the gates of mount jerusalem
Sometimes a man takes a wrong turn in life. He heads off on another way and becomes lost.
Road signs will help you do that.
Wayne Berrigan had a delivery the other day – a package to be delivered to Kunghur. This place is a little way over from Uki, which itself is south-west of Mur’bah. That’s half an hour off the Pacific Highway to Queensland. Just past Mullumbimby.
Going in was easy. Go past the Mooball hotel, travel over the Burringbars, turn left before Dunbible, then left to Stokers Siding, Smiths Creek, Uki and then onto the road to Kyogle. Then find the right property and the job’s done.
Wayne was pretty happy with that, being the first time he’s gone that way – through the Border Ranges, around Warning and under the Rim.
Even in sunshine there is a gloom there with the massive overshadowing.
Coming back Wayne stopped by the War Memorial in the middle of Uki looking for a name which wasn’t there and that’s when he took the wrong way out of town.
– yet a little further along there was a road sign that said Mullumbimby – – > so this must have been the way in. Must have been.
Route solidly confirmed.
So Berrigan carried on, and cranked up the volume.
How they tell it.
‘ What do reckon of a bloke, ‘ this fellow at the bar of the Mooball hotel says, ‘ who tries to convince himself that he saw that forty-year rotted shed collapsed onto an old table-top truck, an old blue table-top, saw it on the way in ..!? ‘
Nobody reckoned. That was the old Godfrey place, deserted now and full of Mrs Godfreys’ cats gone wild.
‘ Or the two story mound of vine by the side of the road that had an old timber toll house in its middle – with a bloody light on ..! or the three causeways two foot under running water. Normally you would remember at least one of those, particularly the one with all the ducks, but not Berrigan. Berrigan carried on going on his way because he had convinced himself that he’d seen all this stuff coming in and had forgotten it all going out.
Forgotten Godfey’s shed, the truck, the old toll house, the flooded causeways – and the bloody ducks. But if the sign said Mullum then Mullum was at the end of that particular road. Not a complicated man Berrigan. Just a bit dim.’
Then the road went to gravel, and started to climb. An empty dumpster cannonaded past him at the bottom of a narrow passage and Berrigan glimpsed the crazy smile of the driver as he crashed past. Then mile after mile of narrow gravel winding through gorges and heavy forest. No homes up here, no more traffic.
First gear now and the road is heavily rutted and very steep – too narrow to turn around. Berrigan could now only go higher and deeper.
Somewhere up there must be an end to it.
The historic nightcap walking track to Mullumbimby commences at the entrance to Mount Jerusalem Park, at the very gates. At least there’s enough space to turn around up there.
– and I reckon that young Toby will be walking it this week.
Header painting by Frederick McCubbin – down on his luck, 1886.