"If this mega-mine proceeds, our interlinked sacred places will be completely destroyed obliterated from the landscape."
~ Dolly Talbot
A bearded dragon is alive in his placid world,
the purse of his jaw yellow, a yawning sentry
as I walk the trail to the sandstone caves of the Pilliga.
The bush sings with Gomeroi stories and sorrows,
yet this calm brings harmony to my own regrets,
which are useless; recovery being a myth we dream.
Beneath the creek zoned for coal seam mining, lies a river,
breathing language: Yilambu. Dhawun. Nhalay Yarrul,
long-time ephemeral creeks, dry, mineral sands,
But I see flashes of memory, struggle, brutal moments
I think of Major James Nunn reaching for his holster pistol
at Waterloo Creek, men shot mid-stream, and in the foothills.
I think of women who were raped, children taken,
and still, being taken by policy, how white man’s intrusions
threaten the survival of the Pilliga mouse, koala, brolga.
Crude metal cages protect the 12000-year-old carvings.
Sandstone whorls, quartz ledges withstand wind, rain, fire, storm
and white people’s vandalism, the iterations and abductions.
Still this seamless light dissolves distractions, dampiera
flourishes, even as we remember the past, with protest,
even as the heath is trampled, scarred by logging.
Dark clouds sweep across the valley, the wind menacing
as if the silver leafed ironbarks, delicate wattle and waxlips
are grieving tomorrow’s cemeteries and impurities.
- ‘Indigenous owners lose bid to protect land earmarked for Shenhua mine’ by Jenny Noyes in Sydney Morning Herald, July 22, 2020 (Veronica ‘Dolly’ Talbot is a Traditional Gomeroi custodian.)
- Gomeroi language words: Yilambu. Dhawun. Nhalay Yarrul, are words that appear on information signs at the carpark entrance to the Sandstone Caves Walk in the Pilliga National Park