Okay, so we're well overdue here, but really, who’s surprised at me procrastinating? As usual I’ve allowed myself to be caught up with the myriad adventures that have come my way. The people I have met in the hostels have been incredible and although I was surprised that I was so shy the first week in the country, now I get comments from new friends about how outgoing I am. So with that, I am brought to my first post about my purpose here: trees. Oh light of my life, world of my world, etc etc! Last week I took the day to get out of the city for the first time since my arrival. Although I have been determined to find work, I began to realize how uneasy I was getting spending so much time in the city.
After a one hour train ride outside of Melbourne I arrived in a small suburb known as Belgrave. This area is well known for it’s connection to logging history. Lucky for me they didn’t cut all the trees down, and actually preserved them in what is known as Dandenong ranges national park. These parks are different than what we have in Canada. A lot of picnic areas here, but the idea of backcountry camping seems a bit confusing to many Aussies I come across. The look I get whenever I enquire as to the possibility of sleeping outside is one of suspicion or concern. Like I’m some sort of transient looking to live on the outskirts in an attempt to carry out some nefarious deeds – which as many of you know is only a half truth. You never can trust those people that like sleeping in fresh air, basking in sunlight, and frolicking through the bush… that sort of stuff does things to your head after all. Before you know it, you’ll be filled with dangerous ideas…
I digress. DRNP has some great walking tracks and picnic areas, and some massive, massive trees. I don’t say this flippantly either. If I saw 500 trees as I walked through the park, I can confidently say I saw the 500 largest trees of my life. They are consistently huge. In Canada, we have many trees, they’re certainly abundant, but they are not this big. Mind you, I’ve never had the opportunity to visit the west coast (yet), but I can say with confidence that the largest tree’s I’ve seen and climbed in Ontario, do not hold a candle to this forest. Taking pictures is difficult because it’s impossible to show scale because they’re all huge. The ferns are even massive. Instead of having low lying ground covering ferns, this forest has tree ferns, ancient ancestors to palms that can be upwards of 15ft high.
Any foray into a national park is incomplete without the most modern of invasive species: tourists and the things that attract them. This includes roads, busses, giftshops and their overpriced novelty items, and finally, relatively tame wildlife. After a brief discussion with the staff at the giftshop I have walk over to the Cockatoo feeding area ('you just have to try feeding them, it's so fun!'). So I purchase the seed for the wild birds and trade stories with the woman handing out the seed. As usual she's happy to talk to a Canadian (who isn't really?) and is keen to give me insight into the birds. They're smart, she insists, almost as smart as children.
In fact, she says they're as smart as five year olds. So I walk out with the seed to get mobbed by friendly and eager birds, flying to my shoulders, landing on the bowl etc. As usual I manage to feel sorry for the one in the corner that is too nervous to fly to my bowl. So I bend down to let him approach my hand, and like that evil five year old that takes advantage of any apparent weakness, the little bugger bites my hand, piercing my thumb and causing me to drop all the seed in my hand in front of it. Visions of the hellish post-apocalyptic Hitchcock film fill my mind. Unbeknownst to me there is blood everywhere. The Chinese tourists are aghast, loud and panicked Mandarin surrounds me where there was once cockatoos with their iconic yet unpleasant screech. As I make my way back to the helpful Aussie for a bandaid and some field surgery I realize that part of the panic was over my halfpint of blood in the feeding area, and the subsequent spooking of the birds -oops-. After a quick patch up I return to ring with the last of my bowl of seed. The usual suspects are only too keen to fly on my arm, but I have an agenda now: make amends with my apparent attacker. The Lord did preach forgiveness after all. So I take a handful in my non wounded hand, and allow my nemesis to approach. She takes a good look in the king’s ransom of seed in my hand and goes straight for thumb number two. Clever girl.