I see their ghosts running through the forest
that consumes the evidence of their passing
as mines and sheds and steel
succumb to natures endeavours
In the late 70’s, around fifteen year after the Monument mine closed, I used to ride my horse through the bushland around Fourth Hill and swim bareback in the Yarra at Warrandyte. I would often tether my horse at the front of a shop so I could go in and buy ice cream to eat sitting in the shade of the willows by the running waters of the river.
About twenty years ago I moved to Warrandyte. Now I go jogging through the forest on the trails I used to gallop along.
The earth’s wounds of the past have grown over with grasses, creepers, orchids and wildflowers that spread their carpet beneath the eucalypts and wattles. The kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, echidnas and lizards that scurry around are warned of my approach by the kookaburras, cockatoos and rainbow lorikeets squawking at my intrusion.
I pass abandoned mine shafts sprouting native grasses and the rusted corrugate dwellings falling back into natures embrace. The miners abandoned mullock heaps are cloaked in lichen and mosses and riddled with ant colonies.
I imagine the heart break of the Wurundjeri who cared for this country that sustained them, their culture and language, when their land was taken by those whose eyes only saw land as a commodity. An asset to profit from.
As my feet carry me through the bushland the only gold I see now are the golden wattles that brighten my winter run. Their yellow blooms under the stringybark trees dust the river’s surface with pollen.
Sometimes I think I catch a glimpse of the ghosts of those who went before me on the shady banks of the river and around the the deserted mine shafts. I am enamored by how this ancient land has taken back its birthright under Bunjil’s watchful gaze.