Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Biggest Tingle

Tingle trees are some of the tallest trees in the world. Think of the pun-sabilities! Australia did. I passed more mildly dirty "Tingle-" themed motels, gift shops, and art galleries than you want to know about.

Where the Australian coast hangs a right and turns from the Indian Ocean to the Southern Ocean, the cool, moist climate supports some of the tallest trees in the world. Karri trees are an exceptionally beautiful form of eucalyptus with blond, barkless trunks and a graceful, soaring shape. Tingle trees are also eucalypts, but they keep their bark and look like elegant old maples, only much larger.

While redwoods may be taller and much more massive, they can't compare with the prettiness of a karri forest. I took several scenic drives and spent two nights camping in a caravan park in Walpole-Noralup National Park, home of the treetop walk and a few other forest features.

A karri grove
They shed their bark in piles on the ground
A naked trunk
In one of the tallest groves, the park built a massive suspended pathway about 100 feet above the ground, passing between the branches. I went early in the morning, and it was peaceful and lovely.

The flowers hummed with bees.
On a drive around the countryside (rather dry, like California in the summertime, and spotted with cows and sheep), I spotted signs for a "scenic walk," and pulled in to stretch my legs. A map noted a "climbing tree" called the Bicentennial Tree. It wasn't in any of the guidebooks or on any other advertising, but I decided to check it out.

The blur makes it seem extra scary, right?

The tree is well over 200 feet tall. They've drilled rebar into the trunk to form a giant spiral ladder that climbs all the way up to the canopy. The top platform is actually 3 platforms, each connected to the next by a ladder.

I got out of the car, took one look up, and said to myself, "Oh yeah, I'm climbing up that whole thing!"

From the first platform, only about a third of the way up

Above the canopy

The climb was tough and vertiginous--there was netting along the sides, but nothing between the "rungs," some of which were plenty far apart enough to slip through. But the platform at the top was wonderful. It was roofed and shady, and a gentle breeze came in from the coast. I could have slept there. Plus, I was the only one at the top. On my way back down, I met a retired British vacationer who used to rock climb. He also relished the adventure, and we agreed that it was the highlight of the park. I can't imagine it existing in the US.

I'm now at a hotel in the beach-resort town of Esperance, preparing for a 2-day solid slog across the treeless, uninhabited expanse of the Nullarbor Plain. It might be some of the most remote traveling of this trip, but luckily, it's the only road around, and there should be plenty of other caravaners. I'll be landing in another park in South Australia, so it'll be a few days before I can update again. Check ya later!

1 comment:

  1. Bravo for the climb! Wish I could have been there. Beats a zip line, methinks.