Bunyip Whispers in The Dreamtime

© Suzanna Joy


Chapter 5

Anna & Bunyip

(BUSH & POOL SOUND, PLUS COUCAL BIRD SOUND MAYBE BROOK SOUND)

Narrator

Anna was a bright form, crouching on the hillside in a secret cleft beside a spring pool. She was at one with her creatures. They were used to her being there. The purple heron foraged hopefully in the dawn light. He regarded Anna casually, and a puff of wind behind him spattered out the bluish feathers behind his head into a sort of feathery star.

Anna

Here have some of my sandwich!

Narrator

Anna tossed the bread towards him. The gulls scrabbled and ate it before the heron could get a hold of it with his long spiky beak. Anna commiserated aloud to the heron:-

Anna

You're better at digging in the mud aren't you Monty?

Narrator

Out of the corner of her eye, the young woman was dimly aware of a nearby fisherman giving a small fish to the great white heron standing expectantly beside him. The graceful bird battled with it for some five minutes, killing it and arranging it in his strong beak. Finally it slipped down in to his crop making a weird shape stand out in his apparently delicate and slender neck. Overhead a huge fish eagle soared looking for prey. A silly duck kept wandering over to Anna to see what she was up to, and then rushing back down to the water to find his lady friend in case she had something better to eat than he did. Anna was still dreamy.

Anna

(CHANTING IN A MEDITATIVE WAY)Dawn is so fragile in that it passes unnoticed easily.

It is also powerful.

It may take more tangible form when I am awake, I dunno...

We never know how it will turn out...

How the day will progress.

Narrator

She thought back to the crash she had heard as she sat on the toilet around four a.m.

The moon had beamed its beacon in the sky that night, lighting up the bush with the ethereal silver light that flattened everything. The brightness broke the night reverie of one of the birds who, thinking that it was dawn, called out and woke Anna.

She had swung out of bed in excitement.

Anna

What was the other noise? Was it a dream? No, Iím almost sure it was real.

Narrator

A curious uncertainty came over her and she had wondered what was going on. It was then that she had made up her mind to go down to her favourite pool below the house.

Opening the wooden door with frosted glass panes in the kitchen cupboard, she pulled out a freshly baked loaf of bread. She cut several slices making herself an herb and pigeon egg sandwich. Then she dug out a battered thermos and filled it with tea, before escaping out the back door into the eerie light. She lingered on the balcony watching the dawn break, hinting at glorious prospects of a new day. She descended the stairs quietly so as not to wake her father, and then walked out across the piece of land that she and her father tended so lovingly. Two cormorants were sitting on a piece of wood that had been stuck in the pond for some reason a long time before anyone could remember. One of them was drying his wings. Anna felt sure he was saying:-

Anna

'Come on in why don't you take a dip Miss Anna it will cheer you up!'

Narrator

So she slipped off her dress and went paddling in her bloomers.

A couple of grey things with a yellow beak were husband and wife for the long haul. Their nest had survived the last storm. A tiny refuge in the huge camphor laurel tree at the edge of the stream.

Sunlight sifted down through the leaves (a shower of lime green), as the blossom exploded with the promise of spring.

Butterflies made bobbing white blotches through the mottled, fragmenting undergrowth. They were camouflaged. Anna stared at a big black and white one marvelling at how it blended into the scenery.

Anna

(MURMURING TO HERSELF) People think they are gaudy and exotic because of their bright colours and intricate designs on their wings, but here in the undergrowth they disappear completely particularly when their wings are vertical, and they look like a leaf on a twig.

Narrator

Studying the fisherman more closely Anna realized it wasnít human at all. She recognized the creeping Bunyip who was trying to hide her big feet in the water. Anna was totally unfazed by this turn of events.

Having this creature nearby helped her feel safe. She identified the earth spirits as part of her family. Moreover she could tell intuitively that the bunyip wanted to talk, so she began the conversation herself.

Anna

Hello Miss Bunyip! How are you going? The fish are biting well today!

Narrator

Bunyip creaked against a stick and looked with curiosity at Anna, attracted by her energy. She noticed the way her ginger hair curled around her face.

Bunyip

(MURMURING TO HERSELF) Those turquoise eyes are so clear it is as if I can see through to the lassieís soul. With hair that colour you would never be in danger of getting lost!

Narrator

She stretched her claw out tentatively.

Bunyip

Can I touch your hair? It is so orange!

Anna

(WITH LAUGHTER IN HER VOICE) Go ahead, they used to call me carrot-top and all those names at school, but I'm used to it by now.

Bunyip

(IN A CONFIDENTIAL WAY)I have a message for you. A message from Ole Tib and all.

Anna

Ole Tib, the Glasshouse Mountain? How's he doiní?

Bunyip

Oh, nothing has changed. Ole Tib still can't even look at Coonowrin, the eldest. You know the legend of the mountains? Coonowrin ran off instead of takin' care of his momma. You remember how his Dad was worried about the waters rising in the sea and had told Coonowrin the eldest to round up the twins Ngun Ngun and Coochin. Yes, round up all his brothers and sisters and move them to safety. Coonie boy thought his Momma was big enough to look after herself. He was scared and ran away. Tibrogargan became so angry he picked up his nulla nulla and whacked his eldest over the head, busting his neck .

Anna

(IN A GOSSIPY MANNER) I can never get all the names of those Glasshouse Mountains. I think there are another four children!

Narrator

(SLOW, WITH LOVING WARMTH IN VOICE) Anna was drawn to Bunyip by a wave of sensation. It was a warm feeling, a sense of relief - as if she had always known her.

Bunyip

Hmm, thereís that other one on the way! Momma hasn't had the baby yet. She's b-b-b-b-big now, big with child. And that sad old face staring out over the trains... she doesn't like the shaking one bit. They are all the same as ever, looking out over the coast, weeping rivers into the sea...

Meantime Boodies and Woylies have been besieging me. They know their time is limited on the planet unless the humans can accept them. There has got to be something special in this for EVERYONE. Come on Anna, Itís been really bringing me down, all this.

You are the only one who can help us. You are personally acquainted with our fantastic animal and plant friends. Do you want to help me arrange a hearing?

Narrator

Bunyip began to warm up to her cause.

Anna

(WITH CURIOSITY) Hearing with whom?

Bunyip

Well the humans would be best...but they don't all talk the same language.

Anna

(POLITELY) Most of them talk English on the Sunshine Coast!

Bunyip

(PROTESTING) Girrrrl, I hear them on the edge of the rain forest. I hear the estate agents. I hear the children, and I read the bits of newspaper they leave lying on the path. They don't see me because at least half of them aren't looking. Why, only a short time ago I had to leap out of the way of one of their chariots.

Anna

You are right, (AGREEING SADLY) They are obsessed by how much money they are making. Searching for excitement, crashing through life with no harmony or love.

Bunyip

You notice how they make the same sounds to each other, but do you see them waiting for the answer? I donít think so! They never seem to listen. Not to the birds, and certainly not to the wind.

Anna

Talking of listening, d'you hear that strange noise in the night? (PREOCCUPIED) It was so loud!

Narrator

Bunyip harked back to the happenings of the past 12 hours.

Bunyip

Yes, the whole forest came alive. They wanted to know what was happening! What a commotion.

It sounded like a steel chariot, plunging through the undergrowth tearing up roots and all. Small animals dived for cover. The birds set up a chorus. They were most indignant.

Anna

Something has happened. I wonder what it is that we don't know about.

Bunyip

I suggest we take a look. Anna how would you like to go on a search with me?

(BOARDFADE)