Tall Trees

Trip Start Jan 10, 2005
Trip End May 10, 2005

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Flag of Australia  ,
Monday, March 14, 2005

Exploring SW Australia has been great; except for the areas where only four-wheel drives can get in, it's been wonderful to go where we want when we want. Driving on the left has been fairly easy to get used to (though Martin's been doing all the driving); the big thing to remember is that if you're stopped at a stop sign and someone is turning right, you have to wait until they drive around you! (Oops!!!) There's certainly lots of roundabouts (rather than four-way stops or lights) and they seem to work very well. Don't know why Saskatonians couldn't handle them.

We're in timber country and the karri and jarrah trees are just amazing - so tall, straight and stately. They shed their bark, much like eucalyptus trees do. This area receives about double the rainfall of the Kojonup area (about 44-48 as compared to 22-24), so it's much greener. I've also noticed a lot more cattle.

After my encounter with the wolf spider (well, maybe he was only 2 inches in diameter, not three), I'm a little freaked out by large spiders. I also came across another large arachnid in the outhouse at one of the campgrounds and, of course, I didn't notice it until I was sitting on the toilet. Once it started to move my way, I bolted for the men's toilet. I now carefully inspect every outdoor biffy before darkening the door.

Martin climbed the Bicentennial Tree today, a karri that stands 75 m tall. In the 1930s and 40s, such large trees in the area were used as fire lookouts rather than going to the expense of building fire towers. The use of the karri tree lookouts made a resurgence in the 1990s. A series of rods inserted in the trunk created a circular staircase. There is a platform about half way up and then three more platforms at the top of the viewing area (at 61 m). Martin came down trembling and said he has never been that frightened of heights before. Apparently, the tree was swaying back and forth (about a metre in distance). He made it to the top platform, but couldn't bring himself to stand up, just stayed on his hands and knees. The karri is the third tallest tree in the world and grows up to 104 m high. It can also be extremely large in girth.

We walked the Tree Top Walk, a suspension bridge built high up into the canopy of the forest. Most of the trees there were karri or red tingle (a type of eucalyptus). Many red tingle become hollow at the bottom from either fire, insects or disease.

We camped at a free camping area tonight and about 7:30 pm were joined by a group of young backpackers - an Australian, a Brit and two Germans. The Australian was quite a talented musician and played the guitar for us, accompanied by the Brit and one of the Germans on the "didg" (Australian for didgeridoo). Martin was enthralled; now we're going to buy a didgeridoo to lug back home!
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