Some Australian flora need the intensity of a bushfire to bloom. The hard exterior hides the most beautiful, delicate flowers in colours of white, cream, gold, orange, red, and pink. I find this in people too. The toughest, most disgruntled person, can have a kind moment. A generous moment. A soft spot. A chink in their armour, where something beautiful resides.
My last trip, for now, just happened to be to Kalgoorlie, the wild, wild, west gold mining town. Much to my surprise I’ve come to enjoy my trips here. Through my camera, I see it with new eyes. The recent heavy rainfall over this parched arid landscape has transformed it. New gum nuts are waiting to burst with colour and will be in bloom when I visit next. For now, they hang, covered in silver, in boughs of softest grey-green.
The short ten minute drive to the hotel from the airport is an interesting one. The taxi driver, a mountain of a man, lumbers out of his seat to load my suitcase into the boot. I have met him on several occasions on prior trips. He has found a way to communicate with me after the first silent ride. He is well over 6 ft something. Heavy of build. Hair and beard that have been untrimmed for years. He wears predominantly black clothing and big leather boots. A belt, the size of a conveyor belt, props up his belly. He is a poster child of a life lived on his terms.
Buckled in, I tell him it’s my last trip for a while and surprisingly I’m experiencing a sense of sadness of not being in the Goldfields for a while. He takes over the conversation. He has lived 54 of his 58 years in this town. His voice is now filled with affection and warmth as he tells me about his grandmother and mother, also locals of these parts. He is a child of this land. In the dark of the cab, I am a child too, as I listen in awe to what he tells me.
He tells me about his trips bush where he goes shooting feral animals, for the pet meat industry, with a friend. In a hushed voice, (“You should see …”), he shares the secrets of the landscape and about the carpets of wildflowers in regions around the Goldfields in late August, early September. There are Sturt Desert Peas, and pink and white everlastings, banksia, acacia and gum, all flowering across acres of flat land and over ridges. A fire in recent years has resulted in a blaze of colours across a landscape that is usually blue of sky and red of earth. There are huge billabongs, water holes, where all kinds of birds visit and stain the sky with colour when they lift off en masse. He talks about the clear nights under a canopy of a million stars while billy tea is brewing and damper is being baked in ashes. “Ah! there’s nothing like it!” he states softly and with conviction, confirming it to himself. He paints pictures in words and, enthralled, I almost asked him to take me with him!
Warm in my hotel bed, in the still moments before sleep, I planned my trip driving across this countryside in spring. I want to experience the land of story.
Like I’ve said before, there are no coincidences. Some things are just meant to be.
May you experience a happy encounter today. One that transforms the ordinary, into extraordinary.
a dawn bird