Discovering Cape Tribulation's Daintree Rainforest
NEW ZEALAND'S milford sound Kayaking the fiord's wondrous waterfalls
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EVERY TRIP ENDS WITH DREAMS OF THE NEXT THE NEW TRANSPORTER DUFFEL Sandy beaches and vermillion cliffs Dragon boats and streaked limestone. Faraway places. The New Transporter Duffel features the dependability you expect in a variety of volumes to make sure your gear survives, there and back. ospreypacks.com
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contents regulars ed's letter It's time to dive into the big blue
newest outdoor team members Some new additions to our crew
news The latest from the world of adventuring
new gear All the gear for your next outdoor challenge
People Outdoor meets renowned trekker David Mason
last shot Blue Pool Track, New Zealand
22 38 56 78 86 96 104
06 08 10 14 122 130
gear tests The north face ventrix jacket Heat up just to cool down
Dyson Electric Bikes We put power in the pedals and hit the sand
Discovering the daintree Hike, snorkel and zip through Cape Tribulation
lessons Of A Life on wheels The things you learn during two years on a bike
A NSW state of mind The hot spots to discover this summer
A Grand sound Kayaking into the heart of Milford Sound
FORGING A NEW ROUTE A new era of climbing at Smith Rock
Pressure Climb Trek leading on Kangchenjunga
Bucket List hikes Treks that you can't miss
guides Your ďŹ rst outdoor expedition What you need to know to survive in the wild
Packin' it The best hiking pack for your trek
hiking with hounds Top tips for bringing your pooch along
48 68 116 COVER: MILFORD SOUND, NZ PHOTO: Dan Kennedy
Still devoid of porters the next morning, the sirdar assured us that we should set off with the Sherpas and he would usher along the rest of the crew
ed's letter Sydney, Australia, November 2017
Chill out with Outdoor...
is’ the season of stinky socks, sweat patches and sunburnt noses. Yep, summer is finally here and there’s already perspiration building under my beard just from typing this here editor’s note! Since we last spoke, there’s been a lot happening in the world. With most of us leading such busy lifestyles, discovering a sense of adventure, having dreams to achieve and places to explore have never been more essential to our survival. Whether you’re working towards your next trip or you’re one of the lucky ones currently out there discovering something new, I know this edition of Outdoor will ignite a spark in you – just let your inner spirit animal free! It may be the season of the sweat patch, but that’s all the more reason to dive into the big blue! In this edition, Dan Kennedy loads up the kayaks and takes you to the visual spectacular that is New Zealand’s Milford Sound. Cleo Codrington goes chasing some of the most beautiful waterfalls and crystal clear beaches that NSW has to offer. But hell, we couldn’t let our contributors have all the fun! In the spirit of summer, the Outdoor crew headed to one of the muggiest joints in Australia: the Daintree Rainforest. We discover incredible fauna above and below the surface, swim at some hidden waterholes and hike our way from sea level to above the clouds. It’s not all blue skies and hot summer days though… we’ve scaled the highlands, deserts, canyons and glaciers from afar to bring you the best treks in the world. You might have to re-write the bucket list after reading this one. Geez, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg that is the Nov/Dec issue of Outdoor.. Feast your eyeballs and prepare to be inspired. Outdoor
W ho's w ho EDITORIAL Editor Jack Murphy Deputy Editor Natalie Cavallaro Senior Designer Brendon Wise Content Operations Danielle Beadman Contributors Henry Brydon, Michael Borg, Cleo Codrington, Mitch Cox, Mason Coggins, Dan Everett, Ashley Gray, Scott Heiman, Corey McCarthy, Dan Kennedy, Dan Slater. Editorial and News 125 Hawthorn Rd, Caulfield North, Vic, 3161 Australia email@example.com
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NEWEST EXPEDITION TEAM MEMBERS This issue, we have a few new faces joining the Outdoor crew, with plenty of new adventures, advice and tips for your next journey. As usual, we grilled them to make sure they were up to the task. Q1. Where’s your base camp? Q2. What’s your outdoor speciality? Q3. You’re about to be stranded in the Amazon rainforest. You can take one item with you, what is it? (no EPIRBS or satellite phones!) Q4. What’s the most epic trip you’ve been on?
Everyday is an adventure for Cleo, and there's no doubt she's living the dream of most us, travelling the country (and the world!), and sharing her adventures from the road in her van.
Adventure is the name of Dan’s main game, and for him the thrill is all about standing on the brink of something new, exciting, and even terrifying and saying yes. Oh yeah, he’ll also capture incredible photographs while he’s there, so you feel like you’ve experienced the moment too.
A1. Currently all throughout the east coast, living and travelling with my partner Mitch in our van. A2. There's nothing more enticing than hiking to a camp spot and having an incredible landscape all to yourself. A3. If mosquitoes didn't love my blood so much, I'd pick something more interesting, but I don't want to die of malaria – insect repellent it is! A4. Hiking to a back country camp spot in Zion National Park – red rock walls, a private waterfall and sandy bank for the tent!
A1.Denver, Colorado USA. A2. Backpacking. A3. A knife. A4. Mountaineering in the southern Alps of New Zealand.
With a natural thirst for exploration, Mason is an adventure tourism consultant that chases our infinite horizon across the globe, into uncharted landscapes, and amongst the furthest reaches of human spirit. He enjoys Molotov cocktails, long surfs on beach breaks, and getting caught in lightning storms. He was bitten by an Eastern Brown his first week in Australia. The snake died an hour later.
In 2010 Henry cycled from London to Sydney for more than two years in search of adventure. The 38,000km journey took him through 30 countries across Europe, the Middle East and Asia, teaching him about the beauty of the world and the value of chafage cream. From animal attacks to sandstorms, to prison, the seed of adventure was planted. Settling in Sydney, he turned to the weekends for his adventure fix. Frustrated by the lack of inspirational and informative content out there for micro-adventures in Australia, he started the We Are Explorers community to help others answer their call of the wild.
A1. An Osprey backpack. A2. Mountaineering. A3. A guitar – multi-purpose tool capable of enriching the passing time with enjoyment, as well as bartering for supplies with natives in exchange for serenades. A4. Sea kayaking from Milford to Dusky Sound in the Fiordland region of New Zealand over two weeks- almost 300km of paddling through a variety of elements including gale force winds and metre high chop on top of four metre swells.
A1. A cabin in a rainforest, hidden away in the Byron Bay hinterland. A2. Bikepacking. A3. Me and the missus have just spawned a mini-me; he’s a little dude called Jet Blaze and he’s my new adventure buddy and we boss the outdoors (wait, does he qualify as an item?) A4. Rode a pushie from Shrewsbury (England) to Sydney over two years and 38,000kms.
Borgy has lived and breathed the outdoor lifestyle for decades, and has travelled to every extremity of the Australian continent, looking great while doing it â€“ just ask him! He's got great knowledge of hiking trails, but he's also built his fair share of tough 4WDs to adventure in.
A1. I'm Sydney based, but I could count the amount of weeks I spend at home each year on one medium sized hand with two fingers missing. A2. Hiking and kayaking, especially with pets. It turns out they don't complain all that much. A3. A survival knife with a flint should help light a fire, which gives me means to boil water and keep the bugs away. A4. When I was 18, I spent a month canoeing a chunk of the Darling River solo and unassisted.
PHOTOS: World Expeditions
Discover a taste of New Zealand, on the iconic Great Taste Trail cycling journey
New Fron tier Ahead For Trans-Tasman Cyclists
orld Expeditions will now take cyclists on the Tasman Great Taste Trail. It comes after the company nabbed a stake in Trail Journeys Nelson by becoming the majority shareholder in the iconic self-guided cycle tour operator. Described as one of New Zealand’s great rides, the Tasman Great Taste Trail takes in 174km of scenic South Island and coastal views, broken into sections to suit experienced and leisure riders alike. Trail Journeys manages a hire fleet of more than 400 quality bikes, and offers passengers’
luggage transfer, accommodation and transfer service, and storage services the Otago Central Rail Trail, the Roxburgh Gorge Trail and on the Clutha Gold Trail. And, with bases in Clyde and Middlemarch, at either end of the Otago Central Rail Trail, Trail Journeys is well placed to meet the growing demands for this world-class cycling trail. “Trail Journeys are the ideal complement to our well established cycle brand, Adventure South, which runs fully-supported, guided cycling holidays primarily on the south island,
from its base in Christchurch,” said World Expeditions CEO, Sue Badyari. The World Expeditions Travel Group provides a wide range of guided and selfguided walking and cycling itineraries world-wise, with brands including World Expeditions, UTracks, Great Canadian Trials, Tasmanian Expeditions and Australian Walking Holidays. Visit www.worldexpeditions.com or call 1300 720 000 for more.
GREAT HIMALAYA TRAIL > NEPAL
MOUNT KILIMANJARO > TANZANIA
THE PATHS LESS
TRAVELLED KOKODA TRAIL > PAPUA NEW GUINEA
MACHU PICCHU > PERU
LARAPINTA TRAIL > AUSTRALIA
ALTAI MOUNTAINS > MONGOLIA
BIG ADVENTURES > SMALL FOOTPRINT
speak to our experts: 1300 720 000
worldexpeditions.com SMALL GROUP ADVENTURE TRAVEL â€¢ CUSTOM ITINERARIES MAIN IMAGE: CHERILIA POLUAN
Trek Tassie's Wilds With Caro Ryan
ooking for qualified company to hone your navigation skills and share your obsession? Why not join Aussie trekker and ‘leave no trace’ advocate Caro Ryan, lotsafreshair.com, as she tackles the Tasmania’s South Coast Track in February 2018. The South Coast Track, set within the South West National Park, crosses 600,000 hectares of wild, inspiring country on an 84km route over 11 days. As a valued member of tight-knit group of hikers, you’ll leverage the well-loved blogger’s
knowledge in navigation, safety and bushcraft, acquired through years of negotiating some of Australia’s most remote, pristine and secluded trails. “After hearing my bushwalking friends talk about Tassie’s South Coast Track for so long, I’m very excited to be heading down there in February next year,” Caro said. A seasoned media professional, Caro’s warm demeanour and professionalism has earned her frequent guest spots on ABC Radio Weekend with Simon Marnie, and will come in handy as
PHOTOS: CARO RYAN AND SOUTHCOASTTRACKIMAGES
the team pulls together on the epic trek from Melaleuca and Cockle Creek. And, with experience working with the Search and Rescue community, you’ll be in safe hands as you pit your body against extremes. By the end of the walk, Caro will have you reading topographic maps, planning and finding routes, taking a compass bearing, and estimating distances, speed and time. Visit lotsafreshair.com for more.
My Wild Home
Check ou t t he v ideo at w w w. ou tdoora ust ra lia .com
T HE AUST RALIAN ALPS LIKE YOUâ€™ VE NEVER SEEN T HEM BEFORE
arlier this year the crew from We Are Explorers ven tured deep in to the Aussie backcoun try with pro skier, Coen Bennie-Faull, to discover what fuels his fire. The epic short film documen ts six days of battling bone rattling winds and teeth shattering cold, all while camping precariously on the Western Faces of the Snowy Moun tains. They wait patien tly for the weather gods before going in search of new lines, miles off the beaten track. The film also ponders questions about what ignites our passions, resulting in a powerful story about love, loss and inspiration. More information: weareexplorers.co
PHOTOS: TIM CLARK
ut it te d o "G e t k t u r nex fo r y o " e r u a d ve n t
50QT Elite Cooler Pelican products have been protecting defense, emergency, scientific and photography equipment in some of the harshest conditions since 1976. But now they can protect something even more important… your beers. Yep, Pelican now make what has got to be one of the toughest eskies in the world: The 50QT Elite Cooler. The freezer-grade seal and 5cm polyurethane insulation system will make sure your ice stays frozen for 10 days, while the graduated floor for draining, moulded-in tie down points and press and pull latches make it practical too. All Pelican Elite Coolers are guaranteed for life. $429.95 www.pelicanstore.com.au
FRE iPhone 7/8 Keeping your phone in one-piece in the outdoors can often seem like an uphill battle. Cracked screens and water damage are the usual suspects, but dust, sand and even snow can take down your pocket pal easily too. Luckily, LifeProof have just released the FRE case for iPhone 7/8. These rock solid cases don’t just look awesome, according to LifeProof they’re waterproof, drop proof, dust proof and even snow proof! $99.95 www.lifeproof.com.au
Atlas of Adventure The Atlas of Adventure is a 320 page hardback that takes you on a trailblazing journey around the world. The book says, “Whatever your adventure poison – be it climbing or kayaking, skiing or surfing, road cycling or mountain biking, trail running or camel trekking – you will find it here, usually in worldclass form, and often without too many others around to break your solitude.” $44.99 www.lonelyplanet.com
Spartan Sport Wrist HR Baro The new Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR Baro might be a mouthful to say, but once you read its list of features you’ll understand why. Not your ordinary watch, this high-tech gadget includes a GPS, heart rate monitor and even an air pressure sensor for precise altitude readings. The watch will also display sunrise/sunset times and give you upcoming storm alerts. The battery life is up to 20 hours when using a one second GPS fix and 40 hours when using a one minute GPS fix. $799.99 www.suunto.com
LifeActiv Armband with QuickMount Pockets are so 90s; it’s all about armband mounts now. The LifeActiv Armband with QuickMount from LifeProof is the ideal accessory for running or even swimming (when your phone is in a LifeProof case of course). The universal phone armband will adjust to biceps 21.5cm-48.2cm large, so no matter if you’re packing toothpicks or tree trunks you’re always going to have a good fit. The QuickMount feature also means your phone mounts with a secure click and comes off with a simple twist. Starting from $74.95 www.lifeproof.com.au
Renegade 10” Short American outdoor apparel brand Kuhl, has just hit Aussie shores with their new Renegade 10” Short. Made from DURALUX fabric, these shorts are said to be soft like cotton, yet stronger, more breathable and far more resistant to abrasion. They’re also water resistant and offer UPF 50+ properties. Available in three colours: Buckskin, Khaki and Koal. $119.95 www.kuhl.com
Women’s Arrowood Lux Mid WP According to Teva, the Woman’s Arrowood Lux Mid WP, are not only lightweight and durable, they have a waterproof membrane and leather upper that seals out rain and puddles. Other features include Teva’s FloatLite midsole that’s said to provide exceptional cushioned comfort, so you won’t just be looking good, you’ll have a spring in your step too. $279.95 au.teva.com
Outdoor's editor looking only slightly guilty at his theft of The North Face's Ventrix jacket
Best of both worlds
The North Face have just released their Ventrix series of jackets, which are said to keep you warm when you’re stationary, but cool when you’re active. The Outdoor team definitely had to check this out.
WORDS: JACK MURPHY PICS: KATIE HANNA
hat would you say if there was a jacket that could adapt to your body movement and was actually able to regulate your temperature? Well at first I’d say, “shut up and take my money!” Then, I’d probably say, “No way, that sounds impossible.” Well that’s pretty much the conversation I had with the guys from The North Face when they showed me a pre-release version of their new Ventrix jacket. According to them, this baby traps the hot air inside the jacket when you’re not moving to keep you warm, and then when you start being active the perforations inside the jacket expand and dump the heat to prevent you from sweating up a storm. This eliminates the need to constantly shed and re-apply layers when you’re hiking, trail running, climbing or even skiing. This technology sounded amazing. I wasn’t taking their word for it though. When The North Face
team wasn’t looking I smuggled the jacket into my bag and made off with the precious cargo.
TESTING GROUNDS When I got back to Outdoor HQ, I examined the stolen loot. My first impressions of the Ventrix weren’t mind-blowing; it seemed like a fairly light jacket in terms of insulation and the zips didn’t seem to be very well sealed from water ingress. However, as I’ve often found, looks can be deceiving and I wouldn’t be making judgment on the Ventrix until I’d put it through its paces. The next afternoon was perfect testing conditions. The weather was a chilly 15 degrees (by Brisbane standards) and I got tipped off about a great little three km hike that involved a small rock climb. As I sat in the car on the way to the hike with the windows down, I was bloody hot! For such a lightweight jacket (420g) this
thing felt like it had a 7/11 pie warmer bolted inside it. As I jumped out of the car and began the hike I actually started cooling down rather than warming up. The jacket’s laser cut perforations do their job to remove the warm air and provide ventilation to the high heat zones of the body. The slim fit design and lightweight fabric also go a long way to keep you feeling agile on the tracks, while offering a great range of movement without the fear of ripping the armpits. I also noticed the higher-denier fabric on the forearms offered awesome abrasion resistance when climbing over jagged boulders.
WATER TEST So it passed the hike and climb test with flying colours, but how would it go against something much more intimidating? Yep, the garden hose was coming out and a thumb was applied over
T he North Face Ventrix jacket punches well above its weight when it comes to light jackets The forearms on the Ventrix jacket are made with a higher-denier fabric Nope, this jacket hasn't been attacked by moths; it's been attacked by a frickin' laser to provide dynamic venting the end for extra force. Now the Ventrix jacket is coated in a DWR (Durable Water Repellent) and isn’t waterproof, it’s water resistant, which means it’s able to resist the penetration of water to some degree but not entirely. Having said that, the jacket did surprisingly well, it copped the full force of the hose right on the centre zip and most of the water beaded straight off leaving me with a small wet patch on the front of the jacket. Other than that, I was completely dry inside. The jacket also dried incredibly quickly when left in the sun.
-Awesome Ventrix synthetic-insulation technology -Super versatile. Great for a range of different conditions or activities
GOOD THINGS COME IN SMALL PACKAGES The North Face Ventrix jacket punches well above its weight when it comes to light jackets, but at $350 you’re certainly paying for it. The hoodie version is even pricier at $380. In my opinion it’s definitely worth the dosh with so much amazing tech packed into such a small package. For my sake, let’s just hope The North Face don’t figure out their prototype is missing…
-Not cheap for a lightweight jacket
MORE INFO thenorthface.com.au
Based in Aoraki Mount Cook, we are New Zealand’s longest established guiding company. We offer unparalleled support for your adventures across the Southern Alps.
Your Pathway to High Adventure TECHNICAL MOUNTAINEERING COURSE (TMC) 9 days advanced alpine climbing
ALPINE SKILLS COURSE (ASC)
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MOUNTAIN EXPERIENCE COURSE (MEC) 6 day introduction to mountain skills
Pedal power WORDS MATTHEW O’MEARA PICS JACK MURPHY
Are they cheating? Outdoor tested out two of Dyson’s electric bikes to see just what all the fuss is about.
all me a traditionalist, but when I heard I was to review an electric mountain bike, it seemed the antithesis of what mountain biking is all about. However, as I soon found out, this wasn’t your standard electric bike. The Dyson Fat Bike and Hard Tail Evo that we had strapped on board during a recent epic trip to Cape York were certainly head turners. The rugged look of the Fat Bike and Dyson’s clean and sophisticated aesthetics really enhanced the fact that these bikes are miles away from the standard perception of a ‘commuter’ electric bike.
