The Pines, the Portal and the Parallel Universe!

STOP PRESSTragically, the Sugar Pine forest was burnt in the horror bushfire season of 2019/20. The Sugar Pine walk has been closed pending removal of the trees which are a danger to visitors.  I hope this glimpse into my past experience inspires readers to get out there NOW and explore Australia while you can.  Don’t leave it – tomorrow may be too late. 

Sugar Pine Walk or Portal?

Sugar Pine Walk, Bago State Forest, New South Wales
Sugar Pine Walk, Bago State Forest, New South Wales

I’m convinced the Bago State Forest has a portal into another world. Or at the very least, to a parallel universe …

Travel 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.  There you’ll find yourself 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.  Not that there are too many sounds under the pines with a canopy so far above you could break your neck trying to spot it!

Walker in the Woods, Sugar Pine Walk, Bago State Forest
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.

Where are the Sugar Pines from?

Sugar Pine Bark up close
Sugar Pine Bark up close

Sugar Pines are native to the US Pacific Coast and common in Yosemite National Park, where ‘Yosemite Giant’, at 82 metres (269 feet) high, was the tallest recorded specimen until it succumbed to a bark beetle attack in 2007.

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 one and only visit in March 2013; hardly surprising given their life span in their natural habitat has been estimated as up to 800 years.

It’s a tragedy that this forest was destroyed by fire in the 2019/20 Australian summer – who knows for how much longer these gentle giants would have lived if left to their own devices?

Besides, saying the carpet of pine needles is centimetres thick just doesn’t have quite the same ring to it!

Needles and Pins, Sugar Pines, Bago State Forest
Needles and Pins

How did the Sugar Pines survive?

So what’s a forest of North American timber doing in a country where the ubiquitous eucalypt – only genus in the world found in every habitat from Coastal to Alpine – is far more likely to be the tree du jour?

And when the Sugar Pine is so prized for its timber that a forest would normally be felled long before reaching this stupendous size or age??

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 just shows there really IS magic in the air …

Sky High at Bago State Forest Sugar Pine Walk, New South Wales
Sky High at Bago State Forest Sugar Pine Walk, New South Wales

The Sugar Pine Walk

Wandering the walk – thankfully short, our 13 km Kosciuszko challenge was just a few days ago – 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.

Do they reappear? Not while we’re watching …

… perhaps the portal worked and they were beamed away somewhere??

Childhood obesity solution!

Sugar Pines, Bago State Forest, New South Wales
Sugar Pines, Bago State Forest, New South Wales

Whatever.  I’m too intrigued by the potential solution to the first-world dilemma of childhood obesity to be found in these prodigious pines.

For Native Americans, the sugary sap from the heartwood was a delicacy, with its crisp, candy-like beads.  But the trees had an inbuilt, sure-fire way to prevent overindulgence.

Eat too much, and the natural laxative properties of the sugar would kick in!

Here’s a fat kid solution so obvious I bet no one’s actually thought of it!

Maybe that means there’s a consultancy opportunity heading my way???

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.

And a glimpse of what could be in such a world.

Perhaps that’s the portal’s REAL magic.

Sugar Pine Portal, Sugar Pine Walk, Bago State Forest
The Walker in the Woods at the Sugar Pine Portal

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37 comments

  1. Hi Red,
    Loving your posts, they are fabulous and have given me some wonderful ideas for future road trips.
    Just an update on the Sugar Pine Forest (which I was fortunate enough to experience), was recently burnt during our horrendous bush fire season 19/20. I believe that they are removing them as a) they are a hazard & b) for the timber.
    I think that they are planning a new plantation.
    Thanks again for the great ideas and photos.

    1. Thanks for the update, Wendy! I had heard this area was bushfire affected, but not that the Sugar Pine walk was closed. That’s so sad, but I’m glad I got to do it while it was still looking wonderful. Maybe I’ll see you on the road somewhere?

      1. That would be fabulous!! I am still reading your posts, they are wonderful with a lovely humorous touch. I’m visiting the Scenic Rim and Bald Rock National Park in September after reading your posts. Given that we aren’t able travel OS your posts are enlightening people to travel our great country.

  2. I keep scrolling through your photos to find a favourite to write about – but they are ALL so interesting – even the unnatural mine ones. Those nsw trees are just stunning – what an eye you have for art around us!

  3. Gorgeous area. I hope they leave that patch of forest alone forever:) They seem to be very happy trees. I can only imagine the fantastical creatures that lurk in these trees. What a wonderful experience and change of scenery!!! Always a favorite of mine.

  4. @Tracey – Thank you!
    @Betty – Not something I’ve often experienced downunder – but it sure made the photos easy to take!! Hope your weekend was great too!
    @TMWH – It made a bit of a change from the eucalypt forests of OZ, that’s for sure!
    @Friko – Not sure if these are the highest pines in OZ, but they probably are … the other plantation trees are generally cut WAY before they reach these heights!
    @Angela – Look closely – this is the closest you’ll get to Europe in Australia!!

  5. @Jo – Haha, maybe the aliens ate my brain, huh?!?! I guess if that’s what really happened, I’m not the person to ask!
    @Go Camping – That’s why I’m a firm believer in SLOW travel – but I’ve also got the time to indulge that philosophy!!
    @ladyfi – I defy anyone to take a bad shot here!
    @Greg – Hahaha, only if you chop it down!!!! I know these aren’t native forests, but there’s a place for exotica, right?!

