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Valley Diaries: Kosciuszko, Mutawintji and Budgie Murmurations

Updated: Jan 19

'View Over Snowy Valley' Oil Pastel on board 20cmx20cm

Some months ago I got back from a trip waaay out of the city. I'd been travelling with a ‘mountains’ friend— 'mountains' is Human Design (HD) speak for one of six different environment types...I’m 'valleys'.

Originally we had planned to head back to Kosciuszko NP to try some camp spots and walks that we hadn’t got to on our trip earlier in the year, partly due to my friend segueing straight into another 4WD week with some buddies in a different area of the park, and partly due to aerial shooting of feral animals restricting public access, including to the walk we had been extremely excited about doing: a fairly new walk between Guthega and Charlotte’s pass that meanders along the Snowy River, over suspension bridges, winding up hill and down dale through the valleys in that area, which basically looks gorgeous.

Kosciuszko is an area I haven’t explored enough but in recent years any time I get anywhere near Jindabyne, Cooma, Monaro and so on, looking across the valley contours with their stunning plains, boulders, rivers, peaks (which are even better when I manage to catch any part of the area around dusk) I notice my breathing changes entirely, and there’s a visceral thrill and emotion that often brings me to tears. Happy tears.

But rainy weather forecasts led us to change plans and we headed west, which given the circumstances was a really great decision.

I am always on the lookout for wildlife, and was really pumped about the possibility of seeing budgies this trip…you could say to an obsessive point...well at the very least seriously enthusiastic. I had been doing some research to get a sense of where that might be possible, and one of the articles I read was by a guy who had seen some budgies in Mutawintji NP as he lay relaxing in his hammock. I mean, that obviously sounded appealing at all levels, and is what initially prompted us to head that direction, kind of northish, after we left Broken Hill, but Mutawintji NP is also known for it's striking red rock gorges, which we were keen to see (although definitely a secondary consideration) as well as the yellow-footed rock wallabies (Mutawintji is the last place in NSW you can see them apparently).

Unfortunately, it turned out that in spite of a lot of rain and flooding some months earlier, there wasn’t really any water to speak of so sadly the budgies were nowhere to be seen (apparently they drink 5% of their body weight in water or something, and are particularly thirsty in the mornings... no water… no budgies) and with 35 degree days, and most of the animals (bar the wild goats that had over-run the park) in hiding, we didn't manage to catch a yellow-footed rock wallaby either.

All in all our trip turned into a spontaneous circumnavigation of NSW, including the odd 4WD track we'd had in mind for a while, but otherwise was no fixed route, no agenda...just us cruising, camp spot to camp spot, getting up close to the bark and the gorges, in sync with the flow of the emus—hands, feet and wheels on the earth—me dreaming of the interpretation I would give it all as I translated the experience, colours and textures onto wood with my beloved oil pastels (and more recently to clay) gathering memories (but not of budgie murmurations), as we roamed deep in the landscape for three wonderous weeks.

I loved geography at school, learning about the landforms and patterns of the earth, and I had a great teacher who was enthusiastic and on it, but I don’t remember learning about valleys (or mountains or any of the other environments referred to in HD for that matter) I mean deeply learning to recognise their attributes, their impact...the role they can play in our thriving.

I’m just imagining now, in some alt-reality, my geography teacher saying to us, right, you lot, we’ve covered the basic blah blah, I want to open you up to some additional dimensions of this whole environment thing, and off he goes on how an environment sets the stage for our lives to unfold, and leads us to the people we’re here to meet, how it holds and stimulates us, playing an important role in nurturing awareness, cognition and wellbeing, that there are six so-called ‘Environments’, how different people are suited to different ones, how that shows up, and how being in the wrong environment can be detrimental to your health, and your 'signature' experience — whether that's of success, satisfaction, surprise, or peace (depending on your HD type)... Having your environment negatively (or conversely positively) impact health is an experience I know well.

The teacher would say, ok, just re valleys specifically, and he’d emphasise how in being a landscape profile that’s low-lying, valley's are oxygen-dense, which means supportive of those brains designed for that; that they’re fertile places where things grow, and flow, people pass through, strangers meet...they come for trade, for news, for variety, for adventure, following the stream of nourishment and fertility that a valley offers; how being connected to that movement and fertility and influence opens up other dimensions that are especially important for some people: an intimacy and communion with others, with the flow, with the latest, with the land, and, something I became aware of while staying with friends in the Huerta de Valencia a while back, also with the cycles.

We’d get to understand that a Valley is an environment in which frequencies move about in such a way, due to the particular physicality of the land or the space, that a certain kind of sound dynamic is created: there’s a quality of diffusion to the sound. This is key to what makes an environment a Valley, in HD terms, and ‘Valleys’ people are deeply attuned to this way sound (information) bounces around that ends up directly effecting and nurturing their brain and body system, and their awareness, or not. A Valley can be classified wide or narrow, each inferring a slightly different sonic orientation that most suits the Valley person, and is an aspect that can be seen in someone's HD chart.

I used to spend a lot of time in loud, sound dominated environments. I remember my years in bars and nightclubs, mainly djing or hanging with dj friends, the chat about sound systems and quality of sound, the search for the right spot. Even when I wasn’t playing I tended to gravitate to the dj box or situate myself at the side, sometimes on a bass bin, at a distance from the main action. It had its logic —I’m a dj, I hang out in dj boxes, watch, close to it in my way, keep a low profile, whatever. Now it makes more sense that my body would orient itself like that: it's looking to be close to the flow, but not bombarded by it.

Being in the ‘wrong environment’ has become obvious—there are signs. Might be something like an unsettledness in the body, like I’m looking for a way out, or like a game of ping pong is happening in my brain. Sudden tiredness. Tenseness. I’ve noticed that happens when I'm stuck in the middle of things: in the middle of a square, or a market, a group of people, a shopping mall, an open plan office, the middle of a dance floor, for example, rather than on the edge.

So much time in the outdoors is perfect for people designed to be in the landscape…so the 4000+ kilometers of fresh air and outback adventuring last April 2023 couldn't have happened at a better time, and was very good for both of us. Our nervous systems relaxed. Driving on dirt roads kept us alert and vital — connected to the land. I stopped picking at the skin around my cuticles, Gary stopped biting his nails, plus his tinnitus was gone the whole time we were away.

The day we arrived back to the city the tinnitus returned with us.

It starts to become evident when there is not a frequency match between a particular body and a particular environment, so now that it's clear that there is an environment in which my body feels most nurtured and relaxed, in which my brain works best, and I can feel there's less resistance, I’m in search of ‘valleys’ wherever I go.




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