The Joe’s Creek Scrolls
Joes Creek rises in the hills above Surf Beach on the southern edge of Batemans Bay before unhurriedly snaking its way downhill only to be denied escape to the ocean by a barrier of built-up sand dunes at Corrigans Cove.
In 2018 this largely uninteresting waterway is more of a ditch, a drain, a brackish polluted watercourse - more of a health hazard than a clean rainwater outflow. But it wasn’t always this way.
Recently, a Council road grader, replacing piping channelling the course of Joes Creek beneath Ridge Road, uncovered several ancient earthenware vessels containing what appeared to be a number of papyrus manuscripts dating back to 2300BC describing in some detail the life and events of a now extinct people who had settled alongside what was then a significant fresh water river.
Scholars from the ANU have recently finished the complex decoding of these ancient texts. This community who lived so long ago on the banks of Joes Creek led a simple unhurried life made up of mostly unproductive elderly folk discarded from a more privileged and important administrative centre several hours over the mountains to the west.
The villagers of the Joes Creek hamlet were apparently good and wise people. Wisest of all was 500 year-old Noah. Noah had been elected head of the community council that sat in judgement on the many daily disputes. These disputes covered important issues such as the allowable height of village hovels, no-go areas for dogs, and where to park personal walking frames. This was very significant work and each villager was required to reward the Council by annually parting with part of their assets. Strangely these payments increased each year without a corresponding improvement in the work of the council.
Parchment #4 of the Joes Creek Scrolls tells the story of Noah and of God’s command to build an Ark.
“Noah!!”, came the booming voice. Noah looked around from his favourite fishing spot on what would later be known as Joes Creek.
“No Noah, I’m up here”. Noah looked towards a blinding flash immediately above.
“Good morning Lord, I haven’t heard from you for some time”
‘I am displeased Noah, your fellow villagers are guilty of two of the most important of the seven deadly sins – Sloth and Gluttony. I witness much drinking, over indulgence and wasteful unproductive inactivity. Worse, people seem to be enjoying themselves. I am going to send a great flood.”
Stunned, Noah attempted unsuccessfully to reason with God only to shrink back from a thunderous volley of lightning bolts.
“Lord, what must I do to serve you?”
“Noah, you will build an Ark and to gather within two each of my precious godly creatures. All the details you need to know are chiselled on the stone plaque sitting behind you. You have 10 days before your own village and all surrounding villages will be flooded by sea rise. I will raise the temperature of the earth causing ocean warming and polar ice melt. It will be catastrophic. You have been warned.”
“But Lord, this is genocide. Why should so many people die for their sins?”
“Oh Noah, don’t fuss. 1600 years from now I will be sending my only son, Jesus, who will die himself for all of man’s sins. That should even it up”.
That night Noah gathered his fellow villagers together. Jeremiah Hughes immediately stood and protested that it was not possible that the oceans could warm or rise. “I am a denialist and a supporter of the flat earth theory”, Jeremiah sputtered. “Sea rise is a conspiracy, fake news and a left-wing plot!”
Methuselah Schneider suggested that the grey-headed flying foxes not be brought onto the Ark. “I have a premonition that these smelly, pesky critters will one day return in great numbers causing much discomfort and distress to those living here in the distant future”.
Abraham Leslight questioned several of the specifications supplied by God. “Surely, there is no need to begin the building of the Ark 90 mega cubits above the current water mark. It is simply alarmist to think sea level will rise that much. I have heard that settlements to the north of us believe that the flood, if there is to be one, will reach no more than a further 35 mega cubits.”
Delilah Innes offered the compromise of 72 mega cubits above the current sea level. “That way we can be sure that the Ark can smoothly slip into the ocean at the newer level. It is also important here that we consider and respect the views of all, and that reasonable provision is made for public consultation. I suggest that a citizen’s jury be formed to assist our discussions. I am available to be chairperson.”
Five days later God demanded Noah provide a progress report.
“It’s a slow process Lord. There are regulations preventing trees of a certain width being felled to build the Ark, plus there are sensitivities relating to threatened habitat. Jeremiah Hughes is adamant that sea levels are actually decreasing and he has now taken up a position at low tide to hopefully net stranded fish and crayfish as the ocean retreats.”
On the 5th day the oceans began to rise. On the 7th day the waters swept past 35 mega cubits.
With the Ark less than half finished, Noah and his family decided to hold a summit with God and appeal to what is the highest court in the land – and the Universe.
“Lord, what if we gave up our slothful and gluttonous ways? Would you cancel the great flood?”
“Well, I might”, replied the omnipresent one “I do have a fair bit on my plate at the moment. But I would require you to close all of your alcohol outlets, abandon the golf course, unplug the Internet, stop watching Netflix and reality shows, and ban drinking what I think you call coffee.”
A silence descended on Noah and his family as they contemplated what all this meant. What would life be like without golf, wine, the Internet, iPads, or coffee with a caramel slice?
“Lord, I promise you – we will re-double our efforts to finish the Ark.”