Background Noise

This weekend there has been maintenance work carried out along the railway lines in the Blue Mountains. This isn’t an unusual occurrence, but it has made me more mindful of the noises in the background. The railway lines are a couple of blocks away, but the sound of the railway carries much further than that, particularly when the wind is casting the acoustics further afield.

It isn’t that I don’t like the sound of the railway – the opposite is true. I like to pick up the light clatter of the passenger trains, or the heavier groan of the freight and coal trains as they rumble along. Twice a day there are the swifter rattles of the XPT, and the weekly passing of the long Indian Pacific. But in the absence of the railway noise, other noises come into focus.

Bird life is plentiful in the mountains, and on a soft, damp day like today it is mainly magpies and king parrots in close proximity. The parrots tend to feed in brightly plumaged clusters in trees, neatly nibbling away at seeds high up in the trees. The cackle of kookaburras carries from a distance, along with the swooping squeal of cockatoos.

Traffic sounds from the highway include the whine and moan of trucks, always on the move. Most car and bike noises are subdued in comparison for the most part. There is the occasional hum of a plane, somewhere above the low cloud cover.

Closer to home the breeze plucks a tune from a bamboo wind chime, a soft plunking sound on the air. The rainwater tank is full and there is a methodical tinkle as the overflow is caught in a container. People walking past chatter and laugh, or speed past on bikes. Dogs in the neighbourhood holler out greetings or warnings, their calls picked up along the roadway like a raucous Chinese whisper. Then the rain starts again, a soft settling upon the roof.

What makes up your background noise?

[Photo: glimpse of a king parrot]

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6 thoughts on “Background Noise

  1. I live in a quiet suburb, mainly Queenslander houses – timber and tin. We often get what i call resonance… folk next door or even a few doors away walk around their house, clatter in their kitchens, whatever and it feels and sounds like they are in our house. Especially at night. One daughter thought our house was haunted when we first moved here, but it was just the neighbours toddler. Bang bang bang down their hall. Trip and BANG. Pause and WAIL. From our bedrooms sounds like he is in our hall.
    Not all noises though and not all the time… not when it rains at all. It is a bit like being haunted i guess 😊

    • Wow – how uncanny is that! It must have been a bit unsettling until you worked out where the sound was coming from. I like that you’ve named it too – resonance sounds just right! Thanks for sharing.

    • There is something about the way that the sound of trains travel – I guess due to their size and the sheer infrastructure of it all. One of my earliest memories is the sound of trains passing by and it still comforts me.

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