Nanya Nyssen

Farewell Sydney, Farewell Dreamtime

Farewell, land of blue skies, where seagulls float on warm currents of air, bleached white specks etched on the horizon.

Farewell, scorched lands of no mercy, where a spark explodes to hellfire, devouring all in its path: the white ghost gum, branches like arms outstretched, begging for water; eucalyptus vapour like a mirage, hovering above trees; humming cicadas in chorus; scampering lizards; greens to yellows to reds of both fauna and fowl.

All obliterated to moonscape in a blink of an eye.

Farewell, white sands splashed with colour from umbrellas, beach towels and sunworshippers. Azure blue seas: the rising swell growing into thundering waves that crash to the shore, licking the toes of those who dare not enter, yet carrying like dolphins the adventurers of the sea.

Farewell, chimes of the bellbird, laughter of the kookaburra. In unison, amongst the tangled vines of the Moreton Bay Fig Tree, its brown tentacle-like roots spreading over the soil and digging deep, reminiscent of earth worms.

Farewell, city commuter’s dream of inhaling fresh sea air from your seat atop the green and yellow ferry, heading to your office perched high in a city tower.

As the ferry passes Fort Denison you wonder how the convicts felt about what you see. Peering from rat-infested cells, skin swollen and weeping from the sun’s burning rays and lack of food. This tantalising sea infested with sharks guaranteeing their perpetual incarceration; or the fortunate one to escape only to be swallowed up by a land, now rendered hospitable.

At least on the surface.

Are we related to those poor souls passes fleetingly through your mind.
As fleetingly as the seagull on eye level with you, riding the wind current of the ferry.
As fleetingly as so much passes through you in this paradise.

Only the Dreamtime can tell you a story of depth.

Voices carried on the hot winds of the outback and blown into the city – a slight hum which sometimes builds to a howl on tropical, burning hot summer days. Beachgoers protect their faces from the spitting sand; city dwellers keep their heads down holding onto their clothes which flap like sails; cars on the harbour bridge blow from side to side, like toys.

All ever defiant. For whoever listens to the wind?

But soon, I will be an eye in the sky, flying these same winds in my man-made bird as I head to the other side of the world. Slowly, as I lift higher and higher, I will see the bigger picture of the red continent from my decompressed cabin. The land will be transformed into the Aboriginal wall paintings of old. Almost the dreaming…

But is this the closest white man can ever come to Aboriginal man’s Dreamtime?

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