I leave the Karri Forest Motel by 0700 and hit the trail. A few minutes later I make it to Pemberton’s famous Gloucester Tree. 61 m tall, it has a hut on top of it from which people used keep watch for forest fires. Nowadays, and for as long as I remember it’s a tourist site. I first climbed it waaay back in 1971. I’ve been up it more times than I can recall. I am alone with the tree when I arrive and it looks pretty impressive in the pre-dawn light. I do not climb it this time.
I hit the Munda Biddi and within a minute am confronted by a bush across the trail. Believing I can navigate around it I nurse Dreamer forward only for the sneaky bush to pull a fast one by taking hold of my front pannier effectively stopping me in my tracks. I DO manage to get a foot down as the bike goes over. But it goes waaay on down into the dark mulchy depths of the forest floor and I fall into the bush.
It sets the scene for the day. Bushes and broken branches strewn across the track. Makes for hard riding going over them all.
The Karri forest IS impressive. Massive trees and dense undergrowth. It’s hard enough making my way through it all on a trail, albeit not an easy trail. I am really impressed with kangaroos and the Aborigines who used to live amongst it all when it would have been even more spectacular. They would never have seen a view, never more than a few meters in front of them. There would have been no clearing due to forestry, mining or farming. For thousands of square kilometres. I wonder how often they’d have even seen sunlight.
It is another day of drizzle and high humidity. Then add sweat.
Then. Sand. Again, Forever, Always … in fact getting more and more. I must be nearing the coast … .
Many times I had to clear the path as it was not possible to go around the fallen bushes and branches.
A long and arduous process. Clear evidence that no other had been either way for a quite a while. I don’t believe it has all come down within the last 24 hours or so.
Then I notice something, something kinda special. Like … a small flightless bird kinda black and white stripped running along in front of me. Baby emus. And where baby emus are to be found, there must be papa emus. Sure enough, up in front running along the trail is papa, eventually heading off into that dense undergrowth and I see them no more.
Little by little the forest opens up, giving way to heath land and low shrubs. Swampy lands appear with a chorus of frogs to encourage me along. I get more and more views since the tall trees don’t grow in swampland.
The subtle differences between Europe and Australia continue to show up. In Europe we have Tractor Eggs. Here it seems to be Tractor Poo …
Northcliffe, a small town with tough history: Group Settlement Scheme migrants. Poor English seduced by the promise of cleared land, their own house + livestock. Instead when they arrive they are confronted by the world’s third tallest tree, and a hardwood at that. With no money to return to England they set about clearing the forest. And this less than 100 years ago. The area today bears little resemblance to its hard start, testament to the hard work of the Group Settlers.
I camped in the Round Tu-it caravan/camping site. Nice to have a shower and clean off the mud and the chill from a day’s riding in the damp humidity, known as motregn in Dutchland.
Again I confess to forgetting names. I had a really nice evening chatting to a guy and his wife who had waited until the fourth child, 19 years old, was safe and secure at University. Then the sold-up their history, ditched their careers, packed up a heavily customised Mazda 4WD pick-up and camp-trailer and are on the road. Yet another great inspiration … Live Your Dream. Coz if you don’t, what exactly are you living?
Northcliffe, 12 August 2015