'The Stinger'

It doesn't rain too much in Springsure but, when it does, every one hopes it rains for quite a while because then the creeks on Mt Zamia start to flow again. There's one particular creek that everyone wants a good flow in. It's the one that sends the water down the waterfall called the Stinger.

They call it the Stinger because, when you sit under it, the big drops of water hit your back like thousands of little stinging insects. You can see it from the town and, once the local kids know, they start pestering their parents with, "Hey. Mum. Can we go up the Stinger please?"

The Stinger on Mt Zamia

Well one Saturday afternoon, a while back, a group of students from Springsure were walking and riding down Quarry Street on their way to the track up to the falls.

Daniel, a gangly thirteen year old who always rode his BMX bike wherever he could said, "Do you think the Shire Council will ever get Old Albert to clean up the rubbish in his yard?"

"Oh, no way," said David, "there's too much rubbish now. It'd take him ages to get it all back to the dump."

"Any way," said Sally, "I like his rubbish. It looks like it belongs there. With the grass growing up through it all and the letters tumbling out of his letter box, it looks like an installation."

"Oh, what's an installation?" asked Daniel with his droogiest voice.

Derelict house"It's art. It’s sort of like a sculpture but it's not," replied Sally ignoring Daniel's sarcasm. "It's like Old Albert has put something of everybody in Springsure in his yard for us all to see."

"Oh, that's deep Sally," replied Daniel keeping up the sarcasm but Sally wasn’t fazed. She had her own way of looking at things.

By now they had crossed the grid near the Golf Course and turned up the dirt road towards the gate. When they got there Daniel hid his BMX behind a gum tree and they all climbed over or through the gate and started up the track towards the creek.

As they walked along Ashley crept up behind Allie and gave a great "Mooooooohhh!" right in her ear.

Allie jumped around with her eyes wide with fear but, when she saw the big grin on Ashley's face, she bent down and picked up a stick and threw it at him.

"Very funny, I don't think. I hope sometime your walking up here on your own and one of those bulls comes charging after you."

"Oh, I'm sorry Allie. Heh, who wants a race? Bet I can beat you all to the creek." Ashley started running along the track with the rest chasing after him.

Pool and studentsWhen they reached the creek they started rock hopping upstream, splashing in and out of the water, swinging on the vines that hung down from the trees and enjoying the sound of the water on the rocks. When they reached the first pool they couldn't resist jumping off the rocks down into waiting water.

"I wish this creek flowed like this all the time," said David. "Those kids down on the coast are lucky. They can swim anytime they like because their creeks and rivers flow all year round."

"Yeah but they've got crocodiles and pollution. We've got beautiful clear water. Come on let's walk further up to the Stinger."

Soon they were mucking around sitting under the waterfall, jumping into the pool and lazing around in the sun. Daniel said, "Hey Ashley, bet you couldn't surf down the Stinger on a surf board."

"Don't be stupid," said Ashley, "you’d be wiped out on the rocks at the bottom."

"Don't call me stupid," said Daniel bristling, ready to fight.

"Oh, cool down Daniel. No one thinks you're stupid," said Sally. "Just enjoy being here. It's so beautiful. It's a special place."

"My mum reckons that this might be a sacred place for the Kairi people because every time she comes here she feels shivers up and down her spine," said Allie. For a while they all sat down on the rocks and looked around them, wondering about the place.

The peace and quiet of the spot was ruined though as something came shooting over the falls and fell with a whoosh, a thud and a splash into the pool.

"Aaaaaaah! What was that?" Sally screamed.

They all jumped up and looked at the circle of ripples in the pool and a suspiciously red looking colouration just under the water. As they watched it seemed to spread as something floated up towards the surface.

"It's a body," said Daniel. "Someone fell over the falls!"

David was half in the water reaching out to rescue who ever it was when he said, "Oooh. Look someone's split his head open. Oh yuck, look."

A split open head was floating up out of the water. Blood was streaming down over the long brown hair and into the water.

"Oh. You can see his brains. I think I'm going to be sick," said David backing off with his hand up to his face.

"No wait, look," said Sally. "That's not a human body. Look you can see the ears. They're covered in fur."

As they watched the rest of the body floated up. It was covered in brown fur and had a long tail.

"It's a buck Wallaroo. It must have got a fright and jumped the wrong way right over the falls."

"Hey we can't leave it in the pool," said Ashley. "I don't want to swim here with that polluting the water. It'll start to stink."

