Sam groaned in the backseat because he was sure thathis parents were trying to wreck his life. The rhythmic beating of the cartires as they hit the joins in the hot road only served to drumover and over again into his head the thought, not fair, notfair, not fair! Normally, he would have enjoyed the sceneryand, like the rest of the family, would have listened carefullyfor every silvery tinkling sound made by the ever-presentbellbirds.
Debbie had asked if they could have the car windowsdown so that she could hear the bellbirds. Mum and Dadwere only too happy to agree, because listening to the bell-birds as they drove over the Gap was a constant source of joyand wonder to the whole family. But today, even the soundof their little bell song irritated Sam; he scrunched downmore deeply into the backseat and glowered out at the steepsides of the mountain and the lush, cool tropical rainforest.
Normally they stopped there for abreak, but they had left Brisbane really early to avoid themorning rush through the city. Dad decided that the familycould eat some nibbly things while they pushed on to Stan- - 20 -. Sam was notthe only child who had imagined animals and different facesas he rode through the countryside.
Many adults, when ques-tioned by the children about seeing the strange shapes,would be unconcerned. Their eyes would get that look of some-one remembering a time long ago when something of greatimportance happened to them. Until today,he always liked visiting her, because she used to give themgreat stuff to eat and drink. Mum and Dad had even let thempoke around her yard and watch a bit of TV until they wenthome. They had never visited for too long, and Sam had toadmit that Nana Marlene was an interesting lady.
She was a Christian missionaryand often spent time in other countries doing interesting and,at times, dangerous stuff that Sam loved to listen to her talkabout.
Sam thought that maybe one day he would become amissionary and tell people about Jesus. Nana Marlene came out to meet them.
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You had kids so that they couldbe your slaves. Sam sighed heavily, and then he kicked at the dust ashe walked slowly to the back of the car. Do you have a problem, Sam? His mother raised an eyebrow and gavehim the look. Sam, all of a sudden, was suffocating inside thishouse with his Mum and Dad on his back. Nana Marlene glanced his way and Sam knew that shecould clearly see how angry he was. He felt ashamed of his - 23 -. When everything was in from the car, Nana Marleneoffered Mr. Harris a cuppa and gave all three chil-dren drinks and some chocolate cake that magicallyvanished, as they were hungry and thirsty after the long trip.
When the children had finished their refreshments, she sug-gested that they explore around the farm. Nana Marlene thought that Sam, Faith, and even Deb-bie, might find something interesting on the property. Shesaid that it was a commercial orchard. There were eight hec-tares of land with olive trees, and there were sheep in severalpaddocks, as well as some poddy calves to help keep thegrass down. There were also some chickens and a small vege-table garden, but most of the farm was bush and graniterocks.
But this bil-labong is different because it is in a miraculous gully where - 24 -. Myles Pellowechildren, who are having difficulty at home or at school, canfind refuge, peace, and wisdom. Iknow that when some children found the miraculous gullyyears ago, they came back and told their parents that one ofthe rocks had a face and it had spoken to them. Actually, I have spoken to the rock, myself. Mean-while, off you two go and have fun in the National Park likechildren should do when they are here on holidays. Sam Meets Zip and Zap When they went into the backyard, Sam and Faith sawsome trees with gnarled trunks and twisted limbs down inthe corner of the property that was to the north of the farm-house.
They saw them as a challenge to climb, but when theycame to the outermost tree, they looked over the fence intothe National Park and saw three boulders close by andthought they might explore the area. They remembered that Nana Marlene had said therewere many native trees, bushes, and plants around the areaof the billabong, making the gully a great home for many ofthe native birds that filled the air with their various songs.
They wondered if the rocks they could see were hid-ing the small creek Nana Marlene had talked about. She hadsaid that when there had been a large storm, water from thecreek overflowed into a billabong that was a great swimminghole. She was feeling the heat from walking in the sunand wanted to have a swim to cool down. Myles Pellowe Faith smiled with pleasure and tried to give a high-five to Sam, but Sam just turned his back and started to walkmore quickly.
