A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away….4
Its 2016 and I’m on annual leave from the office of an insignificant little consulting firm in far north Queensland, where I spend the months daydreaming of impending adventures in Tasmania’s wilderness. I’ve fulfilled my duties as an employee: feigned interest at the appropriate times, nodded intelligently when a question beyond my comprehension is thrust upon me, and generally pretended to be a sensible member of society. These tedious responsibilities have been revoked and the sense of anticipation in the car is palpable as we make our way towards Lake St Clair from Hobart: Beneath Dad’s cool exterior as he negotiates the roads leading to Australia’s deepest natural lake is an excitement unrivalled by anything since the day he watched a slinky walk itself down a staircase, whilst Ben’s keenness is masked only by his heavy breathing as he catches up on missed sleep. The timing of our jaunt is rather delicate, as my heavily pregnant sister-in-law is threatening to make an uncle of Ben and myself, whilst the third member of our party is expecting to become a grandfather. In universal news, another death star has just been destroyed. Nevertheless, Australia’s current Prime minister (although this could change on any given day) – Malcolm Turnbull – has recently signed a treaty with leaders around the globe declaring allegiance to The First Order in an attempt to maintain a “common determined purpose to ensure the security of our nation and its people.”
Leaving Narcissus engrossed in his own reflection, we meander north along the Overland track for a short period of time, before taking the Pine Valley turnoff. A comfortable stroll through temperate rainforest sees us reach Pine Valley hut without any trouble. Following lunch outside the hut, we plan to climb the Acropolis in a bid to rectify my senses with a perspective that eluded me on my previous excursion in the area (conditions were not conducive to elevated views). Leaving our full packs behind, we begin our journey to the summit by spending half an hour following a loop that leads us back to our packs. After some head scratching, much finger pointing, a tantrum or two and the threat of force strangulation, we find ourselves back on course with the summit of the Acropolis fast approaching.
Our first summit view of the trip is remarkable. Mountains protrude from behind mountains in a three hundred and sixty degree vista also encompassing splashes of blue with the famous Lake St Clair to the south and several perched lakes upon the Labyrinth to the west. We are awe struck by the inspirational panorama around us. Dad’s eyes feast upon the delicious scenery; whilst I dribble from behind my camera; meanwhile Ben … Where’s Ben? Dad and I stumble around the rocky peak to find Ben curled up asleep on a rock. His double life is finally catching up with him then. Let’s face it – you can only hide the fact that you’re a sith master for so long. The tell-tale signs are all there: His late night scheming sessions are clearly motivated by a disdain of all jedi, his lust for power is apparent in his domineering stronghold over his cat and his generous use of the argument “good is a point of view” really doesn’t help to conceal his true allegiance. Now that I think about it, the fact that his lightsabre is red should probably have given him away earlier…
Execute order sixty-six.4
The Acropolis and Mt Geryon towering above a sparkling Lake Elysia is not the worst view in the world to wake up to on a fine Monday morning. After a leisurely breakfast, we make our way along the western side of the lake before heading westward towards Walled Mountain. Walking is pleasant as we meander across the relatively open plains. Stopping to take in a splendid view of Mount Geryon (we can never get tired of this delightful formation); Ben wanders to a position he supposes to be out of earshot. I manage to shuffle close enough to catch a phrase he growls into his walkie talkie: “…execute order sixty-six”.
Amidst our evening proceedings, a lone walker stumbles to a halt by our campsite. From the stubble on his chin and his unaligned teeth to the exaggerated size of his backpack with bits and pieces protruding as he leans on his trekking poles, he is the perfect caricature of a hiker. This guy had the audacity to trek from the freedom of fiction into the world of rules and containment. For arguments sake the only appropriate title for our hiker could be Mr i (in acknowledgement of his affinity to the imaginary number i = sqrt(-1)). He had apparently made his way to Lake Elysia via Lees Paddock. This improbable feat further echoed the sentiment that Mr i was indeed not of this world; but from a world far, far away, free of poverty, cruelty and repression, a world untouched by human failure, where the only restrictions are the confines of one’s imagination. Mr i approved our itinerary before continuing his journey. We watched as he trekked beyond our line of sight into the unconstrained world of fantasy. Tonight the rules have changed. This hiker was a pioneer of commutation between two parallel universes: The real and the imaginary had just collided without the slightest ripple, let alone catastrophe. The event will simply become another tale in which nobody outside of the five witnesses will be willing to accept. Please, if you are reading this account, Mr i, make yourself known to the bushwalking community through a comment below. I really am intrigued by your journey and the reasons behind it. Surely a world devoid of such inconveniences as census surveys and taxes is not to be given up lightly?
