|Sugar Pine Walk, Bago State Forest, New South Wales|
A few hundred metres down Kopsons Road, off the main road between Batlow and Laurel Hill on the South West Slopes of the New South Wales High country, and you're already in a part of Australia that doesn't look anything like anywhere else in Australia.
Then take just a few steps into the forest – and the world as you know it disappears …
For a start, the pine needles – probably inches thick – muffle the sound.
|Walker in the Woods, Sugar Pine Walk, Bago State Forest|
Incidentally, fellow Australians concerned that I've reverted to the distant past by my lapse into the long abandoned imperial measurement system of yesteryear need not fear. I'm just paying homage to the provenance of the magnificent Sugar Pines (Pinus lambertiana) towering above me.
|Sugar Pine Bark|
I'm also paying homage to the great age – greater even than mine – of these spectacular Sugar Pine specimens. Planted in 1928, the trees were still going strong during our March 2013 visit; hardly surprising given their life span in their natural habitat has been estimated as up to 800 years.
Besides, 'centimetres' just doesn't scan …
|Needles and Pins|
And when, despite the notorious Sugar Pine longevity, they're so prized for timber they'd normally be felled long before reaching this stupendous size??
AND when past experience reluctantly informs us that cash-strapped governments aren't always known for planning beyond the next election, let alone leaving a lucrative 2.4 hectare stand of Sugar Pines uncut for 85 years???
Maybe it's just another manifestation of the magic in the air …
|Sky High at Bago State Forest Sugar Pine Walk, New South Wales|
Wandering the walk – thankfully short, our 13 km Kosciuszko challenge only a few days past – through the Sugar Pines, time stands still and the warmth of the day does not penetrate. A family enters the forest behind us, children uncharacteristically quiet, and take a side track.
|Sugar Pines, Bago State Forest, New South Wales|
… perhaps the portal worked for them?!
But I'm too intrigued by the challenge to the first-world dilemma of childhood obesity inherent in these prodigious pines.
An inbuilt mechanism prevented the Native Americans, for whom the sugary sap from the heartwood was a delicacy, from over-indulging in the crisp, candy-like beads.
Because eat too much, and the sugar's laxative properties would kick in!
The fat kid solution is so obvious I bet no one's actually thought of it!
Do I detect a consultancy opportunity coming on???
The staggering natural beauty of this plantation of the largest of the pines is enough to warp time and give the visitor a taste of a universe where things work differently.
|Sugar Pine Portal|
Perhaps that's the portal's REAL magic.