Home is a feeling. When I speak about going home I mean my house, or where I’m sleeping that night. But when I think about where feels like home? I think of Kallista, in the Dandenong Ranges hills. As soon as I turn that particular corner in the road and head into Sherbrooke Forest, the tall tall trees, the green, the ferns, the smells, the quiet, give me that soul sighing moment of ‘aahhh home’.
I spent 19 years of my life living in that area, it’s not surprising that it feels like home to me. But there are places where you can feel that way all of a sudden. It sneaks up on you, taps you on the shoulder, and when you turn around it gives you a big hug.
For me, the centre of Australia feels like that. I’ve spent barely 10 days there in my life but something about that place feels true to me. It doesn’t feel familiar, like I said I’ve spent hardly any time there, but it feels…important. It feels like a spiritual home.
I suspect it is because it represents the heart of Australia to me, this country that I love. The red earth, the soaring rocks, the unexpected beauty, the hardness, the brightness, the value of water, the ever-changing skies… How hard it is to survive there. And surviving there might mean you don’t have, say, the soaring beauty of the gums of Kallista, you might be twisted and strange, but it is all the more significant that you have survived and thrived in your own way.
I am not indigenous to this land. But I belong to it.
I honour the first peoples, their relationship with and nurture of the land is something I continue to be inspired and moved by. I wish we could find a way through the complex reality of our coexistence here.
My favourite poem, one I have memorised, is ‘I Love a Sunburnt Country‘ by Dorothea Mackellar. She captures it so well… And how it ends is Truth for me.
“Though earth holds many splendours,
Wherever I may die,
I know to what brown country,
My homing thoughts will fly.”