‘Yeah buddy! We found you!’
‘Haha I know!’
‘How… is this even possible?’
The night had gone quiet, the occasional roars and cries of the sizeable band of young backpackers camped nearby the only noise piercing the silence of the bush. Whether this silence was perceived due to my highness or real though, I could not tell.
'I sent Nat a text...' I said as I exhaled a dense cloud of white smoke and passed the joint to Matt who was laying next to me on the grass. 'Told them I'm wearing a bright red top and that my car is a black 4WD.' 'You know they can't see your red top or your car in this darkness yeah?' He said dreamily.
'Maybe tell them we are listening to Bob Marley?' One of the girls suggested. 'They could find us that way?'
This 'they' included Nat and a few other friends who had left Melbourne a bit later than us, and were supposed to meet us at camping grounds around sunset. Except that they didn't. It was almost 10 and they were still nowhere to be found. I got up, climbed onto the roof of my car to get some phone reception, sent them a final text and then plopped back down next to the others and took the joint from Matt.
'Do you guys think they'll actually find us tonight?'
I don't know how much time passed. But it didn't really matter, for the sky was ablaze with a trillion little burning dots and the night creatures were up singing and keeping our company. We smoked and drank and talked about whatever. Our plans of rendezvous seemed to have failed, but we had left our anxieties back in the city. Out here, the darkness was no veil trying to keep us from our friends, but rather a blanket under which laid the mysteries of a whole universe. It imbued a sense of whatever was to happen, would happen. And then...
'Nav?' There is something revitalising about waking up in the bush. You don't stretch as much, your body feels fresher, younger, ready to step outside and embrace the world. A breakfast of toast, beans and freshly-brewed coffee. We are off to do some hiking. But then, less than 12 hours after being reunited, we have lost each other again. Slowing down to avoid the dust storm the first car was kicking up in their wake, I lost them somewhere along the way. We circle the streets of Halls Gap for a while, try calling them (unsuccessfully) and eventually that same feeling we had last night tells us to go and it'll be fine.
We take on the hiking route known as the Pinnacle. The sunlight is crisp, the air laden with light. The ancient sandstorm rocks feel reassuring under our feet as we navigate one of the most captivating landscapes in Victoria. We sit at the very top, where the land juts out into space, with our feet dangling over the side and snack on nuts and crackers. And I'm thinking to myself; it's been a good day, even if we can't all be together to enjoy the views, when I hear someone's voice from behind; 'Nav!'
I turn around, stunned. The bush has reunited us, once again.
Written by Nav Samedi