A small, white sign sits on the road to Stanthorpe, with squat capital letters announcing the name of a town: Dalveen. It shoots past – another town along the road; Thulimbah, The Summit, Applethorpe.
Dalveen is a commuter town for a sleepy country town – Stanthorpe. It’s nothing special. A post office, an antiques shop, a disused train station. The post office is closed for lunch, and closed on Mondays.
A thin road stretches from the other side of the highway. It’s sealed for a I drive twenty minutes to arrive at Sorrento, a dairy farm. Sorrento sits in a valley, surrounded by high hills. The valley undulates softly, punctuated by jutting granite tumors. Some spread low along the earth, and others erupt like giant, petrified mushrooms.
What I go to the farm for is the cold and the quiet.
The cold. It snows in Dalveen every few years. Most nights it will drop to one degree. During the winter days, the air is fresh, and the light is soft and golden. The gum trees cast long shadows that project a topography onto the paddocks that changes each day, as the sun swings to the north and back again. At night we sit with an enormous fireplace, and tend to it throughout the night like a dependent animal.
The quiet. The farm is a couple of valleys from the highway, and there are no roads for kilometres. It’s hard to imagine only hearing the soft sound of the wind rustling the long grass and the distant sound of songbirds. When I go on walks, my footfall is monstrous, and consumes almost all of the soundscape. It’s quiet enough that, hundreds of metres away, I could hear a chorus of frogs from a nearby pool of water. They stopped when I approached, stunned into silence by my footsteps. But as I waited, they began singing again.