The title Eighth Wonder of the Natural World has been contested countless times; however the honour belongs, in actual fact, to a high ridge of hills sweeping into a lightly timbered valley in front of our home. This, of course, is Paradise!
In heavy rain the gully runs with an ephemeral creek, fed from a gallery of steep slopes. The sound of this small cascade is rare and enchanting; and sometimes heralds a still rarer and more remarkable sound: the call of the Pobblebonk. Its alternate name, the Eastern Banjo Frog, gives a clue to its very unique croak. It plonks, or perhaps it plinks. Its the sound of a single beat from a Monkey Drum – those double headed drums you spin on a stick; the kind that grandparents give to young grandsons as an act of Christmas revenge. A froggery of Pobblebonks sounds like an arrhythmic Monkey Drum choir – spellbinding music if you can imagine it!
Quite recently I followed a Pobblebonk down a dire and seedy path of deceitful manipulation. Let me tell you how…
A lone Pobblebonk turned up in our garden, nestling beneath mulch and bark. We had friends working with us in the garden, and they took him in a plastic box to a veterinary practice just to be sure. Positively, absolutely a Pobblebonk. In the days that followed our find, a dastardly scheme brewed in my thoughts. I would write a letter to our Local Council, singing the praises of the rare amphibian, briefly touching on its intriguing name and its place in folklore, and finally concluding with a casual mention of the thriving colony of Pobblebonks happily ensconced in our little slice of bushland. Most of which is nonsense. Rubbish. A fabrication designed with one single purpose and nothing whatever to do with froggy welfare. My plan was a crafty smoke-screen designed purely to prevent anyone else moving in on our private piece of Australia.
The bushland opposite our home includes a strip of vacant blocks owned by the same developer who is currently expanding rapidly on the flat land nearby. Fresh curbing and guttering, virgin bitumen roads, building blocks pegged out, cottages springing up like so many mushrooms after a storm; a brand new shopping complex, a school, a petrol station, a carwash, even the site of a new aquatic centre all lie just over the hill from Paradise. Before purchasing our home I met with the Town Planner, and discovered that much of the glorious bushland view across from our home would one day be built out. “Inevitably” was the dismal word she chose.
And there my obsessive fretfulness began. I have invested a deplorable amount of mental energy in this pursuit; and drawn others into my silly web of worry. A relative with experience in development whispered the hot-topic names of an endangered caterpillar and a marsupial, either of which would almost certainly bring building to a screaming halt; birthing years of environmental impact statements and legal challenges. Another member of my family (not my immediate family, I hasten to add!) offered to set up a sort of commune in the grassland. A circle of tents in which recruits would live in naked communion with the earth, prancing around bonfires and chanting to the full moon. That would have scarred the home buyers away! I would sometimes peek out my window at vehicles that stopped across the road. Where they harmless council workers, or did they look like developers, coming to steal our view? I caught myself daydreaming in front of my wide new window: prospective neighbours are wandering around on their prospective land, imagining their prospective rooms and looking through their prospective windows when they suddenly see me in my wheelchair staring back at them! That should frighten anyone off! Such tawdry conniving deserves anything but reward.
Yesterday, out of the blue, we received a letter from the city council advising that they had acquired the vacant blocks; swapped them with the developer in exchange for other financial obligations. The strip of land will be rezoned as conservation parkland, for public use, never to be developed! Hallelujah! Celebration!
I am so excited that I a little ashamed. I’ve not given a thought to the Pobblebonks; I’m merely thrilled and relieved for myself and my household. I do not deserve such privilege, quite the opposite. So why? Why have we found blessing added to blessing? We can hardly believe that we live in our home as it is, and suddenly we have been given more again.
Human nature (my human nature at least) seems more ready to accept judgement than reward; quicker to hear censure than approval. Our ears seem more attuned to loss than gain. The evening news is mostly bad, rarely good. Fear is easier to entertain than hope. Amongst the oldest words in the Bible are these from Job:
“Naked came I into this world, and naked shall I depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord!” (1:21).
Loss I understand, much though I dislike it. It’s the gift that astonishes me; it leaves me breathless, awed, alarmed, hushed.
2 thoughts on “Pobblebonk”
Long live the Pobblebonk!
What a blessed bit of news!
I understand how your view changing would be sad. A month after we moved into the North Ryde Unit we noticed the big paddock between us and Epping Road had grown ilttle white pegs. But for us it wasn’t God’s plan to save the view, but for us to move.
I am so glad your paradise is straying. PTL!