All posts tagged: bushwalking

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 …

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 …

It’s a Hallmark construction yes, but has layers to it still

My son ’17’ and I don’t do Mother’s Day; he did give me a hug, and we acknowledged that lots of other people around the world were celebrating it together. But this is the image I shared on my Facebook page that morning (no source credit sorry). “Motherhood” is such a loaded concept, with so many differing expectations, and I was grateful to be able to offer my tiny input into considering some of the non-dominant paradigms as illustrated. Then I went and got sweaty on a bush walk with the Tasmanian tiger who recently turned 50 and made us all do that bloody 4-day hike! It was so good to be in the forest, and commune with Mama Earth. We started by looking at the waterfall we were walking to the base of: The track was clear but narrow, and obviously heading down, but everything is easy among the trees when you’re NOT carrying a 15kg back pack: We got to the base after scrabbling up rocks like ninjas middle-aged ninjas, where recent rains …

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; …

Freaky Friday: Why did I just mow the lawn with a backpack on?

I think my neighbours are used to me doing slightly weird things (like walking on stilts around the garden, or dancing like a mad woman with earphones in so no one else can hear the music). Yesterday was probably my peak though: I mowed all my lawns while wearing a 50-litre, approx 5kg loaded backpack. Why? Because I’m going on a 4-day hike in Tasmania, and I need to get fitter and stronger ASAP. Admittedly, the bag was only half-loaded, but I still think I deserve a 10/10 for effort, yes? Hit that Like button! We fly to Hobart on Saturday, then begin the walk on Sunday afternoon– here’s the link to the Three Capes Track if you’re curious. My beloved friend ‘G49’ turns 50 when we finish, and is a huge fan of bush hiking, so 3 valiant friends are going along with her. We have to carry everything except a tent (hurray), and sleep in fancy-ish huts at night (no hot showers or fridges, but nice mattresses and views apparently). I can do …

The return of ‘normal programming’: Me Monday catch up

Hi. What have I got for ‘Me Monday’ you wonder? I’m back from the burrow of that Permaculture Paradise, and ready to reconnect with all the Readers who were just yawning at so many photos of trees and veggie gardens. Well, H is here from Melbs, so that’s been fun- Summer has given us a last hit of humid steaminess, and we actually had to lock ourselves in the living room with the aircon for a couple of days, including dragging two single mattresses onto the floor to get some proper sleep. You could tell who didn’t have aircon around town because they looked sleep-deprived and grumpy; after 3 nights in a row of + 30C, I was praying for the cool change! When I lived in Adelaide a few years ago, we once had 10 days in a row of + 40C (104F) and my tiny garden studio had no aircon; I was ready to kill someone just for a good night’s sleep. In fact, one afternoon I snuck into my landlady’s house (I had my …