Tunnel Creek

Tunnel Creek

by Linda

I was a mix of excitement of new and resistant to leave what feels like home now.

I feel stuck as we are asked to write about Tunnel Creek. Feels too far away from the experience of yesterday. Clouds of wool where my thoughts should be. Why can’t I plug in? I can think about it but no longer feel it somehow.

An image appears, Dylan’s feet.   Ok, I’m in..

Tears form, start to fall as I allow this image to grow. As I sat and listened to his soft, low voice, I could only see his feet. Long, slender, black with pink tinges around the soles. Encrusted with dirt and dust. Cracked, wise, old feet that talked to me more than his voice. They spoke of the pain of his ancestors, his hope for a better, more united future for black and white. They told of an unspoken sadness, perhaps as old as time. Those feet that have crossed this land that we sleep on, those feet proudly took him to the Opera House to sing. Travelled to Redfern to say hello to his people. I felt love for the feet of this man who opened his heart, his hand to guide across water. It’s Dylan I will remember most. Not the incredible tunnel, the climb up to the rock to hear him sing, to see the rock art older than time I can imagine. His black feet, narrowed, tapered ankles that seem to slight to carry him. His kindly eyes and smiling face. His gentle telling of Jundamurra’s story, his story. This is what sits in my heart.



by Linda

I remember standing at Rome train station, the hustle of people rushing to platforms unknown. The timetable, ever changing, clicking of platform changes and announcements in loud, inaudible Italian voices confusing me even more. I had longed for this moment, it seems like my whole life. My Italian Journey, 4 weeks on my own, soaking up as much of the culture as I could. I think I’ve always wanted to be Italian!

I find my train, lug my enormous suitcase up the stairs. A kindly, slightly swarthy man offers to help. His open shirt, swirling grey haired chest adorned with thick golden chains, heaves it up onto the rack. I rather think he did an injury but kept his smile pasted on me. I sit, anticipation and anxietystarting to grip at my stomach as I head into the unknown. Leaving behind Scott and the boys, my 50th year and here I sit on a train bound for the little town of Panicale, in Umbria. I somehow traverse the stop in Chiusi and head to the car rental. He delivers me a tiny car, only inches bigger that my suitcase. I recall being completely breathless with fear as I get in this car on the wrong side, it is supposed to be an automatic but somehow has gears. I drive on the wrong side of the road and tenaciously head in the direction of the little apartment I have dreamt of for so long. After many winding roads and wrong turns, I arrive. I don’t know where to park, it’s a tiny fortified town. My 6 week beginner Italian course is seeming time wasted as I try and converse with a local policeman. Finally I find the Café I’m looking for and the man who’s face I have seen online for the past 2 yearsas my dream built momentum. “Buongourno Aldo, Mi chiami Linda, Apartmento Podesta, I spit out liltingly.

He smiles, hugs me and offers me a cool drink. He takes hold of my enormous suitcase and points for me to follow him. We climb up and up to the top of the little hill top town and he opens the door to a new world, a tiny little apartment at the base of the bell tower, my home for the next 3 weeks. After he has shown me around and leaves, I fall to my knees on the hard tile floor. From my depths come great, hacking sobs that rack my body for the next 6 hours. I feel stripped bare. This dream, this fantasy, this escape, into what? I thought paradise and this feels like hell. I barely leave the apartment for 2 days. Paralysed by what? I pick up my gorgeous, leather bound journal that was purchased to write my wonderful experience and I write and I write and write some more. I sustain myself with fresh local buffalo mozzarella, eggplants and olive oil on the freshest of breads.

I start to appear on the pages on day 3. I can see myself, I can see the fierce independence. I’m meeting a much younger me, who had to look out for herself. No one to help me, guide me or protect me. Me against the world. It astounds me that I have a 27 year old marriage and family unit when my independence is worn like a suit of armour.

I start to delve into my marriage on the pages and see that all I really want is to be part of it and really with Scott. This solo journey of my life over the past 35 years isn’t working anymore. I can feel safe in the arms of my relationship.

As this new awareness emerges, I too emerge from my bell tower, which, by the way, chimes every half hour from 6am to 11pm. I have never had to wonder what the time is here.

I love my little apartmento, I love my little town, where no-one speaks English and where I am welcomed each day with a smile and a recommendation to try something new each day by the point of a hard worked finger.

I start to stroll around town, hidden little parks, tiny museums. Goat farmers high on the hill. Stories and secrets hidden in pockets around the town.

The old couple who sit at the bus stop every day. The man with the crinkly eyes who doffs his hat to each morning and night.

I will miss this town, this chapter in my life. I will never forget the journey I went on here..



by Linda

We drive to the hospital, park god knows where. I feel sick, shaking and panicked as we are met by Steve. His usual composure crumpled. His tear stained face as he reaches for us somehow makes it real. It’s been 15 minutes since the call came, Leanne is dead. Died in her sleep, found this morning by her daughter Jade, only 11.

We walk through the emergency doors at Mona Vale Hospital that I know so well. That ever present smell of sterility permeates my nose. Oh god, its Mark’s anguished face. This man who I’ve known so long. This man who often rubs against my nerves, yet who is of such kind heart. This man who is my hubby’s best mate. He’s the joker, the lad, the unsophisticated yobbo who always says the most inappropriate things. Here is this man, broken, ravaged in pain, shock, disbelief. His beautiful, adored wife, she’s his whole world. He doesn’t dress without her getting out his clothes. We go to restaurants and he looks to her saying “what do I want luv?”


He hugs us both. I’m barely standing, Scott hasn’t taken a breath in what seems like hours. We stand huddled, none of us able to break the hold. I hear Jadey’s voice and something deep within me strengthens and I’m able to turn to her, grab her in a hard hug, probably more for me that her. “Come and sit with her” says Mark…

Scott and I pass an imperceptible glance, I’m not even sure it happened. An unspoken “can we do this”, neither of us having been with a deceased body before. We blindly follow someone into the back of emergency. A place I know well, have been here so many times with my accident prone boys. Yet I couldn’t tell you now where we were that morning. The slide of the cubicle curtain and there lay my friend Leanne.

I freeze for a moment, there’s not a breath in the room. How is this possible, we had lunch yesterday.. We laughed and planned our next escape. A health retreat for a few days. How we loved to get away, been doing it for years. Back when the kids were little and when we were addicted to Days of Our Lives. We’d compare notes on whatever was happening in the lives of Marlena and Roman.. We loved our trips to the Hunter Valley. How I loved to embarrass her when she was worried people thought we were leso’s.

I walk towards the bed. She’s so still. I sit by her, the blankets drawn up to her chin. I look for the rise and fall of her breath, it’s not there. There’s a bruise on her lip when they tried to ventilate her.

I look at her face, its different. I notice her hair. A crazed thought that I wish I had a GHD, she so hated when her hair frizzed.

I sit by her side, her slender hand under mine. Where has she gone? Thoughts broken by footsteps coming closer. Her brother Bruce, ashen, gulping for air. They havn’t been on the best of terms lately. He’s sobbing, wailing, yet not breathing. I hold him as he holds her, whispering “breathe Bruce, breathe”.. He finally takes a gasping breath and calls out “I’m sorry, I’m sorry.. His remorse fills the room like a thickening fog. As he leaves broken, her
other brother David walks in. This face I know well, so like hers. Their friendship so special, peas of a pod. His Flo…


I feel an intruder, the bond so close. I ease out of the room, unnoticed by David, one last touch of her toes through the scratchy blanket. Never to see her again.