The Idea of Home

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Outback Queensland with termite mound in the distance. 

Have you ever paused to contemplate the idea of home? What it means to you; what it may mean to others? Did your thoughts fly immediately to your house, your garden, your family, as mine used to? Or is your concept of home more expansive, to include your people, your culture, your country?

On my trip to Outback Queensland recently, I was moved to re-examine my idea of home.

As we navigated long stretches of single lane roads towards distant wide horizons I began to truly appreciate the aboriginal notion of ‘belonging to country’. Rather than owning the land, the land ‘owns’ them. Their creation myths are ‘written’ into the landscape. Their spirituality and connected-ness with all living things is expressed by ‘country’.

In the Outback, pausing in solitude to watch the darkness fall (there is virtually no twilight) and witness the huge dome of star studded sky appear overhead is truly humbling. I felt so small in comparison. But I also felt at peace; a part of something much bigger.

Cities have a tendency to shield one from this aspect, wrapping around our self importance and busy-ness, obscuring the wide open spaces like the Outback and the deep spiritual connection it evokes. I felt a sense of belonging; I felt like I was ‘home’.

Travelling has a way of widening one’s view, of taking one out of one’s comfort zone to see and experience how others understand their existence and how they live their lives. The people I met from remote cattle stations and in the many small towns we visited were a resilient bunch. They suffer the vagaries of all manner of weather: drought and floods, changing economic climates. And they navigate the challenges that isolation poses with a laconic stoicism and dry humour.

I have discovered upon reflection, my idea of home is multi-dimensional. Returning with this perspective to my apartment and tiny courtyard garden, I see anew and I’m grateful for it. Exploring the notion from the perspective of others has been instructive and something I’ll write about further in coming posts.

At every turn, I could hear a poem from my childhood in my head. The poet describes this aspect of my home perfectly. Perhaps because it was hers too.

I love a sunburnt country

A land of sweeping plains,

Of ragged mountain ranges

Of droughts and flooding rains

I love her far horizons

I love her jewel seas

Her beauty and her terror

The wide brown land for me

For those who don’t recognise this stanza from Dorothea Mackellar’s poem, My Country, it’s worth taking time to read the whole poem.

 

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43 responses to “The Idea of Home

  1. Hi Robyn – welcome back from your trip. As I antcipated, the concepts of country and home would cross your mind. I’m looking forward to your future posts; the content and photos in this post have whet the appetite for more.

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  2. Food for thought… I guess home could also be a person, or maybe even a state of being, or sunlight falling on a leaf in just the right way to evoke a feeling of belonging….

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  3. Though I’ve spent most of my life in and around Wellington, I always get a strong sense of belonging when I go to the South Island, particularly the southern half. It seems to do with smell – the smell of snow! Then there are certain types of trees and flowers… I commented on this to my mother some time ago, and she said, “Well, you spent the first 7 years of your life there, so it’s not surprising.” Imprinting, perhaps?

    Plus a sense of continuity, because that’s where almost all my ancestors who came here in the 19th century settled. There are graves in old cemeteries and old photos in museums.

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  4. so good to read and thank you for the poem too. I live in a green land but we suffer the vagaries of the weather just as much but the last drought I remember was back in 1976. It was a wonderful warm summer that year , but then I was a young mum and the years stretched ahead.

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  5. I love the Outback. To me it is the true Australia. A place where you realise how insignificant you are. Gone in a flash like a summer flower. Africa can have the same effect too if you get away from the cities and become one with the land. (love the poem too)

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  6. Such an inspiring read. It has me thinking about home and the feelings that evokes deep inside. And of course it makes me long to experience the Outback as so many of your posts do in bringing a foreign place into my own home.I will definitely read MacKellar’s entire poem tonight. Thank you, Robyn. I always feel better whenever I read one of your posts. Clare

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      • Robyn, One of your fellow bloggers wrote about how the sense of smell can bring us home and I think this was also spot on. And you always give me food for thought, so I’ll always be coming back to your table. I’m happy your trip was a happy and safe one. Clare

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  7. The trip was a smorgasbord for the senses including smell. It reconnected me to my sense of smell. Even though I no longer live in a big city the smells of a regional seaside town are vastly different to the dust laden Outback. Especially around the extensive fossil fields. Here I was aware of breathing in the ancient dust of the eons.

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  8. Pingback: Little home, lucky home, big home | Write into life·

  9. Welcome home Robyn! It sounds like you had a wonderful experience… …and really experienced the land. Your post has made me remember the wonderful non-fiction book by the Australian author Jackie French called “Let the land speak”. It sounds very much like the land spoke to you.
    Looking forward to more posts from your travels… and great pics too 🙂

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  10. Oh really? Perhaps I have a blogger doppelganger out there?
    You are right about seeing an un-corrupted night sky though. It’s a source of wonderment largely lost to city dwellers.

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  11. Robyn, thanks for a wonderful post. And what a fantastic trip you had. Such amazing photos!
    I believe travelling ‘Outback’ is something all Australians must experience before they die. A plethora of experiences are waiting for us all.
    For me, it was the silence (which I found almost deafening, at times) and the feeling I was a trespasser, a mere traveller passing through a timeless, ancient land where I didn’t belong.

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    • It was an amazing experience for me Gina. So much space. Your words remind me of a favourite poem: Ozymandias. Do you know it. ‘I met a traveller from an antique land …’ By Shelley. While the outback usually isn’t desert, it has the same sense of isolation and space. There weren’t too many broken statues half buried either, despite the lands antiquity. Most monuments are natural ones. Thanks for visiting.

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  12. I understand the feeling of being attached to a place as ones home, but for me it has only been since I moved from an urban environment in England to a rural one in Wales (UK). This whole area, the country, feels ‘me’. It feels a part of me, I feel a part of it.

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    • Val, I really understand this feeling. There’s something about being in close proximity to nature that induces this sense of being ‘home’. City living is not always inducive to this.Thanks for visiting my blog!

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