Tag Archives: Katrina Bennett

Words of wisdom from the river

LOCKDOWN had taken its toll.
Starved of words and stories but definitely not starved of calories, I found my letter tank empty.
A Scrabble board with no tiles.
Although it appeared my jar of clichés was overflowing.
Vacantly staring at my laptop, I am hoping a half page story would miraculously appear across my screen.
The only things less likely on my laptop were getting a virus, catching fire or getting smashed by massive hailstones from hell.
Oh, wait up.
Yeah, nah, it is 2020, that is probably going to happen.
Instead of wallowing in my own wordless stew, I wander out the back gate for a restorative stroll along the Yarra.
It starts with no more than a very low gentle whisper.
“I could help you.”
I glance around to see where the voice came from.
“Over here,” comes a gentle gurgle.
Perplexed I turn to the river.
“Yes, that is right.
“I have got some stories to tell you,” burbles the water flowing over a rapid.
Glancing around, I check for people in white coats waiting to haul me away.
“Why would I believe you?
“The EPA says you’re full of sh&%,” I reply.
And while that may be so, who am I to kick a gift horse in the mouth.
In fact, I thought the probability of me being able to kick anything post-COVID without pulling a hammy was statistically insignificant.
Pulling up my favourite rock to sit and ponder, I let river wisdom wash over me.
High rainfall coupled with Upper Yarra Dam works has led to said rock being submerged.
So now not only am I conversing with a river, but I am doing so with a very wet bum.
“You know what?” asks the river.
“I love flowing past and people watching.
“Humans can be quite odd.
“Present company most certainly included.”
As one, myself, the Yarra and my soggy pants gaze at the opposite bank bearing witness to:

River Visitor Category 1

These visitors will only be observed during the day, mid-week and in packs of three to four couples.
They BYO picnic tables, chairs, automatically-refilling plastic red wine glasses and have empty shopping bags tied to the table — one for rubbish and one for recycling.
At least two, small, fluffy, white dogs will be observed comfortably snoozing in their owner’s laps, occasionally interrupted by outbursts of laughter and colourful language when the photo of the prized grandchild that they spent 20 minutes locating, magically disappears from the smartphone screen.
Never to be seen again.
Generally found in the perfectly scouted flat but shaded area, because after 70 plus years of the Aussie sun, these wily visitors are sick of spending half their superannuation at the dermatologist.

River Visitor Category 2

Turning up early afternoon on a sunny day post-exam, joyfully shedding school uniforms to run into the river, theses visitors will invariably live to regret their decision three hours later.
Calculating their departure to coincide with when they should have been leaving school, these TikTok Generation students hurriedly attempt to reapply crumpled filthy mud streaked dresses and school shirts over beet-red shoulders.
These “old enough to want independence but too young to realise potential consequences” mid-teens express horror on their sun-fried faces as they wonder how they can possibly explain losing a bra and one sock at school to their parents.

River Visitor Category 3

Arriving anytime from 3pm onwards, the group will swell as members turn up one, two or three at a time.
At no time will the gender ratio be even.
This peculiarity will lead to constant peacock preening and galah screeching behaviour.
Muscles colourfully covered in ink will be strong enough to carry whole slabs of Great Northern, four packs of Spritzers and minimum chips to the river’s edge.
Once the final inflatable flamingo has been popped on a jagged rock our intrepid visitors are so exhausted, they can barely crawl back to their utes.
There is no way they could possibly pick up the empty bottles, shredded cardboard packaging or sad flattened flamingos before they float through the tunnel.

River Visitor Category 4

Abundant anytime during the day, any age, and every gender.
Characterised by active wear, a takeaway coffee in hand, phone in the other and dog lead in the… oh wait… dog somewhere in the general vicinity.
Outrage is genuine.
Shock is real.
There they are walking along the river track minding their own and everyone else’s business when a snake has the audacity to cross their path.
Their path.
The path that has been put in smack bang, right in the snake’s territory, somewhere between their snake house and snake food.
Quick, someone call the snake catcher
Not the one that never wears a shirt.
The other one.
Now where has that sod gone?
I did not have time to get an out of focus photo to put on Facebook.

River Visitor Category 5

“These are my favourite river rats,” announces the river suddenly.
“Which ones?” I reply startled
“These three walking into the water now.
“I like to move rocks around and submerge trees to try and trick them into slipping and getting their school bags wet.
“Imagine their parents face when this lot have to pull dripping laptops and phones out.
“There would not be enough rice in the world to fix that mess.”
Quickly retreating towards my back gate, I whisper over my shoulder, “The only reason these three walk home through the river is because I told them I am way too busy and important to pick them up.
“Now raise your water level a little to slow them down.
“I need time to make it look like I am busy and important before they reach the back door.”

