All posts filed under: adventures

I’m crap at transitions, & ’empty nest’ is a big one (Part Two)

So as you saw in Part One, I have a new dream of moving onto a community in the rainforest, 20 minutes from my current cute Australian town. But I was struggling with anxiety. ‘What’s underneath it all?’ the therapist asked me. ‘You sound informed, supported, capable, ready- what’s going on? What are you scared of?’ I sat, twisting the sodden tissue, cursing my sensitive stomach while I dug down through the layers… And came face to face with a desperate fear of failure. It just seemed too good to be true, and I couldn’t accept it. I couldn’t believe that after a year of fruitless searching for a rural property, & listening to my growing yearning for a tree change + a sense of community, it had actually fallen into my lap via word of mouth, perfect timing, and feasible financial gymnastics. I couldn’t delight in it. I had to worry about the details, and foresee as many problems as possible. It almost felt like my duty to do so, even though it didn’t …

I’m crap at transitions, & ’empty nest’ is a big one (Part One)

Most of you round here know I’m 53, & that my darling son ’19’ moved out a few months ago. Thank goodness he hasn’t gone far: 10 minutes up the road to his cousin’s place. When I was 19, I emigrated to Australia, where I still am, and didn’t see my Mum for years… no mobiles, no internet, barely even a phone… I just used to write her once a month. Or so. If I felt like it. But anyway, now I’m here, at a similar point, and as I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, am thinking about moving out of the suburbs onto an ‘intentional community’ in the forest. I’ve been looking at real estate on and off for a year, knowing that the ’empty nest’ was coming; I grieved it when it actually happened, and of course found things to celebrate about it too- no need to cook dinner or keep the fridge fully stocked/minimal washing loads/peace and quiet/no car shuffling in the driveway/a tidy house and clean bathroom- the list goes …

From fires to flooding, what the hell? Welcome to Australia

It’s raining as I type: drops smashing on my tin roof, loud enough to drown the radio. Two weeks ago we were sweltering under a drought, with bushfire smoke lingering, giving Melbourne the worst quality air in the world for a couple of days. But then the rains came. So yesterday I went for a 3-hour bush hike, prepared to get soaked for the sheer relief of feeling moisture in the air again. All around me, trees sucked up precious water, as the creek thundered. The frogs and bugs were so vocal it made conversation difficult, and even the odd leech helped me feel like I was in a tropical rainforest once more. Our beloved bush has been SO dry, SO brittle, SO stressed; in some places it sadly still is. But we’ve been blessed by rain… and now we have too much! We’re flooding: cars being swept off causeways, shops inundated, roads closed, homes damaged, and people’s lives wrecked once more. We have a cyclone in Western Australia, and flash flooding all down the …

Should I move from the suburbs to a forest community? I need advice

I live in a small country town near the seaside in Australia, and am essentially a small-town girl. I love cities, and have spent years living in both Sydney and Adelaide, but I do love the friendly simplicity of cycling round a limited number of streets and shops, seeing familiar faces. I’ve been lucky enough to own my current home since 2005, so my share is now way bigger than the bank’s- hurray! I live left of the town centre, down a quiet yet popular street, within a 7-minute drive to the beach. And since ’19’ flew the nest, I’ve been house-hunting. Yes, I’m just one more statistic: downsizing now that I’m at home alone. Until three months ago, I’d been looking at properties almost every week. Then I suddenly realised I felt like I was trying waaaaay too hard, for no result. So I stopped. I took a deep breath, sanded and oiled the front stairs, did a gardening blitz, then chilled out. I’m very blessed: my elevated home faces a small mountain, so …

Final Part Three of my short story ‘Earth’

Weekend reading? Part One and Part Two just a click away (500 words each). And here’s the third and final, based in Kakadu after my recent incredible off-track bush adventure: Their palms scraped skin across branches and boulders as they launched into the dark ravine. Down, down, down they slithered, heaving their bags ahead of them, legs protesting at the speed and brutality of the descent. A spiky pandanus drew blood across Kelly’s cheek, and Sam’s ankle twisted hard in the scrabbling, but at last they burst through the scrub to touch the smooth rock edges of the river again. Kelly’s whole body trembled as she stripped naked and jumped into the creek, gulping mouthfuls of water as she cooled down and almost cried with relief. ‘This is better than any Christmas ever, even as a kid,’ she yelled. Sam paused, then went on ahead to check the way forward, barely stopping to refill her bottle and guzzle. She returned with heavy steps. ‘I don’t wanna say this, but there’s another overhang coming up, so we …

Here’s Part Two of shortlisted story ‘Earth’

