For most of us, the excitement of travel is the feeling of visiting a place for the very first time. But for me, what I find most interesting about travel is the opportunity to revisit a place we have been to before. And when there’s been a 6 year gap in between those visits it becomes even more remarkable.
In July of 2017, Willow and I visited a place called Clements Gap, South Australia. You won’t find it on any tourist brochures, in fact, most people would miss it if they happened to drive down the quiet road it’s situated on. But in April of 2023 we returned with Steph and what we found reminded us of why we travel.
Under the gum trees we parked our campervan for a couple of nights as we rediscovered the stories of this fascinating place. But unfortunately, we found that the years had caught up.
The site was originally home to the Clements Gap school from 1892 to 1942, though all that remains now are relics scattered around the bush.
A swing set was all that was left of the old playground where 393 children played over those 50 years. On our 2017 visit, Willow jumped up onto the bright red seat as I snapped a photo of her, a photo that made it into our 2018 calendar.
6 years later we explored, once again, the old site and found the old swing set, it’s vibrant red seat ravaged by weather and time. The red paint had peeled and cracked and what hadn’t fallen to the ground was bleached by the harsh UV of the Australian sun.
At first I was disappointed; I had wanted to recreate the photo but now the seat had lost it’s distinctive crimson hue. Then I realised, this is why we travel. It’s beauty lay not in its colour but in the story it told through the passing of time. I decided to get the photo.
Unfortunately, Willow had other ideas.
She had little interest in sitting on the old swing… that was until we got the treats out! Steph placed her on the seat and with the promise of delicious snacks, Willow sat patiently as I snapped away.
Then I got the shot; not a perfect recreation but one that captured the essence of the original and all the years that had passed in between.
As I looked around at all the old hand painted information signs, I noticed a similar theme of deterioration. Will all those stories be lost by the time we next visit? Who knows.
As we got back to our campervan – which was parked on what was once the cricket pitch – I looked at those two photos of Willow 6 years apart; one sitting on the red seat with so many adventures ahead of us, the other, faded, older but wiser, and with just as many adventures to come.
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What do you think? Which photo do you prefer?
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