Packing my bags…

30 12 2006


My primary goal on this tour is enjoying what is at hand, so I had planned to pack quite lightly and just take what I felt were the essentials–sturdy clothing, a mess kit, and art supplies. But one day last week, I heard a knock at my door, and opened it to find absolutely no one….however, a large package sat on my stoop, and I brought it into the house with great curiosity. My dog Katy sniffed it cautiously, and I walked around it, looking for some clue as to its origin. Finding none, I retrieved some scissors, and with great care, slit open the brown paper wrapper. Inside was a magnificent carpetbag, woven from some sort of kilim-type fabric, with sturdy valise handles and a bronze clasp that looked like two hands in prayer position. I opened the bag. I could have sworn I felt the faintest breeze, warm and spicy with odors of cinnamon and cumin, caress my face. I felt deep inside the darkness of the bag, and pulled out a garment, plain but somehow radiant, a soft, voluminous fabric that slithered through my fingers like silk. It was a cape! Pinned to the cape was this note:

“Dear Karen: This bag contains everything you need for your journey. You have but to reach inside and you will be given whatever you need–note: I say need–not want. I understand your goal for the journey is to gain a full appreciation for what is, what you have, and what you take for granted. We all wish for the moon, but oftentimes the stars are enough. Journey in good health,”

She Who Is

This journey may be more than I bargained for.


Shadow Whispers – 1

30 12 2006

Much of which I know did not come from learning, nor from believing tested and refined — but from simply being open to what has come before.  I sit here now, staring into the ebbing pulse of the fire’s death, and listen to the Whispers.  The smoky haze within the cabin seems to part, and I see again my friend Kiyan.  I know that he was born near this valley — perhaps Styria, and walked the rivers to the Baltic Sea after the Golden Horde left this land.  Some might say I am touching the Current of his being — others lean toward Channeling.  It matters naught– just that he is here right now!



and the elders asked,


“We know that you are Shaman, trained to be a spirit-guide for your people, and be as one who sees what might come that fear is averted.  Can you not teach us of these things, or cast some stones for more than children?”


Kiyan rose to pace behind the flickering reach of the fire’s definition, becoming one with the swirling smoke and shifting shadows of breeze and moon.  Those of the village gathered there became of two minds; those who closed their eyes to better understand his words without distraction, and those who peered into the unfolding display to better understand the shadows and the words.  And of these extremes The Gusari knew that a balance could be found – that those who walk toward the mountain with no eye on the rock strewn path may stumble, while those who seek refuge in a castle of regrets will find nothing but the stones..  So he caused the whispers to speak aloud, “before I answer as I might, I will tell you a story – then you might ask again.”


In a valley much as this, at a time long ago when a wall of ice blocked the northern pass, an explorer spoke of new lands revealed ‘neath the setting sun.  As the people there lived in fear of most everything, they asked how he had managed to travel so far from a safe fire and paths well known?  As a man could only carry four days provisions, ‘twas at great risk to travel more than two days from home.  He told them the way of it.


“As I travel outward the travel is slow, finding blocked canyons and hills too steep for any to follow; so I venture only a single day and seek a pleasant temporary camp to secure.  Here I hide one days ration or the three remaining and venture forth another day in exploration – return then to this cache but a day from home.  Then with strength renewed I return to safety of home and fire.  Here I pack all of my belongs on a sled and in heavy pack, for now a I have a path well proved as I have traveled each trail twice and it is known to me.  Thus, I can now travel to the forward edge of safety in one day which took two before, and establish a new base called home.  Then I rest two days to replenish game and found and inner peace.  At he end of seven days I have gained but two days out, but it is now of knowing rather than hope, cast in a braiding of where I have been and might yearn to go.”


The elders sat in silence, each staring into the embers of the silent fire.


“Now, if two men would explore together, bound in friendship and trust – there is a simpler way.  One day out would have a further reach as both could learn of the other’s useless trails, needing not to prove by their own eyes.  From this new camp twice secured, one man would return to their precious base and bring the provisions forward; while the other would venture further onward for a day and return.  With two days gone they would meet again and share what they had gained.  The in one day again together, they would make fast time of a known trail, seen by one and believed by the other; and in one day surge further on to set a new camp as base and all.  Then they need only rest a single day to replenish body and spirit.   This in five day they would have explored the same and more what the single man might do in seven – and have never been more than two days away from fire and friend.”


