Outside the cook-house, a full moon’s on the rise beyond the creek. Inside, first moths flitter around a naked bulb. On the wall, the second-hand’s been stalled for months, it’s robotic jerks never quite making ten to. I’ll be long gone before its last stutter. But still, it’s one more in a tsunami of them.

Tomorrows another. This one with mixed feelings. Yep, road conditions permitting, last zeds in the old shearers’ digs at Neleh Downs. And yep, gonna miss it! After all, it’s been several months and much water – genuine H2O as well as the other – under the bridge. Rob’s in Alice now, writing his next chapter. The one we co-wrote was to be another last, but since then, there’s been Bradley, then John! For Rob, there’ll be no more barbed wire cuts or daisy-burr riddled socks and jocks, but the challenges go on. It’s never easy to slip from calm waters into rapids. Or vice-versa. Just ask Roger Federer! Nor, no doubt, will it be for me to read the chapter we inspired. For memoirs shine a light like no other. A father sees a face in the mirror. Friends and family see it from left, right, top-down, bottom-up and straight through!

When I punish the old Isuzu across heavy going in the morning, I’ll drive alongside my last feral-fence for a few clics, then on through Patto’s auto gate at the boundary, a much improved version of the one I pioneered a dozen years ago at Spring Plains. And if I make it to the Bimmera turnoff, fifty kms on, ‘Kermit’ will once again have to brave the highway illegally. I’ve promised the old relic I won’t post until he switches off at Glenariff, south of Stonehenge. What he doesn’t know is that after twenty-two seasons in the fencing-plant, (ain’t life a bitch!) his gold watch is a cattle crate and another tank of juice. At fourty-two, he retires to Neleh in lifetime servitude to Tony Jackson.

But boggy roads aren’t all bad. For the past week I’ve written and deleted, written and… well, you know the drill. Even so, it’s another chapter down for Dreamin Longa Baaka. And more. A taste from Ch 6 follows. So tell me, what do your memories hinge upon?

…. but memories are tenuous, as illustrated by my mother’s notation (above). Hit songs of the times can often throw us a lifeline. So too, can love. Or the dregs of lust! Because relationships, whether ephemeral, enduring, intense or torrid, are great keepers of memories. They write the soundtracks of our lives. Some leave a warm afterglow. Others cast lengthy shadows. All of them colour our forks in the road.  

On the rollercoaster that went from Mountain Man to Morisset, (mid-eighties to ’93) my brother and I sometimes rode together, different cars! Mine were the ups and downs (ins and outs) of a string of relationships before Denise came along. After May, came Vicky, Michelle, Cheryl, Rhonda, then Denise! Not a track-record to crow about in this, the me-too era. Nor ever a dull moment! But perhaps a reflection of a man who boarded (sic) whatever bus was waiting, never once glancing up at ‘destination’! Denise reefed the blindfold off, then began a twenty-nine-year collaboration on my ‘flip-side’! It’s worth mentioning, to ensure she helps to write the rest, that any ‘duets’ on the ‘A’ side are far outweighed by ‘solos’, and amount to a mere quarter of our precious time together. For the most part, back then, I was single and content.

May played the spoons and held a tune. It was always a bright and uplifting melody, forward-looking when….