9:20am and I’m flying many thousands of feet over the beautiful state of New South Wales, heading west to Perth for a few days. A glorious clear blue day and a window seat allow me to gaze out the window, lost in the amazing scenery of my country. Grabbing my camera I snap some shots out the window. I have no idea whether I can capture in print the beauty and ruggedness. But I won’t know unless I give it a go. What I can do is embed the images in my mind. Hmmm it’s not so easy typing on iPad in the confines of a plane cabin. The gentleman next to me has his laptop up and typing away. Our elbow knock regularly. I write slowly, my thoughts much slower today.
I stop to gaze outside the window regularly. The scenery is ever-changing. Mountains, foothills, winding roads, cleared land, rivers and lakes. Muted greens and soft browns, perhaps more pinkish browns. The east coast of Australia is bordered by the Great Dividing Range. An ancient windswept continent.
Coffee is being served. Ugh the guy in front just dropped his seat right back. Why do they do that when food is being served? Hmmm coffee on a plane. Not the best at all. But It keeps me going. Flying Virgin Blue I’ve bought my own food onboard. Slightly cheaper. Terminals have us as a captured audience. Unable to bring drink through the checkins we have to pay elevated prices in the terminal and on the plane. I guess I shouldn’t complain, my tickets were an incredible half price on sale. $380 AU return for my flight across the country. Rarely can you get a one way ticket for that price.
What are those strange markings on the earth below? Small light brown square with one or two lines only on three sides. As I continue to look outside I see more and more appearing. Duh, this is a face plant moment to coin a phrase from my daughter. Dams. Man made waterholes for livestock.
Munching on my surprisingly delicious lamb tzasiki wrap, I return to gazing out the window. In a way I am enthralled. Despite many many flights back and forth and around the country, I have not always had the opportunity to appreciate the scenes below.
Today I have been granted a beautiful vista with clear skies. I am thankful that today I chose not to swap my allocated window seat for an aisle. I generally prefer aisle to stretch out my long legs. I do not like feeling restricted. But today I can appreciate a whole new world view.
For a continent described as being barren and dry, Australia has an incredible amount of waterways. Of course many are now dry, or salt pans as you move further inland. Millenia ago this was a rich, bountiful land of thriving waterways and tropical forests. The earth moves, time marches by and mother nature shifts. Peering out the window at the creeks, not meandering, but rapidly turning back and forth on themselves, I recall the year I flew across the centre of Australia. From the sky it is another world. I can understand why my ancestors honour the rainbow serpent as she weaves her way across the land. Her tracks are evident from the sky. I wonder if our ancestors had this vision in their minds.
We have cleared so much land. Like a patchwork quilt spread out upon the land, the squares of cleared land are bordered by straight roads. It was only in January that my girlfriend and I, with my pooch in tow, drove across the continent. Now I return by plane, for a short weekend. 5 days it took to drive the 5000 odd kms. 5 hours or so it now takes to fly back. In Australia we accept the wide spaces, the long distances and the straight roads. The dry river beds and cleared paddocks. The predominantly flat and vast land. Every shade of green and pink and brown. This great southern land is our home. My mothers people have walked this land for thousands of years. We still reel at the havoc created since days of colonisation. Hmmm I will not start on that subject. It brings too much my reactions to mans injustice and careless attitude to life, the land and fellow humans.
I know I’m heading further into the centre of the land. The paddocks have disappeared, the roads are dead straight now and few. The only signs of civilisation below. Ever changing, green lakes and more waterways appear. Dry now. An army of small clouds begins it advance far below us. Tentative at first, their numbers grow, as does their size. Shadows cross the land. I sigh, my view of the land is now hindered by this army of clouds. Peering forward, all I see is cloud covering the land. Time to read some now.
Lunch time .. Still 2 hours to go … Seriously deep sigh. Restlessness starts to set in. I’ve had my second muesli bar. Chocolate would certainly go down a treat now. Read a bit. Wrote a bit. Walked down the cabin once. Wriggling my legs, feet and butt … the latter going numb. Waiting on coffee number two. It’s not too bad this flight. At times I wish I could sleep the whole flight through. But sleeping on a plane and me are mutually exclusive. Probably a good reason given my tendencies to snore and talk in my sleep.
Peering out the window.. again. Clouds are larger, flatter, covering a vista of blue as clear as the bluest sky. Enough to make me wonder if we’re not flying upside down. Looking closely, the blue has ripples. The great Aussie bite …nothing between here and the south pole. I watch the ever-changing clouds. They cover the horizon as far as one can see. From above you can see almost in three dimensions the different clouds, their form and consistency. I while away time looking for images, the rabbit, eagle, map of the UK. I am a child, cloud watching from above. Looking down I see the shadow of our plane. The rainbow it creates on clouds as we fly above them, the sun reflecting off the metal.
Crossing the coastline we head up towards Perth. I suspect we are now in WA .. West Australia (wait awhile as some call it). Two hours time difference behind the east coast and an hour left to fly .. depending of course on head winds. Looking outside I am stunned by the colours and textures. I can’t describe the scenery. In the distance the ocean. Below, hundreds of round salt lakes. They change shape and form, elongating. It is the incredible salt washed basins of red and brown. The colours of raw agate, like textures on stones. Squares of man-made cleared land come into play. I know where I am. I lived near here in my childhood. Esperance. This is the land the ancient gods painted. Before the Romans and Greeks, the Celts…perhaps before the Eqyptians and Incas. This land is ancient …. untouched for millennium. The colours and flow of the land is incredible. Like seeing pictures in the clouds, I see them in the ground … ancient .. an enormous canvas used by the ancients to paint and create.
How many are aware of the ground below us. Has this scenery been photographed and shared? Do we even know this exists? Twice whilst staring at the view, camera in hand, the plan has dipped slightly, providing a better view, as if the gods themselves wanted more to be seen.
I am left stunned, quiet, reflective. WA is flat, rich in minerals and ore. What once was predominantly a farming state is now a mining state. I am transfixed by the sites below. Like a huge piece of polished marble. In all my years of flying back and forth along this route, never have I travelled at such an awesome time, with incredible weather and a window seat. I have moved from this state. Not planning on returning I was invited by my friend to her wedding. Well invited was a mild word in fact. I had no intention of returning. Today, this flight, I have been given a view of an incredible world. Only one other time have I felt this sense. Travelling through the centre of our land, through and over Uluru.
Descent is announced. Its time to close down my iPad.
Introducing Catherine, Blin’s very quiet friend 🙂