The godfather

Before I logged off for the night, I scrolled through my recent photographs, partly because it is raining hard in short bursts and I wanted some memories of warmth.

The photographs I looked at have a special place in my heart.  The landscape is as close as the landscape of childhood.

This is Cockatoo Creek.  It lies below the highway between Broome and Derby.  Bridges in this region often allow one way traffic only.  Cars have to stop to let oncoming vehicles pass.  This is especially daunting when halfway across the bridge, one sees a road train approach!

The Kimberley region had record rainfall last monsoon, so there was plenty of water and billabongs to see.  I have never seen this creek so flooded as I did this trip.  It was brimming with bird life and wildlife, too.

DSCN8892.jpgThis is cattle country in the Kimberley region.  Huge landscape, bigger cattle stations and dangerous roads where cattle roam freely.  At 110 km/hour speed limit, they are a hazard for the novice driver.DSCN9458.jpgA friendly “take care” from the car hire people is usually a good natured warning, “watch out for cattle”.DSCN9462.jpgI particularly love the Brahman cattle.  This picture speaks of home to me.DSCN9466.jpgJuxtaposed with the bird life of the Kimberley, cormorants, glossy ibis and the gorgeous brolga, there’s a certain incongruity here.  I always feel like I’m straddling two cultures.  Ask me which one I love more and I’d never be able to give you an answer.DSCN8894The brolga is one of my favourite birds.  They are large and elegant in movement and flight.  To see them dance is unforgettable.  Oh! the elegance of each stride!DSCN8906.jpgThis time there was even a freshie (freshwater crocodile) or two.  The excitement this caused!  We nearly stepped backwards on to the highway, much to the annoyance of passing traffic who tooted at us impatiently.

Where does my love for all this come from?  It had to be from my godfather, my mother’s older brother.  He was one of five sons.  I’ve written about my mother’s family previously so I won’t repeat the family history again but I will share more about my godfather.  He was our hero in more ways than one.

My godfather never worked in a paid job as far as I’m aware!  He managed to live life on his terms supported by a legacy.  The only job he had in his youth was being called by the government to shoot and kill marauding tigers and panthers that terrorised villagers.  At Christmas my mother’s extended family would meet in the sprawling ancestral home.  At night we, the multitude of cousins, would sleep dormitory style in the great lounge room that we called The Hall.  He would turn off the lights and start telling us stories of his youth.  The murmur of aunts and uncles in the adjacent room added to the tension of trying to hear him.  He would start by speaking softly, as he stalked that tiger or panther until he had it in his sights.  We would wait to hear the sound effects of his loaded gun as he took aim. He would shush us, oh so softly.  We dared not breathe.  Then BANG!  We screamed in unison and sheer terror.  We drowned out the protests and reprimands of the other adults, while he laughed heartily with us as we pleaded, “tell us another story, pleeeeze!”

My godfather married very late in life.  In his 60s I think.  When younger he had a mad crush on a nun.  I can’t remember her name but can see her face so clearly.  She was Anglo Indian.  Her modest habit covered her blond hair but heightened the blue of her eyes.  She ran a local clinic.  My godfather, of course, found himself suffering from every ailment known and unknown to mankind!  But, she was committed to her vocation.  He never had a prayer.

Family memories are precious.  Like all good things, they are meant to be shared.  So I thought I’d share my yarn with you.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird




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