This week I came upon the widest enclosed canyon in the world — even wider than the Grand Canyon — right here in our own Central West, at Capertee Valley. When I heard about it I had visions of driving into a vaulted forest, with pillows of moss forming a soft ceiling and sides of rock acting as solid barriers to the outside world, providing a sense of comfort and security. Although it was amazing, it wasn’t quite as I had imagined. It’s a valley surrounded by rugged sandstone cliffs reminiscent of a walled city — think Lucca in Tuscany or Xian in China, or even on a more micro level, our symbolic wedding ring. Circular enclosures have been with us for a long time.
The Bay Run, too, is also a circular enclosure — albeit without walls — that provides some security where there is often little elsewhere. Once on the track, we know where and approximately when we will end. In real life, we often don’t know when our work will start, when it will end or where it will be.
There has perhaps never been a time since the Industrial Revolution where work has been so unpredictable. Even when conditions were worse (during feudal times) or when rates were piecemeal (such as for the exploited migrant sewing machinists of the seventies), workers generally knew where they would be working the next week, and if they would be working. These days, many of us don’t know where and when we’ll find our next task, or whether we’ll be called up for a job until that morning.
Life in general has become less predictable. We don’t know whether we will be forced out of our rental home because our landlord favours tenancy laws; whether the next text we get will end our new relationship; whether our favourite restaurant will be there in two weeks. We don’t know whether our bestie will decide to travel around Asia indefinitely; whether our favourite patisserie will never open again with no warning or explanation whatsoever (a la Marineve on Ramsay Rd in Five Dock); if our go-to magazine will disappear; whether we will be permitted to marry or not.
This uncertain world is what we are left to cope with, and at least it is underpinned by dependable and reassuring circular enclosures — the Bay Run being a prime choice!