The fire danced back to life as if to signal that The Gusari was finished., but no one spoke immediately.  Finally, one who looked barely old enough to be an elder spoke up,

“I would not like to travel that far from home alone even with such a plan; but I would follow the path set by such a one as this, for he chose to walk the path twice and remember his roots.  I would believe his signs and trust his judgment.”


Then another spoke, hesitantly at first, but then warming to his message,


“Yes, to place a life-trust in a stranger would call for special proof that he can be believed.  When the two went out, each had to trust the other, but in the end they traveled the paths separately to prove their worth.  Two people can validate each other even if they are strangers.  For each alone it requires believing, but in the end it is of knowing.  In a way, two people working together can weave a stronger rope than one alone, and if they include the ancestors as well – then the result must be even more than that of two.  Methinks that because they kept returning to the past in this way, that they created the success of their future – they journey became a chain rather than a rope at all – each link a balance of known past and fervent hope..  Of what need are tossed stones for such as these?”


After a while the senior elder spoke,


“For many years we have bickered with other villages near by – those with whom we once traded crafts and daughters.  Perhaps the key to the future we wish to know can be found in leaving past hurts behind and trusting in friendship again.  We can move forward and back in an endless cycle of learning and remembering, and challenge fears by bringing forth only what we can lightly carry.”


Others nodded and added sticks to the fire.  One asked of the Gusari, “might we not better secure what we have before asking what might now be?


but Kiyan was gone, but one of the many pairs of eyes watching from the forest.



Preparing to depart…

29 12 2006

After a year’s absence I once again set foot on Lemuria’s sacred ground. I look forward to revisiting friends that I met along the way on my previous journey. I find Lemuria as I left it, pulsing with infinite possibility under a sunwashed sky.


28 12 2006

“Having made my measurements and adjusted the boundaries to the satisfaction of the runholders I retraced my tracks as far as Eulo, where I turned off to Cunnamulla, en route to this eastern part of the district, where I had some work. I reached Cunnamulla in November 1874 and found it a lively and pleasantly situated township. Being on the intersection of two main lines of traffic – namely the road along the Warrego into New South Wales and the route from St George to Cunnamulla – a fairly constant stream of traffic was passing through consequent upon the travelling of stock, the cartage of wool and the delivery of station supplies, whilst an increasing occupation of the West involved the moving about of all classes and grades, from rich squatter to the swagman and bookmaker. The principal occcupants of the place were the Huxley’s (who kept the Hotel, exceedingly well conducted), Fred Ford, a storekeeper, the local blacksmith and their contemporary, the sergeant of police.


Finding some instructions from the Surveyor-General to extend the survey of Cunnamulla I diversified my feature surveying by the marking out of a few sections of town allotments, which occupied me a week, during which time, putting up at Huxley’s Hotel, I met with many denizens of the West, representative men who had won their spurs as pioneers, and whose preliminary exploits have proved the foundation of the Commonwealth in this part of the continent of Australia.

From Cunnamulla I proceeded further east and effected the survey of Noorama and Widgeegoara Creek where stations had been formed by Mr Edward Brown, the Messrs Howie and Mr John Bignell, the latter in Widgeegoara Creek. He was married to the eldest Miss Williams of Coongoola, one of the first white women who entered the Warrego District and certainly one of the bravest. Some years previous to 1874, when just married and residing on the Upper Bulloo at Tintinchilla station, of which her husband was the manager, upon one occasion a blackfellow stealthily crept into the dwelling and was in the act of tomahawking here when she flew out the opposite door, which fortunately happened to be open, and reached within sight of the stockyard, where Mr Bignell and his men were working. The pursurer, unable to catch her, ran off to roam about until the native police terminated his career.

Upon reaching Mr. Bignell’s station on the Widgeegoara I found Mrs Bignell upholding the traditions of pioneering, for she was living in an improvised shelter of a few sheets of corrugated iron. However, she found means, even in those primitive conditions to extend the traditional hospitality of Coongoola.


The whole of the Widgeegoara and Noorama country was like a luxuriant wheat field, covered with Mitchell grass. The Widgeegoara and Noorama creeks are actually billabongs which run out of the Warrego on to an immense southern plain which runs along the boundary of Queensland and New South Wales, extending from the Condemine waters to Grey’s Range on the west of the Bulloo River. It is only in a very high flood like that of 1874 that the Warrego overflows into the Widgeegoara and Noorama so that until dams were made and wells sunk the waterholes would remain for years unfilled. A few hundred yards of the canal cut out of the Warrego into the head of the Widgeegoara billabong would obviate this serious drawback. In fact the billabongs which break away from the Warrego, Paroo and Bulloo might be utilised by the extension of canals to irrigate the immense Southern plain referred to.

