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A Place to Live

Date Added: November 25, 2008 08:57:21 AM
Author: Mike Dias
Category: Computers & Internet: Internet
The Goodradigbee River in the Brindabella Valley near Canberra: Real Australia-at least it’s my conception of ‘real’ Australia. The first time I went there I drove in the late afternoon and arrived at night, a couple wombats scurrying down the road in my headlights. I remember one of them had some weird skin disease like scabies on its arse. Poor bugger. We made our camp only to realise after waking in the morning that we’d set up in the middle of someone’s property. Oh well, they didn’t seem to be around. Driving through the ‘Brindies’ (Brindabella Mountains) you had to be careful of the mad Four-Wheel-Drive ‘Occa’ blokes tearing by in the opposite direction. One side of the extremely thin road was a sheer cliff falling down to gum tree forest. My car was a black Ford Escort panel van, but that’s another story altogether. I loved it when you drove down that bone-dry chalky white road. When I made it back to town there’d always be a fine layer of dust all over the car, and I don’t mean on the outside. The dust seeped through every crack and gap on that two hundred dollar bucket of crap. It wasn’t really that crappy; it almost always got me where I needed to go. I just didn’t always have functional wipers or headlights. Travelling through the Eucalypt forest I was always overcome with this great feeling of freedom. I remember one time when I suddenly saw two short, black wallabies as dark as night hop out in front of the car. It was in a moist little rainforest-type section of the woods, an anomaly to the usual crispy dry bushfire-fuel undergrowth. I loved the rows and rows of natural gum trees stretching up towards the sky, often blotting it out altogether. No people walking around, no houses, not too many cars; we were away from society. We were home. Nature was where we came from and we were returning; not to visit, but to live, truly live. Not like in the city with all of its inherent human politics, economics, social rules and regulations. Once we got to the valley, the place to be was the river. It wasn’t a big river, but it was clear, really clear. You could see every pebble and rock through the metre or so deep, slow flowing water. Melted snow came down from the Snowy Mountains via a small tributary creek, which bled into the main river. At the point where the two met is the little waterfall. A deep rock pool sits at its base, which you can jump off and land into safely, perfect for those ultra-hot Aussie summer days. There’s also a rockslide that you could actually slide down into the pool, sometimes face-first if you wanted to impress your friends, which of course I did. At the top of the falls is a tiny little pool that we called the ‘spa’. It was full of flowing water and bubbles like the real thing. The whole place was actually right next to a road, but if you didn’t know it was there, you’d drive right on over the bridge unaware of what lied beneath. We camped on the bank too, a couple hundred metres up from the falls. Taking fishing rods, we’d catch brown trout and rainbows; cook them right there on a makeshift barbeque. One time we stuck some sausage on a line, as you do when you’re trying to catch yabbies. Up the river came this huge beast of a crayfish. Its white claws were massive, way bigger than my own ‘girly’ fists. My friend picked him up and got his hands all cut up from the spikes on its tail and back. We cooked it in a pot just like a lobster, which in essence is what it was. It was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten in my life. I recall thinking that you could taste the clear river water in its flesh. It was only after we returned to civilisation that I learnt it was an endangered Murray Crayfish, totally illegal to catch. Luckily the second one we saw was smart enough to turn around when it sensed there was something just a little bit too ‘fishy’ about that easy-to-get sausage. Do you want to know what else was so great about the Goodradigbee? At night you could see more stars than grains of sand on the beach. ‘Shooters’ were always on full display. There weren’t any streetlights for a hundred kilometres. It was like having a look at the Universal neighbourhood of our galaxy and beyond. I felt like I was part of something there; something much more powerful than the world I was brought up in. Each star represented life in all its infinite, magnificent uniqueness. Each one was a streetlight, lighting up the homes of our real world. When I lay on the sandy bank next to the dying light of the fire’s embers looking upwards, I knew for the first time that we were part of something very worthwhile and special. By Jesse S. Somer Nov. 2008 http:// www.m6.net
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