The Olive Grove (extract)

How did this happen? It’s 1986 and my father is dying. At best he has a few months to live. Most weekends, Phillip and I drive from Sydney to Adelaide to see him, from my new home town to my old, a 1500-kilomitre round trip.

It would be easier to fly, but I need these long journeys locked in a moving car with an ever changing backdrop.

My map tears along the crease marks, the edges smudge, where I write important notes – the name of quiet motels, where a decent coffee can be had at Balranald, a petrol station with clean toilets.

We become familiar with place I’d never heard of, and begin to notice the progress of crops, different colored soils, types of trees, the vastness of dull plains. We admire the ancient river gums along the Murray’s edge, the beauty of peaceful towns nestled behind the hills, and mountains, lakes, gullies and wetlands, twist and turn my mood.