LIBERTY PLAINS – Danny Gardiner


I’m looking for Liberty Plains – L, I, B, E, R, . . .

No! Not the motel!

I know – it’s the first thing that comes up on Google!

How big is it?

Well – it stretches all the way from Parra Road

To the Cooks River

From Rookwood to the Hume High the way.

You see – it was sort of half-way between the bush

And the sea.

No – long time ago – when the British came and took the place over.

Yeah. Long time before you – you’re from the Middle East, right?

Apparently the duck shooting season then was MAD around here!

(I mime the action of shooting until I see the attendant kind of frowning)

It was a place where the bad guys hung out too!

Escapees from justice!

(By now I have let the ‘gun’ fall)

What’s that? No, I don’t when the motel was built!



(Part two) ON THE STREET

What is Liberty?

You are reflected in a shop window. You’ve got your lab coat on.

And your gloves –

What are you? – an anthropologist?!

Does anyone remember Liberty Plains?

You’re standing in it.

You’re looking at this house where the Mahmoods live now.

Which matches a picture from that book in the library.

You can walk through some fruit trees – planted by the Vaccarellas.

You hear the muezzin call

You could be in downtown Amman!

And I know – I’ve been there!

It’s probably the Gallipoli Mosque

An old man is approaching

Will I ask – ‘do you remember what used to be here?’





(Part Three)


The dirt in the road is marked by the hoofprints of the Rum Corp . . .

If there is going to be rebellion we have to strike them tonight!

While they sleep! In the space that would become a cemetery

Best seen from this hill

Sorry – THAT hill that’s been flattened.

We’ll strike fear into their hearts like Black Caesar – one of the original

escapees out here, did. But we don’t have to rob farms like that spectre!

‘I didn’t see them come here – I was busy digging my spuds’

Settler Webb said. ‘I didn’t want any trouble. But my neighbor

he was a braggard! And look what it got him! They arrested him

and took him to town – leaving his wife and two children alone.’

Meantime I blink in alarm. A redcoat looks like he’s noticed me.

I’ve got a coot in each pocket of my coat – their necks are still

warm where I’ve wrenched them!

The sounds of bells – is it a wedding? – come to me as the redcoat approaches . . .

What could happen to a young man – if only he could be patient.



My father’s father’s father’s father was a Bligh sympathizer.

He came to evade Rum Corp rule and seek camouflage.