In the middle of winter 2011 Tara and I visited The Shack, a property on Scotts Main Range in the southern Blue Mountains, owned by the Catholic Bushwalkers. Maureen and Bob Anderson were my hosts. This is a rough sketch of that trip for my forthcoming book.
The property has an interesting history. In 1875 aboriginal man John Jingery bought it on conditional purchase - this term is the same as ‘selection’, the conditions of purchase being that he had to show that he was living on it and had made 'improvements'. There was a time limit of three years to show fences, house, clearing.
It was a bit wild when Maureen and Bob took us for a walk. All of this country is bisected by what used to be the Cox's river, but is now Lake Burragorang ( Sydney's main dam and water supply).
the lake full
like a satisfied diner -
black ruffle of wind
On the ridge where you can see the lake in the distance, ( covering what used to be the Burragorang valley) there are axe-grinding grooves in the loose stones.
|Lake Burragorang -photo DW Noble|
traces on the road
of an ancient river -
round smooth stones
At a junction there are a very few remains of what used to be Robert O'Reilly's selection. Much later on, he leased his land out to Bert Reiner.
Bert's ancient fence
wire slackened and curling out
cannot hold the wind
We walked on. John Jingery lost hold of his stony ridgetop in 1877.
Maureen and Bob took us to Kowmung lookout, where the river, undammed and untamed, is far below.
And then they took us to a cave where people may have sheltered in times long past.
It was quite a long walk out to the Mt. Cookem lookout. On the way, we saw glossy black cockatoos - as they took flight, they looked like stained glass windows with their red streaks of feather. At the end of the road, you can look out to the northeast, and see Black Dog ridge.
It was the best route out of the Burragorang valley to the Megalong valley.
|from Cookem - Black Dog ridge 2nd from left or 3rd from right|
We had walked quite a long way, and turned back towards home and warmth and shelter. My daughter strode out in front. Winter - it is lyrebird breeding season, when the male sings his heart out.
if I could
I would be your lover
lyrebird on the left