SO HOW DO THEY RIDE? These bikes are seriously quick. The Evo is designed for various road surfaces and handled itself well on the corrugated dirt tracks of Cape York. However, it was the Fat Bike that was by far the most fun. I took it out for a ride on the wide open spaces at Loyalty Beach and despite being very soft underfoot, the Fat Bike with its four inch tyres gripped the surface well, and I had no problems getting some good momentum up and down the beach. By contrast I tested the Evo on the same surface and couldn’t even get out of the blocks, which shows just how critical fat tyres are on the soft sand.
TECH FACTS: HARD TAIL EVO The Evo boasts 27.5 inch alloy Alex rims fitted with oversize Kenda tyres suitable for mixed surfaces, 9 speed Shimano Alivio gears, Tektro 180mm disc rotor brakes and 11Ah or optional 15Ah 36V Lithium-ion Panasonic Battery Cells. The total weight is 25kgs and it has a battery life of up to seven hours with a range of up to 150kms. The Evo retails from $2,299, which is well priced considering the quality of the package.
I took it out for a ride on the wide open spaces at Loyalty Beach and despite being very soft underfoot, the Fat Bike with its four inch tyres gripped the surface well
TECH FACTS: FAT BIKE In contrast, the Fat Bike has 26 inch Alex rims fitted with massive four inch Vee tyres suitable for sand, snow and gravel, 9 speed Shimano Alivio gears, Tektro 180mm disc rotor brakes and 11Ah 11Ah 36V Lithium-ion Battery Panasonic Cells. Total weight is 29.2kgs and a battery life of up to 5 hours with a range of up to 50-70kms. It retails for $2,499 with the slightly higher price linked to the bigger tyres.
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Weekend Away Review – January 2015
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lord howe island • another world • close to home
Contact Pinetrees Travel on (02) 9262 6585 or visit pinetrees.com.au 19
THE DOWNLOW ON DESIGN Both bikes have a nice clean display panel that is easy to use and gives you all the standards; speed, battery charge, power meter, odometer, trip function as well as containing a USB port for charging your phone or headlight when on the road. I was impressed by the way Dyson (no relation to the vacuum cleaner manufacturer) has cleverly designed the bike in a way that the electric components (including the battery) have been embedded into the frame, so that from a distance it looks very much like a standard pedal powered mountain bike. The Dyson electric bikes give you the option of not using the electric assistance but when needed can assist in helping you reach speeds of up to 25km/h (the legal limit for electric bicycles in most of Australia).
THE VERDICT Would I get one? Iâ€™d definitely consider it. T he price point reflects the quality of the bike and the Fat Bike in particular was a heap of fun!
PROS - Sleek design makes it look like a standard MT B - Fat Bike does a great job on soft sand - Easy to read display panel
CONS - Heavier than a regular MT B - Hard Tail has no front or rear suspension so not ideal for more hardcore trails
MORE INFO www.dysonbikes.com.au
Adventure Cape Tribulation, Qld
RAINFOREST reconnaissance The Outdoor team had a burning question: is beautiful Cape Tribulation deserving of its depressing name? We doubted so, but we 'endeavoured' to find out what's so special about the region. WORDS Natalie Cavallaro PICS Jack Murphy
Adventure Cape Tribulation, Qld
I made it a
mission to embark on my
Harness? Check, Helmet? Check. Combined terror and excitement? Double check.
The remote coastal headland of Cape Tribulation is a little slice of paradise located within the Daintree National Park. When the metaphorical faecal matter hit the fan during Captain James Cook’s 1770 exploration of the Australian East Coast, it’s believed he named the Cape so because “here began all our troubles” when the Endeavour struck the Great Barrier Reef. It’s believed he also named nearby Mount Sorrow. Don’t let the gloomy names put you off though. This is a region that’s the poster child for north Queensland, and is basically a living, breathing tourism advertisement because of its beauty. The rainforest landscape also prompts you to constantly run the cinematic score of the Jurassic Park theme through your head. Did I just make this reference so I could wrangle a tenuous link to my personal heartthrob Jeff Goldblum into this article? Correct.
Just one of the many (ok, three) cassowaries I saw on my ﬁrst day in the Daintree
olkloric tales of cassowary attacks loomed large ahead of Outdoor’s Daintree National Park adventure. Part of a wider fortnight-long Cape York trip, our time at Cape Tribulation promised forays into the lush rainforest, pristine beaches, and prehistoric-looking birds that would disembowel you without warning. I voiced my excitement about seeing the odd creatures to my editor Jack before we headed off, and was surprised when he breezily dismissed me. “You won’t see one,” he said. “I’ve been up there three or four times, and I’ve never seen one in the wild, ever.” Only slightly deflated by the attitude of Captain Buzzkill, I made it a mission to embark on my own personal ‘Cassowary Crusade’, and prove him wrong. As it turned out, I barely had to make any effort at all, getting up close to not one, not two, but three of the birds on the first day of the trip. While he missed out on the first two, he saw the third and managed to get fairly close to capture some excellent photos as the cassowary strutted along the beach like it was some kind of avian Victoria’s Secret catwalk. While ‘Disembowelled in the Daintree’ has a nice ring to it for an article title, this was a seemingly docile creature largely not bothered by our presence.
IT’S A HARD LIFE Jack and I had been on a content gathering mission to the very tip of Cape York for the fortnight prior to our stay in Cape Tribulation. By the time we headed back south and got to our accommodation at PK’s Jungle Village, to say we were grateful for the air-conditioning and cold beer would be an understatement. However, there would be no sitting around enjoying the 'luxury'. We had a packed schedule with plenty to see and do. Hiking Mt Sorrow was number one, and we had heard all sorts of stories about the difficulty of this steep climb. Also, as we were in the region where ‘rainforest meets reef’, it was imperative that we explore both angles. So snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef and flying through the air on a zip lining adventure through the Daintree Rainforest were on the schedule. Basically, open water and heights, my two biggest fears were on the menu for the days ahead. I just hoped I wasn’t on the menu for any ocean-dwelling predators. DAINTREE DISCOVERIES Apart from our scheduled activities, we were fortunate enough to have a time to do some exploring around the area we were staying and found some incredible little gems including Emmagen Creek. In a region where beach swimming is full of constant warnings in German of impending death by croc chomping, safe waterholes are a pleasant place to find. Emmagen Creek is one of these, located towards the end of Cape Tribulation. It’s a short secluded walk from the road, but once you’re there prepare to cool off and fill up your camera’s memory card as you take endless photos of your pals jumping off the rope swing. Or anxiously standing on the edge as they work up the courage to jump (that was me of course). Mason’s Swimming Hole is another great spot to take a dip, near Mason’s Cafe where you can treat yourself to their famous crocodile burger for the full Daintree experience.
Can't decide if you want to explore rainforest or reef? Cape Tribulation is the place to do it all
WELCOME... TO THE DAINTREE Cape Tribulation is a remote coastal headland and slice of paradise within the Daintree National Park. It’s 110km north of Cairns and 35km north of the Daintree River Ferry North of Cape Tribulation is the famous Bloomﬁeld Track which will take you to Cooktown, recommended for 4WD only. Can’t decide if you want to explore rainforest or reef? Cape Tribulation is the place to do it all – it’s where these two incredible and ancient environments meet and there’s plenty of ways to explore it from hiking to zip lining, to snorkelling or horse riding along the beach. There’s a number of accommodation options available, all in close proximity to the beach. But remember, achtung!
Some of the beautiful landscape captured in between anxious croc watching
Adventure Cape Tribulation, Qld
Jack auditions for the upcoming stage show adaptation of Tarzan at Emmagen Creek (it's a shame his voice will let him down)
Just bring a good pair of hiking boots, your swimmers, and a sense of adventure
Pretty sure these are the birds you don't want to challenge to a thumb war
WHAT TO FIND Cape Tribulation is an excellent region to really get away from it all and worship Mother Nature at her finest. The mobile phone reception may be severely limited, but what it’s overflowing with are pristine beaches, the bucket list must-see Great Barrier Reef, and a rainforest that is ancient and full of hidden wonder. There’s a huge variety of tours, accommodation options, and for those who can’t go without snacks, the Daintree Ice Cream Co. churns out delectable flavours that you can enjoy among some of the country’s most stunning landscapes. Can’t live without your smashed avo and a decent coffee in the morning? Then walk yourself over to Turtle Rock Cafe at the Ocean Safari kiosk. An iced-coffee is the perfect way to beat the heat and start your day, while we can personally vouch for the fish and chips and the fish taco. When it comes to supplies there’s a supermarket where you can get basics, but to be honest you don’t need much here. Just bring a good pair of hiking boots, your swimmers, and a sense of adventure.
The crocodile free swimming paradise at Emmagen Creek is most welcome in this area
Adventure Rainforest to Reef
FLOATING and flying If you go to Cape Tribulation and don't snorkel and zip line, have you really been to Cape Tribulation? With this philosophical question pressing, we grabbed our snorkels and clipped into our harnesses. WORDS Natalie Cavallaro PICS Jack Murphy
Adventure Rainforest to Reef
s the Ocean Safari boat sped further away from the shore at Cape Tribulation, my dread at having to be in open water mixed with a little excitement, creating a confusing emotion that I will call ‘excitedread’. We were on a Great Barrier Reef tour, headed to Mackay and Undine Reefs, to discover the wonder that lives under the sea and hopefully get some amazing photography of what we’d find. We’d jumped on board a tour that mainly consisted of a group of excitable secondary school students from a variety of European nations. As we zipped over the water, their chatter in German, French, and Italian mixed with a blaring soundtrack of mid 1990s pop hits, a high energy combination that did nothing to calm my anxiety. As an experienced diver, Jack shared none of my misgivings, and was instead quietly amused at my apprehension at jumping in the great blue to casually float along its surface. After 25 minutes on the boat we’d reached the destination and it was time to go and find Nemo. With the future of the Reef so precarious, it was pleasing to note that our snorkelling guide Mary and skipper Sarah stressed the importance of not touching anything that we saw, and constantly gave friendly reminders not to stand up on the reef. Already kitted up in wetsuits (most of us, anyway), we grabbed our snorkels and goggles and once given the requisite safety instructions, it was time to jump in.
UNDER THE SEA I’m a complete landlubber who is never fully relaxed unless her feet are flat on terra firma. I’ve done stints on a boat at sea before and I loved it, but actually putting my body in the open water is another matter altogether. Determined though, I jumped – or cautiously and awkwardly tripped down the boat’s ladder – into the great unknown and put my face into the water. After my brain processed the fact that thanks to a snorkel I could now breathe underwater, I relaxed and proceeded to take in the glorious spectacle in front of me: colourful coral, tropical fish of every shade and size, giant clams, electric blue starfish, stingrays, and sea turtles that were so chilled out I questioned whether their daily diet had been given a liberal dose of ‘special’ sea algae. There was no end of marine life to follow around, and the whole experience was soundtracked in my head by ‘Under the Sea’ as sung by Sebastian from Disney’s The Little Mermaid (I now realise my Jamaican accent is terrible). With our friendly guide pointing me in the direction of turtles, I was completely absorbed in the underwater world, and totally forgot about my fear of drowning and being eaten by sharks. My fish of an editor only sporadically swum by to check on me and tried (unsuccessfully) to get a cool pic of me underwater, but my aquatic modelling skills were severely lacking and off he swam, leaving me to flailing and pointing at all I found.
The Ocean Safari boat, which I made sure was well within my eyesight at all times, lest I get left behind and eaten
OCEAN SAFARI GREAT BARRIER REEF TOUR "Totally cool man, I love the water..."
With the future of the Reef so precarious, it was pleasing to note that our snorkelling guide Mary and skipper Sarah stressed the importance of of not touching anything that we saw It's really important to change your point of view you know?
Ocean Safari offers a variety of tours, and Outdoor did the Great Barrier Reef tour. The half day tour takes you to two different snorkel destinations, Mackay and Undine Reefs, a fast 25 minute boat ride from the shore. An experienced Eco Host will be with you the whole time in the water, pointing out an array of incredible marine life and coral species. You can choose to hire a wetsuit for your snorkelling experience and snorkels, masks and ﬁns are provided. What can you see? What can't you see, more like it! Keep your eyes peeled for tropical ﬁsh, eagle rays, giant clams, star ﬁsh, and of course, green sea turtles. For more information visit www.oceansafari.com.au
Adventure Rainforest to Reef
ZIPPING ALONG THE TREES While heights are also a fear of mine, I was actually pretty excited about Jungle Surfing zip lining in the Daintree Rainforest. Having already experienced the landscape during the previous few days of our stay, I knew that flying through the heights of the treetops would be pretty incredible, and I vowed to keep my eyes open and limit my squealing to the bare minimum. I succeeded on the eyes front, but I did manage to swear at one of our guides as she flung me along one of the seven zip lines. To be fair, she did let out a cry of “oh no!” followed by an evil laugh as I swung away. She forgave me though, and I had to give her kudos for the joke. I would’ve done it to me too. We flew across seven zip lines from platforms that ranged from five to 19.5m above the ground, and along the way we were treated to a privileged close-up view of the rainforest ecosystem, as well as a view that stretched out to the Great Barrier Reef. There were plenty of informative facts delivered by our friendly and fearless guides, which enhanced the experience. There was even a little local gourmet food tasting, if you want to call pulling green ants off a tree and licking them, gourmet.
There’s no skill required to partake in Jungle Surfing. With the guides in total control of each of your flights from tree to tree, all you have to do is let them clip you in, wipe your sweaty palms on your shorts, and let fly! Oh, and you do have the option of zip lining upside down on one of the lines, which I highly recommend for a totally different view of the world around you. Just lift your feet in the air and flip yourself upside down as you hurtle through the rainforest. And trust me, if this garden variety scaredy cat can do it, anyone can. I was also encouraged by the eight year-old girl in the family who were on the tour with us. She was nervous, but she was also determined, and it was a frame of mind that I adopted. Right on, sister. A BEAUTIFUL PATCH OF PARADISE Cape Tribulation is a heavenly little piece of Queensland, and if you do make it there, seeing it from all angles is really going to enhance your enjoyment. From hardcore hikes to family fun, it’s a destination that can be as adventurous or as relaxing as you want to make it. This stunning scenery is here in our own backyard and its exploration options are endless.
JUNGLE SURFING CANOPY TOURS Jungle Surﬁng takes place in the heart of the Daintree Rainforest. Guides will be with you every step of the way as you ﬂy through the air through six tree platforms and seven zip lines. Got kids? Perfect! This is a tour that’s ideal for all ages (“three to 103” according to Jungle Surﬁng’s website) and it’s a unique way to enjoy the landscape. Safety is paramount during the tour, and you’ll be safely harnessed and clipped in at all times. All you need to worry about is taking in the magic around you!
"You want me to do what?" When I was informed that ﬂying upside down was not optional (it is, they tricked me)
For more information visit www.junglesurﬁng.com.au 32
Adventure Mt Sorrow
WAY IS UP
Although it,s just seven kilometres, only a fool would embark on the rainforest hike of Mt Sorrow and expect an easy run - this is a one way ticket straight up to the clouds. WORDS Natalie Cavallaro PICS Jack Murphy
Preparation is key...
hen it came time to research a must-do hike in the Daintree, nothing pleased my blackened Goth heart more than discovering the depressingly named ridge trail of Mt Sorrow. A perusal of Queensland’s National Parks fact sheet warned of leeches, the requirement of exceptional fitness, adequate water supplies, enough daylight and an EPIRB. Naturally, I prepared the hiking kit. Snacks, first-aid kit, space blanket, salt for leech removal and more snacks. Of course, when it came to actually embark on our hike, I got swept up in the devil-may-care attitude of my editor and accidentally left the whole kit in my room, aside from the water and one out-of-date birthday cake flavoured protein bar that I bought two weeks prior in Cooktown. Oh well, I thought. All the more reason to make sure we knock this hike over in enough time. I also figured if things turned pear-shaped, it could be a good chance to ditch Jack in the rainforest, and snag the possible upcoming Outdoor assignment to Antarctica for myself. I needn’t have worried about our ill-preparedness. We ended up tagging along with a few of the backpackers who worked at our lodgings, one of whom was a perky American named Amber who’d already done the hike twice before. She failed to tell us that she was going for a personal best time, and held a cracking pace to rival Usain Bolt. I knew within the first hundred metres I had nothing – and everything – to fear. We’d be back for Happy Hour, that was for sure. QUALITY TANK FUEL After a raucous evening at PK’s Jungle Village establishing ourselves as ‘the zany writers from down south’ and toasting drinks to new friendships, we woke surprisingly chipper and ready to bust a move up the mountain. Against our better judgement we shunned simple cereal and toast, opting for bacon and eggs, a rash call we would both regret at the two kilometre mark. We then hightailed it over to Amber and co who almost left without us as they assumed we’d be convalescing from the previous night’s shenanigans. We scoffed. Didn’t they know we were professional writers on assignment? Celebratory beverages or not, we were securing a mountain view today! We set off, a crew of five – confident Amber; British Jess, who voiced concerns about the activity level ahead of us, American Leah, who was celebrating her birthday, my bearded editor confident that I had overstated the difficulty of the task ahead, and me, characteristically sweaty before we even left the PK’s car park. The actual trail entrance was 20 minutes walk up the road and the sun was beating down by the time we arrived. With a quick glance at the warnings signposted at the entrance we set off. I consider myself to be reasonably fit – so the early protests of my heart rate alerted me that we were in for a steep climb.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW Where is it? Mt Sorrow is in the Daintree National Park, Cape Tribulation. Travel 104km north of Cairns on the Captain Cook Highway to reach the Daintree River Ferry. Beyond the ferry, it’s about 36km to the Kulki day use area. How far is it? The ridge trail is seven kilometres, just over three kilometres to the lookout at the top. It’s a 680m climb, and the steepness and humidity will test you. Is it marked? Yes, there are trail markers at every kilometre, however you need to stay alert as the foliage is thick and it’s easy to take a wrong turn.
All smiles at the top – and who wouldn't be grinning, with that view?
