Sydney to Ceduna return – Photo Essay (Part 5)

That the amount of mental effort and time expended trying to make a start on this next part of the journal is comparable to that spent prying myself, a little regretfully, away from the comforts of Renmark this morning has dawned on me only this evening presents a strange image.
 
“It is as though something fluid had collected our memories and we ourselves were dissolved in this fluid of the past” (Gaston Bachelard: The Poetics of Space; House and Universe).
 
Of course, Bachelard was not speaking of what happens when adjacent bases of light cones from disparate days circle back and converge on their dithering adjoiner, but in the context of reconstructing memories of lost houses; of retaining ‘an element of dream in our memories’; of going ‘beyond merely assembling exact recollections’. I duly closed and set my copy of Hawking’s A Brief History of Time aside, pored back and forth over Bachelard until I was sure I had returned to the land of original context, then departed with purpose to the photos I took of the next stop from Renmark.
 

Loch Luna Game Reserve

Loch Luna Game Reserve

The discoveries I made at Loch Luna Game Reserve surprised me, given that my natural reaction to the state of the place at the time was mostly one of gloom and sorrow. I’ll try to explain.
 
The first poor impression made on me here was made by the thick mat of red algae; a striking contrast, with the hindsight of this developing journal, to the impression made by the ice-aged red sands and the ancient river red gum of Perry Sandhills a couple of days ago. It’s clear that the recurring reports of toxic blue-green algae destroying the health of the Murray-Darling system had gone to my head in the primitive form – all algae are bad. Well, talk about misplaced first impressions. With a bit of after-the-fact research it transpires that what I am actually seeing here is a blooming healthy example of primitive single-celled red algae; reportedly one of the most primitive red algae in existence, the first algae to have its genome fully sequenced, and useful for building limestone reefs. I take everything I thought back.
 
Now I can see a merry pelican huddled on a distant fallen limb.
And a little raptor nest forked high in a long deceased tree.
And perched about 20 feet down the same tree, I think that’s a heron.
I think I’ll move in for a closer inspection.
 

Life on a Loch Luna wetland

Life on a Loch Luna wetland


 
Yup. It’s a White-necked Heron.
 
Now my spirits are up, it’s going to be difficult to restore the gloom and sorrow. I suppose the creeping water primrose shouldn’t be there, being the noxious, waterway clogging weed that it is, but their small yellow flowers and shiny green leaves compliment nicely the red of the algae to my eye. I’m pretty sure those are willow trees lining the bank over there, and they shouldn’t be there either, but if they’re not willows then this one is…
 
Willow and Carp

Willow and Carp


Willows are good for firming up river bank soils, but they choke out all the native plants. And they drink too much. And they dump all their leaves in the river at once during autumn, which then decompose and cause nasty algal blooms, which then become food for despicable carp like the 2 foot long one you can see in the foreground with the stick and the brick that I’ll bet were used to punish it hard before leaving the damn thing to rot in the dust. If there’s one lesson to learn from all this, it’s don’t be successful without someone’s help; you’ll be despised if you do.
 
I have the gloom and sorrow back now, but it’s not the same as it was when I left it; now it’s the kind that you get when your blood starts to bubble enough to want to do something to make people drop their assumptions and open their minds up a bit; to say, “Don’t be a socially constructed memory dissolved in a fluid”–all the while knowing there’s probably nothing significant you, or anyone else on their own, can successfully do about it. Best I leave this deformed gloom and sorrow behind here then, just like I left the last lot.
 
As I maneuvered with Vincent away from the carp and the willow, a pair of soft blue parrots swept across the track and disappeared from sight before I could make anything more of them.

About Brad Frederiksen

Engineer and analyst of electro-mechanical and digital systems by day job. Practitioner and student of life and art (broadly construed). View all posts by Brad Frederiksen

5 responses to “Sydney to Ceduna return – Photo Essay (Part 5)

  • tipota

    “it’s going to be difficult to restore the gloom and sorrow” that got me pumping, but then, alas, cruelty rears its head easily enough it seems, but the 2 parrots have something to say about it all, and thank goodness they say it before you an make anything of it. like a flourish, at the end, so lovely and so fast that the conscious mind might miss it, which is good since the subconscious won’t. if you know what i mean which i’m not sure i do:)

    • Brad

      The more I reflect on my memories of those wetlands, the more paradox I find; or maybe more accurate to say it raises contradictions among my values that are difficult to reconcile: the gloomy appearance of human neglect vs the sorrowful impact of human interference, the devastating yet admirable success of ‘introduced’ species vs the lamentable decline of ‘native’ species, other contradictions alluded to, and another I stumbled over today while contemplating the relative cultural values of the words ‘native’, ‘primitive’, and ‘ancestral’.

      Bachelard says elsewhere in The Poetics of Space, ‘We should have to know how the forest experiences its great age’. I know those 2 parrots were connected to its experience somehow, but mine was so fleeting!

      • tipota

        I’d like to imagine the parrots saying “here we are” or something like that which would put the situation into a different context. it is difficult to reconcile, agreed. maybe the parrots were a redeeming factor in a sense, and you did notice them, so you and they were in that shared moment “this is what it is and we are who we are” even if fleeting, as a matter of fact, fleeting i would think would be preferable both because the subconscious latches onto such things and because you are not particularly attached to any outcome whenever things are fleeting:)

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