Yesterday morning, at Binna Burra Rainforest Retreat, I walked down to the Bellbird Track. I decided not to accompany the guided tour, as I noticed the leisurely pace of the walkers, and the tour guide stopping often to talk. I wanted to walk. So I struck off on my own, ill prepared. No hat, a bottle of water, but no socks (i had forgotten to bring any) and open walking sandals, rather than closed ones with ankle support. Truth is, because of my back injury, I hadn’t expected to walk far at all, so didn’t bother to bring the right equipment.
I soon got into the white noise of the forest, punctuated by whip birds and other calls I couldn’t identify. The smells, the sounds, were ancient and earthy, and I felt calmed and held by the rhythm of the bush and my footfall on the path. I saw several pademelons, small wallaby-like marsupials, grazing on and around the track. Sometimes they would bounce off into the bush as I approached; sometimes they would pause at a safe distance, knowing I was not a threat.
I came to a fork in the path; one led to the Bellbird Lookout, one said Lower Bellbird Circuit. That sounds nice, I thought, not noticing the ‘lower’. So I kept on, and was very aware of the lack of human noise, and my entry into a world where I was a stranger, and would not survive if I took a wrong step, tripped and hurt my back or my ankle, or fell over the cliff. No-one would know where I was, or what had happened to me. The tension of that added to my pleasure, up to a point. It was an easy path, but I couldn’t help noticing that it was descending, gently, ever lower, and that it would be a long climb back, if indeed it was a circuit. So after about 40 minutes, I decided to turn back. The walk back was easy too, though a little puffy for me, as I am very unfit normally, and with my back injury, even more so. I felt a bit light-headed, and allowed myself to imagine how it might have all gone wrong. But as I neared the human sounds again, I felt a strong regret, at leaving this lovely, intimate yet alien world.
Next day, when I studied the map, I saw that the circuit trail was 12 kms, and would have brought me out of the forest at a point several kilometres below where I was staying. I would have had to climb the steep, winding road back to the Lodge … it would have taken me all day, and I would have been very tired, sore, hungry and rather afraid.
A small adventure, that could have been a big one, if I had been sillier than I already am.