Murray Scrub

Murray Scrub – Northern NSW- Near Woodenbong.

Murray Scrub is incredible. The thickest, full of life, deep dark forest with deep dark insides and almost impenetrable canopy. Tall and wide. You could definitely get lost in this jungle, best stay to the track.

From above, on a long narrow and slippery road that seems to be an engineering feat of its own, is the lookout. Two metres wide and the only cut in the forest wall for a dozen kilometres either way. A view to the south and west goes over several hills to the far horizon, and all there is, is trees. From above it appears as if you could walk on it. The birds are a raucous paradise and the wild creatures below could be anything that is not a monkey. From the lookout you can see the forest giants tower over the lesser giants and each one a landmark for the Cockatoos and Bats and Possums.

Watching birds from above is very dreamlike. Dreams can have that weightless smooth quality, you’re moving through the air but in a standing position, not even using your legs, with some mental effort you just go there, moving as if in a current of some warm unseen ocean. You are not even aware of breathing. The birds just glide and circle and scream and yell and do all the things I’d do if I could fly.

The lookout was so far away from anywhere and it gives so much it was impossible to leave. I set up the cameras and listen and look and daydream. The far off clouds and the almost inaudible distant thunder made the lookout seem very small and the world out there so big. The clouds came closer, faster and a grouchy thundery storm flies over to the east and the sun comes out again, hot, the warm air comes up from the forest. Smells, leaves, faint flowers, animals and dirt and steam all mixed together, vapours treacle up the steep hillside. Thunder, big thunder but a few seconds away. All suddenly becomes too late to leave to get to safety. Locked the cameras down a bit tighter, found a tucked in spot for the car, not perfect but the best I could get on a ridge top, and waited. Storms are sometimes like a beast from a hell.  A beast with ferocious thick arms of muscular clouds reaching out as if blind. They feel their way around the sky, angrily. It gets dark, there is rain blocking out the forest. Its gets windy at first, then the trees are bending, then it gets really windy, heavy blasts of wind from several directions at once, then the trees dance like hippies on acid and then throw bits of themselves around the forest. Sticks are flying up the hill. It is definitely wild and stormy.

At this point I retreat to the car. Even tucked in, the car was belted around as if a group of drunk hillbillies wanted to scare me, and it was working. Damned hillbillies. The view was white for a couple of minutes, white with specks of brown and green and moving very fast through the only gap in the forest for a dozen kilometres. Sound, like the sky had just lost a child.  I could feel the piston in my chest work that bit harder. I wondered about the birds, it would have to be quite hard to hold on even with claws. Maybe lots of them die. It’d be hard to keep eggs in the nest too. Sticks strike the windows, a small tree crosses the road.  There are leaves stuck all over the car like the army just came and painted the car. The rain slows, I can see a blurry orange spot in the sky. Its over, the rain is gentle, the wind is gone. Hark, I hear a bird.

See the movie.


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