There is something about having the sky for a ceiling, of watching the bush come alive in the morning as the sun pulls itself over the rim of the earth. A light breeze caressing the land, rustling the grasses and carrying the cloying scents of animals and herbage. To stand in the middle of a paddock surrounded by towering trees brings a stillness, a peacefulness that literally soothes the soul. You can feel the energy of life. But there is also death. Perhaps that is why the most simple of moments in rural Australia bring so much joy. It can be a hard life.

This is a land where quite often Spring and Autumn can last a scant two weeks. Winter can be freezing with black frosts and bracing southerly winds and summer is not for the faint-hearted. With temperatures hovering in the 40 degree plus mark we have physically fried an egg on the back path. We have good seasons of course, wonderful years where the paddocks are lush with wavering grasses, the livestock are contented and crops are bountiful. We also have shockers. We can spend our days looking to the west, searching for the tell-tale sign of clouds and rain. When it comes, invariably there is not enough, or too much, or the rain falls at the wrong time. Drought and flood rule our existence, can at worst destroy lives and businesses and at best delay farm planning and shrink incomes. My father calls it character building, and I’m my father’s daughter, so I agree. West Murki 650

During the hard times I think of the city, of Sydney, a living entity all of its own with its secrets and wonderful history, its proud buildings and cultural heritage that embraces the citizens of the world. There is much to entice, the buzz, the convenience and the opportunities. I can see the night-time lights sparkling around the foreshore of Sydney Harbor, a fairy world filled with possibility. I dream of the crash of the ocean, of the lulling swell of the tide. Of straddling the edge of a mighty continent and of those who traveled so far so many eons ago across its tempestuous surface to settle this land, first the aboriginals in their skillfully crafted canoes and then the whites in their ships of billowing sails.

City and country, land and sea, silence and sirens, both can be home if need be, but the country tugs like a giant yellow-belly making its way upstream.