Save Behana Gorge

To town planners, the granite gorge traces like a wound
across this scythed and hothouse landscape;
its water a sprawling spray-storm in the Wet
spitting and exposing steep barriers to advancement.
Against the creek’s current, tadpoles attach head-first
to rocks, while on the banks burrowing frogs chorus
in the leaf litter and leeches stand erect
on their sucker-rear-ends, longing for blood.
Sometimes we see a cormorant or a heron, or hear the shrill
staccato notes of a whistling kite circling treetops.
You watch catfish guarding nests of stones as water rats slip
through a strainer of flood debris. People come here
to swim or spray graffiti. Sometimes,
though, when I spend time in the gorge, all I hear is the zeroing-
in of mozzies, all I see is the spray of the torrent
as I wait for curlew to call their drawn-out wailing
weeer-eearr. Often I’ll just stare into the canopy
as dragonflies manoeuvre their fabulist films in the flickering light
or I’ll watch the orb spider strung golden between trees
and spotted with silver dew, or follow the line
of swimming holes, lichen, fungus and fern,
now proposed as a pipeline by the Cairns Water Corporation.

Phillip Hall

Phillip Hall works in remote Indigenous education in the Northern Territory. He has recently completed a PhD with Wollongong University and his book, Sweetened in Coals, is due for publication with Ginninderra Press.

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