Thursday, October 06, 2005


I’ve just returned from a few days in the forest near Bridgetown, which looks like being the closest thing I’m going to get to a holiday this year. It’s not exactly a month on the Cote d’Azure, but it was good nevertheless.

My travel companions and I rented a chalet in what was once the workers’ accommodation for the Donnelly River timber mill. It’s a tiny little hamlet completely surrounded by forest that extends twenty kilometres in every direction. Our cottage would have been built around the 1920s, and featured wooden floors, asbestos walls, an outdoor toilet and beds that looked like they came out of an old hospital, and felt like they’d been designed by Satan’s own chiropractors.

But what the house itself lacked, the surroundings made up for. The townsite was a haven for kangaroos and emus, completely tame despite the hoards of small children who alternated between feeding them, petting them and trying to jump on them.


Hey, jump on this, you little freaks!

To further up the adorable ante, most of the females had joeys in their pouches, all spindly legs and big brown eyes. The grace kangaroos demonstrate as they bound across the grasslands of Australia is obviously something they learn, not something they’re born with; the joeys were about as well-coordinated getting in and out of the pouch as a drunk man trying to open his front door late at night without waking the missus.

The town also boasted more barbecue pits than it did people, and we did almost all of our cooking outdoors. It was great to sit around the fire, prodding the rump steak and onions sizzling on the iron plate, watching the kangaroos grazing on the lawns and looking up at the thin wedge of twilight sky visible between the walls of towering marri, jarrah and karri trees. It was even better to cook bacon and eggs in the same way the next morning.

In between barbecuing, we did all the standard things for the area. We took Devonshire tea on the deck of a restaurant overlooking broad green lawns and distant rows of grapevines. We did some wine and cider tasting at a vineyard that could only be reached up a twisting, muddy track in the middle of nowhere. We perused art galleries, in which, if one had a mind to, one could drop $28,000 on a big lump of lead crystal. We climbed the Gloucester Tree, a famous old look out post that sits on top of a sixty metre karri tree, and felt our quadriceps burn for the rest of the holiday. And we bushwalked every day, either along sections of the Bibbulmun Track, or down the long-abandoned mill roads that are slowly being reclaimed by the forest. Once you’re a few hundred metres away from Donnelly Mill, the sounds of civilisation are completely lost, leaving only the wind sighing in the trees, the babble of a creek, the distant squeaks and warbles of native birds, and the occasional crackle in the undergrowth as a kangaroo forages for food.


Blogger MC Etcher said...

Sounds like a good time!

I'd like to get that close to kangaroo's one day.

There's just something about the little ones peeking out of the pouch that is very endearing.

11:54 PM  

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