Protecting Wilderness and National Parks

Poetry celebrating Myles Dunphy

A Wild Centenary

A phone call came in urgent, from up old Newtown way
"Say mate I’ve got a bloke here who wants to walk the spray.
He says he's heard from Dunphy,
You know, the man who drew the map
Of The valleys bush and mountains,
With billy swag and cap. "

Says I, “He must be dreaming in sands at Cronulla Beach,
His head is full of salt and grime from mental over reach. 
Ole Dunphy, Myles by first name, is long in heavens walk,
Been years since Dex his dog and he
Long the River did they stalk. 

“Well”, said Muir, Keith, a man of conservation fame,
I think this guy Alex Allchin is keen about this game. 
He's a walker of the bush, of legs both long and true,
Have a yarn with him, take your time, with damper jam and brew.”

So I did. Alex, tall and lanky, true of heart and strong,
Said, "We'll walk the Kowmung sure mate,
As Myles did ere so long. 
From Katoomba to Jenolan then up Kanangra top, 
To follow Dunphy's footsteps
To Picton 'fore we stop. "

So over the maps we poured, an adventure did he plan,
Dunphy's route we followed, and Gallop, his right hand man. 
But on this great occasion, one hundred years to celebrate,
Alex and Sierra would walk the Kowmung, a vision to re-create. 

Yes, Dunphy did us proud and showed us where to go,
In the Aussie bush he knew so well
Where wild streams and rivers flow. 

Wyn Jones © 2014   Written on the train from Lidcombe, in the Dome at the World Parks Congress sipping coffee, and in the Jamison Room surrounded by Wild People, on Thursday 13th November, 2014.
Dedicated to the “Walking Stick Circle of People of all ages and stages that gather to celebrate Wild Places.”



In memory of Myles Joseph Dunphy – 1891-1985 

the leather boots
are cracked and dry
hobnails rusting out
yet I half expected
you to arrive and pull them on
for day dawned
crisp, clear, autumnal
the dusty air
cleared by rain

in powerful flight
swans passed overhead
a pulsing arrowhead
cleaving the sky

just the kind of day
you enjoyed striding barelegged
through coastal heathland
brushing by stunted grass trees
and hakea
pack on your back
blackened billy can swinging
in your hand
your practiced eye
picking the wallaby trail
holding grade on the rise

and we would have stopped
in a ferny gully
with a creek of sweet water
gurgling through rocks
on its way to the sea 

get me some standing sticks lad
you’d say
and soon the smoke
would spiral to the sky

smell of burning gumleaves
wood crackling and flaring
until the billy bubbles and sings.

I see you lay out
bread, tomatoes, cheese
on the battered tin plate
open a can

can’t beat Hamper Brand Corned Beef
you’d say … solid meat

worn to an arc with sharpening
carving out slices

help yourself

and you’d pour tannin-stained tea
into the chipped enamel mugs

this place puts me in mind
of the Kowmung trip in ‘34…

you’d spin us a yarn
to take us through lunch
reeling back the years of your life
to find that lithe young man
swag on back
rifle in hand
looking out over endless blue ranges

time to move on
you’d say
and we did
so many times
until you moved on
once and for all.

today I want you
to pull on those boots again
so I can follow
your swinging stride
holding back just far enough
to dodge the whiplash branches
sprung by your passing 

I have no heart
to go by myself
into the sunlit spaces
robbed of the rythmic crunch
of your boots
  your yarns
    your laughter                        

                                       Dexter Dunphy



Myles Joseph Dunphy

The sun has risen and set on many a day,
And shone its guiding light upon the vales
Where many feet have passed along the way
Since Myles Joseph Dunphy trod these trails
On jagged mountain ridges swept by gales,
When passes on the plateaux he explored
Where precipices all around him lay
And eagles in the skies above him soared.
For places wild at heart, he made a stand
And fought for what was well worth fighting for;
He mapped the country with an artist’s hand
To share with us the vision that he saw –
Let’s keep alive his vision for the land
With wilderness located at its core.

Col Gibson

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