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On Happy Valley Walking Trail

Angelica Bautista

As dusk neared, I began my trek on the Happy Valley walking trail. On Wurundjeri country, it features plants belonging to typically arid landscapes. The path is clearly marked, as a map of the trail greets you on your way out of the pot-holed parking lot. If you are attentive enough, signs of human intervention never truly leave you. The thick bushes and spindly mallee trees are often permeated by wires wrapped around fence posts. Signs that remind trekkers that cameras are always operating dot the dense thicket. These marks of humanity are further accentuated by the roar of car engines as they speed down the nearby road at 80 kmph. As I progressed through the trail, the wire fences began to disappear, the sounds of the vehicles fading into the distance – replaced by the crunch of rocks and dry earth beneath my feet, and the whisper of the wind. It was almost as if the plant life had doubled, as the path became heavily populated by striped snow gums and towering red box eucalyptus, covered in patches of lichens of olives and greys. At one point, my attention was captured by the gentle graze of the setting sun on my cheek. It peeks through tree branches illuminating the spider webs that hang between them, before drawing my attention to a lake hidden beyond the marked trail. I hesitate for a moment, torn between a desire to cling to the safety of the path before me and the intrigue of straying beyond the path to explore the lake. In the end, intrigue triumphed over caution as, heart beating rapidly, my feet led me down near the water’s edge lined with an array of tall shoreline plants. From my point of view, the surface of the lake was mesmerising. It reflected the scene above it in a golden haze, occasionally rippled by the soft breeze as if to say it too could mime and mimic, paint and create.  

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