ayshire hills 5

9:00 photo Ayshire hills North of Winton

Things I learned today: When you are off road and it gets bumpy, bubble wrap and towels do not always help and hey, ants love Dove body soap that should never have been in a ceramic dispenser anyways.

Please feel free to embroider that onto your throw pillows. It could save a life someday.

So, much of the evening was spent using spoons to try and scoop up Dove body soap out of specially designed cupboards that keep things from falling out and contains the liquid from broken things so that it does not spill out everywhere. These same cupboards are also apparently designed to keep spoons from going in and let me attest to the damn fine job the Supreme Caravans have done achieving those ends. WHAT. A. PAIN. In the end, I just made Derek do it. But it did take up most of our time so that in the end, there was no time left to make dinner. Busy day at the office, late getting home, have to eat out. You know the drill.

The pub was having a special, “lamb shanks and veggies for $20.00.” On the main street of Julia Creek (please see the desolate looking photo I shared earlier of a creek in the middle of fields of brown dead weeds, with caravans parked on either side) we found the only pub. We ordered and sat down. They delivered our dinners, one at a time. The lamb shanks (2 of them) were too heavy for the waitress to carry more than one plate at a time. This country raises hefty lambs – either that or they were fooled into taking young looking sheep. Derek’s first, then mine. 2 Lamb shanks with the meat falling off the bone, a scoop of mashed potatoes, carrots, brocolli, peas, and beans. Why does anyone eat at McDonalds in this country when pubs serve this kind of food? I ate 3/4 of my one lamb shank; Derek ate his two and my one.

Julia Creek has even less than Winton but in the middle of the brown dead grass and the tumble weeds and even the whirlwind or “Willy Willy” as Aussies call them, that greeted us on our arrival, they manage to create life. It is not just that they get some water, and plant so trees and flowers, it is the soul of the people that infuses these communities. These are the people that regardless of fire, drought or flood, come back and rebuild. These are the people that would give you the shirt off their back.

Driving into Julia Creek we stopped for a bit of lunch at an unexpected crop up of “mountains” or plateaus called …..???? The wind blows so fierce and hot and it is winter now, much cooler than it can get in the summer. There is an insanity that I feel from that combination. It is like it wears a person down, each grain of dust that it flings at you, tearing at your flesh, little bites that eventually leave a hole clear through to your soul. I don’t know how people stay here. I don’t think I could.

Just like the first time I came out to this country, I feel such a sense of lonely sadness. There is nothing here, and while you can come and make something here, the moment you turn your attention, even for a moment, the raw starkness of this place consumes it, reclaiming it back to the fold. Some times you can see bits of rock and timber tumbled in a field, off in the distance, valiantly trying to stand as a witness to what was, but you know that if you were to come back again next year, it would probably be gone. I find myself thinking about all the people who came here, so desperate in what they were running from, that here seemed like golden opportunities of hope and so they stayed and lived their lives, spending more of it each day than anyone ever had the right to charge them. I wonder if they were ever happy. I wonder about the dreams they might have had for their life and if this could have hoped to even try to make those dreams come true. Can a person love and live in such starkness? Is it enough to have a whole world in front of you filled with silence? When there is nowhere to hide anything, does that life have more meaning, more truth? Again, I don’t know if I would be willing to even experiment to see. I think I might die of sadness for want of beauty.

I feel bad that I do not see the beauty of here. I appreciate the land that can be so bone dry and yet with water produce such magnificent things. I appreciate the contrast of this to a rainforest. I appreciate the fierceness of Mother Nature and the breadth and depth of land and sky. But I don’t love it like I love the tropics, the ocean, or Mountains and changing leaves in the fall. I see Derek loving it. I can sense him feeling it and settling into it, like home. I love the earth here, but I have not yet fallen in love with the Outback.

I have hope. There are parts of Montana that are so beautiful I cannot breathe, and then there are parts that remind me of this. I don’t love all of Montana. Maybe this will be like that.

We got a spot along the creek. It is a lovely spot, if you focus only on the water and your loved one. For the love of god do not tell Derek I admitted that. We will spend a couple days here to rest and shake off the dust … and to clean up all the dove soap and make sure we have stemmed the flow of ants.