I STEP from the train whilst adjusting the straps on my bag, the sound of the train dominates the scenery, the doors close and with the distinctive whine of electric motors, the hunk of speed and steel pulls away dragging the cacophony of noise with it. I am left with the contrasting silence broken only by the quiet chatter of birds in the distance. Clouds of steam from my breath roll out and momentarily linger before me then fade away. My face feels the chill of the air and I am buoyed by the anticipation of a day in the bush.
Crunch, crunch, crunch, my footsteps beat out a slow rhythmic beat on the dirt road, the orange gravel leads through haunting silent trees standing sentient with their discarded strips of bark hanging from their branches.
After walking for long enough, I finally make my objective. The bottom of the canyon has a small sandy beach adjoining the creek where ferns droop down from the canyon walls, some touch the streaming water and a pervading green ambiance makes me feel like I'm in a fantasy.
After taking time to absorb my surroundings, I unfold my map and calculate the return trip. I ascend up from the canyon, the path meanders in a consistent climb and almost instantaneously, the deep ubiquitous green makes way for a sparse brown hewed bush and the air changes from cool and moist, to dry and warm.
The dry scenery continues on until through the trees I spy blue sky against a distant escarpment. The bush opens up before me revealing a rocky outcrop dropping abruptly into the valley below, the view grabs a hold of me but I am comforted by a well placed handrail. I watch the waterfall on the opposing valley wall fall in a slow almost floating motion and count the seconds for the water to hit the the base of the cliff, the time gives me perspective on the real size of this thing of beauty.
Walking on, I now approach the road that will take me back to my train and back to civilisation, the sky changes mood and I am now obliged to don wet weather gear, all good and well except that in order to save weight I have traded presentable gear for a pair of white paper overalls that make me look like a Star Wars Wampa ice creature, not what I was expecting to wear in public but I comfort myself with the thought that no one knows me around here..I hope. With a body full of exhaustion, I slump myself into a seat on the train, my exhaustion is matched only with the contentment of a day not wasted. ■