Sydney CBD – “and in treetops Koalas still napped all the day.”

The following beautiful & evocative poem was posted to my Facebook page by Ramapriya Ramanuja Dasi.  She wrote, This is what inspired me to write this poem. Whenever I visit Sydney I try to imagine what it would have been like, where the wet sclerophyll gullies would have been & where the casurina would have given way to saltmarsh & where the dryer sandstone ridges would have had scribbly gums & grass trees studded upon them . . .”

I am grateful to Ramapriya for allowing me to share her poem here.


White Woman Dreaming

by Ramapriya Ramanuja Dasi


I dream of being there that wonderful dawn

at Farm Cove in “New Sydney Town”

The Kookaburras calling where the “Toaster” now stands,

the Rockwarblers “kissing” among boulders further down


At the “Rocks” Scribbly Gums were full of Varied Sitellas

while below all the convicted women and fellas

were stunned as, ne’er in their lives had heard

such magic as the mimicry of the Superb Lyrebird


Where the AMP building stands tall today

the Gymea Lilies and Banksias once held their sway

on the bush floor the Scrubwrens would “chit chit” and play

and in treetops Koalas still napped all the day


I imagine the cool of the fern lined Tank Stream

and Fig trees and Blackbutts where Bell Miners chime

made a pleasant backdrop for the local Bowerbird’s lair

yes, the Regent, who dwelt there that time


The entrancing magic of the new dawn chorus

revealed countless species yet to be named all before us

The Parma Wallabies dashed around lower George Street

where the Cadigal people you would perchance meet


If you happened to wander up to Martin Place

you might have met more folk from that other race

not foolishly proud, just getting by as best

as one would imagine in this giant virgin forest


I dream of being there in “New Sydney Town”

where no steel had yet touched a tree

and Musk Lorikeets wheeled o’er Elizabeth Street

making vivid displays as they called happily


Topknot Pigeon flocks, hundreds strong, made an incredible sight

over what is now choked with traffic by day and all night

and whereupon Australia Square can be found

the Grey Kangaroo mobs used to abound


All along Pitt Street where the gums were in blossom

every hollow contained a small glider or possum

and the spotted quolls still reigned predatory supreme

or perhaps a goanna on the banks of the long lost Tank Stream


I dream of that time in “New Sydney Town”

every time that I stroll ’round the Quay

of a morning’s delight when Golden Whistler calls

announced their challenge from every tree


But then the new noises replace those old lost calls

and the Tank Stream no longer tumbles and falls

between green mossy boulder and pleasant cool glade

as all I can see is now mostly man made


My vision has faded to newer women and fellas

all prisoners now of employers, gadgets, auto tellers

with ne’er a moment to dream or perchance cogitate

on a magic morn lost in time: January 27, 1788

Martin Place – ” this giant virgin forest”