The car dropped us off on an uninviting side street in a deserted inner city industrial complex. Above us the fermentation tanks of the now defunct West End brewery dominated the skyline. It was a warm evening, the sinking western sun gifting the ugly buildings a scarcely deserved ephemeral beauty. A narrow line of majestic gum trees that delineated the banks of the dried up river stood out against the landscape of concrete and brick. Elsewhere factory chimneys and phone masts punctured the sky in a graceless mimicry of the trees.
We followed the music and, around the corner, a new vista opened up- a smart cafe/wine bar, a hidden rendezvous for the beautiful. The air was filled with the cheery birdsong of shiny, happy people at leisure. Beyond the bar, tall moustachioed men and Instagram girls lounged on the lawn or stood in distanced groups watching the band, backlit by the setting sun. It was as if we had stumbled upon a very cool party in someone’s back yard.
The band played a crowd favourite and everyone was singing along. When the headline band played a traditional Greek tune the sense of community, of emerging from the shadows, the joy of being, was almost overwhelming, a clear echo of what life used to be like and what it will become again.
Across the scar of the river bed the car parks and loading bays of the Entertainment Centre lay deserted, a sleeping behemoth and a reminder of what cannot yet be. But here on this bank an oasis of near normality bloomed as glasses clinked, strings and skins vibrated, and hearts beat to the life-giving sap of original music. Under the boughs of the trees I am reminded that all their grandeur and beauty is grounded on what cannot be seen, upon the hidden nourishment from below. As a great troubadour has said “from little things big things grow.” Keep tending the muse, keep feeding the creative soil for the future harvest that will surely follow.