There’s something about the Aussie bush that’s so soothing to the soul.
It could be the whispering gums. The calls of the bush birds. The “hot gold hush of noon,” as Australian poet Dorothea Mackellar so aptly describes.
Whatever it is, it calls to you.
A couple of weeks back, my husband Pete and I heard that call and responded, throwing our gear into our truck and heading up to Barrington Tops National Park.
A four-hour drive north from Sydney (or two from where we are in the Hunter Valley), it’s a place I hadn’t visited since I was a kid. When my sister and I spent days slipping over rocks in the sun-dappled swimming holes, and when my mum and I stood, hand-in-hand with mouths agape, watching a huge snake swallow a rainbow lorikeet whole.
I was desperate to get back, to see whether it still held the same magic.
As soon as we drove in from Dungog (terrible name, cute historic town), I knew it did. We wound down the windows as we wove through the palm and eucalypt-lined dirt roads, so we could listen to the bellbirds throw their calls up into the mountains.
By the time we arrived at our chosen site, a beautifully maintained nook complete with toilets and rubbish bins about half an hour in to the Chichester area, we were delighted to see it was only us and two other tents – tents we couldn’t even see from where we set up.
I got busy erecting our bell tent, decorating with textiles and cushions (first order of glamping business, of course!) and setting up the ‘kitchen’ area, while Pete got a fire going to cook up local fish and salad for lunch.
From there, we settled into an easy rhythm. Wandering down the ten-metre trail right outside our tent to the swimming hole, where we sat for hours in the cool water sipping Aussie sparkling from ceramic mugs while fish nibbled at our thighs. Laying on the rugs with books as the sun set, then rolling into each other’s arms to count falling stars once they had emerged. Going for hikes through the bush, stripping off to swim in the river along the way. Reading, sipping, supping, swimming. Rest and repeat.
It was a dreamy few days. The best part of all, though, was that there was no mobile reception. Without all the distractions, we were completely in the moment, free to soak up all the medicine the bush had to offer us.
We all need to get lost in the wilderness more often, I think.