Justyna, Steph, Mitch and I met up with Joe and the girls at the Forth pub, I was happy to see them and the two cars ventured forth to Burnie, we found a park to have dinner at and circled in good company complete with improv theatre from Joe and I. A night at Lapoinya and the van lost Mitch and Steph to gain Maria and the three of us drove West to meet with the others. We found the other car and Joe directed us to a good spot to camp the night. Totally secluded off the road and near a river we made a feast of salad wraps and dined joyously on happy conversation, with Tess here I felt like part of the band was back together, even if it was only two of the four original members. The septuple was aligning and within a short time becoming closer than we ever were at the gathering, satisfied with the food and each other we entertained the notion of sleep and lay our bodies separate in tents, car and van yet together and smiling.
We went to Stanley in the morning and explored the colourful seaside town, particularly a large plug shaped rock above the main street, dwarfing the town in its shadow. Legs burning we scaled upward to the top, the view around the area a magnificent spectacle of crescent beaches, lightly coloured waters and distant forests. This ‘plug’ Joe says as we climb to the heights is a result of a high pressure volcano eventually bursting and sending a circular disc high into the sky until the force of gravity returns it to the molten red bay, a snug fit as you would the hole in a sink.
That afternoon we swam in the crystal salt waters together then found camp for the night at a nearby beach carpark. The next morning we drove toward the Tarkine, beautiful rainforest awaited us.
Down along the asphalt, turning onto dirt and following a shortcut South West we drove into devastation. Black limbs, bare earth and smouldering trunks – the forest we drove through was gone. As if we could feel the suffering our moods worsened, there was an air of desperation between the two cars, I was pushing the journey onward in hope of a place to camp the night, I wanted to drive no further and especially not turn back. We came to a part of the forest still aflame and the decision was made for us, in angst we retreated to the point we entered – my expectation of the time wasted going back was crushed as in reality it was but a twenty minute drive to the blacktop. There was still a boatload, a carload of negativity, within me and perhaps the others, the stress hurt and all I wanted to do was stop and camp for a few days.
What added to the pain within me was alcohol and behaviour – Maria and I shared some wine after Stanley and my perspective was that she was angry, no reason implied but it was there, I thought the alcohol use became ab-use and sought to fragment the group. Along the drive this day Maria and I had many a heated discussion and I lost it when she bought beer at a town after the burning forest. The stress, the argument was all too much, I growled, my voice became heavy and loud as I threw words such as irresponsible and inconsiderate at her. Both of us having gone through deep psychological work reassessed and after some time, we responded with quieter words and articulated our needs, our problems and hurts in a non assaulting way, the pain of conflict led to a dropping of ego, an understanding, a forgiving, a holding of hands and an “I love you”. She still drank the beer but we were both aware and OK in this. The day became brighter and we found our way to the next camp, Hellyer Gorge.
I had cut my foot severely at the previous camp and noticed how sore it was by the time we arrived at the gorge. This in addition to my overall exhaustion kept me horizontal in the van while my companions set up the camp, I found it hard to let go of responsibility and got up to help, favouring the foot that now had a nasty gash underneath – my body was telling me to rest but I wanted to explore and contribute.
If I wouldn’t listen to my body then nature would give a gentle prod of cool weather, followed by a heavier nudge of continual rain forcing the group to huddle under the tarp and around the fire for two days. We held talking circles and some of us explored the area, I desperately wanted to do things but the injury kept me within a few metres of the camp, I sighed internally and often.
By the third day I was ready to go, after the events that had transpired the desire to drop everything and travel with Justyna was high, we had yet to have any time alone and I was strongly hinting of this. We went to Penguin to see a post gathering gathering, Maria was happy to stay there in good company and Justyna and I were happy to venture into the world on our own.