In The Jungle

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Original image reference: NTRS 3173_photo no 36

Researching in the Archives can be a very distracting pastime! I’m always coming across wonderful little gems of Northern Territory history that distract me from my main task. The staff have been great at pointing out books and authors that relate to my research and one of the books that I love is called In Australian Tropics by Alfred Searcy.

I came across this passage which is actually Searcey quoting  Aeneas E. Gunn and I just absolutely have to share it. It also inspired me in the making of another image for my Rodney Spencer story shown above. Anyone who has spent time in the Top End bush will relate to the description of this romantic tropical gloom.

” …we followed the diverging footmarks through the dense, dark, eerie, smelling inferno, with the instinct of sleuth -hounds. Nothing will ever obliterate from my memory the impressions that hunt made on my mind. The place seemed to be the very heart of the huge solitude in which we were situated. Overhead there was a dark, closely knitted canopy of leaves. Only here and there a patch of ineffably blue sky, that appeared to be immeasurably distant, gleamed through rifts in the firmament of foliage. Throught the apertures the sun shot vertical shafts of golden light that counterfeited gilded pillars, except where their masses were broken by contact with the trunks and limbs of the trees. But the lights that stole through only made the gloom more ghostly and unreal by the contrast. It was like a weird, uncanny underworld, a vast shapeless vault, whose roof was supported by gnarled and knotted trunks carved with fantastic devices by the processes of Nature. ….It seemed to be peopled by unseen, silent, thinking, feeling beings, capable of action and the twisted and contorted boughs and branches stretching out hideous, mud-stained arms that appeared ever intent on catching and holding in their loathsome embraces, intensified the impression. The atmosphere was stifling, and permeated with a hot, miasmatic vapour. The silence was intense, and broken only by faint sounds of something moving forward, the gasping of shellfish that lay in the mud or clung to the roots and trunks of the mangroves. So still was it one could almost hear the moisture exuding from the ooze, or the sap coursing in the veins of the trees. But there was a track in the mud, a purpose in my heart, which did not become less insistent as every now and then on ahead I could hear a crack, the sound of a branch pushed aside, and its swishing back into place. Nothing was visible. there was no distance, no vista, no perspective only knotted and twisted trunks, a tangle of boughs and branches and roots, , above , a roof of leaden leaves; underfoot , a slushy noisome ooze of decaying leaves, roots, shells and mud”.

Now back to work!



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