Unrushed, Unspoken

We’re proud at the Almanac to have writers of the calibre of Matt Zurbo contributing to our pages.


Matt has written many stories over the years about his life, his travels, footy career, and everything in between to the enjoyment of his many readers. They are wonderful reads and we are privileged he chooses to share them on our site. Read more stories from Matt HERE.


Unrushed, Unspoken


We finish a two year job. It takes 7 kilometres of walking to get over the ridge.


The other two are father and son. Second and third generation track builders. Good people, hard workers. The dad’s my age, younger, but I’m also solid friends with the kid for some reason.


There’s a small camping ground in the rolling valley on the other side, where Andy’s built a house. My family and I have a room upstairs.


“I couldn’t do anything today!” my wife moans, as our child rushes me. “Nada! She’s been driving me loco!”


I love the way she still sounds Venezuelan, don’t want her to ever lose it.


It can’t be easy, out here, no family or network. No-one to come in off the bench. Every day I’m grateful.


My workmates and I grab the baby, a footy, several beers, and wander through a small peppering of tourists and the lost, to the only flat in the district – barely 30 meters long. A scruffy Frenchman has parked his filthy old van right in its heart. He’s sitting, cross-legged on a blanket, deseeding black beans.


Andy’s not worried.


“You can’t damage a vehicle like that,” he shrugs, and we kick.


It fast becomes an (unspoken) four-way rotation. One of us amusing the baby, while two compete downhill a bit, near the cow paddock, and the last lobs them hangers from the elevated drop dunny end.


The boss has her first, taking selfies lit by the sunset, walking her on his steel caps. Then, we shuffle positions, duties and go again.


The drop dunny is magnificent – bold and wooden. A throne, with things to read, a comments book, donations jar, and plastic-protected lecture on how the bucket of sawdust, if sprinkled when you’re done, kills the germs and smell.


Soon, it’s the son and I competing, as it was always going to be.


I played footy with him two years ago, running the 8kms out, before driving for an hour, through dens, coves, and along sunset rivers, in daylight, fog, dark and rain. Past dolphins, wombats, along gravel, to train.


It was worth it, every time. Being alive.


Right now, the wind off the Arctic coast, where the track runs 400 meter cliffs, has dropped. As if once a month or less heaven comes. Everything’s warm, fading light, reaching from side angles, giving the bush around us a patchwork of sweetly still air, 300 foot shadows made by a ridge lined with cattle and trees.


We sip beer and take marks while I watch Andy take my baby to meet new campers. Sometimes it’s a shoulder ride, sometimes that drunken baby waddle. Both ways I am in love – with the laziness of it, with her. With moments like these. Footy and the unspoken.


The ball rises, then falls again. There’s no rush, time stopped a long time ago.


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  1. Just lovely, Old Dog.
    I could almost feel the serenity.
    You are truly blessed!

    I’m travelling to Europe in August. Thinking of packing a footy.

  2. E.regnans says

    Beautiful, Old Dog.
    I’m there.
    Hoping not to use that throne.
    But there.
    Love to you & yours.

  3. Dave Brown says

    Love it, Matt. Play on!

  4. “As if once a month or less heaven comes”. Sigh. Does that mean I have to wait another month for your next piece? Bravo.

  5. Rulebook says

    Superb Old Dog as always you take us along for the ride thank you

  6. Yvette Wroby says

    Thanks once again Matt. Love hearing about your family and what you are up too. Hugs to all

  7. Cracker Old Dog. I went into a state of zen just reading it.

    Kick to kick footy is like catching a wave; not a care in the world.

  8. Matt Zurbo says

    On yas, all! Been a rough week, so cheers heaps!

  9. Mathilde de Hauteclocque says

    Boy I love these pieces.

    You chronicle a kind of freedom that not many know or do these days Matt.

    Thank you for reminding.

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