This morning I packed up my backpack, tripod, lenses, filters, spare battery. Packed some snacks, water bottle, phone, purse. Donned my hiking boots. Took my iPod, and hit the road, bound for the Bunya Mountains and the promise of taking some waterfall shots after the big rains.
After driving for over an hour I finally realised that I had missed my turn off to the mountains and would have to back track. Oh well.... no biggie. It was still early and it was a nice day. Half an hour later I saw a road side vista that I thought looked promising and so pulled the car cautiously over to the side of road. Hand brake firmly on. Ignition off. Reaching for camera... NO... no camera. Yes it would seem that I dutifully packed all the necessary items for a days rainforest hiking and taking pictures, except for one very necessary thing.
Ok... no biggie... nice day for a drive anyway. And what's an extra hour and half in the car. It's all good.
Now.. take 2.
Finally at my destination, off I go. Check the map at the start of the hiking trail. "Big Waterfall Lookout"... WOW.. does that sound promising or what! It's a really long hike, but it seems there are some smaller falls on the way and we will just pace ourselves and see how we go. 4km or more into the hike and not a waterfall in sight. Getting tired already. And this backpack full of camera gear is starting to get very heavy. Thanks to all the rain and an ever growing amount of mud on the bottom of my boots, I'm now approximately 2" taller. But on I press.
Finally I get to a spot called Paradise Falls. It's only around 200m from a car park where I stopped just a few weeks back. So hold on... let me get this straight. I have just hiked for hours to a spot that I could have just as easily driven to.. to see a very un-photogenic waterfall, that I had already captured. Ok.. that's fine... (she says trying to smile through clenched teeth). I suppose I need the exercise anyway, right. So on I press.
There is now a babbling brook that runs alongside the pathway.. pretty. But you can't get a good view unless you slightly deviate from the prescribed track. Now I know that you aren't exactly supposed to leave the track, but I promise to be careful and not stand on anything important. Ok, so the only way I'm going to get a good shot is to carefully walk along some rocks... then THUD!!! quickly followed by "splash". That's right, into the creek I go. Fortunately not very deep.. just deep enough to get very wet and equally as muddy... gross! Cracked my lens hood (thank God that was all it cracked). Still sitting in the water, hurt and humiliated, but first things first..check if camera still works... yes, good. Now I see if I'm OK. So apart from what promises to be a big blue ugly bruise on my thigh, I guess I will survive.
Now another interesting side affect of all the precipitation they have had, is that dotted along the pathway are fallen trees, of varying types and sizes. Most are easy walked around. Some require climbing over. It's a little challenging but not a big deal. Not, that is, until, a clump of large bushes, or small tress, not sure really, is covering the path, and there is no way around. So I suppose I will just have to climb on through them. Fine. Then it hits me. Stinging nettle!!!! There are signs at the start of the trail warning of the joys of stinging nettle... and I do recall discovering the power of this little leaf when I was a child. But nothing prepares you for the full force of it rubbed up against your bare leg (maybe that's why they tell you to wear long pants).. front and back of the leg...OMG... the pain.
I had been warned about it being tick season in the Bunya's. I have never had a tick before. Didn't even know what to expect. I had seen ticks on dogs, but never on humans before. Let's just say… I have now.
Oh boy... another sign... don't you just love sign posts in the middle of the rainforest when you are hopelessly lost, dirty, wet, tired and wondering if you even have the strength to go on. Oh and this was a beauty.
Turns out my dear friends that the waterfall that I had been looking for was a mere 1.3km from exactly where I had parked the car... Oh yes... that's right. I had walked for hours and agonising hours, just to find out that for the second time today.. I had indeed, taken a wrong turn.
6 hours in the rainforest. 3 hours in the car. I missed lunch. Was too tired to eat dinner when I got home. I fell. I broke my lens hood. Got bitten by a tick. Stung by stinging nettle. Covered in mud. Got lost. Barely saw another human being the entire time. But I did see the most beautiful birds known to man. The cutest little lizard that let me get so very close to him. Rock wallabies and kangaroo's. Loads of butterflies. These weird blue centipede/worm things and what I am pretty sure was a leech. And I even saw a tiny marsupial with a tummy full of attached babies feeding (shame I wasn't quick enough with the camera for that one).
And after all that, the waterfall wasn't even what I had expected. But you know what...I'm living the life of my dreams and that's just another day in MY office.... and some days I love this job so much, I could just cry. And that is the very definition of success. Doing what you love and simply adoring what you do.