He soon stopped, however, and waited untilFaith had joined him, then he led the way to the three boul-ders they had seen. All of a sudden, he put up his hand as he stoppedagain and then looked back at Faith. It must be the creek that leads to the billa-bong that Nana Marlene was talking about. Harris heard about the plannedswim after Faith had got back to the farmhouse, he hesitated. Meanwhile, Sam went exploring. He came to a num-ber of granite rocks about three meters high, behind whichwas a gigantic granite boulder and he immediately thoughtof his youngest sister, Debbie, and called the rocks the class-room boulders.
He remembered that when Debbie had come home af-ter her first day at preschool, she had excitedly told everyonethat she had played a game of hide-and-seek in which all theboys and girls were little stones. She said that Ms. Vallancehad pretended to be a person, who was collecting all thestones she could find in the classroom.
She giggled as shesaid that when Ms. Vallance would find a student, she wouldtake the student into the middle of the classroom where theywould become part of a big rock. Still smiling at his memory, Sam walked deeper intothe National Park towards the entrance to a gully. Then hesaw in the distance an old windmill and, beyond it, abouttwo hundred meters to the left, the strange sight of some-thing that looked like the huge old-fashioned fan his motherused to cool herself when she was hot.
On his way to the strange sight of the uprooted tree,he passed the upright remains of a tree that he thought musthave been struck by lightning, because all that remained of itwas its burnt trunk. It was about the size of one of those old-fashioned letterboxes he had seen in photos. When he finally got close enough to inspect the ex-posed roots of the tree that had been blown over, Sammarveled at the forces of nature. He eventually came to a gully in which there was thebillabong he had seen, and as he was gradually approachingits edge, he thought, Gee, that large rock at one end of the billa-bong is shaped like a human head.
I wonder if I can make out a face.
Then he looked at the rock again and smiled to himself as - 31 -. Sam Meets Zip and Zaphe remembered what Nana Marlene had said back at thefarmhouse about a large rock that had a face and had spokento her. But heremembered that she had also said she had seen some par-ents look at their children with just a hint of a smile. A billabong can be just aplace where animals and birds go for a drink, but there is abillabong in a special gully where some children who arehaving difficulty at home or at school can find refuge, peace,and wisdom.
Myles Pellowestrands of hair had appeared, but the top of the rock wasbare. A small crevice waswhere a mouth would be. What about the eyes? Sam wondered where the eyeswould be if the rock were a face. Then he saw that just abovethe bulge, the rock had two ridges shaped a little like eye-brows over two small caves, but he could see no sign of eyes.
He thought to himself that surely such a rock wouldhave been created within the first days of Creation. Sam thenstarted to daydream about all the stories this rock would tellhim if only it could talk, but sighed to himself that a rock wasa rock, so what hope did he have? To see if he could find his sister, he went back to thethree tall rocks from where he and Faith first saw the billa-bong.
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There was no sign of her. He picked up a small stoneand, with a little cry of anger, threw it at a log on the otherside of the clearing. Sam Meets Zip and Zap He got increasingly angrier. Why do I have to wait forFaith, anyway? Then a very angry Sam, mumbling to himself unkindthings about his parents, stormed off down into the thick tea-trees surrounding the billabong and forgot about thelandmarks that he had seen on his adventure. When he finally stopped and looked at his watch, hesaw that it was time to go back because it was ten to eleven.
Sam gave a yell of frustration. Then, throwing stonesas well as kicking at the dusty ground as he went, Sam con-tinued to wander aimlessly, hoping to eventually get back tothe billabong so that he could retrace his steps to where hehad entered the National Park. Stomping and kicking at some stones with his angryfeet, he moved along the dusty track until he found a stick. He picked it up and used it to hit any bush or tree or any ob-ject in his way. After a while, he picked up some stones he - 34 -. Myles Pellowefound at the base of a tree and started to throw them at bro-ken tree limbs that lay on the ground, as well as at thebranches of other trees nearby.
