For several weeks, while I’ve been working in my garden the honeyeaters have been flying overhead, chirruping to each other as they go. They are flying north for better honey, presumably. The white-naped and the yellow-faced honeyeaters do this, in their thousands, to coastal NSW and Queensland. Their flight is a kind of graceful wavy line, like an elongated profile of corrugated iron - or gentle sand hills - or ripples on a pond. So when my friend and I went out to Lockley’s Pylon (near Mt. Hay) the week before the yatra, I was looking for them in the sky. But there were very few.
There was Actinotus minor, a flannel flower (but as the name suggests, a small version).
and there was an eagle, following the Grose river - it disappeared into the haze. And then finally, after we got back somewhat late, I heard, and then wrote:
sings in the dark
Reknowned botanist Jill Dark once told a walking group of which I was a member, that she thinks the birds can sometimes get a little drunk on nectar - the distillery of banksia! (they love banksia).
So when I took the yatra group out to Mt. Hay, I was keeping my eye out. We were also walking north, as it happens. I only saw one, perhaps a straggler, or perhaps not even part of the migration, but it had the same distinctive voice and arc in flight. “I’m late; I’m late; for a very important date..“
Our group had good winds for flying, though perhaps a little too gusty? But we kept our feet firmly on the path, which requires great concentration out there, because it’s quite rough in places. But the mountain and the view of the Grose valley were magnificent, and we stopped often to feast on it - the distillery of canyons and blue-tinted eucalptus-laden air.
Mt. Hay is a basalt-capped mountain, but we did not climb it because the path is great bricks of basalt rocks and somewhat steep. Is it a sacred mountain, to the Darug people? I was told so once, by Chris Tobin, that it was one of three sacred mountains. Mt. Tomah is the other, and then also Mt. Wilson. All three are somewhat flat on top, and have different vegetation due to the light dusting of volcanic soils that remains, where everywhere else in the mountains it has long ago washed off. That in itself makes them special.
We made intimate contact with it, bare feet to sandstone. And sat quietly on its flanks, in the very warm sun, meditating.
Gazed westwards into the Grose valley and its tributaries. Listened to the crickets making their living in its scrubby grasses. Paid attention to the sensations of our bodies. Ate our food in companionable silence.
And after lunch, wrote or drew.
Through silent bush
Awakening shadow dancers on the sandy soil.
I will lead the spring yatras on October 12 and 13. Get your diary out, and pencil in those dates!