Burke & Wills Web
The online digital research archive of expedition records
© 2020

by Ray Liversidge

© 2006
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

Viva Victoria

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.”

‘Picturesque confusion'

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.

The weather

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.

Burke's mad

“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...
Warburton...better qualified...
Burke... temper...ignorant
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

We follow
Calder Highway
to Bendigo
and onto the Terrick-Terrick plains
From the green
of cedars and ferns
to mulga saltbush red earth

www.burkeandwills.net.au Burke & Wills Web The digital research archive of expedition records
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