This is a story that goes back to my childhood in the late 70s. My friend's (who I'll call Luke) family owned a huge amount of land that included owning half of a mountain. This property used to be an old banana growing area that once dominated the hillsides of this area (name is withheld) so you can imagine the impact it had on the environment, all the chemicals that were used on spraying bananas with soaking into the land and the waterways and creeks.
Luke and I already had a spooky experience (I think I've recorded it years ago... The old nun I think it could be called) so we were "experienced". Luke's dad, Jim, warned us about heading out to the back blocks where there's King Browns and Yellow Bellied Black Snakes lurking about but we were pretty savvy about the bush. We were going to camp in the scrub (no more than three kilks from the main house) for a couple of days, explore the region, do some yabbie fishing or basically mucking about, having an adventure.
Luke told me that we're staying in an old abandoned packing shed. It was a banana packing shed in its past life when the Italian POWs were working the land (a good lot stayed behind and married into the local community or into the local Indigenous). Luke told me there's also an old graveyard close by with some of the POWs buried there (ones who were bit by snakes). That excited me.
We got to the old packing shed. It was a corrugated iron tin shed, rusting but still sturdy (as in strong). We managed to somehow get the door open by bashing the old rusted lock of with a rock and we were hit by the stench of enclosure. Inside there were still steel tables bolted to the floor, coated with spider webs and years upon years worth of dust. There were some old tools, rusted beyond repair but still fascinated to find. We swept the floor clean so we can unroll our sleeping bags, unpack our gear before going outside to explore. The day was getting rather late as we wandered about. At one point I got a strange feeling of someone watching. I didn't tell Luke just in case he calls me a wimp so I stayed quiet.
'That track there,' Luke said, pointing at a trail that snaked into the scrub. 'That's where the boneyard is. Check it out in the morning, eh?'
I agreed then had to ask, 'hey, is there anyone else living around here?'
'Yea,' he says. 'But the local Blacks. They camp by the creek for a few days, do a bit of hunting. Dad doesn't mind. They look after the land while they camp here.'
'Are they around at the moment?'
He shook his head, 'no, they normally come around the end of winter. Why's that?' I told him. He looks around quickly. 'Think we should head back to the shed.'
And we did. That night we settled down, had our dinner (lukewarm baked beans and soggy toast). Luke brought along a pack of cards so we sat and played a few games of Euchre and whatever else games we came come with. It started to rain but we weren't bothered. We weren't going to be cut off by flood for we were located on a hillock, and not far from Luke's place. His old man could come in the 4WD and pick us up if it did become bad. It was coming onto ten o'clock and we were both ready to retire to our sleeping bags when suddenly we both heard it.
At first we thought it was the wind but the more we listened, the more it became human, or inhuman I should say. We heard what sounded like people getting slaughtered-we heard women, children, men all screaming, what sounded like gunshots, and men laughing, dogs barking and growling, men shouting and all at the same time rain battered at the shed, wind howled. This kept up for a half hour-the screaming, crying, shooting, shouting, laughter then it faded. We sat there, listening. All we could hear was the cane toads croaking and some night frogs somewhere also croaking.
Next morning came and found two very sleepless boys, scared out of their wits, rushing out of the old packing shed and made our way back home. We went over and over the scene again, making no sense of it. We kept that to ourselves until a few years back I went to Luke's father's funeral. We got talking, and the incident came up.
He told me the story about what we both heard that night, something his father, Jim, told him, as well as researching over the years. What we'd heard that night were the echoes of time-a massacre of Indigenous people by white settlers, over a death of a cow that was found dead so these white farmers got together, got pissed as judges before going out and shooting dead over sixty innocent Indigenous. As it turned out the f**king cow died of old f**king age. The men who did the killings were never brought to justice and the bastards' ancestors are still living in the area. This happened in 1921. Luke and I heard the past screaming for justice. Luke and his siblings sold that land back to the local Indigenous Land Council, also sold the house that Luke's father built. Too much blood is soaked in that land. It weeps for justice.