Adventure Mt Sorrow
THE TRAIL Steep is an understatement, but it’s not the only factor that makes this a difficult hike. The path is extremely narrow, and often obstructed by fallen trees. There’s roots aplenty underfoot, and with the foliage and hanging vines you’ll be doing more ducking and weaving than Mike Tyson at the height of his career. Speaking of vines, there’s plenty of wait-a-while vines on the trail. They hang from the rainforest canopy and may look harmless, but once they’ve attached to you and you try to walk off, you’ll realise they’re harder to ditch than drunken Barry from finance at the work Christmas party. Just stop, and slowly walk backwards which should unhook their razor-sharp spikes from your skin and clothes. As for Barry, tell him the DJ’s playing Footloose and you just can’t miss it. Just when you think the undulating track can’t get much harder, you’ll encounter a rugged section which has a rope that is necessary to haul yourself up. I was relieved to have a helping hand here, and found it to be one of the most enjoyable parts. Less enjoyable were the leeches that hopped on most of us for an easy ride to the top, mostly as the vegetation became wetter as we ascended. The thirsty little bloodsuckers were hard to get off, but to be honest, I was surprised we didn’t get more. While the leeches didn’t disrupt our fun, the snake I narrowly avoided stepping on almost did. It was too quick for me to identify it, but there are plenty of venomous snakes in this area, and as long as you use common sense you’ll be fine. Wear hiking boots, long socks or pants, and give them a wide berth. I’m not sure if the shirtless and barefoot German guy with the furry bear rave beanie we passed subscribed to my brand of caution, but we didn’t find him collapsed and frothing at the mouth, so
I’m sure he was fine. This is a hard trail, so make regular stops for water and to take in the beauty all around you. Butterflies, birds, creepy crawlies, and interesting foliage abound, and it would be a shame to miss out on the sights because you’re doubled over catching your breath. Or because you’re hot stepping it, trying to keep up with your unofficial hike leader who’s at sprint pace. BEYOND THE CLOUDS When you do finally get to the lookout at the top (680m elevation), you’ll find it’s an extremely small fenced off platform. When we got there about two and a half hours after we began the hike, we were treated to a view that was made up entirely of clouds, or what I imagine it’s like being inside a giant marshmallow. Determined to get the scenic view we had pushed ourselves so far for, we jumped the lookout barrier and hiked on another 200m or so over a narrow ridge that tested my fear of heights, to a comfortable little ledge of rocks. The cloud was still heavy so we sat and waited. After about 20 minutes, it cleared and it was everything I had hoped for. The Reef, vast and blue touched the rainforest, lush and green. The Daintree coastline and Snapper Island were in view, along with the shadows of coral reef. So high above the difficulty we had encountered below, the relaxation was welcome and the sense of achievement satisfying. I nibbled my out of date protein bar and tried to commit the view to memory as I mentally prepared myself for the descent. What goes up, must come down, and here’s a tip for you – climbing down Mt Sorrow is just as taxing as the way up. By the time we reached the road I was ready to hitch hike back to PK’s, my legs were so exhausted. If you love a challenge and feeling like you’ve achieved something, this Sorrow is worth it.
"Amber, please wait!" Our hiking guide races us to the top, with no mercy
Harder to ditch than my last Tinder date...there's leeches aplenty on the trail
PREPARE FOR SORROW This is the face of what doctors call 'breakfast regret'
It may be under 10km, but don’t be fooled. Mt Sorrow is no Sunday stroll. If you don’t have a good degree of ﬁtness under your belt, and at least some experience scrambling on steep and narrow tracks, your joy will be scant. Here’s some prep you don’t want to skip. Tell someone when you are going and when you expect to return. We signed in and out of our accommodation, but even if you’re not staying locally, you will be able to do the same. "When dehydration happens to good people" – don’t let this be the name of your posthumous memoir. There is not a drop of water to be found on the trail and it’s recommended you take at least three to four litres of water per person. We had just over ﬁve litres between the two of us, and you best believe we drained them.
Long way to the top, long way to fall – I thought we were close to the summit here but I was so wrong...
Carrying the essentials with you is necessary, you'll want to celebrate at the top with a swig or 11 of water
Leave early – this is not a track to walk in the dark, and depending on your speed and experience you’ll need to set aside six hours. Factor in time to catch your breath and take in the views at the top. It’s not a great idea to do this hike alone, as there are things that can go wrong and schlepping yourself down the mountain with a snake bite or broken ankle would be less than ideal to say the least. Make sure you’re wearing hiking boots that are sturdy and reliable – there’s plenty of hazards underfoot. You’re going to be a lather of sweat about 20 seconds after starting the hike. Wear gear that’s going to wick sweat away, and pack a lightweight rain poncho in case. You’ll also want something warm to throw on up the top when you’re taking in the view as the breeze is chilly. Pack a high-energy lightweight snack – to keep energy up and boost morale. It’s a good idea to have a satellite phone or EPIRB on you, as your mobile phone reception will be extremely limited here. For more information on the trail and safety guidelines, visit www.npsr.qld.gov.au/parks/daintreemount-sorrow
SCHOOL of life WORDS AND PICS Henry Brydon
With zero bike tech knowledge and just a big dream, Henry Brydon set off on an epic cycling adventure, learning a thing or two along the way.
n 2010 I quit my job and with zero experience pedalled 38,000km from London to Sydney through 30 countries with my friend Jamie, raising $100,000 for charity (and several demonic arse boils) for my troubles. I went from working in a bank to living like a glorified hobo, or a vagabond at best. I survived on $5 a day and minimised my entire worldly possessions to a few bags that I strapped onto a two wheeled tarmac tank. I slept in a tent or with kind locals that took me in for the night. Every day was a new experience; predictability vanished and an excitement for life consumed me. My bum hurt and my legs ached. I was the happiest dude on earth. Re-adapting to a modern western society was as easy as lighting a fart in an Arctic snowstorm after two years of living the life of an unrefined, nomadic tramp. An experience like this inherently alters perspectives, but Iâ€™ll avoid telling you how soul-tinglingly spectacular the world is (getting out there and seeing it during our limited over innings is a no brainer). Instead, here are the lessons Iâ€™ve taken from the adventure that will hopefully resonate with you.
To be brutally honest I never became overly adept at fixing my bicycle
Be prepared for all weather extremes, like the harsh winter of Krygzstan
DON’T LET LACK OF EXPERIENCE DETER YOU When my Dad had to show me how to fix a puncture in the week preceding D-day, I began to question my sanity. I’d never ridden a bike further than the shops, the only time I’d worn Lycra was at a 1980s themed birthday party, and I had absolutely no idea where Turkmenistan was on a world map. Ambition beats experience in most arm wrestles, and being a fairly resilient species, we’re biologically programmed to figure shit out. I went from being completely buggered after a 70km day on the flats of France, to boshing out 3000 plus metre mountain passes on 12 hour days with gas in the tanks for an evening jog. I became a Jedi master in the art of ‘having a go’, focusing more on ‘how can I make this work’ rather than ‘I can’t do that’. To be brutally honest I never became overly adept at fixing my bicycle, but I quickly found that there are incredibly resourceful people out there who will help personified spanners. After an impressive over-the-handlebars Cirque du Soleil style crash outside of Alice Springs, inmates at the local prison came to our rescue after word got out that we needed some help. They’d recently completed a bicycle maintenance course and were keen to put their new found skills to the test, with convicted murderer Bradley Murdoch leading the pack.
A shared dream and matching hats – the recipe for success!
Not usually a country you'd associate with great camping, but Iraq delivered the goods
MODERN DAY SAINTS WHO ROAM THE EARTH Little did I know, but lurking in all corners of the world are an army of modern day saints. These angelic beings assume the human form and appear out of nowhere to support travellers when most needed, particularly cycle tourists with offensive body odour. We couldn’t predict who they’d be either. One was a portly mayor in a sleepy French town, another was a recovering crackhead in a park in Vienna. Tibetan monks, Syrian bedouins, Iranian red cross volunteers, Bosnian Eurovision song contest winners, the list goes in. The Middle East and Central Asia in particular took pure kindness and warmth to stratospheric levels. A family in Kyrgyzstan gave up their beds for us! The unadulterated generosity of strangers was hands down the most remarkable part of the journey and it’s made a deep impression on my moral fibre – I’ve since made it my duty to pass on the favour. Despite what you may read, the world is an incredibly loving and compassionate planet and I completely lost count of the times I was reminded of this. You can see all seven wonders of the world, but it’s all about the people. BE A DREAMER (BUT MAKE IT HAPPEN) If there’s one thing this adventure taught me, it’s that I’m capable of much more than I ever thought. I have a (selfdiagnosed) condition called ‘delusional optimism’, which means I feel very comfortable striving for what naysayers deem unattainable goals. I’ve realised that aiming big is a pretty rad way to live life, and by just making those initial baby steps – or baby pedals – towards your dreams, you actually create a vortex of awesomeness that spirals way out of one’s comprehension at the time. It ignites a chain of events that can completely deviate the course of your life. This bike trip sucked me into a tornado and spat me out somewhere I couldn’t have imagined beforehand. Time is precious – just bloody go for it.
If there,s one thing this adventure taught me, it,s that I,m capable of much more than I ever thought
BE LIKE THE DUDE, TAKE THE ROUGH WITH THE SMOOTH The Gobi Desert is drier than a tongue suffering from a homemade vodka hangover, and 4000m Kyrgyz mountains in winter freeze bicycle brakes in such a fashion that only urine can unfreeze them. We were flooded in Hungary and dry-roasted in Australia’s outback oven. But the extremes of long distance bike travel extend far beyond the weather conditions. Taking the rough with the smooth is par for the course and my journey was far from sunshines and rainbows! Things don’t always go to plan, and that’s a sobering reality of long distance travel. We were in fact robbed on three (quite scary) occasions, survived a biblical sandstorm that flattened our tent, spent time in an Iraqi prison
cell and were held up by the Turkish military who mistakenly took us for Syrian border jumpers. Turns out, they actually saved us from pitching our tent upon a live minefield with enough explosives to blast us into orbit. What’s more, our most popular blogs from the road were not of the dreamy landscapes we passed through or the intergalactic displays on show in Iranian deserts, but when things went horrendously wrong. This affirmed my belief that humans are a twisted species who love to read about the suffering (and hard-fought survival) of others, and that misadventure is true adventure. Over-planning is dangerous too. Be flexible on long journeys – keep your eyes wide and mind open. Embrace the randomness.
Plenty of rock star sightings in the Aussie outback
"Don't worry Mum, I am looking after myself..."
The warm welcome from Krygzstan local was much appreciated
MAGIC ACTUALLY EXISTS Excerpt from diary: The morning had begun so positively. I was wellrested, having found respite with a typically warmhearted Kyrgyz family in a remote village called Sary-Tash. Theyâ€™d let me sleep in a storeroom behind their roadside eatery the night before. The eldest daughter served a carb-rich breakfast of rice and lamb, her shy eyes reflecting the deep blue morning skies through the window. I noticed how the hard, jagged contours of her cheek and jawbones matched the ominous mountain peaks looming over the village. She smiled at me and I grinned back. She must have thought I possessed an intellect rivalled only by a bike spanner. I pedalled eastwards, determinedly weaving my way towards the Chinese border through the wild and enchanted Narnian landscape. The crunching of my tyres pierced the catacomb-quiet air. The only soul I encountered was a truck driver coming the opposite way, and I caught his puzzled expression through the frosted windscreen. Mother nature can be a cruel temptress. Suddenly, the sun was swallowed by a biblical whiteout and everything from my bike to my bones froze. Had I made fateful eye contact with Medusa behind the wheel of that passing truck? The situation became bleaker than the blizzard that had now cocooned me. It was then that I saw it. Was it just a cruel Arctic mirage in the distance or a potential shelter for the night? My ice-covered beard twitched with excitement and I pedalled again, albeit at a pace not dissimilar to a drunken slug. Inside the unlocked, mystical van was a bucket of coal to get the furnace started, a jar of tea bags, and more quilts than a US granny convention. Was this a gift from the vagabond-gods for an overly ambitious British traveller? I felt like an expected guest. A grin returned to my lips for the first time since breakfast. I had found a magic bus. Experiences and opportunities beyond my wildest imagination occurred on this trip; I simply couldnâ€™t have prepared myself for what happened. From raves in a lightning storm, breakfast TV in Australia, bunkering down in hidden Syrian monasteries in the middle of a desert, to being invited to the British Embassy in Tehran. Long distance cyclists beware: prepare for your mind to be blown. As we get older sensibilities and logic elbow in on our imagination, we sadly lose sight of the magic that exists in the world. My advice? Take a seat in a panoramic saddle sofa and let the good times roll.
WILD CAMPING IS AN ADVENTURER’S PARADISE Once you’ve tasted the fruits of sleeping in wild places with no one within a 30km radius, it’s very hard to pitch your tent in a public camping area. The guttural throng of beer induced snoring from public holiday escapists passed out in their camp chairs just doesn’t carry the same level of serenity. From cave hideouts in Turkey to Roman ruins in Syria; river banks in Kurdistan; lakeside beaches in Sumatra; pine forests of Germany and the harsh deserts of Turkmenistan, the combo of being crafty hobos on a laughable daily budget led us to the some spectacular places. Sometimes we had to think outside of the box, supplanting caravans on the Silk Road in Uzbekistan, farmers’ huts in Laos and making our own beach side ‘cabanas’ in Turkey. We paid for camping only twice in two years. Wild camping was one of my favourite elements of the trip and it’s an addiction that I’m still riddled to the core with. I loved that feeling in the late afternoon when my primitive instincts sprang into action and the search for shelter began. Of course you don’t always come up trumps. I thought this when we had to camp next to a motorway in Iran that was infested with rats, under a billboard in Croatia and numerous park benches, building sites, bridges and petrol station forecourts. Rough with the smooth dude, rough with the smooth.
Figure out what,s an achievable budget to save for, get crafty and just do it
NO MONEY? NO PROBLEM! A common misconception – by Western standards – is that you need a lot of money for a long distance bike trip. I call bullshit on this. You’ll surprise yourself with how far a meagre daily budget will take you when you inject it with creativity and a sprinkle of resourcefulness. We had a budget of $5 per day each, so we had no choice but to embrace the life of a vagabond. I may have broken an unofficial world record in Europe with a nonshowering stint of 25 days, something I’m immensely proud of despite the head-turning disgust from anyone caught downwind of passing pong. You don’t need the latest and greatest gear on the market either – I met people on cross continental trips who’d scored their trusty steeds from a backstreet bike shops in Thailand for less than $50. Figure out what’s an achievable budget to save for, get crafty and just do it. Shrinking my entire worldly possessions down to the vital contents of a few panniers was an immensely pleasurable experience. The happiest I’ve ever been is when I had bugger all cash and this is something I was reminded of throughout the trip. The people I met with the least, had the most. I met a dude called Jimmy in Laos who had a lost both arms when he picked up a landmine as a young boy, but he was a part time break dancer with the most incredibly positive outlook on life. Riding a bicycle for up to 12 hours a day presents a wonderful opportunity to ponder the core philosophical questions around what makes you happy. Having purpose, a goal and excitement coursing through my veins made me the happiest I’ve ever been. However, the arse boils I picked up in South East Asia did their best to dampen these high spirits. I used an entire daily budget on the ointment.
Triumphant in Turkey, and a good chance to air out the armpits that haven't been washed in 20 plus days
ON THE ROAD, CARBS ARE YOUR FRIEND To meet the body’s requirement for fuel, a cheap and cheerful option for a hungry cyclist is bread and pasta. Bread (particularly in Europe and the Middle East) formed such a core part of my diet that I believed I may one day wake up to find that I’d morphed into a walking, talking, cycling loaf; a skin of crust and dough for flesh. The challenge was to find something interesting to spread on top – strawberry jam and honey would fight for top prize. We staggered into a bakery in Sarajevo as it was closing and bought everything in the counters. Literally everything – three bin liners full in fact, all for 15 euros. We toddled off to find somewhere to camp and I still dream of the congealed iced donut/sausage roll combo we had for breaky the following day. Beyond the carbs, hungry cyclists are a rare breed who can’t afford to be picky so you tend to eat what you’re given, and not always for the better. Chowing down on a jungle rat with Laotian policeman was a flavour I’m still trying to wash from my taste buds. The ‘plov’ we ate with Saint Baha was washed down with 1.5L of vodka and ended in a dance-off with an Uzbek bride and the unleashing of a ‘vomcano’ in the cloak room.
Setting a ﬁre and enjoying the serenity of the desert in Turkmenistan
Meeting a cuddle local in the Aussie outback
Being flexible happy-go-luckers definitely helped and we also wanted the same sorts of things from the trip
Wild camping in Turkey with not a rowdy neighbour in sight
CHOOSE YOUR COMPANION WISELY First rule of bike club: if you’re going to ride with someone else, pick a good’un (particularly if it’s for two years). I was introduced to Jamie in a Soho pub in London after I heard that a friend of a friend was also toying with the idea of doing a ridiculously long bike ride. It is to this day the best blind date I’ve ever been on. Why did it work so well for us? Being flexible happy-go-luckers definitely helped and we also wanted the same sorts of things from the trip. I do believe there was some degree of divine intervention at play that forced our paths to cross. The fact that we never fell out in two years is testament to that. I did question his sanity three weeks into the trip though, when in the middle of the night I woke to him appearing to demonically cut his own manhood off. Turns out a tick had burrowed into the base of his member, spurning the song Tick on the Dick, which we played to audiences around the world as the travelling duo ‘The Sideways Halos’. Yep, we travelled with a ukulele and a harmonica and were the least successful buskers in history. I got hitched to a girl called Susi in 2014 and Jamie married us in a rock cathedral deep in the bush south of Sydney. He’s also the nutty godfather to my son, who arrived on the planet this year. Fair to say, I got pretty lucky with Jamie.
Pick your travel partner wisely – like someone you can write a novelty song with
Tech Trip planning
hen I first started adventuring outdoors, a friend gave me a copy of The SAS Survival Handbook by John Wiseman. The book was packed with, what I thought was, essential information to keep me alive outdoors. Having now spent hundreds of nights under canvas and the stars and ridden, hiked, paddled and skied through many parts of Australia, Iâ€™ve realised the ability to track and kill an animal or navigate by the stars, is not as useful as it sounds, despite what my well-intentioned buddy may have thought when he gifted me the book. Thankfully, I have never needed to trap small mammals for a meal, but there are many techniques and tips I wish I had known when I first started out.
Fancy yourself as a modern day adventurer, when you,re really a complete noob? Your first extended trip into the great outdoors can be daunting, but our first-timer ,s guide will have you setting up camp like a pro in no time. WORDS Ashley Gra y PICS Ashley Gra y, Mitch Cox (opener)
Tech Trip planning
Tackling the Great Ocean Walk in Victoria
Hard copy maps are a must on all overnighters
One of the most important decisions you need to make when venturing outdoors overnight is where to go. When you first start out, look for somewhere easy and well within your limits. Once you have mastered your first over-nighter, you can always go further afield, higher and more remote, but keep it simple at first. Search online, read guidebooks and ask around to fi nd your perfect location. Ideally, it will be challenging enough to keep you occupied all day, while still leaving plenty of time for setting up camp. Th is is vital for your fi rst trip, as learning the ins and outs of eﬃcient camp setup can take time.
