BLACKFELLA MAGIC

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Maureen K Clifford
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BLACKFELLA MAGIC

Post by Maureen K Clifford » Tue Jun 04, 2013 12:52 pm

This is a true story - it still cracks me up when I think of it. Steve and his cuz were both superb didge players as was their 12 year old nephew. They very kindly made and beautifully hand painted two didges for my ex - neither of which he could ever get a note out of. One had a big bass note the other was a lighter sound and these two fellows could make them talk. That IMO was the real Blackfella magic.


BLACKFELLA MAGIC

Back in the days when I was out on the property I remember going out one weekend with a couple of mates of my ex’s to cut down saplings for didgeridoo blanks.

The criteria were pretty straightforward. Ideally they were straight, hollow and about the thickness somewhere between the circumference of a blokes arm or leg – that gave you a fair amount of leeway. The theory was that you looked for trees with termite nests at the base or close nearby, that way the termites would have done the job of hollowing out the tree for you. We were assured that these made the best didges.

The next thing was cutting them down, trimming off the surplus branches and foliage and then lugging them back to the truck. We were looking for about 200 blanks so it wasn’t a five minute job. Luckily our second property was pretty heavily timbered with cypress most of which grew up on top of shaley ridges or down in the traprock gullies. None of it was easily accessible.

We broke up in two teams of two – drove as far as we could and then started walking carrying the chainsaw, spare chains, fuel, drinks, tucker and a few other bits and bobs in a haversack. It was hot and dirty work, the scrub was thick, there were wild pigs around and snakes. We’d left the dogs behind, chained up outside the donga in the shade – hoping against hope that no stupid goanna would get it in his head to stroll past and create mayhem and madness.

My ex was a skilled bushman and knew exactly where trees fitting the description were, so we were soon busy stockpiling a nice, neatly sized stack of suitable blanks. We could hear the other blokes saw buzzing away somewhere over the other side of the dam so it seemed they too were onto a good patch of timber. The only problem that we noticed was that despite having ticked all the boxes a lot of the trees we were cutting weren’t actually hollow. Oh they may have been hollow for a foot or so but that was it. We were tapping up and down the trunk to ascertain how good they were, but it seems we were failing miserably. Not to worry though – the rejects would go onto the wood heap so wouldn’t be wasted.

By about 2pm we were over it and decided to start dragging them out to the track where we could then drive the truck and pick them up – that took another couple of hours and daylight was starting to wane and there was a distinct chill in the air. You cut these in the winter months when the sap has stopped rising as it makes them easier to de-bark. That was day two’s job.

Cut to the chase – back at the campsite enjoying a beer, the camp oven simmering away with a huge piece of corned beef in it that we had put on the coals before we left. There’s a damper ready to go on, carrots and onions ready to toss in with the beef and the spuds are in the coals wrapped up in alfoil looking like space eggs. The makings of a parsley and white sauce are in the billy ready to go. All’s good. The forty gallon drum of water is hot enough for bush showers and the three dogs are all chowing down on some nice meaty roo tail.

We’re sitting around the fire yakking and the subject comes up as to how come all the blanks our mates bought back are hollow, and only about half of ours are. Steve looks at my ex and winks – a huge smile on his black dial and he says ‘‘Blackfella magic.’’ Well OK I get that – but we’re not particularly stupid so there has to be more to it than that. Being as ever curious I had to ask. ‘Oh come on what’s the secret. How could you tell?’ “Like I said Mate, Blackfella magic’ he replied and with that reached down into his haversack and pulled out a cordless drill. “Works every time” he said with a cheeky grin.


Maureen Clifford © 06/13
Check out The Scribbly Bark Poets blog site here -
http://scribblybarkpoetry.blogspot.com.au/


I may not always succeed in making a difference, but I will go to my grave knowing I at least tried.

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alongtimegone
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Re: BLACKFELLA MAGIC

Post by alongtimegone » Mon Jul 29, 2013 4:55 pm

Great story Maureen and well told. What were you going to do with 200 didges?
Wazza

Vic Jefferies
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Joined: Mon Nov 01, 2010 8:21 am

Re: BLACKFELLA MAGIC

Post by Vic Jefferies » Mon Jul 29, 2013 5:04 pm

I have read where the only people to play the didgeridoo came from Arnhem Land. They were not known or used by any other group.

manfredvijars

Re: BLACKFELLA MAGIC

Post by manfredvijars » Mon Jul 29, 2013 8:03 pm

Yes Vic, the 'Yolnu' are the originators of the Didge ...
Great yarn Mausie ... :D

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Maureen K Clifford
Posts: 7553
Joined: Tue Nov 09, 2010 10:31 am
Location: Ipswich - Paul Pisasale country and home of the Ipswich Poetry Feast
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Re: BLACKFELLA MAGIC

Post by Maureen K Clifford » Mon Jul 29, 2013 8:40 pm

Quite a few of the didges that are sold around Brisbane are made by Steve and his family - he sells a lot at local markets, music festivals and some of the souvenir shops.
Check out The Scribbly Bark Poets blog site here -
http://scribblybarkpoetry.blogspot.com.au/


I may not always succeed in making a difference, but I will go to my grave knowing I at least tried.

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