Thursday, April 26, 2012

Berry Island & Balls Head Reserve

Berry Island Reserve is the perfect spot for a short hike with two small kids. The 1km track has a few steps and muddy patches, but is overall accessible even to the seniors we passed along the trail.  According to the sign posted at the end of the point, Cammeraygal women here fished from canoes drifting along the bay, taking their children with them. To European observers, the balancing act of tending children, a fire (laid on packed clay in the canoe), and catching fish all in a flimsy bark canoe required great skill. They would spat chewed fish near their shell-made fish hooks as bait. The men used spears and fished from the rocks, also spatting chewed cockle into the water. If you've ever vomited into your scuba regulator (yes, you can safely do this) you would already know first hand that fish love processed foods.

As you plot along through the thick canopy, you feel safe, as if in your private biosphere Berry Island jungle.   This one happened to remind me of my North American home because of the cooler air, giant Aboriginal engraved boulders, and rooty red-mud terrain. Calm water along both sides of the peninsula took me to lake Alitoona and our hikes at Red Top Mountain. With the exception of the  Torben Spirit oil tanker under the Nassau tax free flag being hoisted off to the side, the trip was very quiet and relaxing. The kids loved the fig tree covered playground. Paul and I even tried the chain laden climbing wall.

As we emerged from our little utopia back into the city, I was hit with a life-is-too-short-to-miss great experiences moment. Most days you are pushed through a string of routines so numbing, your best chance at survival is an imaginative escape. Surrounded by a sea of city asphalt, you grasp onto anything intriguing, a secret tunnel, shoes hanging on a wire, a shifty figure crossing the street. You picture your surroundings as a completely different context, another planet, under the ocean, or the road as a giant roller coaster as you travel down a giant esophagus to your home. You search and search for the secret to living (and dying) and eventually come to the conclusion: there is no secret. Just the search. None of this comes with you in the end. Today's search felt like one worth tucking into the corner of my mind. Something not so - fabricated.

On the car ride home through North Sydney, the Orbital Lyrics (The Beach Soundtrack) referring to Richard's experience when traveling to Koh Phi Phi stuck with me:

Trust me, it's a paradise.
This where the hungry come to feed.
For mine is a generation that circles the globe,
in search of something we haven't tried before.

So never refuse an invitation.
Never resist the unfamiliar.
Never fail to be polite,
And never outstay your welcome.

Just keep your mind open and suck in the experience,
And if it hurts, It's probably worth it.

You hope and you dream,
But you never believe
That something is going to happen for you.
Not like it does in the movies.
And when it actually does,
You expect it to feel different.
More visceral, more real.
I was waiting for it to hit me.

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