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...two travellers in search of the world's wildlife

28 February 2011

The smell of adventure

28th February 2011

It’s a shame we don’t have the technology to record smells and include them into internet sites for others to enjoy. The scent of the trees in the mighty jarrah and karri forests of this part of Western Australia is one of the most superb smells of our travels. There’s a strong, soothing eucalyptus element to it, coupled with a warm and invigorating pine resin and a base earthy note which is almost mushroomy. All by itself that scent could delight and relax me for hours.

Thinking back, I also remember strongly the scent of yak butter candles in Tibet; a burnt fondue odour with notes reminiscent of goats and farmyards. Then of course there is the sage-brush in South Africa, such an uplifting herbal pong that I associate instantly with the wonders of safari. The smell of a good cup of Indian or Nepali spiced chai is another of my favourites.

There may also have been a little whiff of fear among the eucalyptus forest today, as we scaled to the top of a fire-lookout tree in the heart of the forest. Fifty metres straight up, to a platform at the top that swayed noticeably in the stiff breeze that was blowing. The ladder is a series of big metal pins nailed into the trunk of the tree in a steep spiral, so there really is pretty much nothing but space between your feet when you look down. We talked to each other a lot to cover our fear. Why did we do it? Well, it’s just there and basically it dared us with its presence. Just to clarify, you are allowed to climb these fire lookouts although I was surprised to find that there was no-one there to supervise it. What if we had got to the top and discovered that we were too petrified to descend? When I close my eyes now and recollect looking down between the rungs it gives me a physical shudder.

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