Today was the day we were going to the Dorrigo Rainforest*(1), so everyone else (Dee, Tyler, Devon, Laina, but Bob was sick) went in one car, while Tim and Jimmy hung around at the house with me and watched X-Men 2 while we waited for my appointment. They were very cool about it. We eventually left for the appointment, where the doctor, a very old man who was mostly deaf (and late) checked me for soundness. Most of the usual doctor-stuff, plus a breathing test and urine sample. I had to lie on one part of it…if you’ve had a seizure, they don’t want you to dive because a seizure at depth will quickly kill you. But the only seizure I’ve had was years ago, and I know exactly what the cause was, and diving isn’t a problem for it.
He signed me off as healthy, I met Tim and Jimmy at the Chinese restaurant next door, and we bombed it up to Dorrigo.
The rainforest preserve was on a ridgeline that stretched down a long forested slope. I checked out the indoor exhibit and walked out on the long wooden skywalk that jutted straight out from the ridge through the trees and into the open sky. I’d expected sort of a winding walk through the canopy, and this was basically a walkway to an open view, but it was definitely a good view. We could even see smoke from some local fires.
I got off the skywalk and walked down a forest path, came to a fork, turned back, and met the rest of the crew (they’d been at what was evidently a very good bakery, I think), and then we all walked back down together. It would have been nice to walk the entire loop, but it was many miles long*(2), so we just spent an hour on the little “Lyrebird Loop.” lt was simply amazing…tons of tree ferns, tall yellow carabeans (the trees with tall narrow roots that look like sheets), and scratching bush turkeys everywhere. There were thick woody vines slung everywhere in a pattern that I just could not comprehend. How do they grow that way? *(3) Many of the trees were well over 100 feet tall, and every trunk and branch was coated with moss, ferns, and bromeliads. The smell was wonderful.
We stopped the walk at another skywalk (this one did go through some canopy), and some of us walked back to the cars while the rest walked ahead to a little picnic area, and we picked them up there. I drove one of the cars, and then continued to drive as we did a long, windy loop through the backroads of the countryside, just for the scenery. This was the first time I’d ever driven a left-steering car on the left side of the road, and I was a little nervous, so I didn’t enjoy the scenery as much as everyone else (although it WAS beautiful). However, I did drive the car in urban areas many other times, and driving for the first time in an essentially deserted area was a very good place to start, so I was happy about that. We had to get out of the car at one point, just to enjoy all the beautiful birdsong.
We pulled into Bellingen just at dusk, and stopped at a teensy-tiny pizzeria for dinner. They had a great variety of very nice gourmet pizzas, and Dee even got us a little ice cream at the end, which was wonderful. After that we all piled back into the cars, drove back to Coff’s Harbour, and went to bed.
1. I think we got the idea of doing this from a brochure that talked about fun things to see around Coff’s Harbor. It included things like the rainforest, the butterfly house (later), a wildlife park, and the Big Banana, a fiberglass sculpture of a gigantic banana that serves as a landmark for some family fun whatever. I guess they had a ton of shopping stuff and candy, and some sort of indoor ski hill with snow. I still have the pamphlet for it…it shows this huge banana flanked by models in skimpy bikinis. It’s absolutely hilarious. Australia’s evidently big on Big Things. I know we also saw the Big Prawn…maybe a few others I forget. I can’t believe this thing has its own website.
2. I especially wanted to walk out to “Never Never Creek.”
3. Some of the vines were polished shiny on top from people swinging on them. I was really temped at times, but didn’t.