Thursday, March 11, 2010

TMI Thursday: Would you, could you, in a tree?

TMI Thursday

OK, folks, time for another TMI Thursday. Click the picture above to read more awesomely cringe-worthy TMIs courtesy of LiLu at

Back in September 2004, after Jason and I had gotten together but when he had gone back to Australia to reconnect with his family, renew his driver's license, and make some money, I went to visit him. We hung out awhile with his family near Sydney, but then decided to take a trip. Initially we thought about going to the Gold Coast to go to the beach, though it was still kind of winter-ish and not that warm.

Then I read a book by Bill Bryson called In A Sunburned Country, about his travels through Australia, including out to Western Australia, south of Perth, where there are giant trees. Like, bigger-than-most-redwoods giant. That people are allowed to climb.

In addition to these giant, beautiful, majestic - and did I mention climbable - trees, he described the countryside as extraordinarily gorgeous, with rolling hillside and vineyards and cliff-side views of the Indian Ocean and amazing underground caves with stalactites or stalacmites or whatever the hell they're called.

All of that stuff sounded awesome, each justifying a trip out there in its own regard, but he seriously had me at the giant climbing trees. I told Jason that instead of going to the Gold Coast, I wanted to go to West Oz to climb the giant trees.

So we flew the 5 hours from Sydney to Perth, and hung out at King's Park and walked around Perth and saw one of the Bourne movies and had yummy sushi.

And we went to Freemantle, this funky little hippie town south of Perth, and saw funny-looking quokkas on Rottnest Island and stayed in a working pub, which, given the noise of drunk people singing all night, was a better idea in theory than in practice. Particularly since the heat in our room didn't work and it was 40 degrees out, so we had to sleep in our coats.

We rented a car and drove south down the coast to Margaret River, where we sat watching the sunset over the ocean while we drank yummy wine that had been recommended by a skate-rat-looking kid with bleached blond hair and a broken arm from a skateboarding accident. He looked like someone that would be sent over from Central Casting if you called and asked for a typical surfer dude. But then he started talking about grapes left to sweeten on the vine and the acidity of the soil during the winter of 2000 and it was totally like having Keanu Reeves's character from Bill and Ted as your somalier. In other words, kind of awesome.

Finally, finally, it was time to go see the giant trees. We drove into the Southern Forest, and the trees were just magnificent. In addition to being enormous, they are beautiful -- a smooth, shimmery, marble-y grey colored bark, with silver-grey leaves. The climbing trees were fire lookouts at one time, with pieces of steel rebar stuck along the trunk in a spiral to climb up to a little platform/tree-house type thing at the top. They were opened to the public for climbing probably about 30 years ago.*

First we went to the Gloucester Tree, which is about 60 meters high (about 197 feet). And it was amazing. The climb was incredibly cool and the view from the top was spectacular.

Me climbing the Gloucester Tree

View from the top


Then we went to the Dave Evans Bicentennial Tree. I have no idea who Dave Evans is or was, but it's a hell of a tree - 75 meters (about 245 feet) tall. It was getting to be late afternoon when we got there, and there was only one other car in the parking lot. As we climbed to the lookout tower at the top of the tree, we saw people get in the car and drive off.

Meaning we were all alone.

And I don't know why -- this is seriously unlike me -- but there was something about being all alone on the top of this insanely tall, beautiful tree, in the gorgeous countryside, on a warm, sunny late afternoon, that kind of ... got to me.

I looked at Jason.

"So...," I drawled.

"Yeah?" he responded.

"What do you think about, uh, inaugurating the tree?"

His eyes got wide.



"Really???" I think he was in a little bit of shock.


So we got it on in broad daylight in a treehouse in the middle of the Australian forest. And then carved our initials in the railing for posterity.

Poor Jason had a sore neck and probably some splinters in his ass for the rest of the day.

But he didn't complain.

*What I particularly loved was that in the U.S., you'd have to sign liability waivers and be attached to harnesses and whatnot - assuming they ever let anyone up on a giant tree at all. In Australia, the rebar was totally exposed - no harnesses, no safety nets, nothing - and there was a sign at the bottom that basically said, "this could be dangerous, turn back if you're not in decent shape." Yet another reason I love the Aussies.


  1. This is the best use of a giant tree that I have ever heard of.

    I like the initial carving thing. You should have put, "Totally did it in this tree" underneath.

    You know, class it up.

  2. Travis, I think we did write something to that effect, only we didn't put it as delicately as that.

  3. That's the problem with reading Bill Bryson's books: I want to go do that crap the moment I finish reading the book.

    You know what, though? Tree top sex would make me be perfectly fine with splinters in my ass.

    It also makes me want to visit Australia more than In a Sunburned Country.

  4. MJenks - I'm so with you. After reading BB's books, I want to hike the Appalachian Trail, tromp around England, and go back to the different parts of Oz that I still haven't seen. But I bet that my experience in the Southern Forest beats his...

  5. damn it Giant trees are what you're suppose to climb!

    now I know....because the only time I climbed a tree with a girl a bird attacked me.

    I did get a handy out of it later that day at least...

  6. I can't think of a better use for a tree (well, maybe paper. And saving us all from carbon dioxide pollution/poisoning/etc. But whatever. tree sex wins.)

  7. CP - a bird attack would definitely put a damper on things.

    Moosie -- do we have to choose just one use for a tree? All of them are good!

  8. Love this. You crack me up. And dang, you're brave. I wouldn't dream of climbing that rebar, not even for a frolic.

    (P.S. Great writing here, BTW. Really loved it.)

  9. Lisa - thank you! Coming from you, that is high praise, indeed. And I love heights. Nothing about climbing a big tree seems scary to me. I found it exhilarating.

  10. if I find that tree I will totally point out it's history to everyone...well, I haft to go to ausstralia first....

    my catchpa word is, conifer, like a tree!

  11. hehe, gives a whole new meaning to "major wood" or "having a woodie" or...I could go on for hours. If only it had been morning...

    Just added to the life list, go to western Australia and commune with nature.