Bike packing - hills on a fully loaded MTB will increase travel times
TIME TRIALS If your adventure involves hiking, it’s worth considering how far you can comfortably travel each day. In 1892, Scottish mountaineer William Naismith developed the Naismith Rule, which is used to estimate travel time based on distance and ascent. While the rule has been adjusted over the years, it is based on the premise of allowing one hour for every 5km, plus an extra hour for every 600m ascent. There are online calculators which can assist with this calculation. Some even account for trail surface, descent, fitness level and the weight of your pack. When you’re starting out, try to keep to distances less than 20km per day on mostly ﬂat terrain. Th is will allow for plenty of breaks, a long lunch, time to set up camp, make a cuppa and enjoy the sunset. Estimating travel times for a cycling, skiing or paddling journey can be more diﬃcult. Travel times can be severely impacted by the weather, conditions and terrain. A fullyloaded bikepacking mountain bike, for example, may tick along nicely at 15-20km/h on a ﬂat trail, but throw in some single track, mud and hills, and your speed will plummet. You may even need to consider travel speeds at diﬀerent times of the day. If you’re planning an overnight ski trip, for example, morning is the best time to cover long distances, particularly in the spring. Snow softened by the sun or the rain will be much more taxing and will slow you down.
TRIP BUDDIES So you’re set on the location and now it’s time to recruit the crew. Before you grab the phone and call your bestie, consider if they are right person for the job. It can be a fi ne line. Sure, you want people you get along with, but you also need to consider if they are really up to it. Are they fit enough? What skills do they bring? Will they be reliable and independent? Are they mentally prepared for the challenge? These things might seem minor when you’re in the comfort of your own home but, should the weather turn foul just as you get to the bottom of the toughest climb of the day, you may wish you hadn’t invited ‘whining Wayne’. It’s hard enough facing your own demons up a hill, let alone hearing all about Wayne’s, too. Any successful manager or boss could tell you the importance of having clear role descriptions for their staﬀ. The same applies for the outdoors. While you may not need to put these down on paper in a formal way, it’s important that everyone on the trip is aware of his or her own roles and responsibilities. Who will bring the food? Who’s responsible for making the site booking? Will you drive the group to the trailhead the morning after coming oﬀ night-shift, or can this be allocated to someone else? Again, all these questions may seem trivial, but having it all sorted out in advance is vital when weary companions are spending days together in close quarters.
Having it all sorted out in advance is vital when weary companions are spending days together in close quarters
Make sure when you're packing, that you include the essential items while minimising weight, to reduce the physical strain
Tech Trip planning
ESSENTIAL GEAR When you’re living out of your backpack, you want to make sure it’s packed with the right stuﬀ. Guidebooks and online research can help you create a comprehensive packing list appropriate to your activity, location and time of year. Many experienced travellers will strive for a minimalist setup and shed grams at any opportunity. But when you’re fi rst starting out on long-range adventures, your priority should be to pack smart while still having room for a couple of creature comforts to ease you into the outdoor lifestyle. A small inﬂatable pillow can save your neck and help you to wake up refreshed and well-rested, ready to tackle the new day. A few extra pairs of socks will always come in handy. Apart from their obvious use, they can double as mittens if you forget your gloves. And a sock is a perfect hot water bottle cover for your drink bottle, fi lled with warm water, tightly sealed and put into the bottom of your sleeping bag. Wearing two pairs of socks may also help prevent blisters. For more packing tips, check out the list on page 53.
Your priority should be to pack smart while still having room for a couple of creature comforts to ease you into the outdoor lifestyle
MAP IT OUT With a location now set, it’s time to start looking at the specific route you’ll take and you need a map to do this. You might fi nd park maps with the area and trails shown, or even a Google map with satellite images, but you really need a hard copy topographic map of the area, ideally in a scale of 1:50,000 or even 1:25,000. These maps provide details of cultural features like buildings and roads and also show landforms through the contour lines. You should learn how to interpret a map before your journey. Geoscience Australia has a very useful Map Reading Guide available on its website. Double check your map is the most current version and carefully review the land managers’ website for any change of conditions, like road closures or trail re-alignments. Prior to the trip, study the maps and highlight your desired route. Use the map to calculate distances travelled and elevation changes. These will aﬀect your travel times (see Naismith rule, above). If your route requires challenging navigation, it can be helpful to identify ‘catching features’ just beyond your destination. These are things in the landscape that will let you know you have gone too far – perhaps a road or a creek or a valley. These will help to ensure you don’t become hopelessly lost!
PACKING TIPS , Know what you re carrying, how to use it and practice at home first.
A head torch (and spare batteries): This should be one of the ﬁrst items you pack on any trip. They free up your hands for cooking and camp set up, and allow unencumbered walking if you’re still hiking come nightfall.
First aid kit: This should go without saying. Make sure it’s relevant to the area and activity you are undertaking. Include duct tape and wrap it around a drink bottle as an easy way to pack an essential repair item.
Tent pole repair sleeve:
Travel sized toiletries:
If you’re using a tent, this is essential. It is a small aluminum tube, slightly thicker than your current tent pole, which can be placed over a break in the pole.
Available from most supermarkets, these will not only save weight, but also save your trek buddies from dealing with your unique scent after many hours (or days!) without a shower.
Water purification tablets (or drops):
These can make water from most sources safe to drink. Creek or untreated tank water may seem safe to consume, you never know what has happened upstream or before your visit. Being sick in the outdoors is not fun so it’s always best to err on the side of caution.
Waterproof bags/snaplock bags:
These always come in handy for storage and keeping valuable electronic equipment dry.
Tech Trip planning
A ﬁrst aid kit is the most essential piece of equipment you can bring, but make sure it's relevant to the area you'll be in
PLAN FOR THE WORST Travel in the outdoors always has an element of risk. This should not stop you from venturing past the city limits, but it does mean some additional planning is required. Firstly, it’s crucial that you let someone know where you are going. This needs to be a reliable person who is not on the trip and is capable of raising the alarm if you fail to return. Be sure to provide them with the location, intended route, party members and supplies you’re carrying. A quick online search for ‘trip intentions’ forms will bring up a range of templates that are used by local authorities. The forms will help you include all the relevant details, some of which can be easy to overlook. If you’re lucky enough to be ski touring in Victoria, the Mountain Sports Collective website (www. mountainsportscollective.org) has a handy trip intentions form whichThere’s you can fillininPurnululu online – even ‘on the ﬂy’ on the drive up. no fuel This is National then sent directly Park, so if youto your nominated contact person and evenplan to the relevantfor authority on exploring a few for the area you are visiting (police, patrol, etc). daysski a spare jerry of diesel If you or doesn’t a partyhurt. member comes to grief out on the trail, you’ll
probably need to organise your own evacuation – unless it’s life-threatening. Having a contingency plan before departure will make this much easier in the stress of an evacuation. Consider where the closest road is. Where can you get mobile reception? Where can you go to shelter from bad weather? In the preparation stages, it may even be necessary to implement some basic contingency plans. On a recent trip, I led a group up to Craig’s Hut in the Victorian Alps. We arrived following a long weekend and found the water tank tap had been left on and the tank was completely empty. All the nearby creeks were also dry. But prior planning averted this potentially challenging situation. We had left some filled water containers at a nearby access road on our way in. Some nice manners and sweet-talking to a group of 4WDers got us a lift up and back to collect our water. Problem solved through a planned contingency. When it all goes pear-shaped, you will need some way to communicate with the outside world. Mobile phone reception can be patchy or non-existent in remote areas, and batteries go ﬂat. You need at least two additional communication methods, such as a UHF radio, personal locator beacon or satellite phone.
MONEY TALKS Outdoor adventuring can be expensive, especially in the beginning. The cost of equipment, clothes, food and even time can be enough to put many oﬀ the idea of a weekend in the wild. But with some planning and research, the pain to your hip pocket can be minimised. Many outdoor stores hire out tents, packs, sleeping bags and even radios, satellite phones and GPS devices. Not only will this save you money, it also allows you to try before you buy and so can help you make a more informed decision come purchase time. You are only as strong as your weakest link, and this includes both people and equipment. Hiring quality gear ensures you have equipment suited to the conditions, rather than cheap, low quality gear you may feel inclined to buy when starting out. Exploring outside is best done in groups, so consider sharing the costs and gear with others. Pack and purchase carefully before the trip. Everyone in the group does not need to buy their own dinner, lunch and snacks. Buy your food as a group and split the costs and weight. Research into the area may uncover cheap or even free camp sites. At one popular hiking area in the Alpine National Park in north-east Victoria, it’s only a diﬀerence of 100m between a paid campsite, and a free site with nearly identical facilities.
GET INTO IT Hopefully, embarking on your ﬁrst over-nighter will prepare you for many years of adventures. Unfortunately for some, their ﬁrst time is also their last time, with bad experiences putting an end to future endeavours. But with good planning and common sense, this should not be the case. Remember, you can always go another day if the conditions aren’t favourable. And, where possible, fail early and fail safe, if required. It’s important to ensure the trip is not just challenging, but also rewarding. When planning, I always try to include at least one ‘wow’ moment every day. It may be an amazing view, a swim in a secluded spot, an abseil off a peak or just a cold beer at camp while watching the sunset. Whatever it is, it should be a moment you’ll remember and leave you wanting more.
Taking in the views at Mt Kosciuszko in NSW A sweet setup at Cope Hut in Victoria's Alpine National Park
Explore NSW hot spots
It,s the home state of some of Australia,s most iconic sights in Sydney, but the rest of NSW has plenty of sparkling gems - plus a few desert and sand dune delights. WORDS Cleo Codrington PICS Mitch Cox
rowing up in Sydney, it’s no surprise that I’ve always felt a love for New South Wales. However, it wasn’t until recently that I discovered just how much this state has to offer. If you asked me four years ago where and what my highlights across NSW or even just the areas surrounding Sydney were, my answer would have been completely different to now, and honestly, considerably limited. Staying within close proximity to the city meant there was a lot I hadn’t yet discovered – but I’ve since realised there is a whole wonderland of NSW out there just waiting to be explored.
Of course, along the south coast is full of gems, one of which is the iconic Jervis Bay. Noteworthy for its pristine white-sand beaches and crystal turquoise waters, I have never seen this area have a bad day. I could spend weeks marvelling at the water quality and photogenic coastline, and itâ€™s an awesome location to ďŹ t in some snorkelling or scuba diving. Having Jervis Bay National Park so close offers a variety of camping options in great proximity to these perfect beaches.
Explore NSW hot spots
Prepared to explore. www.hemamaps.com
THE BLUE MOUNTAINS
This stunning destination was a popular choice as a family outing, Prepared and is one of the few places that I became quite familiar with in to explore. my childhood. Lovers of outdoor trails and activitieswww.hemamaps.com are spoilt for choice in this region, with the only problem deciding which hike to do! There’s more than a few top picks, but one walk that keeps me trudging back for more is Blue Gum Forest. Situated on the outskirts of Blackheath, Govetts Leap is my choice of descent into the renowned and beautiful Grose Valley. After what feels like a never-ending decline you are welcomed into the valley by the delightful Bridal Veil Falls. Walk through the spectacular tree shaded forest, pass pool after pool of potential swimming holes (only in the warmer months, the water is numbingly cold in winter), and arrive at your free campsite at Acacia Flat after two to three hours of moving time. You will be tempted to drop your heavy pack and set up camp straight away, but don’t be too hasty. The area has some tent spots that are beyond compare – have a little wander towards the river and thank me later! The better part of the afternoon can then be spent dipping into the cool water and relaxing with friends and family. Rest easy for the night, your walk back up through to Perrys Lookdown will need a lot of your preserved energy. The 3km steep stair ascent has deﬁnitely earned its Grade 4 rating.
Walk through the spectacular tree shaded forest, and pass pool after pool of potential swimming holes
TIP Wander beyond the river at Acacia Flat for the best camp sites
Prepared to explore. www.hemamaps.com
KANANGRA-BOYD NATIONAL PARK
Prepared We discovered this new favourite a couple of years back during a to explore. trip to the Blue Mountains National Park. It’s about an hour’s drive www.hemamaps.com west of the Blue Mountains, with dramatic sheer cliffs that serve as a reminder of just how small we are in comparison to Mother Nature. Get used to the feeling though, because your hike to Kanangra Walls is full of this type of scenery. A short but difﬁcult 414m climb will take you to the best view, where there are a few ﬂ at dirt patches big enough for a tent. Camping atop these walls makes for a unique experience and you can be sure your night will be uninterrupted. Watching the morning mist roll through the valley is a magniﬁcent sight, as you stand way above the dense clouds, forgetting just how high the fall is beneath your feet. TIP Conquer your fear of heights and camp atop the cliffs for incredible morning views
A lot of our time travelling on the road is spent along the coastline of NSW and most of my favourite go-to destinations can be found here. Before committing to a life of adventure on the road we familiarised ourselves with the lifestyle with frequent smaller trips up and down the coast. This is when I ﬁrst discovered Stockton Sand Dunes in Port Stephens, two hours north of Sydney. Running along the coastline, the 32km dunes are anything but ordinary, and viewing these at sunset from Anna Bay is a must-do – watching the sun light up the mountainous landscape, changing colour as it dips behind the horizon is something else. TIP Make sure you’ve got your camera at the ready to capture the sunset over the dunes from Anna Bay
Prepared to explore www.hemamaps.com
Prepared to explore
Explore NSW hot spots
Prepared to explore. www.hemamaps.com
JERVIS BAY – HONEYMOON BAY CAMPGROUND
A short 10km drive from Jervis Bay is where you will ﬁnd the to explore. www.hemamaps.com ultimate camp sight, Honeymoon Bay. As it's only open on most weekends and during school holidays and sites are limited, there is a slim chance of ensuring you have an opportunity, so make sure you get in early! It’s also worth remembering that it is BYO water and cooking equipment, so make sure you’re not left stranded without supplies. NEW DEPOT BEACH
A short 10km drive from Jervis Bay is where you will find the ultimate campsite
107km further down south is the quintessential Australian, Depot Beach. Gum trees hug the shore and kangaroos hop on by as you lay yourself on the sand – this coastal region comes complete with all the Australian landscape stereotypes, so it’s a great one to show your international friends.
Explore NSW hot spots
If you plan to visit after a bit of rain you won,t be disappointed, as the enormity and mass of the water flowing is strikingly beautiful and powerful
Prepared to explore www.hemamaps.com
Heading further north, four hours to be exact, is another Prepared favourite swimming spot, this time slightly different. About an to explore hour west from the coast, south of Coffs Harbour,www.hemamaps.com is where you will ﬁnd the extraordinary Ebor Falls – deﬁnitely my number one waterfall in Australia. If you plan to visit after a bit of rain you won’t be disappointed, as the enormity and mass of the water ﬂ owing is strikingly beautiful and powerful. Walk past the not-so-exciting look out, further down the path and through some spiky shrubs to reach the base of the falls, which is the real view. You won’t be able to stop yourself from taking photos, it’s too good to resist. TIP Go past the lookout point at Ebor Falls for the real viewing reward
Explore NSW hot spots
It may not have an overly exciting name, but this isn,t your regular run-of-the-mill strip of sand and water
Prepared to explore. www.hemamaps.com
BOOTI BOOTI NATIONAL PARK SUNSET
Prepared Another great discovery during one of these early trips was north of Sydney, about an hour on from Forster. Just south of here you will to explore. www.hemamaps.com ﬁnd Paciﬁc Palms – a strip of coast akin to tropical oasis. With Booti Booti National Park in close reach, camping is not a problem at all and there are quite a few campgrounds to choose from and most are within walking distance from a picturesque beach. 64
PACIFIC PALMS – SHELLEY BEACH
However if you’re seeking more, jump in the car and take the short drive to Shelley Beach. It may not have an overly exciting name, but this isn’t your regular run-of-the-mill strip of sand and water. On more than one occasion, this beach has left me speechless. It’s hard to believe it’s just a three hour drive from the bustle of Sydney. The kilometre walk from the car park deters many from heading to Shelley, instead opting for beaches that are easier to access. They might be missing out, but if you take the stroll, it’s a bonus for you. Make sure you take everything with you though. The 2km walk to your car and back to the beach may be rewarded by a refreshing swim, but it can be a real pain! The swell at Shelley is always small, making the ocean feel more like a crystal-clear pool. It’s the perfect spot to relax.
Prepared to explore
TIP Do a quick check to make sure you’ve got all your gear when walking from your car to Shelley Beach – and get to that swim faster!
Prepared to explore. www.hemamaps.com
Prepared to explore. www.hemamaps.com
Prepared With my love of the coast, travelling west is a rare occurrence to explore for me but discovering the delights of the Murray River meant it was well worth the venture when I did. Fed by thewww.hemamaps.com Australian Alps, the Murray meanders across the inland plains forming the border between NSW and Vic. It’s title of ‘The Longest River in Australia’ is enough reason to witness its beauty and surrounds. Inside the small country town of Mulwala, sits one of my favourite camp spots and landscapes alongside this river, Lake Mulwala. Formed by damming the Murray, dead River Red Gums stand tall, scattered throughout the entirety of the lake, creating an eerie but stunning vista. All along this incredible river are a multitude of free camp spots, all offering several water activities including kayaking and canoeing. TIP Don’t forget your kayak or canoe when visiting Lake Mulwala – there’s plenty of opportunities for a paddle
Explore NSW hot spots
It’s safe to say that after several road trips, both short and long, NSW has become one of my most travelled destinations, and with good reason. The diverse landscapes and locations found across this state are irresistibly beautiful, from the coastline, to waterfalls, forests and desert dunes. No matter what you’re seeking, in NSW you can find it.
MUNGO NATIONAL PARK
Much further west, on the way to Broken Hill, lies the breathtaking and unforgettable Mungo National Park. Landscapes that feel out-of-this-world and are rich with Aboriginal culture, comprised of ancient dried-up lake beds and sand dunes. Just witnessing these incredible sand formations alone makes it worth adding to your list, but with several camping options close by, it increases its attractiveness as a place to visit. TIP Discover Aboriginal culture at the ancient site of Mungo National Park, and learn about the discovery of ‘Mungo Man’
Prepared to explore. www.hemamaps.com
Prepared to explore. www.hemamaps.com
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Taking stock Avoid buying a pain in the back with these tips to help you achieve backpack nirvana. WORDS AND PICS Dan Everet t
THROUGH THE WRINGER
We took ﬁve packs through hell and back to see how they held up.
