28 October, 2021
Day 28 of Writing Nangak Tamboree.
This is the sound of an extremely silly person walking in the bush in a thunderstorm.
Half an hour earlier, I was safely at home in my study, on a Zoom call with colleagues all over the state, and everyone watching the rain radar for the storm that was about to hit.
‘I’d better go,’ I said with a carefree laugh, ‘or I’ll be walking in the rain.’
Hilarious. I head to campus to walk through yet another area of bush that I drive past often and never visit. We have so many areas like this – stretches of thick bush that aren’t on the way to anywhere in particular. Some appear almost like glorified nature strips, until you stop to look, and wander through, and then you realise how expansive, how diverse, how precious they are.
Which is how I come to be walking through the North Bushland Reserve, which also comes under the same Trust for Nature conservation covenant as the Wildlife Sanctuary. It adjoins the Sanctuary but my previous reading of the Nangak Tamboree map had me thinking that it was inside the fence – not this familiar forest I drive by so often.
I know, I get my terms confused at times, but Nangak Tamboree doesn’t mean the whole campus, just the waterways and the wildlife corridors. So I imagined this area was out of my scope, as it were, until yesterday. Sitting behind it are the Terraces, formerly part of the Mont Park complex and now among our more elegant buildings – and doubling as a COVID-19 vaccination centre. There’s a great potted history of some of these buildings here. If you want to read more about the Mont Park complex, you’ll have to wait, as I have borrowed every book I can find from the university library.
Yesterday I realised I’d missed this bit, so here I am in the bush. Forest. Copse? If the pond up the road can be a lake, this can be a forest. If it was in France or England it’d be a wood. Anyway, it’s thickly forested, and wooded, and bushy, so you can take your pick. And it seems to me to be slightly different vegetation from other areas. It’s relatively higher ground here and perhaps drier, with lots of acacia, younger eucalypts, maybe melaleuca and hakea.
And a great many fallen trees. Acacias don’t live long, and they do have a habit of falling over. Eucalypts have a habit of dropping branches – widow makers – as anyone who is still living with the emotional scars of reading Seven Little Australians knows only too well.
So I’m tripping gaily along a narrow path, when the heavens open. That’s fine – I’ve brought my rain jacket. Then thunder starts pounding overhead, close. Too close. Lightning glitters against bruised clouds.
And the trees start moaning.
They can do that, you know.
Don’t worry. I survived. Clearly.
Now I’m sitting in my car in good old car park 6, in damp clothes and boots, scribbling this. It has to be the least scenic writing place so far in the 28 days of writing Nangak Tamboree.
But that was a truly excellent storm and I’m not all that sorry I got caught in it. And we have at least solved one question: the area will now forever be known as Moaning Tree Forest.