The Rabbit Trapper
"And I'm under no man's orders and I recognise no borders,
But there's a welcome everywhere for me in my old dungarees..."
Reconnections with some old friends have been the highlights of my week: Chris, (a school and uni' mate from Armidale, now in Darwin, who found me on Facebook), fellow students of Holy Trinity School at a 45-year reunion in Inverell, and Michael.
This post is about Michael, folk singer, fishermen, and mate.
My ears pricked up a couple of months ago on a Sunday morning while listening to Australia All Over on the ABC. Andrew Fuller, from Inverell, called Macca and mentioned during the conversation that Michael was back in town. I hadn't seen Michael (a native of Tenterfield) since he left Inverell in 1988 just after Dylan was born. His birth gift to Dylan was a vinyl 45 of "Happy Birthday Australia" which he had written for the bicentenary during an Air New Zealand flight to Sydney.
Long story short, I discovered that Michael's life had taken some twists and turns and he was being looked after at McLean Care in Inverell. When Dylan and I embarked on our Cape York trip from Inverell a month ago (Dylan drove from Gilgandra to meet me), I drove to Inverell a couple of days before to catch up with my old friend. I couldn't because McLean was in lockdown due to a gastro' epidemic.
But when we got back from our trip three weeks later my chance arrived and I spent a couple of wonderful hours with Michael before returning to Port Macquarie. No longer does he wear a Ned Kelly beard, but the twinkle in his eyes is as I remember, and his happy, larrikin nature shines.
And now, a week later, I've been back to Inverell again for a school reunion and had the opportunity to take Ruby up to see Michael.
We have plans—trips to Elsmore and Paradise with cameras, sound recording equipment, Michael's guitar and melodious voice. We'll visit the woolshed where Tom Roberts painted 'The Golden Fleece' (originally titled 'Shearing at Newstead'), and the bend in the Paradise Road where Roberts painted 'Bailed up'. We'll poke along the river, catch and release a few Murray cod, boil a billy, and get some material to make a video to record some more of Michael's work for posterity.
Better times ahead, mate.
I hope you enjoy the timbre of Michael's voice in this little piece I've put together. I got the photos last weekend while visiting Michael, and at the Inverell Pioneer Village, and Michael gave me a CD with some of his work. ®