Sunday, 31 March 2019

Capturing the Ephemeral - mist and fog in the Australian landscape

This is an old, but strong, memory: Caz and I standing on the edge of an extinct volcano at dawn. Mist, settled in the valley below. In the distance, the volcanoes remnant central vent, Wollumbin (Mt Warning), and 600m below my feet lush farmland now covering the ancient crater. We are at Pinnacle Lookout in Border Ranges National Park, entranced and awestruck by the day’s first casting of shadows. 

The sun’s morning light is soft and golden. Birds are calling in the rainforest behind me. The metal lookout fence is cold beneath my arms. The sky is clear. And, the mist is making this moment magic. It has thrown a thin veil over the landscape below. The trees, the paddocks, the farmhouses and dams are a mosaic of light and dark - long rays of shadow streak across the hills like the strands of a fine and delicate tapestry still being woven.

Thursday, 28 February 2019

Two ‘Tops’ Days Out - Barrington Tops National Park, NSW

Tuesday, two weeks ago, I was rock hoping down a narrow creek. Tea tree crowded the banks. The rocks were black and the water a dark trickle. Beyond the edge of the riparian zone stood tall mountain gums with pepper bush, banksia and snow grass in an open, rocky forest.

Tuesday, one week ago, I was rock hopping down a narrow river. Sub-tropical rainforest pressed in either side. The water was fast flowing and crystal clear. Huge Blue Gum emergents towered above the steep sides to the valley. There was red cedar, giant stinging trees and lush green moss and lichen. 

For both adventures, I was in the same national park. As the crow flies, just 22km apart. As ecosystems go, it felt like a millennia of difference - the ancient Gondwana rainforest species so vastly different to the more recent dry-living xerophytes. Both of them exploiting the topography of the high plateau of the Barrington Tops: the wet, shaded, rain-soaked southern slopes and the exposed, dry western fall of the mountains. 

Thursday, 31 January 2019

Marching Orders - Cape Le Grand National Park, WA

It takes time, to find the emotional distance one need's, to re-tell a traumatic story. Finally, I am ready to write about the first and only time Caz and I have been kicked out of a national park. 

And not just any national park, but the stunningly beautiful Cape Le Grand in the south-west of Western Australia with its granite peaks and deserted white sand beaches, its turquoise ocean; whales frolicking in deep bays, its unique flowers decorating the low heathlands and our overnight off-track adventure that was, at the time, an absolute joy.

Friday, 21 December 2018

Lessons in the Alps - Kosciuszko National Park

On this, our first (ever) extended walk in Kosciuszko National Park, we learnt a few lessons - that Pygmy possums appear like a blue flash out of the corner of your eye, that rivers move equally fast on the back of rain. We learnt about theft and mountains and aesthetics and adventure. Each lesson reminded us that when out walking, it is so much about the journey not the destination. Here then, are those lessons.  

Thursday, 22 November 2018

The silent river - Wollemi National Park, NSW

It is the strangest sensation, to stand by a fast flowing river and hear nothing of its movement - no sound of water over rocks or gravel or bank. The Colo River makes not a whisper of noise as we set up camp on a wide sand beach. A lyrebird, foraging beneath the river oaks, gives an occasional squark but the river moves swiftly and silently by. 

Cutting its way through Sydney’s sandstone basin the Colo River does have stretches where boulder and rock choke its narrow gorge and it becomes the same as any river - noisy and tumbling as water drops and weaves and crashes over small ledges. But these rapids are interspersed with long, flat sections of sandy riverbed and deep pools that smother and silence its voice. 

Much of the Colo River, in its upper, upper reaches, is quite inaccessible. The 361,000 hectare Wollemi Wilderness is, in fact, the largest wilderness in New South Wales, as well as the largest in eastern Australia between Cape York Peninsula and Tasmania. Within this wilderness zone, the Colo River, as it travels eastwards, enters an incredible 69km long gorge of towering sandstone cliffs and high valley walls. Within this gorge, there are a few unlikely access points that can be joined together to form anything from a 2-day walk to more than triple that.

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Exploring the western fall of Cathedral Rock National Park, NSW

It has been too long between camping trips and the pleasure of waking this morning, amongst tall messmate and mountain gums, creates a resonate hum of joy, deep, deep inside.

The absolute stillness of the morning, coupled with the anticipation of the days ahead, feels like that exhilarating moment when the orchestra has finished its warm-up, the conductor raises his hand and we wait for the symphony to begin.

Saturday, 29 September 2018

Gunnemooroo - Warrumbungle National Park

This blog post is about a hidden pocket in famous country. A place rarely visited and a little neglected but wickedly scenic. To convince you of its beauty here are our notes and photos: there are off-track walks and explorations, anecdotes collected along the way, wild encounters had. This blog is also aimed at disproving an opinion - as we handed over a security deposit for the key that opens the gate to this treasure trove - we were told in surprised tones: 'you know there's nothing to do out there.'

Ah, Gunnemooroo, where there's nothing to do. We chanted this for 6 days as we bagged amazing peaks, slept under the stars, soaked up the solitude of a remote bush camp and woke each morning to sweet light and the spectacular countryside.