These surveys completed my work for 1874. I had located and classified about 200 runs and in the classification had materially augmented the revenue for many of the runs had been held throughout as half unavailable, which meant the rent was only paid on the available portion.

Wizened Staff

27 12 2006

Any traveler is wise to not travel alone, though some trails narrow but to a heart’s width, and other meant for solitude.  So, a seeker should always carry a staff – more than stout support for balance or protection, but friend that connects spirit to earth – and more.  If gaining understanding and wisdom is a goals of such journey, then the staff will serve more in concept – in concert with pouch and scroll as is commanded.  In this a staff represents the core values and perceptions by which you will stand – solid and firm, yet alive and changeable by else than whim.  As with its solid, wooden counterpart, this Wizard Staff can be appraised for strength, reach, flexibility and beauty.


STRENGTH –  a man’s staff of character and self contains a central core of unchangeable commitment to a measure of honor, integrity and principles that can withstand the assault of perversity and allure.  Around this is a more pithy surround of values and beliefs which cushions the frictions of daily life, and present a more resilient form for others to grasp – yet it is slightly vulnerable to change and sloughing away.  Around these cores of identity is a ‘thick skin’ for protection – perhaps amazing in texture and pattern, but essentially a barrier against casual assault on the inner cores.  Lovers and critters alike may attempt to ‘get under your skin’ – and learning to tell the difference is a test of compassion, empathy and fear.


REACH –  ‘tis said a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, but this must be tempered with reasoned judgment.  A ‘soul quest’ should never shuffle beyond the reach of ‘what brought you here’, nor aspire to more than can be integrated with ‘who you are’.  While you may probe into the unknown as if testing a bush for snakes, but then must serge backwards into memory for a fine braiding of new experience with the core of strength.  For proper Tegsh balance one should grasp the staff such that the wider ‘probing’ end is in relation to the shorter ‘serge’ section as ‘probe’ is to the entire ‘reach’.  In planning the probing should be into ‘what has come before, with the shorter end but an exploration of possibilities.  Thus the dream never draws beyond what the soul can balance.


no future path might support that which your character cannot sustain, while those of whom mind and spirit are balanced in heart and earth will find any trail lined with fruit, and any dream a goal.”  the scrolls of Eskiyalı 

FLEXIBILITY –  just as a tree too rigid might break in the wind or be torn from stability for wand of deep roots of being, a staff must be able to sway in the breeze, or bend in mediation.  The vital center core will sustain, while values may yield and the skin peel away – for these can be healed, and scars seen as lines on the face of a crone.  But even a flexible shaft will lead to folly if only poked and jabbed in an aim lined based only on what has worked before.  You seeking must be allowed to swing about and vibrate a bit like a hound dog following a scent.  The balanced reach in tune with Phi will prevent the staff from being knocked from your will; while it can rebound from fruitless paths of yearning – always in motion, never still, as if conducting a symphony.

BEAUTIFUL – many would anoint their staff with aromatic oils, carve figurines and inscribe symbols such that a stranger might not know of this inner self.  But, as such perceived beauty is artificial, then information gained from strength or reach or flexibility may also prove feckless, and values changed on this accord but a delusion.  If instead you strive for an inner beauty founded in congruency, and ‘who you are’ and ‘who you are perceived to be’ show the same, then another may grasp your staff in confidence and pull you from the bitter swamps of complacency.  I assure you, my friend, that nothing is more beautiful in the march of time than a seeker open to any path, striding onward in measured step, with a solid staff both leading and following – forward two, back one, spin about and try again.

A Model Station 1874

27 12 2006



Shearing the Rams by Tom Roberts
Born England 1856, Arrived Australia 1869, Died 1931

“Reaching Calwarro head station I found it in possession of its proprietor, Mr. W. J. Malpas, who renders me valuable assistance. I found in Calwarro water holes a resemblance to an inland lake, the wild fowls were in abundance; pelicans, swans, ducks, in search of prey, as the waterhole abounded with fish of all sizes.


The Black Swan who graced these waters.

