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eSwag-20

CREATIVE DRIVES - BEAUTIFUL VOICES - MISSIONARY PLAINS.

Posted on June 21, 2012 by
Raymond
on the road at
Ipolera NT
capHermannburg Ladies Choirtion Susan & Marianne Mixed Collective The Boys caption Lovely Leigh and gorgeous Janet caption Sylvia caption Marianne & Prue Janet Susan Hermannburg Ladies Choir Prue & Marianne Leigh Prue & Leigh sunset current photos »

I am tucked up in my Italian Penthouse in the Aboriginal community of Ipolera while the remnants of Tony Backhouse's Desert Choir still chat around the fire. Beautiful singing has given way to low chatter. Words pop like with crackling wood. The warmth of human voices mirrored by the fire. Of course I wish they would shut the fuck up and go to bed. Don't they know I am trying to write?

My mind is too close to this trip to write about it at the moment. It would be like describing a sunset as it happens, the nuance of colour and movement buried under an avalanche of cliches as bad as the one I just used.

So I'll tell just spin some threads without producing a garment. 

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I'll tell you that a dingo is howling somewhere on the Missionary Plain. The same Missionary Plain that before it was called that was roamed by Aranda people who'd never thought they needed to be saved, let alone by people with thick German accents from across the seas. As they roamed that plain they didn't know that before the missionaries another mob would arrive, with guns and murderous intent, to take the land and place massive beasts around the waterholes. They knew a lot but not that. 

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I can tell you the tonight is milder than our other camp at the base of Mt Sonder. For years everyone would say "it wasn't as cold last night." After four years of mild Tuesday nights it tweaked. The sandstone escarpment behind the tents releases the afternoon heat captured by the western sun. A wave of warmth ozzes out all night and defeats the best efforts of the frost to lay its ice on us.

Cecilia, who has done about 5 trips with me, always camps under a certain tree, eighty or so meters from the wall of warmth. Her distance from the sandstone trades warmth for solitude. She sleeps without a tent in a swag and is up at first light to start photographing. I watched from the imperious heights of my penthouse, as she set up her tripod and waited for first light to redden the sandstone like stage blood. She is German Swiss by birth and like many of her countrymen has a passionate love for the desert.

'I love my tree' she said at breakfast.

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I watched another of my walkers in the sand of Davenport Creek some years back. In those days we slept in synthetic cocoons called bivvy bags. Each morning a torchlight turned the bivvy into a glowing worm, as author Gabrielle Wang started to deposit her nightly thoughts onto her notepad. From 4 am or so the worm turned, the mind inside writing furiously.

On the last day she sat in the bough of an ancient tree and again wrote for hours. A triumphant Eureka sounded as the plot for a trilogy of books, now written and published, came to her. The old fella is now called, of course, The Eureka Tree. 

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There's lots of other things I can tell you.  Like I feel I am being drawn into this writing like it is the most important thing in my life. A repository of feelings and thoughts that seeks expression in words and resonance in readership. It is my sense that you, by the act of reading, are the borders that stop my mind drifting into some far off oblivion. Or at least I hope so.

And lastly I can tell you that on the final night of the trip we sung with the Hermannsburg Women's Choir. We sung for them, they sung for us, we all sang Amazing Grace together in the Aranda language. It is best to close your eyes and imagine that sound and that union.

C ya

Raymond

Comments
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sue
Reply
Thanks Raymond for the well chosen vignettes of the desert - brings back great memories of a wonderful trip.
Raymond
Reply
Hi Sue. Just out in Hermannsburg with the Desert Writers. Hope u can make the book launch on the 11th October. cya R
Barbara
Reply
That sounds amazing Ray, so beautiful. Can only imagine how it sounded. x
Raymond
Reply
Hey Barb. It was absolutely superb. c ya Sis. Raymond x
Hedley
Reply
Reminds me of one of my favourite quotes from Natalie Goldberg (author of Writing Down the Bones), 'Writers live twice.' Sounds like you're in double heaven!
Raymond
Reply
Great idea Hedley. You would have loved the Writers trip I am just finishing. c ya Raymond
'Silvia'
Reply
Thank you for sharing your thoughts and photography, Raymond. I feel really blessed that I have the ability to enjoy the same scenery over and over again as if it were for the first time and not getting bored with it. It gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling to revisit that tree, a particular cycad that I already photographed years ago, the same reflections in Ormiston Gorge and, of course, Mavis and Hermann. I guess it is like visiting good and trusted old friends and just be. Singing with the Women's Choir of Hermannsburg was a highlight of this Desert Choir trip and it was amazing how good our small choir sounded!
Raymond
Reply
Whoops Sorry Cecilia. I am glad you liked the reference to you. I watched you each morning in the cold and found it very interesting. You are clearly drawn to the creative world of photography and singing. I think it was of our best trips ever. Raymond
Heather
Reply
I really enjoyed these vignettes, Raymond. I will especially remember the warmth from the cliffs through the icy darkness. It is a great metaphor for the enduring gift of life from the union of sun and earth. Cheers, Heather
Raymond
Reply
Thanks Heather. It only took us four years to work it out. The camp itself is a special place. I talk about it further in my book. Fascinating. Glad you are enjoying the journey. Off to Burra in South Australia tomorrow to set up a singing festival and then up to Alice along the Birdsville Track. c ya Raymond
Anne Looby
Reply
you make me laugh and cry Raymond. Youreloquence and poetry and humor are so moving. You are SO on the right (write) path my friend. Love Looby
Raymond
Reply
Hey Loobs. I think you are right. Backhouse does Burra will be amazing as well. I want the Hermannsburg ladies there and we will do a song together in Aranda and English. c ya mate. Raymond
SHANTIEMAN
Reply
Hi Raymond stuck up in the mountains of big sur cal usa no phones no noise, just laptop.enjoyed your blog, back in Scotland on Monday will post you some pics.I follow your blogs like a dog looking for somewhere nice to shit.
Raymond
Reply
Hey SHANTIEMAN. You are my kind of guy. Love to see some photos and to hear about the tri[ and you. I also love a man with a nice turn of phrase.... 'I follow your blogs like a dog looking for somewhere nice to shit.' Exquisite.Big trip coming up for me later this week along the Birdsville Track.
Marg
Reply
I'm enjoying your trip, hopefully will follow in your footsteps one day.
Raymond
Reply
Hey Marg. Yours would be a little daintier I think. c ya Raymond