We followed the white man’s trail but got lost in the emptiness.
We were walking blind, without maps or compass or GPS.
That was the only way to see, to really see, this country.
Nothing to distract us, nothing to measure or quantify.
Walking blind, without aims or purpose, without goals or destination.
Walking blind, our imaginations free to remember what happened.
Free to re-imagine this land as it once was.
Free to remember the enormity of the crime and what it was like when they were still here, those first pilgrims.
That was the only way to find them.
We followed their footprints into the desert.
We listened to the echoes of their songs, still reverberating in the narrow canyons, still alive in the night skies ablaze with glittering stars.
In the sound of bird song, we heard their poems.
In the sound gum leaves clattering on the breeze, we heard echoes of a corroboree and the haunting sound of the didgeridoo
We remembered those souls who had lived in this ancient land for thousands of years.
We went on our own kind of pilgrimage and paid homage to those pilgrims from long ago; they who knew that the only real pilgrimage was moving and never arriving.
Yes, truly, it was a beautiful journey.
But it almost killed us. No water.
We were not them and we did not know how to survive in this hard country.
We did not know how to recite their songs and poems, their myths and their stories, and so we did not know their country.
The desert was an unforgiving place for foreigners.