Water diviners have always been a bit suspect. That’s why they’re also called water witchers. People bundle them in with conjurers, tarot readers, fortune-tellers, voodoo priests and Federal politicians. And is it any wonder? Someone dancing around the paddocks with a forked stick or a couple of brass rods claiming that they can ‘feel’ an underground river? Pull the other one.
At least that is what I would have said if my grandfather, Keith Liston, hadn’t been a water diviner for fifty years. I knew he wasn’t full of it because he actually dug the wells himself – sometimes 50-60 feet – by hand. So if his biorhythms were out he was in for a lot of blisters and backache, for no return. I remember him coming home from work in his ute, drenched from head to toe, his ears and what was left of his hair, full of mud. He left wet sock marks across the veranda. About thirty years ago Keith even located water on Mel Gibson’s property in NSW, which is a strange if not tenuous Gallipoli connection.
Of course, The Water Diviner is not about my grandfather but he is a great example of a hard-nosed, no-nonsense country bloke who had a gift no one could properly explain. He just accepted it, made no fuss about it, and put it to good use for those around him.