Men with chainsaws 2…Dude, Sweet


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Dogs on the Backs of Utes 16

Waiting patiently outside the Gundy pub. A whole lotta dog on the back of a ute.            Ted, Sally, Suzie and Bella. But where’s Bruno?


There he is, facing the other way.

They look a bit cramped but they are as happy as can be. There’s never any fighting. Happy to be together; most are rescued dogs. All just happy to go everywhere with their human.

And they do.




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Aboriginal scarred trees 3


We found these two Aboriginal scarred trees yesterday. Living and growing White Box trees. Big and old. The first tree is fantastic. The overgrowth of the bark is very deep over the scar.  When I put my hand into the left side, my arm disappeared almost to my elbow.

Once you begin to see these trees, you find that they are waiting to be found throughout the bush. We came across some at Port Stephens in January. And over Easter we drove the New England Highway to the north coast of NSW and from our vehicle we saw Aboriginal scarred trees in the Country along the side of the road. Hiding in plain sight.




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Here be wombats!



Watch out Ellie! You don’t want to go in there…

In my final post for last year,  I wrote of the return of wombats to our land after many decades absence. Here is fresh evidence – a new wombat hole! Discovered by my sister-in-law, niece and a friend at Easter while we were away. They’d been following the fence line down Windy Ridge, after looking for cattle in the high country.

When we went to look at this hole yesterday, we also found another two Aboriginal scarred trees. They are the White Box that you can see just further up the hill from the wombat residence. What a blessing, wombats and scarred tree on the same day!



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World’s greatest letter box

At Deepwater, south of Tenterfield, New South Wales. It must be the only letter box with its own visitors book! I wish it were mine…






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Aboriginal scarred tree 2

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This was the first Aboriginal scarred tree we found.

It is next to the gravel public road on Warra Warra, directly opposite the gate between two of our properties. We have passed it many hundreds of times without really seeing it. But I guess it could be seen to have been hiding in plain sight.

We saw a tree, we saw a scar, we saw a road surveyor’s mark; but we didn’t see an Aboriginal scarred tree, one that had been fortuitously used by the whitefella surveyor to mark the line of the road.

And though the white box tree looked too small, not old enough to bear an Aboriginal scar, the scar with its broad arrow and with letters ‘Rd’ was totally the wrong shape for a surveyor’s mark, which is traditionally shield-shaped – flat across the top, curved sides down to a point at the bottom.

This is the scar of a different type of shield.

The National Parks and Wildlife Service’s Aboriginal Heritage Officer for the Central Coast and Hunter Regions visited our property last August and confirmed that this is an Aboriginal scar tree.  Subsequently,  a botanist and a former surveyor, both of whom were with the Catchment Management Authority (as it was then known), have confirmed that white box can be very slow growing depending on their soil and their site; and that the shape of the original scar is not a surveyor’s mark.

The Aboriginal scar is slowly growing over. It is growing over the whitefella mark; the broad arrow appears about to be covered by overgrowing bark. The strangely high position of the chiseled broad arrow and letters is a result of time. These marks most likely date from the late 19th century when the road was made.  Time passing, measured in bark.

The public road now ends only 20 or so metres from this tree, but the ghost of it remains across further paddocks, the other side of Kewell Creek, across several properties. Its legacy as a former public road remains, in that, what is now a bush track is always sound in all weathers.



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Signs in the landscape 2



Traces of white ‘settlement’ in the landscape. Stretching back to 1828, like an old fence line between the past and present.

Timber, wire, metal, glass.

Ghost gateways to former paddocks and yards. Old posts; sometimes a single sentinel, often a series of points in a now imaginary line.

Rusty wire everywhere, everywhere. From single loops that span your hand, to giant loops of barb forgotten and still waiting never to be used. Look down at the ground anywhere and you may see some.

Old 44 gallon drums, still sound and recoverable.

A pile of old brandy bottles in a lost valley at the base of Staircase Mountain, discarded perhaps a hundred years ago after being used for pouring sheep drench.

Although I have come more and more to understand that the landscape still visible all around me has been shaped and created by Aboriginal hands, these poignant signs of the labour and aspirations of generations of whitefellas remain and speak and slowly decay.



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