One of the highlights of 2017 was a holiday in the Kimberley region where I stayed at a cattle station in the outback. In a word, it was ‘rustic’. I wanted to get back to basics. I wanted things to be stripped and pared down. No fancy white linen. No fancy toiletries. No room service. No frothy coffee. No tiny pats of butter. No strawberry jam in miniature pots.
I woke to billy tea boiling over a drum. The sliced bread found a place near it. The toast, charred and smokey, never tasted so good. The butter scooped from a shared container. I did not need reminders to keep my water bottle filled. The rain water was pure and sweet.
We camped one night on the banks of the King River. The full moon high in the sky.
So beautiful, I had to have a closer look. I rested easier under her benevolent eye.
At dusk someone saw the crocodile and casually mentioned, “There’s one out there!”. Excited, we asked, “where?”, “where?” until the red glint in torch light silenced us. The men reassured us the crocodile would not be climbing up the embankment to the tents. I needed more convincing!
The fire roared and danced like a dragon at Chinese New Year. Dinner was simple and delicious. The talk intense, and, just as delicious. I was with strangers. Yet, I was with kindred spirits. I was home. This, family.
My love affair with the boab tree intensified under a persimmon tinted sky. My gaze lingered. Reluctant to say goodnight, I took it to bed with me.
I woke to sunrise. Each alone, yet, still together.
The King River glistened, as did the ranges beyond.
The trees along the bank, carried birdsong across the river.
The beautiful kapok trees were in bloom everywhere I looked. I love these flowers! Oh! those Kimberley hues!
The challenge, for me, was walking in tall grass to the ‘thunderbox’, some several hundred meters away in the bush, with blue ribbons for signposts.
There was just one rule. If the toilet roll was missing, wait your turn!
Someone fished for breakfast, to add to the bacon and eggs.
Patience was rewarded.
A piece of precious barramundi cooked simply in butter, salt and pepper, shared carefully, like manna, found its place on our plates. I knew at that moment, I would never order barramundi in a restaurant again. Fresh from the river, it was the sweetest fish I’ve ever eaten.
Most surprising of all, once I overcame my fear of walking in tall grass (this being snake and big lizard country), I found delicate, tiny flowers blooming in the harshest country.
Getting back to basics, I learned, all things are possible. Even for a city girl, like me.
Until next time,
a dawn bird