by Ray Liversidge
Greensborough, Vic: Flat Chat Press.
The following is an extract from Chapter 3 of Ray Liversidge's verse novel, The Barrier Range.
Chapter 3 - Royal Park
Neumayer takes Burke to one side:
“Forget Crown casino and the Grand Prix,
this baby's costing $15,000 and is
going to put this colony on the map.
We may be the new kid on the block
at the moment, Burke, but when you return
they'll be calling us the biggest and best.”
Royal Park's packed like
the MCG on Grand Final day.
I call to Becker that it looks like
half the colony's here to wish us luck.
“I think we'll need it,” he yells back,
trying his best to stay balanced
while holding on tight to his sketch book.
Burke brings his horse alongside Landells.
“What's the weather like up there?” he asks.
“Get stuffed!” says Landells, tugging on
the rein. The camel spits on the dirt,
farts into a warm nor'-wester.
“B-B-Burke says he's m-m-mad as
and n-not going to t-take it anymore.”
Wills leans out of his saddle
and hands me The Age.
‘...appointment an affair of cliquey...
of physical sciences...
not won his spurs
on that arduous field...'
Burke digs his hooks
into Billy's flanks.
“Boys, we're off!”
‘Cheer boys, cheer'
At 3.45 pm we leave Royal Park
already running three hours late -
the music of the band and the cheering
behind us now as we move
out past the stone cairn
and onto Sydney Road
on route to the village of Essendon
and the unknown...
Stuck in the middle
I'm standing in the middle
of the road helping Brahe
pick up busted bags
of flour and sugar
when Landells trots by
on his camel.
“What the f***!”
“The wheels of the wagon
got stuck in the tracks, sir,
and before you could say
‘cheer, boys, cheer,'
we get rammed up the a***
by a No.19 tram.”
From green to red
and onto the Terrick-Terrick plains
From the green
of cedars and ferns
to mulga saltbush red earth