Living in the landscape

For most of the past seventeen years, I’ve lived in the city of Melbourne. I have a beautiful garden and a couple of times a year I go adventuring in the bush but I lead a very urban life. Over the past few weeks, as we’ve changed camp half a dozen times, I’ve been rethinking the way I understand landscapes and wilderness, not least because I have been surrounded by such beautiful vistas.

The photo above shows the Shoalhaven River at sunset. It was taken from a hill at Riversdale, one of the properties of the Bundanon Trust. I’m currently ‘writer-in-residence’ at Bundanon, staying in a the ‘Writer’s Cottage’. We drove over to Riversdale last weekend because they were staging a cabaret in the education centre there – a gorgeous space that overlooks the river. Long, glass doors were thrown open to the evening and the deep, bluesy voice of Christa Hughes melted into the night. It was an amazing setting for a performance.

This morning, at dawn, the eastern horizon above Bundanon was a brilliant shade of hot pink and tendrils of mist were floating above the river. Then the rain set in and everything faded to soft grey.

Maybe if I lived here all the time, I’d lose the sense of wonder that the shifting light and gentle rhythms of the bush and pastures evoke. Maybe not. The Professor and I have two more weeks at Bundanon so there’s more to think about, more tracks to explore, more words to be written and puppets to be made.

Over the past week I’ve done a lot of work both at the desk and in thinking about my relationship to this landscape and to other places. There’s too much to write about in a single post in relation to what I’ve discovered and what I’ve let go of. Probably it’s enough to say I feel being here has involved shifting some old ideas, revisiting others, and trying to figure out how and why we so often neglect the connections between ourselves, our pasts, and the land. Damn. That means I’ll have to write another post about this when I’ve pieced some of those ideas together. Stay tuned. I may actually write something intelligent on the topic before we head inland.

Kirsty is an Australian author of books for children and young adults.

“Books are windows into other ways of being.”

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