January 2016: Somewhere along the way in our travels Dada saw pictures of these cool climbing trees near Pemberton. The trees are karri trees, which we read are the third tallest trees on the planet. We didn’t know too much about the climbing but it looked like it would be fun and something we haven’t come across before. Fun. Right. Do you see how tall this tree is? Do you see my tiny children at the bottom of it?
We had to take it in turns as the youngest had to wait at the bottom. LadyBug (6) and JitterBug (8) clambered up immediately with a nervous Dad behind them. (More nervous for them than for himself.) SkeeterBug (11) brought up the rear while a nervous mum watched from the ground. I’d read about it but just did not realise how terrifying it would be to watch my children climb it. I had to look away several times.
Turns out that when you are eleven you have a much more healthy fear of heights than when you are six. I’m glad SkeeterBug went last or he would have felt rushed as Dad would have been trying to keep up with the younger ones to keep an eye on them.
You know, the younger ones with no fear. Sean heard once when we toured a ski jump facility in Utah that kids don’t develop their sense of fear until after six or seven so they try to get them on the ski jump at a young age. I don’t know if that’s true, but the younger two didn’t seem nervous at all.
There are three huge trees you can climb near Pemberton. We chose this one because it has a landing part way up the tree. A place to rest, a place to regroup and decide if you want to go the rest of the way. Have I mentioned that the platform at the top is 52m off the ground????? That’s 170 feet. And this was the shortest of the three trees. At the landing you are informed that the easiest part of the climb is over. After that the climb is near vertical. I think I read there are 170 rungs to climb, we should have made the kids count them!
TurboBug (2) waited at the bottom with me and tried the first few rungs. There were plenty of sticks and rocks to keep him occupied, he wasn’t upset about not climbing. Good thing, because although Sean had thought of carrying him up in the Ergo carrier we realised as soon as we saw the tree that that was a no go.
See the platform at the top? It’s a fire lookout. Did I mention it’s 52 metres high? The last part of it is a ladder leading into the tower lookout. There’s JitterBug, almost there.
Here’s SkeeterBug at the landing and JitterBug nearly at the top. SkeeterBug had a good rest and a think about whether he would climb the rest of the way. He decided to go for it and they all made it to the top. I’m so proud of SkeeterBug for thinking it all through and making his decision. It’s not that the others were more brave, it was obvious that they just didn’t have that same awareness that he had.
I don’t have a good picture of them all at the top but here they all are on the landing on the way back down. Dad kept having to remind them to focus on what they were doing on the way down, they were very comfortable once they were headed back to solid ground and were having conversations about unrelated things. While my heart was in my throat. Focus? Yes, please focus.
My heart was in my throat pretty much the whole time, as was Sean’s. There’s nothing between those rungs and I kept picturing, or trying not to picture, a child slipping in between one and falling without anything to stop them. We were commenting with another person there how it’s surprising to find something like this these days just open for climbing and without any safety gear or anything.
Here they are, all safe and sound. Back on the ground, or nearly.
Now it was my turn. I didn’t make it very far. I thought I might make it to the landing but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Maybe if Sean had been behind me coaxing me a bit, but by myself I didn’t have the motivation.
Here’s the warning sign at the bottom of the tree. The very last bullet point: ‘Climbing is not recommended for children.’ You don’t say?
We chose not to visit the other trees since we knew if we saw them the kids would want to climb them and our nerves would not be able to take it.
The unthinkable has happened and I’ve lost my father too. My parents died just seventeen days apart. Please forgive my absence awhile longer.
This is my dad with JitterBug about seven years ago.
And this is them again, just last month.
We are here in America, sorting through all the things that need to be sorted through and dealing with all the things that need to be dealt with. I was lucky to be able to spend time with both of my parents before they died. It is hard to believe they are both gone.
I will be back eventually.
You can make the grandest plans, but there’s always something, isn’t there? Sometimes the things that get in the way are small. Sometimes they are big. Right now we are in the midst of one of the big things.
We returned from our travels around Australia and soon found ourselves on a plane to visit my family in the USA. I’ve had the grandest plans to get my new website, Simply Copywork, up and going. To start blogging here again, to continue documenting our journey on our travel blog (currently a private blog). To return to our ‘regular’ lives.
