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We passed the last town a while back. Now, as we followed the black lick of a line out deeper into the south, out to the west and into the Dumaresq Valley, we watched the landscape blur. The limbs of trees sagged heavy with prickly pear, mistletoe and wattle. We couldn’t help but forage. We stopped to pick some of each, reaching, jumping high up for the best branches and tasting the pears and their prickles on our lips. Our bounty was rich, but knowing the place and the people we were about to meet, our bounty was about to grow richer.
Driving into Moorabinda Station, we were greeted with the quintessential beauty of a rural, wintry Australia. Rusted metal gates, corrugated iron and a huge wool shed come dance hall come whatever. There were ancient towering gums and kelpies lying beneath them. Utes and farm houses and thousands of acres with neighbours nowhere to be seen. There were also shearer’s quarters, a place for us to sleep and make our home for the next two nights. Here, rustic and wooden bedrooms opened out to one long veranda. The common place was the kitchen, with an old wooden farm table tucked between the wood fired stove and a stores cupboard. There was also a dining room fixed alongside that housed a long dinner table, which in the evenings was full of flickering candle light and warmth from an open fire.
There was content here to feast on for the whole weekend. Our company, nine likeminded ladies (most somewhat new but all very dear friends) came together to do just this. To share the time away, to live slowly, to photograph and to feast. We cooked, we talked, we ate. We tended to wheelbarrows of wattle and our other foraged bits, sipped hot toddies by the campfire and stared at the stars. We learned what it means to wake early and build a fire on the wood fired oven before we could have tea. We ate brunch on the veranda, searched for brumbies on the station and killed and prepared chooks and ducks for our dinner on a farm nearby. Our days were full, full, full. And our evenings were slow and long and delicious. We couldn’t possibly want for anything else.
Out here, among the wintry rural landscape, everything felt calm. There were moments, so many moments, where it was nice to stop and remember just that. That moment. For its smell. For its goosebumps. For its rhythm. Ichi-go ichi-e was so apt right here. This weekend, so special but soon gone, was a place to be present, fully. And so easily done. The bounty here among us was just so very rich.
These were our friends, this was our food and this stunning place was ours for the weekend.
A big thanks to Philip and Julia Markham for letting us stay on your farm. To Paul and Jenny Magna for the birds, for the pizza and for the inspiration. And the biggest thanks of all to Annabelle, for preparing it all, for letting us come visit and for giving us a glimpse into your daily life.