It is 33 degrees. My window is down, my hair is loose, my elbow rests an inch outside the window. Billy Joel is on AM Radio and the roadsign tells me that I’m 98 kilometers away from the next available services. To the tourist – it’s easy to see snow-capped mountains drawing ever closer. BUT, they’re not mountains and its not snow. It’s sand! Bright white and constantly shifting inland, the sand dunes of Cervantes are signalling home.
I’m in the wheat-belt region of Western Australia. Known today as the turquoise coast, this remote part of the world is Dirt Music Country, land of the Pinnacles and home to my childhood. I’m struck by how different my memory has painted it. For a start, this land is BIG for a LITTLE town. It has an endless horizon of native grasstrees that slowly blur into one homogeneous mass of green, gold and blue. There’s an ambitious forest of man-made windmills, absorbing energy from the windswept farmland and idealistically capable of feeding a city 100 times the size of its closest neighbour. And yet it is empty country – raw, wild and beautiful.
I didn’t always love this place. My history in dirt music was one built on locker room gossip and the ambitious imaginings of teenage boys. It’s taken 28 years to forgive that history and walk these streets with affection. The amazing thing is, once I decided to forgive, forgiveness was easy.
The house that I grew up in & the jetty I jumped off are there no more. Time has taken those relics of history from me. However, it is surprisingly easy to find others. A rusty tractor – a timber swing – a pile of fishing rope tossed carelessly amongst disregarded craypots. I flick through ancient photos and am reawakened to the carelessless of childhood. Bare feet, foam surfboards, giant sharks and green utes that made perfect chariots. At last I can smell the salt in my blood – embrace the wind as it caresses my hair. This is not nostalgia. It is a deep sense of belonging reawakening within me.
As I reunite with my history and my history reunites with me, I find something I once lost; a sense of pride and belonging to the relics of time that define who we are and what we become. I’m understand now that it’s our history which drives us forward and leads us home – wherever that home may be.