Wednesday 11 October 2023

Redbank Gorge - Tjoritja National Park, NT

A few months ago we paddled into a mountain - one of our shortest and most accessible adventures yet. But also, one of our most extraordinary. 

Wednesday 25 November 2020

Pawenyapeena (Spring); Lake Belton, Tasmania

And winter only just turned over on that man-made bureaucracy known as a calendar as we set off walking for two nights and three days of sanity saving spring sunshine - finally, a three day forecast of no rain; clear skies. It is spring; technically, and, I’ll come back to that later.

The aim of this trip is to introduce two new awildland team members to the world of wild places. Blue and Yella are secondhand packrafts purchased months earlier. They have been waiting patiently in the garage as winter cold fronts have swept, one after the other, over the Tasmanian mountains. They’ve heard rumours of snow camping and frozen boots. They’ve seen the awildland team returning wet to the bones. They’ve glimpsed photos of white-capped mountains and ice-covered tarns. Now it’s spring. This is to be their maiden voyage. We choose something simple for this first adventure, and, it turns out something totally sublime. 

Saturday 31 October 2020

Rumble in the Jagungal - Mt Jagungal, Kosciuszko National Park, NSW

“A lot happened today” is the opening, understated sentence in my journal on Day 3 of an eight day walk in the Jagungal Wilderness of Kosciuszko National Park. 

“Up at 5:30am,” it continues. “The sky east was clear, the sky west dark with clouds. The frontal edge of the approaching storm is drawn in a straight line directly above us. Re-checked the weather and not much change but, hints that the bad weather should be gone by the afternoon.”

So, of course who wouldn’t set off walking into that uncertain sky. We started walking that day at 7:30am, leaving the safety and shelter of O'Keefe's Hut with plans to stick to our Plan A, which was to climb the epic 2,061m high Mt Jagungal and spend a night on its impressive summit; despite the menacing pall, despite the storm warning and with us using the untracked, steep, thick-scrubbed direct approach from the weather station on Grey Mare Fire Trail.

Friday 31 July 2020

The Tyndalls: Paradise in the sky

I drag my boots through my over pants, zip them down to my ankles then reach for my gaiters. These I strap on over the top. I zip up my raincoat, despite the sky being blue and clear. This full armour feels stiff and ungainly as I shoulder my overnight pack and follow Caz into a tight scrub of tea-tree and banksia. Last night it rained. This is why we wear everything. The trees are heavy with moisture. It is like pushing through the wet swirling brushes of a wild car wash. I wish I had added gloves to my bare hands. At this early hour, on the shady side of the mountain range that lies ahead, the trunks of the small trees are covered in frost. I grab and wrestle the stubborn branches and my fingers grow increasingly numb. There is a path, but it is narrow, rough, muddy, slippery, strewn with puddles and hemmed in by this encroaching, tough, west-coast Tasmanian scrub. They are admirably persistent trees in Tasmania. About 2-3m high, thin trunked and flexible. They hold their ground with determination; and a knowledge of their right to be exactly where they are.

Fortunately, it is a short half hour of this kind of tense conversation and we emerge onto open, mountainside heath marked by clumps of buttongrass waving their bobble-headed flowers stalks in celebration. Above us now we can see our destination - the spectacular and geologically bizarre Tyndall Range. Many locals argue that this mountain, and its labyrinth of lakes and cliffs, is the state’s finest alpine region, with relatively easy access and few crowds. 

Tuesday 30 June 2020

Kalbarri National Park, Western Australia

We arrived during a wicked thunderstorm; driving headlong into clouds the colour of the bitumen road. Then, torrential rain and the wipers banging madly left to right. The unsettled weather lasted three days. The rainfall meant dirt roads to the Murchison River gorge walks were closed. So, we began our explorations of this national park along the coast. 

We had stumbled into Kalbarri National Park, following a tip-off from a friend who rated this park as their favourite in the entire state of Western Australia. A vast state, in our vast continent, with this astoundingly unsung pocket of country. The coast walks showed us shifts of colour, brilliantly combined. Then we finally got access to the Murchison River gorge and the dramatic, swirling cliffs and flooded Murchison River took this park to a whole new level of scenic. The impressive beauty was deeply surprising and the sense of discovery hugely satisfying. 

Sunday 31 May 2020

Mt Twynam, Mt Tate and the Rolling Grounds - Kosciuszko National Park

The sweeping, grassy hillsides are thick with daisies; their bright, white and yellow faces smiling away as I walk past. There’s an ancient snowgum halfway on the climb to the summit. Its canopy is a storm-swept tangle of twisted branches; its bark has those steely subtle hues of grey and green. As we walk, there are grand views across the range. Ravens are circling distant rocky peaks in huge flocks. Their loud conversation carries on the breeze. The weather is sublime, a sunny day; cool nights are forecast. 

This is how I remember this walk. Sweet memories. I could pour a swirling glass of nostalgia from this walk until I nearly drown in it. The long sunny days and isolated, scenic campsites.