Without really knowing it, we’d been riding with Banjo Patterson’s drover Clancy these last few days, across ‘sunlit plains extended’ and in the marshes ‘about the Overflow where the reed beds sweep and sway.’ From Coonamble we were steadily advancing eastwards on the rugged Warumbungle ranges - Gamilaroi country. Volcanic outcrops filled the windscreen READ MORE...
Without really knowing it, we’d been riding with Banjo Patterson’s drover Clancy these last few days, across ‘sunlit plains extended’ and in the marshes ‘about the Overflow where the reed beds sweep and sway.’ From Coonamble we were steadily advancing eastwards on the rugged Warumbungle ranges - Gamilaroi country. Volcanic outcrops filled the windscreen, beside us, fields of wheat stood ready and along the road, harvesters were rumbling North to gather in a bumper crop. Food for the nation. Relief after severe drought was tangible everywhere.
Our guide Narelle spoke out of her long agricultural experience to explain the skills of farming and land management on the Western country before it transitions to the Eastern side of the mountains. Wisdom was interpreting the story of the land. She loved it all and had climbed, walked, abseiled all over the National Park. So we followed her into canyons full of wildflowers which contrasted with her recollections of the wildfires that had swept ninety percent of the Park a few short years earlier. She told us that ancient aboriginal skills were informing modern management. Our guide and the bush were a duet - celebrating the miracle of regeneration.
At the white dome of the Siding Springs telescope, the focus shifted to the sky. Pictures declaring the sheer might of the Creator’s universe dwarfed our tiny narrative. The drama of a storm sweeping across the mountains towards us at White Gum lookout simply added an exclamation mark. Later, the clouds rolled away and we joined Donna the astronomer to stare through her telescopes deeper into the wonders of space. Poet Paterson again! ‘...And at night the wondrous glory of the everlasting stars!”
Debriefing over an evening meal. The pilgrims reported that wayside storytellers had widened the eyes of their understanding, deepened their spirits, rekindled neglected faith, altered perceptions, humbled pride, stabbed consciences, ministered healing and supplied joy. Learning had gone from head to feet to heart as they travelled their own land. Friendships had formed. They resolved to be storytellers in their own space and place, passing knowledge and experience to the next generations. They had returned older and wiser and more skilled.
The old Scottish proverb proved a wise insight. ‘Storytelling is eye to eye, mind to mind and heart to heart.’ Our people need to be regularly released from the solitary confinement of the screen. Footprints, art, music, landscapes, skyscapes, birdsong, croaking frogs, plants, trees, weather, fire and food, villages, towns, cities and the road itself - they can all speak to the soul.
Join The Outback Historian, Paul Roe, on an unforgettable journey into Australia's Past as he follows the footprints of the Master Storyteller and uncovers unknown treasures of the nation.