The White Rug
( Since Albino Kangaroos are quite rare I was unable to discover a picture of one)
This is the tale of some children from Newcastle NSW who, just after the Newcastle earthquake, were sent to stay with an uncle on a farm in the country.
It was an old farm but their uncle lived in a new house. The old house was just up the road. It was empty. On the first day, they just looked around the farm.
Then they chased a very big cane toad jumping on the ground, just behind it, making it keep hopping, all around the farm. Uncle Bill said, “There are hundreds of toads, down by the creek. They eat anything but they will not eat cockroaches.”
Then they played on a very big rock that was near the new house. Uncle Bill said, “Do not play on the rock as it was an old Aboriginal burial ground. As well, you may fall off.”
The next day it was raining so their uncle said, “You can go and play in the old house.” The front door was not locked. When they went inside, Jessie said, “It’s just like a haunted house.”
There was old furniture covered with white sheets in all the rooms, with dust and cobwebs everywhere. They played spooks with sheets over their heads, pretending to be ghosts.
They looked in all the rooms. Cindy opened a cabinet and screamed as a big toad hopped out. Billy and Jessie came running into the room. “What’s wrong?” said Jessie. Cindy just laughed, “It was only a toad, and it came out of the cabinet when I opened the door.”
Billy turned, to walk out of the room. When he stepped on some cockroaches he slipped and fell flat on his back, Cindy laughed.
On the floor in one room, there was a large, white kangaroo skin rug. It was clean and looked so comfortable that Cindy sat down in the middle and said, “I’m the king of the castle and you’re the dirty rascals.” All the kids sat on the rug. It was so soft they all went to sleep.
Billy woke up first and looked around in dismay. “Where am I?” he said to himself. Then he woke Cindy and Jessie. They all looked around. The rug was in the bush. “What happened?” said Jessie. “Where are we?” said Cindy. “Look, there’s that big rock. That was near the new house,” said Billy.
“Where did the house go?” said Cindy. It was not to be seen–only bush. Down by the creek, Jessie saw smoke, “There’s a campfire. They will tell us what happened,” said Jessie.
When they got to the creek, they saw that it was an Aboriginal camp.” Look, they’re not wearing any clothing,” Cindy said.
All the young children in the camp hid behind their parents. Some cried. The bigger children just looked. Jessie tried to talk to them but they could not understand him.
One man came up to Cindy and put his arm beside hers. He looked and then walked off. Then some of the men started to talk to Jessie but he could not understand what they were saying.
Then a very old man, with a white beard and hair and wearing a white kangaroo skin robe, came up to the kids and, in broken English, he asked, “Where did you come from?”
“From the farm,” said Billy.
“How did you get here?” asked the old man.
“On a kangaroo skin rug from the old house,” said Jessie.
“Ah! The rug,” said the old man.
“Have we gone to another place?” asked Cindy.
“No, we have gone back in time,” interjected Billy. “No!” said the old man. “This is your destiny.
This is the year 3143. It is May…no June…perhaps July, who knows.”
“What happened to the farm?” asked Jessie. The old man started to talk: “I think it was in the 1990s, they had lots of cane toads in NSW.
The toads were eating everything in sight.
The CTEO found a virus that, they said, would kill cane toads only. They said it was safe to use so they released the virus. As you can see, there are hundreds of toads all over the bush but, over the years, they have learned to eat cockroaches. You cannot eat them as they are poison.”
The old man went on: “After a year or two, the virus changed. It swept around the world, killing off most of the human race.
With most of the people gone, there was no one left to look after the nuclear power plants. They all started blowing up at the sometime, in a chain reaction, and scorched the whole world.”
Most of the people and animals were destroyed or mutated. Most of the Aborigines were immune to the virus. Our ancestors hid in caves. So, when the fires came, they were the only survivors.”
The old man showed the kids some ancient stones. He said, “I do not know what they are.” Jessie said, “Look! They are the foundations; of an old house and over there is part of a tractor.”
“Look, over there are more stones,” said Jessica. “No, they are bricks See they have holes in them. No! It cannot be, “its Uncle Bill’s grave,” said Cindy. “Why are the headstones all melted? Even the bricks are glazed,” said Jessie.
