Friday, March 10, 2006

Sheepyard Flat

Close your eyes-come journey with me
To a special place where my soul soars free.
Away from crowds and grit and grime,
From the pull of duty, constraints of time.

Down a rutted, meandering track,
Not quite, but almost, The Outback.
To grassy flats where stringybarks reign
And the Howqua flows high after snow or rain.

When summers are harsh the river runs low,
Still chasing the rapids and boulders below.
Wisps of smoke from fires far away
Waft in on the breeze, linger, and stay.

This special place murmurs often to me.
When autumn wanes softly and wistfully
I look up from my desk, and pause, knowing that
A part of my heart lingers at Sheepyard Flat.

Sheepyard Flat is seventeen kilometres along the Howqua Road which winds out from Merrijig, Victoria. How I wish I had some photos to scan and share with you. But I doubt they would capture faithfully the sense of freedom and timelessness and the utter exhilaration that a glimpse brings to me as this road widens at last into the grassy flats. must be able to see the magnificent eucalypts so still in the heat of a summer midday.
They watch over a group of children wading around the shallows and shifting stones, large and small, in an attempt to "dam" the river. But it defiantly bubbles on and soon they are racing down the rapids on blown up li-los which will soon need patching as the boulders tear at them.
Their shrill cries echo those of all the children of all colours who have played here or helped catch the elusive trout from deeper pools for dinner for centuries past. In a few years these children will come back seeking the echoes of their youthful enthusiasm and hope.

At other times these trees will be bending with winter storms. The ghosts of early settlers watch around the struggling fires, suprised that they have been ousted by campers huddled and waiting for snow to dump. These campers sometimes look up from their glowing coals suspecting that they are not the first here, wondering if it was a clip of hooves they heard behind the trees. And go back to staring into the fire lost in their own imaginings. Wondering at the little cemetery they passed on the way in, or at the stream of miners who had made their way with a clink of pots hopefully but futilely along the valley in days gone by. Braced as they are now against the bone-chilling wind.Trying to keep the fire alight. Far from electric light and doctors and take away dinners.

But most of all to me it is the embodiment of tranquility. The evening light is soft and bending through the trees, and the river is mumuring in recognition of the cresent moon now rising from behind the hills and scattered in reflection in the deep pools. It is the place to me beneath the Southern Cross where, like the hermits of ages past, I am shown the firmament bending close. Long after my ashes have been scattered in the eddies, it will be my place of resurrection.


At 4:22 AM, Blogger Lois said...

Ah Jan,........................Now I once camped at Merrijig ,it was in the May school holiday and very cold it was too...
It reminded me of a time when I camped at Buchan Caves with my Mum and Dad (Long long ago)and I had never felt so cold...Merrijig was like this ...beautiful days ,but one needed to sleep with others to avoid the cold early mornings.....
My photos are long gone with another of this we shall both have to "Just Remember & Reminis" ..
I loved hearing of your feelings for this special place ..I have special places I remember like this stomach yearns for them once more..

Lois(Muse of the Sea) 10.3.06.

At 4:13 PM, Blogger Heather Blakey said...

This is just charming Jan. Not only do you capture why this place is special to you but you capture some of the spirit of Australia. Wonderful!


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