The high drone with mosquito-like insistence heralds summer mornings in the suburbs.  Swarms of garden elves are firing up. “All I want for Christmas… is my neighbour’s whipper snipper to die!” – the accident and emergency doctor’s wife. Further north the sentiments are more explicit: “Neighbour getting busy with his mowing and whipper snippering […]


Walking to an afternoon’s ocean swim through the beachside car park, two children and their mother skirt a flower of smashed ceramic, crunched by passing wheels into a smattering of small angular petals. What was once a china plate decoratively mosaics the grey bitumen.  White pieces glinting hard-edged in the sun. Daughter observes that her […]

Reasons To Leave Widget: Drought

The cheese factory cuts production.  Not enough milk to buy.  The white stuff costs more than unleaded petrol.  It’s cheaper to buy the girls that line up with shrunken tits a few long-necks after work than it is to get a load of water in.  Widget’s running on empty. The cows bat their long lashes. […]

Reasons to Leave Widget: Flood

When the Tuross River rises it sucks at the undersides of the timbers of the old bridge. Confused vegetation and stiff-legged, waterlogged cattle wash out of low paddocks where the fences are down.  They lodge in the crossbeams of the timber trestle.  The detritus of the countryside eventually sidles past the trusses. Away. The knobbly […]

Leaving Widget

The first post office was down on the river flats at a place called Widget.  Then the roiling brown floodwaters flowed through the main street.  The mail couldn’t get through.  There was no point ‘digging in’, especially in the face of a natural paddock top-dressing. The railway line remained high and dry throughout.  It was […]

The Voiceless Blue-billed Diver

Bushmen speaking of Australia’s native birds mention a rare stiff-tailed duck: shy, voiceless and able to fly, though it is rarely seen in flight. The first Australians spoke for it, telling whitefellas this duck was dumb.  In courtship the drake rises above this impediment and drums and taps with a bill blue and swollen from […]

Remembering Blue Divers’ Reach

As a youth Neville rowed a canoe, a corrugated iron sheet sealed with tar from the road, all up and down the stretch of creek.  Afterwards he’d pull it up under a house beside the road. On one of those giant gum trees, where the creek changes direction, a rope was tied on which they […]

Losing One’s Licence (from the “NUTS!” collection)

The old woman hobbled away, mostly unscathed. Helen, my neighbor, didn’t ask me later how she found unaccompanied dentures in her lap.  That’s how I knew she’d been conscious enough to witness the pedestrian’s serious timing error at our street corner. She’d been sitting in the front seat, one-tenth sober.  I’ve given her lifts home […]