All posts filed under: travel

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 …

Nepal 2: From one jeep to another, via 3 Buddhas

Did you miss previous post Nepal 1? Anyway, 2 Mums, 2 sons, 4 backpacks, 8 boots and 8 walking poles got into a jeep, leaving smoggy Kathmandu, intent on fresh hilly adventures. For a whole 15 minutes. Until there was a loud noise from under the car, and the clutch stopped clutching. So we all got out, and were sent up the road to a conveniently-placed shiny Buddhist temple, with 3 huge Buddhas. “If they can’t fix the jeep within 45 minutes, we get another jeep,” promised our guide. Fair enough. ‘Go with the flow’ is an essential mantra for travel in a developing country, and I’m happy to say I’m generally pretty good at it. Plus how could we not be grateful and inspired by these spiritual creations? There were no tourist faces around either, just locals doing their daily prayer practices. I wouldn’t have described myself as particularly religious, but I was moved to tears at the sight of young and old family members walking clockwise round the figures, whispering affirmations or blessings. Then …

Nepal 1: Kathmandu, I love your charismatic chaos

Above our cheap rooftop terrace (less than $100 for 3 nights for 2 rooms for 4 of us), beyond the dusty haze, tower the Himalayas. Supposedly. Because we never saw them from this busy, dirty, earthquake-cracked city, where pavements disappear, tarmac is intermittent, and power poles are a wire labyrinth. We landed safely though, ate multiple samosas from a streetside seller, admired grafitti, and did a little mandatory sightseeing. Just walking around the local tourist district of Thamel and older parts of the city was culture shock enough for my son ’18’, blessed as we are to live in a beautifully natural part of Australia: And the power poles; I just couldn’t get over the power poles. Nepal is in the Top Ten poorest countries on earth, with 29.3 million people squashed into a country 53 times smaller than Australia; almost a million live in Kathmandu itself, which sprawls through a valley my travel buddy can remember being full of rice fields 25 years ago… Of course, the victims of urban sprawl are the environment, …

Saying yes to a surprising adventure with my teenage son after final exams

By the time you’re reading this, we’ll be at the airport. By ‘we’, I mean teenage son and I; he towering above me, and thus carrying 2 extra kilos for me in his backpack. Where are we going you wonder? Well I can’t quite believe my surf-addicted ’18’ has agreed to this, but he did, so we’re off to trek in Nepal! Remember the stressful exams and dessert-eating he’s we’ve just been through? All the weeks days hours of study he we sat through to get this burden of his our school life finished  forever? Somehow we clawed our way across the challenge, and now a new chapter awaits. But first, a little thing called ‘Schoolies’ here in Australia has to happen. We live near the Gold Coast/Surfer’s Paradise, where approximately 22,000 teenagers descend for a week of festivities and alcohol-fuelled celebrations, renting out every hotel, motel, Airbnb, and dodgy villa they can find, determined to party relentlessly along the 3-kilometre beach strip. *Shudders Some parents send their young adults to Bali, or Thailand as …

The final pictures painted by Tasmania herself

Good morning Day 3. Let’s hike 19kms, but only carry our heavy packs for the last 2 hours, as we head out along Cape Pillar, then back. It’s a deal. Let’s look at the grand, and the tiny. Deal. Along the way, we pass ‘story seats’; beautifully-designed places to stop and share a Nature + Art experience, with accompanying notes in the award-winning guide book (I designated myself the Narrator, and am forcing myself to not tell you a hundred fascinating facts about some of these views). We went through a variety of landscapes, saw three black snakes (all venomous yes: either Tigers or Copperheads), and relished the lightness of our daypacks. Then we saw a wombat! It was SO big, and we got so close; it just squatted there yawning and looking sideways at us; it reminded me of ’17’, when he’s come home very late from a party, and just wants to be left alone, but could also maybe handle a snuggle and watching a film in bed, eating a late brekky before …

Let these pictures paint a thousand words

Tasmania, I love you. And so do my three friends. You are wild, fresh, magnificent, and pretty much pristine. Your vistas are incredible, but oh boy do your boardwalks and ascents make big demands on calf muscles and over 50 bodies. Your lunch views suck, but we dealt with it. Our 15kg packs felt heavier and heavier as the day progressed, yet your beauty compelled us on. Plus there was nowhere else to go but forward anyway, so I tried to focus on the big picture, and small details too, like moss, or wombat poo (they only do it every 16 days, and it’s kinda cubed). Then we saw you, rising out of the bush like an oasis: Hut Two. We’d made the 11kms of Day Two of the Three Capes Track! Another day, another architecturally designed complex, including a viewing platform with telescope (but still no fridges or hot showers). There was a cold shower, but I’d rather stay grubby (or use a quick body wipe). The sunset skies were stunning. And good news: …

How to sleep (or not sleep) with a man in a cabin in the Tasmanian wilderness

So we took nearly 2 hours to walk 4.5kms on the first day of the Three Capes Track because we kept stopping to pee and/or take photos. Finally we arrived though, and here’s G49 (the birthday girl) perfecting her “Please-stop-taking-more-photos-for-your-blog” pose. The ‘huts’ were fantastic: built less than 2 years ago, all timber and colorbond (very typical Australian architecture), with stunning views, and well-equipped stainless steel kitchens (no fridges, plus you must bring all your own meals, and take out all your rubbish). Yoga mats and a foam roller were also provided, plus a pile of boardgames and packs of cards. But the best thing of course, was walking around without your pack!  We were welcomed and briefed by the ranger, who gave us a history of the site, the latest weather update, and an orientation re the next day’s walking (11kms). It all felt super organised and well-designed. Except for the sleeping arrangements. You see, up to 48 people can book to walk the track at one time, and the rangers assign the same numbered …

Starting the Three Capes Track adventure in Tasmania

I’m back from the wilds of Tasmania! And clearly WE MADE IT. But oh my goodness was it a long, hard slog. We met in Hobart, and spent a night comparing pack sizes, being a bit giggly with both excitement and nerves. Three women over 50, and one about to turn- hence this walk, which she organized brilliantly. We Ubered to Port Arthur, from where we had to catch a 2pm ferry to the track drop off point; and so began the first of several ‘incidents’. You see, there’s me in that first selfie, quite happily thinking I’m going on a max. 15 minute boat ride on flat calm water, all happy happy with my dear friends. Till we find out it’s actually about an hour long, we go right out to the edge of the cape to spot wildlife, and it’s so rough and wet that they automatically provide all passengers with full length head-to-toe red capes. Anyway, we survived; we did see a sea eagle’s nest (over 30 years old), and spot some albatrosses; …