The waters are an eerie tannin-stained black. I’ve left K and G to enjoy a quiet morning at their home while I head out in my packraft to explore their local waterways. The raft is inflated in no time and I’m ready to go.
I launch my raft and head upstream. The waters are tidal but with all the bends in the creek the tide has almost no pull. I paddle and drift my way gently, taking in the reflections. I am mesmerised by their beauty and feel no sense of urgency. I drift and paddle watching beautiful white kites with powerful brown wings waiting patiently in for fish and prey to appear. A small hawk flies overhead carrying a small rodent.
Scruffy paperbarks line the banks above the small weir I portaged around. The older ones are almost rambunctious is their messiness and disorder. Their papery bark peels off around knots and stray branches. Some lean over like crippled old people in need of walking canes while others look almost playful.
On the other side of the river, younger paperbarks stand tall and straight like soldiers. The front row nearest the creek were burned in a bushfire and are now charred a deep black. Over time they will grow thicker and the bark will peel, leaving the trees unscarred but it will take a long time. For now though, the burned rows of trees are just beautiful to see: proof that sometimes life’s scars can leave beauty behind.
The creek is different from the water. Mangrove trees are three-dimensional and their aeration tubes make dramatic waterside textures and shapes. Smooth grey-barked gums tower above me like giants, their peppermint green leaves contrasting dramatically against the bright blue sky. Butterflies flit around along the water’s surface. And occasionally a fish splashes.