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My Mt Tamborine mob have a macabre game called Killing Nanny Meg. Each time we get together, there's an attempt to wipe me out. So far they've tried heat exhaustion, drowning and losing me off the mountain at night. On Sunday they decided to try a very steep walk down to the waterfalls and rock pools at Killarney Glen, which is surrounded by an army firing range.

The wind was wild and the air was cold, but as we descended the rocky steps through the bush we reached shelter and it soon became too warm for two thermals, a fleecy and a scarf. I'm not used to such walking without my spotted gum walking stick, so I exercised extreme caution, placing each foot carefully. My grandchildren raced ahead, but my barefoot son suited his pace to mine, and offered an arm at steep bits.

The track zigzagged down between big trees and rocky outcrops, splattered sometimes with Davidson plums fallen from their clusters on the trunk of their tree, sometimes with small glossy brown nuts, and always with leaves. Ferns grew on the rocky verges. We slalomed our way down until we heard the sound of water, passed a bit of dilapidated but kempt sheddage, and reached the river stepping-stoned with round rocks, just above the waterfall. Smooth circular caverns were carved in under the rock and the water emerged at the bottom a kind of dulled aquamarine. My legs had turned to jelly from all the control I'd exercised on the way down, and I needed my son's arm to hold me steady on the edge of the cauldrons.

We enjoyed this place of grottoes and cavities and chambers, and then negotiated the mossy rocks back to the track leading down to the rock pool. T had already dived in, as proved by a photo and freezing hands. S and A bent intently over pools in the rocks as my water scientist son pulled out tiny creatures and the fascinating facts of their existence: a snail-shaped caddis fly larva, shell made out of grains of sand; another larva of the same species who'd fashioned his protection out of minute sticks so he looked like a stick insect. Both obliged by poking their tiny heads out to investigate the invaders. The creature that most fascinated A was a diving beetle that shot to the surface to catch an air bubble in his bum, and then retreated to the bottom of the puddle to breathe the air he'd collected using the bubble as a kind of snorkel.

We lazed in the sun on the rocks for a while, and then began the climb back. T & I set off first, her adapting her adolescent frisk graciously to my 70 year old tempo. We discussed plans for Tuesday, even watching the trailer of the movie she wants us to see. Then she stopped short and peered into the bush off the track. I joined her and saw the figure of a man, arms waving around manically. We continued on, me somewhat apprehensive about this stranger in the bush.

Then my son appeared from the undergrowth with blood pouring from a head wound and pooling round his eye. Panic from me. An eager attempt to photograph the blood from T. Calm from him: “It's all right mum. Head wounds always bleed heaps.” When he cleared the blood away there was a small puncture-wound in his head where the thorn of the attacking vine had penetrated. The stranger in the bush was him, trying to untangle himself from his assailant, as he and A shortcutted from zag to zig.

I continued my plodding way up the track, resting on a rock, a tree stump, and a mossy fallen tree. We drove back up the mountain, satisfying our hunger with bananas, and then the after-walk-feast of chips and tomato sauce on white bread, followed by a hot cuppa.

Yet again the attempt to kill Nanny Meg, this time by steepness, had failed. In fact I emerged from the attempt smug with a sense of achievement and with that delightful feeling of fatigue resting smoothly behind my face.




With some hesitation I link this post to Jo's Monday Walks, which seem to be predominantly urban. I hope readers can enjoy a bit of bushwalking as well as street-or-garden-or-coastline walking.