Instead, I’m mourning the unexpected loss of my mother. Which, of course, trumps all else.
We will continue our visit here as we help my father deal with his own medical issues. One day, our ‘regular’ lives will resume. In the meantime, life happens and all our plans change. I’ll be back, but I don’t know when.
See you then.
I haven’t been blogging because I’ve been working on something else. Once that’s up and running (this month!) I’ve got to do some work on my homeschool blog and get that going again. After that I plan to keep blogging here until I’ve covered all the wonderful places we’ve been. We plan to be home and done with our trip in a few weeks. Blogging here will keep the memories alive while we adjust to being stationary again. See you soon!
Our stay in Pemberton included visits from some lovely parrots looking for a handout. These are Twenty-Eight Parrots, so named for their call that sounds like they are saying ‘twenty-eight’. I think they are also known as Ringnecks. The kids had a wonderful time feeding them when they showed up one afternoon.
TurboBug (2.5) surprised me by remaining calm and even smiling for the camera. Past experiences with birds landing on him have not gone so well!
The next morning the birds were back and the kids excitedly ran outside to feed them again.
The birds were quite enthusiastic too!
All the excitement brought the ducks over as well. They didn’t stand much of a chance against the parrots, though. The kids were saving all the food for the parrots. Can you imagine ducks trying to land all over you? Yikes!
On our way out of town headed to our next stop we drove by an old train at the side of the road. TurboBug, our resident train lover, exclaimed over it and we had to stop for a quick look. I wish there had been some signage to tell us about it but no such luck.
From a quick web search it looks like the SSM stands for State Saw Mill, and this engine operated from mill number seven. It operated in Pemberton from 1960-1970 but had quite the history before that, being built in 1895.
Of course the kids don’t care about the history, they just like climbing on the train!
Especially this little guy. Made his day.
Our stay in Pemberton also included mountain biking and a swim in the pool which was really a brook. Both were within walking distance of our caravan park. The mountain bike park was really good with trails to suit all abilities. Our first night in Pemberton found JitterBug playing some game with some grey nomad couples nearby. He wandered over to watch their game (I didn’t catch what it was, something like bocce but the pieces were wood) and they ended up inviting him to join them. They all had great fun with each other. I love that the kids are able to mix with all ages on this trip in a way they wouldn’t at home. They are all quite comfortable to interact with anyone we meet, a skill that I hope will stay with them in years to come.
My WA posts have gotten all out of order. I’ve discovered that it’s better for me at the moment to just post what I’ve got ready rather than try to keep everything in the order that we’ve seen it. Otherwise I tend to get stuck on a post and don’t move forward. So the rest of these WA post are just going to be jumping around a bit. The only problem is I’m getting confused about what I’ve posted and what I haven’t, and where we saw what. Sometimes I even get confused about where we are currently, when the blinds are closed in the van we could be anywhere!
Anyhow…our first stop after Perth was Bunbury. One of the must-dos is climbing the Marlston Tower for a spectacular view of the town, the lighthouse, and the coast. It’s an easy climb for a great view.
It was a nice cloudy day and I was struck by all the colours. The houses, the clouds, the lighthouse, the ocean. It just all looked so lovely together.
The tower is on the site of an old lighthouse. The new lighthouse was built in 1971, the lookout tower was opened in 1988. This is the highest point in the harbour area. The top from the old lighthouse was placed on the new lighthouse structure closer to the ocean.
When we got to the lighthouse itself SketterBug (11) was the only one who wanted to get out with me to have a look. And that was only because the lighthouse happens to bear the colours of his footy team, the Magpies. (Which in turn bear the colour of their mascot, magpies.) Trivia: See the line partway down where two sections of the structure meet? They were painted separately and when they added the top section they discovered the sections had been marked incorrectly, resulting in a mismatch. The chequered pattern was off and had to be repainted! There’s a picture here showing the error, with the old lighthouse (sans top) in the background.
Some pretty coastline and interesting art installations. The beach looked good for exploring but we chose not to that day.
I think I’ve seen more lighthouses on this trip than I’ve seen in my whole life! I guess that’s to be expected with so much coastline to explore in Australia. 🙂