The first sensation is the little buzz I always get from reaching highway speed after weeks of town driving. We live near the edge of suburbia so it isn't long before I'm passing small acreages and farmland. Golden fields of canola stretch to my horizon. I've got a CD playing and it's just possible that I may be singing. Loudly.
The road spools out behind me. In my younger days as a truck driver's daughter, I would sit up beside him on trips imagining the truck to be a big mechanical spider, spinning out a silken thread of bitumen. I don't remember ever saying "Are we there yet?" There was always so much to see; some familiar sights like the house that was never finished because it burned down with the young wife inside. The field of ancient skeletal trees that were dead already when the first white men came. Now they are nests to cockatoos. My dad knew all the stories. Some sights are new; brand new homes under construction, waiting to be written all over with new family histories. New roadside enterprises, waiting hopefully for the customers that will make their owners' money.
On this trip, I take fleeting glances at old favourites. The home on the windswept hilltop that I looked longingly at a few years ago when we were in the market for a new home. It was way out of our budget. The house I like even more that I can barely glimpse now behind it's screen of trees, still sparkling in it's white painted weatherboards. Smoke rises lazily from chimneys. I briefly wonder about who may live there. Do they ever wonder who is driving by and where they are going to?
Farmland switches quite abruptly to bushland about two thirds of the way through the hamlet of Anakie. My little Suzuki begins the climb through the hills of the Brisbane Ranges. Wattle trees, with their tiny powder-puff blossoms now dot the landscape. From the palest pastel lemon, through every shade of yellow to the deepest gold. First the canola, now the wattle; Coldplay's "Yellow" begins to play in my head. I pass a eucalyptus plantation. The trees are neat, tall and straight, grown so close together that they've had no opportunity to spread outwards. Instead, they use all of their energy to go upwards, competing for that precious light. I can remember seeing them newly planted.
Once again, I'm back in farmland but it is more undulating than before. The paddocks are brilliant green. Fat white lambs, many of them twins, lay in the grass while their mother's munch sweet, long grass. Further along on a steep green slope the sheep share their paddock with a huge flock of cockatoos. Suddenly, the sheep don't look white at all. They look a rather dirty shade of cream next to the cockys' crisp, bright whiteness.
(When I went back for a photograph the next day, the cockatoos had moved into the cow paddock)
I slow down for the roundabout at the Greendale pub and know it's not far now. We're back in the bush and climbing again. The temperature is dropping; my car tells me it's only 7 degrees out there. The smell of gum trees and wattle has worked it's way in through the ventilation so I wind down the window a little to welcome it. Houses begin to appear amongst the trees. Little roads meander off to right and left. I reach the outskirts of Blackwood. Tiny miner's cottages alternate with newer dwellings. A little further and I take the turn into Martin Street, the main street. A pair of cockatoos graze on the grassy verge. A couple of metres further, a pair of ducks waddle along together. I notice the restaurant has closed down. That's two businesses closed in the last year.
I take the turn towards the caravan park. The little cottage I once photographed is looking even more dilapidated with junk piling up outside. Ah, here we are. Down the steep road into the park. I check in with the ranger/manager then drive over to the little place that will be home for the next five days. As I'm unlocking the door, I hear hubby's 4WD. I didn't realise they were so close behind! We're all here now. It's great to be back.
P.S. Craft Circle cancelled due to lack of interest. That's fine. I was probably reinventing the wheel anyway; there are already some great blog-alongs out there.