The rusting Australian landmass

I love looking at the scenery while flying – it’s so interesting to look at the topography and patterns of human settlement, imagining how towns developed and noticing how the environment shapes human settlement and land use so clearly. The scientist in me is fascinated. During most international flights the plane is often too high to make out too many details, but watching the scenery is one of the joys of domestic flying.

(Flying on a clear night last year heading north-west over Indonesia, I was astonished to be able to make out lights from cities and roads. Upon access to a map, I realised that I had had an almost cartographic view of part of eastern Java! Incredible.)

I flew back to Sydney from Adelaide today, and the ground was a partially dried watercolour painting during the first part of the flight over South Australia. During the latter part of the flight, outbreaks of rust riddled the land, as if it were sick. Overlaid was the geometric shading of land use. Startling.

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