I can still remember the moment when bushwalking and the outdoors became a big part of my life. A friend had given me a subscription to Australian Geographic magazine for my birthday. The first edition I received had a feature by the magazine’s founder, Dick Smith, about walking the Overland Track in Tasmania, Australia’s southern island state. The photographs of the track’s scenery – from the start at Cradle Mountain to its end at Lake St Clair – were stunning . The article talked of rugged mountains, clear rushing streams and waterfalls and mossy forests. I was so inspired that I wanted to see these sights for myself. I had never undertaken a multi-day trek before by myself, so joined a guided tour. The trip was spectacular. I did the walk in summer – December – and yet there was still snow on the ground. It was the first time I had seen snow. It was so utterly foreign to me (not much snow in tropical North Queensland) that I kept reaching down to touch it, scooping up handfuls to eat (making sure it wasn’t yellow of course!) The weather was sunny and warm and I walked the track in tshirt and shorts. Brilliant.
The wilderness, bushwalking and camping has had a profound hold on me ever since. I was so impressed by the Overland Track and Tasmania’s wilderness that I got a job in the state so I could keep bushwalking and explore more.
I later moved to Sydney for work but the draw of the bush continued, leading me to join the Sydney Bushwalking Club and walking the national parks on the city’s fringes. It was while in Sydney that I also discovered mountain biking and rock climbing, with the Blue Mountains, just over an hour from the city by train, providing plenty of opportunities for play.
My love of camping and the outdoors has come as a surprise to my family. As a child I hated the outdoors. I hated getting dirty. I got homesick on school camps and cried. Now I love throwing on a heavy backpack, lacing up my boots and setting out on a track, leaving behind showers and the comforts of home. Now I sometimes feel like crying when it’s time to go back to the city.
So why do I love the outdoors so much? Some of the easy reasons are fresh air, stunning scenery and exercise. But the harder to explain ones go to the sense of peace I get when I can leave behind my worries for a few hours or days while I’m immersed in nature’s bigger picture. There’s also that sense of adventure you get, that anything could happen, that can sometimes feel missing from today’s city lifestyle.
This blog is a bit of a vanity project. But it’s also an outlet for me to share my trips and advice and, perhaps, inspire others contemplating exploring the outdoors.