Scenic view in Griffith

Griffith’s Scenic Hill is a patch of bushland elevated above the city.

On my first visit I saw the Hermit’s Cave where Valerio Ricetti retreated from a society that had left him disillusioned. Not much remains of his solitary settlement but a cave that smells faintly of urine and a view of acres of citrus as well as encroaching suburbia.

The next time I saw Scenic Hill was from the air. A myriad of reddish dirt tracks cut through dark, sparse bushland.

More recently I’ve begun to drive up the Hill a few times a week to my new workplace at Pioneer Park Museum. After driving much of the way between Leeton and Griffith at 100 kilometres an hour, the winding roads through Griffith feel sluggish at 50.

While the distance between the last house on the Hill and the Park near the top is short, it’s not uncommon to see a kangaroo.

After parking my car under a Grey Box tree, I walk through the large iron gates and past the various historic and recreated buildings I can see more Box and Cyprus Pine. My arrival at 8am means I am usually alone in the car park. It allows me to remain in my own thoughts but also to look around and appreciate the landscape.

A month or so ago there was a complex fragrance on the soft breeze. The sweet of the geraniums in the Park gardens but a spice like anise too. I was excited to find native flowers, a Chocolate Lily and an Austral Bluebell as well as many Sticky Everlasting Daisies. There were also many feral Poppies adding a different shade of green, contrasting on the red dirt.

At present the rains of a wet winter and a wetter than usual spring have given the understory of weeds below these native trees a similar shade of green to the kikuya grass on the lawn outside Myall Park Hall, where many local festive occasions are celebrated — including the popular salami festival.

Last Monday there was a beautiful mist hanging in the trees, either low cloud or evaporation as the sun beamed onto the soaked Box bark. The rains this week revealed new stones in the unsealed road around the Park, as well as shifting red dirt down them toward drainage points.

One of the joys of arriving to work is hearing the local birds singing their morning songs. As Griffith is about as far west as I’ve travelled in New South Wales, these songs are often unfamiliar. There’s one that rings one note like an old telephone, the usual excited chirps of Sparrows and the bullying chatter of Apostle Birds.

The other sound is the wind-powered water pump groaning with each rotation. It’s a sound heard in my dreams soon after starting work here a couple of months ago. Some days I hear it long after I’ve driven down the Hill and through Griffith toward the turn to Leeton. I catch the drawn-out squeak echoing in my subconscious and force myself to listen to the sound of the car until it disappears.