The large rocks look like they straggled slowly up the ridge, countless years ago. Some of them apparently stopped to rest forever along the way. Some arrived pocked with caves and inaccessible crevices; some continue performing incredible balancing acts, as if defying gravity. I crouch at the rear of one of these large caves and regard the valley, crudely framed by this cave.
My valley view is serenely smothered in greens. Scattered, black tooth picks of trees protrude from the fresh greens, their crusty, black coats a testament to the intensity of previous, bushfire battles. Many are dead, cruelly transformed into their own monuments. They await the strength of the late winter/early spring wind gusts to see if they can last another year upright. Yellow flashes of ‘egg-and-bacon’ plants and the orange glow from intricate shaped bottle-brushes are splattered about the ridge.
The cave floor is steep and uneven, dusted with sand from the stone that forms it. Part of the floor is stained with cement grey seepage, long dry. Other parts are variegated shades of browns and yellows. Directly above me is the cave’s rough, coral textured, rust coloured ceiling. A closer inspection reveals the small, scattered, crystal pieces which softly reflect, like fragments of a shattered, dirty mirror. From my raised vantage, the cave has the feel of being in the ‘gods’ at a theatre. Its stage is a stone platform resting askew at the centre and its backdrop is the bushland, plummeting to the valley floor and up the other side.
On some days, like today, the cave traps the exhilarating, subtle smell of the bushland, a mixture of eucalypt and wild flowers. You could almost bottle this essence. I am reminded of the elevated Queensland country city of Toowoomba, first visited many years ago as a youth. At the information centre, I purchased ‘a tin of Toowoomba fresh air’ and sent it to my family back in Sydney. I guess they saw me coming!
Here in the cave, the powerful, deafening, jet engines of an aeroplane, distantly high in another world, are just a gentle rumble. A more audible impact comes from another source, a natural one. The sudden, jarring shrieks from a white cockatoo cascade from above, their echoes resounding raucously through the valley.
This is definitely another world here. I sing some words of a song and they surround me, resonating with intensity. Here no one can hear you. I could deliver a passionate address, expounding upon my inner most beliefs and no one would be any the wiser.
© Jim Low
Note:This was originally posted on Wednesday, September 27, 2006 and had the following comment added by Susannah on November 21:
That is ‘The Hole in the Cave’ isn’t it? I loved that cave. I’m not sure I’d be game enough to climb through the hole these days. You’re making me homesick! And to think Kelly, Susan and I once welcomed in the new year sitting in that cave…