The place where I weekend is in the bush, 20km from my home by the sea. My current weekend walking project is to walk in stretches along the river road between Eurobodalla and Nerrigundah. I take the car to the farthest point I’ve walked to, hop out, and continue on. This is something of a pilgrimage along a road from my past, and it’s giving me great pleasure.
This week, I left the car at the top of Tallyho Hill and set off along a dirt road, with a drop off the edge into a steep gully. I heard the song of a lyrebird and the brief laugh of a kookaburra (unless of course that was the lyrebird too.) The bush was noisy with chirrupings, whistlings, and the vibrating whirr of a pigeon takeoff. The eucalypts sported long ribbons of bark and there were signs of rainforest: crinkle-edged leaves, vines and tall tree ferns. Everywhere in the bush, tall wattles with their pale yellow balls and their sweet smell. The sky a bleached grey with that disturbing glare and lack of substance. I walked down the hill around the twists in the road. On one side a gully: on the other side a steep bank, a rocky cutting rich with ferns and flowers – maidenhair, bracken and pinky rasp fern; faded schelhammeras, tiny white star flowers, purple and white violets, purple dianella with yellow-orange stamens, the gleaming white flowers of branching grass flag. At the bottom of the hill, a bridge and an underpass for cattle, the paddocks an astonishing green for this time of year. An assemblage of grass and flowers decorated the buffer at the bridge. Sandy curves of the river appeared and then retreated again: a vivid patch of purple fan flowers, delicate sprays of dianella in bud, yellow goodenia, and the richer yellow of hibbertia, with its splendour of buds. Occasionally the heat was relieved by a delicious breeze, more noticeable because the hill was generating an unaccustomed gentle sweat.
Only one vehicle passed me in an hour and a half on a Monday morning. I have now walked 8km of the river road.
RIBBONS OF BARK