29 August 2010

winter beach wanderlust

We headed south along the coastal road from Brisbane,
clutching a map and our weary souls. Excited not to have a destination. And to be taking our first holiday together. ♥ We spent nearly three weeks swagging, mostly in national parks. Oh, the beauty. Spectacular! And places I hadn't heard of. Bundjalung, Yuraygir, Crowdy Head, Hat Head and many more. 

What I loved? Being present for dawns and dusks. Open fires and woodsmoke. The chill, clean salt air. Horizons. The endless magnificence of sky. Its shifting constellations. Observing the passage of time by the moon, from new to full. Watching dunes dance with coastal heathland, wetland dance with the beach, playing out a milennia-long negotiation of habitat borders. Wildflowers coming into bloom. Everywhere, the heady scent of Acacia longifolia. Banksias so fulsome, like baby echidnas up trees, bristled snouts pointing skyward.

I positively lusted for the subtlety of colour in the landscape. The windswept coastal daisy, bloom and foliage so pale as though its colour's been blown out of it. Driftwood like dirty snow. Creamy paperbarks and late afternoon ice-pink rockpools. Opalescent shorelines. Midnight blue lakes and barely-purple dune shadows. Amber-rimmed pandanus and casuarina silhouettes. The cool molten twilight sky.

We saw whales - indeed we were close enough, from a headland in Hat Head National Park, to hear one breathe. Saw another crashing its fluke amorously into the water. And met one poor fellow, long dead and washed up on a beach at Lake Arragan. Came face to beak with a coastal emu. And stumbled one night by the campfire directly into the gaze of a tawny frogmouth. Watched pelicans coast. Dolphins surf. Saw a turtle poke its head up for a fleeting minute in our world. And magpies, perhaps the most polite of the sociable birds (and who uncannilly seemed to be named 'Michael' everywhere we went), would join us for breakfasts, sometimes chortling a morningsong.

We slept and rose early, calmed by the never-sleeping surf and the whispering breeze through casuarinas above our heads. Watched meteors slip cross the sky from our swag. Found mystical middens, their powder-white-and-purple shells, mosaic-like amongst water-rippled dunes. Picked up heart-shaped rocks. Saw an eternity of designs in the humble shell. Our quiet insignificance, witness to ancient rhythms.

We didn't venture far from the coast. But mused much upon the ubiquitous concrete abominations to nature, sprawling low brick mansions with kept lawns and sparkling four-wheel drives. Huddled together. Ugly, inward looking, and utterly out of place. In ironic denial of the coastal landscape they intrude upon.

What we relished, simple scenes of oyster farms, dirt tracks and fibro shacks. Our little lunches of sardine sandwiches. Billycan dinners. Unlatching ourselves from clocks and computers. After nearly three weeks, our bones chilled by aberrant north-westerlies, our souls renewed. Toes numbed by dawn and dusk wanderings across cold sand, hearts alive. 

The days went quickly. We got as far south as Hawks Nest, on the northern shores of Port Stephens. We'd love to have gone further, and would have - indeed will, in time! As much as 'we love camping' (our catchcry every time we fumbled with crud in the back of the car), we were happy to return to our cosy little house at the 'Hill. With a renewed appreciation of the present. And a scribbled note to self, which, amongst other things, aims to remind me to take greater care with the work/life divide, including taking holidays more often.

As for photos, well, there are a few. I've been kicking the wheels on a few Wordpress themes, and thinking about a photoblog. But perhaps, given my awesome decision-making prowess, I'll start by upgrading my neglected Flickr account.

One more week of holidays. To dream and do. Til next time. Which won't be so long.

04 August 2010

a love story

Oh, there is so much to catch up on. K quit his job, and I've just started five weeks of humungously overdue holidays. Last week we bought an old Landcruiser (I officially own two cars at the same time - woe, the excess!!), which we've been furiously kitting out - K built us some nifty storage boxes which double as a base for our swag, so we can sleep in the car if it's cold/wet. We've restocked on all the tools and camping gear that went AWOL in the back of Barry. We hit the coastal road south in about ten minutes! But that can all wait. First, I'm going to recount a little love story. Because it's worth sharing... even though the photo-feature is already out there.

Flashback, January 2009. I was house-sitting in the boondocks of Brisvegas. Minding a demanding cat. Had just returned from Gippsland to city life, and to 'work' after my little wanderings and forced spell of introspection. I spent nights cooking tofu, web trawling, and feasting upon the entire Love My Way boxset. During the web trawling, I *fast forwards a little bit* happened upon a guy. Who lived in a bus called Alice. Looked like a bushie. Spoke a desert language. Created amazing landscape photographs. And was migrating from the outback to the coast, just south of Bris-vegas. I emailed him. He emailed back. I emailed him again... and all went quiet.

I moved into a little house on the 'Hill. I went to work, went to yoga. Kept cooking. Unpacked a little. Relished domesticity, and being still.

Fast forward six months. Not looking, I found him again. And this time he wrote back, many times. I counted eleven thousand words in one week. So I invited myself for a visit! We met on Sunday 12 July 2009, at Tallebudgera. We had a nervous cup of tea in the bus. Then went kayaking on the creek. Further upstream than he'd ever been. (Unknowingly, I almost killed him - we'd left without food...) After emergency first-lunch back in the bus, we wandered into Burleigh for fish and chips on the foreshore. At dusk we had beers on the beach. And at twilight, walked back through the Burleigh headland, where our path was lit by fireflies. Dazzling.

It was a huge day. Driving back to Bris-vegas, my whole being raced. I had some mad inexplicable conviction that I was either going to marry him, or he was going to break my heart. Later that week his brother moved in around the corner from me. Of all the burbs in Brisbane! So we met for the second time, and it was sealed.

So much has happened since then. It has been as difficult, at times, as it has been wonderful. We got over some early speed wobbles. And moved on to the greater challenge: longeivity. I can only think to explain it like this. Imagine a forest of really old trees. They survive because they've put down deep roots. Maybe buttresses too. And they need space from other old trees, for the roots to absorb the goodness from the earth, and for the leaves to draw sunlight and moisture. Now imagine, if two of the trees tried to share the same space. How to refashion their trunks to fit the other? How to each get what they need from the world? Maybe it's not a perfect analogy, but it makes perfect sense to me.

A few weeks ago, we went back to Burleigh to celebrate our first year. (We count the day we met as our anniversary.) Sunrise at Currumbin Rocks (above). Beachside carousing. And fish and chips on the foreshore. Where we made it official. The betrothal, I mean. Can you believe the Relics already knew?! And with that, completing the loop on that mad, knowing conviction.