65 metres up a gum tree

Karri gums are the tallest gum trees, with some growing up to the lofty heights of 85 metres or so. Karri trees used to blanket the South West of Australia, however most of them have been logged for their straight and strong timbers, mostly being used for railway sleepers or exported to England in the 1800s. The Leeuwin/Naturaliste National Park and around the South Western corner heading to Esperance stands the last of the Eucalyptus Giants.

Near Pemberton stands the Gloucester Tree. It is by no means the tallest, however it has the honour of hosting a fire lookout platform high in its canopy. The tree has been “nailed” in a spiral from the widened base all the way to the spread of its highest branches. There nestles three tiered platforms, which are entered via hatchways in the floor. Eventually a climber stands on the highest platform, some 65 metres above the ground and above all the surrounding tree crowns. The forest stretches out endlessly below, and the calls of the Collared Parrot and countless other birds are sweetly below your feet, hidden amongst the leaves.

Happily, there were no fires to be seen.

PS. What was especially humbling was that after climbing and descending, 2 elderly couples were just arriving. Perhaps late sixties in age, and with figures that spoke of a lifetime of meals and beverages enjoyed to the fullest. In reply to a question from her friend’s husband, who asked jokingly whether she’d be climbing the tree, the most generously figured woman huffed disdainfully and said “Narrr….I did that 30 years ago before they covered the ladder in that safety net caging. Now THAT was exciting.”