An Ode to JC’s Birthday

Paddling through the Yarra

In a holey old canoe

Hitting rocks below

Whilst fighting off a ‘roo


Tiger snake swims by

Hissing Christmas songs

It’s time for summer holidays

And I’m in my boardies n’ thongs


Oh! Jingle bells, my red bin smells

It wasn’t picked up last week

It’s Christmas time in Warrandyte

40 degrees and my goon-bag’s sprung a leak, hey


Jingle bells, jingle bells

Christmas time is grouse

Oh what fun it is to ride

‘cross the bridge to Nanna’s house


Asphalt’s getting hot

Melts the soles of shoes

An echidna’s getting prickly

He deserves a chilled beer too


All the clan is there

Sitting by the river

Christmas Day the Wazza way

Even Wombats are ruining their liver.


Oh! Jingle bells, my compost smells

The outdoor table is set

It’s Christmas in Warrandyte

And the rain’s on its way I bet, hey


Jingle bells, jingle bells

Kookaburras stole the goose

A dozen ales and a few chilled wines

And Granny’s getting loose


Come the afternoon

The adults have a doze

The prawn heads start going off

And burn the hairs of my nose


The snoring has slowed down

It’s finally time to go

Except Auntie Pain-in-the-arse

Decides we need the annual photo


Oh! Jingle bells, recycling bin smells

The kids have spat the dummy

It’s Christmas in Warrandyte

The ham’s given us an upset tummy, hey


Jingle bells, jingle bells

Christmas time is ace

Oh what fun it is to stagger home

Completely off your face.


Internet’s back on-line

And the bridge is working fine

Despite Santa losing his sleigh

On the round about


It’s the Warrandyte community way

To help the poor fella out

Use my old tin bath for his sleigh

And wrangle a flock of cockies for the flight


Oh! Jingle bells, my septic tank smells

I should have connected the sewer

It’s Christmas night in the ‘Dyte

Where the sunset’s a ripper sight, hey


Jingle bells, jingle bells

Christmas time is worth the fuss

Oh what fun it is to ride

On an uncrowded 906 bus

A right (royal) pain in the arse

The excitement was palpable.

Not since Kanye stopped taking his meds and popped into the Oval Office wearing a MAGA cap hugging The Donald, had the media been in such a frenzy.

The princeling and Megs were coming to town.


The Duke of Sussex, Earl of Dumbarton, Baron Kilkeel a.k.a. Prince “The royal ranga” Harry of House Windsor and his matrimonial mate, Meghan of Mad House Markle had landed on Australian soil.

Treated to such mundane Australian stereotypical adventures like cuddling a koala at Taronga Zoo, cuddling some cute kids in a drought affected area, cuddling a cute lifeguard at Bondi, avoiding the cuddles at Government House from Republicans and climbing some random bridge in Sydney.

The highlight of the Royal visit was yet to come.

Wait. Hold up. What?

The highlight was yet to come?

His royal Fanta-pants and the TV star could barely contain their excitement over their adventure further south to Victoria.

The Duchess had been combing the internet for some local designers and had settled on a lovely tie-died trouser suit from the St Andrews market.

Meanwhile Our Royal/Duke/Earl/Baron/Ginger Ninja was frothing over the prospect of cutting the ribbon at the grand opening of the Eighth Engineering Wonder of the World.

The real reason for the Royal visit had been revealed.

The beaming newly weds were here to flick the switch on the Research Road and Kangaroo Ground Road intersection traffic lights.

Shining a beacon of light and hope over improved traffic conditions, symbolising the greatest reunification since David Hasselhoff glued Deutschland back together.

The crowning glory of the you-beaut, wider-than-two-utes bridge.

Turns out, things didn’t quite go to plan.

In fact, the proverbial wheels started to fall off the Royal Caravan and accompanying media circus as soon as the bloodnut and the world’s favourite American divorcee’s plane landed at Melbourne Airport.

“Sorry your Royal Highness, but the Tullamarine Freeway is at a standstill after an accident,” announced the unwitting Uber driver who’d got the fateful call.

“No problems, we have the common touch, we’ll catch the Airport Link train to the city,” replied no-fuss-Harry.

“Er, sorry, but er, that hasn’t been built yet,” stammered someone official.

“Well, I’ve always wanted to catch a world-famous Melbourne Tram,” Harry graciously answered.

“Er, sorry, but er, the tram won’t get you to Warrandyte and the connecting Doncaster Rail Link hasn’t been built yet,” stammered someone official.

“Happy to jump in a helicopter,” responded Harry, smile starting to slip.

“Er, sorry, but er, Warrandyte is a no-fly zone.

“Every time a helicopter flies over the area, the Warrandyte Business and Community Facebook page goes into meltdown, taking up the entire 24kB/s bandwidth leading to all telecommunications to cease, water pressure to drop and the recycling bin not to get picked up for two weeks!,” stammered someone official.

Shaking his head, our trusty Rusty Duke, whispers to his lady: “Maybe we should just let this lot become a Republic”.

Across the airport’s long term carpark a voice boomed “Hey mate, you need a lift to Warrandyte?” as two muscly legged black-and-green-lycra-clad blokes pedalled furiously towards the royal party.

“Jump on, we can dink you there,” our two wheeled heroes added.

“That would be lovely,” replied the Duchess, now very pleased she had chosen the tie-died pant suit.

The cut making it easy to mount a bike and the tie-die covering up all evidence of mud splatter.

