Sunday, 29 April 2018

Talaterang Mountain and the Clyde - Morton National Park, NSW


Wind shakes the tops of stunted mallee trees. Small birds lurch from branch to branch, fighting the strong gusts. High cloud holds the sun at bay. But, nothing can hold back the joy of the view ahead. We are back at Mt Bushwalker - undoubtedly one of NSWs grandest viewing points - looking across the Clyde River valley, southwards to The Castle and into the wild heart of Morton National Park.

This trip we have four days of hard walking, along a largely untracked route that drops in and out of the deep river valley below. It is winter and cold. I am wearing most of my gear - gortex jacket and pants, gaiters, and a long sleeve merino. But, as we head south from Mt Bushwalker and begin weaving along the sandstone escarpment, finding the next cairn and the next cairn ahead, it gives me time to warm up - not just my body but also my off-track instincts. These first few kilometres are the time to purge my soul of the lazy comforts of home, get sluggish blood moving, stretch the underused lungs, take the time to tune my mind into the challenges of the Australian bush, before the easy, track walking runs out.

Monday, 26 March 2018

Rainforest ramblings - Chichester River, Barrington Tops National Park


The journey ahead is about bringing into focus the essence of our blog - off-track wanderings, a vague route, changing direction depending on the demands of the terrain, searching out campsites, pressing on into rarely visited corners of wild country. The anticipation, the unknown, the mystery - these seem to shimmer in the humid air as we set off from the carpark. 

What we find is this - a remote river valley, untouched forest, trees towering 50m high like city high rises, a fruit laden canopy and hour after hour of beauty. It's been to long time since we've seen beautiful, wet rainforest. It satisfies our longing to escape the dry oppressive summer and disappear into another world.

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Finding Tanglefoot - The Labyrinth, Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park


A steady stream of bushwalkers head south along the narrow track. But, we are walking north - against the flow.  I wait off to one side as the latest group pass. A lady looks up in surprise; she says – "Oh, you're going the wrong way!" 

I want to whisper to her our secret - that this is what it takes when you are hunting Tanglefoot, when you are pushing deep into the high mountains, searching the hidden corners of The Labyrinth that lies beneath Mt Geryon, named for the fearsome giant of Greek mythology. Ssh, I want to say. Don't tell anyone. 

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Koi Kyenunu-ruff - the Stirling Range Ridge Walk, Western Australia


The track notes say to expect the following: narrow ledges, much scrambling over rocky peaks, probable violent weather changes including whiteouts or snow while tackling steep ascents and descents with unreliable water sources and other 'significant challenges' such as the trail being easy to lose.

Guide books are, of course, by their very meaning, supposed to be accurate guides to a walk. But the tatty track notes I have borrowed for this 3-day walk are more than 20 years old so I would excuse them some discrepancies, particularly with the ever-changing nature of a wild landscape. The fact they turn out so eerily accurate, in directions and in the adjectives used, is worth mentioning.

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Visiting the relatives - Manning River 60r, 23r and 8r

Manning River 60r

We spread the topographic map on the lounge room floor and spot a relative. We should go visit. It looks like a perfect trip for us. A renowned relative, seldom seen; found in deep, steep-sided wild country.  

What relative?

Well, on all NSW 1:25,000 topographic maps many waterfalls remain unnamed and are marked simply with a blue line across the watercourse and beside that some digits followed by a lower case 'r'. The 'r' indicates a cliff or a drop 'relative' to the surrounding landscape. On the upper Manning River, in Barrington Tops National Park, there are several such relatives, the most visited being 8r & 23r, and further downstream, 60r. What that implies is an 8m, 23m and a 60m waterfall. Now that's a bunch of relatives worth visiting.

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

The wild and crazy west - bushwalking on the Bibbubulum Track from Bow Bridge to Denmark


The forest smells of sun-warmed rain. The trees by the track drip with water. It wets my boots and I feel damp leaves against my bare arms.  The path winds between twisted, low gum trees. But, this kind of track walking makes me look inwards more than outwards. A dozen ideas, conversations, random stories and thoughts jostle loudly in my head. 

It feels both cleansing and annoying to let the internal noise run its wild path as we leave the road behind us and begin climbing towards Nut Lookout. The white sand track becomes mesmerising. I watch my feet and am still only half aware of my surroundings so that Caz has to stop me and bring me to the moment. Look at the view, he says. It ranges across verdant farm paddocks to the coast that stretches eastwards. I search, uselessly, for the exact route of the Bibbubulum Track, and where it will takes us over the next 7 days as we wend our way from our starting point (Conspicuous Beach) all the way to the town of Denmark, about 82km east. 

There are track notes for this walk in plenty of obvious places - the reliable and endlessly admirable authors John and Monica Chapman cover this section in their Bushwalking in Australia book. And you can get detailed notes through the Bibbubulum Track website as well as a plethora of other information online and in print.

What you will get here, at awildland, is a combination of the noise in my head and Caz's beautiful images. You'll get the cleansing process that comes with long walks.

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Moses Rock and the first commandment in off-track bushwalking - Nymboi-Binderay National Park, NSW


As the lay of the land drops away, we begin down a gentle slope. I notice Caz keeps stopping. Every now and then he looks around the forest with searching eyes. This is Caz taking me for our first off-track walk together (many years ago now but I can still vividly recall this moment) him constantly looking around, checking back over his shoulder. He claims he has been here before but as he stops yet again I grow increasingly nervous. He looks lost to me.

We push through the light scrub and fallen logs. The walking is slow and precise - stepping carefully through long grass, pushing past lanky stalks of cassinia, resting a hand on the rough skin of stringybarks.