For the audio-story, please click here
How does wide open space feel? Like floating. Like being brought to your knees. Like tasting humility, the limitations of being human, and the might of something much vaster than yourself. It does not feel like Europe one bit, I can tell you that much. At least not the Europe I know, the Europe of the mind, of questioning everything a thousand times before putting it into reality, of letting mind and reason reign over the impulses of your heart, your gut, your most essential self.
This is Western Australia, the land of wild untouched dirt, of colors so intense they make you gasp for air and beg for mercy, as such natural beauty is rarely to be found in places where civilization and man-made card houses of self-importance hold the dice on the playing field of life.
Driving through the Wild Wild West: Aboriginal Dreams-time in Geraldton
The red dirt to my right, the stark bluest blue you´ll ever see a sky painted in above, the many shades of blue/ turquoise/ greens/ dark emeralds of the mighty Indian Ocean to my left… that is the colorful ground tenor to the symphony of this road trip-adventure. It´s my first going the whole way from Western Australia´s laid-back capital Perth up to Coral Bay aka my latest definition of paradise.
Our first bigger stop is Geraldton, 424 kilometres north of the state capital, Perth. With its around 38.000 inhabitants, it´s a big town in Western Australia – a small one by European standards, though, where people can often be found anywhere you look/walk/sit/breathe. Once our van arrives safely in Geraldton, we do the things we as humans need to do – eat, move, again, breathe. And we do things humans have the privilege of doing, like marveling at art.
Geraldton Art Gallery: Journeying back in Aboriginal time
As I spot the advertisement for an Aboriginal art exhibition at the local art gallery, I suddenly feel as if I´m thrown back in time. I had always felt deeply drawn to Indigenous Australian´s spirituality, wisdom, and art – so much so that back in 2002 I had basically copied every word of a book on the topic into my diary. And that was long before I even knew that I would end up living Down Under for quite a while…
The book had whispered some of the secrets of true magic to me – not the magic that is used nowadays at every turn to market and sell, no, the magic that is as or more real than the lines you are reading right now. The magic of living in unison with all of creation, and of dancing, singing, and sensing your way through the many circles of life. The magic of things unspoken, of veils unbroken, and bonds forged in the forgotten realms of an ethereal home.
Ancient art in modern spaces
Following the longings of my heart, I step into the Geraldton Regional Art Gallery and bathe myself in the imagery. The Aboriginal paintings invite me to travel back in time, more specifically around 75.000 years in time, when the first Aboriginal Australians, descendants of the first people ever to leave Africa (here´s to bravery!) arrived in Australia. Granted, the paintings were not THAT bloody old, of course!
For artistic evidence dating back tens of thousands of years, there´s no better way than to check out some original Rock art like the one I had been able to admire on a trip to the Pilbara region of Western Australia. But that´s a story for another time and post, my mates.
The paintings which were on display in Geraldton, meanwhile, did open a window into the Indigenous Australian culture for me through their brilliant storytelling clothed in symbols/ icons, a chronical used to transmit knowledge of the land, events, and beliefs of the Aboriginal people.
The first painting posted above might look deceivingly simple to the uninformed onlooker – who most likely won´t know about a very intriguing and kinda secret characteristic of Indigenous Australian Art. According to the Artlandish Aboriginal Art Gallery in Kununurra, Aboriginal artists will denote the “outside” story which they prepare for their non-indigenous audience whilst the full “inside” story can be understood only to those with the appropriate level of knowledge. Pretty fascinating, right?
The second artwork showcases a common motive in Aboriginal art. Many Indigenous Aussie paintings consist of thousands of meticulously created “dots”. More specifically, it´s Western Desert art which is given its unique character through the use of dots. Executed the traditional way, it takes the artist hundreds of hours of precision and committed attentiveness just to create the background.
So, what do those dots actually stand for, you might ask? Well, they symbolize stars, sparks, burnt ground and the likes as the base of an Aboriginal painting is the organisation of the earth and the ancestral connection with it. Country, respect for country/ earth as well as Dreamtime are important pillars of Aboriginal culture and identity, after all.
The world´s oldest living culture definitely has a lot to teach us “young ones”, and I hope to learn much more about their wisdom and powerful ways of relating to all that is in the future. But ahem, losing track of time here…let´s get back to our roadtrip-adventure!
Kalbarri explorations: From bloody old to bloody impressive
After a healthy lunch (or was it? Mmh…) overlooking the gorgeous myriad of shades of blue tainted waves of the imposing Indian Ocean, it was time to continue the journey to Kalbarri, more specifically the Kalbarri National Park, boasting impressive inland river gorges with really bloody old rock formations that are definitely older than your grandma. Or your great-grandma. Or your motherland, maybe. Depends where you live.
The relatively secluded National Park, 485 km north of Perth in the Midwest region of WA, entices adventurous visitors with its 400 million-year-old gorges as well as towering ocean cliffs. The Murchison river gorge runs for almost 80 km on the lower reaches of the Murchison River, but before you zone out because Murchison River who – take a look at the colorful power-presence that is Western Australia´s natural forces. You might have never seen a blue that deeply blue and a red that passionately alive red anywhere before!
The circle of life: The treasures of Kalbarri National Park
When out and about exploring the wonders of Kalbarri National Park, I couldn´t help myself and did a little Yoga and mindfulness practice on the incredible ancient lands, feeling her more deeply, letting her overtake my mind and being and dissolving into her magnificence.
Witnessing her entirely meant bowing to her powerful presence while taking in the sensations of warm rays of sunshine on my skin, a rush of chilly wind messing with my hair and cooling down my neck, and the panoramic views of seemingly endless wild nature all around me.
This might be a bit random, but bare with me – did you ever watch the movie “The Lion King” and remember the scene where little Simba was being held up to the sky and introduced to its fellow animal-friends? Not that I felt like a lion-cub (even though I might have let out a tiny roar when gazing upon those views), but the similarities between the scenery were pretty damn striking…:P
We ended up spending a good day exploring Kalbarri National Park – and ended up passing the night in a rather unexpected place while disturbing more than a few orderly citizens in the process. Read all about that cheeky adventure as well as my explorations of the incredible Shark Bay World Heritage Area next time!
Today´s healing action: Seeing that this post is all about stunning Australia, a place that is seriously hurting at the moment, I wanted to share a few links where you can donate to help:
Red Cross Australia – general disaster relief
If you believe in the power of prayer, that´s another way to help .
Last but not least, it´s a wonderful act of care for our planet to reduce our impact by reducing or eliminating meat consumption, offsetting emissions, and more. Also, check out this helpful article on ways to travel in a more eco-conscious way.
Back to you, dear reader: What´s your favorite National Park, and what do you love most about spending time there? As always, would love to hear from you!