Hilda Oakley

Australian author and poet

   Apr 12


A fire swept through the virgin forest, shooting cruel fingers of fiery flames. Burning like a dragon spewing forth destruction. The fire would not die down and would keep flaring up somewhere else.

Was migrating to Australia the right thing to do?

Arriving in a foreign land, Kim was attacked: his wallet snatched, his clothes torn and tattered, his body battered and bruised.  Despairing, he cried out in frustration.  A figure appeared out of the shadows.  A policeman took Kim to a men’s charity boarding house.  Kim worked there for three meals a day and somewhere to sleep, grateful for their kindness, looking to the future.

Labouring hard from dawn to dusk, Kim’s reputation as a gardener grew.  He toiled the earth, loving the way the warmth of the soil trickled through his fingers. His vision kept him going. He worked in harsh Australian conditions tirelessly and vigorously until he was exhausted, resilience urging him on.

In this stark and barren land the fickle weather changed daily.

He first grew vegetables, coaxing them along in the blazing heat. As they flourished, people snapped them up. Never before had they seen such fresh and healthy produce as this. The rough and rocky ground required more hard toil, clearing away the heavy rocks before cultivating and planting.  His spirit of determination saw him through.  Kim’s vision and ideas were coming true.

He was so proud when he was finally naturalised.  Now he was a dinkum Aussie.  Somewhere deep down, Kim had a burning desire to create a garden in the shape of Australia, made of wild flowers in a riot of colours, surrounded by Wattle trees.

He built a hot-house to grow Australian native flora.  He had success with some, others died.  He was once again determined to overcome any obstacles.

Kim began looking for land to buy. Eureka! He found his perfect place, deep in the bush, with a creek nearby.  As a bonus, there was an old run-down, but liveable shack on the property.  This was an excellent find.

He was hungry to know more about Australian plants.  People were helpful and gave him books to read. He learned all about wind breaks and screening for sunny spots which gave the flora shade.

He planted and prodded and sweated and laboured until the seemingly impossible became possible and his vision came true.  Kim’s Australian garden was now a reality.

Then with great pride, he organized an open day to share his beautiful garden with everyone.  At this time of the season, acres of wild flowers were in bloom. Here they thrived and flourished; Melaleuca, Grevilleas, Sturt Desert Peas and the Banksias along with the Kangaroo Paws.  They twisted and turned in different ways, they blended and melded and Australia came to life in this garden.

Then disaster struck.  A huge fire roared, burning all in its path.  Kim smelt the smoke and tasted the ash in his mouth.  What would become of his beautiful garden?

The flames roared with destructive fury.  Through gullies, across mountains, sweeping across the country side, engulfing entire forests.  An out of control inferno, greedily lashing out, licking at everything in its path with its red hot tongues of flame.

A bushfire emergency was declared.  Country folk attempted to subdue the flames with water from their garden hoses, their dams, their tanks – but to no avail.  They were forced to flee their homes to save their lives.

Kim’s humble dwelling was engulfed by flames.  All that was left was a stone chimney, surrounded by a pile of debris and ash.  His beautiful, native garden now ravished by fire.  Everywhere he looked was destruction.

As Kim scanned the blackened landscape, pride welled from his heart.  He would rebuild, re-plant, re-grow his life.  His garden would flourish again.  Despite the loss of all he loved, all he had worked for, nothing could quash his spirit of resilience.

His desire to rebuild and create a garden, better and more beautiful than before, was now stronger than ever.  His piece of Australiana paradise would rise again from the ashes.

His resilience was tested but he pulled through.

Hilda Oakley         Copyright © 08.10.2012

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