Monday, December 14, 2009

Pyramid Hill

I was expected at an occasion up ahead that would not take place without me. I wondered what it might be, as I rode the highway past Rochester, Echuca, on my way to southern NSW. I had read until 2am about death. If that was the occasion, it was no more real than the one I experienced now: the sun on my skin at 100kph, as I emerged from the shadows of roadside gums.

Later when I stood atop Pyramid Hill and read Major Mitchell’s words on being the first European to look out over those plains, I felt I had met the occasion which defined the day. The farms dissolved and it was 1836.

Motorcycling is a kind of day-time dream. When asleep my hands are still alert, like animals, while my consciousness sinks and dissipates. When I ride my mind again rises and falls. At first today it was absorbed by tragic thoughts – I wept thinking of the inevitable death of my partner; then the blue-white blurring of sun and sky drew me again into the beautiful world; then my imagination brought the 19th century back to life. And all along my body was there, alert, responsive, driving on.

Between Kerang and Cohuna.

Mitiamo-Kow Swamp Road.

Kow Swamp.

Further along the road: a band of haze - a blanket of heat on the scrub before Mount Hope.

I rode hundreds of kilometers for this landscape which I love:

to stand by the salt lake.

A short ride from Kow Swamp and there it was, Pyramid Hill.

I should have ridden home from Pyramid Hill, but headed to Boort instead. I lay by the lake, then went south on narrow back roads to Serpentine. I experimented with the ton, but the road ahead with its corner became a blur approaching very quickly. So I backed off.

From the journal of Major Mitchell:
"Having seen the party on the way and directed it to proceed on a bearing of 215 degrees from North I ascended the rocky pyramidic hill, which I found arose to the height of 300 feet above the plain.
Its apex consisted of a single block of granite, and the view was exceedingly beautiful over the surrounding plains, shining fresh and green in the light of a fine morning. The scene was different from anything I had ever before witnessed either in New South Wales or elsewhere. A land so inviting and still without inhabitants! As I stood, the first European intruder on the sublime solitude of these verdant plains as yet untouched by flocks or herds, I felt conscious of being the harbinger of mighty changes; and that our steps would soon be followed by the men and the animals for which it seemed to have been prepared."

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