Listening to Black Mary.

Following the wisdom flowing from our team last week, I was guided to listen. Just find the right people and absorb what is there, asking questions to chase the story and note what is not said, what is left in the space between us. Often they are words too hard to share, too painful to re-live as a memory or thought, let alone living in the shoes.  Just listen.

So with ears open, my week started in Gloucester reading, moving cattle and later a new calf at the farm. All pretty usual things, nothing too varied from a standard week. And nor was the early morning drive back to Sydney, with fog covering desperate fields in hope of a drop of rain.

Yet despite the clarity found in recent weeks, my ancestors have begged for more. Rather than limiting my mind to dreams made in the past, they have promised more, leading me to the promised land and supporting my journey beyond. This came no clearer than a conversation at the Opera House before a glimpse of the Badu Gili lights.

Under the symbolic sales of the distinct harbour shores, I was told of the works called “Black Mary”, a testament and tale of Mary Ann Bugg. Her story, captured in script, played out in the dark of the carriageworks as gunshots rained to a horses neigh. Yet Black Mary, the partner of Captain Thunderbolt, was more than an Aboriginal, Bushranger’s partner. Her work, guidance and resistance, has now led to me.

As the tales of her time carrying children in saddlebags greeted hope and inspired my mind, it was the tragedy that drew me in. Taken, in the apparent hope of a better life, Mary Ann was given to the homestead of the emerging A.A Company for life. Taught to read and domesticated to household chores, this lifetime of a stolen child has kept my family, somewhat unknowingly, close to current agriculture.

While no longer hearing the words stemming from the Quiet Stockman to “listen here young fella”, I can’t help to think that maybe he, too, knew the journey I was on.

And with ears to the ready, my mind now turns to that tale of Black Mary, my ancestors, hearing horses hooves through the ground to indicate a decision to run for freedom. And by the campfires at night those horses neigh, leading me to where I need to be.

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