Thursday, 5 June 2014

The wild wild west

I've just returned to cold and rainy Melbourne from the magnificent Kimberley area in the far north west of Western Australia. I'd previously had a taste of the area over 20 years ago on a brief visit to the famed pearling town of Broome. I took two extraordinary day trips back then, flying over the magnificent Bungle Bungle Ranges and on another day I visited Windjana Gorge in the King Leopold Ranges, Fitzroy Crossing and Halls Gap - just to name a few stops. 
Flying from Broome to the Mitchell Plateau - it's big, empty and unforgiving
Deserts - they do something to my soul. A few years ago I heard Nikki Gemmell (Ms Anonymous - of The Bride Stripped Bare - fame) speak about her love for deserts - including the world's largest - Antarctica (another favourite of mine). In fact we corresponded about our mutual loves (pre the Bride Stripped Bare - we were just discussing deserts!!) and one of her favourite mantras of life is from another famed Aussie writer David Malouf:
What should our lives be 
But a serries of settings out into the unknown
Pushing off from the edges of consciousness
Into the mystery of what we have not yet become

Well the Kimberley is all of the above and more. Personally I think it should be compulsory that all Australians visit the deserts of our land to comprehend the size, magnificence, rawness and somehow get in touch with the soul of this land as old as time. You can feel and see the ages in the shapes of the sandstone rock formations that give some indication of the journey this land has taken as the rocks have been pushed and pulled and squashed into what we see today.
Sandstone cliffs standing proud and impenetrable
The ever changing view and the ever changing light
Oo that looks like a city - oh sorry just another old lump of amazing sandstone!
From a distance all looks green and lush. From up-close-and-personal one can feel how harsh and unforgiving this land is. Only the indigenous peoples learnt to work with it while we 'newcomers' tried to tame it. Instead it tamed us!
Take 1 of a geography lesson in how the rock was formed
Take 2 of the lesson - it looks like filo pastry layers!
Take 3 of the lesson - keep pushing!
This is a land where the skies are big, the rocks are big, the crocodiles are big, the sharks are big, the fish are big, the waterfalls are big, the emptiness is big, the boab trees are big, while all other life is stunted as it struggles to survive. It really is a land of extremes.
Why build the Great Wall of China when you can find it in the vast Kimberley
Reflections of the land I love
And so I'll conclude the first of many posts on the Kimberley (brace yourselves!) with another of Nikki's favourite quotes although I'm sure this is not the original meaning. Yes out there in the vastness we can see the stars (and the Sputniks flying through the sky). So take this quote by the one-and-only-man-with-a-perfect-quote - Emerson - as you choose.

When it is dark enough you can see the stars

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