First published in the Sydney Morning Herald's Good Weekend Summer 2018 reading issue: 10 short stories by 10 big authors.
With much gratitude to Editor, Katrina Strick.
"You can't go home again," wrote Thomas Wolfe. For most of my life I've railed against accepting this unbearable truth, stubbornly searching in vain for a way back to homes that were lost to me; those of wood and nails, those found in other people, and, maybe the most elusive, a sense of home and belonging within myself. For all that time spent searching, what I never paused to consider was that I'd always held a way home very literally in the palm of my hand.
I've wanted to be a writer since I was three years old, the age when my mother taught me to read. Our family home was on the northern end of the Gold Coast, a block from a glittering, shallow estuary of the Pacific Ocean called the Broadwater. I was always outdoors, in Mum's subtropical, ever-blooming garden – full of silver-green ironbark, scarlet bottlebrush and pink flowering tea trees – or at the sea; I could smell the salty pungency through my bedroom window.
First published in Griffith Review, Edition 47 Looking West, published January 2015.
With much gratitude to co-editors, Julianne Schultz and Anna Haebich.
ON THE SOUTH-WEST boundary of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, in the centre of Australia, an unmarked red-dirt track turns left off the Lasseter Highway. For the few kilometres still within park lines it’s known as Docker River Road. Beyond that point it becomes Tjukaruru Road, leading to Western Australia through Aboriginal freehold land.
In 2006, as a member of the park staff, I occasionally had to go down Docker River Road for work. From the park boundary I would stare into the seemingly untouched red landscape, both delighting and recoiling at the expanse of land ahead. I had never ventured any further.