Monday, 20 February 2017

Sliding into the green room - Williams River Canyon, Barrington Tops


Moss-green walls of rock rise either side of the river, forming a narrow chute where the water curves right then left, drops into a small hole, and continues around a final bend before disappearing out of sight. I edge my way down the slippery, smooth channel and test the depth of the first hole. Caz is waiting at the top. I give him the thumbs up. It's time for his next water slide.

I scramble out of the way as Caz gives a little "woo-hoo" and splashes to the bottom of the ride above. The water is freezing cold and a rich emerald colour. We swim as quickly as possible across the large, deep pool that lies hidden around the final dip. Our small packs are like buoyancy vests and our wetsuits keep out the worst of the cold. We are both grinning from ear to ear and the day has only just begun.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Is this the best view in NSW? Mt Bushwalker, Morton National Park



Lyrebirds call in the valley below as the dawn sky changes from pink to peach; ripening to day. I sit up in my sleeping bag, having built a nest of essentials around me – cup of tea on my right, notebook, pen, binoculars, gloves. A rock plateau stretches away in front to where it suddenly drops in a cliff edge. Beyond that is a vast, magnificent view. 

For half an hour before the sun rises, the land is filled with the best light we have seen for weeks. Last night's sunset was nice but not spectacular. The morning is both. Distant cliffs lines glow with reflected light. Even the deep valleys are infused with this soft colour. At 7:09am the sun cracks the horizon behind me and everything changes, contrasts arise, colour strengthens. I pick up my pen and notebook, take a sip of tea, and write: 'Wow'.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Open your eyes to this year's wild land


I remember battling 120km/hr winds on top of an exposed peak, struggling to keep my sanity while searching for a foot of ground we could safely sleep on. Then there was the night we slept under the stars, tucked amongst sandstone pagodas as if living in a private wing of some grand, many-roomed castle. Months earlier, our adventures had brought us the unexpected beauty of an ephemeral waterfall tucked up a narrow valley in a landscape caught between the semi-arid and the granite belt. Which reminds me of the breakfast we had the next morning, watching a spotted quoll rummage through cracks on the cliff-lined creek.

It has been a good year. Twenty-two National Parks in 12 months, with multiple visits to some of them. This blog, then, is a collection of observations and snippets from a year of adventures. It is also our passionate call to everyone - get out into this amazing wild landscape we live in.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

The Valley of a Thousand Fallen Trees - Barrington Tops National Park, NSW


Last month we walked through The Valley of a Thousand Fallen Trees to reach The Ancient Lands of Poa. Magical places high in the mountains, hidden amongst trees of autumn-colour-in-spring and filled with birds born from the blood of lovers.

In less fantastical language, we spent three days struggling up the tree choked and rugged Kerripit River valley in Barrington Tops National Park until we reached the high plateau and collapsed in an exhausted heap on the snow grass, grateful to have finally reached clear open beech forest where new spring growth blushed the forest in autumnal colours and breeding pairs of crimson rosellas roosted in the treetops. 

And, while we created mystical names for the landscape, there is a very real mystery hidden in the forests and mountains - Australia's only modern-day unsolved aircraft disappearance.

Friday, 14 October 2016

Donkey Mountain - Gardens of Stone National Park, NSW


This is a tale of two extremes. A story from different ends of the one valley as well as different ends of the social and economic spectrum.

It begins, however, with a unique and beautiful ass – Donkey Mountain which is part of Gardens of Stone National Park. Donkey Mountain sits alone in the middle of the Wolgan Valley, north-east of Lithgow on the western fall of the Greater Blue Mountains. 

Monday, 19 September 2016

Tinderry Peak, Tinderry Nature Reserve, NSW


It looks a bleak day for a walk. The dawn is grey.  Icy rain is falling in heavy squalls. We are in a spartan, upstairs room at a pub in Braidwood. There is a ghost, apparently, and all night the floorboards have been creaking. There is no heating and cold draughts sneak under the double doors that open onto a wide verandah. The empty street below is wet and shining under the light of a waxing moon.

But just 50km west, as the crow flies, this rain is falling as lovely snow and gathering in drifts on the granite tors atop Tinderry Peak.

By the time we finish a leisurely breakfast, the sun is out. By the time we reach Round Flat Fire Trail, and park the car at the start of our planned walk, there is clear blue sky and a cracking forecast for the days ahead.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Coonarma Peak - Gibraltar Range National Park, NSW



Many of our destinations are points on a map with no access track. Walks with no right or wrong way, in or out. This is one of those – to a peak perched on the edge of wilderness, a day's walk there and another back again, a weekend spent in conversation with the topography of the Gibraltar Range. 

Coonarma Peak is located in Gibraltar Range National Park in northern New South Wales. The national park is located 69km east of Glen Innes or 92km west of Grafton and within it, Coonarma Peak is an obscure outcropping of granite that juts out of the highland swamps and breaks open the ridges of dry stringybark forest. It is topped by an old trig marker and the sugary blossoms of grass tree spears in flower.