A town from land John Oxley said would never be inhabited by civilised men – Lorne Johnson

We were returning from
long days in thinning mallee
where we persued red-lored whistlers,
grey falcons and malleefowl,
birds the NSW government
labeled as vulnerable, endangered.
The narrow Riverina town
(part of the Bland Shire
and Humbug Catchment Area)
built for mail distribution
when graziers were gods,
came upon us like sudden winter,
touched us with ghost-fingers.
You told us it was a quaint place
and cruised through at forty
so we could absorb the Band-Aided
windows of shipwrecked stores,
tattered Eureka Stockade flags,
a figure from a Drysdale painting
in Rolf Harris specs, staggering
as if a three-legged dingo-cross,
aerial-mouthed black utes like blind
trench-fish and a girl in a musk stick-pink
dress playing with dandelions, singing
a forgotten country song to a smiling
white elephant on a water tower.