This is the way to fall back in love with your own country. Touring its rich red roads and sparkling turquoise seas. Discovering around the corner an endless white stretch of sand, licked by clean ocean, teeming with life, and not single human being in sight.
These are wild expanses, hundreds of kilometres and not a home, not a roadhouse, not even a car in sight. Empty and ever changing it aches out into nothingness- inspiring, terrifying. Seductive. It’s so easy to find an untouched oasis, and claim it for oneself, rolling a swag under the stars, a billycan warming over a single ring gas cooker. Water erupts from deep underground reserves, blissfully cold and sweet in a land dry, dusty and eternally crying out for rain. Galahs squawk and streak past as puffs of white whilst Spinifex pigeons squeak through the air like the nerf-toys of the outback. The warm dry air crackles with eucalypt. I stare out over eroded mountain ranges, ancient seabeds pressed up and out to breathe the air. Will in time, they return to the sea, the waters reaching out with cool tentacles and reclaiming its lost territories?
Red dust stains my feet. Red dust stains everything. Is it so hungry a land that it is so ready to mark and claim me? Or is that my own appetite, my own desperation to be claimed?
By coincidence of birthplace, the right passport, and a few hidden misdemeanours of my ancestors, I can call this country my own. I can claim my right to work, to help myself to free healthcare and richly, so richly, tumble through these wild places. Despite all my wandering to far off places, to Asian bazaars, African villages, Madagascan jungles and tropical islands, I keep ricocheting back here. Here, populated, by family and friends who reach deep ties around me and hold me firm in love and expectation. Here also, in these rougher reaches of outback Australia, I feel a great sense of joy erupt. Pride, that this is my land. Hope and optimism, that I can put my shoulder to this load and bear it forward. I can give this place years, and slowly try to shape it, to lift it forward and up. I can relish all it has to offer, its wealth, its opportunity, its endless ability to catch me when I fall.
Here, on the cusp of an outback adventure, a new community to know, and new life to flesh out, I am grateful for these weeks to explore the hidden corners of my home. Its carved out gorges, with icy cool water flowing through secret places. Its endless oceans abundant in coral, fish, rays, turtles, sharks, squids, oh endless delight. I rediscover my home. I let the red dust claim me. I’m home. I’m home.
At least for now, it will be.