Image for Where a wild-dog lives

“We set off in the early morning, hoping to make our way to Ben Lomond, and climb to its summit.

Maps were never considered to even have existed so we headed along the main road, crossed the bridge and followed the road up through the hills to the first bush track that looked like heading towards the mountain.

Rover too had come along and we found his constant hunting and rousing wildlife a distraction to our plans.

We left the track and headed across a vast, swampy plain, of pineapple grass, water fern and a plethora of wild flowers.

We hunted this with the dog for hours, with wallaby and poteroo and bandicoot going hither and thither, until we realised that another expedition to the mountain without Rover would have to be planned; a journey of perhaps eight to ten hours.

The plain seemed to run to the very foothills of the mountain and stretched beyond our sight and was forested with towering white gums, resentful of our cavalier intrusion into its sacrosanct silence.

We followed it, heading to the eastern end of the great mountain cliffs which watched our every move as we neared the steep and boulder-faced foothills. How we were tempted to press on further, but after scaling one level of the increasing gradient, we gave it up and changed our direction westwards and descending until once again we reached the level plain.

It was as we traversed this level area, in the shadows now of the late afternoon sun, we came upon an immensity of boulders heaped one upon the other and partially embedded in the steep slopes of the hill. It was the carcass of a sheep that caught our eye and brought us to a cavernous entrance into the rocks.

Again we saw several other sheep carcasses and those of a number of wallaby, littering the immediate area about the entrance of what we initially presumed to be a large wombat den. Both Graham and I heard a distinct ‘chuff’, suggesting that an animal was inside and we summonsed the dog to investigate, which under normal circumstances it would with immediate obedience and gusto.

But not this hole. Rover sat on a log and refused to obey my commands. I walked fifty metres to him and attempted to coax him by dragging at his collar, but he would rather my having pulled it from him, than accompany me back to that burrow below the boulders.

I abandoned the quest and went back to the hole where Graham insisted he had again heard movement from within. Indeed something lived there, as I was astute in the determination of these things; the absence of cobwebs, the smell of fresh dirt; a distinctive lived-in ‘earth’of an animal that the dog was afraid of.

An animal big enough to carry its quarry to its lair.

The nearest place that ran sheep would have been ‘Bona Vista’ near Avoca many miles away, but whatever it was in that hole, it may have hunted sheep that had strayed into the hills. Nothing I knew in my experiences was even remotely carnivorous, let alone a hunter and carrier.

This deduction process fired our imaginations and we instinctively knew that it must have been a wild dog. We carried large limbs and blocked the entrance to its lair, pledging to return the next day and left the area; and to this day never returned to a place that made our dog shiver and tremble in a similar inexplicable manner as those dogs on the cliff face above Ormley.

(This location is outside the Ben Lomond National Park #12, where you are ‘legally allowed’ to clear-fell. I today go to a nearby bush-block to cut a bit of firewood. Before I start my engine, I listen to the hush of the bush…and apologise for disturbing it.)

Extract from The Plonkermaker (From Storey’s Creek)

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