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A Remedy for Excessive Urban Exposure

Thrush song, stream song, holy love That flows through earthly forms and folds, The song of Heaven’s Sabbath fleshed In throat and ear, in stream and stone, A grace living here as we live, Move my mind now to that which holds Things as they change. The warmth has come. The doors have opened. Flower and song Embroider ground and air, lead me Beside the healing field that waits; Growth, death, and a restoring form Of human use will make it well. But I go on, beyond, higher In the hill’s fold, forget the time I come from and go to, recall This grove left out of all account, A place enclosed in song.

~ Wendell Berry

I must spend time in the wild to restore myself to personhood beyond the narrow definitions of this culture. I need time to listen to the crackle of dry leaves underfoot, to breathe in the heady scent of eucalyptus on a warm breeze, to examine the folds of the land, run my hands along rock walls and strong tree trunks, to witness mossy beards on branches and catch glimpses of those things with heartbeats that live inside hollows and under stones. There is nowhere that I feel more true to life than inside a national park, nowhere that allows my mind to stretch out beyond the minutia of everyday life and lay my thoughts across the universe like the blanket of stars that glimmer above me.

I so dearly love spending time in the great outdoors. But you knew that already.

This past weekend we took our van out to the scenic rim and explored parts of Main Range that we haven't visited in quite a few years. We stayed our first night near Lake Moogerah at a campsite called Yarramalong and woke early in the morning in the hopes of spotting platypus in the creek. We weren't disappointed and our silent waiting was rewarded with two sightings of these elusive little creatures.

After exploring the dense creekside forest we ventured out towards Mt French and took in the marvellous views at the lookout that sits proudly above the Fassifern Valley. The views of grazing paddocks, crops and mountain peaks make for stunning scenery and we were eager to delve deeper into the range. But first we took a little drive to Allora to visit the childhood home of PL Travers, the writer of Mary Poppins! It's a private residence so we couldn't go inside, but it was lovely to be standing outside the very place where the author of one of my favourite stories lived all those years ago.

Allora is a sleepy little town that rests in the centre of the Sunflower tourist route in the Darling Downs. We weren't expecting to see sunflowers but we were in luck and got to see a few of the very last crops of the season. They were huge specimens, reaching way up over my head with some flowers bigger than dinner plates! Their bright yellow petals are so beautiful that it's hard not to have a lighter, more appreciative heart after having spent time amongst these golden blooms! Just look at how absolutely gorgeous they are:

We took our little gift of sunflowery happiness into the Goomburra section of Main Range National Park and found ourselves a camping spot at Poplar Flats. Then we headed up high into the mountains to one of the most incredible lookouts in the region. A fifteen minute walk through dense green rainforest is rewarded with a panorama of mountain tops and a patchwork of fields that takes the breath away! The whole scene was softened by light filtered through fluffy clouds and a cool breeze came up through the valley and soothed our clammy, humid skin. What a powerful elixir! This is perfect medicine for a city weary heart.

On arriving back at our campsite we splashed ourselves with some crisp water from the stream and settled in for a quiet afternoon under the softly swaying gums. We retired early that night, weary from our 5am start, and I slept soundly under a dark sky encrusted with diamond stars.

The next morning we decided to visit Queen Mary Falls on the other side of the range. We drove through small country towns and farmlands and slowly guided the van up the mountains, stopping to take in the view of Dagg's Falls on the way up. Both it and Queen Mary falls were rushing with lots of water. The summer rains had filled the creeks and these big sheer falls looked spectacular against the lush forest that surrounds them. We walked to the base of Queen Mary Falls and watched for crayfish in the waterhole at the base of the cliff. The waterfall mist provided cool relief after a muggy walk through the forest.

Sadly it was Sunday afternoon by the time we had finished our walk and that meant that it was time to head back to the city. Fortunately the drive back to the Brisbane took us through some pretty epic scenery, so the heart was not stung too sharply by a harsh transition into urban chaos. It was more a slow, gradual approach into the city, broken up midway by a lovely lunch break in Boonah. Aaaahhhh. What a lovely time it was, and just what the doctor should have prescribed had I visited with the symptoms of excessive urban exposure!

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