Thursday, April 26, 2007

Brady's Lookout near Launceston, Tasmania

As I stepped out of the car at the top of the hill, it was like waking to a very pleasant dream. I looked at the lines on the road – the spaces for other cars – but there were none.
When I looked up, what confronted me was the view. It seemed to go on forever and I guess it stretched 30 or 40 km almost to Bass Strait in the north, and to the green but rugged mountains which encircled the valley in every other direction.
But the most striking feature was the Tamar River winding its way graciously to the sea.
The sky could not have been bluer, the trees greener. And the water was a shade of blue jade flecked with slivers of silver.
There was not a house in sight - or a person – or even a bird for that matter.
But despite the solitude I felt engulfed in an aura of belonging – like a child who’d been away from home for a long, long time and just returned.
It was a warm comfortable and satisfying feeling and I had no desire to go away and leave it.
After a while of musing, two other people entered my dream.
I hadn’t heard their car and didn’t notice them until they ambled across to the place where I had been standing.
I wondered if they were experiencing the same feeling which I had.
They looked content. They were not young.
He was Australian and she was Indian with long black hair falling down her back.
They walked hand in hand and said nothing.
They smiled at me and I smiled back.
I moved on and stopped at a plaque at the side of the track which said that this place was Brady’s Lookout.
Mathew Brady had been sentenced to transportation from England in 1820 for stealing food. Having attempted to abscond and committed several crimes Brady soon became known as a notorious bandit and he and his gang sought refuge in the rocky outcrops on the side of the valley overlooking the Tamar River.
Brady’s hope was to pirate a ship on the River and escape by sea. But he never made it and was eventually captured, tried and hanged in Hobart in 1826.

I will remember that lookout – Brady’s lookout – not for the convicted man, but for the views, the solitude, the peace and a feeling of contentment which is hard to explain.
It was like being touched by fragments of memory from childhood.
Like the sound of a robin pecking on the corner of a frosted window frame.
Like the crunch of freshly fallen snow underfoot.
Like the changing faces dancing in the flames of a fire.
Like the taste of honey on crumpets on a cold winter’s night.
The sorts of memories you never forget.
Brady’s Lookout was like that. And the best thing about it was that it wasn’t a dream.
It was real - and it will still be there when I go back.