This used to be my playground.
It was the smell of the bush, that aromatic gum tree and wet bush smell, that hit me with the force of memory. It is the unmistakeable smell of Oatley Park on the George's River. It is probably the unmistakeable smell of many Australian childhoods. But this smell of Oatley Park bush was mine.
We used to come here all the time when we were small. Clambering through the bush, scouring the river's edge. A friend learning photography took many black and white photographs of a barefoot, sixteen year old me in jeans and old t-shirt, long hair getting in the way as I gazed at Flannel flowers, or posed artistically in the windows of the old castle. I cringe at my poses, but recall the day with great pleasure. We took our newborn on his very first picnic here with the other new parents from Sister Smith's Arncliffe parenting class of 1980-81. And then my father used to pick up the same little toddler and take him for a walk here with the family dog every Sunday morning without fail. My playgroup and Nursing Mother's groups used to picnic near the steam rollers, and just the other day, my brother -planning a trip to visit the parents - asked if we would join them in Oatley Park for a picnic, bread rolls and cheese in the park, his idea of bliss.
Today, we sat and watched the large group of intensely coloured Rainbow Lorikeets scrabbling around on the ground. What a view! I could feel the healing energy seeping into my very marrow.
This seat is ideally placed to contemplate why anyone who lived within a stone's throw of this natural beauty would not actively make an excursion here weekly, if not daily?
What is the complacency that we use to tell ourselves that our lives are too busy to sit and absorb the calming energy that such a natural manmade feature as this provides?
My parents are now 86. They can still drive much further than this spot. What madness stops them from regularly packing a picnic lunch and learning the lessons that the park still has left to teach them? My husband and I discussed this very point. I grew irritated when he commented that that was age. If this 'blindness' is what age is all about, then shoot me now!
Mind you, the beach below is now in my backyard, with the river beyond, and yet there we are sitting within the confines of four walls! Sheer madness!