The Dugongs
              of  Macarthur Bay

         In the verdant coastal reaches
        Of that once, great southern land
        Emerged such wondrous creatures
        From Creation's marvelous hand.
        Among the turtles and the dolphins
        In gentle grace and harmony
        Swam a curious relation
        Of the fabled 'Manatee'.

       Inevitably, white men
        Ventured to that shore
        With no idea before them
        What fair Nature held in store...
        Shadows shimmered through the shallows
        And sailors stammered to recount
        As from those early sightings
        Strange legends came about.

         Soon the pioneers followed
        And on one fateful day
        MacArthur saw the virgin forests
        And then sailed into the bay.
        He sought those stands of timber
        On which the cities must depend
        And along that pristine foreshore
        Nature's balance had to bend.

         Now in the name of progress
        We know, all things must change
        And in the clear felled pastures
        Dairy cattle came to range.
        The township, which now prospered
        They called MacArthur Bay
        And the Native population
        Knew the whites were here to stay.

        With the dawn of a new century
       The wheel of time revolved
       And just like the threatened dugongs
       There were problems to be solved.
       With the timber now depleted
       The township soon regressed
       And the elders struggled earnestly
       So this challenge, be addressed.

        Thus a vision, splendid
       For MacArthur Bay evolved
       And for many of the townsfolk
       The problem, seemed to be resolved.
       But the citizens divided
       When the blueprint was explored
       For in this grand development
       The plight of dugongs, was ignored.


       From within two warring factions
       Strong passions, now were fanned
       For the one hand, wanted progress
       With its course already planned
       But the other, just as adamant
       Insisted with some nerve
       That the sea-grass of the dugong....
       Is our duty to preserve!

        For distant generations
       Deserve the right to see
       Not just, a strange exhibit
       In some musty gallery
       Where children ask, incredulous!
       'Daddy! What can that thing be?
       I think, they just pretend it came
       From past mythology.'

                                        Rodd Sherwin     ©



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