Friday, 25 July 2014

Burringurrah


If someone asked you where the biggest rock in Australia was what would your answer be? Uluru? What about Burringurrah? You have probably never heard of it because this mountain in the Western Australian outback is still generally known by the name given to it by a white explorer, who named it after his brother, Augustus. 

Mt Augustus, known as Burringurrah to the Wadjeri people, is twice the size of Uluru. A big sign near its base proudly proclaims it to be the "Biggest rock in the world." But it gets a bit more technical than that, because Uluru is actually the biggest monolith, or single lump of rock. Burringurrah is a monocline, attached to a bigger body of rock beneath the ground. Biggest monocline in the world just doesn't have the same ring to it though. 

The rock rises 715m from the surrounding plain and is covered in soft green vegetation, with groves of white river gums lining the gullies around its base. When the first rays of daylight hit its slopes it glows molten red.


We drove four days to reach this remote desert outpost; watching the landscape change from farming to station country, goldmines and ghost towns. The dirt road which heads north from Meekatharra has a station or two dotted along its rocky length; an abandoned police station and lock-up and a remote Aboriginal community. And then, suddenly, from out of the endless plains there rises a mountain of rock. 

We set up camp not far from its base and spent a day exploring the rock art dotted around the mountain's base; hiking up gullies and gorges and watching flocks of budgerigars flit around a permanent waterhole. We lit a campfire and cooked damper on the coals, listening to the drone of the didgeridoo vibrating through the still night air from a neighbouring campsite.






But the moments which took my breath away were sunrise each morning, when I would push open the flap of our tent and step out into the pre-dawn light before anyone else had crawled out from their sleeping bags. Putting the kettle on to boil I would watch the sky lighten from purple to pink, the rock still cloaked in shades of green. When the sun crept over the horizon the rock suddenly took over the show - red, orange and ochre dominating the landscape for a few brief minutes, before the greens and blues crept back into the mountain's palette.






Unlike Uluru, the traditional custodians of Burringurrah do not mind people climbing the mountain. The Wadjeri people believe the rock was formed when a boy who ran away from his initiation into manhood was speared and died. They do not go onto the mountain at night, when they believe his spirit still roams the slopes. Our boys were keen as could be to climb to the mountain's peak but it takes a good six to eight hours - likely longer with children - and we really didn't think they would make it all the way up and back again without a lot of help. I was quite happy to stay at ground level, drinking my morning cup of tea and looking at this from the comfort of my folding chair, while they played in the dirt of a dry creek bed nearby.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

two little pixies


I finished knitting my second attempt at a pixie hat for Thea not long before we left for the big skies and red dirt of the Gascoyne. Tying the bonnet around my baby's sweet little face,  I was happy to find I had at last made a hat she could not (immediately) rip off her head. I tucked the beautiful teal bonnet I had knitted her away in the cupboard, after trying to unsuccessfully wrestle it onto Quinn's head on more than one occasion. He was not happy to oblige. So I was quite delighted when Darcy, the most elfin of my children, asked where it was and then took to wearing it everywhere.

I let Darcy take charge of packing his case for our road trip and was dismayed to find on our first morning that he had neglected to include a single jumper. He did, however, pack three different hand knitted beanies, and took to wearing them, one on top of the other, to ward off the early morning desert chill. It was only once I was casting off the stitches for my second little pixie hat that I realised I had made the pixie point on the first one twice as long as it was supposed to be. His pom-pom fitted inside the pixie point quite nicely.



Both little pixies ravelled here.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

29/52





Jumping on the portrait bandwagon for a week as I sort through the winter holiday pics. My boys were channeling Frida Kahlo after showering off five days of desert dust in Carnarvon.

I plaited a wreath from the bougainvillea spilling over the banks of our caravan park for Thea; but she was not the slightest bit interested in wearing it. She spent most of our fortnight away looking like this. Only grubbier.


Linking up with Jodi

Friday, 4 July 2014

a month of birthdays


I did myself no favours having two of my babies in the depths of winter. There may be five years between them, but there are only ten days separating the annual celebrations of my big and little boys' birthdays. Keeping a bunch of excited kids entertained on a cold, rainy day is always a challenge. I get to do it twice. But now that the cake baking and party bag stuffing is done and dusted for another year I can let out a big sigh and look back on the photos to fondly reminisce. I do tend to get just a little bit frazzled once the birthday month rolls around each year. It coincides with end of term tiredness and winter colds, but we just have to grab the balloon and run with it.

Quinn helped me decorate the lounge room for his birthday gathering - then did his best to tear the balloons down again before the first guest arrived (this proved a popular game throughout the afternoon). We had a scavenger hunt in the backyard; braving icy winds and passing showers to collect eggs, snails, worms, leaves, feathers and flowers. Some kids didn't want to touch a worm, so teamwork was involved. I don't go in much for traditional party games, preferring to let the kids free range and make their own fun, but it proved a good way to get them out of the comfort of the warm house and wear off some energy running around the garden.





When Lewis' birthday rolled around it was still raining, so it was a relief to load up the cars with party food and a few friends and head somewhere sheltered; with more room to run and shout than our little house. Bowl of the day went to Grant, who got a strike while simultaneously holding a baby; winning him the admiration of the next lane's contingent of bowling mothers.

I tweaked last year's soccer ball cake to create a chocolate bowling ball (as requested), and when the last pin was knocked down we sang happy birthday and unleashed the boys on the video games at the back of the alley. They play the jukebox very loud at these places, and it seemed to be rotating mostly between three particularly shouty ACDC songs. The quiet of our own home and a steaming cup of tea has never felt so good as when I had waved goodbye to the last guest and collapsed on the couch at the end of the day. That's it - I'm done for another year. We have a clear six months between now and Christmas with not a birthday to be seen.



Monday, 30 June 2014

musical beds



Our eldest son turned nine yesterday. It felt pretty big - halfway to 18 and adulthood. When he came home from school on Friday I walked him into his new bedroom. It was the first time he had slept in a room by himself since I started tucking his baby brother in beside him when he was three. He said it felt a little bit lonely but by sunrise that brother had tiptoed across the hallway and climbed, giggling, in beside him.

In the endless game of musical beds we play around here, we will be moving Thea down the hall from our room to sleep with her big brothers. Her clothes have moved out of the little cabinet in the hallway too, and into the drawers and wardrobe in the kids' room. Lewis now shares the room I use as a writing and sewing space with me - I have the front half during school hours and he inhabits the back half when he is home. I think it will work.

I had been gathering bits and pieces to make the space his own for the past six months. Sewing curtains, and a cushion to pad the top of our old toy chest, and pestering Grant to mount some old (and endearingly misspelled) wooden packing cases on the wall. They now house Lewis' collection of fantasy books, lego constructions and general ephemera. A watercolour decal of a soft grey rabbit, rather like his old pet bunny Storm, was stuck on just before he got home.

We took him ten pin bowling with five of his friends to celebrate his birthday, and he came home with a battered old bowling pin as a souvenir. I found the pin tucked in next to him when I went to kiss him goodnight. "Today was the best day of my life," he told me in a voice full of joy. "It was like going to the Royal Show and then a Dockers' game; it was that good."