Australian Rural-lit and historical fiction author and artistRyn Shell
Millaa Millaa Lookout (McHugh Road Lookout)
Five kilometres northwest of Millaa Millaa, take the Herberton turnoff (McHugh Road on the left) and proceed up to the McHugh Lookout for a spectacular panorama of the tablelands at Millaa Millaa (Gentle Annie) Lookout.
I fell in love with180-degree views from the northwest to the southeast, and the charm of the actual lookout location. On a clear day there are views to the coastal areas of Innisfail and the volcanic peaks scattered across the tablelands, as well as Mount Bartle Frere, the highest mountain in Queensland.
The Millaa Millaa Lookout is located on McHugh Road between the Kennedy Highway and Millaa Millaa. It has an elevation of 1070 m. In the distance you can see the Malanda Volcano. To the right of that is Malanda, with Bones Knob Shield Volcano and the Halloran Hill Volcano visible, as the Seven Sisters, the Lamb Range, and the cinder cones from Mt. Quincan.
If you turn clockwise, you will see, from the lookout, the Lake Eacham/Barrine region or rolling hills. Turn further to view Lamins Hill shield volcano. Behind this and Lamins Hill on most days you can see the Bellenden Ker Ranges.
Mt. Bartle Frere, the highest Mountain in Queensland at 1622m, is visible on a clear day.
Location: On McHugh Road between Millaa Millaa and the Kennedy Highway.
Take your eyes from the distant views and see the amazing, weathered post-and-rail fence—a reminder of pioneer days.
Australian Rural-lit and historical fiction author and artistRyn Shell
An excerpt from the novel Gold
Advertisement in the Port Adelaide newspaper, 1859
Important to persons leaving for the gold diggings. If you wish to preserve a good state of health, provide yourself with a few boxes of Dr Graham's antibilious and digestive pills, the only medicine in the colony which can be taken with perfect safety to travellers or with certainty as to its beneficial results.
Jane broke off a twig for her dinner fork, then bent over the hot coals, and prodded a chunk of meat in the frypan, spiking it on the twig.
Cornelius settled with his meal, lounging propped up with one elbow on the ground.
“Rest while you can, Jane.” Cornelius pointed his beef-hung twig at the ground beside him.
Jane stood with her back towards the men. “Salted meat, is that all you brought to eat?”
“Don’t complain,” Constable Green said. “Eat fast.”
“We’ll dine on Tasmanian trout and Duck à l'Orange when we reach Melbourne,” Cornelius said.
“We’re sitting ducks to anyone up there.” Constable Green pointed to the hills to his left. “We need to get out of this valley.” He kicked dirt over the last of the hot coals and snatched up the frying pan. “We’ll make camp when it’s dark. Mount up.”
The hot evening filled with the jarring sounds of cicadas. The noise ceased as the horses’ hoofs approached, their shrill call resuming after they passed.
“Jane’s presence makes the three of us appear as a family group,” Constable Green said. “Our gold is safer than if we were just two men traveling with a packhorse loaded with heavy saddlebags.”
“My gold, not our gold,” Cornelius said. “Ride ahead Jane. But, stay within sight.”
“What’s this about,” Constable Green asked softly, once Jane was out of earshot.
“Don’t get any ideas.” Cornelius slowed his horse to a walk as the trail followed the edge of a billabong.
“Big man.” Constable Green snorted. “She’s the daughter of a slain couple, a gold miner and his wife. She doesn’t want you. She’s got no better options.
“I’m painfully aware of that,” Cornelius said calmly. “But, I’ve seen the way she looks at you, and it isn’t a young man she’s after. I’m a man of experience. Once we reach the city I’ll dazzle her, and she will accept my proposal.”
“And I’m warning you—Jane may have other ideas.”
“Huh!” Cornelius drew rein. “Do you think she’s a gold-digger?”
Not hearing any sound behind her Jane halted her horse and turned in the saddle. The constable looked directly at her, scowling. They’re talking about me. Jane attempted, but failed, to read the constable’s lips. Uneasiness caused her to ride back, in time to hear Cornelius’s reply.
“You’re the bigger risk. You’re eyeing off Jane—and my gold.”
After watering their mounts at the billabong, the three bedded down within the smell of their tied-up horses.
