Day 279

Written 29 December, 2020.


This morning in my nightie,  I saw a message from Dee: Want to go up the creek and see if they’re ok?

I can’t resist an adventure. K saw me throwing on clothes and insisted on packing me a care package in case we get stuck: a thermos of tea, dates, biscuits, and GG’s last banana. He stole it back when she was looking the other way, and waved us off, despite the rain pelting down.

A misty morning but the creek is full of secrets and promises. I always think as we pass of a friend who in her late teens lived on an old deserted farm here. All that’s left now is a stone wall behind an avenue of mangroves. According to legends, this used to be highwaymen country. It could still be. But as Dee said, where did they keep their horses?


Rain fell hard but I sat on the front to level the boat, in case we ran into shallows. Tripi sat with me, a dear little form of a dog, like a little child.

You know the camping site? asked Dee.

There’s a beach.

It’s high tide, Dee said. In other words, any beach would be invisible.

I’ve only been here on high tide. It was there then.


We found the beach, a tiny strip of sand, and their canoes.

I was expecting chaos but they were the only campers still there despite a thunderstorm, feeding children breakfast, competent and happy.

I marvelled that they’d found their way. When we first came here 20 years ago, it took us months to find it. That’s why it must’ve been good for highwaymen, despite the problems with their horses.

On the way home, I remembered that often in teaching I’d look incompetent , but I always manage fine.

At home, a rare luxury because of all the rain – a bath half full of warmth.

Dee runs every year a tiny festival in a paddock up north past Taree, and will this year, virus permitting. We had thoughts of joining it but with Gg’s bad shoulder and the virus, too much is stacked against us. He’s off tomorrow with Tripi. We’ll miss them both.

Those two have become essential in our little community. I wish we could’ve gone. Such fun. But that’s been this year, your hopes put on hold again and again. You take the blow, grit your teeth and shut up, for the terror and the death rates overseas make your disappointment petty.




2 Responses to Day 279

  1. Always comes home to me, just how much more water you have up there in NSW. Guess if I lived down Gippsland way, I wouldn’t think that. Central Victoria offers so much beauty and deep thinkers but water is a luxury. Raining heavily today and muggy, more like your semi-tropical weather. Gorgeous! Aflame one year, floods the next. Global warming is hurling us all about. I heard of your blog at 3am today Sue as I was having trouble sleeping so began scrolling around my ABC RN. Came across your interview on….She Society. I’d never heard of that either so two mid night discoveries. It was lovely to hear your voice. Your first two novels stay in my heart as they were the first contemporary Australian works I’d read. I’d been reading more European classics until then…..following on from school habits.
    Your novels had a huge impact on me. Painted Woman and Leaning toward Infinity (think I recall it correctly) were stunning books. I realise I have not caught up with your latest collection of short stories, which i know has been out for a while now. I’ll chase that up. So thrilled to have found your blog!

    • HI Debbie,

      Your name is familiar. Have we met? thank you for saying that about my novels. There’s also The Secret Cure (UWA), which is slowly becoming an opera, and The Oldest Song in the World(Harper Collins) – about my year and a half in a remote NT traditional indigenous community, and about growing up here on the river (I didn’t do that but it was fun imagining it. The heroine follows her childhood love to the NT to ask him about the simultaneous deaths of their mothers- but she finds there even bigger questions.

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