This solo outing was an impromptu response to feeling restless. I was under a fog of moody post christmas emotional weather but I reckoned I could get out from under it if I could get away to the bush.
With my filled backpack as my only passenger I drove down to Deep Creek Conservation Park. As the sun-dried hills of the Fleurieu swelled before me I felt a welcome unwinding inside. It seemed my reckoning was right.
Leaving the car near Goondooloo Cottage on the boundary of the park I continued my journey on foot. With boots on the ground and a fresh wind in my face I felt my senses open to the restorative balm of the natural bush land, it’s dry grass and canopy colours, scented damp ground, steam rising from the backs of curious bullocks and salt laced air blustering up the hills with a feisty westerly.
I have been coming to Deep Creek for years but the Aaron Creek track I was on was a first for me. Within 30 minutes I had arrived at Eagle Waterhole, a campsite provided for hikers only. A small hut tucked into the hem of the bush offers solid shelter from the elements but in the balmy air I elected to sleep outside. Without familial distraction I returned to my book, (the yarn of four guys rowing the length of the worlds 5th largest river from Mongolia, through Siberia to the Arctic Sea) reading until the natural light faded. With night descending the chat of wildlife increased. I lay in my bivy, ears shifting focus from bird to frog, to bird to cicada to the thumping feet of roos bashing through the undergrowth.
I slept past the rise of the sun and on waking, with only a chapter to go resumed reading. The timber dory was nearing the end of its long journey, its occupants weary and cold as the arctic environment closed in on them. The book and I gripped one another, pausing only to brew coffee and spread breakfast, the intense affair continued until I closed the back cover and breathed out.
I shouldered my pack at last ready for the days walk. First to the west along a light green avenue alive with the flutter of butterflies until I intersected Aaron Creek and turned south heading to the coast. The creek trickled through the straggly, untidy foliage of a wide gully only gradually losing height. As the fall steepened the bush thickened and the track veered away from the creek up the rocky side where the bush too became harder, increasing in thorns and prongs intent on scratching me. The path continued its sloping arc finally descending to sea level at the creeks end.
The cove, sheltered by steep hills either side had a calm air, though the choppy sea still slapped in continuing its gradual shaping of rock. On the ground rounded stones and bones from sea birds washed ashore. At the sides Mordor like black rocks carved like slicing teeth. Framed in the distance the lighthouse of KI’s Cape Willoughby. I potted and climbed for a time then mused on an off-track return route but in both directions the steep gully sides were a snare of uneven ankle-rolling rock or calf scratching thorny vegetation. I opted for the path of least resistance and headed back on the prescribed track.
Moving at nearly 5 km an hour I was soon at the earlier intersection. I continued in the same direction following the now more deeply cut creek to the north. The climb was steeper, with fallen trees and reaching branches to negate. The path split again, Cobblers Hill campground to the west and Goondooloo ahead. 18 months ago our group of four had passed this way from Cobblers Hill on our way to Victor Harbour, day 2 of our four day hike. Passing through these memories I continued on a track that climbed away from the creek and out beyond the fringe of taller trees that drink from it.
Crossing the contours of open hillside I paused to catch breath and take in the long view behind. An ancient vision lay before me. Here, in this unspoilt patch of land dreaming was still alive. From the ground under my feet to beneath the dark green blanketed hills that tucked themselves neatly into the gully creek beds, across the water to KI, there still hummed a song. It is not my dream, nor a song I know but I knew it was there, still vibrating though the land.
At the top of the hill sat a cluster of gnarly eucalypts clinging to the earth commanding a wide view east, through south to west. I stopped to eat and take this vista in. There is often a moment on a walk where I find myself thinking, I could just carry on now. From this place walk to the next, and from there the place after, forever onwards, a walk without end. I imagine that though this simple act of walking from place to place I would gradually let go of the need to own things, and the anxious drive to control what happens next.
Next for me however, was my car which stood 1000m behind me and the road home to family and the community of people of which I am a part. My solo pilgrimage to renounce all worldly possession would have to wait. I did feel lighter though. This short time away had blown away whatever weight I was feeling and I felt ready to return home. (Ewan)