garden.
On Sunday afternoons I still help with the picnics
in that funny old hall, the one with the waist-high
tin walls. I hook up a loudspeaker to the back
of my truck, so the folks can have music for dancing.
I like to emcee, and everyone has such fun – some
even do handstands or play tunes on gum leaves!
None of these families have very much money …
But then that never stopped
either them or the Petty’s!
16. EMMELINE GERLER, NUNDAH, 1950
(a fictional character)
As a child I lived at German Station
– what used to be the mission –
with my father and mother and six
brothers and sisters. My english
was poor when I first went to
the school run by Mr McAllister
but he and his wife were kind to us
and soon sorted me out.
On our property we grew fruit,
maize, sweet potatoes, and grapes
for Childs’ winery, and we had
a small dairy for our twenty cows
that required milking twice daily.
Many new arrivals from Germany
came straight to us, seeking
fellowship, employment and advice.
We’d send some on to Herr Appel,
Brisbane’s first vice-consul – he
would find them homes and jobs.
Though the British in those days
did not much like us, it was our
German Band they hired for all
their concerts, balls,and bazaars,
and the Seal and Cramer brothers
later added to the brass – a beautiful
string section, and how I loved those
violins! Father’s friend, Mr Jost
and family, started the German Sausage
Manufactory and Pork Butchery, and I
remember how my mother used to feed us
black bread with the strassburg, and talk
about her youth in the old country.
There were so many animals in those days
– koalas, possums, and dingoes especially –
that we had to build picket fences around
our paddocks to protect the crops from them.
More German settlers came over on land vouchers
but these were stopped in the 1880’s by the
Britishers. With the Great War in Europe
came the suspicion that Kaiser Wilhelm
was after their Empire, so they locked up
thousands of Germans, some Australian-born
friends among them. In World War Two, they
tried to intern us again, though we’d been three
generations in Brisbane. But afterwards, Calwell,
concerned for the falling birthrate and the threat
of Japanese invasion, let thousands more of our
countrymen in. For at least, he said, they were European.
17. 1960 MURIEL DAVIES (a fictional character)
recalls the late 1940’s
Some Sundays Dad took us to the beach at Sandgate.
In winter we’d buy hot pies and peas from Old Man Dodds,
and in the summers icecream. I was much taken by the sight
of his big white horse with its fancy bridle leathers,
and the loud lovely sound of his announcing bell!
I was so impressed too with that old blackfellow,
Gus Davies, a veteran of both World Wars, hurtling along
the Bald Hills Road with his wife in their shiny sulky.
I remember eating lamingtons at Saltwood at Shorncliffe,
and the sense of competition when the grocers bought their
motor cars, and the time Torpie’s ute went in the swamp
at Devil’s Elbow. I saw also when young David Ward’s whole
load of market-ready watermelons fell off on the gravel
and broke open. How those melons rolled in the swamp!
How they floated through the paperbarks and far out to sea!
How sternly my Dad warned me not to laugh so loudly!
18. 1999 SHE SAID
“My father was born here in 1890,
and I remember how he talked of the blacks.
‘Poor things!’ he would say, ‘the poor
sick things!’ And I remember them healthy,
their men following Kedron Brook,
carrying bundles of forest-cut ferns
home to their families for eating.”
“My father told me about
another group of aborigines
– he described them as ‘pygmies’ –
who lived in the big scrub
on the north side of the city.
It was a very old forest, he told me,
mostly made up of Moreton Bay Fig trees.”
“Oh, there were so many stories,”
she told me, “but the one I have
always remembered is of how they
cleared that scrub, and all the blacks
got sick and died. I don’t know
what this means,” she said, “but I know
what my father said …”
19. MOUNTAINS TO MANGROVES
From the mountains to the mangroves flow
the waters of the creeks, through
stands of ironbark and brushbox,
stringybark and grey gum
past the old quarries and gold mines
and along the Mailman’s Track
farms of pineapples, bananas
and the old jinker tracks.
Koala live here, and squirrel glider and echidna.
