Gregory North

The Murray, Mate
© Gregory North, 2005

From Mount Jagungal's groaning girth the Geehi gurgles, "Go!"
as sunlight of the springtime starts to shed the ice and snow.
With basalt body breaking through, behold the Big Bogong,
releasing silver streams to start a journey, oh so long.

From Kosciusko's soaring side the snow subsides again,
to pour and plunge and then become the River, Swampy Plain.
On Geehi Flat the rivers merge to face the Devil's Gorge.
With all the Snowy's western shed, the river can but forge.

With granite gown, The Pilot gazes over grassy ground,
where warmer water weeps away from springs without a sound.
It makes its movement north, meandering midst Murray Gate.
Yes, these all make the river that we call the Murray, mate.

It isn't just the water though, that shapes the Murray's soul.
It isn't azure skies above or storm clouds as they roll.
It isn't howling wind, or crisp, clean air or virgin snow
and not the two thousand, five hundred kilometre flow.

It's not the agriculture or the irrigation dams,
the horses or the cattle or the new-born springtime lambs.
It's not the River Red Gums or the Murray River Cod
and not the shore of muddy banks that Hume and Hovell trod.

It's not the years of commerce or the steaming riverboats.
Not Dreamtime or Corroborees or cockies' anecdotes.
It's all these things, but most of all, what makes this river great...
the mountains of the Snowies – yes, they make the Murray, mate.

From comfort of the Valley, once the winter fog has fled,
a flare of white fulfilment flies upon each mountain head.
The snow-capped mountains fill me with a peace I can't replace.
There's just one feeling finer – snow flakes falling on my face.

I marvel at the white peaks – snow and cloud just seem to blend,
on Jagungal, Dargal, Grey Mare, Tate, Twynam and Townsend –
A prestige panorama. Precious little is on par
with views of Kosciusko, the Ram's Head and Pinnibar.

The greatest river in the land could only be born here,
amongst the regal majesty of mountains bold and sheer.
Contributing one quarter of the Murray River's weight –
the mountains of the Snowies – yes, they make the Murray, mate.

But purity the mountains bring, does not last very long.
For even on the mountainside some things are going wrong.
With weeds and feral animals, erosion from the tracks,
the changes Europeans brought continue their attacks.

Impeding and controlling all that water's nat'ral flow,
the wasteful use, pollution and neglect begin to show.
The mighty Murray's gasping, for its breath is going fast.
It lives in hope this springtime might improve upon the past.

We've only just begun to wake to our great river's plight.
What do the mountains think of us to see this sorry sight?
Their offspring, born of royal blood, what now will be its fate?
I hear the Snowy Mountains calling – "Save the Murray, mate".

Jagungal, Kosciusko, and The Pilot give their heart,
to see the Murray River have its pure and noble start.
We owe it to the mountains to improve the Murray's state,
because the mountains of the Snowies make the Murray, mate.

< I've Been In The Wars Back to See list of poems No Passion >
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© Gregory North 2010. Photos by Andrew Bosman and Gregory North. Updated 
August 2010