The Virgin Rock Reaches Out

One day, a group of students from Our Lady of the Sacred Heart School in Springsure sat listening to their teacher as she explained why they were on an excursion on Mt Zamia near the top of the Virgin Rock. They had driven out of town on the Tambo Road and turned right up Dendle Drive and into the National Park. The road up the mountain is like a roller coaster ride. It goes up and down and around and sometimes when you look over the side your hands get clammy and you start thinking about how far down it seems.

At the end of the road the teacher parked the bus and they all got out and walked up the path to the lookout. The scrub on either side of the path had been burnt by National Parks a couple of years aback and now was really thick and bushy. One of the students said that they were like fleas on a kangaroo's back trying to get through its fur to get to the top of its head.

When they got to the top they all stood around looking at the view. There below them was Springsure and further away they could see the great gashes of the open cut coal mines over towards Blackwater. Their teacher took a photo of them all with the school camera and then said,"Now let's get to work. I want everyone to look carefully around you and write down three things you can see on the ground, three things you can see in the sky and three things you can hear. Now please stay away from the edge. We don't want any accidents."

The students started looking around to find somewhere to sit and observe the country around them. A lizard scuttled over the dry leaves and slipped under a rock. It was motionless except for little breathing tremors along its silken side.

"I wonder why that silly old rock is called the Virgin Rock?" asked one girl.

"My dad said it's because God carved a picture of the Virgin Mary in the rock."

"When did God do that?"

"Dad said it was long before anyone was born."

"Ah, it sounds silly to me," said the girl. "Why would God want to carve a picture in any rock and, if he did, why would he want to do it here? I think it's a stupid rock anyway. She threw a stick at the lizard and it disappeared into the shadows.

Just then, there was a rumbling, crashing, screeching sound as the ground shook and swayed. The students looked around but there was nothing to see except a small black cloud high in the sky.

The teacher said, "Can every one pick up your things and move back to the bus. I'm not sure what happened but I think that must have been a small earthquake. Come on now."

As the girl stood up, a sudden breeze blew her piece of writing paper out of her hands. She ran after it towards the edge of the cliff but, as she reached down to pick it up, she slipped on some gravel and she fell, scrambling and crashing over the edge.

She managed to grab one of the rocks, holding on by her finger tips. "Help! Help me!" she yelled but, as the teacher ran towards her, the ground started to shake and sway and rumble again. Before the teacher could grab her, the girl lost her grip on the rock and she fell over the cliff, screaming like the wheels of a grain train screeching around a corner.

The teacher froze on the top of the cliff, her hand stretched out, her eyes closed. Students started to cry and walk hesitantly towards the cliff but their shock turned to surprise when they heard, "Hey! I'm alright. I'm safe but I'm stuck."

They looked over the side and there, a long way down, was the girl, safe, cradled in an outstretched rock hand. The Virgin Rock had caught her. The teacher called out, "Stay still. Don't move. We'll get someone to rescue you."

She ran back to her bag and got out her mobile phone. She rang up Webb Helicopters to see if they help. It wasn't long before they heard one of their choppers flying closer to the rock. The red ag-chopper with the plexiglass dome around the pilot hovered above the out stretched rock hand and a rope with a loop in it dropped down. The girl reached up and looped it around her arms and held on tight as the helicopter lifted her up to the top of the mountain again.

The students cheered and ran over and hugged and hugged her as the helicopter flew away. They had only just got into the bus when they heard that familiar rumbling, crashing, screeching sound. "I wonder what's happened this time? " said the teacher.

When they got back to town and looked up towards the Virgin Rock, they realised what had happened. The outstretched hand was no longer there. The grinding and rumbling was the Virgin Rock pulling her hand back in to once more hold her child.

Not many people believe the students from Our Lady of the Sacred Heart School when they tell them about their adventure but they don't care. They know what really happened.

© Daryll Bellingham, 2001

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Daryll Bellingham, Storyteller
P.O. Box 5300, West End, Q4101, 
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Last update: 23rd August, 2012.
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