I envisage a project that involves myself and later others walking up into the Budawangs mountain ranges, stopping here and there for a few hours, a day or several days to form small camps and read and transcribe short books.
The Budawangs are south and inland of Milton Ulladulla. I’d focus the project around slowly ascending one of the most prominent Budawangs summits, the Castle.
I envisage each camp as a small raised platform with basic items. Platforms are supported on poles. Platforms are just big enough for an adult person to lie down full length. They also have room for a small box that contains vital items – food, paper, writing implements, a light, and most importantly a book. The book is for reading, transcribing and commenting upon. I’m thinking of something like the Monadology by Leibniz. It’s only thirteen pages long and it’s broken up into very short sections – only a paragraph long each. So philosophical or short literary works – focusing on experience, reflection, action and aesthetics.
Above the platform is a suspended canvas tarpaulin for shade and to keep out the rain.
Visitors walk up into the forest to the various camps and spend time at the platforms – perhaps a couple days, perhaps only a few hours. They can go on their own or they can go as a group. They find their way via sets of cryptic instructions – as though following a treasure map.
Every camp will have already been visited, but with only a single trace – a white, wooden weather-proof box containing a book and a commentary. I will have been the first visitor at each camp.
Each visitor or set of visitors are expected to set up the camp – assembling the poles, platforms and tarpaulins. They carry everything with them. They discover light means of fixing the poles – perhaps by pushing them into the ground or strapping them to trees and rocks. They ensure that the platforms are level. They suspend the tarpaulin at an appropriate height above the platform, leaving room to lie down beneath, sit or perhaps even stand.
Groups of people are free to create a single platform or a whole set of individual platforms.
People can replace my suggested books with their own. Monadology is just a suggestion. The books need to be short. People need time to transcribe them entirely and to add their own commentary. They leave the commentary behind when they move on.
They proceed up through the series of camps to the top of the Castle.
At the end of the project all of the boxes are collected from the forest and displayed as an installation, but with none of the books, transcriptions or commentaries visible. Instead they are contained in the boxes.
Note: there is a roughly 40 km drive in via a rough and corrugated dirt road to the starting point for the walk up the Castle. The walk starts down low beside a creek, leads through a patch of rainforest, then quickly up into dry sclerophyll forest. After a couple of hours it ascends to a steep conglomerate cliff line and traverses beneath to a large cave. There is then another long climb to a final high layer of sandstone cliffs. The final section of the ascent is surprisingly tricky. A gentle but very exposed set of slabs provide access to the northern tail of the mountain. From there a 800 m walk follows the narrow escarpment summit to the southern end, which provides an expansive view past Byangaree walls and Pigeon House mountain to the coast.