… what we have loved
Others will love, and we will teach them how.
William Wordsworth, The Prelude xiv
Two men keep the packhorse track
along the tumbling creek
Having mapped the old timers’ alluvial diggings
they now commit to preserving their
They no longer live in Queenstown
so drive up every month
They nail pink plastic ribbons to certain trees
encircle sunken shafts with yellow DANGER tape
They discuss the blunder in the town museum –
‘Hell’ and ‘Misery’ the two separate prospector camps are down as
With the breath of King Billys in their lungs
near the cobblestone water races that trapped the gold
But a local hardliner says there must be
no ribbons, no tape, no steps
Should a tourist plunge into a shaft and break her legs, so be it
if one becomes confused in the green gloom and spends the night feeding leeches
let him learn.
She does not trust the work of geologists (retired or otherwise)
NOTE: When in Queenstown on the West Coast of Tasmania in 2017, the author was told of a walk through forest where, a century ago, gold prospectors beat a mule track to their claims. She was glad the track was maintained but was astonished to learn that its maintenance is controversial as some think nature should over-run it as soon as possible and obliterate it.