Sunday, May 4, 2008

Capricorn Hill Revisited

My mum, my cool friend writer/producer/director Zoe Harvey of Torrid Films and I said goodbye to Capricorn Hill yesterday. This 100-acre rural property on the road to Canberra served partly as a country home and also as a writers' and artists' retreat for several years through the generosity of owner Ken Methold, an AWGIE award winning scriptwriter and educational writer who now spends his time between a beach house on the South Coast and his Southern Highlands country retreat. Jozef, Bruce and I of BMP (Classic) were among the lucky ones to have stayed there in 2001 when it first opened. I remember bringing a plate of chocolate fudge brownies for Ken when we came to visit. They were pounced on by the other guests, the caretakers and (dare I say this rather sheepishly) us, and poor Ken nary got one. On my return home I promptly baked another batch and delivered them to him with the strict instructions he was to share them with no-one! Anyway, Ken has just sold the property and I wanted to revisit it again one more time before it passes over to its new owners, and to also show it off to my mother and my friend who have an affinity with nature as much as I do. 

It was a glorious day to visit. The sun was out and it was completely silent except for sound of the whistling wind, lapping water and various vocal birds. We walked down a slope of winter grasses to two dams brimming with water. We discovered about eight wombat burrows – absolutely wonders of excavation. Wombats are nocturnal creatures so we didn't see any up close and personal but there was lots of evidence of their travels through the pastures in the form of rather substantial droppings. Wombats can be deceiving – you think from their photos or film footage that they are small and cuddly, but in fact they can grown to about a metre in length. I saw one at dusk a few years ago crossing the driveway of a relative's property and had to wait several minutes for him to waddle to the other side before continuing in my car – he was massive (about the size of a pig but close to the ground). 

During our sojourn at Capricorn Hill, a flock of about 30 black cockatoos flew over the pine forest next door in semi formation. They don't screech like the white ones – instead they make a sound that's kinda hard to describe – for me it was like like a squeaky wheel and for Zoe it was like a rusty gate. My friend Sue Hudson who is an Aboriginal archeologist told me that black cockatoos are rain heralds if they fly in from the west. This has proved to be accurate countless of times in terms of my family farm – whenever  a couple of black cockatoos appear, we get rain within 24 hours.

Our time at Capricorn Hill was spent climbing fences, spotting butterflies and wild ducks, sitting on the deck and admiring the view, and completely surrendering to the experience. I felt lucky and grateful to have visited several times but to also have said goodbye on such an amazing day. Thanks Ken.

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