I have recently returned from a well earned excursion to the Murray for some chillin' stillin' and relaxin' on the riverbank. What a lovely break, spending time with good friends, neighbours and loved ones was really what I needed and we only reluctantly dragged ourselves homewards as the teenage kids had plans for new years eve.
This is a photo of my neighbour Phil, drawing board and dinner in lap relaxing in the dusk, I am so glad he decided to come along with us. He is a real character and one of 'Mollongghips most famous', our little village seems to attract those who need respite from the world and Phil is our loveliest example.
A talented artist and passionate gardener the world is just a little too harsh for our Phil so he hides away on his beautiful block drawing, writing, growing beautiful flowers and being a good neighbour in his mud brick shack. So good in fact that he appears to have developed quite a commune in his quest for isolation! providing a home for a gentle giant schitzophrenic, an adopted Chihuahua and his ex-wife, things have become a little crowded at Phil's house this festive season so I am so pleased he managed to come with us on a well earned break!
Also including in the camping gang was my good friend Simon and his kids who fished from dawn till dusk and then a bit longer (except for the teen aged boys who slept till 11 every morning!) and Simon's role as alpha-male was asserted ( a sigh of relief for him there!) when he caught a lovely big cod... what a very proud boy he was indeed! As well as another neighbour and his son. I had a great time mothering everyone and cooking scrummy camping food and mustn't forget my wee dog Fraggle who had the best time of all!
I had no idea how romantic Australians were in their love of water, this was my first trip to the Murray picturing the fabled waterway as lush, broad and sweeping I expected to be stuck by the immensity as I was crossing the mighty Mississippi, it seemed to last forever... the bridge went on and on under the car.
But I was really struck by up there was how dry and almost desolate the country felt once we left our lovely volcanic region. Looking out the window of my office now I can see the Angus cows chewing on the long grass, (stoically ignoring my silly yappy dog) and green, green fields of lush, new potato plants, so fresh looking. Its hard to imagine that so close by the land is dust and dry. It is so sad for me to see, obviously because you can see the hardship farmers in these lands are facing, but more importantly because its such a clear example of my folk, the British, once again landing on foreign shores and trying to force the country to their whim. This land is not meant to be irrigated, bores drained and rivers diverted by pipe! Its a sad future altogether.
Regardless of this morose talk I got into the mood of the moment, swam, scrabbled on river banks, did crosswords and looked at stars. After all that it really was beautiful. In its own, unique, Australian way.