OSPREY TRANSPORTER 40
At a hair under $180 the Osprey Transporter 40 is the most expensive pack in our line up but is easily the favourite. The unique design allows it to quickly transform between traditional backpack and duffel bag quickly depending on your needs. There’s no fancy bells and whistles beyond that, but you are left with a cavernous compartment so bulky items are a nonissue. The pack is weatherproof too and with thick canvas ﬂaps covering the zippers and the bags opening facing your back, you should have no issue out in the rain. The major downside is there are no hip-supports, and no back padding, so if you’re packing bulky, try to pack light. www.ospreypacks.com
CARIBEE DAYPACK OPS
Despite the name, the Caribee Daypack Ops punches in at the 50L mark so it's more than capable of serving for multi-day trips, although you will look like you’ve played too much Call of Duty just making your way to the trailhead. Despite Caribee having a reputation for affordability rather than quality, this Daypack Ops has been treated so badly it could star in it's own episode of the T V show I shouldn't Be Alive. This pack has been to Cape York twice, the Victorian High Country and even a stint out to the Flinders Ranges and still looks brand new. The multiple compartments make it perfect for isolating and organising gear while thick padding and wide hip-supports make it easy to rig up to any body size in complete comfort. At around the $100 mark brand new they’re a robust option without breaking the bank. www.caribee.com
HENTY ENDURO BACKPACK
The Henty Enduro is possibly the ugliest backpack I’ve ever seen, and as it feels like I’m wearing a training bra, it brings up a whole host of self-esteem issues. But it is practical. The design is perfect for single day hikes or mountain biking and should be considered a tactical bumbag rather than a full pack. The slimline design offers plenty of storage options for tools and food and can be kitted out with a 3L bladder. The weight is kept low and carries well with the thick hip-supports and the included mole webbing can be kitted out exactly to your needs. If you’re after a light-weight option with plenty of breathability it’s well worth a look – maybe just put a jacket over it. www.henty.cc
HYDRAPAK 3L H20
You can’t actually buy these particular bags anymore, which almost makes me feel a twinge of guilt for how I’ve beat on it over the years, but it’s still worth running it through the wringer to see what features held up, what didn’t, and what made it a god-send when the going got tough. The Hydrapak was a considerable amount cheaper than the comparable bigger name brands, and is holding strong eight years later. It’s been used for everything from riding trailbikes up and down the east coast to a uni pack for my wife and it even survived a 70km/h motorbike crash. It’s a day pack at around 20L so it struggles with anything more than a couple of t-shirts, but external webbing means you can strap a jumper or pillow to the outside. The including 3L bladder internally has been an absolute musthave for hard days on the tracks in full bike gear, the only downside is I lost the bladder three houses ago.
Look past the grizzled beards and talk of Spam cans at your local disposal store and you can often pick yourself up a retired Army rucksack for reasonably cheap. But that might be a blessing and a curse. Like most military gear, it’ll outlive everything bar a cockroach if we were to break out into nuclear war, although carrying the thing will be your own personal Vietnam. It comes outﬁtted with multiple large compartments to the tune of around 80L and in typical army style the top compartment cinches closed with a large ﬂap keeping rain out of your grits. It’s padded in all the wrong spots, cuts into places you didn’t know you had, and is a dirt cheap way to get into a reliable pack. Maybe buy one for that friend you secretly hate. www.aussiedisposals.com.au
It may not be the prettiest pack of the bunch, but the Henty Enduro carries well with low and sturdy hip supports
here’s an old saying to never cheap out on things that keep you off the ground, boots, mattresses and tyres. I reckon that should extend to not cheaping out on things that’ll poke you in the back for weeks at a time too. Courtesy of my job, I spend a lot of time on the road. I’m the only bloke I’ve ever seen turn up to airport baggage checking in a 50L fridge along with his swag, so to say I’ve spent more than my fair share of time living out of a backpack would be an understatement equivalent of saying Trump is a little controversial. Unfortunately, backpacks are like a lot of the simple things in life. At first glance they seem so basic you assume you have them sussed, until you’re two hours into a three day hike and secretly hoping for the rapture just so you don’t need to carry that damn cheap bag any longer. You see, a bag that won’t fit all your gear in is the least of your problems when you’re staring down the barrel of serious back pain, rubbed raw shoulders, and an airport conveyor belt displaying a week’s worth of dirty undies. That’s two pairs for those counting. So what exactly should you be looking for in a backpack? Unfortunately, that’s something only you can decide, but arming yourself with the right information can quickly narrow the search from “give me a backpack Mr Salesman” to “I need 47.5L of internal frame goodness, and don’t scrimp on the straps!” Clear as mud? Let’s begin.
So what exactly should you be looking for in a backpack? Unfortunately, that,s something only you can decide 73
WHERE THE BLOODY HELL ARE YA GOING? If you’re packing up and driving around the globe for the next few years you wouldn’t do it in a Fiat 500. Well maybe you would, I’m not your mum, you can do what you want. The point is understanding your requirements is far more important than whatever the latest dream social media influencers are peddling. Your hikes might be multi-week expeditions through the Himalayas, but more likely they’ll be day trips or overnighters, and as such your needs will vary from Mr Instagram so it’s important to get the right gear for your needs. Thankfully packs of all shapes and sizes are generally divided up into a few simple categories. Day packs, normally suitable for an overnighter or two in a pinch; multi-day packs, perfect for a long weekend away living out of a sack; or extended trip packs, otherwise known as a backpacker’s home. Weekend packs generally hover around the 30-50L mark, and while that might sound like a whole heap of milk, when you start measuring your jacket in 3L increments it becomes painfully obvious just how small a 30L pack really is. They’re perfect in warmer climates where you don’t need to pack bulky items and socks as thick as a post just to stop from dying over night, but you will struggle with any more than a night or two even in summer. Also, most of your gear will
need to go outside the pack which can knock around weight distribution. They’ve often got very little in the way of features so don’t expect a double articulating option with laser guided back straps. Multi-day packs usually kick in at the 50L+ range and generally come sporting more features than their smaller counterparts. The largest of this is multiple compartments perfect for isolating funky socks from not-yet-funked socks. They typically start getting into better fitment options in terms of adjustability as well as padding so are comfortable for most hiking situations, and can double as a general duties pack as well. Extended trip packs are where things get tricky again. Sure, they stow a whole heap of gear, but the more weight you add the more weight you need to manage. Bulbous compartments with ill-thought out attachment methods can tweak your back resulting in serious pain and less time on the trails. The upside is the good packs are damn good, and can easily manage the bulk without putting you on your backside in every strong gust of wind. If you’re off to backpack Germany for six months dig deep for an extended pack, if you’re doing a week-long hike take a multi-day pack and learn to pack light. I mean, do you really need that second pair of undies?
Think carefully about how you pack your bag before you set off on your hike – your back will thank you later
Thankfully packs of all shapes and sizes are generally divided up into a few simple categories
Of course, if you're short on space in your pack, you can always sneak a few items into the kids'.
GETTING FITTED There’s a few things to keep in mind when choosing the right backpack for your frame. The first and most important is the overall size. Packs are generally broken down into small, medium, and large. This refers to their overall length, not their volume. The measurement correlates to your torso length, not your height. To measure yours, grab a friend with a tape measure and get to work. Locate your C7 vertebrae (the pointy one on the back of your neck when you look down), then place your hands on the upper crest of your hip bones (the iliac crest) with your thumbs pointing towards your spine. Imagine a line between your two thumbs, then measure directly up to your C7 vertebrae. A measurement under 46cm will put you in a small, medium extends up to the 52cm mark, with large taking over from there. Many packs will have adjustable sizing within a set range, but this does add complexity and weight. You’ll need to consider fit at the hips too, not just your torso. A properly loaded and adjusted pack should put around 70-80 per cent of its weight on your hips, so a well-fitting hip belt is a must. This is measured around your waist at the iliac crest again so will differ slightly from belt size. Under 79cm puts you in a small, up to 86cm is a medium, with large going above from there. Some packs do offer interchangeable hip-belts but you’ll want the padding to extend around the front of your hips with an 8-15cm gap between the pads.
Fitting the pack properly is arguably the most important step before hitting the trail
Avoid a future riddled with spinal issues by ensuring your backpack is the right ďŹ t for your body
GO GO GADGET So you know how big your pack needs to be, and what size it needs to be to actually fit you properly. It’s time to work out just what the thing looks like. While fit and finish are important, it’s the features that normally sway you from one bag or another. The first thing to look at are the points of contact, namely the shoulder straps, the hip belt, and the back rest. If you’re carrying any sort of weight you’ll want the shoulder pads and hip belt to be nicely padded. A padded back also helps mask any sharp objects wedged inside, although if you’re hiking in hot weather, keep an eye out for suspended mesh panels or channels that promote air-flow. Consider if you need the pack to be water or weatherproof too. Bags with exposed zippers typically allow water to seep through, while packs with an over flap can channel water down and away from your gear. Likewise, if you’re going to be loading it to the hilt keep an eye out for packs with compression straps. They’ll allow you to make the bag as compact as possible and pull the load closer to your back giving you increased stability in rough terrain. They’re also great for lashing bulky items to your pack like tent poles or sleeping bags.
Much like Steven Seagal, the Hydrapak is hard to kill, lasting eight years and a motorbike crash
The price may be right, but an Army rucksack will probably cause you pain in areas you didn't know existed
LOADING UP Fitting the pack properly is arguably the most important step before hitting the trail. A bad pack fitted well will cause less issues than a good pack fitted poorly. As you pack your bag for the first time lay out all the gear you’ll need to carry. You’ll need to consider the weight of items, as well as how often/urgently you’ll need to access them. The goal is to position heavy items like water bladders in the middle of the pack and as close to your back as possible. This means lightweight items like sleeping bags or jackets will often be down the bottom. From here continue filling the gaps being sure to put heavy items closer to your back than light items. Must-have gear like first aid kits and maps should always go on top regardless of weight. Once the bag is packed loosen all the straps and sling it over your back. Tighten the hip-belt over your hips. It carries most of the weight so a snug fit is essential to position the weight on your hips. Your iliac crest should sit just under the top of the belt. From here pull down on the shoulder adjuster straps to get the weight forward so you’re not being pulled backwards. The straps should sit flush on your body as much as possible and make contact a few inches below your shoulder, too tight and they’ll lift off at the back. The next step is the load lifters, the two small straps connecting your shoulder straps to the top of the back, they’re there to stop the bag sagging backwards and ease some of the weight off your shoulders and onto your hips. Pull them tight till they’re at a 45 degree angle. The last step is the sternum strap, its job is to stop the shoulder straps trying to separate and pulling your shoulders back. It should be just below your collar bone and just tight enough to allow you free use of your arms. Of course, your mileage may vary, so it’s vital to keep an eye on what works and what doesn’t, nothing shows flaws in a set-up like time on a trail, so don’t be afraid to experiment.
Adventure Milford Sound, New Zealand
fiord Home to some of the world,s most pristine landscapes, New Zealand has much to boast about, with Milford Sound its crowning jewel. WORDS AND PICS Dan Kennedy
Adventure Milford Sound, New Zealand
"Keep your eyes open and lean back!" The yell came from our guide Adam, through a cascade of seemingly infinite water
ater crashed down from its 151m source above and the weight pushed the tandem kayak down and back as Adam paddled to keep us under the torrent. The only sound was an endless thunder, so encompassing it was almost comforting. It was a few seconds that seemed to last an eternity. It didn’t seem like you should, or could, paddle under the falls with hundreds of thousands of cubic metres per second of water spewing down. “It’s the first shower I’ve had in a month,” I laughed. Nicole and I had been living the 'vanlife' for the past month around the North and South island, so this wasn’t a lie. Before that we had set out on a 91km canoe trip, gone bouldering on pristine limestone blocks, SUPed on a lake on an island in the ocean, hiked a volcano, packrafted through glaciers, and added a hitchhiking van mouse to our crew for about a week (happy trails, Rudy). The waterfall shower was welcome, to say the least. The falls triumphed, as they always would, and spit us out backwards. The whole experience prompted the kind of laughter life sparingly delivers from moments of pure bliss. Paddling into the depths of this colossal waterfall feels dangerous, but probably isn’t... maybe. I had fi rst seen the falls years earlier from The Milford Wanderer, a large boat with cabins to sleep in, a full bar, the works. The ship went near the falls, and I recalled the being awed at their staggering size. At that point I would not have believed you could kayak into them.
One aspect of New Zealand’s fiords is that they are freshwater emptying into the sea, creating a mix. After a rainy day, and with 6.41m of annual rainfall these days happening quite often, you’re surrounded by almost innumerable waterfalls descending down unscalable cliffs. Your aquatic experience is framed by endless rainforest, and likely a few rainbows. If you’re lucky you’ll be accompanied by seals, penguins, and bottlenose dolphins on your journey (between my two visits to the area I am lucky enough to be able to check off all three). A fiord feels like a river, but it’s essentially a sea canyon. Fishing and spearfishing are an endeavour enjoyed by few here, but the abundant sea life offers endless opportunities for the more adventurous. Book a tour with SaltFly Lifestyles (www. facebook.com/SaltFlyLifestyles) if you’re looking to have some locals show you around. I can vouch for the owner – he drove me to the hospital when I cut my toe off. What a nice guy. MEETING THE MAYOR OF MILFORD Rosco Gaudin, renowned as the area’s expert, owner of Rosco’s Milford Kayaks, and unofficial ‘Mayor of Milford’ met us in a coffee shop in Queenstown ahead of our journey. He was straight and to the point about how our agreement would work, how long we had, what he wanted from us, and he wouldn’t budge an inch. I liked his style and could see how he’s dominated the Milford Sound kayaking scene for this long. Rosco’s Milford Kayaks is the fi rst and longest run commercial sea kayaking operation in Milford Sound.
Mi lfo rd S
WHO IS ROSCO? Rosco’s Milford Kayaks is the ﬁrst and longest running commercial sea kayaking operation in Milford Sound. He’s extremely popular with the locals, and the die-hard adventurer has many achievements to his name. Here’s a few: The ﬁrst to skydive into Milford back in 2003 The ﬁrst to paraglide off Mt Phillips, overlooking Deep Water Basin, in 2004 Six-time winner of the infamous Homer to Home (19982003). This cycling race descended from the Homer Tunnel down a series of hairpins, dropping 700m in a little over 10km. Speeds were reached over 80km/h on a course that included three oneway bridges, with the road remaining open to normal trafﬁc. Race director and organiser of the Homer Nude Tunnel Run. This event runs on April ﬁrst annually. Rosco was ecstatic that the event made the world’s top 10 best naked outdoors events in August 2012.
Milford Sound Marina is your starting point for most water based adventures in Milford Sound,.
Adventure Milford Sound, New Zealand
MAKE IT A MULTI-DAY If you’re looking for a day, half day or sunset tour, Rosco Milford Kayaks has excellent guides. There are also some operations that do multi-day trips to Doubtful Sound (even more remote), or if you’re looking to go it alone and are a skilled paddler, you can follow in Rosco’s footsteps and head down Lake Mckerrow to the Hollyford River, to Martins Bay, along the coast, and into Milford Sound. Th is track has been pack rafted and sea-kayaked, so it’s doable but you need to pay attention to water flow, stormy sea coast, and know when to portage. CAMP IT Though off-trail camping is restricted along some of the Great Walks, as long as you are 500m away from a great walk, and 200m away from a public road or Department of Conservation campground, or serviced hut you can camp anywhere (please leave no trace). The benefit of kayaking a stretch like this is that you are very much off the beaten track once you hit coast line, but do not expect to fi nd campsites in the actual area of Milford Sound, sheer cliffs prevent it. If you opt for this type of trek, your last day should be a long day, where you experience the 16km fiord in it’s entirety. The trip can be done in three days. Spreading it out to five or six would allow for more leisure time and shorter paddle days. It’s good practice to notify local DOC Rangers and Milford Sound Airport Control of your planned trip (that’s who is going to have to send a plane or helicopter out to rescue you should things turn south).
It,s good practice to notify local DOC Rangers and Milford Sound Airport Control of your planned trip
Nicole and Abi paddle into the thundering Stirling Falls
The sheer cliffs of Milford Sound, stand guard as you paddle into the heart of the landscape
MILFORD SOUND KAYAK TRIP CHECKLIST Map GPS Device (I recommend phone with backup charging station, and Gaia App)
SPOT Locator Beacon (can be rented in Te Anau for $40 per week)
Rain jacket or dry suit
Satellite phone Personal Flotation Device rated for sea-kayaking
Wool or Neoprene beanie
Rain pants Wool or thermal base layers Sleeping bag
Tent or tarp
Camp shoes (for dry feet)
Merino Wool or quick drying thermal underwear (multiple)
Merino Wool or quick drying non-cotton socks (multiple)
Camp towel Sun protection (hat, glasses, sunblock) Camera Water (3-4L per person, per day) Water ﬁltration (tablets, ﬁlter, or UV). Filter water from streams or rivers, do not drink the salty water of the ﬁord.
Quick drying shorts
Isobutane and camp Stove Cooking utensils Non-perishable food Can opener or multi-tool Coffee Beer or box wine
Adventure Milford Sound, New Zealand
TRIP GUIDE: HOLLYFORD TO MILFORD SOUND When to go: December to March is your best weather window. Hazards: Rapids, remoteness, fast changing weather and torrential downpours, rapidly changing river levels, stormy coastline, and sand fl ies.
Hollyford Road End to Hidden Falls Hut Hike and paddle 9km through tropical rainforest to Hidden Falls Hut, a serviced hut ($15 NZD per person). Hazards: Rapids, which may mean you should portage sections of this stretch.
The benefit of kayaking a stretch like this is that you are very much off the beaten track once you hit coast line
Hidden Falls Hut to McKerrow Island Hut 7.5km hike past Class IV rapids then a 10.2km paddle. Camp at McKerrow Island Hut ($5 NZD). Note: The 21km stretch of river between the end of the road and the confluence with the Pyke River contains many Grade 1 rapids, a few of which have in the past been blocked with logs and had to be portaged. There is one Grade IV rapid at Cascade Creek. The Cascade Creek rapid is about 150m long and has to be portaged if you are in a sea kayak.
13.8 km paddle to Hokuri Hut ($15 NZD) If walking, keep an eye out for orange markers. There are three wire bridge crossings.
When you've been living the 'vanlife' any shower is welcome!
13km paddle to Martins Bay Hut ($15 NZD) There can be large waves at the mouth of the river, portage recommended.
This is where you finally diverge from the Hollyford Track There are plenty of flat beaches where you can camp along the shoreline. You can opt to head straight for Milford Sound if you’re willing to put in a long day. Stay close to the shore as you paddle, but not too close to the breaks which are rougher during the fi rst section. Milford Sound Beach is 46km from this point. You will be paddling in open water for about 30km – because there are camping options along the coast on flat beaches so it is possible to break this day up. MILFORD SOUND TO MARTIN’S BAY OUT AND BACK This alternative trip takes approximately 100km over four days. Start at Milford Sound Beach, put in here and check out Bowens (fi rst waterfall to your right and the largest in Milford sound) followed by Stirling Falls, and then out to the coast. Head north and pick a good camp spot for the night along the shore. For the next day, head up along the coast penguin spotting and camp for the night at Martin’s Bay Hut, or choose another beachside campsite. Return South and follow Milford Sound back the way you came.
Adventure Smith Rock State Park
The sport climbing mecca of Smith Rock in USA's Oregon is worldrenowned, and one father and son team are doing all they can to keep the new routes coming.
