‘Walkabout Joe’ Social history raconteur
Burtundy Weir on the Darling River: the story of Lew Hippsley and his 42 years living and owning Talney Point via Wentworth NSW
Birds and Australian observations. Many short stories of my life (see example below)
Rocky River: A restoration proposal
We must all help restore our waterways. At present I am working on the home of ornithorhynchus anatinus (Platypus)
The Story of John Nelson Hobbs: His Australasian ornithology and monument on the Murray River and Daeton Wharf
Riding shotgun on 400 acres for a few months, just keeping an eye on the place, seeing to it that the unwanted were challenged and sent on their way. My accommodation was an old demountable schoolhouse, dilapidated, disrepaired, and dangerous, no power and no communications, sort of a self-reliant set up. Hot, terribly hot and no water to save the planted trees and vines. The owner had put some considerable time and money into this project but it was easy to see it didn’t stand a chance of survival, with the amount of money being spent for upkeep. Nothing worked, a real misery farm.
One day I had all the windows open, trying to keep as cool as possible, maybe around 42 degrees Celsius inside. There was a family/ pair of willy wagtail flitting around, looking for pickings in the shade under the house amongst the stumps. One of the birds then flew inside through an open window, and after a brief flight around the interior of the school it settled on top of a wardrobe. It started singing very loudly and melodiously, singing notes that I had never, ever heard sung before on a wagtail’s scale. What had this bird so strongly and happily singing? I listened, intrigued by this operatic spectacular. Why? Why? Why? There has to be some point to this.
Then it hit me like a brick. It was my daughter’s 18th birthday and the bird was giving me a message.
“Happy birthday, happy birthday, ring your daughter, I think you oughter”
Sounds a little far-fetched, doesn’t it? But no and here’s the rub. when my kids were just cuddly little rugrats, in a remote area, they played every day with a Willy Wagtail. It was unbelievable to watch, I am sure their friend, Willy, had adopted them. They played as a feathered family under the mulga trees. I am sure their totem had to be the cheeky, all dancing, all talking, all singing, Willy Wagtail.
This bird in Aboriginal folklore is said to be the one who you can never tell a secret to as it will fly and tell all others. A regular little tell-tale tit. But that’s ok by me.