“The ancient legends tell of the fires. You see the fire still comes,” said the old man. “Look, it’s a volcano and I think it’s erupting,” said Jessie. There was a small earthquake. The kids all laughed as the ground wobbled and buckled under their feet.
The old man said, “The Australian bush lives on fire and ice so it came back better than ever. What year do you come from, Jessie?”
“Christmas 1990,” Jessie said.
“Your people can learn modern ways. We can help teach them,” said Cindy. The old man said: “You see, the people here are happy, the way we are, but, in time, the world will change, Jessie.”
The old man continued his story: “I know that, in a land far away, they are building big pyramids. I know that, in ancient times, they did the same things. I have estimated that it will all happen again and again,”
“Will they never learn?” Cindy said.
Jessie asked, “Why are there no flies?”
The old man looked at Jessie and said, “There are flies.
We barbecue them. One fly will feed the whole tribe. They are good to eat.
Don’t you have flies?” the old man said,
“Yes, but we don’t eat them because flies are too small and you would need thousands to feed one man.
It is silly to eat flies.”
There was another small earthquake and the kids all laughed as an old hut fell down. “Look, it’s another volcano erupting over there,” said Jessie, pointing.
The old man said: “Our flies are bigger then a man so we dig a deep pit and cover with mud, about half a finger thick.”
We put the flies in the pit and cover then with more ash and hot coals. When we open the pit, the flies are tender and juicy.”
“Look!” said Cindy as a big dinosaur lumbered past the camp. Some of the Aboriginal kids chased it. The old man said, “They are vegetarians so the kids like to ride them. Sometimes they ride for hours.”
“Can we have a ride?” asked Jessie. “Yes, go with the kids and they will show you how to get on,” said the old man. Jessie, Jessica, and Cindy went with the kids.
The dinosaur was much bigger than the kids, expected. The Aboriginal kids hopped onto the dinosaur’s tail and, then, they climbed up onto its back.
The kids rode for over an hour or so. After a while, they started getting to far away from the camp so they jumped off and walked back to camp, just in time for dinner.
“Look at those big eagles over there. They are coming this way,” said Jessica. “They are not eagles. They are flies! Get under shelter or they will eat you,” said the old man.
“Flies don’t eat people,” said Jessie. Jessica said, “Look, they must have a wing span of over three meters, hey?
They are pterodactyls not flies.” The pterodactyls never saw the camp and landed about one kilometre away. There was another earthquake and the kids fell down. The old man laughed. “We call them flies and we are going hunting them this afternoon.
We’ll have a feast tomorrow night,” said the old man. “How do you catch such big pterodactyls?” Cindy asked. ”
Can we go with you?” asked Jessie.
“Yes, you can help carry the meat back to camp but, remember, it can be dangerous you must be careful at all times,” said the old man.
“I’m not going,” said Cindy.
The men went hunting pterodactyls so the boys went along. They walked for miles. “It never looked this far from the camp. Are we walking the long way round?” asked Billy. “Yes, so that we are down wind. Otherwise the flies will smell us and attack,” said the old man.
Then they saw the pterodactyls. “They’re too big to catch,” said the boys.
“We have the bait in this bag meat –covered with beer. Beer is poisonous to flies,” said the old man.
Then he threw the meat at the pterodactyls. They flew into the air, then back down onto the meat, and started eating.
“You watch and you will see something that you may have never seen before,” said the old man. The pterodactyls started dancing in circles. Then they fell dead.
When they got back to camp with the meat, Cindy said, “I do not eat pterodactyls. They look like bats and I hate bats.” There was another earthquake and Cindy fell down but Jessie laughed.
That night just after dark, Jessie heard a loud humming sound. “Listen, it’s a helicopter,” said Jessie. Billy, Jessie and Cindy, ran out into the middle of the camp. They started running around and waving their arms.
It came out of nowhere–a mosquito. Its wingspan was over three metres. The mosquito grabbed Cindy’s jumper and lifted her off the ground. Both Jessica and Jessie grabbed Cindy’s feet and hung on. Cindy’s jumper slipped off and they all fell to the ground.
