Friday, July 9, 2010

Balliang, Steiglitz, Meredith

"Later, when she was in Sydney being notorious, Phoebe went around telling people that she had "foreknowledge" of the event. She had known she would see my aeroplane suspended in the sky above Vogelnest's paddocks at Balliang East. She convinced many people, and I won't say it can't be true. In any case, it is a pretty story, so I will leave it hovering there, like an aeroplane, alone in the sky, gliding towards her with a dead engine."

This is Balliang East, one hundred years later.

This is the sky one week ago.

This is the sky today.

Like a repressed memory I have been ignoring the western country, to the point where its presence has become like a pressure on me rising up from the unconscious. Today I rode out there on my first excursion, and discovered that my superficial assumptions - of endless flat windblown paddocks and straight roads - were false.

I left the city on the Western Ring Road and the Ballarat Highway, exiting at the road to Werribee where I turned off onto Gliebes Road and found my way to Balliang on back paths. At Anakie I crossed the Brisbane Ranges to Steiglitz then Meredith. From there to Ballan, Daylesford, Woodend and down the Calder Freeway to home.

For the most part I took no photos. But here are some from my crossing the Brisbane Ranges.

As when you look at an ambiguous drawing which contains two images - you are looking at a duck, suddenly you see it is also rabbit - just so, as I looked upon the river I was suddenly struck by the - in another sense of the word - watercolour impressionist artworks nature offered me.

The words at the beginning of this post are from Peter Carey's fictional novel Illywhacker. One of the many things I love about local literature is the way that it 'stories' the landscape. It is something our indigenous predecessors knew the value of. It's a wonderful thing to ride through a narrated place and feel the ghosts of other things.

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