Although not a long distance day today I was on a mission and needed to get away early. I had to beat the post office closure time of 1 o’clock so that I could pick up my new sleeping mat.
I needed to get away by 6:30 to be on the safe side and make it into town with plenty of time. I’d advised the others of my early start the night before and none were concerned with potential noise disturbing them in the morning. Neither the less if I have an early start and I’m sharing a shelter I aim have just about everything packed up before going to bed and then in the morning grab what I have left in a heap wrapped up in my Tavel sheet and moving off away from the shelter to have breakfast and do the final pack up. Lucky it wasn’t raining.
I moved off down the track with my head torch lighting the way. This wasn’t needed for long as first light soon came in making the way clear to see.
I was moving fast in an effort to get to town and the track surface allowed for this. Some undulations but mostly flat and a nice wide and clear trail. The afternoon was meant to be bucketing down which provided more emphasis.
A few short breaks along the way and before I knew it there I had the final steep climb up to the Gloucester Tree, the old fire spotting tower tree constructed in the 1940’s that is open to the public to climb. Surprisingly I had time to make the climb. Initially I was thinking I would have to bypass the tree today and climb it tomorrow on my rest day.
Towards the top it is obvious that many of the old spikes had at some point come loose. The solution to the fix though added to the excitement of climbing the tree. The old spikes had been embedded in thicker dowel, the tree holes bored out and the dowel and spike inserted with Aralidite or some other chemical bonding agent applied, the spill over obvious at the joins. Love it.
I’d climbed the tree once before back in 2015 on my one previous visit to Pemberton for work. I was deployed from Vic to assist WA with the Northcliffe fires and we were based at Pemberton where I found the time to walk the short section of the Bibb up through town to the Gloucester Tree on a rest day.
The climb is exhilarating, latching on and climbing a ladder of large spikes nailed into the tree. Your safety is in your own hands, no safety barriers or fences, no guides and no harnesses. You just would not find this sort of thing in the Victorian nanny state. Spiralling around the tree I was soon at the top point at 53m off the ground. Spectacular views all around.
From the Gloucester Tree it was a short 3km into town for some lunch and check into my hotel room. There is a major mountain biking event in town and I was lucky to secure a room for 2 night, tomorrow being a rest day. No sooner than reaching my hotel, checking in and jumping in the shower for a much needed wash, the heavens opened up and it bucketed down. Talk about timing. Anyone out walking would be absolutely drenched. The rain did not stop all night is forecast to do the same tomorrow. Good thing it’s a rest day and I can wait it out.