In entering upon the survey of this run I found I had some intricate questions of boundaries to determine between Mr Malpas and his neighbours, Messrs Calder and Stephenson, of Thorlindah as well as Messrs Hood nad Torrance, of Currawynya, as their respective runs had been applied for from divergent points, and some clashing had taken place. The country as I advanced increased in interest, as countless billabongs diverged east and west, ten, twenty and thirty miles, forming magnificent lakes in the back country some four kilometres in diametre; so that as we camped on the banks whereon the waves were beating we could imagine ourselves upon the seashore. It was plainly evident that the country should never suffer from drought, where Nature had already done so much of the engineering in rendering cannalisation and easy process, and the outlet of the lakes practicable sites for effective embankments that would retain a permanent supply of water for many years. For although I was now witnessing the spectacle of well filled lakes after the good rains of 1874, the same lakes, in protracted drought, had been known to be quite dry, so that horseman could canter through their beds.


I spent an exceedingly pleasant three months in the survey of Calwarro, Currawyn and Thorlindah and the back country thereof. Carrawynya had been formed by Messrs Hood and Torrance, of whom Mr Torrance was the leading spirit. He was ably assisted by the young Hoods, nephews of the part-owner, who soon became as proficient as their tutor. Mr Torrance died whilst upon an overland journey, about three months before the run was surveyed, so I missed the pleasure of meeting him. However, I saw his work, which was a marvel of practical forethought – no fortunes frittered away, nor embarrassments engendered by the building of ornamental woolsheds – but awaiting the growth of the clip, he met the necessities of shearing by the expedient of bough sheds.


An Historic Bough Shed

Early dwellers built shanties for shelter and bough sheds for coolness. A primitive fridge was made by cutting a hessian bag down two sides and inserting two boards. This hung in the bough shed in the breeze and was used to set jellies and to keep honey and syrup away from the “hants”. Even meat and butter were kept in the bough sheds. A canvas water bag hung from one of the boughs and the water tasted good on a hot day. Lamps were made by stuffing a kerosene soaked rag in a bottle.

Horses, cattle, and sheep or throve exceedingly well, horses especially. Much of the country was polygnum flats, whereon the cattle throve amazingly, whilst on the mulga ridges sheep found herbage and grasses adapted for their sustenance judging by the superior meat and wool grown there.

During my rendezvous at Currawynya the station property, consequent upon the death of Mr Torrance, changed hands being purchased by Mr Wilson, of Victoria, whose sons Hector and Norman duly arrived to take possession in 1874. I found them capable young men of business.

When Hood and Torrance formed the station they improvised such buildings as met their necessities for dwellings, stores and sheds; but within the year preceeding my survey they had built a splendid mansion, with lofty rooms and als a detatched, composite building for store, dormitories, harness sheds etc.

Watching Lizards Race

26 12 2006


This is a land of ancient landscapes – grassy plains stretching to the horizon, rugged red ranges and the sweep of sand dunes.
The Eulo Lizard Race is testimony to the belief that Australians
would bet on two flies crawing up a wall.

“Passing through Tilbooroo, whereon was situation the township of Eulo, I reached the unsurveyed Lower Paroo. Eulo had been an important centre, situated the direct route of travel to the West; it accommodated the travellers passing to and fro and was at the same time a nucleus for the thirsty bushman to quench their thirst, by the ‘melting’ of their cheques and the increase of the territorial revenue, as well as the emoluments of the public-house. An adjacent store was in readiness to supply all the ordinary station requirements. The public house, the store and a blacksmith’s shop constituted the original township of Eulo, which came in to celebrity as the rendezvous of prodigal adventurers who professedly had settled upon the Paroo as graziers, but whose purpose was actually to squander their means in hilarious horse-play. In announcing at the Eulo Hotel the termination of their repast they would hurl tablecloths, dishes, plates and crockery on to the floor and indulge in the bravado of paying for the bill of damages. Exploits of this kind continuously bought their holdings into the hands of the land monopolist.

Below Tilbooroo run I found myself upon Calwarro run whereon the river runs into a succession of magnificent waterholes, of which the Calwarro waterhole is the principal. The Paroo River at this southern extremity is characterised by the disappearance of its distinctive channel; the waterholes are connected by low depressions and polygnum flats which a stranger may cross unaware that he has gone beyond the river he is in search of. In fact, such was the fate of an early surveyor, who in search of water crossed the Paroo and kept going onward in the back country, where he perished.”

source: Building the Commonwealth A Record of Forty Years in the Civil Service of Queensland