Walhalla Mizzle

April 8th, 2017

Thomson RiverThomson River from Walhalla Road Bridge, Victoria, Australia.

(Photo by editor 20170322 looking north)

.

Walhalla Mizzle

.

It’s been raining gentle all night

In crisp mountain air

I sit on my dawn porch

I gaze through the grey mizzle

To the thick treed ridge

Covering the steep spur

.

Across Stringers Creek

The creek babbles far below

Feeding the mighty Thomson

Low heavy cloud envelops

Robins, larks, parrots, finches, firetails, martins or currawongs

Greet the daylight

.

Walhalla’s quiet now

As it should be up here

In the wild ranges steep

The 50 year army of gold reefers

Has long been and gone

Shafters taken their bargains and fortunes

Till the ground lay barren, the hills denuded, the Thomson damned

The batteries, the boilers and engines and waterwheel are gone

The miners, drinkers, shop keepers, the shafted

The school kids who played in bad soil

.

The long tunnels lie empty and dank

The dark shafts abandoned to victim ghosts

The slag heap lies as a mountainous waste

Still laced with arsenic

Stringers choked by discarded tailings

They all went back up over Little Joe, the twenty-five hundred

Back to their big smoke

.

The rail remains as industrious memory

To the heyday of industry and hardship

Fifteen tons of gold taken

On the marble column count

Dividends paid out

Two fires, a flood, disease and arsenic

Dozens perished for the gold fever

As the slain to Odin

.

The mizzle is pure till it touches the ground

Surrounding forest seems back

The creek tries flow as it did, crystal but dead

A heritage cancer cluster

A new breed of shafters.

.

Stringers Creek WalhallaStringers Creek, from Main Road, Walhalla

(Photo by editor 20170322)

.

Further Reading:

.

[1]    “Elevated arsenic values can be detected up to 15 metres from the mineralised zone” –  in ‘Nature of gold mineralisation in the Walhalla Goldfield, eastern Victoria, Australia‘, 2007, by Megan A. Hough, Laurent Ailleres (School of Geosciences, Monash University), Frank P. Bierlein (Centre for Exploration Targeting, University of Western Australia, Adele Seymon (Geoscience Victoria) and Stuart Hutchin (Goldstar Resources, Rawson),
^https://www.smedg.org.au/HoughOct07.html

.

[2]    ‘Approaching a century-old legacy of arsenic and mercury contamination’, 2016, by Dr. Linda Campbell, Senior Research Fellow at Environmental Science, Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, ^http://ap.smu.ca/~lcampbel/Gold.html

.

[3]   ‘Soil arsenic from mining waste poses long-term health threats’, 20120322 by Dora Pearce, Research Fellow at Melbourne School of Population Health, University of Melbourne, published in The Conversation, ^http://theconversation.com/soil-arsenic-from-mining-waste-poses-long-term-health-threats-5901

.

[4]   ‘What are the effects of arsenic on human health?’, ^http://www.greenfacts.org/en/arsenic/l-2/arsenic-7.htm

.

[5]   ‘Is there a cancer cluster in a CQ mining town?’ , 20141113, by Rachael Conaghan (Dysart in Central Queensland), ^https://www.dailymercury.com.au/news/is-there-a-cancer-cluster-in-a-cq-mining-town-conc/2452092/

.

[6]   ‘Walhalla, Dec-Jan 2012-13‘,  20130303,  ^https://daynaa2000.wordpress.com/2013/03/03/walhalla-dec-jan-2012-13/

.

[7]   ‘Chronic arsenic poisoning‘, 2005, by Vanessa Ngan, Staff Writer, DermNet New Zealand – a world renowned resource all about the skin, ^http://www.dermnetnz.org/topics/chronic-arsenic-poisoning/

.

[8]  ‘Thallium and Arsenic Poisoning in a Small Midwestern Town’, 2002,  by Daniel E Rusyniak at Department of Emergency Medicine and Division of Medical Toxicology, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN, USA, and R. Brent Furbee and Mark A Kirk, ^https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/articles/11867986/

.

[9]    ‘Cancer incidence and soil arsenic exposure in a historical gold mining area in Victoria, Australia: A geospatial analysis‘, 2012, by Dora Claire (University of Ballarat and Melbourne School of Population Health, The University of Melbourne), Kim Dowling (Melbourne School of Population Health, The University of Melbourne) and Malcolm Ross Sim (Monash University) in Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology (2012) 22, 248–257,  ^http://www.nature.com/jes/journal/v22/n3/full/jes201215a.html

.

[10]    ‘A cross-sectional survey on knowledge and perceptions of health risks associated with arsenic and mercury contamination from artisanal gold mining in Tanzania’, 20130125, by Elias Charles, Deborah SK Thomas, Deborah Dewey, Mark Davey, Sospatro E Ngallaba and Eveline Konje, at BMC Public Health, BioMed Central, London UK, ^https://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1471-2458-13-74

.

[11]   ‘Arsenic mine tailings and health’, 2015, Department of Health and Human Services, Victoria State Government, ^https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/arsenic-mine-tailings-and-health

.

One Response to “Walhalla Mizzle”

  1. Barbara Pelczynska says:

    It’s an excellent poem and its usage is a very effective way of introducing the topic of the toxic legacy of mining. Also, in view of the current Government’s policy on the Adani mine and mining in general, the poem is a very timely reminder that mining is not just about “Jobson Growth”, but more importantly the environmental destruction and toxic legacy that will stay with us for years, if not for ever, to deal with.

    I would like to see this poem adopted by schools as part of the curriculum on the effects of mining on the natural environment and thereby on the wellbeing of the society.

Leave a Reply

 

*