These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.4
The daytrip out to Mount Gould is expected to be relatively straightforward. However, in our trip preparation, we have failed to recognise the significance of Greek mythology in the region. And thus, it comes as something of a horrific surprise when we find ourselves face to face with the head of a bull, balanced rather unconvincingly atop a man’s shoulders. In scrambling to escape the clutches of The Minotaur, Ben picks up a rather nasty bruise on his foot, whilst dad places unwanted stress on his already damaged ankle.
The relatively straightforward scramble up Mt Gould turns problematic when I lead the trio up a rather formidable climb. After making a few risky manoeuvrers up and around exposed boulders, I am willing to take the old man’s advice and reverse our direction in order to find a safer route to the summit. Surprisingly, the advice proves to be wise.
Swimming alone in the shadow of great mountains, I have time to reflect upon my fellow comrades. I have no doubt as to Ben’s position as the leader of the sith, however my father’s standing in the order is much more difficult to place. Is he merely a pawn, pressured into undertaking the bidding of his master? He carries a wild look in his eyes, like there is a rebel inside him trying to escape. He could perhaps be described as a Labyrinth, whilst a desperate Minotaur inside him fights for escape. It dawns on me that the Minotaur we faced earlier was in fact dad’s internal monster; the frustrations of a year behind a desk are finally unshackled through the allurement of an uncivilised land. The knowledge only burdens me with more unanswered questions: Is the beast dad’s true self? Can he be tamed? Should dad stop shaving his facial hair when in civilisation to allow the beast to flourish? After talking us out of a potentially unwise climb today I am convinced: There is Gould in him, I can feel it.
May the force be with you.4
In one of his frequent gear rant’s, my father has alluded to a certain retailer he considers to produce gear unsuitable for the harsh Tasmanian wilderness. As it turns out, his dissatisfaction with this particular brand seems to be justified. Geoff and Julie happen to own a tent produced by the subject of his verbal barrages. A relatively heavy rain happened to fall overnight. The occupants of the tent and everything inside it happened to be soaking wet come morning. The designer was obviously unaware that human beings spend the greater proportion of their time on land and generally find sleeping in water rather unpleasant. So either the engineer has failed to do his research, or the tent was designed for ducks, who, as it turns out, happen to review this particular brand rather favourably.
Ben has unwittingly left his phone in the car, and thus requires the car key to retrieve it. We instruct him to hide the key and leave us an appropriately complex riddle leading to its location. “May the force be with you” are his parting words as he, along with Geoff and Julie retrace their steps to Narcissus hut and the awaiting Jasper. Dad and I can now continue our journey free from the intimidating presence of the sith master. Secretly, I don’t rate Geoff and Julie’s chances. But it comes back to the old WW2 Enigma conundrum: So long as my brother is unaware that I know his secret, I will always remain one step ahead. If I can use this information strategically, I can put an end to his selfish ambitions of world domination. The sacrifice of Geoff and Julie is a strategic move in a great game of chess, where sometimes you have to sacrifice a couple of knights in order to infiltrate the opponents defence and capture the king.
The three headed giant has been a dominant backdrop for much of our trip thus far, and we now have the opportunity of visiting the northernmost head of Geryon. A straightforward amble from Lake Elysia sees us reach Geryon North with little trouble. Of course, the southern heads protrude teasingly above our line of sight, but the view of the surrounding area is spectacular nonetheless.
