The man from Inverbrackie

| December 6, 2020

In the 1890s, near Woodside in the Adelaide Hills, a ghost appeared and threatened passers-by on the road to Inverbrackie. The ghost received its ‘come-uppance’ 100 years before the imaginary ‘terrorist’ of this poem ran for the hills from a low-security immigration detention centre established at Inverbrackie to hold refugees seeking asylum. The now closed detention centre is to be converted to a tourism facility. The Wheatsheaf Inn closed in the 1860’s and is now a ruin.

The media went viral, with Tweets and texts galore.
A ‘terrorist’ from Woodside’s gone astray.
They said the man is different – he doesn’t look quite right,
And that’s enough to have him locked away.

The agencies and departments sent their best from everywhere,
And they booked a place where punters couldn’t stay.
Now politicians love to grandstand and the thing that matters most,
Is being seen, if not, to save the day.

Inverbrackie couldn’t hold him; the gates weren’t always closed,
And the hills around could hide a refugee.
They worried up in Canberra – who could bring him in?
‘We need The Man from Snowy River’ said the Ministry.

Legends mostly travel on rivers of the mind,
And on the Snowy up by Kosciusko’s side;
But Onkaparinga Valley or the Coorong – where the ocean used to be;
Are places no ‘Border-Force’ would ever ride.

But once they’ve started on a journey, and when their pride’s at stake,
The helpless and the mighty, share the sloping track;
That leads them to the bottom – in a race that can’t be won;
They learn the cost of losing freedom, and the price to win it back.

Now in words and rhymes we’ve travelled, in imaginary time,
And met a man who never had a name.
But who would know the difference? – refugee or slave,
If one’s a slave the rest are all the same.

But ‘terror’ is a ghost, like Inverbrackie knew,
That dwells alone and stays just out of sight.
It visits uninvited – and is welcomed by the few,
Who fear the dawn that fades their callous night.

The ghost of Inverbrackie cried, ‘prepare to meet your doom’
But should a made-up ‘terrorist’ have the final say?
No, let him shout the bar at Wheatsheaf – and let posterity recall,
When the ‘tourorists’ of Woodside came to stay.