The long waterhole

Mrs Galah watching me from her nest in a knothole in the old gum tree
Everlasting daisies have sprung up where we haven’t seen them for years

My hometown Gilgandra hugs the banks of the Castlereagh River. The river runs underground for most of its course, for most of the time, but at Gilgandra surfaces to form a permanent waterhole.

Of course the Aboriginal people of this area flocked to the waterhole, especially in dry times. The waterhole was a meeting place for the major groups to the south and west, the Wiradjuri and the Wailwan. Their word for a long waterhole is Gilgandra or Carlginda.

On the plains nearby, wheat and oilseed crops flourish where indigenous women ground and made flour of stands of native grasses in centuries past.

On a visit home last week I strolled along the river banks admiring the ancient eucalypts, no doubt witness to many a camp and celebration. The river flows at present, thanks to generous recent rains.

Around watercourses and swamps birds nest and flowers bloom, flourishing after the long drought. Such a miracle that seed and wildlife survive years of scarce food and water.

So we humans might flourish again after this period of slowing down and turning inward. Poverty of contact and an opening out of time might help us value a slower, more reflective mode of life.

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