Enchantment with my surroundings had caused me to lose track of time. This was, of course, compounded by the search for a way through the rock wall and my slowed pace due to my wonky knee. As a result, I returned to the homestead too late to say good-bye to Dorothy and Dennis, for which I was sorry. I enjoyed them both and would have liked to have wished them well and joy on their onward travels. Sigh.
I headed off to hike a bit more, but by 5:30, the sun was beginning to set. I headed back to the cabin, cleaned up a bit, and then, about 6:15, I carried my tripod and camera gear out to a clearing not far from the homestead, set it up, and waited for the sunset’s afterglow. I think I got some good shots, but it’s hard to predict. My battery just died, so I had no light meter. We’ll see.
At 7pm, I headed for the homestead dining room once again. With Dorothy and Dennis gone, I ate alone, but that afforded me the opportunity both to write and to admire my surroundings. I love this old building. I was also a bit saddened to overhear a couple of teenagers complaining to their parents that “there is nothing to do here.” I pity those who cannot find anything to do when surrounded by so much that is fascinating and beautiful.
I again ordered the barramundi. Not sure when I’ll get to enjoy this again. For starters, I had pumpkin soup, which was lovely. I thought back to my first trip, when I had been surprised to find that pumpkin is used so widely here, appearing often mashed and served as a side dish, but also showing up in other recipes, such as the velvety soup I enjoyed. It was in Australia, on that first, long trip, that I had fallen in love with Strongbow cider, so that seemed like the perfect beverage. (They have it now in the United States, but for a long time, it simply wasn’t available here.) There’s something particularly appealing about eating a really lovely meal in a charmingly rustic, historic setting. I enjoyed myself thoroughly.
After dinner, I went out for a bit of stargazing. I was again awed by the beauty of Australia’s nighttime sky. I found the Southern Cross (with much joy–this constellation really delights me, no doubt because it is so associated with Australia). I spent a bit more than an hour outside, in the darkened desert, just enjoying the great, glittering show, but with my gaze returning regularly to the Southern Cross. The Milky Way sprawling across the sky is so impressive in this hemisphere, and of course, being out in the desert makes it seem closer and even more awe-inspiring.
Then it was back to the cabin for some sad packing in preparation for tomorrow’s departure. I’m not sure how I allowed myself so little time here. Did I think I would not react the same to the outback as I did the first time? Could I have imagined that it would not speak to me as it had before? Had I forgotten what it meant to me? I must return, and next time, I must give myself more time.