Hungry Hill

The steady grind down Hungry Hill
brings past times flooding back-
A young man sixty years ago
would travel down this track.
From Nowendoc along the steep
escarpment, he would ride–
To drove the mobs from on the tops
towards the eastern side.

The old man’s eyes come back to life
and widen as we crawl–
the unforgiving rocky trail
through native timber’s tall.
And halfway down I sense the thrill
and joy reflecting forth–
When with a nod and finger point
he gestures to the north.

“I recognise that spot,” he says
“that blind and rocky ledge….”
As memories bring back the past
we move towards the edge.
“I had to put a bullock down
it broke its leg right there,
It’s bad when things like that go wrong…”
I sensed the drover’s care.

“In sixty years things have to change?” (he questions with a smile)
“But I remember that bit clear
and it’s been quite a while.”
Then something glistened like a tear
when sunlight touched his eye–
It sparkled for his boyhood dreams,
a lifetime long gone by.

The further we went down the more
this man’s excitement grew–
When from a giant turpentine
a wedge–tail eagle flew.
And soaring o’er the valley floor
into a thermal lift–
It spanned its wings of freedom wide
and rode the upward drift.

Down through the lower woodland hills
to “Jacky Barker’s” creek–
“The road forks just down here” he said
(I had no need to speak).
“We must be close to Giro now
about a mile along–
There was a set of stockyards here…”
The bush birds sang their song.

We rode back where the valley lay
(carved out) towards the west–
In Allardice’s property
we topped a rocky crest.
And saw a home and wonderland
with cattle grazing free–
Towering, mighty, forest gums
brought past times back to me.

Clear memories, when as a lad
I’d ride the Great Divide–
Up on the wild McPherson Range
where scrubbers would abide.
There blackbutt giants and tallowwood
threw kisses to the sky–
My love for this long mountain chain
soars with the winds on high.

That night we camped back on the tops:
(We’d reached the Giro gate
and went back up the savage climb
before it got too late).
The misty rain came slowly down
and in a forest shroud–
Beneath a wide tarpaulin sheet
we bedded in the cloud.

In our warm swags we yarned about
those days on Hungry Hill–
While at my side my “Bluey” lay
curled up so snug and still.
And just before we nodded off
I heard Viv’s faint remark–
“Gee it’s beaut to hear the sound
of rain, upon the tarp!?”

© Roderick Williams. March 2003.