DAWN IS RISING in a pink and grey shriek of galahs. Child, already out of close warmth of swag, tugs my hand. Campfire needs stoking but in the shiver of morning there is something more urgent. Five hours’ drive the day before and we camped behind this ridge, a stand of she-oak nearby promising firewood, rare in desert country, a necessity after sundown. Raised on the muster of sheep and cattle and boiling the billy on open fire, I showed Child the way my mother had shown me to collect sticks, watching for spider and centipede, scorpion in this country; showed Child my father’s way of bringing match to twig using the wind as breath. Nestling into earth, we linked pinkie fingers and swore to be at the top of ridge for dawn.
Child’s hand soft in mine, we zig-zag between tussocks of spinifex, our tracks adding to those of bird and lizard imprinted in sand. The air is sweet. A swipe of gold hangs in the sky, horizon turning zesty green. Climbing over the lip of ridge, country beyond opens out and there, as close as a heartbeat, is The Rock. We stand still, silent, sun warming us to earth. Child tugs my hand again. In a voice pure as birdsong he asks, ‘Mum, is Uluru the heart of the world?’
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