Sunset along the Darling River, Yanda Camprground, Gundabooka
It had been close to a week that I had been camping alone and it would be fair to say my mind wasn’t doing very well. There in the idyllic remote region of Gundabooka National Park (far western NSW) I had pitched a tent to remove myself from my regular life. For months my brother and I had been living and caring for our father whose dementia had worsened while his wife was hospitalised. Anyone who has been in a similar situation will know the amount of mental resilience this takes, by the end I had none. We finally managed to put our father into professional care and shortly after our mother died.
With these experiences still fresh in my mind I hopped into a ridiculously over-sized 4WD and drove a couple of days to reach Gundabooka. In many ways it was the worst thing I could have done. My need to escape had failed to recognise the value of being around familiar faces. Determined to not let this once in a lifetime experience be ruined by recent events, I walked along different trails each day and drove around looking for sites that would be of interest to record.
It was an incredible area, stone-covered hills rose from the desert, wildlife I’d never seen before flew between trees or crawled on the red earth, but my mind was caught in a loop replaying memories of our parents in various stages of demise. The only reprieve from this was during recording sessions, the mental focus needed to train microphones towards a particular sound cancelled the mental loops.
I left earlier than planned, having reached a point where I felt spending another day alone would push me into psychosis. On my final night I watched the sun set over the Darling River, crickets began to make themselves heard in a deafening yet exhilarating chorus. I attempted a few recordings but without any light I couldn’t see what I was doing. I was aware of how idyllic the scene before me was, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to block the memories as the sun sank further towards the horizon. It was time to go.