Illarari, Tempe Downs, August 2019
Illarari is our most remote campsite, situated deep in Aboriginal freehold land. Access to this location is difficult in many ways but it’s well worth it. Such a thought provoking and astonishingly beautiful place. A spring fed creek burbles through what is currently, desperately dry country. This creek, so important for the Aboriginal people and native wildlife for tens of thousands of years made this area one of the first areas in Central Australia to be claimed for cattle grazing and it operated as a station until the 1980’s when it was put back in the hands of the Traditional Owners. It is now preserved for its natural abundance and sacred sites. Stark remnants of the station days still remain, now unused. In our week camped there we saw no other people at all.
But there is little to be said about our time at Illarari that is not said more eloquently in Lyn Harwood’s beautiful poem Still, reflecting her experience of this very special time and place. Thank you Lyn.
A long day’s journey into heartland
Baptism by sand
And bogged we dig away the remnants of normal
And place our bed in the ancient river.
Drowning in form and line and red rock.
That place of dancing trees and solid scape.
That place, out of time.
Haunted by dreams unresolved,
The aching grief of loss, still
Who walks this country now?
The moaning bull,
The skittish horse,
The cheeky dog,
And the absence of you.
The long journey home.
The stripped heartscape slowly shrouded by the mundane.