WORDS AND PICS Corey Mccart hy
Adventure Smith Rock State Park
across the rock walls as a chunk the size of a large serving platter and several inches thick smashed into the ground, exploding on impact. “How is it looking?” I called out to Alan Collins. The excitement in his voice was unmistakable. “Th is thing is gonna be sick!” As he shouted, Alan dangled on a rope over an undeveloped wall just outside the boundaries of Smith Rock State Park in Oregon. Wielding a hammer, a crowbar, and a power drill, he swung about trundling loose flakes and installing new anchor bolts in hopes of creating routes for other climbers to enjoy. For those who have never been to Smith Rock, their fi rst experience often involves a moment of complete awe as they walk up to the rim of the canyon and look down at a constantly evolving process of erosion. Around 30 million years ago, the Crooked River was pushed by a series of volcanic eruptions against the buried towers that now form the park. The river has since carried away vast amounts of sediment and exposed 213m tall monoliths of a volcanic rock or ‘tuff ’. The landscape here lends itself perfectly to trail running, mountain biking, hiking, bird watching, rock climbing, and highlining. Visit here, and expect beautiful views of the desert framed by snow-capped mountains on the horizon, multi-colored cliffs, and a beautiful
HOW TO GET THERE, WHERE TO STAY Smith Rock is located 228km south east of Portland and 64km north of the picturesque mountain town of Bend, Oregon. Fly into Redmond, only 15 minutes from the park or make the three hour drive over Mt Hood from Portland. Either way, you will be greeted by loads of delicious breweries, world class mountain biking or skiing (depending on the season), plenty of High Desert hospitality. Whether you desire scenic drives, whitewater rafting, bungee jumping, or any human powered activity you can think of, you will ﬁnd it in central Oregon. Camping options exist inside the park, although it is walk-in only and ﬁrst-come, ﬁrst-served. There are many developed campgrounds nearby, loads of hotels in Bend and Redmond, and AirBnB options near the park.
Jason Fautz walks a newly established highline as the sun sets, while local climbing guide Alec Berghoef places a cam on the iconic Monkey Face (left)
Adventure Smith Rock State Park
Alan drills a hole for a bolt on a new route while his dad JC, belays
I borrowed a drill and bolted one decent route in the Tumalo Creek area. I knew instantly it was something I wanted to do more of!
Local guide Lizzy VanPatten samples the exposed arete on the third pitch of Voyage of the Cowdog
winding river. It’s not really a stretch to describe it as paradise. So, when my college girlfriend suggested it as a destination to live after graduation, I jumped at the opportunity to leave the flatlands of Midwestern USA. We packed up and journeyed nearly 5000km from Wisconsin to settle down in the little town of Redmond. Our relationship only lasted another two years and she moved back home, but five years on, I’m still here. Smith Rock has been the backdrop for so many experiences, from exploring my fears and passions, and meeting my greatest friends. I hope that everyone can experience this place at least once in their lives. But back to Alan. I fi rst met him roughly seven years ago. He was a young man (now 25) with an inexhaustible amount of energy, and a desire to climb everything, but especially the hard test pieces that put Smith on the world climbing circuit. He quickly improved his strength and ability until he climbed nearly all of the lines in the main park. During our friendship, I learned that his father, John Collins, or JC as he prefers, had climbed at the park during the 1980s. When he was Alan’s age, JC, now 50, put up some incredible routes in the main park, including Time to Power and Lords of Karma. His father’s legacy left its mark on Alan, and shaped his relationship with the rock. “These lines have inspired me as a climber since I got into it,” he said. “I knew I wanted to bolt at least a few lines just for the novelty of it being in my family. “I borrowed a drill and bolted one decent route in the Tumalo Creek area. I knew instantly it was something I wanted to do more of! As soon as I could afford it, I bought a drill and started slowly bolting lines at Smith Rock. One thing led to another and I ended up in The Marsupials, where I’ve now bolted over 50 routes.” For Alan, the more he does, the more the routes improve. “Each year my eye gets better and I see more potential for new routes,” he said. “At fi rst, it was just for the new novelty, now I do it to keep away from crowds and get a more natural experience as I look down on the main parts of the park.” In a poetic twist, Alan’s enthusiasm encouraged JC to get back into climbing. Today, the father and son team are constantly out climbing and putting up classic lines together.
Climbers on one of the beautiful expanses of stone that make up the famous Dihedrals
Adventure Smith Rock State Park
BUDS THROUGH BOLTING The process of bolting climbing routes is nothing new at Smith Rock. With over 1500 routes in the latest guidebook, it has been a world renowned climbing area since the mid 1980s. However, what is new is Alan’s inclusive approach to bolting. Rather than attempt to keep things a secret while he bolts all of the potential new lines, he has instead opened up these areas for others to come and take part in the process. He maintains an open invitation for anyone to use his equipment to bolt new rock climbs. “It’s created a stoke for people to put up new lines at Smith Rock, a stoke that has been gone for over a decade,” he said. “Hopefully hundreds of new routes will come of it in the near future”. It is an approach that has led to a diverse group of developers bolting over 60 new lines in the park. One of these new developers, Chris Hatzai, said his fi rst time bolting with Alan has been “huge for my own route developing.” “While in the midst of his huge surge in developing, when I had just started feeling comfortable climbing at Smith, Alan offered to show me how to develop climbing routes,” he said.
“The fi rst time he handed me all the gear, and once I was all suited up, I was bugging hardcore about having to climb with so much stuff on my harness ... those were all ingredients for me not wanting to develop at fi rst.” Chris said it was about a year later that he decided to give developing another try. “An unnamed wall at the time, The Hank Wall, was a 48.7m blank slab Alan and I had been eyeing for years. We took three days and had an impromptu, learn on the fly, aid lead bolting experience. After the three harsh days of work, we got our fi rst set of anchors up and the rest was history.” Chris said Alan’s open and collaborative approach is valuable for the climbing community. “I can say Alan had a huge part in my success. From him showing me the ropes at fi rst, to now going out together and developing on the same walls has not only been paramount, it’s been a lot of fun too. “Same for his pop, JC has been huge in my climbing success as well. I can’t wait to see what other routes get developed and climbed.”
Canadian highliner and yogi, Chantal Therian, walks her ﬁrst highline well away from the crowds below
The first time he handed me all the gear, and once I was all suited up, I was bugging hardcore about having to climb with so much stuff on my harness ...
There’s no fuel in Purnululu National Park, so if you plan on exploring for a few days a spare jerry of diesel doesn’t hurt.
sweeping expanses and extremely difﬁcult lines, it became an international draw for some of the world’s best climbers pushing the limits of the sport. The modern era of climbing history started in the 1980s when the power drill and traveling locals brought European sport climbing ethics to Smith and started bolting routes on rappel. This was contrary to a long standing tradition of ground up development which brought many complications and made developing certain cliffs nearly impossible. Using a power drill and lowering in from above ushered in the modern age of climbing at Smith. Alan Watts, author of the guidebook and proliﬁc ﬁrst ascensionist is often credited, among other locals, as being one of the ﬁrst to use these techniques in North America. For a more in-depth look into Smith Rock history check out Alan Watts’ Climber’s Guide to Smith Rock.
SMITH ROCK HISTORY The history of climbing at Smith Rock is long and colourful, dating back to pre-State Park times. Climbers would get permission from nearby hay farmers and cattle ranchers to walk through their property and camp near the cliffs. Today, tens of thousands of climbers come from around the world to experience Smith Rock. What sets it apart from other climbing areas is the type of rock that’s there, volcanic tuff. The tuff in the park ranges in quality from bullet-hard to extremely friable mud-like deposits. The bullethard rock mimics high-quality French limestone and with its
JC on the ﬁrst ascent of a new route on the Philosophers Stone
Lizzy VanPatten on the beautiful basalt cracks of the Lower Gorge, a lesser travelled traditional climbing area near the main park
Adventure Smith Rock State Park
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO If you are travelling from abroad, everything you need to know can be found in Alan Watt’s guidebook or on SmithRock.com. With over 1500 routes of all difﬁculty levels, a travelling climber can stay busy here for quite a long time! A 70m rope, helmet, and a rack of quickdraws is about all you need for gear. There is some excellent traditional climbing around, so if you are into that bring your rack of cams along as well. Oh, and many people prefer to use a “stick clip” as many of the ﬁrst bolts are high by modern standards. The main areas that need not be missed are also some of the most accessible: Morning Glory, the Dihedrals, the Christian Brothers - the list goes on!
Alec topping out the Monkey Face with the beauty of the central Oregon grasslands sprawling behind him
THE NEW GUARD I recently made the trek out to the area known as The Marsupials. They lay just outside the boundary of the State Park, but in the climbing world, they are considered part of Smith Rock. With Alan, JC, and their two dogs, we got an early start to avoid the midday heat. They took me up to one of their new areas and I was lucky enough to try out a few new routes. In Alan’s words, “this spot is turning into one of Smith's best crags.” David Potter, owner of Smith Rock Climbing Guides, agreed, saying the area has, “one of the most outstanding views from a crag.” The routes were long, with beautiful rock and entertaining movement the whole way. It’s hard to believe the rock up there went undeveloped for so many years. Alan offered me a go on a newly bolted route that hadn’t yet been climbed. Feeling tired, somewhat out of shape, and bashful about potentially getting the fi rst ascent, I declined. JC tied into the rope, assuming the sharp end. He started up into unknown territory, human hands having never touched that particular section of Earth before this day. He gave it his all, but fell at the crux. Alan asked him if it needed another bolt, and from my position as a fly on the wall, I found this to be endearing. A son asking a father for advice, or, a route developer being vulnerable enough to ask for input. I was aware of how rare that was and it felt good to witness that moment. Alan’s contributions to Smith Rock have ushered in a new era that will go down in the rich history of this iconic American climbing destination. He works tirelessly, often making the long, steep hike out to his cliffs before or after a full day of guiding clients around the main park. I think a quote from the Godfather of Smith Rock, Alan Watts, spoken decades in advance of the progress Alan Collins has made, sums up his work perfectly: “for Smith climbing to rise again, a new generation will need to not merely follow in the footsteps of those who came before – but blaze their own trails up the golden walls of tuff.”
The routes were long, with beautiful rock and entertaining movement the whole way
Climber Jon Rhoderick making the reach on Darkness at noon
Trekking towards Phortse, Gokyo Valley, Nepal Photo: SImon Alsop
Trekking towards Phortse, Gokyo Valley, Nepal Photo: SImon Alsop
Yet another talented local guide, Brady, showing off the perfect Smith Rock trifecta: dogs, incredible rock and great weather
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LEADER High-altitude trek leader Dan Slater discovers when leading clients through the remote Eastern Himalayas, the logistical obstacles are often harder to conquer than the physical ones. WORDS AND PICS Dan Slater
Still smiling â€“ one of the sturdy porters
Incredible views like these rice terraces near Kande Bhanjyang were in abundance
t’s the height of the trekking season in Nepal, and yet our small group is the only one present to take in this amazing sight. Right now, the narrow alleys of Namche Bazaar are bustling like Grand Central Station at rush hour. Exhausted crowds of hikers are milling around Gorak Shep and queuing along the trail to Everest Base Camp. Others are slogging around the rapidly diminishing Annapurna Circuit. Here though, all is quiet save for our laboured breathing and the occasional dull roar of millions of tonnes of snow avalanching down the treacherous north face opposite. Everybody knows the name of the world’s highest mountain. Some even know Mt Everest by her traditional Nepalese or Tibetan names, Sagarmatha and Chomolungma respectively. Keen outdoors men and women will also be able to name Earth’s second summit, K2 (or Chogori in the local Baltistani language). It seems surprising the name of Kangchenjunga, at 8586m our third highest peak, should cause many a hiker and mountaineer to scratch their head. After all, third is just after second, and until the great trigonometric survey of 1852, ‘Kanj’ was assumed to be the first. HIKING TREASURE Maybe its unwieldy moniker has played a part in the mountain’s obscurity. Lacking an English-friendly surname or iconic surveyor’s notation, the name translates as ‘the five treasures of snows’ and refers to both the five main summits and the five repositories of God: gold, silver, gems, grain and holy books. It sits at the western edge of Nepal, on the border with the Indian state of Sikkim. Perhaps more appropriately than with any other mountain, an X marks the location of the ‘treasure’ as the massif comprises the junction of two tremendous ridges. The north-south crest runs from the Tibetan border down to the southern base camp of Ramze, and an east-west line starts deep in Nepal and peters out in eastern Sikkim. The two countries flanking the summit take different views on parties wishing to scale its heights. In Sikkim, an autonomous
protectorate until 1975, the mountain is revered as a sacred summit, and climbing is discouraged. Teams that do get permission from the Indian authorities usually stop a few metres short of the summit in respect of this belief. Permits are easier to come by from the Nepalese side of the mountain, hence most summit attempts begin from Pang Pema base camp to the west of the massif. Trekking around Kangchenjunga however, is a straightforward and rewarding experience, although the atmosphere is different on the two sides and each has its own problems. THE TRUTH ABOUT LEADING Here’s a few misconceptions about high-altitude trek leaders: that they skip along at the head of blissful clients, local staff carrying and cooking and route finding, content to step in should anything go awry. Not quite. Trek leading is a heady amalgamation of pressure from all directions, 24 hours a day, from the clients, from the staff, from third-world bureaucracy, from the weather, and from indiscriminate medical emergencies, both real and imagined. Don’t get me wrong – if nothing untoward occurs then there’s no better form of employment, but in practice untoward occurrences always occur, and my gigs as leader on either side of Kangchenjunga have added up to a stress density equivalent to diving 100m under the sea. The most interesting route on the Sikkimese side is along the Singalila Ridge, the geographical border separating India and Nepal. Reached by a lengthy drive from the old British hill station of Darjeeling, this glorious walk follows the ridge for six days before dropping down and joining the shorter, more classical approach to the mountain at Dzongri. From there the route heads up the Prek Chu Valley to Lamuney and, for those hardy specimens who don’t mind an alpine start, the pre-dawn hike up to the Goeche La ((4940m) and its magnificent views of Kangchenjunga’s eastern wall. HERE COME THE CHALLENGES It was at Dzongri, within sight of Kabru, Rathong and Forked Peak,
The incredible glory of Kangchenjunga
An idyllic rural scene, complete with solar panels
It's a steep climb out of Yamphydin up the Dubi Bhanjyang
A local welcoming committee in a small Nepalese village serenades the trekkers for Diwali
The most interesting route on the Sikkimese side is along the Singalila Ridge
Despite the brutal conditions, the Sherpas did an excellent job at keeping trekkers comfortable
Such actions prompted the formation of two factions: pro and anti canine that we were joined by a hairy, four-footed friend. Now, stray dogs are unwelcome on my treks. They carry fleas, which they can pass onto sympathetic yet unwary trekkers, and once one person gets infested it isn’t long before all their gear is contaminated, then everyone’s gear. All they want is food, and if they don’t get any they’ll soon abandon an unfruitful group for greener pastures. I was quick to warn my wards of the inherent dangers and indicate that I strongly discouraged any contact. Unfortunately, some of the more compassionate members were mistakenly under the impression that if they didn’t feed this particular dog every night then it would die of starvation or exposure. A kind-hearted soul among us fed the dog, thus encouraging him to follow us daily. She even let him sleep in her tent fly. On the opposite end of the spectrum, more sensible folk would push him away whenever he approached, with trekking poles or boots, which soon led to accusations of kicking. Such actions prompted the formation of two factions: pro and anti canine. Arguments flared despite my best attempts at reconciliation, and harsh words were spoken. One chap spread a rumour that the kitchen staff were going to poison the animal, prompting the dog lover among us to burst into tears. By the time we reached Lamuney the rivalry had almost erupted into fisticuffs and the whole mood of the hike was ruined. As a group leader I cannot think of a worse (non-medical) scenario. Morale never recovered and the trek out was marked by sullen, simmering moodiness which infected even those neutral parties.
Small farm buildings often provided a warm welcome on bleak days
GOING IT ALONE That trek however was a picnic compared to the string of disasters, incompetence and low pressure fronts that crippled my trek on the Nepalese side of the mountain two years later. We were scheduled to fly from Kathmandu via Biratnagar to the airstrip at the tiny hamlet of Taplejung, from where our route would take us northeast over several secondary ridges to the southern base camp of Ramze, then up over three high passes to an adjacent valley and the Tibetan refugee village of Ghunsa. From there we would follow the Ghunsa Khola up to its source, the frozen Kangchenjunga Glacier at the main base camp of Pang Pema. The planned itinerary was sabotaged before it even began by the magnitude 6.9 earthquake which hit the region mere weeks before our arrival. Striking in the very area of Sikkim I have described above, it killed over a hundred locals, including three as far away as Kathmandu, and destroyed thousands of structures from homes to schools to bridges. The shocks disabled the airstrip at Taplejung and necessitated an additional 12 hour drive through the highlands from Biratnagar. Customer dissatisfaction began with the third class bus and recalcitrant driver that our ground agents hired for the voyage. However, to me it was an authentic Indian bus journey accurate right down to the unprotected cliff roads, dodgy brakes and constant fear of death. I discovered a brand new hotel in the small town in which we spent an impromptu night, since the alternative was a half-built, concrete dungeon. Having arrived safely at the end of the rutted track, we inhaled the clean air, enjoyed the view of the rolling green foothills and got ready to start walking. I always say to my clients, “I can relax once we actually start hiking, as there’s little that can go wrong from here,” and I’m usually right. But not this time. Trekking season, to the delight of most tourists, often coincides with Diwali – the Hindu festival of light. The country’s biggest holiday, celebrated for anywhere between five days and a month (in rural areas such as this), is often a logistical headache because hey, nobody wants to work on Christmas day! I was informed by our sirdar, the head of the Nepalese staff, that we could unfortunately not begin our trek as scheduled as none of the porters were willing to work. There would be a big party that night and we would easily catch up in the morning. That sounded reasonable to the clients, especially when the local children put on a traditional dance, flourishing their elaborately detailed costumes despite the cold, pelting rain. It was a genuinely festive spectacle, set as it was in the wild eastern hills rather than some tacky Kathmandu restaurant, and my group retired to their tents satisfied. Still devoid of porters the next morning, the sirdar assured us that we should set off with the Sherpas and he would usher along the rest of the crew, with all our gear, and catch us up by lunchtime. Blissfully unaware, we put our best feet forward and pointed our noses to the high Himalayas. By lunchtime there was no sign of our crew, so I sent one Sherpa back to find them. By mid-afternoon there was still no gear, and no sign of my errant messenger. I called a halt in a small village and as it had started to rain we begged shelter in a large building, luckily the home of a wealthy old couple who happily welcomed us into their outhouse. The floors were beaten earth but at least there was adequate space for us, our single remaining Sherpa and our cook crew who had fortunately kept up. THE WAITING GAME As we waited, I worried as the skies grew purple and then pitch black. I’ve misplaced the occasional client before but never the sirdar, two Sherpas and all of the porters and gear. The group kept
The majestic Wedge Peak their spirits up with rousing renditions of ‘heads, shoulders, knees and toes’ and that popular classic ‘One finger, one thumb, keep moving’, while I used the satellite phone to call my company’s head office in the UK. I informed them of the situation but obviously there was nothing they could actually do. It was obvious that we were on our own for the night. Refusing to accept defeat in the face of impending calamity, I christened our bleak situation a ‘rural homestay’ and set about requisitioning half the food in the village for a ‘traditional Diwali banquet’. I assigned couples to the three spare beds and the rest of us to the floor, and was gratefully amazed when the owner’s son began pulling enough yak wool blankets from the loft to bed a platoon of Gurkhas. Fully clothed and smothered in blankets, we lay down in the crisp mountain air to sleep, all regarding the episode as one hearty adventure and future anecdote fodder. There is a fine line though between telling an amusing yarn and a full-blown horror story, and the procession of neighbours who visited throughout the night to throw firecrackers and sing in the courtyard, as local tradition dictated, were in danger of pushing some of my clients over it. “It’s okay,” I could almost hear them thinking. “This is how they celebrate Diwali and I’m truly lucky to witness to such a genuine experience,” but the smiles over breakfast were a little more forced and the ‘money back’ quips a little less funny. I’d already determined my strategy – to hike back as far as necessary to find some trace of my team, hoping they hadn’t been eaten by snow leopards or yetis. Fortunately, after only two hours retracing my steps I found the sirdar, alone with a pile of kit bags. “Porters are coming,” he promised, with little in the way of explanation or apology, and this time they finally did. By the time I’d victoriously lead them back to my waiting clients and we’d hiked on a couple of hours that afternoon, we were only a day behind schedule.
