As young children, Growing up in the hills outside Melbourne, my siblings and I would embark on adventures lasting hours ‘down the creek’, running along misty tracks, building shelters from fallen trees, sourcing water for billy tea, burying cans of food for the next expedition, all the while observing the shadows stretching over the hill into the valley as a cue to return home before ‘it gets dark’. As we wearily trudged home, the small glow of house lights beckoned, though threatened by an immense inky darkness draping itself over, and around us.
Such darkness compels, unfurls, unsettles and seems unique in how it defines the Australian landscape. Vast tracts of peripheral spaces and the undisturbed darkness of the Australian bush beckon, in paradoxical fascination, at once inducing fear, and a longing to be enveloped and immersed. Instinctual narratives, traces of the known and ordinary seek to reassure in such darkness, and likewise those traces unsettle, making us turn quickly, zip a jacket a little tighter, accelerate a car a little faster. A sharp intake of breath, a fleeting moment of fear and exhiliration, of such objects suddenly cast with a disquieting beauty.
A quietly lit up phonebox stands silent, the warmth of its receiver slowly fading. The scattered remnants of a dysfunctional celebration hastily abandoned. A police ribbon decorates a tree but marks something far darker. A possum is a spectator underneath an immense sky. These fleeting moments and objects remain undisturbed in the landscape, their ordinariness illuminated from within the darkness.