All posts tagged: hiking

More photos from the Australian desert during a silent bushwalking adventure, with brumbies & a camel (Part Two)

Hello folks, and welcome to Part Two of my Yatra photo blog; Part One is here. Remember, a Yatra is a silent, meditative walk, a journey from the quiet heart… Except when it’s not. Wild brumbies galloped down the rocky river bed one night, making me fear for my tent and belongings. A sick-sounding camel moaned its way along the river bank, and the nightly howl of dingoes (both far and near) reminded me that we were out in the Australian desert, a long way from safety and suburbia! Not to mention the sometimes-very-annoying habits of my fellow travellers, particularly snoring. But that’s in another post 🙂 From the big to the small, I loved it. The chance to walk, think, rest, meditate, walk, swim (SO COLD), eat vegetarian food, and walk more, with like-minded folks of all types and ages, was such a blessing. I did one a year ago HERE, and really hope I get to do another next year, and every year after that… Yatra Australia pick different places to explore (this …

Photos from the Australian desert during a silent bushwalking adventure, with a vegetarian cook & dingoes (Part One)

Hello folks, I’m back from the yatra, as calm and settled as can be nowadays. “What’s a yatra”, some of you wonder? This explains it, from the Yatra Australia website: “A yatra is a unique journey providing a special environment to engage with and enquire deeply into the potential of ‘human awakening.’ In the company of like-minded people, it takes place within some of the most pristine landscapes of our natural world. A yatra offers an integrative experience, combining physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual explorations in a secular environment. Being primarily based in the Buddhist tradition we also respect and draw from the wealth of many other wisdom traditions such as yoga, advaita, tao, modern science and tribal cultures. A flexible combination of yoga, meditation, silent walking, dharma teachings, experiential exercises, story telling around the camp- fire, wholesome meals and our intuitive way of ceremony and creative expression support an unfolding process. Got it? Let’s get on with it then. So we flew to Alice Springs, got the 4WD bus out towards Palm Valley (2 …

From Brooklyn to the Bush: going out to the Australian desert for some silence

Hello folks- do any of you recall my Yatra last year, meditating and walking the South Coast national park after the terrible bushfires, with a group of mainly over 50s? It was stunning, and even made me delete the Candy Crush app, check the post HERE for details. Well, I’m going again. But this time, to Alice Springs in central Australia, hiking along the Finke River: “The Finke River, or Larapinta (Arrernte), is a river in central Australia, one of four main rivers of the Lake Eyre Basin and thought to be the oldest riverbed in the world. It flows for only a few days a year and when this happens, its water usually disappears into the sands of the Simpson Desert, rarely if ever reaching Lake Eyre.” (Wikipedia) I’m very excited, as you can see from this freshly-snapped selfie as I type! And my living room is a mess, as I air all my thermals and sleeping bag, trying to pack minimally yet effectively. Last-minute washing needs to dry, and I can’t decide whether to take poles or not… So for once, …

How a silent walk made me delete the Candy Crush app (Part One)

Admit it: do you have a game on your phone you love unwinding with? Scrabble with friends? Chess? Candy Crush? A few years ago- I can’t remember why- my son and I both downloaded Candy Crush, and became a little competitive. Of course, he streaked ahead in levels, then quickly bored of it and never played again. I stoically continued, and got myself slowly but surely up to Level 691. Then 2 months ago, I had to get a new phone… and somehow, all my apps froze as I transferred the old info, so I found myself back at the beginning of the Candy Crush map again. What’s all this got to do with a silent walk you wonder? Well, last month I had the privilege of going on a 9-day Yatra, which is a Buddhist-based bushwalking adventure, filled with daily meditations, talks on Buddhist philosophies and practices, plus walks and meals in ‘noble silence’. 30 of us (mainly aged over 50) travelled to the South Coast of Sydney, which had been ravaged by bushfires …

Fires, hiking, a horse, being a snail’s wife, chanting monks & more fires: farewell 2019

Hello again everyone, and Happy New Year! It’s been 2 months since I’ve written anything: a very busy, stressful, exciting, and terrible time. I’m dragging myself out into January, as is all of Australia. You’ve seen the tragic footage of fires. We’ve lost millions of hectares of bush and forest, not to mention maybe a billion animals, plus bugs, birds, butterflies and of course bees. Unprecedented calamity. Yet predicted back in 2007, if the government didn’t address climate change challenges… And a dangerously useless Prime Minister now, who has to go. But you can easily research all that, because I’m exhausted/furious by the political spin and denial, while regular people lose their entire homes (& sometimes lives). It’s overwhelming. Yet I am safe, and so are most of my friends, although those in Melbourne are wearing masks both inside and out of the house because their smoke pollution is currently the worst in the world. *sighs                  [But not too deeply] To be more positive, here’s a quick review …

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 …