To end someone,s expensive and much anticipated holiday is a tough decision
THE SLOSHED SIRDAR From then on things improved, marginally. The porters proved to be a terribly lazy bunch, and their previous record led us to fret daily whether or not our gear would arrive. Each evening would see us standing around in the fading light betting on whose duffel bag or tent would appear next out of the shadows. Of course, one was nought without the other, and the true winners were those who received both tent and bag before dinner was ready. Also, they didn’t like walking in the rain, a state of affairs which encompassed most of the first week. For four days we pushed upward through stinging drizzle, which had the bad grace to turn to sleet when we broke 3000m. The first scheduled highlight of the trip, the southern base camp of Ramze, was rendered invisible by the blizzard which enveloped both us and the views of Kangchenjunga. We struggled back to camp that chilly afternoon to discover the sirdar, who’d sacked the most unruly porters and stayed behind in the pretence of sourcing pack animals instead, staggering around completely drunk. He’d been on the raksi, a local millet beer (beer in this case meaning potent distilled alcohol). It was a pattern set to continue for the rest of the trip. The next two days encompassed the crossing of the Sinelapcha La (4700m), which were expected to produce the most spectacular views of the whole trek. In fact, further blizzards obscured everything outside a 20m radius and rendered the path treacherously slippery, slowing our pace to a crawl. Passage was only enabled by the indifferent yaks which broke the trail for us. Morale was ebbing daily, and the constant exposure to biting cold winds was lowering my charges’ natural immunities. I had real fears for one lady who hadn’t been able to eat anything for a couple of days, citing traveller’s diarrhoea and nausea as the causes. Insufficient calorie intake is a recipe for hypothermia and altitude sickness, and by the time we reached Ghunsa I was forced to deliver an ultimatum – recommence eating or be sent home! To end someone’s expensive and much-anticipated holiday is a tough decision, and never easy to make. By the following night
A great day to cross the Sinelapcha La
though, my client was in a much weakened state. Retreating to her tent for 14 hours a night, she was frail and mute. I made the judgement call to evacuate her. With the weather a liability and satellite reception intermittent, I couldn’t risk an evacuation attempt any further up the valley. My sirdar, drunk again, was about as useful as an ice-cream balaclava but I managed to convey my helicopter request. It seemed that the unseasonably bad weather was covering the entire country and had closed the airport at Lukla causing a backlog of trekkers desperate to get home. OPTIMISM AT LAST! With my sick client on her way to safety the clouds of precipitation lifted and with them the atmosphere of maudlin pessimism. The classical lines of Jannu (7710m) came into view to the gasps of all, her pristine, white, isosceles flanks shining in the sun of a new day. It was incredible to see the wonder on the faces of my group after so many days of crushing conditions. The audible clicks of fifteen camera shutters (or digitally rendered versions thereof) punctuated our sighs of contentment as optimism returned from the dead, although the loudest sigh, mine, was one of relief. Jannu signalled the end of the low pressure front, and with it most of my problems. The group dynamic was restored, the sickness wilted away and even the yaks had a spring in their step. For the next two days we walked in sunshine surrounded by the most spectacular scenery in the world. Pang Pema base camp, at 5150m, was a peakaholic’s paradise: Nepal Peak, the Twins, and the beautiful fluted summit of Wedge Peak, all dwarfed by the immense face of Kangchenjunga – a tumbling wall of cliffs, hanging glaciers, ice shelves and subsidiary peaks. Her broad shoulders protectively nurtured the birth of a snaking river of crevassed ice – the Kanchenjunga glacier that flowed down to feed the Ghunsa Khola below us, which in turn feeds the Tamur River, which feeds the mighty Saptakoshi, which drains half of Nepal into the Ganges. We were in the bosom of the subcontinent, and it had been worth the journey.
WORDS Mason Coggins
Treks Forming the basis of many an , adventurer s daydream, the following hikes are high up on the 'must-do' list of anyone who lives to conquer the outdoors.
o truly experience the world at its most pure, nothing compares to sliding your feet into a pair of hiking boots and heading off to trek some of the planet’s most iconic environments. The simple act of walking exposes us to the variety of climates, species and landscapes that are all so different it’s almost impossible to hold one above the other in terms of praise and appreciation. The following list is compiled of some of the world’s most beguiling routes, which boast not only exquisite vistas but also the opportunity for monumental memories and lessons. All of the following require calculated preparations, but if you take the plunge and embark on these expeditions, you’ll be rewarded in more ways than one. Read on for some inspiration that’s sure to stir the adventurous spirit inside of you.
EVEREST BASE CAMP, NEPAL
Distance: Approx. 130km round trip When to go: March to May/September to November
ost of us never acquire the means to reach the highest point on the planet, atop the mighty Mt Everest. The resources required to accomplish this daunting feat are considerable, including extensive physical training, ďŹ nancing, and freedom from a rigid 9-5 roster. However, while still strenuous and requiring detailed preparation, the trek to Everest Base Camp is an attainable goal for most folks of all backgrounds. Sherpas and porters guide the way and take some of the hard yards out of the equation, by offering bag transport at affordable rates. As such, all that is left in the hands of the hiker is remaining a willing pedestrian with an appreciation and readiness for a stark rise. A lovely bonus of the endeavour is ďŹ rst hand insight into Himalayan lifestyle, with the Sherpas exhibiting a contagious fervour that rivals the mountains themselves.
MT KILIMANJARO, TANZANIA
Distance: Approx. 37-90km, depending on route When to go: January to March and June to October
t almost 6000m above sea level, Africaâ€™s highest peak is no small venture. The handsome king of the Eastern Rift mountains, the dormant volcano is robed in ďŹ ve separate climate zones, which gives it a varied appearance from base to summit. While the peak is still on the to-do of every serious alpinist, the enormous hill is dotted with established camps and navigated along designated routes requiring little technical skill. The only knowledge necessary to scale this legendary piece of rock is of the self, and Kilimanjaro will put even the most resilient mental fortitude to the test. Even if you are reasonably seasoned to weather extremes, the mental demands and the physical requirements extend far beyond endurance and strength alone. The ease with which some can meander up the gradual incline makes acclimatisation a huge priority to keep in mind. Altitude sickness can hinder even the most conditioned muscles and organs, so donâ€™t get in too great of a hurry to saunter onwards and upwards.
W ROUTE, TORRES DEL PAINE, PATAGONIA, CHILE
Distance: Approx. 60km When to go: October to April
atagonia is widely regarded as one of the most pristine natural sanctuaries on the planet, and is home to the iconic W Route (named so for the shape it forms). Patagonia's fame does not come from heavy conservation ties alone, though. Torres Del Paine is among the most recognisable mountain range silhouettes in the world, due to its staunch peaks dominating the landscape with their rugged outline. Flaunting a widely varied biome comprised of everything from to glaciers and volcanoes, to waterways and plains, the scene possesses an unrivalled array of eye candy. The colours, patterns, and geometry Mother Nature boasts here are a sight to behold by themselves, not to mention the wildlife. With a bit of good fortune, the native guanacos- predecessor to the modern llamamay make an appearance amid the waving grasslands beneath the foreboding ridge lines above.
ANCASCOCHA TRAIL, PERU
Distance: Approx. 42km When to go: Dry season is May to September.
t is with good reason the Peruvian high country is world renowned as a bucket list head liner. Adorned by the crown jewel of Machu Picchu, the Andes has quickly become an iconic journey for hikers and travellers from across the globe. The famous Inca Trail is the most common route taken to the highly coveted destination, though many argue it leads there a bit too directly. For those wanting to take a few scenic detours, the Ancascocha Trail is a lovely alternative that bypasses a large portion of heavy trafďŹ c present on the Inca, while also showcasing some of the most stunning views the range has to offer. Slightly more strenuous than its more popular counterpart, portions of intensive ascents/descents on the hike add an additional element of challenge to the experience. Thankfully, the track ends only a short shuttle ride from the ruins at Machu Picchu.
Distance: Approx. 440km When to go: August to September
he full Kungsleden (The King’s Trail) route is 440km in total, weaving through some of the most unique and remote terrain in all of Scandinavia. With such a massive distance requiring at least a month-long commitment, many avid Swedish (and foreign) trekkers instead opt for the stint furthest North, between Abisko and Kvikkjokk, about 105km. This leg of the legendary journey features its wildest landscapes, ranging from a series of long valleys with formidably undulating inclines and declines, to full – blown Arctic tundras stretching beyond the reaches of eyesight. Kungsleden’s narrow path through the wilderness rises above tree – line after the ﬁ fth day of hiking, offering tremendous views of the surrounding mountains in every direction. Conveniently, there are huts every few hours along the walk, so minimal camping gear is required in comparison to other treks of a similar nature.
RWENZORI MOUNTAINS (MOUNTAINS OF THE MOON), UGANDA
Distance: Approx. 62km When to go: December to March
ontrary to popular belief, not all of the African continent is a ﬂ at, desert expanse. The Rwenzori Mountains in Uganda are as fertile and lush as it gets, and serves as an arena for what many would argue to be the most bizarre contrasts that exist on our planet. As the rainforests of the Congo sprawl westward to meet the very glaciers that source the Nile River, they harmoniously fuse to create the picturesque peculiarity of the Mountains of the Moon. With its highest peaks permanently capped in snow, the Rwenzori range still manages to support a ﬂourishing food supply for its infamous elephant population. Combined with its characteristic shrouds of mist that seem to perpetually migrate from valley to valley, all of these unusual qualities lure many hoping to bear witness to the bizarre charms of the area. Be warned though, the tense political and social spheres of the land make it a daunting destination to reach. Nonetheless, it is still certainly one well worth a lesson or two in diplomacy and 4WD hire.
GRAND CANYON RIM-TO-RIM, ARIZONA, USA
Distance: Approx. 37km When to go: March to May/September to November
he breathtaking grandeur of the Grand Canyon has been hushing crowds and topping lists of Earth’s greatest natural wonders for centuries. It is with good reason that ﬂ ocks of nature-frothers, travellers, and photographers from all corners of the planet seek out the fantastic carvings of the Colorado River. Within its massive dimensions (446km long, 1800m deep and 29km wide) a nearly inﬁnite number of vantage points exist to gaze upon the canyon from. The Rim-to-Rim hike allows visitors to truly absorb the vast beauty and scale of scenery awaiting their admiration, enriching the experience with up close and personal moments amongst ﬂ ora and fauna, a full spectrum of ﬂ uctuating sunlight accentuation from dawn to dusk, as well as some of the brightest night-sky displays visible from the ground.
YOSEMITE GRAND TRAVERSE
Distance: Approx. 97km When to go: July to September
ith an unrivalled line-up of jaw-dropping features in the competitive collection of National Parks across the United States, Yosemite ﬂ aunts its symphonies of granite, trickles with its bubbling brooks transformed into striking waterfalls, and dazzles with reﬂ ections of the very essence of life atop the surface of its mirror-still lakes. Aside from the sheer face of Half Dome – an unforgettable sight to behold and, a nearly vertical gruelling ascent, and reason enough alone to complete the Grand Traverse – the ridge lines and serene forests of this adventurous amble will not fail to charge you with a vigor for life and all its wonder. Of all the exceptional landscapes West of the Rockies, Yosemite undoubtedly has the most restorative power, tantalising its audiences with a lovely intertwining of both Nature’s intensity, as well as its calm. The Grand Traverse does not simply give access to the most incredible portions of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range, it sets the stage for deep connection.
CHILKOOT TRAIL, ALASKA, USA/ BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA
Distance: Approx. 53km When to go: June to October
stablished during the Klondike Gold Rush, this historical hike marks the voyage across the American/Canadian border to and from the Yukon mining ﬁelds. In eras past, the area was characterised by suspect characters and the pursuit of fortune. In modern times, the wilds of Alaska and B.C. still pose equal opportunities for triumph and disaster, in only a slightly different fashion. Small margins for error exist anywhere with such volatile weather, harsh elements, and bears commonly encountered. Amid a teeming ecosystem, the Chilkoot is equivalent to a North American safari. Sporting healthy populations of bear, caribou, bison, mountain goats and moose, this majestic expedition will have you feeling like you’re in a natural zoo. Take care though, as there are no barred fences of restraint between you and the rugged environment. Deep in the heart of bear country, some of the locals are less neighbourly than others and may not enjoy attempts at friendly conversation. Although visitors should proceed with caution, keep in mind that the Chilkoot’s ﬁerceness should inspire respect rather than instil fear.
KALALAU TRAIL, HAWAII
Distance: Approx.18km When to go: May to September
he Na Pali coastline of Kauai – the fourth largest island in the archipelago of Hawaii – is renowned for the dramatic structure of its ﬂ uted pali cliffs. The Kalalau Trail leads walkers along these infamous gulches and ridgelines, through one of the most stunning stretches of earth rising out of the Paciﬁc Ocean, and ends with the highly esteemed Hanakapi’ai Beach as a grand ﬁnale. Littered with formidable switchbacks and intrepid precipices like “Crawlers Ledge”, few who have completed the full hike could ever honestly attest to any ease prior to its sandy climax. Compensating for its harshness, the Kalalua provides an abundance of sweet sustenance on the branches of a broad variety of fruitbearing trees along the way, including mango, guava, coconut, rose apple, and papaya. The volcanic nutrients of the dense Hawaiian soil breed a diverse and plentiful selection of non-edible plants as well, the canopy of Banyan trees providing shelter for enough vines and ﬂ owers to ﬁll every fairytale ever dreamt.
TOUR DU MONT BLANC, FRANCE, ITALY, SWITZERLAND
Distance: Approx.170km When to go: July to September
rguably at the forefront of multi-day walks in Europe, this stroll weaves through seven valleys and across the borders of three separate nations as it works its way around the base of the tallest mountain in Western Europe, the great Mt Blanc Massif. The craggy bluffs and precarious pinnacles of this heralded hike are home to armies of marmots and the exotic ibex, an alpine mountain goat made famous by the swirling staunch of its horns. Also native to these high-country hills are a multitude of ﬂower species adorning its ﬁelds with a foreground of vibrancy and fragrance that perfectly compliment the already overwhelming views of the mountains in the background. There is certainly no shortage of sensory stimuli during the 10,000m of ascent contained within this circular cruise through the likes of Chamonix and La Fouly. Just to put the breadth of such a large series of rises and falls in altitude into perspective, Mt Everest stands at 8,848m, more than a kilometre shorter in comparison to the cumulative climb around Mt Blanc. While it is no short distance to traverse, servicing this long slog is a gamut of accommodation and dining,
SIERRA HIGH ROUTE, CALIFORNIA, USA
Distance: Approx. 313km When to go: April to September
ndeniably a demanding hike, the enduring solitude of the Sierra High Route puts it in a league of its own. In fact, for the most part it is not actually a track at all, but rather a loosely deﬁned (often completely unmarked) direction towards the opposite end of the one you began the journey from. Knowledge of navigation skills is crucial, with less than a ﬁfth of the route being delineated. As such, it is mandatory to verse yourself in use of a compass, topographical maps, and track notes. Even more, the SHR is predominately above timberline and therefore requires nearly as much climbing as it does walking. Mindful risk analysis and discretion should absolutely be applied to scenarios where poor judgement could be costly. For as much as the unstable boulder ﬁelds serve up a treacherous traipse, they also induce a true sense of maverick exploration. The pioneer-style experience is sure to leave a lasting impression, as it is no simple hike to a lookout. The Sierra High Route is a quintessential journey granting plenty of time to wonder while you wander.
ROUTEBURN TRACK, NEW ZEALAND
Distance: Approx. 32km When to go: November to April
he dual-island nation of New Zealand is the epitome of authentic adventure. Committed to integrating society and nature, the Kiwi Department of Conservation has established a selection of Great Walks over the years, which are generally regarded as the most worthy multiday missions in the whole of both islands. Among these hand-picked gems there are a few that stand out in particular. The Routeburn Track is situated in the Southern Alps, winding its way through the Darran Range and linking Mt Aspiring National Park to Fiordland National Park. The bush of New Zealand is essentially an organic aviary, inhabited by few wildlife species outside of birds. The songs of these airborne hordes ďŹ lls the air with an orchestra of delightful sound, especially that of the Keaâ€™s soprano serenades. These colourful alpine parrots roost in treetops of the beech forest, but seem to have an omnipotent presence while on the Routeburn, ever-patrolling the skies on the prowl for a friendly feed and inviting themselves into your company without fear. The southern half of the trek proceeds atop the Harris Saddle, which runs parallel with and above the spectacular Hollyford Valley, visible all the way to the Tasman Sea. The golden tarns and turquoise waters of snowmelt catchments such as Lake McKenzie and Lake Howden, are furnished with DOC huts at appropriate stages throughout the wondrous walk.
PIC MASON COGGINS
PIC MASON COGGINS
LAUGAVEGUR TREK, ICELAND
Distance: Approx. 55km When to go: June to September PIC MASON COGGINS
PIC MASON COGGINS
DANA TO PETRA TREK, JORDAN
he endemic rhyolite scree slopes of Iceland are unmistakably unique, their vivid mineral deposits produced by generations of transport via glacial migration and the course currents of raging rivers. Volcanic foundations prime the stretch of otherworldly domain with a rich geothermal mix of elemental ingredients, which comprise the recipe for such verdant vegetation and succulence of life. The contrast created between the dark tones of the rocky dirt and the almost ﬂ uorescent hues of lichen and shrubbery growing upon it, paint the landscape with a truly alien aesthetic. At times, this hike appears to be a movie set depicting an entirely different planet. The land is frequently overshadowed by the magnitude of massive waterfalls like Skogafoss, and the remarkable networks of braided streams snaking their plaits along the ﬂ oor of valley as they do at Thorsmork. The richness of Earth’s bounty is accented again by that of the cosmos after nightfall, as the Northern Lights ﬂ icker their way across the sky in a jubilant dance celebrating of its own existence.
