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This Is Northern New South Wales

Soul Sanctuary

I crashed back into a neighbourhood near you after living rural for quite sometime. When I say rural, I mean way enormously rural. You could see the neighbours house two kilometres away, as the cocky flew, way over there. You could see the dust from a car approaching before you could hear it. Right up high on a hill, I felt like the Australian Heidi and if I had a penchant for yodelling then I could have, very loudly, without fear of neighbourly recrimination.

I can see my neighbours now.  They’re not two kilometres away. In fact they’re not far off being two metres away and there are five of them hugging my rental fence.  I can see them, I can hear them, I can smell them.  I can just feeeeeel them there. It seems my re-entry into populated areas has been fraught with sensory overload. I can smell curry cooking, the chlorine from their pool, I can hear a baby crying in the thick night air. For the first time in forever I can see, hear and smell the garbage truck.  I can hear everything…the postie,  small and big people riding bikes, skateboards, flying kites and walking big and small, woofing, yapping dogs.  I can hear Next doors toilet flushing, their shower running, the beep beep beep when they’ve left their fridge open for too long. I can hear the crockery in the sink when they’re washing up!  SO MUCH EVERYTHING!!!!

We all need sanctuary.  That place where the overwhelming everyday sounds, smells and sights fade.  For some it’s the ocean, above or beneath. For others it’s music in their ears that takes them there. Hopefully, we all have at least one. It’s the place of sanctuary. Part of the incredible beauty of where we live is that we travel small distances and we can be somewhere that looks, feels and smells so different.  One sanctuary of mine is five minutes away where a dear friend is lucky to live on 100 acres. There is space. I have spent hours lost in my own beautiful bubble amongst marvellous expanses of rolling green grass, magnificent gnarled fig tress, ducks and chickens and cows and horses, amazing textured rusty stuff, breathtaking sunrises and sunsets and weathered ancient outbuildings. Most importantly, a verandah where much coffee is consumed. Massive volumes of laughter and chatter echo through the paddocks and simply, there is the opportunity to ‘be’.

My quick drive home brings me from open fields bursting with vibrant green and into a tunnel of darkest green where a red milk-can letterbox splashes colour in the dankness. The tunnel spits me out into shades of blue and to where I call home now.  The sight, sounds and smells that were so prevalent when I first crashed back aren’t as apparent anymore. Sometimes I notice the ting ting ting of a spoon on a teacup but it doesn’t ring in my ears so loudly.  There is one sound that remains in my focus and perception and the very reason I find myself here. When I come home I get to hear, breathe, smell and after a very short walk, see… the ocean.

My ultimate Sanctuary for the Soul.

Words and Photos by Sandii Cochrane.