Thursday, October 13, 2005


I come from a dry place. Almost Siberian in its extremes. In summer, if you sleep all day, you can go out at night in bare feet, and the concrete is beautifully warm. That same concrete in daylight hours is inhospitable. And the dust blown in on those dry West winds. South of South Africa they came toward us and came crashing into the cliffs that tell the sailors: you have reached the great Southern land. In Fremantle, they breathed a sigh of relief as the doctor touched their forehead and cooled the brow. Easy now. Keep moving, over the land, towards the Dreamtime, edging past a mystery - and somewhere a train loaded with rock clacks in isolation. Click clack. The long haul truck drivers go onto autopilot.

Nullabor: no trees. Red earth: the colour of our dreams.

Beyond the curve of the Earth we know but do not see the airforce pilot going Mach 3. He looks down, gas mask sucking. Spinefex. Spinefex. Road. Spinefex.

Come closer. The same fish that sits below Africa, trodden on, lies here. Waiting for the rain. Starts planning its next breath. The last drop of moisture was taken from the air days ago, but the wind keeps pushing on. Skeletal. Whistling dry. The trucks still haven't arrived. Over the ruins of mountain range from last aeon, dust that blows the shapes of what we nothing know. All things burnt to cleanliness, the dust too is clean.

And from that autoclave of central Australia, the winds arrive to me. I take my wet washing from the machine, and two turns around hills hoist. First a stretch to peg them up. Then another as the metal squeaks back to where I started, and I can start to take them down. Why even take the basket from my hip? Perhaps the wind is moister now. I wonder what else expired in that thin air that covered the ground from here to there, the folk in Perth breath easy, but I look aside to try and get this dust from my nose and eyes. Scratch my face hope no one sees me.

In winter, the thinly clad houses shiver to the buzz of tinny electric heaters, cool air streaming in under the cracks in the doors. Mornings are frigid. The light frost on the grass seems to creep in through the windows and settle on the bare shoulders, just out of the steaming shower. Towels are never big enough: wince and grimace. We dress promtly here. Insulation? "Oh, I suppose we could, but it all costs money, doesn't it? No point anyway, it gets so hot in summer."


Blogger Michelle said...

Justine that was just so moving! I love to read great writing about my own country. Too often we're spoon feed American and English perspectives, not that there is anything wrong with that, but it's wonderful to read something as you've written....just lovely!
May i add, that when that wind finishes, it travels unceremoniously north east on occasion, where i have the pleasure of experiencing a cool breeze on my face whilst hanging out my washing, instead of the usual warm one!
And no thanks needed re blog help............anytime :o)

3:17 pm  
Blogger Madi said...

I feel the heat, the dryness, I breathe in the dust. Brilliant writing. There's no place like home. This is our country.

12:48 am  
Blogger Justine said...

I started off trying to write about the tropics... got sidetracked!

10:36 am  
Blogger Phil said...

Wow! Nice post. Here's a hint for all you insulation hating Aussies: The same insulation that keeps in the heat in the winter will keep out the heat in the summer.

12:22 pm  
Blogger Justine said...

Phil - that's just too far advanced thinking for us!
You know, in Sweden you can find houses that are so thickly insulated they are heated by BODY HEAT alone! But nah... why save the planet when coal's so cheap?

6:59 pm  
Blogger Die Muräne said...

*Keep moving, over the land, towards the Dreamtime

lovely! Just find out today that posts are dissappearing. (always saw the latest and thougth there's nothing new...)
so I read some old posts...
hope you're doing fine

12:14 am  

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