I don’t know why, but for the last few weeks, I have been dreaming of our family outings at the Tarra Bulga National Park in Gippsland, Victoria, Australia! We used to pack up the FJ Holden to escape the heat of the dry flatlands beside the Ninety Mile beach and drive the 50 kms up into the rainforest of the hills through which the Tarra River streamed. My mum always packed the most delicious of picnic lunches. They comprised of fresh crispy crust chicken sandwiches, plus a family size apple pie, clotted cream and a thermos of tea.
But the true wonder of the day was Mum letting me take off the leg-braces which I’d struggled with since surviving poliomyelitis as a two year old. She used to laugh at my delight in being able to paddle in the freezing cold waters of the rocky beaches of the river. She swore by the healing powers of the cold waters. The more time I spent out of those restrictive braces and heavy boots, the stronger and straighter my legs seem to grow.
I can still smell the mossy damp aroma of the tree ferns that shaded under the giant mountain ash trees. The joy of espying a timid platypus in a dark rock pool, a wombat family or the colours of the lyrebirds hiding in the undercover was so very special to my childhood eyes. My father taught me that the names of the many bird sounds echoing around the bush but, even today, my favourite was the Bell Bird.
We spent the day walking through the tracks of the park, visiting the waterfalls and the suspension bridge. When tired, I road on my Dad’s shoulders and from his 185 cm height the view was even more spectacular.
Thank you for letting me share these wonderful memories with you.