living like gods

angophora cathedralthis story comes from the archives of  ” the journey of jellybean road ” 2013.


A neighbour rang up yesterday asking for me. She’s not here,Greg says.

I just wondered if she would like some tomatoes. Greg replies with a chuckle, Sandra always wants tomatoes. Then tell her I am going away for four days but if she can come after 5 tonight she can get some.

I arrive home exhausted, the little king had been wild and rambunctious running rings around me and his mum and his aunty all thru town. I am thinking a cuppa ,a sit down with feet up and watch the thornbill flit about the house. Often we get house birds – a wren a grey thrush ,some of them find a way in thru the glasshouse or an open door and skippity skippity around the kitchen benches.

I whine a little when I get the message but John offers to come with me. It is dusk and we have to hunt thru thick kikuyu grass for the golden tomatoes then we pick the orange ones the red ones and finally the green tigers.

From there we move onto zucchinis leeks and cucumbers as long as my arm. From Christas garden to the west is the deep blue of Wandella Mountain at 1000m standing alone adrift from the main range and stretching to the north the valley continues rising and falling until it collapses into the folding tapestry of mountains and rivers.

Next door our forest is gleaming brightly and clearly visible is a tendril of smoke curling into the sky as someone kick starts Stanley for dinner .

‘I am off to Broken Hill tomorrow’ says Christa ‘I am going to pick up a couple of a camels.’

I had been paying little heed to the conversation between her and John at the other end of the garden but camels twigged my ears.

What did you say I yell out moving closer to this story.

‘Look’ she says pulling her mobile out of her jeans pocket ‘ I’ve got a couple of pics of them.’

I don’t have my specs on but even I can tell they have a hump.

I look again at Christa, a solid woman in her usual  outfit of blue t-shirt jeans and blundstones . You never really know what people have in them do you?

‘There are 800,000 wild camels in Australia ‘ she tells us. I didn’t know that but I have probably never thought about it either .We all laugh , camels in Wandella, how  absurd how crazy . it is wonderful and our laughter stretches up and lifts into the sky. Already Christa has cows pigs sheep goats miniature ponies a llama 7 dogs plus hens ducks and geese.

I am exhausted thinking about it all as I gaze around the yards the  sheds the fences the  work and try to stop  another dog  jumping  on top of me.

She points to the new camel shed and the high fencing. ‘They have been taught to tie’ she says ‘and the children give them saltbush every day’.

But what will they eat here? I ask

Anything… everything…

Why? Why camels Christa,  John wants to know.

‘I like them ‘she says with a shrug and a grin.

Fair enough I can appreciate that.  I do too. I like it all , the buckets full of produce at my feet,the idea that our wonderful crazy organic animal lover neighbour is off to Broken Hill to bring three basically wild camels back to live in Wandella .

we  head home in the gloaming my heart full of wonder at this life these stories these offerings of grandeur, of the night approaching and the first stars and  the last calls from birds . On the track into our forest we meet wombat wide awake and plodding about .

The kitchen is warm with pots and pans bubbling on the top of Stanley.

Jess says ‘we will be making relish tomorrow Kingston’ as he tears in tipping the bucket of veges onto the floor.

Later that evening Jess yells for us to come out onto the verandah. Bring a torch. Kingston is doing his before bed piddle.

Look , she says and there making its way up onto the verandah is a young diamond python. It is about two to three fingers width but has a huge lump halfway along its body. I think Kingston might have weed on it says Jess.

That is probably a rat in it, says John hopefully.

perhaps this is it , perhaps this is living like the gods. After all where else would they hang out but here with air crisp and fragrant, with soil generous and bountiful, with water fresh and sweet with wildlife gently going about their business.

A forest

a reservoir of life exploring its self…

a family loving creating…

a community growing learning…

where else would we find the gods living?

the sea horse


the little king was camping at picnic point with his baby sister and parents.

the day we joined them the southerly was coming in at full pelt and the surf way too big to enter.

lets walk the beach and look for treasures then .

best find gets a …

what ? what do we get? asks the seven year old.

well how about a gelati ?

but that’s not fair, everyone gets one of them, kingston replies.

granddad zooms in close holding a toadfish, all nasty grin and sharp spikes.

yipes and off he scampers.

the baby gets plonked in the sand the wind tugging at her bonnet, fat legs cycling and pushing, pudgy hands grabbing and shoveling whatever into her mouth.


we make up stories about the faded bottlecap, a left black thong, bits of plastic, smooth washed sticks and stones and then great drifts of weed- bronze green slippery and shiny, sludgey in places, cungi neptunes pearls straps and fine coral threads.

shells ; purple striped ,a spiral as tiny as bubs fingernail, trumpets and flutes, mother of pearl fragments.

soft washed and smoky glass

fishing lures sinkers bits of line.

all treasures depending on your eye.

and then we watch Kingston as he picks up a complete perfectly preserved sea horse.


you can say that again.


you win I say,

but grandma it isn’t over yet.

