Chaff coloured paddocks spikey with stubble stretching as far as the eye can see. On and on. Barbed wired fences designed to keep something in or something out, but what exactly those somethings are is not obvious to us city dwellers. Agisting sheep? Homeless drifters?
Gracious homesteads the colour of weak custard dotting the landscape at regular intervals. Darker blocks of stone on the corners and around the windows to prevent the house merging into the landscape. Verandahs flanking the building for cool and shade. Narrow windows, giving the appearance of eyes squinting into the unforgiving sun. Standing proud as a testament to an era gone by. Visions of horses and buggies, little girls in long dresses, and outhouses with squares of newspaper hanging from a nail in the wall. Clothes bubbling in the copper.
Other houses standing bedraggled and forgotten. Timeworn and lonely. The wind and the salt working in tandem to undo the hard graft of past generations. Corrugated iron rusting and holey, creaking in the hot blasts from the north, outbuildings rotting, wasting back into the earth. Fences toppling and warping. Faded dreams defeated by environment. They are shells, a thousand stories veiled by the grey lace curtains hanging askew and threadbare at the windows.
Towns with glimpses of the past fighting with the present. Solid, strong and proud standing alongside modern, prefab and disposable. The former lasting long beyond the limited lifespan of the new.
Town planning adhering strictly to a grid pattern, easy and dignified. Wide streets, tall old trees, public halls thick with the scent of a thousand country dances. Ladies required to bring a plate.
A pub on most corners of the main drag. White trim on the windows underneath the wide shady verandahs, beer fumes rolling through the swinging doors and lingering in the nostrils of people passing. Meals from 6 to 8pm, $10 schnitzels on Thursdays. Accommodation upstairs, the stairs carpeted in vibrant and garing patterns, sticky from drink. The smell of smoke clinging to the bar despite the recent ‘only outside’ rules.
Empty bitumen roads stretching on. Stretching to someplace much the same as the last place. Locals raising a single finger from the steering wheel to every oncoming car, letting visitors know they are in the country. Everybody welcome, leave your airs and graces beyond.
Dirt roads branching off left and right, signs hinting at their destinations. Chinamans Well, Billy Goat Flat, Port Victoria.