The Swan River is a picturesque setting and a splendid reflecting pool for the city of Perth. But venture beyond The Causeway and the river begins to absorb more light than it reflects. The river has a deeper affect on the landscape there. The muted and dark tones of the hinterland, which still disappoint those raised on foreign aesthetics, imitate the somber tones of the river.
I remember when a friend and I successfully navigated a five-mile course through this part of the river with a toy inflatable dinghy and two plastic oars. Even as twelve-year-olds it would have been hard to get lost with the murky river flowing in our favour.
I’m navigating the river again, via the hinterland, with a camera this time. My coordinates are the pastel tones of the melaleucas and sheoaks, the blacks of the creeks and drains, and the russet of silt and dirt. They avoid the showy colours of our suburban arcadia. Instead, they defer to the river. These coordinates, however, have their limits: the hinterland cannot completely hide its suburban setting. It’s still hard to get lost.