Kevvo scratched his beard.
“Summin not right with this…” he muttered.
The big man to his right looked over, leaned forward on the long handle of an axe, tilted his helmet back to show a fringe of blonde hair, and said, “Aeh?”
“Arsehole up this coast explain it right?”
“Yep. Down coast, thru heads, an there be ruins. An there,” he indicated with his eyebrows, “be ruins.”
“Doesn’t look right.”
“Mate. You wanna head back Sinny, explain Mad Max why we got nothin’?”
The two stood in the breeze on the deck of a keeler looking south and watching their men working just beyond the low dunes. The palisade was progressing well, with a long, low earthen rampart forming. Armed men were coming back from bush on the nearby hill carrying poles and what looked like raw flax. The keeler was beached in a broad, shallow inlet. Around the inlet low parallel ranges ran to the south, the western side littered with the tell-tale teeth of shattered stone buildings climbing out of the cool green water, white and grey against the olive drab of the bush.
“Might get some fires by nightfall.” Kevvo said thoughtfully. “Boys need to muster some locals, make sure this Wellton?”
“Mate, you wanna worry less? He said Wellton, an this be Wellton. An somewhere here,” he indicated the ruins with the haft of this axe, “be that mile of gold.”
Kevvo looked back over his shoulder at the western horizon. Plumes of smoke rose lazily into the sky from beyond the harbour heads. “Looks like Jacko might be finished with that island. Could be mutton tonight.”
“Yep. Be good getting his crew finishing this work as well.”
“Why you believe that bloke he said this place had a mile of gold you reckon?”
The big man exhaled slowly, took off his iron helmet and set it on the rail of the boat. He paused and looked both ways up the beach before continuing, “You remember yarns about Canburra? Them stupid goat-rapers come over Blue mountains forever tryin tell Sinny-siders how to an what to?”
Kevvo nodded thoughtfully, “Yep.”
“Tell is them come over the Blues cause them was what be called Party Men. Has steel when Sinny-siders has ticks and rocks. Was a time when them Party Men tell every fucker from Sinny to Brissie how to an when to. An all of us, every last one, jumped when them arseholes clap.” He paused, yelled a direction at some men who looked to be stopping work, and leaned against the haft again, “Four counts of hands before them weak enough an get told to piss off.”
Kevvo nodded again, his brow knotted. “An?”
“An Wellton was the place of the Party Men here on Pig Island.”
Kevvo’s eyes widened a little in recognition, “Ahhh…”
“If nothing, we strip metal from this shithole, muster us some locals an have some fun.”
Kevvo grinned broadly.