The land stripping me bare

El Questro Station, The Kimberley, Western Australia

“I don’t know why you do this to yourself!”  His words penetrated sharply into my heart. The awkward silence between us had been shattered.  Feeling his frustration toward me shook my core.  My husband always been my lighthouse, my rock, my safe shore.  Ever dependable he was my steadier.   Never had a harsh word been said.  Until now.

This outburst of exasperation had rocked me.  Leaving me vulnerable.  My lighthouse had turned his light off. 

It had been a long, hot, exhausting and challenging day. Today had been the beginning of our trek into one of the remotest regions of Western Australia.

We had done what we could to prepare for the journey.  The back of the 4WD was full of food, water and other necessities.  Where we were heading there was no phone coverage, no internet or shops.  Whilst we had travelled to Central Australia many times this journey would be different, we knew that and were aware of the need to take this trek seriously.  Remote outback Australia it not to be taken lightly.  The land commands respect.  She is both rugged and harsh whilst being breathtakingly beautiful.

My response was lightening quick.  The words flowing like water from a damn that had just been burst.  “I do this to myself because it helps me to grow.  I love this country deeply and passionately and I want to experience it, and experience me in it.  I need to get out and explore more of what I think I am.”  I too was feeling frustrated.  From the moment we hit the track I was engulfed with fear.  I was scared and uncomfortable.  The voices in my head already ripping into me far more than his words could.   How stupid I had been to think that this trip could be done? 

Silence once more permeated the air between us.  Our outbursts releasing pent up emotions.   I looked at him, searching his face for some resemblance of the gentle and caring husband, I had known for close to 20 years.  Nothing.   He had gone.  The man with his hands on the steering wheel had his eyes fixed diligently on the 4wd track in front of us.  Concentration taking its toll.

Months of planning and preparation had gone into pulling this ‘holiday’ together for just us.  Our first time away for many years without our children.   I thought it would be a great opportunity for us to connect more deeply and get to know one another once more.

I didn’t see this coming though.   How was it that with every kilometre that we drove deeper and deeper into Country the more further away from one another we seemed?    How was it that the more remote we travelled, the more suffocated and claustrophobic I felt?  The silence so deafening, I wanted to scream.  I needed to run back.  Back to the safety of the life I had known.  Keeping all in order.  It was too late though.  We had begun.  The journey commenced.   Unconscious and out of sight we had agreed to undertake this experience. 

There is only one road in and out to El Questro.   What was becoming increasingly clear was that who I was going in would not be who I was coming out.   Already on day 1, I was unravelling.  We were both challenged. 

This was not a trip of coming together but of journeying deeper into ourselves.  Two souls.   Once we turned onto Gibbs Rd, it felt as if we had entered a completely different time paradigm.  Nothing we knew would be the same again.  What we felt we needed, we didn’t.  What you think you want, you don’t.  There was only one road in and out.  No where to run or hide. 

I was being stripped bare.

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