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Kate Fitzherbert's happy place

Published 25 Mar 2022

Dome Rock at Boolcoomatta Reserve, Adnyamathanha  and Wilyakali country, SA. Photo Rebecca Passlow.

Dr Kate Fitzherbert

Former Science Manager (Eastern South Australia)

Sitting with my sun-warmed back against the base of Dome Rock and gazing out over the vast plains of Boolcoomatta Reserve into the rays of the setting sun, is my happy place.

In the evening, the colours of the plains are lit up in golds, deep reds, pinks and grey greens in the last moments before the sun sinks below the horizon.

The view is breathtaking and provides a moment of calm, for contemplation and gratitude for this wonderful place.

Suddenly the air takes on a chill after the day’s warmth to remind us that this is a desert landscape, but it is far from being deserted.

For me, Boolcoomatta is quintessential outback Australia with its rocky ranges and saltbush plains. Its sandy tracks are crisscrossed with the telltale signs of tiny scampering feet and the bold prints of Emus. Wedge-tailed Eagles patrol the sky and majestic old River Red Gums line the Oonartra Creek.

One of these is the grand old lady of Oonartra Creek, who stands with her gnarled feet in the sandy creek bed, exuding the antiquity of an old ‘Ent’ (for those who know the Lord of the Rings) and is one of the most wonderful trees you will ever see.

She will have played a part in the lives of generations of Adnyamathanha and Wilyakali peoples long before European settlement, and she stands there still, a sentinel to remind us how important protecting our landscape is and how much work we have yet to do.

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