  6. @Sallie – They’re not native in Australia – this was originally part of a plantation! But the effect is the same!!! As for the 1st world issue – nothing’s working so far, so why not try this?!?!
    @Alessandra – The strangest place I’ve seen pines is in Fiji! Like these, they were plantation forests – but who cares when they look this good?!?!
    @Fun60 – Just don’t ask me to try it out myself first!!!!
    @Filip – Yes, I think the sequoia is the tallest – but these will do in the meantime!!
    @Mary – Haha, we had that game too! And with the election thing – downunder, for ‘not always’, read ‘NEVER;!! People call me a cynic, but I don’t believe them …
    @River – It’s just a small part of the marvellous Snowy mountains, where you don’t have to worry so much about being too hot!!! Don’t know about bus tours, but would be surprised if there weren’t …

  7. @Manzanita – HAhaha, that’s my version of dancing!!! Never blame your eyes when you’re looking at MY photos!!!
    @SFlaGuy – HHHMMMmmm… maybe we could set up a plant storage facility down here … I’m sure we’d be able to refrain from cutting them down if someone was paying us!!!!
    @FruitCake – HAhaha, it’d be the pot (belly) calling the kettle black if I were to rage against ADULT obesity!!!! Am SO with you on the chox …
    @ George – For now, at least!! We seem to have found a spot where they’re thriving!

  8. @eileeninmd – If that happens, then my work is done!
    @Andrew – Pine needles make the best garden mulch – no weed would DARE grow through them!! And unnatural though they are, it’d be a shame to get rid of them after all this time!
    @LONDONLULU – Haha, I need a flip-top head!!! I think it’s called ‘photographer’s neck’ – although Pilchard swears it’s called ‘Birdwatcher’s neck’!!!
    @Rose – Don’t feel bad – there’s WAAAAY too many things to see almost for one lifetime, let alone one visit!!!
    @Kath – I can only imagine this one covered in snow … perhaps you’re looking for a magic mirror instead of a portal?? But I’d go for a smaller bum and hair of a colour not requiring enhancement …
    @Iris – No idea how high these ones were – but they may as well have been 82 m because they wouldn’t fit into even a stitched shot!!!

  9. What splendid trees they are. Majestic, magnificent.
    We have pine forests, of course, but they’re puny compared to these giants.

  10. That’s definitely a different looking forest to the ones I normally see whilst out walking!

    The symmetry is fantastic. I do like the smell of a pine Christmas tree, so by that theory I’d love it in there?!

  11. Those photos capture the mystery of those pines, so beautifully. I do love to walk in mysterious forests for the very things you described!

  12. oh my word,i love this forest!

    your photos are incredibly beautiful!

    brilliant post, loved it:)

    happy weekend~

    xx

  13. Amazing trees. I probably would have gone by a place like this and never really noticed it for its beauty – which you have shown here. I tend to think of those sorts of forests to be found overseas, not here. Must spend too much time in a daze, and miss out on the beauty here!

  14. Wow Red, absolutely stunning and from your pics it feels other wordly. I can’t imagine what it must be like to be there in person. In fact, maybe you could have been beamed up without knowing it?!! Love your photos – specially the ‘pins and needles’ one.

  15. “staggering natural beauty” is spot on. I would love to wander along the sugar trail and imagine the “other world” behind and between the pines. I’ll have to see if I can get there via a bus tour.

  16. Awe inspiring and reminds me of home (in our other life in the Pacific Northwest)…..had no idea that sugar pines grew anywhere but Yosemite and parts of Northern Cal and Oregon…we have walked on those carpets of needles many times and I know exactly how you felt!

    Your solution to that first world dilemma, while probably politically incorrect, is hilarious and might just work. Go for it ;>)!

  17. Needles & pins looks almost like my old game of pick-up sticks.

    No planning beyond the next election~always calculated to achieve some self-serving end, hitting on peoples soft spots, but not often bringing about the greater good they claim to be working for.

    Portal to~conceive of other possible worlds, in the abstract, yes. ~Mary

  18. Please – take all our beautiful trees and keep them safe before we cut them all down. I have been to Yosemite and except for the very spooky alignment of the trees in your photos, it looks exactly like this.

  19. Awesome shots of something that is, as you note, decidedly “unorstraylyan”. You did give me a start with your mention of obesity and I was grateful to see, when I re-read your story properly that you were talking specifically about childhood – I am so enjoying this price-reduced chocolate easter bunny…

  20. Please – take all our beautiful trees and keep them safe before we cut them all down. I have been to Yosemite and except for the very spooky alignment of the trees in your photos, it looks exactly like this.

  21. Ah, fantastic trees! I love seeing pines anywhere, you got some beauties in all their shaded and lit glory! (Love that shot into the blue skies, hope your neck was OK after:))

  22. This is interesting. I started to scroll down the first photo and hadn’t hit the ground yet. The top half looked just like drapery with the folds, try it. OK OK Perhaps it because it’s 5AM or maybe it’s just my bad eyes.

    Good shots from that angle. Tree pictures are so inviting.

  23. No wonder there are so many old fairy tales featuring being lost in the wood, the scary forests, Ents uprising, etc. I wish I could enter this portal and emerge a few IQ points higher but with smaller thighs….

  24. G’day Red, I feel great shame that we didn’t go there when I was still in NSW, you are right this is sheer magic. Absolute sheer magic. Thank you so much for these incredible photos to amaze over.
    R.

  25. I remember being in a pine plantation when I was younger. Absolutely nothing else was growing there. There was not a sound and everything was completely still. Not a bird to be heard, not a rustle anywhere. The sounds of voices were muffled by the acoustics of a thick mulch of pine needles. A little creepy, not ecological great but yes, they can be beautiful.

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