Observation exercise

Pick a road or a track, could be one that you’ve driven a thousand times before. One you’ll likely drive a thousand times more. Or it could be one you’ve never traversed. It could be a big road, a highway or significant thoroughfare. Could be a quiet out of the way road. That might be better, it also might not.

If you’re the nostalgic type, you could rummage through an old drawer or the pocket sewn into the back of the driver’s seat of your car. Pull out a map, an old Melway or Ausway directory if you’ve still got one.

Unfold the map and scan that tangled lattice of lines. Mark out the roads you’re looking for.

Once you climb into your car and start driving, you’ll likely have to keep your eyes peeled. Even if you’ve driven this road before, this time is different. This time you’re keeping a lookout for signposts that can be seen everywhere but which are mostly overlooked and ignored.

They’re markers you ignored because they terminate at ‘dead ends’. What you’re looking for is “No through road” signs.

There’ll likely be a couple. Dozens even, depending on the road you’ve chosen.

Once you spot one. Pull off your chosen road or highway. Drive all the way to the end. Stop and take a look around.

Could be a farm gate – freshly cut hay or cows and sheep foraging burnt paddocks. Could be a beach carpark – rolling swells crashing against sheer cliffs. Could be a cul de sac in a new housing development – massive new cars, identical looking houses.

Wherever you are, you will likely find yourself at a threshold. A threshold between humanity and nature.

Get out and have a poke around. Observe what you can. Look for traces and echoes of past occurrences. Try to envisage what the place would have been like during those happenings.

Take notes, literal or mental. List the relationships, the associations. Try to imagine how someone else would visit this place. How so many others have visited it.

Once you’re done, get back in the car and head back the way you came. When you pull back out onto the main road, retrain your focus. Retrain your eyes. Keep a lookout for the next sign. Chances are it won’t be far away.