Sitting deep in the wilderness with views of Gariwerd* our plans for a sunrise hike thwarted, I enjoy my first strong coffee of the day. Kangaroos graze in a large mob only meters away ignorant of the thunderstorm that has developed in the past hour. The pinks and reds of the sunrise breaking through the darkness as lightning strikes overhead. I’m bewildered that my traveling companions can sleep through this wild storm as they miss one of nature’s finest spectacles. The experience of being in the centre of a storm yet safe as a silent observer is wonderful and what a privilege to wake in this sacred land today.
After months of lockdown, nature has rewarded us traveling almost 4 hours to be here. Gariwerd is a very spiritual place for Aboriginal people, because of the dreaming stories and the abundance of food, water and shelter it provides. Although of European descent this is also the place that I continue to return to and one my son at nearly 4 years old always asks we visit. With each trip, we learn more about this spectacular region and today we see a different side in the midst of nature’s striking beauty as the sky opens and unleashes its power.
As the storm develops at sunrise the wildlife comes alive. A chorus of birdsong, mostly small high pitched interrupted by the calls of kookaburras and cockatoos surround me. The occasional emu in the distance pokes his head up as I consider how remarkable the pristine bushland is in this remote pocket of the state. The kangaroos continue to gather oblivious to the wild weather raging overhead having evolved 3 million years ago and perfectly adapted to this changing climate. Such a contrast to yesterday where we experienced weather in the mid-30s somewhat stifling as the kids cooled off in the pool.
As the spectacular pink sky fades the sky succumbs to the heavy grey clouds, the day has broken and my traveling companions have missed the most theatrical start to the day. The thunder and lightning continue overhead and with the temperature dropping, I’m thankfully that I packed my winter hiking gear as today will be unlike any other exploring the majesty of the Victorian bush.