The climb

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“Let’s climb!” shouted Ralph. And so we climbed, free of foreboding.

In the shadow of those great rocks was no ominous hum, no sudden chill, no tingling premonition of hidden watchers’ eyes. Instead, there was sunlight trickling through old bracken and ferns. Filtered water splashing out of rocks. A tiny boulder in the shape of a love-heart, wedged between two giants and framing a window to the bottom of the world.

“Let’s climb!” said Ralph again. So we ventured off the pathway and scrambled over rocks and in between narrow passes and under natural bridges and, all the while, we found sunlight and clean air and great beauty… and no ghosts.

When you come alone to a place as ancient and spirit-filled as Hanging Rock, secrets whisper at you and watch you from just inside the other plane, and goosebumps come as naturally as breathing. The boundary between imagination and experience is blurred, and you are at the mercy of Place.

When you come in the company of two small children, however, it is hard to hear the spirits over the coughs and sneezes and “My legs are tired!” and “Let’s have a race!” and giggles and kisses and “Can I have a banana?” and “Can you carry me?”

I thought the spirits had left Hanging Rock, at least while we were there, retreating into caves to find silence away from our relentless noise. But as I prepared these photographs last night to share with you, and I realised the ghosts had been there all along, watching, as we climbed.

Can you see them? In the strange shadows and sometimes-odd light, and in the many, many faces in the boulders?

Ahhhhh, tread lightly!

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