In a Land of Giants pt. 1


It’s not gibberish, it’s German.

(n) the feeling of being alone in the woods.

It’s one of those beautiful words that the English language would do well to borrow. It’s also what you’d expect when you visit the Bago State Forest, or more specifically, the spectacular Sugar Pine Walk.

Shy of 20 something photographers gathered to venture out to the hidden gem that is Laurel Hill. Four cars, a lot of cameras, and a small town called Tumut - far over the horizon.

To many others, this trip would’ve been seen as a great opportunity to shoot and mingle with some other incredible photographers and creatives. It was.
However for me, there was much more to this trip than just that. It was well needed time away from the drag, and the cycle of Sydney life, and a perfect opportunity to spend quality time away with my better half, Eleanor, and the third wheel (sorry) - my newly returned best mate Rhys.

As our trip began, and Sydney became a speck in the mirror, I could swear the air became clearer, easier to breathe. The sky opened up, with a furthered horizon. A cloud lifted from my head, a weight gone, from my shoulders, and my eyes opened and so importantly - focused. 

I was one of the few first timers to Laurel Hill, the home of the Sugar Pine Walk, so the only expectations I had were what i’d seen on Instagram and from other photographers that had been before.
The main inspiration for this trip was the freak snowstorm that happened a few weeks prior. Snow falling to 800m, and lots of it, meant the Sugar Pine Walk was transformed into a Narnia-esque winter dreamscape. A wonderland. However with the rising temperatures and the rainfall before we headed, the prospect of snow quickly disappeared - along with my dreams of Waldeinsamkeit. 
Camera shutters, directions being thrown around, noise, laughter, chatter. Fantastic things, though things that would crowd that feeling of isolation. Or so I thought.

Honestly, it didn’t bother me much. The business, the hustle and bustle. The creative vibes flowing were high. With such an awesome group, in an incredible place, it was bound to be an incredible time in the forest regardless. Excitement followed - and we were only just leaving the caravan park on route to the forest.

Winding forest roads, fog, the dying light.

Dirt roads, mud, a heavy camera bag.

Two steps into the trees, one look up.

No expectation, no hashtag, no finely combed photograph of a model amongst the trees could have done any justice to seeing those pines with two human eyes.

Ineffable awe, in a land of giants.

The shutter clicks, the noise, the chatter. It all slowly disappeared and blended seamlessly into the trees.

I ventured down the walk itself, to the sides amongst the pines, over stumps and under logs. So many enormous, ancient trees, with only the odd second of someone else walking amongst them.

Further, further the noises became, as the light at the top of the hill came nearer. What would be up there, at the end of the path? I envisaged being atop a ridge, looking over a vast valley of pines and fog. Endless nature, untouched and as ancient as the titans that surround me.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Death. Emptiness.

I regret not taking photos of the emptiness beyond the walk. It was depressing. A field of splinters and stumps, crudely torn apart by the muddy yellow excavators and logging machinery that lay scattered amongst the dead valley. A reminder of the destruction humans can cause. So casually uprooting the trees that would remember many a generation before our own.

A turn of the heel, and the despair was out of sight.
However, long yet till it were to be out of mind.

Fading light, and the final walk back down the path to where we came.

(n) the feeling of being alone in the woods.

I thought about that word again…

The Sugar Pine Walk is a small protected area amongst a large logging area. Perhaps it’s not the us, but rather the ancient pines of that area, that feel most alone in the woods.

New friends, laughter and fun times, a few good flicks.

An epic trip in all - yet only the beginning of ours.

The next morning, whilst the rest of the group headed back to the forest, Rhys, Eleanor and myself ventured on, through the back roads, and onto the Snowy Mountains. That my friends, is where we were truly in a land of giants.

This post is Part 1 of a three part series about a little bit of time spent away with two of the people I hold dearest. Cramped car trips, smelly snowboard boots.
Snow covered valleys, crisp mountain air.
A time, a memory; a story to be told.

Click here for Part 2
Click here for Part 3

To check out the other works from the trip to Laurel Hill, search #Intothemud16 on instagram, or check out these profiles!

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