This New Years eve was perhaps the strangest of my life. It began when I accepted an invitation to what I thought was a small gathering of friends, and friend of friends, at a country house in Balingup. It turned out to be a sizable party with costumes, music, champagne, glow in the dark Frisbee, tents, food, dancing, singing, open hearts and fine new friends. I did however spend the first early hours of 2012 horribly lost in the bush with a man named Apples.
It was a beautiful night, cool but not cold, with welcome moments of fine drizzle. At various times in the night I wandered off alone to sit and enjoy the stars and nature. It's been awhile since I've been out in the country and I was thoroughly enjoying my little wilderness appreciation party time-outs. So when the party decided to go on a bush walk up the neighboring hill I was more than keen. Group cohesion of a gathering that large, not to mention extremely intoxicated, is quite possibly impossible. We party goers managed to make it half way up the hill, an impressive fete of organisation and yelling, though now this had planted a seed. My new goal of the evening was to reach the top of the hill. Taking the group with me was clearly a no go, they were very content in their current position and I was certain there would be no further ascent that night. Then Apples appeared out of the dark.
Apples had been absent most of the night trekking through the bush, climbing trees and communicating with the nocturnal animalia . At around 1 or 2 am he had found his way back to the party and stopped in at our hillside location, welcomed with a chorus of 'Hi Apples'. Satisfied with the state of thing he about turned and set off once more; 'Bye Apples'. This was just the go-getter I needed and so I sprang up and took off after him into the bush.
We climbed in the dark, me with my hands stretched out for obstacle alert, Apples strangely confident with hands in pocket. I was wearing a pink glowing bracelet (of course) but I soon abandoned it, leaving it like a beacon on slender branch jutting out from a tree stump. Onward and upward we trekked, tripping, stumbling and charging face first into bush and branch; this we found it very amusing. I couldn't say if we ever did reach the top, I certainly hope so.
At 'the top' we rested. Looking up at the black silhouette of the tree tops against the luminous cloudy night, we chatted about life. Before long it was time to head on home, and so we began the descent down the hill and it was at this time that our combined incompetence came into play. Neither of us we discovered, have even the snippet of a sense of direction nor any conceivable navigational skills to speak of, and yet we both hiked on confidently in the belief that the other was an authority.
It didn't take long for us to realise we were lost. It is hilarious now to look back and see how each orienteering choice made, logically or instinctively decided upon, only lead us further and further away from home. Always optimistic, Apples had a plan. He could produce a surprisingly loud and clear bushman call; COOOEEE. The call, which I requested he make every half an hour or so, was never answered. It echoed across the landscape and was acknowledged only by my standard response of; "that really bums me out".
So it was that I spent the remainder of the night and the beginning of the new year climbing over logs, falling down holes, scaling fences, encountering brambles and trudging through mud, all in a full length white gown. It sounds like a sorry affair, but I have to say I enjoyed myself the entire time. There was moments of niggling worry but there was just no point in dwelling on it. The country side was far too beautiful and we often took time to sit in the dark and listen to the Banjo frogs in the dams and to the Kangeroo who seemed to be always around but never seen.
By the time the sun came up we had found a road. Not our road, nor one we even knew. We walked up and down a long stretch of this road but would lose confidence in our chosen direction and so turn around and go the other way. Eventually we swallowed our pride and concluded that we needed external help. On one property it appeared they must have had a New Years gathering much like ours. There were tents and caravans dotted across a paddock. We approached a small blue tent and Apples called through the fabric;
"I'm terribly sorry to bother you but we're very lost."
And so we were rescued. James, a middle aged sweet heart on a New Years (romantic from what I could see) trip down south with his wife, put some clothes on and drove us back to the party. Our friends, filthy and still festive surmised our adventure instantly with a definitive; "You retards!"