Doctor of Creative Arts
Faculty of Creative Arts
Hall, Phillip, Gathering points: Australian poetry: a natural selection, Doctor of Creative Arts thesis, Faculty of Creative Arts, University of Wollongong, 2011. http://ro.uow.edu.au/theses/3471
As a child I lived in the Blue Mountains of NSW. My house stood a stone’s throw from the Great Western Highway and railway line: noise and bustle, the Indian Pacific, Mack trucks. From our front veranda I gazed up that highway, west, all the way to Perth, while outside our back fence was a gully. I mucked up, the artful dodger escaping jobs, turning to outside-the-back-gate.
Once in my gully, I was an adventurer or an explorer, maybe even an escaped convict. At the head of the gully was a series of small rock pools surrounded by thick native bush and blackberry and filled with tadpoles, insect larvae and dragonflies. From the rock pools, the creek flowed a few hundred metres before reaching a small waterfall. At the base of this sandstone cliff line there was a cave hidden in the shady bottom of the gully. Here I kept a tarp, billy, matches and a knife. I never got permission to stay in my cave overnight, but from it such bravery was planned.
If you struggled down the creek line for about an hour, over slippery and mossy rocks, you came to the Glenbrook Gorge. Here there was much more water: fish and yabbies, sometimes turtles. Big boys told stories of how the trees around these swimming holes were filled with snakes. Snakes so big that they swung from tree to tree and from one side of the gully to the other. But the truth is that in all the time I spent down there, snakes were a rare spotting: a death adder, a diamond python, a few red-bellied black snakes, that was all. I once saw a wallaby, sometimes echidnas and lyrebirds, lots of blue-tongues and kookaburras. But the bush for me was a place of solitary wanderings. I studied moss, lichens and fungus, carved sandstone, threw rocks, made spears and sucked the honey from Mountain Devils.