You’ll never forget your first visit to Gondwana Land.
Mine was in 2014 – it was off the bat of my first geuninely ‘crazy’ period of work. It was the start of March and I remember feeling both tired and proud after pulling off the first two months of Sydney madness.
I think in most countries, there is city that hums along at an incessant pace. A city where people get off on perpetual movement and constant activity. In Australia – that’s Sydney, and it’s something to be reckoned with.
When I wrapped up my workshop in Coffs Harbour – it was the first chance to pause after my introduction to Australia’s busy global port.
Sometimes people find a rhythm that works for them, and for others, they just keep wandering. I never settled in Sydney. I don’t think I ever wanted to. It was a move ‘for work’ and I never found the gentleness that helps with a change of scenery.
Whether it was having my clarinet stolen, being kicked out of my first house, winding up in one those ridiculous early 20s relationships or the absence of smiles – it always felt harsh.
Only a couple of months into this stint, taking off from the Coast, none of that angst had really kicked in. All I remember was feeling as though I had hopped on a treadmill. Days were full of running, roaming, work and the extremes of Beethoven.
Driving past the vivid green and negotiating the hair pin turns of East Dorrigo Way – the contrast of the waterfalls and lush forests that frames the inland road is huge. This was a part of the world, where rushing would result in going off a cliff, or slamming into an unsuspecting car on this one-lane stretch.
One thing that I remember about taking this backroad to the New England forests was what just out the window. Stop the car for a moment and there are ancient vines, canopy and four-hundred-year-old trees that effortlessly mock the city buzz.
Taking the Tyringham Road turn-off rom Dorrigo, the landscape becomes completely subversive. The humidity of the coast disappears and is replaced with a freshness that hints at the territory that hosts the mighty Antarctic Beech and Black Booyong Trees.
My first visit took me away from this part of Gondwana Land to the very top of the bluff in the Guy Fawkes River National Park.
As I climbed in my rental car, I remember how the landscape thinned and the emergence of that olive-like hue. For about thirty kilometres I drove along a rather omnious dirt road to the Misty Creek look-out as the sky shimmered from that lingering Summer heat.
I remember feeling very isolated as I set off. There was just one other car in the ‘offical cark-park’, along way from ‘anywhere’. It was the first time that I had experienced this type of solitude and it was beautiful.
At the edge of the Escarpment Trail, there is a rare spot at the edge of the Lucifer Thumb Track. It’s a bit of a scramble to reach with a few creeks and a rock-face… and completely worth it!
From this vantage point, the scenery opens up all the way to the Queensland border, it’s a view that stretches hundreds of kilometres. More impressively, it’s one of the last places on Earth where there isn’t a sign of civilisation in sight.
Forests are spread across the land, and wipe out the assumptions of city living.
In Gondwana Land, you step back in time to a part of the world that most closely resembles the landscape of the super continent that joined Australia with Africa, South America, Asia and Antarctica.
The deeper you enter, the smaller you become.
Sitting at the end of the bluff – I was tiny but not alone.
To my great surprise, there was a massive brown creature above my head. I spotted him and he spotted me. There was a huge rustle and then flight. Into the valley, that wedge-tailed eagle became nothing but a dot.
And that’s all you are in Gondawana Land. A dot.
(View from the Lucifer Thumb Track – Guy Fawkes River National Park, 8/3/2014)