But did you miss Part One?? Don’t do that! It’s HERE Part Two: … Then Sam stopped, hands on hips, and squinted into the distance. ‘Shit, I don’t think we can get through along here after all. Let me look at the map and compass again.’ She frowned at the contour lines on the creased page, telling her a story of steep cliffs and gullies, without revealing the safest route. ‘Sorry honey, but the only way we’ll get past that massive overhang is to tackle the stone country along the top of the ridge. It’s a bit like a jigsaw puzzle up there, which you can never solve. Brace yourself.’ Kelly clenched her jaw for a second. ‘I never knew off-track walking was quite this tough,’ she admitted. ‘Especially for old ladies like us.’ Sam smiled at the familiar joke, but her forehead worried, as they tightened waist straps and headed away from the water without looking back. Within thirty minutes, thighs screamed with lactic acid as they scrambled over boulders and fallen tree branches, …

Bushwalking off-track in Kakadu? I needed a snorkel (Part 3)

Where am I/what am I doing? PART 1 HERE & PART 2 HERE With over 20,000 square kilometres of bush in Kakadu National Park, we chose to stay as close as possible to waterways; the thrill of simply filling my bottle from the fresh creek did not wane. When we did have to ascend to the escarpment to get past an overhang, I noticed how instantly relieved I was when we came back to the river’s edge. Imagine those first white explorers, setting out from Sydney to see what they could find… the bush both delights and terrifies me, and water is an essential comfort. As you can see, the views were stunning, and these are all unedited, with no filters, just snapped on my smartphone. But I haven’t told you about the Big River Crossing Fiasco have I? *sighs So ‘off-track walking’ means there’s no path; you have to meander/explore/experiment to get ahead. Luckily my companion had lots of energy and enthusiasm for both map-reading and ‘I’ll-just-leave-my-pack-here-and-see-if-we-can-get-through’ reconnaissance missions. You can see it’s not an …

Bushwalking off-track in Kakadu? Don’t forget your key (Part 2)

Where am I/what am I doing? PART 1 HERE For 10 seconds, I ran the newspaper headline through my mind: “53-yr old woman succumbs to heat exhaustion while bashing through the untamed Australian wilderness, within 100 metres of fresh water & a clearly-marked track.” No. That is absolutely NOT going to happen. But shit: my water bottle IS empty; this backpack IS damn heavy; it IS over 30 degrees C (86F); & we are definitely NOT going the right way. ‘What are you doing G’ ask the readers of bone&silver again? Well PART 1 is here again. When I was offered the chance for this adventure, I jumped. Kakadu National Park is vast, and some locations even require a permit and key to a locked gate, as the Management team control the balance between tourism and protecting the diverse ecology and wildlife population. But guess what? We had both permit and key. So with 4WD vehicle hired, 12 meals faithfully dehydrated (incl a gourmet vegetarian gluten-free pasta dinner), and backpacks crammed (but with restraint this …

Bushwalking off-track in Kakadu? Pack a spare set of legs (Part 1)

I’m pretty fit, fabulous & fierce for Almost-53, though I say it myself. And last year I trekked in Nepal for a couple of weeks, so I certainly enjoy a challenge… But my most recent adventure was HARDER, even a little scary to be honest, and I didn’t even have to leave Australia. I did fly to Darwin though, up in the Northern Territory, which is somewhere I’ve always wanted to go, with an experienced bushwalking companion. Where was I going? I was going ‘offtrack’. From the red dirt to the fire-blackened eucalypt trees via fertile billabongs and wetlands, Kakadu National Park covers nearly 20,000 square kilometres, and is World Heritage listed. It’s full of incredible wildlife and plant diversity, plus crocodiles. Like, truly wild, roaming-around-the waterways-doing-their-own-thing crocodiles. These signs are everywhere; it’s an Australian cliché that all our native animals and reptiles are trying to kill us… but sometimes, it’s kinda true! I emigrated to Australia when I was 20; the concept of crocodiles is somewhat foreign to me. But at literally every single creek …

On driving 6 hours West just to discover who’s the boss

I love my part time job, travelling to festivals to perform and entertain. The work is erratic though, so every gig is a financial bonus, rather than my bread-and-butter income. I enjoy the adventure of being on the road, staying in weird and wonderful rooms, or sometimes a billet with a friendly local. Last weekend, my employer/very dear friend ‘W’ and I drove almost 6 hours west of the most easterly point of Australia, over the mountainous dividing range to Bingara, ‘The Gem on the Gwydir’. We were performing at their iconic ‘Orange Festival’, based around the annual harvesting of the orange fruit planted to commemorate the dead local soldiers from WW1 and 2. ‘W’ and I hadn’t seen each other properly for a while, so we talked non-stop almost the whole way there. The road got very winding up through the ranges, with sharp corners slowing us down to 45 or 35kms at times. If I hadn’t been driving, I’d have thrown up for sure. We checked in to our [shared] room at the …