Conquering my new fear of heights

I (Daz) was going to write this pretty much like climbing the Gloucester tree was like a walk in the park 🚶‍♂️as up until now I’ve never really had an issue with heights.

I’ve bungee jumped, I’ve skydived and even walked around the top of the outside of Centrepoint tower in Sydney. Unfortunately this so called “Walk in the park” didn’t happen. For those who haven’t been to the Gloucester tree, it’s the second highest fire-lookout tree in the world. It was used to spot bushfires back in the day but now it’s a well known tourist attraction for the Gloucester National Park. To get to the viewing platform 58m up, all you need to do is climb up the 153 metal pegs that wrap around the tree all the way to the top.

Simple right??? Wrong! 🙅‍♂️

These pegs are just a bit over a metre long which have just been rammed into the side of the tree. When you put your weight onto them, they do flex a little and more than what I would’ve liked. When you couple that with no other safety precautions, you start to wonder how this not been caught up into nanny state our country has become.

We had our mates (Kristin, Josh and their 3 kids) from Sydney with us at the time and Josh volunteered to climb the tree first. He was pretty much half way up the tree before I was even on the first peg. So, off I went feeling pretty confident yet slightly nervous until about 20 rungs up when the thought came into my head, what would happen if I slipped or one of the pegs fell out!

That’s when I froze 😬 and couldn’t go any higher. I was so taken back because this was the first time I’ve ever had a height issue. I stayed on this one peg for what seemed like an eternity when I then built up enough courage to take the next step. Then the next and the next and before I knew it I was halfway up. I wasn’t looking back after that and just kept reminding myself to take one more step. As the climb got higher and higher the climb got even more vertical. There was one stage near the top when you have pretty much climb over thick branch of the tree. So sketchy!!!

Finally I got to the top and it was such a relief I didn’t fall. Josh and I celebrated the achievement as according to Wikipedia only 20% of visitors climb the tree and a huge percentage only get halfway up. Then it dawned on me….. I have to get down the same way I got up. Not sure why I only thought of that then, maybe I was so fixated on getting up I never thought about the climb down.

Before I made the descent down, I had some time up the top on my own, thinking not only about what I just overcame but the new life we were experiencing being travelling nomads.

It came time to start the climb down and just attacked it like I did coming up…… one step down at a time. And down I went and I’m sure I made it down in a fraction of the time it took me to go up. Once both feet were on terrafirma, I knew then I had conquered this new found fear I had and I was on the biggest high for the rest of the afternoon.

The kids were so impressed by it they wanted to do it as well but we said there was a better tree for them to climb. On the way home from Manjimup, we stopped off at Diamond tree which is a similar climbing tree but not as high and there is a platform halfway up which is suppose to be a better tree for kids.

Taj was so pumped he started going up as soon as we gave the green light but true to a 7 yr old his confidence outweighed his ability and we couldn’t let him go any higher than the 20odd ruins he did in a blink of an eye. The meltdown started and by the time Zali had a little climb we needed to get back to the car and muffle the screaming sounds of our unhappy child.

I now look back and think this is exactly what this trip is all about… getting out of our comfort zone, pushing through the difficult times to then enjoy what we have achieved.

Here’s to never becoming a tree lopper!!!

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