Hear the low growl of the dingo, the thump
of timid swamp wallaby, the whoo-hoo
of the powerful owl, (his speckled feathers
white and brown), the bush stone-curlew’s
evening song, and the gutteral squawk
of the black cockatoos, their yellow tails
bright in the mountain oak’s foliage.
There’s a ringtailed possum, startled in
the hickory wattle, and many other
creatures live down in the water
– platypus, turtles, eels, fish and yabbies,
and frogs, so very many, with their
quacks and clucks, their high-pitched
chattering, and the emerald-spotted
treefrog’s particular jackhammer rattling.
There are butterflies – blue tigers in their vast
yearly numbers, big greasy with its red and white
and transparent forewings, the Jezebel’s bright
colours (antidote to winter’s chill), giant
woodmoth in the summer, emerging from its
gumtree hole, and the richmond birdwing,
green and gold, flit so happily
through maidenhair, and wombat berry.
At the meeting of the waters, suburbia begins,
though still stand some ancient bloodwoods,
tallowwood and forest red gums, making homes
for tawny frogmouths, and the sacred kingfisher,
spreading branches for bright lorikeets and crimson rosellas.
red ash and paperbark mark the site of wartime
army camps; before that, it was the hunting
ground for brushtail possum, flying fox.
Further downstream are ibis, egret and brolga,
eastern water dragons, christmas beetles, manti,
grasshoppers, the circular filaments of the
garden orb weaver, and the yellow-striped
saint andrew’s cross spider. This was the settling
place for missionaries in the 1830’s, and where
Hartenstein famously bogged his wagon, his
‘downfall’ remembered by the creek’s naming.
At Zillman’s Waterholes, the Great Kangaroo jumped
and, according to legend, his footprints filled up.
Here are moreton bay figs, and weeping lilly pilly’s,
geebung, cabbage palm and batwing coral trees,
and spoonbill and cormorant, birds of creek and sea,
blue-tongued and monitor lizards, and scary-faced frilly’s.
till the creeks, Nundah and Cabbage tree
begin to merge with salt water from the sea …
Here are pigface, monkey rope vines, and samphire,
grey mangrove, tuckeroo and coast banksia.
Pelicans and oystercatchers one-legged stand,
while above soars brahminy, (white head
and chestnut belly), hunting bream and prawns,
stingrays in the shallows, crab and flathead
and blue spotted goby. Swamp sheoak waves
its branches in the salt-tinged breeze
and the mangroves hail the mingling
of the rivers with the seas.
20. The Meeting of the Waters
In the bush, serenity and calm,
and along the mountain’s long arm
live swathes of fern and cabbage palm,
veins of cool, clear water.
From fragrant bush the creek’s bright song
echoes through suburbs, to coastal plains,
mingles the salty taste of sea
with the bush-born water’s clarity.
Down by the sea, where the water runs free
prawns and fish, turtles and dugong
breed and feed in seagrass meadows
while mangroves gnarl and bend and breathe
– great fingers in the mud,
the hands of the creek.
Brisbane History Group, Brisbane: The Aboriginal Presence 1824-1860, Edited by Rod Fisher, Papers No. 11, 1992
Brisbane History Group, Brisbane: Aboriginal Alien Ethnic, Papers No. 5, 1987
Brisbane History Group, Brisbane Town News from the Sydney Morning Herald 1842-46, Source No. 3, 1989
Ballard, Kath, Geebong Story, Kath Ballard, Brisbane, 1995
Ballard, Kath, Geebung Story – The Next 50 Years, Kath Ballard, Brisbane, 1998
Bowden, John, Living with the Environment in the Pine Rivers Shire, Pine Rivers Shire Council, Brisbane, 1999
Ewart, Merv, Settlement to Sentiment, Pine Rivers Shire Council, 1995
Finger, Jarvis, The St Helena Island Prison, Boolarong Publications, Brisbane, 1990
Pechey, Sue, & Tremayne, Jean, Pioneers, Picnics & Pineapples, Pechey & Tremayne, Brisbane, 1994
Petrie, Constance Campbell, Tom Petrie’s Reminiscences of Early Queensland, UQP, Brisbane, 4th edition, 1992
Reekie, Gail (Ed.), On The Edge: Women’s Experiences of Queensland, UQP, St. Lucia, 1994
Sandgate From the Beginning, Keep Sandgate Beautiful Association, Sandgate, 1980
Steele, J.G., Aboriginal Pathways, UQP, St. Lucia, 1984
Teague, D.R., The History of Aspley, 3rd edition, Colonial Press, Brisbane, 1990
Teague, D.R., The History of Albany Creek, Bridgeman Downs and Eaton’s Hill, 3rd edition, Colonial Press, Brisbane, 1980
Teague, D.R., The History of Chermside, Colonial Press, Brisbane, 198?
