“Sod the wine, I want to suck on the writing. This man White is an instinctive writer, bloody rare to find one who actually pulls it off, as in still gets a meaning across with concision. Sharp arbitrage of speed and risk, closest thing I can think of to Cicero’s ‘motus continuum animi.’

Probably takes a drink or two to connect like that: he literally paints his senses on the page.”

DBC Pierre (Vernon God Little, Ludmila’s Broken English, Lights Out In Wonderland ... Winner: Booker prize; Whitbread prize; Bollinger Wodehouse Everyman prize; James Joyce Award from the Literary & Historical Society of University College Dublin)





12 September 2014


Joe McKenzie was an elder of the Adyamathanha people of the north Flinders Ranges. He was a wise protector of his country's very special aspects, and a dear sweet mentor, beloved by his many people. In my strange lexicon of the great 'human'  humans I have known, Joey's up there with Don Dunstan, Patricia Wynn, Mark Oliphant and Nora Young. 

This week Joe flew away into his country. 

His totem was Wildu, the wedge-tailed eagle. 

This poem happened during a drive through Adyamathanha country with Suzie Parkinson. We came across some typical outback road carnage. 

In those days, Joey and I both believed we'd be alive forever. 

My bushman brother Andrew had died years earlier, wearing an Akubra hat I'd worn for ten years then given him after his hat had blown off his neck somewhere during a 1000 kilometre motorcycle ride. The seat of his Yammie TT500 single had fallen to dust in the desert sun, so he folded up a fake fur toilet seat cover, tied it on the frame with occy straps and rode from Commonwealth Hill Station to my joint in the city, losing his hat somewhere along that long bumpy track. 

My hat came back properly bush-bashed after Andrew's death a year later, with a band filled with wedgie feathers, which Joey liked. I'll never know which secret protocols I'd broken wearing those feathers. He quietly replaced my distant, then gone bush brother as a confident, and we shared many crackly telephone calls from all over the north. We also passed the guitar back and forth in the bottom of the empty swimming pool at the Blinman pub. It was cooler there, the echo was perfect, and we could fall no further. 

Now I know more about all this. 

Joe will be buried in the next few days beside his kinsman, Buck.

This sad news is published with approval from Joe's gathering mob. It'll be a big reflective week in the north Flinders Ranges.

George tells me people are quietly emerging from all over the bush.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I will miss my old mate and the stories of bush stew,s we were so good at cooking I hope he is happy where ever he is.