Category Archives: Walking

Walkabout

I like my afternoon walks.  I never used to.  There was a time when I had to be dragged kicking and screaming out of my door to go for a walk.   But not anymore.  Of course having two furry alarm clocks appear at 4.30pm every afternoon at my feet with expectant looks on their faces is a big motivator.  Dogs are great walking machines.

So, we were tramping through the bush the other day, and I was deep in thought with the usual philosophical meanderings eg: “Who would make the better wife, Samantha from Bewitched, or Mrs. Brady, or, Mrs. Robinson from Lost in Space?”  I was debating the pros and cons of each candidate when I looked up and saw a path to the side of the track that I’d seen before but never gone down.  It was a faint path, barely noticeable in fact, but a trail nonetheless, “Wonder where that goes?” I thought, and almost instantly decided, “Let’s find out!”  So off we went, me and two little dogs. 

The male dog was off like a shot, sniffing and snuffling the ground ahead, “He’ll be useful if ever I need to clear a path of landmines,” I thought.  The female dog was nowhere to be seen, I looked behind, around, and ahead, and I couldn’t see her.  It was only when she licked my ankle that I looked downward.  Ok, so she isn’t exactly the explorer type. 

We trudged along for a while, with me stumbling over a terrified little dog every now and then, until the path petered out.  I shrugged and pushed on into the trackless bush.  There we were in deepening dusk, in the middle of the bush.  It was quiet.  I stood for a moment savouring the peace, the smells, and the feeling of being surrounded by trees.  Both dogs took the opportunity to relieve themselves.  Good thinking. 

It struck me that this was the sort of environment that the aborigines knew.  Nothing but trees and peace.  How good would that be?  Imagine living off the land like they did.  Your home, is anywhere, anytime.  No work, no money.  Bliss.  Might be something in that lifestyle… 

Ok, they wouldn’t have sandshoes, so broken toenails would be a daily occurence, no electricity means no lights after dark, or running water piped to your house which means no comfortable toilets, and no hot water either! 

Then there’s medical treatment.  No headache tablets, for starters, then appendicitis would be a bit of a bugger to put up with, along with tooth ache, a slipped disc, or a broken limb.  In fact there was a raft of illnesses and ailments that we almost laugh at these days that could bring about a fairly speedy end to someone living in the scrub without access to a doctor, or a hospital.   

No air travel, no railways, no large ships… it was at this point the whole idea started to lose its’ gloss.  I made my way through the bush, pushing on through a couple of gullies until I found a familiar track and followed it home.  The back deck light was shining brightly through the trees and I could see my family gathered in the kitchen.  Yep, this is more like it.  The call of the wild will have to remain unanswered for the time being.  Domestic man had returned home for another night of comfort and pampering.

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Night Trekking

Last month I got to step outside my fairly large comfort zone when I joined my neighbours for ‘a little stroll’ through the bush. 

 

They had signed up to do the Tambourine Kokoda Challenge, a gruelling event where several hundred folk try and get through approximately 90 klms of hilly (actually mountainous) scrub around Mount Tambourine in less than 30 hours. 

 

Ok, not my cup of tea as I’ve been a bit allergic to death marches since reading an account of the Burma Railway prisoners of WW2, but I was interested in some of the training walks they were doing, particularly trekking up the nearby Mt. Larcom. 

 

Larcom, or the Sleeping Giant as it is known locally, has unparallelled views of the region, and is fairly accessible to anyone who is moderately fit.  So, in a moment of wild enthusiasm I mentioned that I wouldn’t mind joining them for a stroll.

 

And not long afterwards I found myself standing on a dark track just after sunset staring at a long, winding, and mostly uphill trail.  It wasn’t Mt. Larcom, it was the fire trail that runs along the small range on Gladstone side of the Calliope River.  We would be trekking to the Devils Elbow, a well known fishing haunt on the river. 

 

I had some reservations, because we would be ‘strolling’ 10 klms tonight.  And while we were milling about waiting to start, my neighbour confided that several others had joined them for their training walks in the past months, but no-one had backed up for a second walk.  Okaaay, the first inklings of doubt started to circle in my mind like cawing vultures. 

 

I have to admit the team was well prepared, support crew, walking gear, protein bars, hiking sticks, and backpacks.  I turned up wearing some work pants, and carting my trusty walking stick, and ever present black work pack which contained my work water bottle, an orange and a banana.  Yep, I was ready for anything. 

 

I wasn’t too ready for the cracking pace that the leaders set at the start, particularly as we were headed mostly uphill.  About 20 mins into the walk, my lungs and legs were on fire as I rounded a bend and noted grimly that the track got steeper and more rock strewn, I thought, “We aren’t even halfway yet, and I’m going to die.” 

 

I didn’t.  The hill eventually came to an end, and the rest of the walk was almost a delight by comparison.  I haven’t walked 10 klms since I don’t know when, particularly not through the bush, in hilly country, particularly at night, but it really was delightful.  At times I found myself on my own, crunching along in my old sneakers over rough ground, and every now and then through the trees I could make out the lights of Gladstone in the distance.  I was surprised to find that I was actually enjoying myself.

 

I was able to chat with some of my fellow walkers as we paced along.  All of them were armed with Ipods, or MP3 players, and I discovered found that one of them, a nice old gentleman named Reg, was also a Jethro Tull fan,  and that one of the support team for the walkers was also a fan of ‘The Tull’ and had a fairly large collection.  So, now I know that there are three of us in the Gladstone area, which is a step up from a fan club of one.  You just never know do you…   

 

So, the walk ended after a couple of hours.  I was blister free, sweaty, and strangely elated.  Was I going to do the return walk with the team?  No, I wasn’t that keen, so I took some photos, and wished them well, and watched them walk back into the bush, their headlamps shining in the darkness, like a well lit procession of super fit ghosts. 

 

10 kilometres later

 

 

 

I returned home in an almost euphoric state of mind.  This time last year, I wouldn’t have agreed to join in something like this.  But, since I’ve given up drinking, I’m finding that I’m able to enjoy different experiences that get me out and about, and in the process, meeting some very nice people.  Some of them are Jethro Tull afficionado’s. 

 

 

 

I could almost see myself joining a bushwalking group… maybe! 

 

Cheers all,

 

Gb  

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