Monday, 6 April 2015

What the Indian Ocean says least, one thing this bit of its vast expanse says to me.

If you go to Rottnest Island and look east, you see the low coastline of Western Australia and apparently on the shoreline, although in fact some eight or nine miles inland, the towers of Perth's central business district. Quite a modest collection of towers and spikes compared with many other global cities, but nevertheless, a symbol of all the busyness and complexity of a modern city (and a very pleasant one. As they go.)

If your super-powered eye could travel on past Perth, through the Swan Valley wine areas, over the limestone scarp and the wheat belt, you'd hit - well, nothing much at all in the way of human settlements of any size, for a very long way indeed. Perth is, they say, the most isolated city on the planet, in terms of the distance to the next city.

Because if you nip round to the west coast of Rottnest, which is quite a small and quite a delightful island holiday spot, if you nip round on your bike (no cars, hallelujah!) you can stare across at the horizon, of course, as with any oceanic coast. And beyond the blue horizon? Nothing between you and the coast of South Africa.

So there's a coastal ribbon of people, sandwiched between the semi-desert and scrub, and the ocean. It's good to feel, for once, the size and scale of the planet, after the great sham of long-haul flight, the illusory distances on the little screen in the back of the seat in front of you, the miles you fervently wish away.

And just to remind you of where the human busyness sits in terms of the planet and what we are doing with it, moored offshore for a few days is Rainbow Warrior 3, Geenpeace's beautiful, custom-made two-masted schooner.

A little reminder in the vastness that we can't "save" or "destroy" this impossibly complex and beautiful planet. We can only save or wreck our own human civilisation.

So it's good to sit by the Indian Ocean, and listen to what it tells me of ocean vastness and the truths of our human scale.

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