Murray Darling

Everyone said you need to see ‘real’ Australia by which they meant life outside the halo of the big cities.  Although I felt that the city life I was seeing was pretty authentic I took them at their word and made time within my study tour to visit the outback.

It was at first glance bigger and emptier than I expected. There really are miles and miles of long straight roads surrounded by bush periodically dotted with sheep, goats, cattle, emus and ‘roos.  I got quite excited about the variations on a theme of gum trees. There are red gums and blue gums, stretches of spinifex grass and of red, red earth. There is the great open sky which is so long and wide one feels it girdling the ground in a huge arch of blue, white pink. It is an elemental and aged landscape. There are also the rivers. The swishing brown strings scything through the land. Towns strung out like dusty pearls along them.  I stopped at Swan Hill, Rosedale, Wentworth, Broken Hill, Wilcannia, Cobar, Bourke and Dubbo. In each place I pointed the camera so overwhelmed with sights that I knew not what to point it at. I settled on the river wherever I came across it. Downloading the pictures each evening hoping rather expecting to find an image that captured something of what I saw.  I don’t think I succeeded but here’s some examples.

What captured my imagination though, perhaps because it was so unexpected, was the soundtrack of my road trip. Galahs and Major Mitchell’s, White and Red-Tailed Black Cockatoo, the Australian Magpie and Lorikeets, Superb Fairy Wren and Kookaburra. In the dawn and in the dusk and sometimes in between down by the river or beside the Billabongs these birds made me gasp. Here I was somewhere completely different and in a ‘real’ Australia. Here are a couple of examples of the dawn chorus.


About learningtodoctor

Simon is Senior Teaching Fellow at Durham University.
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