Going the Distance

I saw a kangaroo outside my window. You’d expect a blog about Australia to begin with this line, wouldn’t you? So, yes, this post has been a long time in coming. I did see a kangaroo – a real one. Not made of metal like the red one by the Vic Park post office. Not large and bronze like the statues on St. Georges Terrace. Not fat and tame and lazy like the ones in Whiteman Park. These were the real deal – a little kangaroo family, complete with a joey, watching the Prospector roll past the hillsides near Toodyay.

Once they were green fields, warmed by the sun...

Once they were green fields, warmed by the sun…

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Mud Lake: Rain over a salt pan in the Goldfields

I’ve done this journey several times now, yet the countryside looks different and new each season. Summer is setting in and Western Australia’s wheat belt is ready for the harvest. The yellowing hillsides give way to barbered fields that look like they’ve been groomed for military service. The long furrows streak to the horizon. The sheep are shorn as well and look sadly scrawny, although I expect they don’t need to be warm and woolly during the summer.

Now you’re imagining bright blue skies and sunny weather. Think again. It’s cloudy and wet. Storm winds from Perth are sweeping up behind us and trail us all the way to Kalgoorlie. Despite the grey skies, the view from my window is far more fascinating than the on-board Zac Ephron romance.

The shorn fields have given way to bushland. Near Southern Cross, a salt lake is dissolving into sludge while we wait for a freight train to pass. The miles roll by, and we’re in mining country now. Passengers are met at stations by men in dusty overalls and muddy utes. The C. Y. O’Connor pipeline occasionally emerges in the distance, a silver thread leading all the way back to Perth. It’s a reminder of home. Then, the tableland of Kalgoorlie’s Super Pit appears on the horizon. It’s reassuringly familiar. Perhaps, home is not as far away as I think.

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