If there is one poem I adore unreservedly it would be My Country by Dorothea Mackellar. It is a poem that epitomises Australia at its best and worst and my love for it. Many people only know one verse of this poem but it has become probably the best known piece of Australian poetry apart from The Man From Snowy River by A.B.Patterson also known as Banjo Patterson.
And as I travel on this train from Sydney to Wagga Wagga on the first day of 2011 I am reminded about what makes Australia what it is.
The fields flash past rolling over the hills. They are green and golden all at once. Scrubby brush and grasses cover some whilst trees dot others. Bales of hay are rolled and spread over fields- waiting to be covered perhaps and taken to a shed. Sheep and cows graze in the fields. The sheep run awat from the train line across the field as the train passes. A foreign entity in their existance.
Some trees are little more than skeletons of a former life. Bare branches and trunks. Perhaps they were victim to fire or simply ceased as they were with their bare branches reaching out and up like gnarled fingers.
I look a bit closer out the window and I see the wire fence which withstands nature though with the help of the farmer and marks the edge of a field. Closer still and yellow wildflowers, small and bright grow across the ground and along edges of tracks in bunches.
The bank rises away from the tracks the earth a bright shade of something akin to the colour yellow or orange made so by the sandstone and clay whilst other areas are bright ochre.
A stand of trees all vibrant shades of green gives way to more fields. Dams created by those who farm the land stand full of water given by recent rains.
Telegraph poles with wires swooping between them mark the path of the railway.
A rail crossing barrier, arm down and bells sounding flashes by in the blink of an eye; and as this passes me by I see what makes Australia. And I feel insignificant.