Someone once asked Kylie Minogue what she misses about Australia. Her reply was "big skies".
This was many years ago but it's something I've never forgotten.
Having lived overseas for many years myself, it's a question I have often asked myself.
In the perfume world they talk about high notes and low notes. High notes make the initial impression while low notes stay with you, linger for longer.
When I think of Australia, my high notes are along the lines of searing heat, dripping sweat, sticky salt, invasive dust, persistent flies, dead land, extending flatness...all things discomforting and perishing!
My low notes are, quite simply, the scent of the bush. It's a complex mixture of some of the world's most potent, pure and masculine essential oils. In the scent can be found eucalyptus, lemon, tea tree, pepper, curry, rain and sunshine.
It's not always there...it will suddenly waft past me then dissipate just as quickly. When I get a first whiff of it, I stop quickly and breathe deeply as if that will make it stay longer. But, as if it is too precious to waste on those who have already smelled it, it moves on through the gum trees, across the valleys and over the hills, coating this old and isolated country in its dreamtime perfume...