Since last week's bag-falling-on-head incident, I have switched my seating preference from aisle to window and enjoyed the view as we flew over the heart of Australia.
It is a red heart, nothing but sand stretching on and on and on. Ten minutes later there may be a smattering of vegetation, small wiry clumps looking like the stubble on the chin of a dark haired man. Rocky outcrops appear. Some of them look like a partly submerged crocodile, the khaki-coloured lumpy spine curving to meet its head. Beyond the head I see a formation that looks like foot prints from a gigantic prehistoric bird.
The land changes again and I understand the paintings made by the Aboriginal people. Looking at the land below, I could be standing before one of their canvasses covered with dots and lines and concentric circles. Small sandy circles appear. Perhaps they are water holes. Without access to an aircraft I wonder how the Old People knew what the land looked like? A ribbon flows through, the centre of the bed tattooed by trees. I wonder if this river of sand once - still? - carries water.
I see no houses. I see the veins of dirt roads but no vehicles. There's the glint of the railway line, proudly declaring its straight, true lines in contrast to the deceptive softness of the harsh country.
The rocks change and I am reminded of drawing contour maps in grade 9 geography under Mrs Rosenthal's instruction. They have meaning now. Other memories of that class come to mind - learning about barchan sand dunes out in the long jump pit and writing out one hundred times that a wind is named according to the direction it comes FROM. (Of course I knew that the grammar was wrong, but this was geography, not English, and the formal "from whence it came" would be unwelcome as a piece of smart aleckry.) Patches of white stand out against the dark grey-green of the rocks - sand, salt or ash? I wonder.
We near Alice Springs. The vegetation thickens again. The road is bitumen and the markings are visible. I count four vehicles going about their business. The geometry of buildings contrast with the natural shapes. The township pulsates just ahead.
The plane's shadow is tiny on the ground and I have to look slightly backwards to see it. I know we are descending as this shadow grows larger, finally meeting its creator as we gently touch the tarmac.
Disembarking down the rear stairs and onto the tarmac, the warmth is welcome. It was 9 degrees Celsius when my cab picked me up from home this morning. It feels like a very pleasant mid-twenties with a very light breeze.
I will find a way to make the most of this delay.
|Flying over the heart of Australia - view from 20F|
© divacultura 2013
|Red sand, red sand, red sand|
© divacultura 2013