6 January 2012

Parachilna Gorge

"The shape of a landscape is a silent and ancient form of consciousness."

This photo was taken at a very special place deep in Parachilna Gorge.
From our campsite we walked for over an hour to get there, following a branch of the creek upstream to this gorgeous bush oasis. Water seeps up from underground springs, feeding the creek so it flows all year round.
We bathed in it, drank from it, followed it and blessed it for saving us from the scorching heat.

"A sacrament is a visible sign of invisible grace. The unseen world comes to expression in the visible world."

Close to the underground springs is this slender gum tree. She leans her head shyly against the shoulder of the rock.

Why didn't she grow straight and tall like the others around her?
Big rock attraction.
They make a lovely couple.

And this is Blinman, a tiny town about 20kms from Parachilna Gorge with a population of 22. It has the great honour of being the highest town in the Flinders Ranges (614m above sea level).

The main street in Blinman.

On our last morning we walked from our campsite to the start of the famous Heysen Trail. This magnificent walking trail meanders through 1200kms of rugged and mountainous country, ending up at the cliffs on the coast of Cape Jarvis.
Its the longest walking trail in Australia.
After an hour of walking the trail, the 38C midday sun was upon us and shade was getting sparse.

This is a view over the northern Flinders Ranges, from a hilltop just off the Heysen Trail, the point where we decided to turn and head back to our campsite.

Wild horses drinking from a waterhole in the desert just off the Birdsville Track.

Can you spot the camel?

One of our kayaks pointing toward the tent under the coolibah tree at Cooper Creek.

Once a jolly swagman camped by a billabong
Under the shade of a coolibah tree,
And he sang as he watched and waited till his billy boiled
"You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me"

Waltzing Matilda is Australia's 'unofficial national anthem. It narrates the story of an itinerant worker making a crude cup of tea (in a billy can) at a bush camp and capturing a jumbuck (sheep) to eat. When the sheep's owner arrives with three policemen to arrest the worker, he drowns himself in a billabong (small lake) and goes on to haunt the site. The lyrics contain a lot of distinctively Australian slang words.
The entire song and its origins can be found here.

Imagine driving along an endlessly straight, dusty red dirt road through arid desert and coming across a sign pointing to a hot spa bath. Clayton Wetlands is a tiny spot in the middle of nowhere. Apart from the 'wetland' area which seemed pretty dry to me, there is a toilet, a shower and a tub fed by an artesian spring. You put a coin donation in the box, turn on the taps and watch the tub fill up with bubbling hot spring water.

There is nothing and nobody for miles.
Its bizarre.

My travelling friend, and my anam cara, who I must thank for sharing photos with me (and for wearing those gorgeous red shorts and matching socks).
He truly has "a reverent attention to landscape, an outdoor spirituality impassioned by the erotic charge of the earth."

"We reduce the wildness and mystery of a person and landscape to the external, familiar image.
Familiarity enables us to tame, control and ultimately forget the mystery.
Familiarity is a subtle and pervasive form of human alienation."

Paddling Cooper Creek, at home and at one with the river and the birds.

"The recognition of our clay nature can bring us a more ancient harmony, it can return us to the ancient rhythm that we inhabited before consciousness made us separate."

"Solitude can be a homecoming to your own deepest belonging."

All quotes in italics are from the book Anam Cara by John O'Donohue (except for Waltzing Matilda).

1 comment:

Anamaya said...

Beautiful pics, looks incredible