Stawell Dreaming

Something is stirring. It might be because the leaves are fading to nothing in the trees, it might be the chill that greets me each morning as I open the front door and toss the tea leaves onto the camellias, or it might be something from within; something that won’t go away.

About now the grass usually gets softer than it has been over the hot summer. The ground relents just a bit. A young, fit man’s legs appreciate the yielding turf. He’s as hard as nails and as delicate as a wind flower. He’s prepared for the race. It comes together in a final trial across a park in Eltham. He feels like he could fly, passing the others in a breath, something he hasn’t done all summer. What power. Twilight hides the form.

The smells of summer; roses, salt, and green salads; these are all gone. Autumn is visual it’s not the season of fragrances. We’re waiting and the trees are preparing to sleep. Waiting is dangerous. It makes one think.

I’m young. I’ve got tingles through my body, tingles in my legs; the urge to run fast. It was the year that George Orwell chose for his book. It was wet that year; extremely wet. The clouds hung low, the rain set in. It was enduring; unremitting. It fed the hope then cruelly doused it. Sheets of it swept across the Grampians. They disappeared in the mist, hiding in shame.

A dream turned as brown and crusty as the autumnal leaves. The excited tingle became a burden, and a father and son felt a mighty bond.

It’s Easter. I’m going to Stawell.

About Damian O'Donnell

I'm passionate about breathing. And you should always chase your passions. If I read one more thing about what defines leadership I think I'll go crazy. Go Cats.


  1. Maybe if you slip into the ‘Truth Bureau’ (George Orwell’s 1981) Dips you could drop the results down the chute….and you never know how the result might turn out in the next despatch.

    That could be your 15 minutes of fame before the next drop down the chute.

  2. johnharms says

    I reckon Flynny might re-write the story: the year Dips won the Stawell Gift.

    Dips, this is a wonderful short piece. Prose poetry. Thanks.

  3. Love to be there this year Dips and it looks like the weather gods might smile. What’s your spin on the Tuesday final and its effect on the flow of the Carnival? – and, just quietly, i might have one for you at the Stawell races Sunday!

  4. Stop the press. The best laid plans……………….

    My appendix decided to go pfffftttttt. The surgeon told me I was lucky as they had gone gangrenous. Just got out of hospital and full of morphine and surgical holes.

    Alas no Stawell for me this Easter. Can’t remember the last time I wasn’t at Stawell for Easter. I think Menzies was still PM. One very unhappy family at this end.

  5. Andrew Fithall says

    Pleased that you are alive Dips. Thought you had gone quiet. I guess you won’t be at the football Tuesday either…

  6. John Butler says

    Lousy timing there Dips. Glad you’re ok.

    Don’t enjoy the morphine too much.

  7. Still here boys……just. Getting out of hospital is like getting out of gaol. I contemplated sneaking down the fire escape stairs then I realised my mobility wouldn’t permit.

    AF – I might be OK to go to the footy on Tuesday but would also like to watch the Gift on the TV (I’m assuming its on TV!). See what happens.

  8. Peter Flynn says

    Something was stirring.

    Good to hear you are on the mend.


  9. johnharms says

    Dips, we should get together and tell morphine stories.

    Pity about Stawell. I was going to suggest those of us up there go in the ‘Old Man’s Race’ which was one of the main attractions at the inaugural Gift in 1878.

    Purse was

    1st: one pig
    2nd: one pig
    3rd: one sheep

  10. JTH – that’s a very funny concept. What’s wrong with the sheep?

  11. johnharms says

    You’d have been happy to finish second, especially if you’d backed the winner as well. Double whammy.

  12. Ian Syson says

    If you pulled a hamstring while racing then that would be a triple hammy.

  13. John Butler says

    Ian, are you and Gigs swapping material?

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