Last week I realised yesterday was a public holiday to commemorate the eight hour work day. As I’m struggling doing any work at the moment, thought it an ideal opportunity to celebrate by doing no work. It was time to rewire the frazzle of the past few months to ensure all connectors were back in the right place.
It’s been a while since I took a road trip. The only reason I keep my car is so I can take road trips on the odd occasion. Parked in the drive for most of the year, it provides me with a permanent sense of freedom, only a key turn away.
After my last gig of ‘helping’ on Sunday morning, I headed out to the Kinglake National Park. I’d never been there before, and with 98% of the park destroyed during the Black Saturday fires, I had no idea what I would find. All I knew is there would be fresh air, space, regrowth and a chance for phase one rewiring to commence.
There’s nothing like that first breath of eucalypt forest to clear out the dust that has settled due to long gaps between escapes. As it was almost time for the sun to set, on arriving in Kinglake, it was time for a quick meal before heading deep into the Robertson State Forest for an elusive (and probably illegal) camping spot.
There is one part of the daily cycle that never fails to disappoint when you are in the country: it’s city cousin can never compete in the magic of a night sky. Tonight I felt in true awe of the power nature has to energise, reform and bring back from the dead. As I sat on the barren earth, I observed the new life pushing its way through the blackened trunks of a forest that had died, resurrecting itself into a maze of new life sprouting from any where it could find. The moon looked like it was swathed in a deep orange velvet cloak, ready to entertain the million sequinned dinner guests, and one willing observer.
There are more important things than what people do each day. Rewiring phase one complete.
Awaking refreshed the next morning, it was time for a walk. Unfortunately, most of the tracks and camping areas have not been rebuilt since the fires. Heading into Kinglake National Park, there was a small 3.5km track open to the peak of Mt Sugarloaf. Not exactly a 2000m plus mountain I was used to climbing, nonetheless, I threw on my boots and headed off to conquer Sugarloaf.
The view from the ridge of a sea of blackened trunks gave a clear indication of the extent of the fires. As I opened the air vents in my hiking pants and sat on a burned log, I closed my eyes and felt the power of nature’s force. On opening, I reflected on that force emulating the struggles of all humanity and the desire to not be destroyed, to co-exist, to survive, to create miracles.
When you find yourself in a dark place, if you wait for a while and listen, you will find yourself again. We are all born with the ability to create new life and survive. Rewiring phase two complete.
After waving at Melbourne in the distance, I began to head down the same path when I hit a crossroads. On investigation, I decided the awkwardly placed red tape and ‘this track is currently under restoration’ didn’t really tell me not to enter. Besides, as I too was under restoration, perhaps we could both test out how much we both needed work by a moderate – difficult 6.5km shared journey. The worst that could happen was I give up and head back to the top and hitch a ride down to the base of the mountain. Having broken my cardinal rule of always carrying enough water, I was more worried about the 100ml left in the bottle. So I opted for the tortoise and a slow and steady pace to win the race.
Three hours later, I hit the bottom carpark. I passed no one. I meditated for 20 minutes at the base of the valley surrounded by blackened trees on either side. I crossed paths with Mountain Creek, and on dipping in my fingers and meeting a surprisingly warm sensation, walked for 100m, stripped off and lay in the water for half an hour under the rays of a warming autumn sun. I was glad the ferns were reconquering land that had been theirs for centuries, I could shout out loud and feel so insignificantly powerful in a new landscape created by significant force.
After a very sweaty afternoon of 10km of hills and climbs, with the sun only having another 1 ½ hours of light, it was time to head to the only re-opened National Parks camp site in the area: the Gums. I’d read it was by a mountain stream, and with ½ hour of driving, it was time to head straight there and hopefully get in an evening bathe under the rays of the setting sun.
With no one else at the site, and having spent a day immersed in the power of nature, who was I not to get back to nature in its most simple form. Stepping into the freezing mountain stream, I found a spot to safely sit and convey my deepest thanks for a cleansing day of country air, silence broken only by the chorus of birds creating a symphony of shrills, the aching thighs and empty mind.
Nature has a way of stripping you bare. Rewiring complete.
You bloody ripper!