Petrus Spronk

“Man’s unhappiness stems from being unable to sit quietly alone in a room.” – Pascal.

A sentiment which was brought home to me last week when I found myself sitting quietly, alone, in a room. A big room. An immense room. It was the largest room I can remember being in. It was huge. It was enormous. It was awe-inspiring. Yet it had the same sanctity and reverence one finds in a church, temple or mosque, only more so. The same air of concentration one finds in any library, only more so. The same state of wonder one is able to find in a museum or gallery, only more so.

Sacred spaces. A sacred space.

In this vast space I am seated on a rock. The rock is situated on another rock which is a mountain peak. A long arduous, rugged, solitary climb has brought me to this reward. A breathtaking view. A stunning silence in which one is able to hear both the hum of the heart and that of the cosmos. It is Sunday morning and, since I started early, it is only 11 a.m when I arrive at the peak. Out of breath but filled with spirit. I stay in utter silence and reverie for almost two hours. A perfect time and place for a religious experience. Two glorious hours of solitude. I am high on top of Briggs Bluff, a mere dot on the Grampians map.

Lumiere du Silence.

After a couple of hours of driving through the flat land of the Western district, I arrived at a curious rock formation. It pokes out of the landscape like a fist. And like a fist this mountain range expresses the same immense sudden power. I had arrived at ‘Gariwerd’, also known as ‘The Grampians’. I had arrived at the most Northern part, the area around Mount Stapylton.

Rugged. Strong.

Driving through a level uninterrupted landscape toward this remarkable mountain range, the Grampians change from a mere 2 dimensional profile stuck onto the horizon to an actual three-dimensional rock formation. I became aware of movement, aware of being in transit, was stimulated by the passing land-scape, sky-scape, road-scape, fleeting imagery and fleeting thoughts. The Range looms larger by the hour, then by the minute. A fresh breeze takes old baggage and nagging negative thoughts from the car and dumps them beside the road.

To be left behind, and vanish.

I was able to see and enjoy the ‘evidence’ pictures of the Grampians’ creation, which are available in the images of fluid-rock pictures and the many escarpments, but I could not understand the geological language they speak.

Then on, past gigantic rock walls, images of campaniles, minarets, pagodas, obelisks, belfries, steeples, turrets, up and up, occasionally I notice another rock climber, appearing to me stuck like a fly to a wall. I carry on past castles, citadels, fortresses, I climbed them all and, in the end, finish at the pinnacle. Ahhh…….

Arrival in the Grampians just before sunset. No time to lose, unless I want to muddle around in the dark. The car comes to a halt. Locating a suitable spot for my tent. Gathering wood, setting a fire. Set up camp. The modern tent is all aerodynamics, zips and Velcro. Held down by a mere handful of fine steel pegs. Easy, convenient and totally functional. By sunset, half an hour after arriving, I am cooking a meal over a small fire and enjoying a cold beer. Arriving in this extraordinary space I feel as if I have escaped from the, at times, unbearable ordinariness of the daily things left behind. The full moon rises like a clear sixty watt globe in a frosty sky. Add to this the spicy fragrance of wood smoke drifting around a winter’s night, Ahhh………

There is nothing like the spirit around a warming campfire.

That night in the tent. Rustle of local critters, the call of an owl, the soundless path of the moon and the sigh of the dark wine-red mountains lull me to sleep. Solitary, lying quietly in the smallest of an inner-tent-room, placed in the largest of the outer-mountain-room, both room spaces primed for the happiness which comes from silent solitary reverie. Camping out.

Black night sets in. A flicker. The end.

Petrus Spronk is a local artist and sculptor. He writes a monthly column for The Wombat Post.