Picture it – it’s 5pm, we’re 115k from Dubbo where we’re planning on spending the night with relatives of mine. We’ve had a big day driving (including traffic jams and not finding open wineries in wine country), and we’re starting to feel really grotty and just want a shower.
Then we come to a cross roads.
Straight ahead to Dubbo, or turn left for the scenic route via Banjo Patterson Way. What do we do?
I love Banjo Patterson. He’s my favourite poet. From the time I was 10 I could recite the Man from Snowy River. Not very well – but I knew all the words. Of all 26 verses. Yes, I was precocious, and a pain in the arse. And my son is called Harrison.
There was movement at the station, for the word had passed around
That the colt from old Regret had got away,
And had joined the wild bush horses – he was worth a thousand pound,
So all the cracks had gathered to the fray.
All the tried and noted riders from the stations near and far
Had mustered at the homestead overnight,
For the bushmen love hard riding where the wild bush horses are,
And the stockhorse snuffs the battle with delight.
And then there was Clancy of the Overflow. It wasn’t Clancy that got to me, but the author. I too have had too many jobs in dingy little offices
I am sitting in my dingy little office, where a stingy
Ray of sunlight struggles feebly down between the houses tall,
And the foetid air and gritty of the dusty, dirty city
Through the open window floating, spreads its foulness over all
And even though I’ve always been a city girl, I often wondered ….
And I somehow rather fancy that I’d like to change with Clancy,
Like to take a turn at droving where the seasons come and go,
While he faced the round eternal of the cash-book and the journal —
But I doubt he’d suit the office, Clancy, of The Overflow
I think Doc tapped something deep inside me when we met and he took me outback camping in a swag!
So there we were – at Banjo Patterson Way. What else could I do? I turned left.
Banjo Patterson was born near Orange, at a property called Narrambla. I assume it’s along the Banjo Patterson way somewhere. I don’t really know – we didn’t see it, but we did see lots of bicycles.
We’d only got a few hundred metres down the road when we spotted the first one. “What was that?” we both asked as we looked at each other? “Did that have anything to do with Banjo Patterson?”
Of course, neither of us had any idea, so we kept driving. Then we saw another one. A metal sculpture of something with a bicycle.
“Did Banjo Patterson write a poem about bicycles?” we wracked our brains. They weren’t good enough, so we tried google.
‘Twas Mulga Bill, from Eaglehawk, that caught the cycling craze;
He turned away the good old horse that served him many days;
He dressed himself in cycling clothes, resplendent to be seen;
He hurried off to town and bought a shining new machine;
And as he wheeled it through the door, with air of lordly pride,
The grinning shop assistant said, “Excuse me, can you ride?”
Of course – Mulga Bill, how could I forget?
But we didn’t see Mulga Bill. What we did see was lots of animals on bikes. Lizards, kangaroos, koalas, bats, even roadrunner and Wyle E Coyote. All on bicycles, and all in paddocks.
We missed the first couple, but then I worked out what was happening and was ready for the next one when it came along. I pulled up and took some photos. Then I did the same at the next one. And the one after that. And the one after that. And the one after that ….
According to Helen I did it 21 times. When I mentioned this to Doc he said to tell Helen “welcome to my world”. He often refers to himself as a “long suffering partner of a photographer”.
But it was fascinating. Animals on Bikes Paddock Art, as we found out when we found the runner up with the sign saying so. A fish made of corrugated iron and old CDs.
And the truly amazing thing – unless we took that left turn we wouldn’t have seen any of it. That’s what happens when you get off the beaten track.
Amazing things happen. I can’t wait for the rest of the trip.