Strength of the land

Northwest NSW Australia
Looking west from the top of the hill
Northwest NSW Australia
Looking east from the top of the hill

Change of pace today. Instead of my usual musings, I wanted to share some photos of the region of Australia where I live. I took these a couple of weeks ago at a friend’s farm. The beautiful panoramas from the top of the hills take my breath away, and the view from the front gate looking down the driveway is so quintessentially Australian it stirs my heart in a confusing way that almost makes me want to listen to John Williamson songs.

When the poet Dorothea Mackellar referred to Australia as the ‘wide brown land’ she wasn’t kidding. Brown is the usual colour of the landscape. Drought is a fact of life here, and people deal with it. Unfortunately at the moment though, most of Australia is gripped by the worst drought in living memory, and that is no exaggeration. Many of the water sources that everyone usually watches anxiously as they start to dry up have now long since completely gone. As you can imagine, the effect on the economy, on morale, on nearly every aspect of life is worrying to say the least. It’s one thing for farmers to eke out an existence with limited water, but having no water at all makes it simply impossible.

drought in Northwest NSW Australia
Standing in what is meant to be a creek. Leg bone of a kangaroo in foreground.

The owner of this particular farm is fortunate enough to be still limping along. We drove around the property and although it was obviously suffering, I was surprised to feel a really strong energy emanating from the land. I had expected to detect a desperate feeling of creeping death. Hundred year old trees were dying, cactuses were dying, eagles were pecking at dead kangaroos. You would think the energy of the place would be one of death and decay, but I was struck by a feeling of very deep strength, like the earth was hunkering down with great determination. Instead of the experience being completely depressing, it was quite inspiring.

While the sweeping vistas of ancient hills and vast soaring skies in rural Australia are impressive to look at, I’m beginning to think that the deep love of Australia many country people have is a response to that deep, pulsing energy of the land. It commands respect. It holds wisdom. If you were out in it regularly it would be impossible to ignore. Australia is inhospitable. The heat is searing, water is scarce, everything is hard and prickly and an abundance of the world’s most venomous snakes and spiders lurk at every turn. The weather is uncooperative to say the least. Droughts are punctuated by equally devastating floods and then followed up by ferocious fires and maybe even a few vicious frosts. For such a cruel, unforgiving place, it has some very loyal fans. I’m sure it’s not just because it looks good on a post card.

The feeling I got when I was out there in the country was so strong and deeply determined that it energised, inspired, calmed and humbled me all at once. It was awesome – in the true sense of the word.

Northwest NSW Australia
The beauty of Australia

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