Two thousand kilometres and twenty-four hours of driving to transfer our lush life in Port Douglas out west for work in Narrabri. Arriving a few days before work began, exploring the area was a given. Sawn Rocks was the closest option and was an amazing sight to visit.
Saturday, Andy and I moved in on the best spot in the caravan park after it was vacated. As we began to set up we watched this storm morph into a cell, before we knew it we were seperated and running from one hundred and twenty-five kilometre winds. Andy moving Nessy into the open and me trying to keep my camera dry.
It felt like a miracle that no one in the park got hurt, and all the vehicles got out with only minor scratches. The power was out and the aftermath brought everyone together to make friends. A few put in for a carton of beer and we ventured into town to inspect the damage.
Work began and we settled into a routine. Next day off and we went to Mount Kaputar in hope to watch the super moon rise. Apparently on a clear day you can see ten percent of New South Wales from the top. It was as cloudy as miso soup, but still offering amazing walks and wildlife at one and a half thousand metres above sea level.Sky turns to fire behind a happy sunflower.
Golden fields of wheat and a rising moon.BUNKER BOREDOM
Heat of the day, start work at one,
All covered up, out in the sun.
Ventured west to Narrabri,
You ask yourself why?
For harvest is here,
At this time of year.
Its chickpea and wheat,
Saving money sounds neat.
Birds hang around,
And peck at the mound.
Pigeions, Gala, Kites and Magpie geese,
Stuff them selves full with this mighty feast.
Unloading these trailors,
Twenty tonne at a time.
Lined up for hours,
While we sit and we wait.
Finally arrive, “How are ya mate?”
Sweeping up husk
Avoiding the dust.
Watching the pile slowly grow,
Falling grain, a picture we all know.
Sun begins to fall,
As the work begins to stall.
Breeze blows away the heat of the day,
Cool of the night, here to stay.
Work site rumbles on,
Like its own consistant song…
Finally our first full weekend off in a month of slogging it out in the sun at the bunkers. As Friday evening brought a temperature drop to thirteen degrees, we enjoyed the chill of the night that had been missed of late. It helped us decide to explore Pilliga for a camp out and a hot bath. We took Nessy off road to see the salt cave and lookout over Pilliga State Forest. Then travelled along more dry, red clay and sand toward the sculptures in the scrub, narrowly missing an mu that bolted head down straight across the road. The bush walk through the gorge was beautiful, we saw an Echidna off the path and a hive of native bees. There were carvings in the rock from Aboriginal people, showing animal tracks and also areas where axe heads were sharpened. The sculptures themselves were fantastic, a great community project to showcase some incredible Indigenous art out in the scrub. I especially liked the father teaching his son about hunting; a figure made from steel, looking out over the valley. A magical moment caught in time.
The bore bath was well deserved after a few hours bush walking getting grubby… I realized it was the first bath since hitting the road 8 months ago, a delightful thirty-seven degrees, and straight from the Earth. We met a man who was eager to chat, to tell us about all of his expensive earth moving equiptment, his double life on the farm in Pilliga and in the City. He was friendly enough, but as the conversation continued, he told us more and more about girls, and where to pick them up, dancing girls, model girls, which girls go to which bars, who he knows and what they own… You get the picture, I was bored..
Another woman arrived and after I couldn’t take it any longer I left Andy with old mate and swam over to her, she was a local Aboriginal woman. I told her about the lovely day we’d had exploring the area, and before long we were talking about the latest mining threat that has consumed their community for the last few years. I had heard about this back in Byron, as the issue was close to home for a lot of people. Drilling for coal seam gas was proved impossible for the prospecters in the Northern Rivers Region, with an amazing movement at Bently; a protesters camp set up for months. People dedicating their lives to protect the Water and the Earth. (I look forward to see the movie when it becomes more accessible, The Bently Effect). It was a huge breakthrough for the community to stand with such power that the miners had to look somewhere else.
Unfortunately that somewhere else included the Pilliga forest. Cheryl told me of her fears for the earth, for this clean artesian water that we bathed in, for all of the creeks and waterways that were threatened. I have seen footage of the dangers of this gas leaking into the water, not only does it become undrinkable and irritable to the skin, but also highly flammable… I laughed at the peculiar thought of the two elements, fire and water who seem like opposites merging into one.
We locked into conversation, both inspired by the possibility of change, to change away from materialism and greed into humble earth protectors. It was ironic, the two characters we bathed with that night, and I secretly hoped that old mate heard our concern, giving him something more deep to consider. We went on chatting, the last two in the water, and I left with both my heart and my hope full.
A reminder that these earth warriors are spread far and wide and will put their work, homes, family and friends aside to camp in the bush and protect water, our life-force.