When I first saw the Never Never River in Gleniffer I thought that I'd arrived in paradise, a crystal clear flow with deep pools for swimming, huge grey rocks for sunning, lush green trees bending over, garden like, kingfishers for colour and movement, it was a perfect river.
We built a tall house on stilts beside the river with a platform out over the bank looking down to the water, and the life going on, twenty feet below. On one special night we were taking some wine out on the deck and the fireflies danced for us, right there in front of us, in our faces, like a message from the life force to respect where we were, respect even the huge red bellied black snake that lived under the laundry and the enormous eel that swam idly around the sunning rock with me naked on top.
It was a lovely place to swim in the summer, after hours slashing in the baking paddock I used to drive the tractor over to the bank in top gear, send the dog, Lizzie, in first and then jump in with all my clothes on, instantly twenty degrees cooler.
My first Christmas present there was a li-lo and a perfect 35 degree day, plus a jug of black velvet. As I floated up and down the river all day in n alcoholic dream my never seen the sunshine bum went alizarin crimson, by the end of the day I felt like one of those monkeys with the red arses, which is the only thing you ever notice about them, never their faces of their hands.
In the winter when most of the rain fell, this is the wettest part of southern Australia, the river would turn into a raging, noisy, black beast, rocks rolling and crashing past, fence posts, cows, trees, anything caught would race past or lodge awkwardly in the bank. I stopped buying firewood and got in the river to pull out fence posts and chain saw them up into firebox sized fuel. I used to play chicken with that chain saw, being at a very low ebb in my life I wasn't very mind full of it's dangers, I didn't really care about those but being very scared was enlivening. (to be cont)