Finally, feeling sorry for him-self, he started to walk without any purpose, following a setof small animal tracks and raising a cloud of dust as he wentby scuffing his feet along the ground. Whenever Zip came, Ebenezer had always asked Zipabout her day and seemed to love hearing about the differentthings that she had seen as she was flying through the treeson her way to see him. That afternoon, Zap was going tomeet Ebenezer for the first time.
Both birds were feeling a little hungry as they flew tothe billabong; Zap was on the lookout for lizards and Zipwas hopefully searching for fat juicy bugs. The small cloud ofdust moving amongst the trees distracted them, and theyflew to a branch to observe it. Then they saw stones emergingfrom it and wondered what could be creating the cloud thatwould also make stones fly through the air. A horrible noise was heard that neither Zip norZap had heard another bird make. It seemed to be coming - 35 -. Sam Meets Zip and Zapfrom the cloud of dust that was slowly approaching.
Dartingdown to investigate, they were distracted by the sight of a li-zard in front of a fat juicy bug in a log — the perfect spotwaiting to be swooped on by hungry birds, and both Zip andZap were very hungry. However, a stone landedwithin inches of the bug — so close, in fact, that Zip could feelthe breeze from the passing missile. Myles Pellowe Sam stopped moving and the dust cloud disappeared. Embarrassed, he stopped his tantrum and looked about incase it was Faith approaching who had called out, but therewas no one to be seen.
Zip had yelled at the top of her small voice, but Samwas not expecting to hear words from a bird. His dusty faceshowed that this small bird, that appeared to be talking tohim, had startled him. Momentarily, Sam could not find his voice, because hewas just too surprised. He had been complaining loudly inanger and frustration to the rocks and trees, and had beenstomping along, throwing stones, kicking at rocks, and hit-ting fence posts or anything he could swing his stick at —totally not in control.
He had been allowing his anger to takecontrol of his actions, but this small sound, which was like avoice, had snapped him out of his angry pity-party. Sam was surprised at how much he had not beenaware of what he had been doing while he was having histemper tantrum. He began to apologize. I was kick-ing rocks and throwing stones because I was angry.
How could someone possibly not knowwhat he or she was doing? She called over to Zap. The onlything she could think of was to take this boy with her as shetook Zap to see her wise friend, Ebenezer; he would knowwhat to do. They were not far from the billabong and maybethis boy would settle down if he splashed about in the coolwater for a little while.
It always made Zip feel better tosplash in cool water on such a hot day; maybe this boy wouldlike to play in some water and cool down. I know someone whocan help you. The birds flew slowly ahead of Sam through the bush,which seemed to be getting thicker and thicker.
All of a sud-den, they were in a clearing at the side of the same billabongthat he and Faith had discovered, but had not investigated. There was no sound; all was quiet except for the sound ofcool water trickling over the stones in the nearby creek. The largest of these is the Ferraricchio. All four of these gullies, as well as a few smaller ones not shown, are now collectively called the Lama Belvedere. A s they approach the sea, they stay beneath the limestone surface and finally open onto the beach.
F rom the sea, those openings may resemble coastal sea grottoes, but instead of being formed by the sea and containing salt water, the gullies were formed by fresh water and have brought with them from the hills their own fertile ecosystem. In the otherwise arid landscape of Puglia the gullies are fertile, as shown by the ample flora that they nourish.
They made good caves for cave-dwellers, and along the length of the 'lamas' there are signs of ancient habitation, especially at the large outlets near the sea image right. T he Ferraricchio was so large and erratic as it approached the port of Monopoli that it was potentially dangerous in terms of the stability of adjacent property and buildings on the surface.
Thus, little by little, in the early years of the 20 th century, the meandering Ferraricchio was straightened and shored up from within, essentially turning it into a one-kilometer tunnel beneath Monopoli to the sea. The channel then served as an outlet for flood waters and even as an air-raid shelter in WWII, when at times there were as many as 3, persons sheltered within.
If you are looking for information on the South American camelid, the llama, see Lama Glama really! Lama Glama may also be a Brazilian soap opera star.