Sounds help create a sense of place. Beyond those easy to catch noises – the upbeat intro to the six o’clock news, a microwave whirling, a motorcycle revving – it’s an infinitely layered soundscape that creates the mood of a day.
We all know the feeling of being bombarded with too much noise, when there is too much vying for our attention. It’s draining! The answer isn’t to stop paying attention completely. Instead, listen out for the quiet. Listen deeply and connect with your surroundings.
Out here in the country, we tune in to so many kinds of sounds. Even in the seemingly still depths of the night, leaves crunch as critters skulk through, and the bones of historic rustic buildings never really rest.
Old buildings creak and moan, shifting with a slow, lazy sound. Our shedquarters, a patchwork of century-old tin and timber, has a lot to say.
The roof is a noisy thing. It cracks as it contracts and expands in the heat and turns into a brilliant percussion instrument in the rain. The dramatic rumble of distance thunder precedes one drop on the roof, followed by a few more, building a rhythm until the crescendo of raucous pelting drowns out all other sounds. Storms out here are of the biblical kind.
When the hubbub of the rain passes, you can hear the busy little birds that have taken up nest in the eves. Mama bird flits and fusses around her chirping babies. And in the distance, the neighbour’s cows call to their calves. It’s a comforting country sound.
It’s not long after daybreak that the bush chorus hits its high notes, played out by a symphony of bird calls. There’s the kookaburra’s laughing, the warm warble of the maggies, and the pretty tweets from the finches and wrens. Parrots and cockies squawk and carry on like a bunch of party-goers who haven’t made it to bed, while the currawong’s song reminds us of loved ones. Tania’s grandad used to call them ‘Charlie birds’ and always said hearing them meant that rain was coming.
When team Southern Wild Co gathers, it’s not just the birds and rain on a tin roof that form the soundscape of the day. Easy chatter and laughter fill the air, and beyond scheming and planning the business side of things, our topics of conversation run like a wild river.
From beekeeping to innkeeping, art-making to garden tending, someone is always working on something and has a beautiful insight to share. And there is always talk of food. We are a like-minded bunch of food-obsessed folk, so we often swap recipes, ingredients, and top tips.
The weather is discussed. That may sound like the lowest form of conversation to a city slicker, but out here in the sticks, where so many people rely on the land, it can be a matter of life and death. So many days without rain. Flash floods. Scorching heat. Cold snaps bringing unseasonal frosts. In the case of a gentle snowfall, it’s a magical moment to share. In the case of a flooded road, its’ a convenient traffic update!
Music offers a form of relaxation and escape, and playing an instrument has meditative benefits. There’s a beautiful piano that sits in the corner of the shed. Tania learnt to play when she was young, and she still enjoys tinkering as a stress reliever when she gets a rare spare moment.
The 80s tunes played on the ‘B-Rock’, Bathurst’s local radio station, accompany the repetitive, physical tasks involved in running SWC. As we wrap packages and tape boxes, you will find us bopping along to everything from the New Romantics to heavy metal. If it’s not that, it’s ABC’s Classic FM. Variety is the spice of life, after all!
We also tune into Dan Golding’s Screen Sounds every Monday afternoon between 3 and 4, for his interesting curation of film and television soundtracks, from the golden age to new releases.
Podcasts are saved for afternoon walks and car trips to the post office.
Currently on high rotation is Jaime Derringer’s Clever and Talking with Painters by Maria Stoljar. We also love the spotlight independent Australian magazine Galah is shining on modern country living and have added their new pod Galah Sessions to our listen list.
When we need to sharpen our business tools, we soak up everything marketing guru Seth Godin says. We think This Is How We Do It, hosted by Collabosaurus’ Jess Ruhfus, is also a handy resource.
Tunes and interviews inspire us and get us going, but we know too much noise can clutter the air and confuse the mind. When it comes down to it, nature composes our favourite soundtrack.
You can’t beat the sound of the creeks gurgling after rain or the powerful Christmas-time chorus of cicadas. The bounding thumps as an enormous roo shoots away, or the burps of the summertime frogs at your feet. The wind weaving through the pine forest and the whispering of the silky oaks down by the river.
Next time you get a chance to walk in nature, leave the podcasts and playlists at home and listen intently to the sound of the bush. A rich soundscape is sure to reveal itself.