Memory is a strange thing. Just the other evening I had a sudden flash of remembrance, not of something profound, but of something more mundane. I remembered a cobwebbed string of brass bells, Indian in provenance, that I had tied up outside the window of my bedroom in Canberra, many years earlier.

My father had kindly built a deck outside my window at my request, and I liked to sit on the deck and look at the distant hills surrounding Southern Canberra. Those hills were a comforting presence, and they represented an 'other' place, a counterpoint to the suburban sprawl in the valley in which I lived. I had walked up those far-off hills one day, many years before that, crossing the border into New South Wales and winding up through a pine forest to break into the paddocks on the hilltops. The views of the Brindabella Mountains from up there were expansive, and served to elevate the otherwise drab suburban expanse of the Tuggeranong Valley in the foreground.

These elements formed the landscape of my life at a difficult time, and I am forever grateful for the calming presence of those distant hills, and indeed those closer to my home, where I used to walk for hours on end. I would walk for up to three hours at a time, climbing to the highest point above the suburb of Monash, and sit underneath the trig station on the crown of the hill. This was important personal time, and intensely creative - I would work through ideas, and imagine different realities, as if testing out fictional settings. The experience was formative.

If I am lacking something in my life on Melbourne's city grid, it is perhaps the presence and view of distant hills, or an appropriate substitute. There is something dream-like about engaging with such a view, and the reverie it inspires is rich sustenance to the creative mind. I still associate those bells with this strange, floating, inward-looking feeling.