After an extremely satisfying swim in the charming waters of Lake Helios, I find myself lazily perched upon a rock overlooking said lake. Many people like to believe that time behaves in a constant linear fashion. However, time spent in the wilderness certainly dispels that myth. Time is of no consequence at the present moment. From my vantage point, observing Mt Ossa and Pelion East, framed by Mt Hyperion overlooking Lake Helios, time has slowed to the point of irrelevance.
Most sensible people will tell you that a sinkhole is actually a doorway into a parallel universe. Whilst I have never had reason to disbelieve this credible theory, an alternative hypothesis is formulated as I stare into the delightful lake before me. The afternoon sun shines upon the tranquil waters of Lake Helios, where a large reptile briefly exposes its long neck, before plunging once more into the abyss. It becomes quite clear to me that the shy creature before me is none other than the elusive Loch Ness monster. The whole phenomenon now makes perfect sense: When conditions are suitable, the creature travels through a sinkhole between Lake Helios in Tasmania and Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands. The infrequent sightings are a result of its absence from the loch. It is probable that the beast spends a large proportion of its time in the tranquil confines of central Tasmania, and only ventures to the Scottish Highlands for a change of scenery during its periods of annual leave.
I have a bad feeling about this.4
From Lake Helios we continue our journey northeast across the Du Cane range. Rock scrambling down a saddle via Big Gun Pass makes for quite an enjoyable variation in terrain. It is not too long before we find ourselves atop Mt Massive, enjoying yet another spectacular panorama of the mountainous region in a small corner of the world. A ‘bowl’ below the summit appears to be a sheltered place to pitch our tent.
The afternoon is spent observing the landscape from different vantage points along the mountain and indulging in our reading material. A swirling wind in the bowl during the late afternoon makes conditions cold and uncomfortable. The chilling breeze could perhaps be associated with a shift in the balance of the force. As Ben tightens his grip on the galactic empire, the conditions become suffocating and unpleasant. It’s only a matter of time then: The universe will soon be under the absolute rule of Ben – or as I have heard his sympathisers refer to him: Lord Guus.
The night is a restless one, with the wind relentlessly battering the tent in gusts of fury. The wrath of the sith is fast approaching. The night is hardly conducive to sleeping, and I consider the wisdom of pitching the tent inside the lip of a curved mountaintop. The wind flow is obstructed by a large mountain and is thus diverted upward, accelerating over the curve of the mountain, until it reaches the lip. As the flow passes over the tip, the fluid diverges into some sort of turbulent mayhem in the region just beyond the lip of the mountain – right where we have decided to pitch our tent.
Who’s the more foolish; the fool, or the fool who follows him?4
Eager to leave behind the worst campsite of our trip, we continue along the ridge to Falling Mountain. I leave dad to ponder his missed opportunities (there have been plenty of places where he could have undertaken my assassination), as I find my way to the top of a rather expansive summit. A satisfactory summit view will be my last before we scramble off the range down towards the world famous Overland track.
This is where the fun begins. Locating an appropriate point to begin our descent takes a while. We eventually choose a gully and try to follow some widely spaced cairns down through steep scrubby sections of Falling Mountain. Following a compass bearing, we continue to stumble through protruding scrub, avoiding vertical drops in elevation. As the terrain begins to level out, we continue through more scrub until we triumphantly meet the Overland track. A short while later we have set up camp on one of several tent platforms near Bert Nichols Hut.
So be it, Jedi.4
We have arrived at the final day of a most enjoyable trip. I have to say that the exquisite beauty of the region exceeded my lofty expectations. Even the insufferable presence of a sith master for the first half of the trip failed to impede on that euphoric state that occurs when you allow yourself to let go. It’s those moments when you’re sitting atop a mountain or by a pristine lake and everything becomes totally irrelevant. Time itself doesn’t exist. You just sit there quietly immersing yourself in the sublime beauty of it all. The world is so sophisticated, and the most fulfilling moments are those that occur when you allow yourself to ignore the complicated entanglement of life and just sit still in simplistic appreciation of the gift of natural design.
