island path

Minjerribah Midden


Hidden amongst the dunes

lays the last Midden Heap

on Minjerribah’s ocean shores

still undespoiled by sand-mining vandals

and the like.

When I was a boy

the middens still littered much

of the island, tracing faintly

the ancient pathways and campsites.

Inexorably the bulldozers come

and now there remains

but this single one.

So I lead my daughter along the secret paths,

I discovered in my youth,

to show her what remains of the Past.


In a little hollow tucked out of the wind,

half swallowed by a sand-dune

we found it again, the forgotten mound,

a twelve-thousand year high stack

of the tasty Eugarie’s shells.

Token of feasting ancestors,

annals writ in shell,

the oldest,

sun-bleached and brittle as the finest porcelain.

Whiter than the most elegant china,

lighter than the bones of a bird.

I plunge my hands deep into the Heap,

an intruder from the Future

pilfering the Past.

My hands come out clutching sand and shell and

little lumps of charcoal hard as anthracite,

the fossil remnants of Dreamtime campfires.

Sometimes, I tell my daughter,

people have found strange objects in the local middens;

a Sixteenth-Century Spanish coin,

or the ivory head of a Portugese walking-stick.

 Island path & rock

I tell her the Island Legends

the Old-Timers told me

when I was her age; about

the mysterious ancient shipwreck

somewhere, they say, in the great swamp,

and how the island’s wild horses were supposed

to be descended

from those that swam ashore from that wreck

hundreds of years ago.

How “Deadmans Beach” got its name, also,

I recounted, and how the dolphins at Cylinder Beach

used to work with the tribes to catch fish.


I told her my own stories too

like the time I saved everyones life

(why, the locals still talk about it!),

when the Point Lookout Hall

got swept into the North Gorge

and out to sea

during the infamous 1974 Cyclone.


One day, I told her, you’ll be able to say

you were here during the Great Fire of 2014

that swept the Island..

And how we got on the Channel Nine News, she added.

Yes, I agreed, and how we got on the News.


When we stopped talking

all you could hear were the waves and the wind,

the occasional sea birds cry.

Once there would have been children’s voices,

laughter, arguments, the clatter of tongues,

the crackle of flames, the crack

of stone on Eugarie shell,

echo of song-lines sung

in the evenings lit by moon and stars.


When we left we took a single piece

of Eugarie shell with us, we chose

the oldest looking one

we could find,

a fragile thing, white as salt itself

all colours leached by sea and sun

and salt and time.

Lest the Midden be lessened,

in ritual exchange we brought

up from the waters edge,

a fresh, new Eugarie,

sharp-edged and glossy,

banded in yellow and purple.

Tossed it solemnly on the Mound.

Our contribution

to its History.

Eugarie shells 2

  • Editors note: The tasty Eugarie shellfish, (Donax deltoides) were once found in abundance along Minjerribah’s ocean beaches. A staple of the local tribes for thousands of years the Eugarie is easily harvested. You merely look for bubbles coming up out of the sand at the waters edge and then dig them up with your toes. 



lost and found pig



The Reverend Hellfire is a practising Performance Poet, President of the Kurilpa Poets, and an ordained Minister of the Church of Spiritual Humanists AND the Church of the Universe.




~ by reverendhellfire on January 19, 2014.


  1. I loved this one.. And the final gesture with the shell was poetic and appropriate….

  2. A great poem, reverend. It combines a personal story with the story of the middens, and the result is a powerful commentary, good poems mean–not say, abut the contemporary world, family, and times where stories were told and campfires were for cooking and keeping warm. I celebrate what you’ve written here.

    • I am humbled by your praise.
      Minjerribah is Sacred soil (or perhaps I should say, Sacred sand)and a Healing Place for me, so my poems for her are all Love poems, and thus come straight from the Heart

  3. […] https://reverendhellfire.wordpress.com/2014/01/19/minjerribah-midden/ […]

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