I followed Darwin’s Walk again this evening to the falls, from the ridgetop’s open forest, contouring around the furrowed boughs of black ash and the smooth pale stands of peppermint and blue gum flaking over banksia, mountain devil and waratah: zigzagging down to the over- cliff track where clumps of button grass and a holly-like grevillea blooms among the sedges of hanging swamps, soils like peat collecting along shales and sandstones, the sponged seepage zones of a fernery’s rare collection: along to the lookout at the falls: a bush fire haze still burnt over the escarpment’s western rim whilst drizzle swirled around the communication tower like a halo: the forecasted change heralded to an alert line of towns threaded along the railway and Great Western Highway, the length of the Mountains’ navigable central ridge, the shape of a wilderness’ threatened destruction: from the brink of the lookout’s precipice, in Darwin’s grand amphitheatrical depression, the drama unfolded and from this podium, I counted in the change, a swirling mist pouring over even as the volumes of smoke swept across the track, a catalyst like the secret stowed away on the Beagle, a pillar of cloud leading Darwin to his promised land, a sighting that laid bare our origins and opened eyes to change.
Phillip Hall is a wilderness expedition leader working with Indigenous kids to encourage school attendance and retention. He is also completing a Doctor of Creative Arts (poetry) at the University of Wollongong where he is researching the poetry of place from the perspective of postcolonialism and ecocriticism.
© Phillip Hall
Overland 205-summer 2011, p. 78–9
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