3/1 The year’s change happened on top of kunanyi with gusty westerlies...with a sense of the west behind us in mountainous jags and silhouettes. It was, as it turned out, a shit place to sleep, but our picnic dinner was delightful, the sunset blended generous arrays of colours, and the stars blinked and streaked.
5/1: Everything smelt combustible, gaseous – the heat got down your throat with each breath...We clambered up to a perch of ironstone, silver trees dancing over a surfeit of flowers, white flags and guineas and milliganias. Out west there were mauve clouds – a bushfire. But where? The heat had died off; wind picked up. We looked down on the maze of trees and tarns.
15/1: There had been thunder, idly travelling around us, for most of the day. Then it rolled right over us, rolled around the bowl of quartzite, the black rock faces now an unnerving amphitheatre. Rain fell in fat drops, making Lake Cygnus shine with colourless flashing highlights.
16/1: The skies to the north are muddied with mauve smoke. Who knows what burns?
17/1: Shortly after I wrote yesterday, nestled amongst the pandanis near Oberon’s shores, we were evacuated...I heard the helicopter coming over the ridge and instantly knew it was over.
23/1: Linton, Aurike and I wandered up the Meander yesterday, then skidded back down; and ate cheese and pickles and Savoys, with pink shoulders. Why can’t it all be so easy?
31/1: All month I have looked upon clouds I do not recognise, clouds I cannot understand, as if they re now just making it up as they go along. Often enough I have been confused – is that rain? Are they dark shags of wet cloud pouring through the light, or is it light filtering through a malignant grey haze? Is it cloud coming down, or smoke puffing upwards?
9/2: On the yacht, I felt mildly nauseous as we made our way to Ile des Phoques...I imagined it, with eyes closed, as land lifting and tilting, rolling, earth and moss in a flux, a swell.
12/2: There will likely be snow today or tomorrow, up on the plateau where the fires fiercely burned. It is an island of contrast and colours. Little wonder that idle dreams seize us even as the future looks futile and desperate.
6/3: There were exquisite clouds close to the horizon – the texture of spun wool, but the colour of processed metal. And the mountains of the Western Tiers were at one point a sort of mineral green, and later a light blue like a vapour. Well, Annie did once call them ‘the Rainbow Mountains’.
26/3: The rainforest started hissing. Hard snow rushing into the green milieu. A storm had howled and roared all night, a spear of lightning thrusting itself down near us, over by Ossa. Now snowflakes fell in helices, streamed towards invisibility, in union with the moss.
4/4: On my way over the plateau I stopped just north of Liawenee, which burnt over the summer. I stomped out over a patch of heath, where cushion plants spread out in dead brown clumps, and the charred skeletons of mallee-like tea-tree stuck up against the blue sky, a network of black sticks. I found bones so thoroughly burnt they were grey and crumbling, cremated. Big eucalyptus trunks had been hollowed out; some had snapped clean in half. But the effect was as much of beauty as it was destructions. Emeralds grew as new ground cover; the structure of the cushion plants supported herbs and grasses, these glimmers of green in a scorched-black landscape. Wreaths grew off the eucalypts.
20/4: Now wedge-tailed eagles made vortices in the pallid sky. Lake Galaxias was of a pale and calming blue-grey colour, and the sky too was of a smooth, soothing grey...A white goshawk launched off its perch in an elegant eucalypt on the western shore, and after crossing the lake, it came back and scooped something from the waters. (Big trout grow in Galaxias’s turbid waters.)
27/4: The wind blows; the westerlies shape this island anew; rock columns collapse; eucalyptus crowns come down under the weight of snow.
30/4: Driving over a bridge on the South Esk, I saw the biggest raptor yet: an aeroplane, hovering dark like a hunter above the paddocks.
8/5: My friends, a happy crowd oddballs whose summers were as particoloured as mine...They too move on, in whatever way, to something new. None of us returns the same. We can only hope to return at all, although as one scans the names of friends from the past, we know that they may not...Linton and I both go through a nostalgic mood. We dreamed of the winter we will not have. We know we are trading in something of worth. We know that the purpose of our travels us also worthwhile. One can only live a single life. Then we are gobbled up, like rainmoths by a tawny frogmouth.
20/5: I pack my belongings for the next three months so painfully slowly that I’m sure to have forgotten something significant...inshallah, I shall return to this exact position, to the quiet hum of fire and the din of rain, the variegated nonsense of frogs and birds. I am awfully relaxed, yet I trust that I shall be somewhat shaken by the passage of months, by the lunar rotations and seasonal jolts, queries of cultures and concepts of myself, the geographical leaps I have insisted on making.
21/5: I left a lot far below, unseen. I left all the landmarks of various intentions, unsaluted. There are still sites of unknowing scattered the country.
16/6: I have often joked how much better Tassie is than anywhere I go – and it is said in jest, but it also so evidently true for myself. Nowhere satisfies me like home. Why has it been so long since I paused for a long while, tarried in Tassie – to watch out a whole footy season, as it were?
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