Saturday, 20 September 2008


19/09/08 Pemberton – Walpole – Demark 186(12905) kms

Our overnight in Pemberton was a lovely indulgence - dinner out, TV at the foot of the bed, a few ales and warm, short walks to the toilet instead of being rugged up against the elements. Unfortunately, the next morning proved to be difficult with weather and other circumstances prevailing against us and the planned two hour tram ride through the great forest was missed again (as it had been the previous afternoon' thanks to our accommodation fiasco). We moved on, as one does.

We seemed to crisscross the southwest countryside in navigating our way first to Walpole and then to Denmark but it was worth it. In the process, we travelled through some beautiful forests of tall trees which dwarfed us, even in the car. The best of these tree experiences came just after Walpole when we visited the Tree Top Walk. Here, the equivalent of the National Parks have assembled a huge steel walkway which climbs to the canopy of a forest dominated by Red and Yellow Tingle Trees which often have a huge girth at the base and reach up into the blue. The walkway is a series of spans which are suspended between huge vertical poles and both have all sorts of cables and struts anchored to the ground to make the adventure viable. We visited in moderate winds, so for once I was not the least stable thing in my environment!

It was exhilarating standing mid span, within touching distance of the massive crowns of these wooden giants whose toes hold firm to the earth they stand in, yet, whose heads sway back and forth in the gusts of wind which tease them. Naturally, this involved a degree of swaying ourselves which did take some adjustment to our fear threshold. It must be said, we seemed to adjust quicker than the Italian lady who nearly ran along each span, mumbling predictions of her impending death and shouted "Bella, Bella" when she reached the more stable junctions of the spans which were located on the tops of the poles.

If this experience with the tall trees was not enough, we then walked the land-based "Walk of the Ancients" track which wound us past, between and sometimes through the giant tingles. Birdies and wildflowers complemented the scene.

Sue, Faye and Wal
It wasn't far from this point to Denmark and a reunion for Sue with her Uncle Walter and Auntie Faye. By the best reckoning, it was heading towards 32 years since the last time they shared some physical space. Wal is the youngest brother of Sue's father John and Wal and Faye are cousin Greg's parents. I guess, in all honesty, there was probably a little bit of nervousness fluttering in all of us to see how it would "go" but it was soon apparent that had been a wasted concern. Years were stripped away and the vacant outline of memories filled in with colour and tone. Stories were shared with interest and laughter and pieces of puzzles which had been hiding in dark corners were shifted into place and then interlocked with others which had waited longingly for reunion. We looked at pictures and worked out relationships for hours on end until all four of us sought the respite of bed. Weary minds still ticked on and sleep was difficult after such stimulation.

In the process of placing emotional sticky tape on our collective family, we discovered a new relationship with two wonderful people. I hope I can still have wit and empathy and insight of this calibre when I reach their sprightly stage of life.


The day started as the previous evening ended with fresh ideas from stale sleep bought forward for consideration and then a morning of lively, warm chat between. Wal was able to release some absolute treasures from his photo vault, including a shot of John as a baby and a delightful snap of the three brothers, John, Bob and Walter from the late sixties in which John is absolutely beaming a smile of the greatest cheek you could imagine. Here was the larrikin soldier and man of the land, released from balancing books and tugging a non-existent forelock in bank managers' directions. In this photo, the real John "Tommy" Gibbens is standing up for recognition. Faye was a font of anecdotal information which tied many things together and all delivered with such a sparkling and devious wit - just the type I adore!

During the afternoon, Wal took us on the full scale Denmark tour which was all history and geography rolled into one. For once, I got to sit in the back seat and enjoy the view as we went on bush walks to see tall trees; across back lanes to visit some of his more recent memories of friends he has made here; to new housing estates with $million plus views; to lookouts over green valleys (how green were they?); lookouts to show great oceans meeting the southern coast; we stood beside cows, oceans, tall trees, old buildings. This was a brilliant few hours and made more so by Wal's personality. What a lovely man.

Back home, we added video of Sue's family to the mix of memories and talked and talked and talked. In the end, even with my breeding and capacity for a gab fest, I had to leave them to it. Maybe that was fitting anyway.

I don't know how the rest of them fared but I slept like a log.

No comments:

Post a Comment

All comments will be moderated before being posted.