Tuesday, November 4, 2008

giants of the forest

There are a lot of trees to visit in southwest WA, and I mean lots of trees. The area is awash with brown tourist signs encouraging tree visits, and multiple National Parks devoted to trees. I can honestly say that after 2 days of solid wood watching I am feeling pretty treed out.

The climate and soil conditions are just perfect for the forests of enormous trees such as jarrah, karri, and tingles. We are having problems working out which are which but can confirm that they are all very old and extremely tall.

The karri tree can grow over 60 metres in height and traditionally in the 1940's the tallest tree in the forest was used as a lookout post to check on the presence and progress of forest fires. A spiral ladder was constructed using metal rungs and then a lookout was built at the very top. Casting health and safety issues to the wind any member of the public can climb the lookout tree if they so desire.

From trek phase 4
Above is the Diamond Tree Lookout, a karri tree 52 metres high. The sign at the base suggests that if you have a heart condition, are unfit, or have a fear of heights then climbing the tree is inadvisable. Do not climb if you are wearing thongs.

It fails to mention that ownership of an ounce of self-preservation or common sense would be also a precondition for not climbing. Fortunately we were wearing thongs.

Not sure if the diddy little cubs pictured below were sent up to the top, we did not stay to watch the carnage.

From trek phase 4

Apparently half way up the climb the council has thoughtfully put a sign which declares : "That was the easy part.It gets a lot harder now and if you're having second thoughts it is best to head back down"

On to the Gloucester Tree, 62 metres high with 153 rungs- Ness had changed out of her thongs and was keen to do the climb, leaving me yet again regretting the lack of life insurance policy. Fortunately there was a queue of foolhardy tree huggers so her plans were thwarted.Only 6 people are allowed up the tree at any one time- I assume that restriction is because the local hospital only has 6 intensive care beds.

The next day we moved on from karris and jarrahs to tingle trees.These are tall, but also wide and buttressed and often hollow

From trek phase 4

If we were not confused enough by identifying the tree species, just as we thought that we had tingles sussed we discovered that there were red tingles and yellow tingles which look exactly the same to the untutored eye. In the 1950's John Rate, the first district forester in Walpole proved that there was a third tingle species which was named the Rate Tingle.

John Rate was killed by a falling tingle tree in 1969.

We did another of those stupidly scary treetop walks- we really should learn by our mistakes. This walkway was 40 metres above the ground, wobbled and swayed in the wind, and scared the Bejesus out of us.

From trek phase 4

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