Willows by the creek

I need only close my eyes for a moment to be transported back to the most beautiful place that I have ever known.
Others will continue to call it the end of the earth.
The Billabong Creek begins its journey in the ranges north east of Albury. It meanders its way through outback New South Wales merging with the Edward River at Moulamein, the longest creek in the southern hemisphere.
Sitting in my armchair, I am awe-struck by the magnificence of the ghostly skeletal remains of what must have been the most majestic willow of all, enduring outside my door. The lush summer green of those other willows lower down the bank, with their gnarled roots firmly entrenched in the creek, contrast to this lone relic atop a twenty foot drop to the liquid of life below.
The old goanna who has made his home in this grand silver trunk, is just beginning his evening ascent up the face. He looked pretty full of food today as he ambled slowly along the track formed at the top of the bank by his daily jaunts. He should give us a couple of hour’s amusement watching him, stomach bulging, as he tries to reach his hole at the top.
The opposite bank of the creek is flat and low, timbered only by huge old river red gums. In the shade of these ancient relics is where I like to swim or fish, or just sit and dream a little, of days long gone by.
From this spot I gaze at the willows in full regalia, hiding the barren cliff-face from view. Their lacy yet voluminous canopies cascading all the way to the water and beyond as the current takes up the excess and spreads it like a carpet on its surface.
If I look to my right sometimes, just up there a bit, where the creek starts its bend around the village, I can see the remains of the old wooden footbridge. Then I imagine what it was like living here last century when this was a thriving town of three pubs and the men used the old footbridge to traverse from pub to pub.
My eyes are drawn once again to my ghostly fellow. From this angle he appears to sit atop the lively ones below like a crown of thorns. Surrounded by the bluest sky you will ever see, he loses none of his grandeur amidst his
peers.
Later, when the galahs come in, he will be clad in his night attire of pink and grey as they take roost in his bare branches, reflecting the brilliant reds of the sunset. In death, he has a more majestic wardrobe than all the other willows have in life.
If I tell you that my ghost tree stands amidst the most desolate, barren and flattest of plains you’ll ever see, you may understand it is truly an oasis of the heart.
It is my own sweet Wanganella.

Willows by the creek

jemma

Great Western, Australia

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