While the names of the cattle station, and those of Magic and Dan are fictitious, this event happened as described. Rather then read it, however, you can choose to have it read to you. If so, click on arrow on the left of the audio version  (the black line with grey strip in the middle of it immediately below) to hear the dulcet tones of Paul-David Goddard.

On my way back from Halls Creek, I’d often stop in at Dungal and see Eric, or Magic as everyone called him. And he was magic. He was the best horseman in the region, he’d had five of the eight football clubs from Perth chasing him when he was younger, his artistic talents, whether with painting or guitar, were profound and he was a lovely, gentle soul of great wit and wisdom. When I met him, he was chairperson of Dungal community and I came to know him well over time.

Each time I stopped, we’d share cans on the veranda of the old station house that was now his and we’d yarn. At first, it was about Dungal school, but then we moved to other topics. As I got to know him, I’d often ask why he was still in Dungal. Why hadn’t he taken the chance to go to Perth and make a fortune with all the skills he had? Each time I’d ask, he’d smile enigmatically and change the subject.kimberleypictures

One balmy July Friday afternoon, in weather that God allows in the Kimberley to make up for The Wet, I asked my usual question. He stared across the plain in front of us for a while, and without that smile.

Suddenly, he put down his can, said “Come Dan,” and headed for the rear of the house. He led me across the now dry creek bed, over the bitumen highway to the south and then up a pindan and gravel track into a small range of hills. As we walked, Magic touched rocks, tree trunks and strands of dry cane grass with his fingertips. But he spoke only once.

“I talk to my mother and she talk to me,” was all he said.

6404409_origIn the middle of the range, Magic suddenly turned right, leading me into a small but steeply-sided gorge with a still-flowing creek. I hadn’t spotted the gorge.kununurra1

His eyes were closed as I stood next to him facing the cliff. But with his free hand and eerie certainty, he grabbed my wrist and forced a palm to the rock wall. I stood uncertainly until he released the wrist and put an arm around my shoulders, gently, though insistently, pressing my upper body to the cliff face.

I complied, closed my eyes, leaned on my arm, and drifted to a sense of peaceful warmth and security. I had, and still have, no idea how long we stood that way. It may have been ten seconds or ten minutes. But finally, Magic moved and broke the reverie.

“This place been my mother, and my mob’s mother.” Magic spoke gently. “She been in me and I been part of her. I live for her and she make me live. Now you know why I been here and never do what you arks?”

I stared at the cliff face, wondering what had happened. “I’m not … I think so, Magic but I’m not … not sure.”

“Maybe you know better way when your spirit been free,” Magic grinned.