Waterson, D. & French, M. From the Frontier: A Pictorial History of Queensland, UQP, St Lucia, 1987
Welch, Melva A., Not pineapples, not pine trees but Pine Rivers, Pine Rivers Shire Council, 1995
Welch, Melva A., Toponomy – A List of Place Names, Pine Rivers Shire Council, 1991
Queensland Museum, Wildlife of Greater Brisbane, 1995
MOUNTAINS TO MANGROVES
stingray slick and grey
hiding in the mangrove mud
seeking good eating
hunting in pilli (gully)
the orange-bellied bugwal’s (wallaby)
faster than kannai (spears)
mad manic laughter
pillin in the banksias (parrot)
sweet juice from bumbar (flowers)
mad manic laughter
screeching in the banksias
two lovely kai-yar (cockatoos)
in baggur by yinnel (tree by creek)
cry out as we pass
pair of cockatoos
in eucalypt by the creek
squawk at our passing
cumbookie in sand (yabby)
waves his kutchi fingertips (red/orange)
then burrows deep down
such a big kupi (forest possum)
his long silver-grey fur
so soft for blanket
a big fat winyam (soldier crab)
under rocks in fresh water
good dinner for us!
small brown bat
little brown billing (small bat)
twists and turns as he chases
small insects to eat
brown and green splotches
see the tagun in warra (eel in river)
he travels so fast!
gramman’s silver-grey fur (flying fox)
turns thick kutchi in winter (red/orange)
to keep him warmer
eating many ants
while sharp quills stop us touching
kaggarr hides in dirt (echidna)
chibur at night-time (squirrel glider)
under mirrigin shiny (stars)
his nest’s in that tree!
dumpripi eating (koala)
sweet green leaves of the brushbox
tungipin blows him (the west wind)
mirri live out there (dingo)
on islands and by warra (river)
whole families of them!
eastern water dragon
big grey magil hides (water dragon)
along yinnel and pilli (creek&gully)
patterns on his hide
brisbane short-necked turtle
umpie korumba (brisbane area)
the binkin in the warra (turtles in river)
have purganpallam (yellow)
the turtles in the river
have yellow faces
pacific black duck
nar always swimming (black duck)
nyandas of this area (lagoons)
bright green on brown wings
grey shrike thrush
miram flies in camp (thrush)
he knows many sacred things
turrbul ask questions (local tribe)
kang-goon-goon watches (kookaburra)
as we stand in cold warra (river)
catching fat andakal (mullet)
silly bulimba (magpie-lark)
in his black and white splendour
dances on the grass
diving for towan (fish)
kulukan in the water (pelican)
shaking wet feathers
tunggi at nyanda (brolga,swamp)
walks dulan on graceful legs (mud)
catches worms, towan (fish)
giwer everywhere (lace monitor)
in the kabban and pilli (rainforest, gully)
big, grey and spotty!
that sound in the trees
on black and yellow tinged breeze
the two karana (black cockatoo)
wedge-tailed eagle/lomandra plant
while cutting dilli (lomandra for weaving)
i spied the soaring tuwai (wedge-tailed eagle)
up high in the sky
i weave dilli to carry
watch tuwai watch me walk home