It is my first night in Tasmania in May. I am sitting having dinner in front of the fire in my cabin at Huon Bush Retreats with Paul, who built this wonderful eco forest hideaway.There is a tap on the glass door to my balcony and a gorgeous brush-tailed possum is eyeing me hungrily (and my dinner). I open the door, and in comes Harvey, a very friendly wild possum, hand reared as an orphan by Paul, shortly afterwards to be followed by Neave. Both enjoy a little snack and a tummy tickle before they run off into the night. My happiness knows no bounds.
Paul has been an environmental campaigner since 1976. He was part of the seven-year fight to save the Franklin River, alongside David Bellamy and Bob Brown. In the late 1980s he and his partner Michael purchased the top of Mount Misery in Southern Tasmania and applied conservation covenants to protect the natural values forever. Exploring the best way to the summit, they climbed the mountain from the north and lunched at the top enjoying the views. As they descended the southern slopes, the trees suddenly parted and they found themselves standing on the edge of a small grassy cliff top. Paul says: “The land dropped to a stream 40 metres below us, rising again on the other side of the gully. Here was a rainforest of sassafras, dogwood and myrtle. Was that a hidden waterfall we could hear somewhere amongst the trees? Towering 60 metres above was a trio of Eucalyptus regnans trees. As we stood in awe of the scene before us, an eagle soared in and landed. “Wouldn’t it be great if we could buy this and share it with the community?” he thought. “Thirty minutes later we arrived at the public road. We climbed over the gate and I turned for one last look at the rainforest gully, still just visible in the distance behind us. There on the gate was a “For Sale” sign!