There’s something about being surrounded by nature... something about the absence of man-made noise... something about fleeting encounters with native wildlife... all of it nourishes the soul in a way that is hard to describe. And it heightens the senses. It’s as if our hearing and our eyesight are back to doing what they were hardwired to do - those long dormant hunter-gatherer instincts reawakened for just a moment. Your senses become attuned to the slightest movement and noise. You stop and watch as the dried, brittle leaf of a cabbage gum crashes to the ground and blows end over end in the wind. The palm fronds rustling in the breeze grab your attention. You wake up to the call of Butcherbirds and the cackle of Blue-winged Kookaburras. It's not just a living breathing landscape but an immersive soundscape.
Last week I watched Sugar Gliders feed on the blossoms of a Cocky Apple tree along the Gibb. I saw a Northern Brown Bandicoot forage in the leaf litter and launch itself into the air. A day later I watched baby crocs in the King Edward River and watched as a Snake-necked turtle preyed on small fish until it finally caught one and swallowed it whole. Today I watched a pair of Leaden Flycatchers dance and sing and try to impress each other. And brilliant lime green Red-winged Parrots feeding in the trees above my tent. I know it’s easy to romanticise this stuff - easy to wax lyrical about Mother Nature at her best - but it truly is therapeutic. It is nourishing, it is healing and it is uplifting. We all feel that same feeling when we sit next to a waterfall or when we look at the stars. We feel part of something bigger, something majestic, something amazing. And then we disconnect. We jump back in the car and we go back to our busy lives and our man-made noise. We build walls around ourselves to keep nature out. We wake not to the sound of birds but the chatter of social media. And we get distracted - we let ourselves get distracted. Society and consumerism of course are perfectly crafted to distract us. And yes, comfort and convenience is nice sometimes. Expensive wine and fancy food. Nice clothes and designer furniture. And yet every time I step away from that stuff - all the 'good stuff' - and open myself up to being out here away from it all, every time I force myself to get off the couch, force myself to disconnect from the distractions of our busy lives and reconnect with the environment it’s as if a deep yearning has been satisfied. It’s like watching the best show on earth in real time, moment by moment.
Today, a million miles from civilisation, this feels like a welcome step away from those distractions and a step towards the things that fill my soul.