Sat. 14th Aug.
Existence most inordinately quiet down here. Absolute remote hermit-like. Conversation confined between three of us. Me, Jess & Dawnie. An occasional school child falls into my trap. I learn the name of the mountain I have painted from 3 angles. Wondy Peak.
Twice a week I recontact civilization, such as it is, at Rylstone. A dull old town appearing as if made from debris of some old prison. A uniformity of ancient stone and morgue like quiet. Radio, consequently, working overtime. Have had to change batteries. Nothing of any consequence happening. Only excitements are furtively snooping water from school house and chasing canvas blown like paper before the howling gusts that swell down the valley. Returned from Rylstone this morning to find our calico lean-to razed to the ground. Had day off from painting & spend time shooting tins – with indifferent success.
Occasional cars pass towards Ginghi – loud whoops and squeals traverse the night. A mile or so down, the local dance. Complete with piano accordion & violin, cheap plonk, and “King hits,” so our local correspondent informs us.
How hard it has been trying to rain. Day finished with Wondy Peak silhouetted against tufts of salmon cotton wool languidly floating beneath a ceiling of blue grey dappled sky. The definite pearly quality of the landscape here. The incredible subtleties of blue, green, and pinks, & ochre deepen to dusk.
5th August Thursday
Ginghi, Bylong Valley.
Thank God for a quiet life. A welcome relief after tiresome, tensed up driving. Seem to have a positive genius for picking lonely unfrequented roads. A lonely plugging uninteresting trip from Wauchope up the Oxley highway. Miles and miles of intolerable hill and forest. A worrying run beset with overheating troubles & fears of petrol shortage. Miles and miles of dense sub-tropic forest atop the range, a sudden glimpse of busy human ant like activity in the shape of timber mill, tucked securely in a corner of the hills, manifesting its existence with harsh whine of the saws & the blowing hiss of steam. More miles of dark and darkening green & ever present frost in the gullies. At night fall a petrol pump is discovered, to our eyes, orchid like, aside the road. A lone house attends it. We fill up and enquire the locality. Yarrowitch. And it is on the map!
Time our arrival at Tamworth perfectly to coincide with lunch at the Holes. How delightful after days of dining on sad, aged meat(!) pies, and soggy mullet, & lemonade. Lemonade at 11d a bottle!! Enough to send a man to drink. Had pleasant lunch & even more important, the first decent water for weeks. Water, without weeds, mud and slimy dressings! Sat around till 3 o’clock & were regaled with choice scandal.
Slept on top of Murrurundi that night & wakening waited on 10 o’clock for the bank to rescue us from 1/10½.
Entered the Bylong Valley after lunch. Saw Daddy, Mummy & Baby kangaroo dash startled through the cypress covered slopes. How remote from the world this valley seems cupped by hills and traversed by the near dry Goulburn River. Fenceless & houseless & motionless the senses suggest that even time itself has stopped down here. We turn a corner expecting to emerge upon some great lost Atlantis but grey & still, the grass still mats the earth. Bladeless, red & rocked, the hills. Cypress mournfully aid the pervading melancholic suggestions of desolation & despair. A twenty mile suspension of recollected life. We are in the grave awaiting resurrection or disintegration. We climb around the spine cracking curves of Kerrabee Mountain & descend into the ragged head of Bylong proper. Finally arrive at a 2×4 store. A telegraph and telephone office, not yet dignified with the title Post Office. I get out & buy cigarettes & am beset with daffy looking people. The general excitement over the caravan and Dawn is intense. Their photos are taken and Jess is duly informed of the viciousness & untrustworthiness of the breed. “Tell me the old story.”
Black bushy eyebrows & moustache are cock quizzically as a Scotch terrier beneath my abstracted gaze. A simple youth rolls his head and his face floats silently gaping & guffing at my dissertations on said Alsatian’s food. I wish to send a telegram. Immediately great comings & goings & fumblings & seekings & behold, from beneath a pile of rhubarb & papers a hand emerges triumphantly clutching a dog eared telegraph form. The memory expert has saved the day. 4 of us telephone the wire to Denman. I leave in a daze, my mind remote.
Am settled beneath the shadow of encircling cliff faces. At sun down, gold lit with Rembrandtesque effulgence, glowing orange above the bluing shadowed trees.