They pulled the Wallaroo out of the water and onto the rocks.

"Hey. Didn't those brains look gross, like. I thought Daniel had really tried to surf down the falls and they were his brains in the water," said David.

"You're stupid. Can't you tell the difference between me and a Wallaroo?" said Daniel.

"No. The way those brains were sticking out of the water they'd fool anyone. We could take that Wallaroo down town and stick it in a pool with it's brains sticking up and it'd fool anyone."

"What pool could we put it in?" asked Sally.

"Hey. What about that pool over near the Information Shed. You know where the prison farm blokes built the bridge and the bike track and planted the Koala corridor trees. You know along William Street there," said Allie.

Well they didn't stop long to think about what might happen. They found a long branch. Tied the Wallaroo around it with belts and bits of cord and started to carry it on their shoulders down the creek and along the track. It was pretty heavy and they had to take turns and by the time they got back to the grid near the Golf Course it was getting dark. They carried the 'roo along Quarry Street, along the bike path past the school, around the corner and up towards the new information shed in William Street.

Bridge and bike path.They untied the poor thing and dropped it into the pool with its body half under the bridge so you couldn't see it clearly and left it so the split skull and brains were sticking out up from the water. As they left for home they were giggling and laughing about who would find it and what would they do.

Next morning they were all hanging around David's house, across from the pool, to see who was going to discover the brains. Along the bike path on his rusty old bike came Old Albert. He'd been putting his cows out in the Pony Club paddock for some illegal grazing during the night and had dropped in at the rubbish dump on his way back home. He had an old TV on the back and a cracked toilet bowl on the front handlebars. As he pedalled along the bike path and over the little bridge he looked down and saw the skull and the brains sticking out of the water.

"Aaaaahh!" he screamed. The TV fell off the bike and splashed into the pool. The toilet fell onto the path and smashed. Albert was pedalling for all his worth down the bike path, into town, and up to the police station in Porphyry Street. He was screaming out, "Murder! Murder! There's been a murder. I've seen the brains."

Sergeant Wright came running out. He said, "Oh Albert. You pong! Why don't you have a bath?"

"Someone's been murdered Sergeant. The body's up in the pool by the new information shed."

"I guess I'd better have a look. Get up in the back of the paddy wagon Albert. You smell too much to ride in the front."

Up Eclipse Street he drove with the lights flashing and the siren going and Albert hanging on in the back. The Sergeant drove round into William Street and pulled up in a little cloud of dust in front of the pool but, when he walked across to the pool, there was nothing there.

The students had pulled the Wallaroo out and left it leaning against a tree trunk so that it looked like it was nibbling on the grass.

Sergeant Wright said, "Come on Albert, you old rogue. I'll give you a hand to get this rubbish back to the dump." They picked up the TV and the smashed bits of toilet bowl and drove out towards the dump.

As soon as they were out of site the students ran over and started to tie the Wallaroo to the branch again so they could carry it out of town before someone realised that it was dead. They had hardly gone any distance however before Sergeant Wright drove up in the Paddy Wagon and caught them.

"All right you guys. Thought it might have been someone like you. That wasn't very nice what you did to Old Albert. I reckon you'd better dig a hole somewhere and get rid of that Wallaroo, eh?"

"Oh we were just having some fun Sarge."

"Well how about having some fun over at Albert's place. You could give the work camp prisoners a hand to clean up the rubbish in Albert's house yard."

"Oh Sarge. He's got half of the town dump in his front yard. It'd take forever to clean it up anyway he's a bit crazy."

"Don't 'Oh Sarge' me you kids. If you don't want me to tell your parents about that Wallaroo you'd better all be over there tomorrow. He's not crazy. He's just an old drover who should have stayed in the bush with his cattle."

Well that's what happened. Rather then getting up to the Stinger again on Sunday afternoon, the students spent the time helping clean up Old Albert's front yard. They were all pleased when one of the work camp prisoners drove off with a truck load of rubbish to take to the tip. They weren't quite sure which town's tip the prisoner was heading for but that's another story.

© 2001 Daryll Bellingham

Thanks to Ellen Langston for original image of the Stinger on Mt Zamia and to Gwen Siddins for image of pool below the Stinger.

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Daryll Bellingham, Storyteller
P.O. Box 5300, West End, Q4101, 
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All contents copyright (C) 2001, Daryll Bellingham. All rights reserved.
Last update: 31st October, 2011.
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