Friday, August 19, 2011

Kids, cubby houses and climbing trees

As a child, playing in cubby houses and climbing trees were some of life's greatest pleasures, and even though I was brought up in suburban Melbourne, our home was over the road from a park where trees were plentiful.

But there wasn't a river.

Here in Mitchell, outback Queensland, children have the mighty Maranoa, a river that floods over the summer months creating mysterious cubby houses along its banks.

Last summer (as shown in the photo), the swirling, fast-flowing water knocked over a river red gum leaving a tangle of roots and limbs that in turn collected other flood debris. Beneath this fallen tree children discovered a cave with sun-baked mud walls, a thatched roof and logs to sit on. Here children felt free to dream - - - -.

Birds twittered in the surrounding bush, a heron fished from a snag, kangaroos grazed the rough native grasses, an echidna gobbled up ants, snakes slithered by. The kids rode their bikes along rough bush tracks to this secret hideaway, set a yabby trap, threw in a line.

Too dangerous some would say. What if they fell into the river and drowned? What if a King brown snake bit one of the children? Watching these children play with their bare legs and feet and confident laughing faces, I see resilient kids creating a storehouse of rich memories.

Looking back, memories of cubby houses, midnight feasts and Secret Seven meetings held high up in trees punctuate my childhood. This is where we practised independence, social skills and had fun -- away from adult supervision.

We felt free.

There was no blog yesterday because I have a stomach problem that's making me feel far from well. I'm still suffering but not as badly as last night. I don't know if it's a virus or just my stomach having a play-up.

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