Forgotten Flames

On June 28th of this year, I traveled to Glenrowan for the ‘live’ announcement of the upcoming feature film, ‘Glenrowan’. While standing at the siege site, I experienced a moment so surreal and moving, I doubt I will ever forget it…     

The wind claws at my neck with icy fingers, tugging at the woollen lapels of my coat with its winter zeal. Aching with cold, I pull my coat tighter around myself and look up at the sky, which is heavy with rain darkened clouds. As I make my way to the ‘siege site’, the gumtrees that flank the street sway in the cold evening breeze. Drenched in fading afternoon light, the small, vacant block of land is caught upon my vision. The horror of that day weighs heavily on my mind as I look out across the dew dampened stretch of ground. My ears catch on the resounding clatter of a passenger train as it thunders along the length of rail. In the distance stands Morgan’s lookout, draped in curls of snow-white mist, as it drifts over the surrounding Warby Ranges.
Looking past the discarded sheets of tin I imagine the veranda of Ann Jones’ Inn directly in front of me. Visions of Ned, Joe, Dan and Steve fill my mind, their bodies encased in armour as they exchange fire with the merciless arch of police that surround the Inn. The screams of young Jack Jones cut through my ears, while the frantic shouts of Joe, Dan and Steve echo around me, as they call on the police to hold their fire. I close my eyes against the pain that begins to well in my eyes…

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Suddenly a press of heat hits me, the sensation immediate, like the flickering flames of a fire. The chill of earlier replaced by a surreal embrace of warmth, which brushes against my face, tempting me to remove my coat. I try to shake the feeling, but it does not leave. My heart sinks, the flames of 1880 burning within my mind…
The forgotten bodies of Dan and Steve lay in the bedroom, left to burn. Their handsome young faces stare up at the blazing sheets of calico, amber flames reflecting in their lifeless eyes. These two young boys who just years before had swaggered along the cobblestoned length of Ford Street, flanked by other members of the ‘Greta Mob’, their hats tipped to one side, obscuring their countenances from the troopers gaze. Dan in his hand-me-down clothes, his rough, oversized boots echoing with each step, a rough bit of rope holding his trousers up, always loosely tied to let it swing. By his side, Steve saunters, his well-oiled boots flashing in the sunlight, a brightly coloured sash always swinging from his waist, his fingers caught on the watch chain that glints from his waistcoat…The Inn now their funeral pyre.

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In the parlour, the armoured body of Joe lies motionless, his gentle countenance slightly singed, as the starving flames begin to consume the Inn. Policemen roughly grab at his lifeless limbs and drag him out; leaving his young twisted frame to be mercilessly gawked at by a blood lusting crowd. This young man who would often visit James Ingram’s bookshop in Beechworth, a pipe dangling loosely from his lips as he read in the backroom, his larrikin heels always proudly on display…

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I will never forget the flames of Glenrowan.

2 thoughts on “Forgotten Flames

  1. Places hold memory of events that have happened there and it seems you were receptive enough to ‘tune in’ at Glenrowan. A very emotive piece of writing, thank you for sharing a special moment.

    Like

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