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|A Ghost story|
|Silverton, dry and dusty|
|The Road from Mildura to Broken Hill|
|Mildura to Broken Hill travelling from Mildura to Broken Hill is like travelling on the sea, a voyage across an ocean of land. The going smooth. Sandy tracks and unsealed roads lead off. Dips and long crests interrupt the low horizon. There are no hills just stretches of elevation with small insect like movements detectable in the vastness - wallabies.
Broken Hill red earth, coatings of dust. Dust smudged clothing. A night time furnace of never ending heat - something about this country blows my mind.
Breathtaking, the stipple patterning of dry shrubs on the red plain. Thousands of acres stretching out in all directions with no sign of habitation anywhere. The late afternoon light creates a dusty golden haze and it seems almost possible to detect the curvature of the earth. The silence is broken by the chatter of finches in a tree among the rocks and by the screech of a hawk. I sniff the grassy dry air, listening to the immemorial shrill of crickets responding to my closeness, the nearer ones switching off, waiting.
Silverton heat baking earth under dry crackling leaves, in crevices of bark, on the underside of stones. Bleached grass, dry red earth to the horizon. A line of emus stalk the nothingness, then pound away with feathers flouncing, striding into the far distance, disappearing into the low scrub on the near horizon. Sun sets over dusty plains where sheep tracks lead like wheel spokes.
A distant night storm - Broken Hill dark, threatening clouds hug the horizon in a long gloomy band. The early evening darkens to a glassy patch of brightness in a swirling sky and suddenly even that was gone. The horizon is lit by sunken lightening flashes, flickering like an erratic florescent light. Gusts of gritty cool air, a smell of dampness. A noise like rushing wind and torrential rain hammers down. A storm cuts across the continent to dump rain onto flood plans and storm water drains, on lignum flats and stony ranges, on riverside gullies and desolate overgrazed paddocks. The white explosions of lightning move along the horizon and sink from view.
A new day, washed clean and clear. Flies, first light at six. Cockatoos drift towards the river, contradictory and raucous. Intervals of sunlight between skidding clouds across a lightning blue sky..
Night Drive - Broken Hill to Mildura Kangaroos appear, bouncing elastically, near misses made possible by constant braking and slow speed. Stars wheel across the windscreen and the cross rises in the star speckled sky. Ghostly outlines of tree skeletons appear and disappear. Sheep appear and scatter and reappear. They stand staring, eyes in the sweep of headlights like green refracting jewels. Owls, grasshoppers, bats, moths and flying ants make traceries in the dark. The struggle to stay awake on the straight road, in the comfortable airstream, cushioning us like a dream and the constant humming of the engine. The night breathes under the luminous star shine.
Other headlights materialising in the far sky and intermittently sink down. When they bore pass eventually they do so blindingly as if something has leapt flashing from the dark, from the deep, from the waters of where we are going.