Above the Gulf

Work never ends. There’s always a job somebody can do and there’s always that task waiting to be ticked off by someone..

Even around the house – you’ve dedicated the day to sorting the place out and you feel like you’ll get ahead, yet the deeper you delve into the fixing, the sorting, the cleaning and the organising, there’s always more..

We’ve all been there before – on one of our days off or even whilst on holidays. My sister and I have watched our dad restlessly spend weekends and semi-retirement chipping away at jobs around the house, cleaning the shed or mulching the garden after a hefty session removing the never ceasing bombardment of weeds. He rarely stops, despite our vocal desire for him to hurry up and retire, and when he does it’s usually to retreat to the living room to be in front of the source of winter warmth in our Victorian home – the cosy fire place. This isn’t a unique story, and can be appreciated by most of us who run our own homes year-round..

Yet unlike work and its continual checklist, the ability to create – that is to be inventive with your thoughts in a creative fashion (writing, painting, drawing, building, singing etc) – isn’t so guaranteed. Typically we need a catalyst – some form of motivation – to do so. It doesn’t take much, humans need very little reason to be creative. This is why I laugh when people say they’re not so. They haven’t given themselves the chance to be, as they are human and incredibly creative, even inherently genius – if they only allowed themselves to be..

The simplest way to do so is to remove all distractions – remove the need to continually work, the need to fix, remove things like tv and phones – and you’re almost there. Think of when you were a kid, or even of your own kids – in front of a tv stunned into near silence, yet when it’s switched off instead creating a whole world of imagination with each step and breath. Cubby houses, hide and seek, even ‘fortresses’ made of pillows and blankets – they are completely imaginary worlds and games bought to life by the creativity of humans..

I maintain that we’re fucking brilliant creatures!!

This afternoon the sun is setting casting older light through my lofty window and over my page. Below me is the story of land and water that has been told over many millions of years – the formation of the ancient, unique, and beautiful array of earth that I call my home. From a few thousand feet in the air the vastness compacts, the grandness becomes a little less daunting, and the ‘ecotones’ (stark differences in geology and vegetation i.e. a sand dune meeting the scrub, or a fresh water river meeting an ocean) become noticeably easier to interpret. Instead of slowly hiking for hours on end through the bush to encounter these changes – it’s rapidly played out before you to be taken in all at once..

What’s more is the colour variation is fascinating, the whole spectrum is represented – slowly fading from one green to another as the vegetation shifts, or rapidly from rock, to water, to mud. From the air it is evident that this is one solid network utterly interconnected, where no moment in nature goes unnoticed or fails to influence the future of another..

Here in the Gulf country, where Queensland and the Northern Territory meet on the coast, is some of the most pristine examples of the wonder and brilliance of the natural world. Mud brown snakes slowly wind their way from the tablelands down towards the coast – approaching their terminus they fissure into an array of aquatic exits, as the battered floodplains give way to the coast and huge plumes of muddy sediment gush out into the sea. The turbid blue oceanic waters are in stark contrast to the flowing brown rivers, whilst in parts the sediment has exploded into patches of muddy ocean larger than many cities..

It’s grand at this height, and although seemingly frozen change and continuity is still evident – the white caps of waves indicate a decent wind bustling parallel to the coast, and a white washed shoreline of the off-shore islands perimeter indicates where they finally crash into land. The rising smoke of a bush fire whips off an island hinting at a human presence too..

Like many of our shared memories the act of staring down from the wings of a plane visually exploring the condensed land below is one shared by many. At one point in our lives (or more) there is that wonder in all of us of the grandness of what’s below us – that wonder is almost never grander than when taking flight over Australia.

The speciality and vastness of the lengthy list of landscapes, seascapes, geography, and plant and animal communities is simply brilliant. It’s all one stunning country, split only by invisible ‘borders’ such as the one I’m casting my eyes down now – the 138 parallel that divides Queensland and the NT that instantly took half an hour from my day..

From up here the worlds of wonder and beauty collide perfectly, and it is utterly easy to get caught up in the moment realising how special this place really is..

But I didn’t set to writing because of the beauty that lay below me..

It was instead the sight of devastation that did..

Mangroves are a tree that spend most of their lives partially immersed in salt water. They are an incredible plant, living with the marine exchange between flood and drought every day, soaking up salt water (that would kill most plants) and excreting it through their leaves. What’s more, is on the coastal fringe they are subject to the coastal barrage whipped up by storms and cyclones, and cast a relative calm on the land behind them..

In the Gulf, right below me, mangroves are dying off or become defoliated (lost their leaves) literally overnight. Not one or two – but hundreds of kilometres of trees along the coastline. This event has never happened before in living memory, and is not too dissimilar to the coral bleaching event that recently smashed our Great Barrier Reef..

As the stronghold species of so much of our coastal environment, this is a huge concern. Without living mangroves, what plant or animal remains and which relies on them being alive is simply screwed. The flow on effect, from the increased run off of muddy sediment into the ocean could in turn accentuate further erosion and the smothering of underwater habitats like coral reefs and sea grass meadows..

As a rule, when writing in a way to introduce to and inspire people to explore our great outdoors, I shy away from negativity surrounding environmental catastrophes in an effort to no overwhelm and take the time to encourage further self-education. In an over simulated world awash with a variety of negativity – exploring them only leads to people switching off..

I don’t know why these huge expanses of mangroves have carked it – in fact, no one has been able to ascertain exactly why given it’s sudden occurrence and the extreme remoteness of the Gulf – only time will tell..

I do know that we’re fortunate enough to be able to create a positive future for any environment under stress..

This lays in our collective creativeness – and our ability to escape from our distractions!

We can decide to create our future where the beauty of the world is protected, where we live without events such as the one playing out below me (and if you want other examples where humans are proven to be the cause of environmental destruction, I have plenty to share – just ask).

We’ve already got our friends and family – we just need to involve the sea, mountains, bush and rivers on a more regular basis – we just need to really fall in love with the beauty around us!

Because when you love something – you don’t treat it like shit or fuck it up. You protect it, forever..

I’m certain that caring and learning about the world around you can stem from that first appreciation of natures simple beauty, from when you find yourself surrounded by and a part of the world around you. From there an amazing future awaits all of us..

By now the ink is fading, my text truely lagging, and the sun far past setting. Queensland disappeared long ago, as a layer of clouds looking more like mashed potatoes slapped onto a plate than clouds finally blocked it from view, leaving me to wonder what’s for dinner in Brissy tonight..


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