The idea for this poem came to me whilst driving along the Oodnadatta track and was further reinforced at Uluru and during our wonderful 1/2 day walk around Ormiston Pound. The beauty and variety of Australia's red centre is a great surprise for anyone who thinks it must be a boring lifeless desert, and it is a real "must see" for any Australian. For me, even though I don't live in the centre, it is the most precious part of my wonderful country and it is deep in the heart of my heart.
I have tried to capture some snapshots here of the magic that is the Red Centre. Naturally there is far more to it than this, but hopefully these glimpses will ring an answering chime with the memory of those who have explored this special place.
Hot: as the furnace breath of a kiln door, the burning sun of the afternoon.
Dry: and fine as rice flour, the red dust of Oodnadatta.
Cold: and heavy as the surf of the Southern Ocean, the deep water of Ormiston pond.
Lush: with verdant fronds and long grass, the wet and rocky strand of Palm Valley.
Grey: and blue and white and red and yellow, the extraordinary beauty of the Painted Desert.
Irritating: as a telemovie filled with ads, the unconquerable persistence of the little flies.
Rough: and tough as a weathered rail track, the ruby wall within the West MacDonnell range.
Amazing: and stark as a blast from the gods, the awesome bulk of Uluru.
Strange: and mysterious as an alien from the stars, the weathered domes of Watarrka.
Inevitable: and interminable as old age, the violent torture of the corrugated road.
Pleasant: and relaxing as the first beer of the day, the warm dry air of the evening.
Clear: and bright as diamonds stitched on black velvet, the night sky far from town.
Unexpected: and welcome as a lottery win, the life-giving oasis of an artesian spring.
Dependable: and reassuring as Australia itself, the mottled trunks of ancient red gums.
Iconoclastic: and disinterested as the sentinels of Easter Island, the endless march of termite mounds.
Colourful: and varied, as women at a ball, the unanticipated beauty of desert flowers.
White: and brilliant as a spotlight in the eyes, the midday glare from the salt of Lake Eyre.
Precious: to me as life itself, the red centre, heart of my country.
Warren Mars - September/October 2013