Thanks to a bumpy few months and the obligatory “quarter life crisis”, 2017 hasn’t met my usual adventure filled expectations of the year. With a much lighter pocket, I’ve had to look a little less further afield than my usual expeditions require and get reacquainted with my home; Western Australia.
As a kid we took many a road trip out into the backyard of WA. We’d climb into a decked out 4WD and spent hours colouring, creating and singing as the kilometres passed us by. I love camping for the nostalgia it returns to me. Of making camp in tiny towns, and having a PB to beat for the quickest tent pack down. I have the fondest of memories for tea in a tin cup, and canvas camp chairs all huddled around a fire and my greatest love; the stillness of a horizon that stretches on forever, uninterrupted.
Somewhere along the way, I forgot how much I loved the drive and I set my sights on international shores. The universe has a way of bringing you back home though, and over the last few weeks I have found myself back in a 4WD; a swag in the tray and hundreds of kilometres ahead of me.
My most recent trips have taken me north; out into the Wheatbelt and the Gascoyne, where paddock after paddock of wheat and canola stretches on for as far as the eye can see. Where the strangers of the city are replaced by the camaraderie of countrymen, questioning your choice of pie at the bakery and querying your final destination.
It makes me wonder, how I forgot the simple joy that can be found in my own backyard. Like most things in the metropolis, I’ve been distracted; by the need for instant gratification; something to do, always. I’ve been so busy being busy, and looking to the rest of the world that I forgot to take a minute to remember how wonderful home can be.
It feels like family; heading north. Maybe that’s my memories of moments and people held dear but as the kilometres peel away on highway signs, and the number of passing traffic trickles down to nothing, I’m left a little starstruck by the unequivocal beauty that is the Australian Bush. And perhaps just like we often forget with family, I was surprised, because I’d forgotten how magic it was.
Many fall in love with the romance of the outback; of the wilderness that it proudly proclaims. Maybe what we really love is the perspective it ever so quietly delivers. When you wave to a passing ute because you haven’t seen anyone else for hours and it’s the friendly thing to do; or a truck indicates that it’s safe for you to overtake or you double back to check the roo you nicked was ok (it was). You cackle when you get some air going over a cattle grid and it’s more comfortable to be bare footed in the red dirt than in pretty shoes.
It’s the simpler things; visiting places that are about purpose rather than looking for something to do. Where you earn your fun after all the work has been done. Maybe it’s in those moments that you remember life is sometimes about being worth the wait. Knowing you need to have patience and persistence if you want to see change, be that just on the highway sign or in life.
I only get to visit every now and then – in fact it has been years – but as I chase sunsets and marvel in the ember light of dusk and the serenity in the silence before dawn, I hold onto how I feel and store some of it away for later. For when I find myself back in the city; stuck at a traffic light or standing in silence on the train – I travel back to that moment; the one we often miss – when we are grateful for where we are standing, and with whom; for the memories we share and the joy that is found in them; when we know where we belong and where to call home.
And the moment just before dawn, when the promise of a new day inspires wonder and where anything can happen in the Wild, Wild West.