The Australian landscape is intense here on the North Coast, as it is known. 800 killometers north of Sydney and a 2 hour drive south of Brisbane, this is rural country: farm country, cows and things. But also, lots of surprises for a visitor from the northern hemisphere to keep one always on edge. The celebrated snakes, spiders and sharks linger in one's imagination here in Australia.
The 'Aussies' love to pour it on of course (tirer la langue). The first weeks of my visit here 11 years ago had me frantically checking the insides of my shoes each morning for redback spiders. Eventually I began wearing rubber flipflops like everyone else around here. Stepping outside under the inky black sky is a real treat, for the southern sky seems so subtly similiar, yet it is naturally different. Being far from a city, the sky, in between the multitude of stars, spread out like fairy dust, is like the black found in a Chinese ink drawing. In the middle of the night one steps out onto a wooden deck in the darkness and feels something net-like enveloping one's face. Recoiling quickly, one turns the light on to see an enormous spider web made of nylon stretching across the deck. In it, sits the biggest, ugliest looking spider outside of Disney studios. Ouch! (Cricky!) (Putain!) The Aussie experiance has begun!
One quickly hears of the ferocious Brown snake (aggressive, not to be cuddled), the venomous but timid Black snakes; yellow and red bellied (they sunbath across the black tar roads under the noontime sun), The infamous Tiger snakes which come out at night and pack a nasty bite. I have a friend, an elderly woman who went out to her compost one night in the suburbs, by the time she had gotten back to her kitchen door she was already hyperventilating. She spent 7 days in hospital and months afterward recovering. Yikes!
Happily they aren't a lot of funnel-web spiders around here. They are mostly down south in Sydney. These critters don't like being stepped on (who does?) They are big ugly things which bite the exposed soles of feet, then, lean over to watch their victims hop around in pain. If the poor souls don't make it to the hospital within the hour, they forfeit their right, forever, of visiting a shoe store again. This is a wild place and not for the fainthearted by any means.
In any event I have settled in. I have set up a small space to paint out of doors but under a roof so I am curious to see what comes out for the next 3 months. My Hard Drive broke down so my computer was out of action for more than a week. It seems to be OK now. Hoping it lasts (pourvu que ca dure!)