By Nina Karnikowski
My love affair with treehouses started early. At age five, I helped my big sister pull a thick plank of wood out of dad’s shed at the back of the garden, and balance it from a rock ledge into the boughs of the jacaranda tree opposite. Our first treehouse never got more fancy than that. Yet in our imaginations it became all the places we longed to go; a turreted castle, a majestic watchtower, a sailing ship.
Today, almost three decades later, the treehouses I stay in are crafted from much more than leftover scraps from dad’s shed. But the sense of whimsy, fantasy and freedom that treehouses hold still draws me to them over all other forms of accommodation.
The feeling that, the moment you step over the threshold (or climb up the last rung of the ladder, as the case may be), you have every excuse to morph into a dreamy kid playing make-believe again.
Which is exactly what my husband and I did upon arriving at the luxurious Secret Treehouse in the Wollemi Wilderness area of Bilpin, NSW, mid-last year. KEEP OUT, NO GROWNUPS, read the yellow hand-painted sign hanging on the wooden front door of this hideout, hovering ten metres above the ground and skilfully crafted from local felled timber and recycled materials like corrugated iron and sandstone.
Keeping the door’s message in mind, we threw the floor-to-ceiling windows open to the rain and towering eucalypts, jumped in the hot tub, popped the champagne, told each other tales and giggled like kids all night long. High in the rain-lashed treetops, with the potbelly fire crackling away in the corner, we forgot completely about the outside world. Better than that, it seemed to forget completely about us.
Nowhere else have I felt as immersed in nature than in a treehouse. In Samoa’s Upolu hinterland we were swept off our feet by Samson, a 300-year-old banyan tree that’s home to a two-storey treehouse at Lupe Sina Treesort. We showered inside Samson’s dripping root system; we slept in his arms. In the lounge room his limbs reached through the floor, offering up a cosy seat from which to take in 180-degree views of the wilderness, with nothing but the birds to keep us company.
The next time I crave those Jungle Book vibes, I need only consult my bucket list for the next treehouse stay. The mirrored cube Treehotel perched in the snow-dusted trees in Swedish Lapland. The muslin-draped wall- and ceiling-free View With a Room in Thailand’s Bangkok Tree House. The Free Spirit Spheres, suspended like pendants above the forest floor, on Vancouver Island. I’d go out on a limb for any of them.
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