Brumby Plains

Brumby Plains by Joanne Van Os Read Free Book Online

Book: Brumby Plains by Joanne Van Os Read Free Book Online
Authors: Joanne Van Os
bush to get here. You’d think the level ground would be more overgrown than the slopes.’
    They all focused on the ground at their feet, and realised they were standing in a sort of channel. The rock under their feet was relatively bare ofvegetation, and much more worn than the surrounding stone. When they stood back and looked at it from this perspective, it was suddenly obvious that the worn area was a watercourse. Not deep or wide, but nevertheless a scoured-out channel, covered here and there with scraggy bushes. They followed it away from the banyan. Eventually, they came out of the low scrub again onto a large depression. It was shaped like a big shallow basin, about 100 metres in diameter, and they could see where water had pooled and eventually dried up.
    â€˜This must fill up with rain and then it drains out down the channel and over the ledge above the cave,’ Tess said.
    â€˜It still doesn’t help us find a way into it, though. C’mon, let’s go back to the banyan and have some lunch. I’m starving.’
    They sat in the shade of the big old fig tree, eating despondently. That was the end of the great mystery. It was just a hole in the rock. They were quietly eating, not saying much, when a bird flew into the tree overhead.
    â€˜Looks like the parrots decided to come backfrom their winter holidays, Darcy,’ said George. They squinted up into the foliage.
    â€˜That’s not a parrot,’ said Sam. ‘That’s your branded fruit dove. Don’t you remember telling that weird guy Charles all about it?’
    As they watched, it was joined by a second bird and they both set about eating the small ripe figs. They were handsome birds, with a black body and an elegant white head and breast like a low neckline on an evening gown. They moved among the branches gracefully, occasionally hanging upside down to reach the fruit.
    George had moved around to the far side of the fig tree and was looking up into the branches trying to see the birds more closely, when all of a sudden he gave a sharp cry. Sam and Tess leapt to their feet and ran around to him, with Darcy close behind. George was gone. At their feet, where George had been standing moments before, was a hole, and George’s muffled voice could be heard shouting: ‘Sam! Sam! Help!’
    â€˜Quick, Darce, there’s a torch in my pack!’ Sam pulled back the bushes which had hidden the hole from sight and tried to make out what washappening below. ‘George? We’re here! Hold on, we’ll get you out!’
    George was hanging in mid-air. He had instinctively grabbed at anything solid when the ground gave way beneath him, and his hands connected with roots of the fig. He clung tightly to them now, and as he heard the others above him, he stopped yelling and opened his eyes. He was in a large hole, and there was light over his right shoulder – he must be in the cave!
    He looked down and saw that he was clinging to a very substantial root which was anchored in the floor of the cave only about three metres below him. The light was coming from the mouth of the cavern, which opened out into a large wide space with a high ceiling, falling away towards the back where it was too dark to see. He looked up again and was blinded by the torch beam.
    â€˜George, I can see you. Are you all right?’ Sam sounded desperate. A thousand visions of disaster had already raced across his mind in the twenty seconds it took Darcy to bring the torch. ‘Are you hurt?’
    â€˜I was fine until you blinded me,’ George answered. ‘This is it! I found the cave! I’m going toclimb down this root – it feels really strong and it’s not far to the floor. Shine it down below so I can see.’ Before Sam could respond, George had clambered down the root to the cave floor, and stood looking around him.
    â€˜Climb down, you mob – this is fantastic!’ he shouted back up to

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