- Green Behemoth
Lush. Thick. Rainforest. An old logging road cuts through it, deep into the green flesh – as do the walking trails, rivers, and streams. Not merely trees are cut, but all the soft layers of the intricate living substances of a much larger being.
I have entered within the delicate tissues, fluids, vapours, and features of an enormous and intelligent life-form – of trees and plants, soil and mulch, birds, mammals, reptiles, insects, molluscs, leeches, fungi, microbes, rain, wind, and sun – one gigantic junglific form!
The Ma:mu people call her “Wooroonooran”. I can feel and see why.
My rough path meets a wide stream, a mountain river. Water, python-like, glides over white sands and black stone, surrounded by green walls, alive with eyes and senses. The forest knows I am here. And as I begin floating downstream, I wonder how I taste to her – my sweat, skin, hair, and breath. I am sensing all kinds of aromas and flavours of hers…
F-L-O-A-T-I-N-G… This life, mysteriously flowing in me, is the same one within and around the forest. We are not different. Not separate. If, here and now, I quietly drowned, with my body left unfound, I know that Wooroonooran would treat me well, deftly, quickly, and cleanly. Yet, although generous and of “kind”, not so long ago she encountered unfamiliar men whose ignorance and greed destroyed most of her. She was not so well treated… Today, Wooroonooran is one of the largest “sacred” National Parks in Queensland, yet only a fragment of the great forest that once was “everything”.
The people called “Ma:mu” have lived in these forests for at least 50,000 years. Only a brief while ago, when the wet forests still stretched from coastal beaches up over high mountains, the Ma:mu were among the world’s true jungle dwellers.
These forests are considered “complex” – supporting the most variety of plants and the tallest trees across rugged and varied terrain. The two highest peaks rise in the heart of this region, drawing annual rains of between 8 and 12 meters!
The clan groups of the Ma:mu cultivated an intricate sensitivity and understanding of their forest world. They were regarded as some of the most skillful jungle hunters of the planet.
In the dryer months, the women harvested fruits, yams, herbs, and palm hearts. In wetter months, toxic plants were a staple. Black beans, cycads, and yellow and black walnuts were mashed, soaked and cooked to remove the toxins.
Using boomerangs, spears, and nets, the men hunted brush turkeys, cassowaries, wallabies, snakes, goannas, and fruit bats. The rivers and creeks provided eels, turtles, and fish. Delicious wood grubs and other insects were happily added to the diet.
A system of tracks crisscrossed the rainforests, linking camps and bora (gathering) grounds. The semi-nomadic Ma:mu constructed large circular mia mias (dwellings) using lawyer-vine cane and large fronds and leaves. They also wove baskets, nets, bedding, blankets, and shawls.
The Ma:mu were powerful, astute, and contemplative. Their elders, and “clever” people, were living treasures possessing detailed, highly intelligent wisdom about the green leafy world of the misty mountains where they lived and thrived.
- Buloba Gurubal
Nestled beneath Mount Chooreechillum, the upper reaches of the Bunu Bur-di River have been home to the Yidinji, or Flat Rock, people for tens of thousands of years.
The wide trail out through the valley between the massive brother-sister peaks beautifully communicates how tiny and insignificant we are. Above the thickly rain-forested slopes, on either side of the tall granite slabs of the Wuh-chul Falls, the afternoon’s thunderstorms begin to cluster. Being within the gathering clouds and winds was exhilarating, healing.
Near one of my several campsites in Wooroonooran was a bora ground called “Buloba Gurubal”, or “White Apple Fighting Ground”. Clan disputes were traditionally settled here – with everyone attending and observing – to ensure integrity and fairness. Large feasts usually followed. It was also a place for traditional corroborees and dances. The site is still used today for meetings and ceremonies.
With such unsettled times throughout the world, I felt moved to do the following:
I went before Buloba Gurubal and bowed my head. Then, contemplatively, I walked clockwise around the edges of the grassy site, invoking all the wisdom inherent in the world and beyond. Quietly, on behalf of everyone, everywhere, I spoke the names of places, countries, and our present leaders, offering them all before the elders and ancestors of these oldest cultures of Earth’s humans… right there, where crystalline river waters descend, laughing, from flat rocks in far away skies!
Everyone, everywhere, is becoming increasingly afraid, and none of the usual solutions are stopping the growing fear… But there are the natural contemplative processes and practices of “fearing-no-more”, where the fear is cleanly felt, and released into a connectivity and unity with all of life.
If we transcend the human-fear-world, by fearing-no-more, we, and the world, can become rebalanced and restored to a deep equanimity, and a greater understanding of the broader, richer human experience that is more than merely possible, but is everyone’s birthright. Perhaps, a life of no-chronic-fear is our collective destiny…
Today, I began heading further north toward Daintree, Laura, and Cooktown…