Tunnel Creek

by Heather

I entered the cave behind the row of cave dwellers. With trepidation the first steps down to unstable rocks. The darkness begins gradually at first. I slip my soft bottom over the smooth rock, speckled with marbled pinks and greys, polished by many other bottoms before me. This is an ancient place a sacred place and I’m privileged to step inside it, back to another era. The temperature has dropped like walking into an icebox. My feet submerge into chilled water, a pleasant feeling on this hot day I’ve just moved from.  I follow the leader and darker it gets. Forms of rock and passage way disappear in the darkness and reappear with torchlight. The mood is hushed apart from the human voice of the other cave seekers and Dylan who narrates his aboriginal stories pointing out inverted bats painted on ancient rock. Time captured for eternity.

We soldier on marching in step, dodging hidden rocks in the water course, dark, inky in the subdued light. Eerie, conjuring up pictures of early times when men informed youth of this rite of passage.

The serpent snake has been here before us. He weaved his way through the rock to create tunnel creek and here in the centre he stopped and raised his head and where his head once was is now a shaft of light illuminating the cave and its rocks, its water, its green plants and passing inhabitants. I pause and take in its height right up to the sky. The colour of the rock, amber, ochre, sand….

Back to torchlight on stalactite. Wet feet in soggy shoes, trod, trod, crush, crush of tiny stones underfoot. These stones which we each take one of and as instructed by our aboriginal elder, dark faced and clad in hat, we toss them into the water to ensure our safe passage. His native tongue resonates in the darkness as he utters ancient words.

We continue til the light of day draws us to the end. Wet to the knees, soggy shoes full of tiny stones, painful under my tender white feet. The pain worthy of this experience.