THE SISTERS' SONG coming in January 2018 from Allen and Unwin. Sign up to be the first to know. x Louise

Lucky BayWe’ve just returned from our family holiday. This year, we camped at Lucky Bay in Cape Le Grand National Park, about 800 km southeast of Perth. We’re experienced campers now, and I’ve come home recharged and refreshed. There’s also a few more freckles and an extra kilo or two, but who cares about that?

I’m feeling quite contemplative. I often feel like this after a family holiday, because I’m reminded again of all that’s important to me—the things I enjoy doing, and the people I love doing them with.

(Click on an image to enlarge.)

Cape Le Grand is a spectacular part of the state. The sand on the beaches is fine and white, and as soft as bread. It squeaks as you walk, like the Tasmanian beaches of my childhood. The ocean is the colour of gemstones, even when it’s cloudy. It’s body-numbing cold until you get used to it, and so clear I could still see the freckle on my foot when I stood in it.

You can tell the water's clear ...

The water ebbed away before I took the photo, but you get the idea …

Just off the coast are the islands of the Recherche Archipelago, rising from the blue like ancient sea creatures.

Thistle Cove

Each morning, we woke to the sound of the waves, and I felt drawn to the shore, where I could have spent the whole day—digging in the sand as I watched waves roll in, or kangaroos fossick amongst seaweed, or gulls in flight …

… or disagreement.

We climbed a few of the granite boulders in the Park: Mount Le Grand and Frenchman’s Peak, also called Mandooboornup. Like the islands, these regal-looking monoliths arise from the landscape and look like prehistoric animals that were frozen before they could completely emerge and lope off. They appear to be waiting, hoping for a time when they might move again …

Mandoomoonbup

Mandooboornup, also called ‘Frenchman’s Peak’

According to indigenous legend, an eagle built a nest at Mandooboornup, in which she laid her eggs. However, two children stole the eggs, so she in turn stole the children from their mothers, and dropped them into the sea, where they became two islands, just off-shore.

Cape Le Grand National Park from Frenchman's Peak

The view from the top of Mandooboornup. You can see the islands in the distance …

The eagle now waits, in the form of Mandooboornup, watching the children. Each time they swim to shore, she picks them up and carries them out to sea again. The water that trickles from the peak after the rain is said to be the tears of the children’s mothers.

DSC_3175

The cave at the top

A cave at the peak

Looking through the cave

From the top, the land stretches in all directions and you sense its timelessness—that it’s an ancient landscape, one that hasn’t changed since long before white man arrived …

DSC_3108

Looking towards Cape Le Grand Beach.

It might look boring shades of green and brown in these photos, but when walking amongst it, the beauty and colour is striking:

I love escaping from civilisation, and the more remote, the better. The fewer the modern conveniences, the more real I feel. All we went without, really, were electricity, internet and phone—we still had toilets and showers and slept on mattresses, which was relative comfort compared to last year’s Cradle Mountain trek (I wrote about that cold, hard walk here).

Getting away like this gave us time together as a family and without distraction. We spent most of the two weeks’ outside—on the beach or in the water, walking the trails, climbing the granite peaks, and of an evening, we read or played cards and games under the stars.

We were even treated to a reading from ‘The Hobbit’ in the voice of Mickey Mouse—one might ask why ‘The Hobbit’ had to be read in a Mickey Mouse voice, but there doesn’t have to be a reason, does there?

Reading from the Hobbit

From time-to-time, I need to step out of city life and let nature and the seasons dictate my day, if only for a few weeks a year. I need to feel sun and rain and wind against my skin. I must sink my feet into sand and soil, and feel the earth again. I have to swim in waves, even when they frighten me, and smell salt and seaweed, and inhale it all. It replenishes a part of me that needs topping up, that gets drained and depleted by timetables and commitments and responsibilities, and that must be refilled in order to keep going.

It’s humbling, too, seeing how little we really need. When hot, the shade of a tree is cooling, or a dip in the ocean. And it’s liberating not to have to vacuum or do laundry or care about the way I look—I wore the same grubby shorts for the last few days because I’d run out of clothes, and I don’t think anyone noticed.

Most of all, whenever I go away like this, I’m reminded of how beautiful our planet is—the land and the ocean, the wildflowers and the animals. It moves me, this ancient land of ours, and I feel so privileged to be a part of it.

 

'The Sisters' Song' is coming in January 2018.


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