When I went for art classes as a little kid, I was taught to colour the sky with red, orange, purple, and pink crayons of every hue with my grubby little fingers. I thought my art teacher was smarter and more imaginative than the creator of the world then, because my experience of the real sky? It never really looked like my swirling sunsets and sparkling night skies.
I changed my mind during my 3-day 2-night trip to Hornsdale Farm and the Flinders Ranges with Toms Tours, where I saw my crayon paintings come to life and more.
For the first time in my life, I could understand why my art teacher painted mountains in ridiculous shades of lilac and lavender when they were really green or brown.
A scenic drive from Adelaide City, Hornsdale Farm is so far away from civilization that it is not connected to the main water supply grid. A sense of freedom dawns as the bus cruises through the Outback and brings me into a different world. I feel cut-off. I feel free.
The spacious farm house that Tom grew up in comfortably hosts 16 people for two relaxing nights of Barbeques, cozy living room fires, and the most breathtaking star gazing experience. I feel myself taking slower, deeper breaths. It is a different life altogether.
I eat raw mushrooms and bean sprouts for the first time, and I learn that oranges and avocados are the secret to wicked salads.
I see a burning red and deep purple sunset on the top of Mount Ngadjuri, the highest point of Hornsdale Farm.
I see another breathtaking one along the Flinders Ranges the next day, as the Painter in the sky showed off his mastery yet again. He mixes the reds and purples differently this time. My art teacher is no match for Him, I learnt.
We hike up Brachina Gorge at Wilpena Pound, the centerpiece of the Flinders Ranges National Park, and look down into the pound. I feel victorious and yet so small compared to the vastness below. Driving along the geological trail of Brachina Gorge after our tiring feat, we admire the interesting ridges and learn about the historical sedimentation along the Adelaide Geosyncline.
I sleep in a swag under the stars, where swirly bands of the milky way take my breath away. I stare at them for the longest of time despite the numbing cold. The Southern Cross Emu, a dark shadow in the sky of great importance to aboriginals for thousands of years, stares back at me from light years away.
The night is graced by four shooting stars, and the next thing I know, a glorious sunrise is spreading across the horizon.
Farmers and farm dogs round up the sheep in the morning. There are 4500 of them on the farm.
I leave Hornsdale with a contentedly aching body, a bag of sheep’s wool and an ear tag from Tom’s father, and dancing images of shooting stars in the mysterious night sky.
If you want a taste of Australian farm life, all you need to do is ring Tom at 0419 844 072 or visit http://www.tomstours.com.au. Oh, and when you’re on the tour, remind Tom to buy you a drink at the Yarrowie Hotel, show you his four kittens, and teach you how to do a Tim Tam slammer. It is these little things that make the trip special.