The Incident at Bushy Parker
Bushy Parker has got a nice wide creek running alongside it with beautiful clear water; no debris and no pollution. At some point someone has tied a strong rope to one of the larger branches of a sturdy River tree. If you are young enough to shimmy along the branch you can arrest the rope and pull it on to the shore. Then from a short run-off swing as far out as ten metres before letting go and letting the rope swing back for the next person to catch whilst you grab your ankles and bomb splash into the warm, crystal clear, effervescent pool before being embraced by the pureness of mother water. But if on the other hand you are not so young then you will have to spend some time looking for and finding a fallen tree branch. You will need one long enough to coax the rope towards the shore by which time and effort you may have tired of the whole episode and found something less taxing to do. But to those who persevere and take an even shorter run than the young do and manage to propel themselves out ten metres the rewards are much greater. Bigger bomb, bigger splash, go deeper and plenty of wows from the lookers-on. It may have something to do with weight and size not skill.
Paul is one of those characters left over from the hippie generation that is locked in a time warp. His blonde hair is long on the sides and back of his head but he has gone bald on top; a bit of a chrome dome really. He wears the colourful, loose garb of a bygone time. He carries a bit of weight mostly around his gut and uses a lot of “cool man” when he agrees with you or cannot think of anything constructive to say which is quite often. He spends most of his time travelling from place to place and generally being cool. Paul was down beside the creek near the old walking bridge one afternoon last March. There had been a lot of rain so the water levels were up. It was there that he met old Fergie. They had a lot in common seemingly of the same generation but Paul thought Fergie looked considerably older than he did. After a while Fergie said.
“I’ve taught 54 people how to swim in this here creek, since my wife died. Some of them in this very spot when the waters up and the current is pretty strong”
“No one drowned?” Was an attempt to be funny.
He was silent for a moment.
“No mate, and with none of that fancy training gear like them there softies got in them coaching places. You swim?”
“Yeah man if I ain’t swimmin’ in H2O I‘m fishin’ in it.”
“You don’t work or noffin’do you?”
“Three to four months a year at the sugar mill in Tully man. Just enough to keep me cool with petrol and food for the rest of the time.”
“Life is too short to be tied down by them corporate jobs.”
Fergie was lost in a moment of silence.
“You should go out to where the rope swing is first thing in the morning. The water is still and refreshing as the morning sun breaks through them their trees and shines on the water. Everything a man could want.”
A couple of mornings later Paul took Fergie’s advice. About 6:30 found him stark naked bathing in the Crystal jewel of the creek. He was in Nirvana. Then he detected the regular, rapid noise of footsteps pounding along the path and coming his way. A jogger! There was no time to get back to the shore to get his towel. Panic set in. Maybe the runner would just keep on going. His best bet was to stay where he was. Within moments a very fit and good-looking woman appeared and was jogging right towards his oasis. She stopped by the rope swing pulled off her running shoes and then the rest of her running clothes. Paul couldn’t draw his eyes away like he had become a pillar of salt. She then proceeded into the water without saying a word. Paul submerged his head for a while, embarrassed. She had a light swim and cool down then got out of the water re-dressed including shoes and continued on her morning run. Over the next week he went back to that spot several times but she was never there. The next time Paul saw her was in the Woolworths supermarket in Mission Beach. He was pushing this trolley down the third aisle and there she was also pushing a trolley towards him she smiled in recognition.
Paul was too smitten to do or say anything but his blood pressure rose. Everywhere he went over the next few months he kept seeing her in shops, parks, in the street. He would always get a wave or a smile or a simple “Hello” but he was always too afraid to do anything about it. In the end out of sheer frustration and confusion he decided to go back to the creek at Bushy Parker. The water was lower now so he sat there on the rocks for a while. In due course Fergie came ambling along with his fishing rod.
“Paul howyagoin’? It’s taken you a while to get back.”
“You expecting me? I never make plans I come and go as I please.”
“I saw this real cool chick at the pond last time and I keep seeing her everywhere I go, man, but I’m always too bashful to approach her like I cannot get her out of my mind. Do you know who she is, man?”
“Maybe it’s her memory you’re carrying everywhere ‘cause you never made it happen when you had the chance and now your mind sees her everywhere.”
Paul told me he went back to the pond where the rope swing was to sit for a while but it wasn’t the same. The rope had rotted away and an old dilapidated pontoon badly in need of repair was in its place with a worn out sign “No Bombing or Diving.” And on the old River tree, a hand carved Memorial which read “To my beloved wife Connie who drowned here March 11, 1976 Jess Ferguson.”