As we make our way south along the overland track, my reverie is broken on several occasions by the presence of a snake lying across the track. Despite a relatively late start to the day, comfortable walking conditions allow us to reach Narcissus hut in time for lunch. With most of the Overland trackers opting to take the ferry, dad and I leave Narcissus hut by foot amidst the muttering of several people we have spoken to that no longer want to sell us death sticks, but are on their way home to rethink their lives.
The day turns out to be relatively warm. Having lived in north Queensland for the best part of three years, I am not in a great deal of discomfort; however dad is physically struggling despite the fact we are on the most heavily used/well maintained track in Tasmania. If there was ever a time to extract the truth from him, the time is now, when he is at his most vulnerable. Some aggressive negotiations seem like the appropriate way to make the man talk. I decide to go in for the surprise attack, and am pondering whether to remove a hand or an entire arm as a statement of intent. I decide that an arm will make for a bolder argument, and reach for my lightsabre. Just then, dad begins to babble of his own accord:
“Andrew there is something you must know… I am your father.”
The absurdity of the statement takes me by surprise as I contemplate the stark obviousness of it. What is he playing at? Is this some sort of bluff to get me questioning my heritage? Now that he’s stated a fact, should I disbelieve it? In my bewilderment, I can only think to respond with a straightforward conformation:
“I KNOOOOOOOOOW that dad.”
Here I release my grip on the situation and slide down the tunnel of oblivion before tumbling through the space-time confines of reality and into Mr i’s world of imagination. I nod a friendly acknowledgement as I pass a group of cigar smoking echidnas in the middle of a poker game; the most superior looking creature of the bunch fixes me with a look of grave disapproval in return. Shortly, I find myself apologising for tripping over a large tree root after the said tree cries out in a grumpy protest and shakes his branches at me menacingly. Stumbling onwards, a snake hisses his disgust at my lack of care in his proximity and I have to duck away sharply to avoid the lasers shooting from his eyes from disintegrating me. Meanwhile the birds mock me from above with their provocative chirping at my hopeless incompetence as demonstrated by my shocking inability to fly.
It comes as something of a relief then, when dad and I emerge from the track back into the world of simple things like politics and religion. Here at the Lake St Clair visitor centre everything is as straightforward as morality. We have returned to a world where good and evil are decided by a select group of liars who are essentially elected via a popularity contest. There remains one task: to locate the hidden car key.
We are expecting a series of complicated clues a la Sherlock Holmes. Our text message reads thus: “Back left wheel, X marks the spot.” A literal interpretation would suggest that the key be located somewhere around the back left wheel where an X has been neatly taped to the paintwork. However, we realise that this is far too simple for someone of Lord Guus’ intelligence and thus look for hidden meaning in his code. Fiddling with the back left wheel as stated literally will no doubt trigger some sort of defence mechanism, hereby locking the key away from an interested party. Certainly a sophisticated series of riddles is much more likely. Alternatively we could smash the front window and hot-wire the car. Perhaps we just don’t have it in us to think like a sith. The hidden meaning in the code is proving far too clever for our uninitiated minds. We finally decide that our only option is to break in and hot-wire the car. Before we do, we’ve nothing to lose in testing the literal interpretation of the message. To our utter surprise, the key is neatly confined behind the taped X.
Arriving home, our journey has perhaps prepared us in a way that society cannot for the important role allocated to uncles and grandparents. Monday the 11th of January will see the successful delivery of Harriet, the latest edition into our extraordinary family. Who knows, one day my niece may be insane enough to crave the experiences of the Tasmanian wilderness for herself. That is, if she isn’t too busy demolishing other planets or crushing resistance forces alongside her formidable uncle, Lord Guus.
In closing, I hereby swear my allegiance to Lord Guus and his empire. I must reassure you that I am under no pressure to make this statement; it is completely of my own volition. I recommend that you do the same. Lord Guus is the supreme ruler and his authority should go unquestioned. Ten thousand years of peace begins today.