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Under the Banyan Tree

You stand under two monstrous trees, long, twisted limbs and hanging roots creating a canopy above you and walls around.

“What are we doing here?” you ask.

Your guide looks at you, longer than is comfortable. “Time. You want to know its secrets, yes?”

“Yes. I want to capture it. Can you help?”

“Do you know how old these trees are?”

The trees do look ancient. You wonder if they’re older than the university building above you, noticing how its columns echo the shape of the banyan. Yet in contrast, its hard brickwork shines brightly in the sun, while the banyan creates a cool shade and a sense of calm.

“For nearly one hundred and fifty years these trees have grown here.” He waves his hand, and you feel as if a string is pulling the middle of your back, drawing you through time.

The world around you glows in technicolour and in a blur you see decades of parkgoers whir past you, escaping the built environment, exploring the cool depths of the tree’s root systems and climbing high into their branches towards a more filtered, magical light.

“This particular tree, an Indian variety, was planted here in the 1800s by botanists to provide respite from the hot sun for those enjoying the gardens.”

You look more closely at the people who lounge before you in the tree’s shade. These aren’t picnickers of your time. The women wear long, sweeping dresses, and don elaborate hats. The men wear caps and ride by on antique looking bicycles, stopping to talk to the elegantly dressed young ladies. Some sneak deeper into the shady pockets to scratch love poems on the roots.

Your blood tingles, yes! You weren’t sure time travel was possible, but here’s the proof!

“Generations of people living and visiting Brisbane have enjoyed time under these trees, telling stories and sharing secrets.”

One of the children reaches down towards you, hanging from a tree branch by their knees. He offers you a piece of banyan bark, waving it in your face until you take it.

You brush the child away, frustrated. “This helps me master time, how?”

“With time, wisdom grows, but it must anchor somewhere: a mind, a family, a community. Like the banyan tree, knowledge spreads its roots down through time, anchoring itself again and again to become stronger and more stable.”

The Edwardian picnic scene slowly fades away and you’re left blinking in the shadows, the carvings in the bayan roots of lovers promises, swimming before your eyes. “Was that one of the lessons?” you ask.

Your guide just says, “This way,” and begins to walk down the path.

You look at the piece of bark you hold in your hand. Scratched into its surface, you see a love heart with an arrow piercing through it. The symbol glows bright red before the heart fades, leaving just the pointed arrow. A clue to mastering time? Not sure what this means, you place it in your pocket for safekeeping.

You follow your guide, hoping the next lesson will help you decode the first.


Go to The Bamboo Thicket: Walk straight into the gardens, past picnickers, overflowing garden beds and shady trees, before coming to a path on your left that leads into a deep thicket of bamboo.