This April the fourth was the tenth anniversary of setting out from Williamstown on the Long Yarra Walk. I woke to a stunning day, perfectly autumnal; cold clear morning, with a rolling band of mist streaming along the side of the valley, not far above our place in Warburton. After washing my face in the river as I do every morning, I set out to be within the mist. It streamed along the lower flank of Donna Buang, that name meaning the body of the mountain. As always seems to happen with mist, it vanished as I approached, but as I stood upon the aqueduct track I watched a thin snake of it on the south side of the valley twine around the curves of Mount Bride.
I wanted to keep walking, to walk, even, all the way to Williamstown, down to the wide rivermouth. My feet and lungs did not agree; I’d come down with a cold, and my energy was subdued. But I rang Kate, my walking companion, and said, meet me there, today.

Photo: Yesterday was the tenth anniversary of setting out from Williamstown on the Long Yarra Walk. I wanted to remember this time with my own ritual, and I’d planned a solo 4 day walk around Warburton. However I fell sick a few days ago, so I’ve postponed that vision. But I woke to a stunning day, perfectly autumnal; cold clear morning, with a rolling band of mist streaming along the side of the valley, not far above our place. After washing my face in the river as I do every morning, I set out to be within the mist. It streamed along the lower flank of Donna Buang, that name meaning the body of the mountain. As always seems to happen with mist, it vanished as I approached, but as I stood upon the aqueduct track I watched a thin snake of it on the south side of the valley twine around the curves of Mount Bride. I wanted to keep walking, to walk, even, all the way to Williamstown, down to the wide rivermouth. My feet and lungs did not agree. But I rang Kate, my walking companion, and said, meet me there, today.<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />The Warburton Highway by bus is a wonderful thing – you are high up, and the mountains are there with you. Then the train, passing by Mount Dandenong, then through the suburbs, crossing the river at Kew. The Williamstown train was leaving from the platform by the Yarra. To the end of the line, that station quiet, ending at Point Gellibrand, that spit of land surrounded by the quiet world of water. It was a day much like that day 10 years ago. Clear and breezy, I walked through high autumn dry grasses, just like the first time, but with the sun behind me as it was late afternoon, and now the grasses are indigenous. I walked through a park, and wrens hopped through the saltbush. This park was what was planned, that time 9 years ago, when the ‘All State Temporary Fences’ were erected and the earth scraped. I walked down to the water and washed my face in the wavelets. Such warm water, so different to my mountain river. And blue – a huge dose of blue! Wide clear sky, blue water, everything blue. It filled me clean.<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />I walked through Williamstown by the water, feeling so tired, but torn, for I wanted the feel of this great riversea meeting place rolling away under my feet. But at the next stony beach there was an egret, my favourite bird, feeding in the shallows, a rare sighting. I sat and watched her for nearly an hour, absorbed in her absorption. She ate small wiggling fish, swallowing them alive. The wind blew across the face of the wide blue river, turning it dark, and ruffled her veil-like feathers. The light was fading, and Kate was coming, and I turned away from the water.
The Warburton Highway by bus is a wonderful thing – you are high up, and the mountains are there with you. Then the train, passing by Mount Dandenong, then through the suburbs, crossing the river at Kew. The Williamstown train was leaving from the platform by the Yarra. To the end of the line, that station quiet, ending at Point Gellibrand, that spit of land surrounded by the quiet world of water. It was a day much like that day 10 years ago. Clear and breezy, I walked through high autumn dry grasses, just like the first time, but with the sun behind me as it was late afternoon, and now the grasses are indigenous. I walked through a park, and wrens hopped through the saltbush. This park was what was planned, that time 9 years ago, when the ‘All State Temporary Fences’ were erected and the earth scraped. I walked down to the water and washed my face in the wavelets. Such warm water, so different to my mountain river. And blue – a huge dose of blue! Wide clear sky, blue water, everything blue. It filled me clean.
I walked through Williamstown by the water, feeling so tired, but torn, for I wanted the feel of this great riversea meeting place rolling away under my feet. But at the next stony beach there was an egret, my favourite bird, feeding in the shallows, a rare sighting. I sat and watched her for nearly an hour, absorbed in her absorption. She ate small wiggling fish, swallowing them alive. The wind blew across the face of the wide blue river, turning it dark, and ruffled her veil-like feathers. The light was fading, and Kate was coming, and I turned away from the water.

 

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