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Cymbric Vale
I believed that I was rural … that I lived in country style, where the city was close handy … that big distance was a mile. Trains and buses ferried daily; a freeway ran close by … comforts of the modern world easily reached with hand or eye. All my fifty years I have relied upon the comforts of a town. Be it work or be it play I chimed with the urban sound. Just by chance four years ago an invitation did prevail … I camped in the Shearer’s quarters on the station Cymbric Vale. 'Tis here at Cymbric Vale I stood on the back veranda, with eyes upon the countryside, searching near and far, at the scrub and dry creek beds over hill and down each dale, coming under the selection of the station Cymbric Vale. Last stop on this new trip was the inn at Little Topar. Fueling up, something to eat; met a station boss named Roger. Catching up on local gossip plus everything that we should know. Who caused his sheep to gather lice and he shot a rogue dingo. Now with the darkness falling, our headlights scout the track, we're off the tar, we're on red dirt, through country way out back. Roos are thick in all directions with fleet of foot they bound. Some drawn to the headlights and damn near get knocked down. ************** Those four years have flown and now I note a different scene. Not dry and parched or arid but with the land a tinge of green. Lush pastures not like Gippsland. This graze has a different sphere. Bringing forward the breeding programs of what's not wanted here. So I'm back here in the shearer’s quarters with five other blokes, settling in on our first night with coke or beer and jokes. Some are talking pig shooting toward a station called Grassmere, and we'll be counting goats, where the range is rocked and sheer. These mates of recreation … their blood lust ekes the hunting type. Their guns are strapped across the back and riding on a motorbike, out towards some station quarter where the feed grew two feet high … we left for this mountain range out where the sheep must vie. Through blue-green cattlebush, we could see the wild goat herd, dashing quickly from the flats when our four wheel drive was heard. Twenty here and fifteen there; the numbers soon did swell. Near time to bring the stock truck in for goats are paying well. A stand of trees, pruned beneath, offered us some needed shade. I pointed to the mulga parrots with the colours they displayed. A butcherbird looked down on me. Wrens find safety in a clump, and the bearded dragon deadly still watched from a red gum stump. The quandong tree we knew grew here, we found and it had died, then I noticed that the red gums upon their higher side, had debris wrapped around each trunk of leaves and twigs or bark. Three inches fell and grew the green and left this watermark. Wild tomatoes are abundant; they must be poisonous too. Sheep or goats don’t graze upon them, though on bluebush do. But the Bluebush is abundant stretching far as I can see … and forgotten are directions to the native orange tree. Big ‘reds’ and ‘blue flyers’ caught the camera or the eye. Emus strut at quite a pace; slapping wings when top knots fly. We meander through the dead wood of death from long ago, and passed a tank close to the homestead holding water very low. We gathered back inside the quarters, and as we’re being fed, ideas are bantered all around. "We'll get some yabbies" someone said. The house tank is holding plenty so with an hour and a net, we cooked a bucket full of yabbies on a campfire after sunset. Late at night a spotlight’s on; a 'drag's' been pulled across the clay, from a Kangaroo that has been shot for dog meat through the day. There are no sign of foxes where expectations have rode high … just an eagle resting in a mulga bush where the offal lay close by. Relaxing back around the campfire prior to heading off to bed, there is lot's of idle chatter and some pretty crude things said. The past keeps rising constantly, as do politics and sex. There is giggling with the banter for whatever came out next. In the morning time was taken to check out the shearing shed, which recently had been rebuilt to replace the old one with regret. This modern structure called the 'Hilton' with new age technology doesn't have the guise of shearing life, nor the feel of history. Bikes are fueled, guns are checked, and we left the station home. We are heading for the mountain range beyond the aerodrome. The four-wheel drive we followed found the rocky hillsides tough. The guns are staying silent; the goats are not prepared to bluff. Leopard wood and cypress pine grow plentiful on stony tors. The orange throated euro blends with rock formation flaws. In mountain pools of water, frogs take advantage of the wet. But hunting it is slim so far; we haven't seen a goat here yet. A decision made about some cattle took us to the far extension, there has been some free agistment; the talk of beef is mentioned. So with swags and tucker, boning knives, these cattle - man they seldom see. A single shot brought down one beast to hang in a red gum tree. Through scrub and grasses overgrown, cars revved up to the tank, Pigs were caught unwary; guns blazed from off the bank. With squeals and shots the chase is on - silence returned and now, lying amongst the lush green growth is a piglet and a sow. Night fell cool and stars they shone like I'd not seen before. The hunters with the spotlights left to search and kill some more. Shots echoed 'cross the landscape. On return with glee they said, their marksmanship is perfect - three foxes now lay dead. First light in the outback is one stunning sight to see, growing pink against the steely blue - false sunrise ruses me. A band of cloud then changes to a murky lemon lining; gold glows off the puffy hems just before the sun is shining. The land goes back to what it is; other predators now rule. From the band saw to the chiller, the beast is hung to cool. Some off cuts scattered here and there; the station dogs soon found, and warned the chooks and turkeys who quickly gathered 'round. It's time to leave, the cars are packed, there's handshakes and farewell. There's a long drive home ahead of us, plus many gates as well. And dust that whirls behind us falling down on station land, settles on the tracks of where we’ve been on stony hills and sand. But you never know just what you'll see when a corner comes to you, after miles and miles of sameness; a spectacle can come in view … and to see a dozen eagles on the carcass of one kangaroo, or a dingo slinking through the mulga; or damage that they do. The video will show it all, but the mind still reads it best. To be there is the only way to see the outback worlds contest. To see the ravages of nature where you'd swear that man must fail … I suppose there have been seasons when they have at Cymbric Vale.
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