A Giant Emu Attacks and Creates the Grampians

Trip Start Dec 03, 2004
Trip End Nov 31, 2005

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Flag of Australia  ,
Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Now the bus turns away from the coast, done with the Ocean and the Road, to go deep into the heart of Grampians National Park (known to the aboriginals as Gariwerd). I sleep for a bit and when I wake up I'm shocked: we're driving in an honest to God mountain range. Usually when the Aussies say we're going to see mountains, we see a few hills and laugh. But the Grampians actually look like real mountains, looming, foggy, brooding and sharp-peaked. They're blanketed in the breath of Gods and the deep green of the forest.

At the Brambuk National Park and Cultural Centre we watch a video about an aboriginal Creation myth that explains how some of the features of the Grampians (valleys, rivers) came to be. It involves a giant emu chasing a crow and eventually being killed by two aboriginal hunters, and explains where the idea that there's an emu in the darkness of the milky way came from. Cool video, although I'm pretty certain that more than half of the group isn't getting much out of it except an appreciation of the giant emu that's built in the room, with its flashing red eyes.

It's raining again but we're still going to go for a short hike before dinner. We drive past the local cricket oval and learn that a gardener is out of a job, because there's no lawn mowing needed here: the kangaroos are cropping the grass right short. We get up close for a few photos before driving up to the hike to the Balconies, a rock formation that (wait for it) look like rocky balconies extending over the valley.

After that we hole up in the little hostel in Halls Gap and have dinner. Once it's dark, Caitlin and I go with Jason, a guy who works at the hostel, to do some spotlighting, tiptoeing out onto a large field with a big flashlight to admire the nocturnal lives of kangaroos, which is much like the daytime life of kangaroos, but something about the dark and the flash of their eyes reflected in the light makes it seem far more exciting.
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