Flying Over Birrpai Country

By | 13 May 2024

A plane propeller and clouds.

Figure 1: Plane and Clouds taken by Teneale Lavender

QF126 – let me sing to you.
Will you listen?
Come closer, my voice only a whisper, over the roar of the engine.

A flying kangaroo.


Do you know we are flying over sacred land?
Can you hear her heartbeat?

The strength of Country, a gentle hum
Beneath us.


Soaring over Gadigal, Dharug, Darkinjung and Awabakal lands.
Taking me home,
Calling me back,

to Birrpai Country.

Gravitational pull, thrust and drag.
Much more than gravity, aerodynamics – white man’s science.
How to put into words?

This country’s pull.
Like a fish who took a vacation.
In the desert.

This Birrpai Country.
Feels familiar,
Like I have been here,


I know these gums.
How their leaves float,
As they drop from their host.
A blanket, scrunching underfoot.
A sister melody.

Cicadas in the summer.
The suffocation of a humid February.
The taste of salt water on cracked lips.
Deep tangerine coloured clay.

What do you see?
Beneath the wings and the clouds and the haze?
Dense bush?
Impenetrable in your eyes.
No good for farming, I heard 12B say.


I see life.
A palette of green, grey, and brown hues.
Medicine, food, shelter.
Stories and kin.

I see,

I walked this country with Uncle John,
His country.
Yarning of medicine, waterways, meeting points.
Songlines – so many.
Assessing white man’s destruction.
Us both, dreaming of her revival.

Singing. Calling,

Can you see the signs of her resistance?
Her grasses, returning.
Thousands of baby gums, sprouting through Lady Macquarie’s lantana.
Fighting back.
Ochre found, colour of ghosts.

Her children – goanna, koala, wallaby, possum.


“Look after my Country girl”,
He turned,
His car’s tires kicking up thick dust as he drove away.

I will, I whispered.
I will.

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