The side tracks of life

Before I even opened my eyes this morning, I could tell when I finally decided to do so, I would be met with clear blue skies and bright sunshine.  And it was a glorious day out there, a day that deserved a quick exit from bed and a deliberate effort to join the day.

Tree against blue sky
Blue skies

Just one problem, it was Sunday.  And Sundays are for laying in bed with a coffee and a good book, or catching up on the week’s news on TV.  Sunday is the one day of the week you don’t need to do anything, other than being lazy.  Permission granted, 100%.

That’s why it’s sometimes so satisfying waking up to dark skies and rain smattering on the roof.  No guilty feelings then if you decide to stay in bed till 11 am.  However, as I said, today was not like that.  This early Sunday morning promised a picture perfect day.  And the guilt feelings were already sowing their seeds, Sunday or no Sunday.

Gorilla lazing in the sun
Permission to be lazy

Now, for those of you who are unfamiliar with Far North Queensland, I should point out that most mornings in Cairns are met with sunshine and blue skies (except during the wet season).  But we have had a series of wet and windy days lately, this is unusual during the normally dry winter months. The return of blue skies this morning felt like a long lost friend returning, a friend who’s return needed to be celebrated with some sort of outdoor activity.

So to break with our household’s usual  Sunday tradition, coffee and breakfast was consumed with seldom seen speed (albeit still in bed).  The second cup of coffee however,  was actually had out of bed, outside on the patio.  Just look at that sunshine!

Listening to the birds chattering away I felt inspired to get out amongst it all and I announced to my other half “I want to drive out and have a look at the Clohesy River fig tree”.  His reaction? “You want to have a look at another tree?”  “Look around you, you’re surrounded by trees!”

Rainforest trees
Trees all around

True enough, we live on the edge of the rain forest and our property has beautiful large trees all around.  But I felt I needed an excuse to venture out past the front gates, and this seemed like a good one.  This tree I wanted to see is a special one, a large strangler fig.  There are others up on the Tablelands and we have been to see them several times, but we have not been to this particular one.  And it is practically around the corner.

It’s funny how we often travel longer distances to experience new things but forget to explore what is really close by.  Treasures are not always at the end of the rainbow, if we look hard enough they might just be at our own two feet.

Since Greg loves the Australian bush as much as I do, it didn’t take him too long to get into the spirit of things.  His earlier smart-alec comment was obviously due to lack of caffeine, the second cup fixed that very quickly.

Morning coffee

There is something truly unique and magical about the Australian bush, it looks and sounds different from anywhere else in the world.   And as we turned off the highway onto the road leading into the national park, we were instantly surrounded by these unmistakable sights and sounds.

Bitumen soon turned to dirt and, as we drove with the windows down to get a real feel for the bush, the dry landscape peppered with Eucalypt and beautiful grass trees, was suddenly transformed into thicker rain forest.  We went from bright sunshine into a much shadier environment.

The grass trees mentioned (only found in this country) are a amazing, they are beautiful, very slow growing and can be several hundred years old, some have been reported to be up to 450 years old.  Peppered throughout the landscape, they look like glittering green pom-poms gracefully swaying in the wind.

Grass tree
Like dancers with hula skirts they sway in the breeze

Before reaching our destination we crossed several crystal clear creeks,  and since this is the dry season, crossing them was no problem (to my husband’s disappointment, he loves 4WD adventure). The track we were on is a 4WD track, but in dry conditions even our old Mitsubishi work horse could easily make it.

The excuse for our outing, the Clohesy fig tree, is an amazing sight. It certainly is smaller than the other two well-known ones on the Tablelands, but it is none the less an impressive sight. The other two receive thousands of visitors a year, whereas this one (due to it’s location off the beaten track) stand in relative solitude most the time.

It’s base is humongous, so large you can walk inside a hollowed out part of the trunk.  The roots reaching from the top to the ground have twisted and strangled the original tree, from far it looks like one big tangled mess of string thrown away by some disgruntled giant.

Fig tree trunk

It’s hard to imagine that long ago this magnificent sight started out as a small seed germinating on top of another tree, sending out roots to the forest floor.  Mother Nature really is a wonderful artist!

Sights like this is of course something that brings out the photographer in all of us and I am no different.  Dozens of photos were taken, the only problem being that with something so tall it is almost impossible to capture with a camera lens what the naked eye sees.  But never let it be said that I didn’t try.

Fig tree
Magnificent giant

Getting to a destination is nearly always half the fun and this little outing was no difference.  The fig tree was magnificent, but had we not reached the destination, it wouldn’t have mattered.  The fun was getting there, enjoying the new scenery and wondering what we would find at our intended destination.  A bit like life really, the journey, not the destination, is the best part!