Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
We camp beside the Dumaresq River. About a mile out of Texas on the border between New South Wales and Queensland. It’s winter. Days are wide-blue, sun warm as melting butter and an occasional cotton-fluff cloud drifts near the horizon. At night, the temperature plummets. We wake to frost-iced leaves, grass shattering underfoot.
crawls ancient lands
once belonging to others
At dusk and dawn gangs of cockatoos announce arrival and departure with raucous squawks. Kookaburras join in, laughing, from thick girthed, river gumtrees, scarred with some limbs missing dropped with drought thirst or after heavy flooding rains. Green crowns line the banks among stands of thin, tall black-barked pines. Kangaroos and emu graze unconcerned.
We sit by our campfire. Smoke circles a full moon and wind cradles tales of old, men, dogs, cattle and the stock routes.
and native grasses
cattle, dust, blue dogs,
and red dogs yapping
across the Downs
through the long paddock
"Blue dogs"—Queensland blue heelers, "red dogs"—Australian kelpies.
"Long paddock"—stock route to rail heads for markets or roadside grazing in times of drought.