High In The Trees

Trip Start Aug 06, 2011
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Flag of Australia  , Western Australia,
Thursday, November 15, 2012

Margaret River is something of a Mecca when it comes to tourism in WA but a big part of that draw is the many surrounding wineries that dominate this SW section of Oz. With neither of us drinking, and having done a number of winery tours in other parts of the world (once you've toured a Cambodian winery, you've pretty much seen it all?), we spent a couple of hours wandering the town itself. It's another of those Aussie towns that has done a great job of maintaining their heritage buildings and it makes for a wonderful visit.The Jewel Cave was the third and final cave of the Big Three in this area so we were off to spend a little more time underground. DH is really getting into this spelunking thing after these big cave wows- that's a good thing because once we finish this trip, a cave may be all we can afford??

And a little further south in Augusta, when the tourist info lady told us that the best thing to do in Augusta was go to Margaret River, we knew it was time to start exploring the nearby South Coast. Heading out that way we stumbled across a couple of mini adventures; one we're glad we stopped for, and the other we're still not sure about.

First up were a series of fire lookouts that have been constructed at the top of Karri trees. These lookouts in the treetops were an ingenious way of spotting fires in such tall forest but to be effective they have to be really, really high up. We picked the Gloucester Tree which has a fire observation platform 61 metres straight up. Having conquered the Auckland Tower and the Sydney Bridge, I knew vertigo wasn't a problem for the princess so I was more than a little surprised when she bailed out early. It was only later that I realized that she had sent me up first knowing that if the 'stairs' (effectively just rebar punched into the trunk of the tree) held me they would be more than safe for her (not the first time I've been sent ahead to confirm safety)- the epiphany of what might happen if those stairs didn't hold and she was directly underneath me must have occurred just a few metres into the climb. I did make it to the top and was able to confirm that this part of the world was fire-free.

Our next stop in Northcliffe was one of those 'sculpture in the forest' places that can be really good or very perplexing. And perplexing it was. Admittedly the bush flies weren't making it easy to enjoy anything (Oz bush flies are very different from the unfocused house flies of North America- they have four target areas only: eyes, ears, nose, and mouth), but we were given those audio headsets that allowed the artists themselves to describe their thought process and that thought process is usually on a pretty unique band-wave. In my past life I had dealt with enough marketing types to develop a certain tolerance and even understanding of endless bafflegab, but even those babble-masters might of had trouble visualizing how twigs nailed to a log represented women of the world coming together??

Suitably enlightened, we made for our next campground in order to discuss the artistic merit of the forest works that fuse chaos with order-  rather than any implied meaning or message, the minimalist nature of these sculptures encourage the viewer to consider the visual qualities of the work - the composition, surfaces, textures and the relationship of depicted space to line and form. In simplicity, the art becomes more direct and incisive in its dissection of the human mind, a more lucent mirror of our collective subconscious....do people really talk like this??
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