To see the land it is best to walk
Rambling is a good English word too sparingly used. It means to walk about the countryside. No, that is not the dictionary meaning but it is good enough for me. To ramble over hill and dale is a relaxing way to travel and the English do it easily every summer.
To see this land beyond postcards properly you have to walk across the country just as it always has been walked. One step at a time. As you walk aboriginal art will make sense. The red earth is dotted with individual items. The grass rarely intermingles with a neighbouring grass. The desert potatoes do not cohabit with the runners. The wispy flowering grasses stay aloof from the striking Sturt Desert Pea which crawls along the ground in different directions. Curiously it has big bulbous black “eyes” on each of its long red faced flowers watching the surrounds. JL a local indigenous artist says, “The donkeys like to eat that fellow.” I haven’t yet seen a wild donkey, nor have I seen a bush banana. But I am told they both can be found in numbers.
A most striking thing about walking are the number of tracks it is possible to see. The task for the uninitiated is to identify the animal, or bird, responsible for making the a track. Tracks. It is always tracks. One set of marks will be criss crossed by several others and although it is possible to follow the marks made by one animal it soon becomes apparent that the land hides tens, no hundreds, of unseen creatures. The hurried snake leaves a set of s shaped mini sand dunes to signal it is going somewhere you are not supposed to follow. The bird, I presume it is a bird, walks like a drunk going nowhere and in no particular hurry. The kangaroo determined to get to a late morning lounging spot under the trees is economical in its footprint. Bayonet mark and skid, bayonet mark and skid, six, seven or eight metres apart let you know he, or she, was running late for that date.
It is beyond the capacity of this southerner to follow human footprints for very long through the dust and grass but it is surprising just how many foot prints can be seen even well off a beaten track. Therefore it is unsurprising that those who have always lived here can find their quarry by doing just that. Some children cornered an innocent blue tongue lizard this morning without even recognising the skill they exhibited. Because their quest was so easy it was even more marvellous to the observer.
The rambler in this countryside must look up as well. The umbrella of an azure blue sky reaches from horizon to horizon in this flat land. Nearer, one notices the mulga and yet another tree species attracts your attention. It is the whitewashed bark of a eucalyptus. Of course when you inspect the beautiful bark you realise the tree has evolved to lighten the bark without human touch. It does this to reflect the intense heat of midday so it can preserve its vital fluids.
To go from hamlet to hamlet drive by all means but if you want to see the land go for a walk. It is the only way to see the unseen beauty it hides.
Footnote: Now the mean spirited of you will have consulted your dictionary and found that to ramble has another meaning that is sometimes applied to written work such as this. If you did happen to refer to the dictionary then my thanks goes to you to spare the writer and save your comment on the prose presented.