WHITE GUMS

11 Dec 2020

“Did you sleep?” 

“Well, I was just dreaming about huge spiders, so I guess so” I mumbled from under the doona. A shaft of sunlight stretched across the tent, illuminating a powder-fine layer of dust over everything. 

The wind had died down and the cockatoos had ramped up. This was a particularly boisterous bunch. I love cockatoos, but after a sleepless night, not so much. During the storm last night we’d decided to pull the plug on camping and booked into a hotel in the nearest town, Coonabarabran. So a lazy morning of resting and sketching was planned. 

Just as we kicked back in the camp chairs feet up on the esky, sketchbook in hand, the familiar roar of wind swept through the trees above and then hit us. Dave held onto the awning pole as the wind whipped about the tent. Squinting into the wind he looked at me with an expression mixed with stoic frustration and a trace of humour. And I knew in that moment, it was time to go. 

We pulled into the visitors centre on the way out in search of information on the observatory, but both it and the visitor centre were closed. 

“White Gums Lookout 500m” I read out loud “let’s check it out.” We were sad to be leaving Wurrumbungle National Park and this looked like an excuse to stay a little longer. The forest in this region is strangely both familiar and foreign, while it looks Australian, we hadn’t seen many of these plants before.

The short 500m walk lead us to a rocky outcrop amongst silky White Gums, overlooking the spectacular volcanic formations. 

“Aren’t they beautiful” I said placing a hand on the smooth champagne coloured trunk. 

While Dave stood on the rocks looking to the horizon, I was distracted but the colour and texture of the forest around me. Soft pastels, smooth new-growth leaves, blue-green lichen on raw umber stone,  cadmium red stems supporting silver-green leaves. I selected a leaf to press into the Lonely Planet to keep a piece of this place with me. 

Reading from the sign, Dave explained how these formations were made, and from this vantage point, we could picture the scale of the ancient 50km volcano. 

“Incredible”

Perhaps it was the challenging walk, or perhaps the sleepless night, but we were ravenous by the time we walked into the decadent Chinese restaurant in Coonabarabran. 

“We can’t decide, so we’re going to order too much” I joked with the brisk Chinese lady who took our order. 

“…and we’re really hungry” Dave reiterated. The meals were surprisingly good and we inhaled them. 

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