This, I acknowledged as I looked out over the perfectly manicured gardens, was pretty bloody impressive.
I'd wanted to visit the Japanese Gardens in Cowra for months and had finally made the effort to get there.
I'd only seen the signs from the highway but a general appreciation for ramen, sushi and Japanese art meant my interest was immediately piqued, although other than that I had no idea what to expect.
As it turned out, the gardens were intoxicating. It was beautifully designed, the perfect blend of structure and organisation while making the most of the natural landscape, and I meandered along the pathways and relished in the tranquillity.
I'd come in feeling harried. I was in the process of moving house, yet again, marking my 14th address across 10 locations since leaving my hometown 11 years previously.
Relocating for the umpteenth time had left me stressed and weary; I was beginning to think my ongoing agitation and itchy feet had nothing to do with chasing adventure and was in fact some deep-rooted personality flaw that was too ingrained to shake.
A periodic knocking sound interrupted my thoughts and I followed the waterway to find water trickling down bamboo pipes. Like clockwork, the pipe would fill and tip before gently tapping the bamboo and returning to position.
It was inexplicably calming.
I walked further and admired the attention to detail throughout. A lizard on the grass caught my eye and I spent several minutes crouching down to try and get the perfect shot.
He seemed unphased - he looked almost regal, actually - and I assumed he was more than used to being photographed.
I let him be and headed past the ponds, where the fish eagerly milled around the surface as the ducks glided past. Fixed in position, the cormorants held their awkward poses on the rocks as though they were on guard.
I continued up the hill and past the small waterfalls that spilled down into the pond. The gardens disappeared from view as the track looped behind the rocks before opening out at the zenith.
The gardens emerged again and I drew a breath. The view really was stunning and I stood awhile to take it all in. I shot a quick video to send to my friends and family in WA and fleetingly felt a pang and wished there was someone closer I could share the experience with.
I headed back down the path and paused for more photos. There was no way my pictures would do the gardens justice but I was more than determined to try.
A bright rosella caught my eye and I quietly snuck closer. He'd been snatching flowers and flying them up to his mate, and I tried not to disturb the pair as I silently admired his colours.
I sat down on the bench and glanced down at the fact sheet I've been given about the garden's history and what led to its development.
I remembered learning briefly about Japanese prisoners of war in Australia but I was unaware of the extent of the Cowra camp. It didn't seem all that long ago, and it was hard to believe such beauty could be derived from such an awful period.
I took some final shots and made my way to the busy cafe to scroll through my photos over lunch.
I was excited to put pen to paper and reached into my camera bag. My notebook, that I'd vowed to keep with me at all times, was of course nestled in my handbag back in the car.
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