Historical reflection and meditative celebration of a plateau in Australia’s Blue Mountains.
“This book is an act of wondering and guesswork about the life of a piece of country,” writes Australian poet and writing instructor Tredinnick (Writing Well, 2008, etc.). The author makes some serious headway toward understanding as he takes the measure of the plateau and two of its valleys, Kanimbla and Kedumba. “The plateau is a slab of sandstone laid down by rivers, solidified, dead, buried, and risen again, and crazed by time and subsequent streams,” writes Tredinnick. Geology figures heavily in this study, as do the people who have found their own bit of paradise in this marginal land. Take Les, for example, a denizen of Kedumba, who loved the valley, “but didn’t spend too much time liking it. Les was in the valley the way the weather was…The way the light is in the air.” The author offers many moments of lovely, compressed reflection, though he occasionally gets lost in wordplay—the plateau “turned itself into itself…by ceasing to be what it was”; “Home is the sayer and the said and above all it is the saying.” On the whole, however, Tredinnick’s snapshots convey an intuitive, emotional heft. The author is also a crack natural historian who knows a brumby from a bullock, out there in the scribbly gum and hanging swamps.
Tredinnick may not have been born in one of the valleys’ huts, but you would never know it from his elemental intimacy.