Today will be busy. To start with, we are heading back to the tree house to clean, tidy and put up some walls to keep the worst of the rain out. I’m actually quite excited; not only do I love the tree house, this is my first chance to hang out properly with Matt – the man who built the tree house and spends much of his time exploring the forest and hunting down ship wrecks!
It doesn’t take long. A few hours with a hose, a broom, a pickaxe and a bottle of bleach solves the worst of the rain damage and we manage to erect some temporary. Matt uses bleach to handle everything from mould on the sofas to leeches on himself; bleach-a-leech becomes my new purpose in life, momentarily.
It is effective, that’s for sure! Before my very eyes, the tree house starts to come back to life…or rather, all the life that had taken up residence on the sofas, floors and tables of the house gradually disappears and a home emerges. A lovely home! A lovely home that is, alas, still prone to flooding – so we won’t be staying in it yet.
For the first part of the afternoon, Matt takes me and Shackleton into the rain forest, trekking. This is a truly valuable experience; this is the most ancient rain forest in the world and, although you can do organised tours, it is pretty special to get my own guide through a private part of the forest.
We are following the river, currently. (A bad pun was long overdue).
In my eyes the river is flowing pretty heavily because of all the rain, but Matt assures me that, during a proper cyclone, the water level would be way above our heads. This is a terrifying propsect, evidence for which is scattered around us in the form of goliath trees and boulders that only a mighty river could throw around.
I have spent a few days trekking through rain forests and outback nature before, but this is by far the most enjoyable ‘ramble’ I’ve ever had. Not only is the forest itself stunning, I also learn a huge amount from Matt and Shack, including:
- Don’t eat anything, no matter how sure you are that it is safe – it’s almost certainly not.
- The spikey things that hang down and tear up your clothes and/or skin are called Wait-A-Whiles…because they make you wait a while, as you struggle to disentangle yourself.
- To escape a Wait A While, you spin away from it to disengage the spikes. It’s actually quite fun!
- Certain prehistoric ferns grow at a rate of one metre per hundred years. There is one in this forest over 11 metres high!
- Green ants love to bite, despite the fact it means their certain and immediate demise.
- The pincers of a Bull ant dont’ hurt very much…compared to the sting!
In this case, pictures probably say a lot more than words, so I’ll shuddap.