I know but what a gem.

muttonbirds lay scrunched up and forlorn brought down by storms starvation exhaustion after a journey of thousands of miles.

like us a couple of oyster catchers stalk the tide line while overhead a sea eagle measures our worth.


at the northern end of the beach we stop and shelter from the wind, it is warm and dreamy. granddad snoozes.

kingston and his dad throw sand at each other wrestling and laughing .

the baby climbs over her mum and me pulling herself to standing, wobbling about, feet bent in weird positions waving her arms chattering and chortling .

I pick her up to walk back, bending double into the strong wind .

your turn and I pass bub over to her dad.

your turn and he passes the sea horse to me.

one precious thing for another as he swings her into the air squealing and grabbing fistfuls of his hair.


over elevenses we pass the sea horse around reverently gently.

did you know that in evolutionary terms the sea horse has not changed at all.

and do you know that it ambles about in the ocean in a very leisurely manner making it one of the slowest fish we know.

and that the tail wraps itself around coral and seagrasses holds on tight and anchors itself against really strong currents.

and… they will hitch a ride on floating seaweed.

and you’ll like this one kingston- it is the male that gets pregnant and gives birth …. to a thousand or more at a time.

what an awesome creature eh?

mum can we go get a gelati now? says Kingston.





It is the season of summer storms, throngs of people and noisy cicadas.

Cloud and humidity flag a lot of our days.

Our afternoons flaunt a grand drama of jagged slivers and sheets of lightning, great rumbles of thunder and blessed rain.


Our valleys are green with bales rolled up in paddocks.

The threat of fire recedes.

My neighbour Christa talks of making a ‘jenny craig’ paddock for her cows.

Vegies are thriving and markets are stuffed with home grown produce.

Roads stream with winnebago’s, boats, caravans and dogs leaning out car windows.

Brightly coloured holidaymakers wander our beaches and villages.

Campgrounds crowded with sandcastles and wave riders, barbeques and fishing yarns.

Roy sits on a bench in the main street watching the world go by; happy to chat about the weather, the time of day, and his memories of people and place.

Busier than last year for some and not so busy for others.

A relative thing then.


Cicadas have been particularly deafening this summer.

At mystery bay campground there was a couple of six-year-old lads from Wollongong, Ari and Harley. I was on my way to Billy’s beach for a swim and they were sitting on the side of the track with a cardboard carton chockablock of cicada shells. A sign ‘ ci c d a shells $1, live nice one $50.

The nice one was a green grocer in a separate plastic container.

How’s it going?

$2 so far, says Ari who admitted that Harley had done most of the collecting. They demonstrated how a shell can cling onto your t-shirt.

That’s cool, a brooch! I said.

They gave me a puzzled look.

Oh never mind.


The forest is also summer busy.

The warm air thick with frog chorus, birdsong and fragrance.

White thorn bush, angophora, titree and buddleia flower.

Butterflies dragonflies mossies are all on the go.

Leeches will be next to appear.


Turtles bask on logs at the edge of dams and echidnas snuffle their noses into likely spots.

The black swamp wallabies keep court around the house – they are coming up onto the verandah for the grape leaves standing up on tippy toes to pull a leaf down within reach.

Honeyeaters hang about on bottlebrush and grevillea.

Goannas large and small stalk the more interesting smells and a black snake comes out early before the rain and curls up on bricks outside the kitchen window.

Water skinks prowl house and verandah – I have taken to keeping a wooden spoon in the sink and a branch in the bathtub so they can climb out – smooth surfaces not their strong point.


Come night dark silent shapes swoop through the trees.

Wombats ever curious make deposits on any changes they identify in the bush.

Possums run the roof using it as a launching pad for their dinner activities.


Life in the forest never switches off; there is always a murmur, a rustle, a peep, a creak, a whisper, always, Always Life going about its Busyness.