Pink ochre

Pink ochre. That is the first thing to strike you. Miles and miles of pink ochre dunes stretching as far as your eye can see; drifting sands of time in a crescent around the ancient edge of a lake, glowing now in the pearly dawn. Under the wide dome of sky, one tiny human stands in awe, leaving a footprint in the outback — following the steps of ancestors.

As I breathe the cool mallee breeze deeply into my lungs, the cypress pines whisper secrets of another time, when people of the dreamtime walked the lake shore, its waters teeming with life; human dramas lost in the aeons. Now grey apostle birds disturb sleeping campers, clucking and scratching after insects, or picking through left overs from last night’s supper.

High in the sky, a wedge-tailed eagle soars above the dry lake bed, silently surveying his domain. If only you could fly like the eagle, you might see the chain of lakes that was once the lifeblood of the country spread across the plains, waiting patiently through eternity for the waters to return. Time stands still out here, where there or no deadlines or alarm clocks, no places to be, no meetings; just the stillness the bush on my morning walk, save the occasional thud of a kangaroo, the sorrowful cry of a crow.

Bending to the ground, I pick up a handful of clay, smooth grains caressing my skin as I paint fingermarks on my cheeks in memory of the old people. Pink ochre.

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