Bellingen. Thursday 5th December.

I’m sat on the balcony of our Cottage, Glocca Morra here in Bellingen overlooking the river. The sun is setting and the birds are fidgeting, trying to find the best roosting spots. There’s a large Kookaburra sat in a tree along side me, laughing occasionally at some secret joke.

Yesterday we drove back to Dorrigo and visited the  Godwana Rain Forrest and I was keen to explore the world famous ‘Sky Walk’ across the canopy. Unfortunately the ‘ World Famous Sky Walk ‘ was about 50 foot of rickety boardwalk but the view was spectacular. What was even more exciting, were the sounds of the Forest, the calls of bird’s unseen and mysterious, hidden amongst the foliage which stretched as far as the eye could see.

Jaki took the walk through the Forest as far as the Glade where there was a stunning Picnic area and viewing point, but due to its location, some 20 minutes walk from the car park, there wasn’t a soul there.

I stayed on the Sky walk and in between the interruption of other people invading my space, I listened to the calm and looked at the view for almost an hour.

Thanks to the interactive display in the visitor centre I can now tell you I saw the Golden Bower Bird, as it flitted in and out of the trees, it’s gold and black plumage a stunning display against the Miriad  greens of the canopy.

I also heard a cat bird whose call for all the world sounds like a Cat Meowing.

There was also a very fine Beetle that settled on the tower and when I tried to film it, it flew away displaying green and gold wings that shimmered in the sunlight like stardust in a Disney cartoon. Despite the disappointment at the size of the walkway, the experience was very emotional and I’m glad we made the trip.

Not so ‘Danger Falls, a water fall that had more flies than water and once it had been photographed, was best forgotten.

We rounded off the day with a BBQ and a few drinks before watching Borgen on TV, which is a real pisser as I’m recording this at home so didn’t really want to know what was happening.

Today we took up the offer to use the canoes that come with the cottage and we made our way down to the waters edge where they are stored. However, when i turned the first one over, there was the biggest spider I’ve ever seen in the bow and no amount of shaking or prodding with sticks would make him come out, like a Somali pirate he took over our craft and refused to give it up. Jaki and I were too scared to set sail with him aboard after reading ‘The Life of Pi’ so we abandoned this idea and drove to a professional Canoe Hire centre about 5 kilometres down the road.

Like most things here this turned out to be a total pile of pants.

First, we parked in the wrong place despite there being no other human for 20 miles, I had to move my car.

We paid but had to buy a dry bag to put our things in.

Then we were shown to our craft by a work experience guy who knew absolutely nothing about Canoes.

He asked Jaki. ‘What size life jacket do you wear’?

Well usually its a 9 but today I’m a bit swollen so it may be a 14? Baffoon.

Once she was strapped into this thing, just the top of her head showed, which was unfortunate as later in the journey I managed to hit her there with my oar.

Spotty then asked me what size I was and I helpfully suggested I might need an extra large if Jaki was a large?

So, he gave me the same size jacket as Jaki as they ‘didn’t have any bigger ones’.

We got in our two man Canoe and he gave us both a paddle and a shove and we found ourselves out in the middle of the river. now usually this wouldn’t have been a problem except that at this point a squall blew up and what had historically been calm, still water decided to become choppy and difficult. (We found out later that it was tidal and the tide was on its way out).

The other challenge we faced soon became obvious in that Jaki may teach kids with Dyslexic tendencies but I dint know she suffered with it also, as she couldn’t tell her left from her right she insisted on paddling (or pedalling as we liked to call it) on the wrong side which meant we spent most of our time crashing from bank to bank like a deranged Dave Prowse the Green Ross Code Man.Half our two hour trip was spent trying to get around the first bend, against a force eight head wind.

Spotty (honest, this was his real name ) also gave Jaki a short paddle that wasnt long enough to reach the water so she only paddled on one side.

Once we got going we avoided a fallen tree and gave a wide birth to a log that looked very much like a Crocodile which seemed to be following us up stream.

We took a route suggested by the YTS lad in the hope of seeing the now infamous Koala, but as they don’t swim very well, we felt certain they wouldn’t frequent the trees that hung over a river and our Koala count remains at Zero.

Once back at the launch pad, Jaki advised me to ‘stick my paddle in the river bed’ to stop the canoe from moving whilst she got out.

For some one who doesn’t get ‘Slapstick Comedy’ she did a great impression of Norman Wisdom with one foot in the Canoe and another on the bank as the canoe started parting company with the bank and her legs spread wider and wider until she fell in the river.

Apparently that was my fault as I didn’t keep the boat still!

So, wet but happy we returned our paddles and our extra large life jackets and made our way back home.

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