The mosquito started coming back.
This time, the men were ready with their spears. They did not miss. The mosquito fell to the ground at the edge of the camp.
With all the excitement, nobody saw a small child wandering around the edge of the camp. Another mosquito came and buzzed the camp and then they all heard the screams as the child was picked up. So the men ran after it. Their spears found their mark. The mosquito fell, pinning the child to the ground. She kept screaming even after the men pulled her out.
The old man put dressings on her wounds. After a while, she settled down. The old man said, “She is not hurt too bad. You see what you could have done. You must be more careful.” The men burnt the mosquitoes. “They’re bad to eat,” said the old man.
The next morning, the old man said, “We have found the pterodactyl’s nest and we are going to raid it today. You boys can come if you like.”
They walked for over an hour, “Phew, what is that smell? It’s bad,” said Jessie. “That is the fly. No, . . . How do you say? . . . Pterodactyl’s nest. We are here.
Look, there it is full of eggs,” said the old man. “Oh! It’s full of big pterodactyl’s eggs and they are hatching,” said Jessica. “They’re baby fli’…no Pterodactyls. We’ll kill and clean them here as it will make it easier and faster to carry them back to camp,” said the old man.
So they carved the meat into steaks and threaded them onto poles to carry them back to camp.
When they got back to camp,
Cindy said, “I had more fun picking big blackberries and I saw a little horse I picked it up in one hand and then I saw Tasmanian tigers hunting funny looking kangaroos. Anyway I don’t like pterodactyls.”
That night, they had a barbecue. The boys ate pterodactyl meat and Cindy ate steak. “This is better then pterodactyl’s meat,” said Cindy.
“Ha, ha! You are funny. You are eating baby fly meat,” said the old man.
Cindy was ill. “I feel sick! Flies are bad to eat. I want to go home,” Cindy cried. Jessie said, “They’re pterodactyl–not fly steaks, Cindy.” “In the morning, you will have to go,” said the old man.
That night, they heard loud crashing sounds when a big brontosaurus came crashing right though the camp. So everyone ran in all directions. Although full-grown trees and huts were knocked down, nobody was hurt.
Just after the brontosaurus had gone, there was another bad earthquake. The kids fell to the ground and could not get up. They kept falling down. Cindy started screaming as the ground began cracking all around them. Nevertheless, in time, it stopped and later in the night, there was another smaller earthquake.
“You must go back and tell them the danger,” said the old man. He went on: “Before it’s too late, go back to the big rock. Where you will find my rug. If you hop on, it will take you back home. Go now and good luck.”
Billy, Jessie, and Cindy went back to the big rock. The rug was where they left it. They hopped on. It was so soft they went to sleep. When they awoke they were back home in the old house and it was still raining.
Therefore, Billy, Jessie, and Cindy went to tell Uncle Bill about the cane toads, dinosaurs, pterodactyls, and mosquitoes. “You were only gone for half an hour. You were dreaming and how did your clothing get all torn and dirty?
There is no white kangaroo skin rug in the old house,” said Uncle Bill, Jessie said, “Come and have a look for yourself.” Uncle Bill went with them to the old house. Jessie said, “The rug is in this room,” as he opened the door. The rug was gone. “You see, there is no rug,” said Uncle Bill.
On the way back to the new house, Billy looked at the big rock. “Look, it is covered with Aboriginal paintings,” said Billy. “I have never seen the paintings before,” said Uncle Bill.
“Look!” Cindy said. “There is a painting of a big cane toad and an old man wearing a white kangaroo skin robe.” “There is a pterodactyl eating a man,” said Jessie.
“Uncle Bill called the CTEO to find out if they were working on a cane toad program. He told the children’s tale and he could hear them laughing. The man on the other end of the phone asked, “How did you find out about the cane toad virus we are working on?”
Then he said, “I can assure you that the virus has been fully tested in our laboratory. We have been testing it for years and it will only kill cane toads. It is carried by mosquitos, which the cane toads eat. The virus will not affect humans. The virus will not be released for years as we are still testing it.”
(C) Jessica Blair