Birdsong before dawn and the aroma of salted meat cooking woke Jane to find Cornelius holding a strip of hot beef on a twig and a mug of black tea out toward her.
“Thank you.” Jane accepted the enamel mug. Withdrawing her hand when he touched it, she brought the mug to her lips. Through the steam from the billy tea, her eyes caught his scanning her bodice. She thrust the mug to the ground, splashing tea. She rose and flounced off toward the water’s edge.
Jane wandered downstream of the men. Clean clothes were important to her. She would not forget her training, even in the Australian bush. Remembering the men’s laughter the previous evening, this time she bathed in her clothes. If called on to work, she would not put her patient at risk due to lack of hygiene. She combed her long hair with her fingers before knotting it into a twist at the nape of her neck.
Cornelius saddled the horses and strapped the two saddlebags onto the packhorse.
As Constable Green cleared away all trace of their camp, he stole a glances at Jane whenever Cornelius wasn’t looking his way. The constable’s eyes were intently on her figure as he mounted his horse in preparation to scout ahead. His eyes flashed each side of the track, behind, and up into the hills, searching for movement. The sweep of his gaze slowed each time it passed Jane.
Jane seethed at the visual undressing she’d perceived in both men’s eyes.
Constable Green rode back towards them. “None has used this track for months,” he said.
Jane and Cornelius mounted their horses.
North Eastern Victoria was so far from her graduation ceremony at the University of Edinburgh. Long gone, the golden sovereign gift from Queen Victoria, presented to her for her courage in agreeing to take her professional skills to the Australian colony.
Jane’s dreams hadn't faded. The plan to establish a small professional business could wait, but she believed it would eventuate—somehow. No one could take her training from her, even though she lacked the income to utilise those skills.
As Jane rode through the morning, she drew contentment from watching a cool morning haze rise. She grew drowsy as the sunlight blazed high in the midday sky. Relaxed in the saddle, Jane allowed her horse to find its way.
The track dropped; an eroded wash-away appeared, and then a fallen river gum blocked the way. They backtracked and worked their way around the obstacles.
“Follow directly behind me, Jane,” Cornelius said.
Jane’s bay mare was a mountain horse; it handled the rough ground with ease. Jane trusted it to find its path.
“Jane, dear, do as you’re told,” Cornelius reprimanded. “We’ll stop once we get back on the track. You know you should—” His horse faltered.
Cornelius grunted, jerked the horse's reins wrong. “Whoa.”
The mare stumbled, whinnied; it scrambled for purchase on the uneven ground and righted itself.
Once Cornelius’ horse resumed walking, a wry grin curled on Jane’s lips. She thought he guided them in the wrong direction.
Dusk being the least reliable time of day to gauge your bearings from nature, Jane hesitated to speak until stars appeared and she was certain they were off course. “Have you checked the compass reading?” Jane gazed across the zenith of the sky. “I feel that we are heading east—towards Mansfield—Glenrowan. Isn’t that the bushranger territory you want to avoid?”
“Don’t trouble your pretty head, dear,” Cornelius said. “We are in charge here.”
“I’m an honours graduate, not an imbecile?” Jane wanted to add something most unladylike, but her father had spent years trying to restrain that impertinent side of her. Now, so soon after her father's death, Jane tried hard to control her temper as a tribute to him.
“I hear that they’re teaching domestic sciences as a degree course in Melbourne.” Constable Green pushed up his sleeves and rippled his arm muscles, amused when she flinched.
“What does that have to do with dentistry medicine?” Jane’s blue-grey eyes would have burned him if they could.
“If we get a toothache, we’ll call on you.” Cornelius chuckled. “It takes a man to cut a trail.”
The weight of Jane’s gaze brought a smile to the constable’s lips, and then both men dissolved in laughter.
“Look at the sky.” Jane pointed to the Dog Star shining bright above the horizon. “Shouldn’t that be—”
Startled, Cornelius jerked his horse to a halt. “You’re right. We’re too far east.” He looked uncertainly toward the constable. “What now?”
Australian Rural-lit and historical fiction author and artist Ryn Shell
"Ryn Shell is an author and internationally successful award-winning fine artist. Her stories are timeless, her paintings are elegant and beyond fashion"