Friday, 21 September 2012

I Love a Sunburned Country

Today I saw the gentle side of the country Dorothea Mackellar depicted so perfectly in her famous poem. Heading south from Sydney along the Hume Highway, my eyes feasted on the rich colour palette in a landscape unusually lush after two years of life-giving rains. Several times I almost jammed on the brakes to stop by the road and take a photo - but I hesitated a fraction too long and the momentum of 110kph took me too far forward to stop and run all the way back with my camera.

The wattles remained just as spectacular as on my last trip south, a month ago, blooming in every shade of yellow. Today large paddocks of canola added to the spectacle. Officially canola flowers are yellow, but to me they seemed to be a bright lime green in the shafts of sunlight. Eucalypts with tall, straight, grey and beige trunks and feathery olive green foliage provided excellent contrast. Blue hills in the misty background were topped by both white and black clouds (thunder storms in the distance) with a clear intense powder blue sky visible through the gaps in the clouds. It was a fabulous display.

Inspired by the excellence of this year's season, I diverted off the Hume at Seymour and travelled via the Goulburn Valley Highway to Yea (where I lived for some years, on Billalooa Farm) and down the Melba Highway to Yarra Glen in the Yarra Valley and onwards to Melbourne. That journey is one of the most beautiful drives in Victoria. The devastation of the Black Saturday bushfires of February 2009 was still very obvious around Glenburn, but in the forest preceding 'The Slide' the understorey had recovered and was a mass of a pale yellow ground-covering wattle.

As I passed 'Yering Station' at Yarra Glen, the sun had just set behind the range on my right. No artist could have done justice to nature's gift of that moment - a rectangular picture, totally black across the bottom half (the range, in shadow) and a brilliant, brilliant streaky orange across the top half (the entire sky, alight with refraction from the setting sun). Bushfire colours.