As our Warrandyte Mountain Bike Club heroes pedalled their precious cargo into town, our ever inquisitive kissed-by-fire sixth-in-line-to-the-throne exclaimed in wonder.

“Where are all the people?”

“Er, sorry, but er, the bridge is closed.

“No one can come south, so they’ve all gone to Eltham to get their morning coffee, smashed avo and groceries,” stammered someone official

“But aren’t we here to open the bridge?

“Don’t I get to cut the ribbon?

“Don’t I get to flick the switch on the traffic lights?” replied our copper-top, all but rubbing a bald patch on the back of his head.

“Er, sorry, but er, the bridge is nowhere near finished, we have some traffic light poles but they aren’t connected to anything, there aren’t any switches yet and no one has ordered the ribbon,” stammered someone official.

“But wasn’t is all supposed to be finished by fire season, I mean after, I mean September?” replied the Earl of Dumbarton, understanding dawning on him, he had actually found the dumb town he was Earl of.

“Er, sorry, but er, we had delays with… and…and…and…” droned on someone official.

“Well, I’m pleased to announce that the Duchess of Sussex is pregnant.

“Maybe the bridge will be completed by the time our child has come of age and they can do the grand opening,” replied the proud father to be.

“Er, sorry, but er, wait. What. Hold up. That’s a brilliant idea. It might almost be finished by then,” stammered someone official.

Son-of-Kev: The legend lives on


Nothing says Aussie summer more than a beer and a barbie on the deck, surrounded by gum trees and your mates.

If you’re lucky enough to live in our fair suburb bisected by the Yarra, then you can probably add a few snakes, a half-dozen cashed up hippies and a couple of kookaburras.

Yes, let’s discuss dacelo novaeguineae.

Our chortlelicious feathered friend. The laughing kookaburra, known also as the kingfisher.

I’ve lived on the banks of the Yarra for a few years now and not once have I seen these jokers of the bush fish a king out the river.

Although, if recent photos are accurate, our king in all but name, Prince Phillip, looks like he’s just been fished out of somewhere.

But my personal favourite name for these fiendish feathered rapscallions is the laughing jackass.

The name conjures up images of toothless locals from the dirt farm, Idaho or a schoolie returning from the Gold Coast.

Now, don’t go thinking of me as some sort of amateur ornithologist.

Of course, not to be confused with an orthodontist, although, like the damn kookaburras, they also laugh when they see me coming.

Think of me more as an overcooked snag that the local kookaburra population has their beady eyes on. They’ve always had their eyes on me.

Just three years ago, I credited Kev, the tame patriarch of my property’s bird population for saving my life.

Yes, you read correct.




Kev had seen a few summers I reckon.

He was a bit scrawny and missing a few feathers but my little friend faithfully followed me around whenever I cut the grass.

One day, when I was nearing the end of pushing my lawn mower around for six kilometres in 40 degrees, Kev wacked me clean in the ear with his beak and growled as he swooped past.

Startled, I looked down and froze with my foot approximately two centimetres above a coiled tiger snake.

Needless to say Kev didn’t have to follow me anymore, he got to sit on the handle of the lawnmower and casually flutter down to the ground whenever he spied a tasty morsel in the grass.

But like all living legends his time eventually came and he became a legend. Fast forward three years and the son of Kev is now a grown up.

With his cocky strut and punk hairdo, he heads up the local avian chapter now.

Like all younger generations he wants to do things differently.

Mums and dads are soooo lame.

The minutest click from the BBQ starter button sends a ripple through the trees as Son-of-Kev and his mates desert the skate park, leaving their West End fish and chips for the pigeons.

By the time we attempt to sit down and eat, we are surrounded on all sides.

One by one my brave family slink away with their dinner plate to the sanctuary of indoors, heads tucked in their t-shirts.

Until it’s just me, three chicken wings and a Greek salad left to defend the family name.

Before I know, I’m one chicken wing and an olive down.

That’s OK, Son-of-Kev’s reaction to the olive is not dissimilar to mine.

My mirth over watching him trying to spit the wretched thing out is short lived as one of his cronies’ swoops from the pool fence and I’m left nursing some fetta and the final chicken wing.

Time slows down as we eye each other off. My world recedes to just Son-of-Kev, myself, and a water sprayer.

Like an old time gunslinger, I’m onto that trigger and spraying my nemesis fair in the feathers.

Turns out birds aren’t like cats; they don’t recoil from the spray, no, not Son-of-Kev.

Son-of-Kev lifts his wings, pirouettes to get full coverage, angles his head and winks at me.

Stymied, I’m hungry and I’m losing my sense of humour. It’s become woman vs wild. What would Mrs Bear Grylls do?

Option one: Backflip out of a plane.

Pointless, Son-of- Kev flies for a living and would probably show me up by doing a 720 cork.

Option two: Drink your own urine.

Seems extreme, I still have my water sprayer.

Option three: Defend yourself.

My eyes slide across the deck to where we keep our sports equipment.

Nodding my head, I glide out of my chair.

Turns out some Kookaburras are made of willow.

And nothing says Aussie summer more than cricket.


   Photo: Thomas Hudec