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U3A Writing: Bush Voices

Mick Harkin tells of ghostly goings on in the bush.

I was taking my two dogs on their daily walk in the bush surrounding our little town of Childers.

It had rained heavily the night before. A heavy fog lingered all day but I knew the bush well as I had lived here for forty years. I've seen gold mines come and go, it's mostly farming now!

The dogs were about twenty yards in front of me when they suddenly stopped, ears pricked, looking towards the track further up the hill. It was then I heard the sound of a motor car. It continued for a minute or so, the sound increasing as it came closer, then gradually faded as it moved away along the track. This seemed strange to me as there were only half a dozen cars in the district and why would anyone be driving on this lonely track in weather like this?

I continued through the bush towards the track but had to coax the dogs to come with me, this was very odd as they loved their run in the bush. When I reached the edge of the track the dogs would come no further, they stood there cowering. I walked along the road for some distance each way, there were no tyre marks of any description on the road's damp surface.

I shivered!

The dogs never moved while I searched for tyre marks. The further we moved away from our track on our way home the happier the dogs became.

Years later that eerie feeling came back to me when the local bee keeper Bruce Gingham, told me his story. All his working life he had worked with his bees in the forests around Childers, shifting them by night, camping in his truck until morning. This time he took the bees to a part of the forest he had not visited for many years.

During the night he was woken by the sound of bullocks plodding along, of steel capped cart wheels turning on the gravely ground surface and the rattling of chains. He thought he was dreaming,

No he wasn't he was wide awake. He sat listening for a moment then got out of his truck, the sounds gradually faded away. By dawn he finally decided what he had heard was real. Not a dream. When it was light enough to see, he made towards the area where the sounds had come from. The bush was lightly timbered compared to the rest of the forest, a mixture of very old and much younger trees. Soil was gravelly, same as the rest of the forest.

Some weeks later Bruce was at the local garage having some work done on his truck. Old George Arbuckle tottered in for a talk. George was ninety years old, had lived in the town all his life. On hearing Bruce's story, George started talking about the early days of Childers. He could remember as a child there was a bullock track ran along from the town to the Big Bar Gold Mine. It had been used to carry supplies from the town to the gold mine and gold into town. If you looked carefully you could see the path the old track took by the smaller girth of the trees that had grown over it.

Next day Bruce went back to the area old George had spoken of. He could see the pattern of re-growth all right as it meandered its way towards the gold mine. It passed within thirty yards of where Bruce had his hives. Bruce was adamant the sounds he had heard that night were genuine. That is when I told him of my experience with the car on the bush track many years earlier.

They're bush voices he said.

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