1015 – Broome Shopping Centre, CaféIt's been a week already. It's hard to believe. The first day was horrible. I was tired and cranky, and a party was raging in the youth hostel, making my "meditative retreat" seem much like a failure.
The second day was wonderful though. I drove up north; two hours of dirt track to finally arrive in Coulomb Point, where I was alone. The beauty of the surroundings was striking, and it would remain a highlight of my stay. It was my first 4WD drive, my first fright at being bogged down in a sand road, my exhilaration at swimming in a sea where I was the only human being.
On the third day of my trip, I drove to Windjana Gorge. The day was a success, and the hike through the bush of the gorge was inspiring. It was my first sighting of freshwater crocs. Sleeping in my car, in the cold of Western Australia, amidst two dozen caravans was a bummer, though.
On the fourth day, I drove down to Fitzroy Crossing and the Geikie Gorge. The road was amazing, but FC and the hike next to the gorge was very disappointing. that day was the day I decided to shorten my trip and give up the Bunga Bunga Ranges. I think it was for the best.
The fifth day, the sixth and seventh were rather uneventful. I visited Gantheaume Point on Sunday, visited the Malcom Douglas Wilderness Park on Monday, and made new friends and had good times at the bar and at the beach.
Most of all, this trip was an occasion for me to try out "travel writing". I've realised how difficult it is to describe landscapes. I'm much more comfortable talking about my feelings and thoughts than about environments and ecologies. I guess I'm more of an "embodiment" bloke than an "embeddedness" one.
Another good point of this trip was experiencing the region of the Kimberley while reading Randolph Stow's To The Islands. I've realised that reading about gorges, pools, hills, etc., while having experienced them myself made it easier to imagine the described space. Familiarity with a region makes it easier to convoke "images" of this region while reading.
This means that reading cannot really replace experiencing. It can create feelings of attachment, but these feelings are never solidly enmeshed with the described place if the latter has not been perceived/experienced first-hand.
Reading fashions the Self, for sure. It also helps the Self relate to Place. But not to any place, to the Place where the Self is situated.
I'm glad I did this trip. I'm a bit less glad I didn't get to experience life in the bush with an Aboriginal guide. But this sounded a bit too commodifying/mercantile anyways. Paying to experience a culture… I'm not comfortable with this idea, which is why I had found Malcolm's proposition so interesting: I would get to meet a friend of a friend, not a guide of a tourist. Well, no regrets! I got to meet a subculture, the backpackers, and got to see wondrous and beauteous landscapes. I got to write about my travels, and I got to compare it to reading about the Kimberley.
A wonderful experiment in postmodern econarratology indeed.