Journey’s end

One journey’s end is another’s beginning.

It’s hard not to look back at the last eleven years and wonder how else it might have all been if we had not flown out of this wide, red land to foreign shores. What fortunes we might have made and lost? What friendships deepened by eleven years of shared experiences in this adopted land I choose again as my home? What tears shed and soaked into the dry soil and what laughter might have shaken our bellies and wet our eyes around a campfire amongst the gum trees.

We are formed by the hammering and grind of life’s forge. Polished and shaped by the delicate brush of unexpected friendships, wherever we find them.We know not what we choose each instance, only what each turn we make leaves within us afterward.

It is only within the laugh lines etched around our eyes, the small scars of adventure left cut into our hands, and the conversations and half remembered voices from around the fires in campsites and backyards half a world away that we can begin to chart the course we have taken on the way to what we each are at this moment.

I don’t remember each detail in crystal clarity, but the overall impression is an artwork that I would not go back and recommission. It is as perfect as it could have been made, whether we like the end result or not.

Perhaps the last eleven years are my own personal Blue Poles. A wide expanse of many hues, expensive yet rich in all its colourful and splattered wealth. Sometimes we are unsure if we ought to have made the decision to “go for it”, but the decision made together some yesterday long ago it hangs there now iconically influencing what we represent today.

On the final miles to this journey’s end there lies behind us not a closing of a chapter nor a turning of a new page. There lies ahead only the continuation of the building of the final person we will each be when we take our last breath.

Behind us is only fluffy, white clouds. Ahead lies one more step in the next excellent adventure.

Trend setting

Days of blazing sun have left me with the peculiar raccoonish look that comes from wearing sunglasses all the time. It is one that ought to be very familiar to any snow skiers and boaty types.

It has become necessary to adopt a new approach so as to avoid further selective tanning.


The catwalks of New York, Paris and London – take note.

The Living Desert

Just outside of Broken Hill lies the sculptor garden called The Living Desert. Here, elevated spectacularly above the plain, are eight huge artworks cut by hand into boulders that weigh up to 8 tonnes. The sculptors were completed over the course of a month or so by an international group of artists, all of whom camped out on the mountain top from the start of the project to the finish.

Nature too has its sculptors amongst the stone monoliths. Branches stark against the blistering sky, while roots hug sinuously around the rock below, holding fast against the mountain wind.

Bajo el Sol Jaguar (Under the Jaguar Sun) is an apt description for the feeling as you stand looking down on the desert that stretches below from Broken Hill, back across to Adelaide and beyond. Ahead of us lies yet more sun scorched earth, before we reach the green belt of the coast line. The artist inspired to create this carving must have felt much the same; his creation captures well the challenge and beauty of the Broken Hill plain.

It was hard not to leave the garden without adding something. Now the Lady in the rock, and the other hand wrought forms stand together with an Inuksuk el Finn, baking together under a Jaguar Sun.

3 days to go, and 30+ blog entries to backdatedly post

Cobar tomorrow, and then perhaps Dubbo, and then I think we’ll be there. Meanwhile, there are a lot of posts and photos to upload and backdate. However if I stay much longer enjoying the generously provided wireless access of the Brokem Hill Junction Hotel, along with its fine cold beer, I will perhaps be unable to type very well anyway.

More later..

“Wireless you say?”

First internet access since we left Hamelin Bay, almost the breadth of a sea girted land ago. Lots of entries to catch up on, but before then I just wanted to make a quick comment about the apparent digital divide in Outback Australia.

More accurately I should say the “Accessible Outback” – this being how Broken Hill, NSW describes itself. It is here, in The Junction Hotel in Broken Hill that I type this entry. The beer is cold, the wireless is fast and free, the barman has a sense of humor, the bar stools are comfortable and the tables clean. What more could you ask for? So, if you are in Broken Hill, and you are looking for wireless access, may I recommend heartily the Junction Hotel at 560 Argent Street.

Apart from The Junction however, a search in Broken Hill for accessible broadband is not without challenges. It goes something like this:

Me – “Hi. I saw your sign that says you have internet access.”
“Yeah mate.”
Me – “Great. Do you have wireless?
Wireless? Yeah mate, we’ve got both AM and FM wireless out here.”
Me – “Eerr…I mean wireless internet access. Do you have a wireless network?”
Oh. No. Just those couple of machines over there you can use for $5 a minute. The Internet is down anyway.”
Me – (Thinking – Oh no….must be those evil Russian hackers causing chaos. There must be mayhem out there as a generation goes Twitterless and students everywhere have to try to use an encyclopedia to finish their homework. And here I am in Broken Hill missing it all.) “Do you know anywhere in town that has access?”
“Ummmm… could try insert-name-here-of-business

Then you could walk to said business, and have the whole conversation again. Five attempts later: Bingo. The Junction.

Gotta love it.

And what to make of Broken Hill’s moniker as “The Accessible Outback”. I figure it is sort of like “The outback that isn’t quite the outback, but at least it is a bit easier to get to”. Marketing genius. Pure, unadulterated marketing genius.

A red wind blows no good

Approaching Broken Hill from South Australia a dust storm brews above the desert. This one did nothing but boil itself out above the plains. Whilst Sydney still remembers with awe the red dawn of The Great Dust Storm of 2009, this daily lifting of the topsoil into the air serves as a daily reminder of the thinness of the soil and the sparseness of any roots to hold it. It is a thin crust upon which we travel and tread.

Purple Hearts beyond Adelaide

Beyond the spectacular folds of the Flinders Ranges lies some charming old, sleepy country towns, set amongst fields of purple that stretch to the horizon.

A rare radio signal found us listening to The Herd’s remix of Redgum’s I Was Only 19, the iconic and powerful song about the Vietnam war. As the signal blew behind us to static we swapped to the iPod and listened to a long ago recorded podcast that told the story of the original version by John Schuman, together with the story of The Herd’s revisiting and reworking of the lyrics.

Redgum was a soundtrack to many roadtrips back when I was nineteen or so. Now I’m not. The nineteen year old soldiers are still dying though for conflicted, confused and constructed reasons in lands they would have struggled to find on a High School geography lesson map. The whump of the Huey’s blades have been replaced by the thunderous scream of an F-16, and the ladders of falling explosives by laser guided missiles. Agent Orange might not be needed in the already defoliated hills of Afghanistan and the sands of Iraq, but we are still blowing up wedding parties and creating one legged orphans.

In the back the kids are bored and have lost interest for now in looking out the window. May they remain so, with all their limbs attached.

Outside this small circle of quiet there is a purple bloom for each spill of unnecessary blood. Lest we forget.