2020: Savage Reflections On The Sub-Tropics…

The thunderheads appear as if from nowhere. Awesome in their size and seeming impenetrability, they’re just there, low across the range in the middle distance, lazily stretching across time itself encircling the town, preparing for cathartic embrace.

Working inside, yr suddenly aware it’s gotten darker and so you step outside and the clouds are there, the northerly which has been blowing all afternoon is gone and things are still and the air crackles.

Looking up, you fancy you see shapes in the encroaching cloud formation but they’re gone at a second glance.

Working inside, in air conditioning, yr hit with the heat when you step out, like the gravity has been turned up a notch. The air is hot and wet and clean. It sharpens the world, the pungent aroma of flowering wattle takes on a power that almost overwhelms, a cloying smell that sits like honey in the back of yr throat and threatens to throttle you with its pure sweetness.

The light is different and things old and dusty take on a sepia glow that makes them seem almost alive.

The first roll of thunder growls down the hills across the way, deep and low. You lean against the truck and light a cigarette, just leaning and being as the world changes around you. The smoke doesn’t blow away but hangs about and slowly roils about yr head and its like yr in the middle of yr own cloud.

You wave it away with a lethargic switch of yr hand.

The vast grey is slow moving. Ponderous and ever-changing. It seems to circle for a while, an atmospheric dance that threatens to never really happen but the thunder gets louder, echoing back of everything and then the first drops fall, fat and full, one on the back of yr neck, the next on the baking footpath in front of you, the next on the bonnet of the truck.

You stub out yr smoke and head back inside as, finally, the storm front comes over, lessening the humidity, the grey sky lowering as its moist loins gird and birth upon the dry and crackling north coast a torrent.

The earth, being showered, seems to steam at the same time.


I like the old gym in Brunswick. I’m there once a week, on Saturday mornings, for Addy’s swimming lesson in the small pool downstairs. You walk in the front door, up the stairs to the main floor, then down the stairs at the back.

In the two stairwells, there’s a large window, always wide open to let in any hint of a breeze, both with no screens, just large space looking out onto cracked concrete, the carpark in front, a narrow alley in back.

It reminds me of Queensland; open windows for air and to hell with what might fly in, still and hot, grass somehow growing through the cracks in the walkways, people moving slowly so’s not to raise too much of a sweat.


I run hot. At night, when the humidity refuses to die and the breeze is non-existent, I lie in bed and try not to move. Sweat beads my brow, my entire body. It’s not until I wake, sometime before dawn when the heat has finally dissipated, that I pull up the sheet, bundled down near my feet.


The palms wave in the breeze off the ocean across the swamp; black sand and scrubby weed, between us and golden beach. In spring, wild flowers bloom across the expanse, great swathes of colour that gather momentum and, before the heat and humidity of summer arrives, it all shimmers in ethereal fashion, as if some unseen artist, bigger than us all, has hurled their palette in an almighty rage upon a streak of blank canvas, inadvertently fashioning something so beautiful as to never again be recreated.

And the thunderheads return, silently, awesome in their size, ponderous and pregnant, grey and wet, rolling down the hills in the middle distance.