Tuesday, July 5, 2011

An ancient ooline forest in outback Queensland

One of life's greatest pleasures is to wander through an unspoiled wilderness -- and to share the experience with a close friend.

Yesterday I spent the afternoon with Heather at their cattle property, located about half an hour west of Mitchell. The hills on the property are home to rare stands of ooline (Cadellia pentastylis); Gondwanan rainforest trees dating back to the Age of Dinosaurs.

As Heather and I climbed the dry stony hills, we didn't follow a defined track, but rather scrambled from one 'roo track to another. This meant that the country we saw was new to Heather and as well as to me. There was no wind, just a balmy 26°C. We could neither see nor hear any sign of other humans.

High up on the slope we discovered an unusual knotted branch perched on an ancient ooline tree. Gazing into its twists and curves we saw eyes, a nose and a smiling mouth. Our own special ooline spirit gazed down at us! It was an exciting find.

High up in the treetops and illuminated by late afternoon sunshine, Heather pointed out clusters of cream-coloured flowers that belong to a vine. Then, to cap off the afternoon, I noticed an unusual cream-coloured stone nestled in a dry rocky gully. I saw two pieces close together, and upon picking them up, found they fitted together perfectly, to form a perfect sphere-- like an egg. Placing them carefully in my pocket I brought them home, where I hope the mystery of how it was formed will eventually be revealed.

The magic of this ancient place is that it takes you beyond yourself, to a place where living in the moment is so rich there is no room for anything else. So great was our sense of contentment that we felt we could stay up in the hills for ever.

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