MT FITZROY TRACK, ARGENTINA
Distance: Approx. 80km When to go: October to April
Distance: Approx. 58km When to go: February to March
he ancient Bedouin architecture near the Dead Sea has drawn attention to the Middle East since its discovery. However, most of these enchanting structures cannot simply be stumbled upon in modern times, though. The impressive 50m high facades of Petra and Al Khazneh entail ﬁve days of toil to reach. As you exert your energy enduring the sun’s efforts to sap you until shrivelled, you’ll encounter four individual biosphere climates while travelling to the ruins through the Dana Nature Reserve – Jordan’s largest Nature Sanctuary. While the sparsely vegetated earth is laden with few plants beyond the juniper tress dotting its horizon, it is not totally devoid of life, still housing a plethora of wildlife that ﬁnd refuge and ﬂ ourish in the arid spaciousness of the Wadi Araba desert basin. The region is home to some of the largest wingspan vultures on the planet, as well as exotic blue lizards that slink in and out of the shaded shelter of crevices.
owering above all of Patagonia, Mt Fitzroy – also known as Cerro Chalten – is the most prestigious and prominent peak in the region. The mountain is not just outstanding for its elevation, it is also the precipitous escarpment of its Western face. The foreboding slab of stone strikes a chord of reverence in all who behold it, and has claimed the lives of many in pursuit of gazing back upon the world from its summit. For the less daring, craning the head back to gawk with mouth ajar at the awe-inspiring grade of Mt Fitzroy’s structure will more than sufﬁce. While this grand ﬁnale is no doubt the most climactic portion of the voyage, travelling there is far from mundane. Revealing the handsomely intricate craftsmanship of Los Glaciares National Park, the Fitzroy track is the only permissible path through this incredible living gallery of natural art.
ALTA VIA, ITALY
Distance: Approx. 120km When to go: March to October
ummoning outdoor enthusiasts from far and wide, the jagged ridges of the Dolomites beckon all who seek to satiate their appetite for epic exploits. A thirst for adventure is not optional if you have an escapade along the Alta Via Trail set in your sights, with an endlessly escalating grade of abrupt angles having earned this cluster of mountains their accolades. There is no more debate over whether this hike demands strides of dedication, than there is over it being a worthy exercise in mental fortitude. The rigours of the range reward with views unmatched. As one wanders these ridgelines, they will deﬁnitely ﬁnd a fair share of insight into why the high-altitude poppy meadows that unfurl across the plateaus between limestone saddles have been coveted for so long. Rifugios – traditionally styled sleeping huts – are scattered all over the trail. These make the path once impassable a majority of the year due to unwelcoming seasonal weather, now possible to complete in relative comfort over a much wider span of the year.
AKSHAYUK PASS, BAFFIN ISLAND, CANADA
Distance: Approx. 100km When to go: June to August
unavut is renowned for its iceberg garnished lakes and frozen plains, but the further you delve into the mysterious land of the midnight sun, the more dramatic and colossal the ice cap sculpted surroundings become. The islands of the Arctic Circle own some of the most tremendous scenes in existence, especially on the Cumberland Peninsula of the untamed Bafﬁn island, where the mountains are so massive they are named after Norse gods. Winding down sandy riverbanks, over rocky glacial moraines, and through the cold tundra marshlands between Mt Thor, Asgard, and Odin, Akshayuk pass is a profoundly special place. Inhabited by polar bears and Arctic foxes, both a tremendous power and grace emanate from every inch of this wilderness. The riverbeds present at multiple stages of the journey are a serious factor to take into account when packing and preparing, as they are at the whim of rain-sensitive aquifers and are not always dry.
PIC MASON COGGINS PIC MASON COGGINS
PICCANINNY CREEK, BUNGLE BUNGLE RANGE, WA
Distance: Approx. seven to 30km depending on route When to go: May to October
PIC MASON COGGINS
n furthest reaches of Western Australia’s interior is Purnululu National Park on the border of Northern Territory. Deep in its bowels dwell the Bungle Bungle Mountains, and even further into its reaches is Piccaninny Creek. The annual wet season of the Kimberly region is responsible for creating the texture of the landscape, and for carving out the ancient gorge which now allows entry into an intricate series of crevices cut into the domed hills of the area. It is a seven kilometre walk to the start of the gorge, at which point there is no further trail and the track is completely unmarked. Though there may not be a deﬁnitive trail, the path created by the powers of erosion is nearly impossible to diverge from, as the beehive-like rock formations of the Bungle Bungles sprout out of the ground at sheer vertical angles. Going off trail isn’t really an option! The alternating colour scheme of light and dark layers of sediment in the stone within Piccaninny Creek not only tell a tale of Earth’s elemental ingredients, but also nature’s artistic tendencies.
MILFORD TRACK, NEW ZEALAND
Distance: Approx. 54km When to go: November to April
PIC MASON COGGINS PIC MASON COGGINS
he waiting list for admittance onto this world class tramp speaks for itself. Only accessible via boat trip with a guide escorting you, the Milford Track has all the makings for an unforgettable pilgrimage into the most isolated corner of New Zealand. Some of the eldest forest on either island, the hearty beech trees grow so rampant here that many sections of bush would be nearly impossible to inﬁltrate if not for the established pathway. An assortment of other indigenous fauna grow more heartily in the Southwestern coast of New Zealand than elsewhere across the country, fortiﬁed by the salinity carried aboard the sea breezes blowing through the ﬁords. Indescribable panoramic perspectives along Mackinnon Pass write the ticket for this trip to Milford Sound from Lake Te Anau, showcasing the striking 90 degree perpendicular intersections of the mountains with the sea.
Guide Hiking with hounds
WORDS Michael Borg PICS Mat t Fehlberg
Paws on the
Make your next epic adventure pet friendly, with our complete beginners guide to hiking with your pooch. Even dogs enjoy singing Kumbaya around a campﬁre, and they won’t judge your voice
Like us, dogs love to splash around in the water to cool down
ave you ever wanted to hit the trails with your fun loving, furry and possibly slobbery sidekick? You know, that big bundle of joy who can’t wait for you to put this magazine down and grab the leash for a walk. Chances are, if you own a dog, you’ve thought about bringing them along on a hike at least once. Now to be honest, bringing the pooch along does require a little extra planning and preparation. The terrain is typically rougher than the local dog park, the inclines can be as steep as the price tag on a new Ferrari, and there’s a high chance you’ll be a long way from home. But when you think about it, it’s not all that different to taking your dog for a walk, it’s just a bit longer. Still not sure? Check out our advice on everything you’ll need to know before taking your dog bush for the fi rst time with confidence.
Guide Hiking with hounds
Dogs not only make great hiking partners, they can be top notch ﬁshing buddies too
head off PREPPED AND READY Like any outdoor adventure, you’ll need to do your research before you put your best foot forward. The problem is not all trails are dog friendly. Most National Parks are no-go zones, but you’ll generally have better luck with State Forests or State Parks. Don’t get caught out with those lengthy trails that are only partly dog friendly; some forest trails tend to cross into National Park territory halfway through. While you’re selecting a suitable trail to conquer, take into consideration the fitness level of your dog too. They can’t climb Mt Everest on their first hiking trip! Start them off on a smaller hike to see where their fitness and endurance level is at and go from there. Remember, the climate effects dogs like it does people, so it’s important to research and consider how it will affect your pooch and plan around it. For example, short haired dogs with thin coats tend to feel the cold, while the big fluffy fur balls heat up faster.
Dog booties will help protect your dog’s paws on rocky terrain
If you carry a hammock on your hikes, good luck keeping the dog out of it!
VET CHECKS AND VACCINATIONS The last thing you want is your four-legged friend picking up a potentially deadly virus in the middle of absolutely nowhere. There’s also the risk of coming home with worms, fleas or a tick. The preventative is pretty simple; get up to date with your dog's vaccinations and treatment programs well before you head off. It’s a good idea to pop down the vets for a check up before you leave. Oh, and clip the dog’s nails. It’ll drastically reduce the chances of one getting ripped off and bleeding everywhere.
SCHOOL OF ADVENTURE
So before you hit the trails you’ll need to teach your dog to do cartwheels. Not quite, but some basic obedience and a few extra “handy commands” thrown in for good measure are all you’ll need to have a hiking partner who’s safe, and pleasurable to camp with. Here’s a few of the basics to work on before you head off.
GEARED TO GO DOG HIKING PACKS
We caught up with Martin and Monica from Active Dog to get the low-down on choosing the right hiking pack for your dog.
Have you got any tips for selecting a dog pack?
The most important thing is to choose a pack that ﬁts your dog properly. Look for one that uses breathable fabric with nice and strong stitching. A pack that’s too tight can be prone to chaﬁng, and if it’s too loose it will bounce around all over the place.
Is there a recommended load or weight limit to adhere to?
Some dogs handle the added weight better than others do, so it’s highly recommended to research your particular breed of dog beforehand. As general rule of thumb, the pack should never weigh any more than 20 per cent of the dog’s body weight.
Do you need to train your dog to wear a pack?
We recommend letting the dog get used to the pack a few times while it’s completely empty. Then you can gradually add weight when you feel the dog is coping well. Like us, dogs feel the weight for a few days after a hike too, so take it slowly. Also, make sure it’s fun for the dog to wear the pack, they will work out pretty quickly that when the pack comes out, they're going on an adventure! For more information visit www.activedog.net.au
IST L K C E H C NT E M P I U Q E DOGGY
COME, SIT, LIE DOWN AND STAY Get these simple commands down pat and it’ll make life on the trails safer and a heck of a lot easier in the long run. Now when I say down pat, I mean the dog will do them every single time you ask them to, regardless of distractions. For example, the “stay” command is only useful if the dog will actually stay put no matter what happens to run in front of him – like a mob of kangaroos. These commands reinforce calm in these situations, which is a massive asset for any hiking dog. LEAVE IT Now this one is self explanatory, yet extremely important for a hiking dog to learn. It comes in handy if there are dog baits around, a rotten carcass, a snake, a lizard – you get the picture. BACK UP AND GO ON (GO IN FRONT) Being able to ask your dog to move in front of you comes in mighty handy on those narrow stretches of trail, or when there’s a bit of rock hopping involved. What’s the “back-up” command for? Well, you’ll ﬁnd out when you take a wrong turn on that same narrow rock hopping section! CALM DOWN A dog that will keep calm, or at least calm down when asked to is a necessity for passing other hikers, horses riders and dogs on the trail. Practice it, and get it down pat.
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Guide Hiking with hounds
WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR
Domestic dogs are a far cry from their wild ancestors, and are actually quite vulnerable out on the tracks. Here are a few things to look out for while you’re in the thick of it. EXHAUSTION AND OVERHEATING Yep, dogs get pooped too. Ensure they’re always well hydrated. Typically if their nose is dry, they’ll need a drink. A little trick to catch dehydration early, is to pinch the skin up on the back of the dog’s neck; if it stays up on its own or even takes its time to fall back in place, it’s a good sign they’re dehydrated. Furthermore, if your dog starts to slow down, lag behind or pant excessively, then stop and let them rest and settle before going any further. Dogs can’t sweat to cool down like we do. So, if you suspect they are overheating, the best thing you can do is ﬁnd a water source for them to cool down in. No water sources nearby? Dogs actually cool from the bottom up, so try wetting a towel for them to lie on.
DOG LEASH – ON OR OFF? One question that always gets thrown around is whether you should let your dog off the leash. While in some cases it’s not as much of a problem (like walking trails on private land), the general answer is no. It can be risky business. Even a dog with the best recall can fail if a new exciting distraction pops up out of nowhere. Plus, dogs tend to poke their big noses into pretty much anything and everything with no respect for native fauna and flora. For their safety and the safety of everything else around them, the best thing you can do is keep them on a leash, and on the designated track. Plus, having an unknown and unrestrained dog approach you on the tracks can be quite daunting for other hikers.
CUT PAWS This is actually quite common, especially on sharp rocky trails. Dog boots are worth their weight in gold as a preventative measure, and carrying a dog safe wound gel doesn’t hurt either. If the paw is bleeding heavily, rip a bit of towel or fabric up and strap it over the wound. The more padding the better! WILD DOG BAITS Keep a keen eye out for wild dog baits. There are usually warning signs around, but wildlife have a habit of moving them out of designated areas. Anxiety, frenzied behaviour such as running or howling, hypersensitivity to sound or light, failure to respond to owner, vomiting, urinating and defecating inappropriately, convulsions and seizures are the typical symptoms of bait poisoning.
WHAT’S NEXT? While most dogs would love nothing better than to accompany you on a hiking adventure, it’s worth saying that not all dogs are suited to this kind of activity. You don’t need us to tell you an aggressive, untrained or unsociable dog will be a nuisance, and a liability. But if your pooch is healthy, happy and obedient, there’s a good chance you’ll have the best hiking partner on the planet. Sure, your tent might smell less than pleasant on occasion but on the bright side, you’ll never hear them complain about the rain, they won’t talk your ear off and best of all, they are the masters of the big rule – what happens on a hike, stays on a hike!
OUT ON THE TRACKS HIDDEN DANGERS
SNAKES Snakes are one of the biggest dangers for a hiking dog on the trails. The best way to avoid them is to limit your dog’s hiking adventures to cooler regions and months of the year. DINGOES AND WILD/FERAL DOGS As with all wild life, wild dogs follow their nose. So make sure any and all food is in sealed airtight containers, even the scraps. Also, a female dog that’s on heat will attract wild dogs from miles around, so make sure she stays at home during that period.
There’s no fuel in Purnululu National Park, so if you plan on exploring for a few days a spare jerry of diesel doesn’t hurt.
KANGAROOS A good sized kangaroo can cause more harm than you’d imagine. They’re super strong, and tend to grab and hold the dog by the neck as they kick at the soft skin on the stomach, which usually tears it open.
For overnight hikes your pooch can carry most of its own equipment with a doggy backpack
People David Mason
The path less
TRAVELLED From serving in the French Foreign Legion to trekking across Australia with camels in tow, David Mason knowns a thing or two about planning an outdoor adventure. WORDS Scot t Heima n
Always generous with his time David takes a break with Outdoor to discuss his adventure
People David Mason
Whilst you can drive it today David was the ďŹ rst to walk it solo
What does it
any of us may aspire to doing something bold in the outdoors. Maybe you want to be the first person to scale Tasmania’s Federation Peak in winter. Well, too late. Andy Szollosi did that in June 2016. How does being the first woman to sail solo around Antarctica sound? Unfortunately, Queenslander Lisa Blair has already done it, in July this year. From 17 year-old Jessica Watson’s solo sailing around the world in 2010, or Lucy Barnard’s current quest to walk the length of the world from Argentina to Alaska – many of us read about these endeavours in the media and heave a sigh about another missed opportunity to go down in the annals of history with a ‘first’. So when Outdoor had the chance to spend time with David Mason, who has the title of being the first person to walk solo east-to-west across the widest points of Australia, we figured it was a great opportunity to generate some inspiration. The intrepid adventurer was more than generous with tips on how to turn our bold plans from ‘wouldn’t it be nice to’ to ‘let’s go!’ David’s trajectory from Associate to a Supreme Court judge, to leading three camels across Australia in 1998, is unconventional. David was inspired to undertake the walk during service with the French Foreign Legion in 1990 along the Ethiopian border. There he’d witnessed the instinctive endurance of locals moving across harsh expanses of country with few possessions other than their camels. The idea of a walk across Australia’s widest points provided the prospect of a positive challenge to motivate him during a period of his life marked by uncertainty and brutality. But once he’d left the gritty reality of service in the world’s most legendary fighting force, the question that faced David was – why should he challenge himself again, on another difficult journey? By this stage he was comfortably settled back in Australia, working as a lawyer. He could readily have dined out on stories of his exploits as a Legionnaire into his dotage. While he was fit and capable of reading a map, David had no natural affinity with camels and no obvious reason to undertake what ended up as a 5500km trip across Australia on foot (in case you’re wondering, we estimate that’s more than 11 million steps – or a half marathon - every day for eight months).
David Mason the modern explorer, crossing Australia at its widest points for the ﬁrst time in recorded history
People David Mason
So, no matter what other people think, you must believe in what you want to do
After one of his camels was raped on the journey David had an additional crew member
What does it take to commit to a challenge when there’s no obvious reason for it? Well, I’ve always been up for a challenge. I wrote once that there was a hellion inside me, something that drove me then – and drives me now. That hellion drove me to join the French Foreign Legion and drove me to walk across Australia. But I think it’s more complicated than just having a passion. I wanted more than a comfortable life, fearful of challenge and change. So, I went out of my way to test myself against others and my own understanding of myself. How do you plan an endeavour of this magnitude? Ah, a practical question! Well, it takes time and money, and a self confidence that will not be compromised by either the logistical challenges or perhaps the most difficult to deal with, comments from friends and strangers that I was wasting my time, energy and passion to do something that no one was interested in and that had no intrinsic value. If you want to undertake a challenge you must have the kind of enthusiasm, self-belief and commitment that could easily get you labelled obsessive and selfish. So, no matter what other people think, you must believe in what you want to do. Where possible, find and talk to other people who believe adventure has worth in itself. Fortunately, there are other adventurers like us out there! What was the most difficult aspect of planning – how did you overcome it? Well, it was bureaucrats. Let me put that comment in context. We are the lucky country. We are free to move across the continent unhindered – so long as you are not doing anything too unusual. I crossed borders with camels, moved along stock routes, through State and National parks, and through Aboriginal land. I had to have permits to carry a rifle, permits to cross borders and boundaries and, in the end, I had a fat file of documentation that lived in a camel saddle. It wasn’t the need to apply for permission; I get that. What did provide a real planning challenge, however, was the inflexibility of some bureaucrats when faced with something unusual. They simply said “no”. Let me give you an example. West of Birdsville is what was then called the Simpson Desert National Park (now it’s called the Munga-Thirri National Park). I wanted to take my three camels through the park to Poeppel Corner. But a bureaucrat in Brisbane told me, “Nah mate, you can’t take feral animals, your camels, into the Park”. Of course, I thought this was ridiculous and
David's basic personal kit – with camels you still have to be mindful of weight
The NT border is a long way from Byron via camel
Dick Smith was the patron of David's expedition walk across Australia
People David Mason
reminded him that there were thousands of feral camels moving through the Park and anyway, I didn’t want to leave my camels there, I wanted to walk across the continent. So, I had to try a number of other avenues and finally got all the approvals I needed. You must be creative about finding solutions and be very persistent. What was your purpose in partnering with a charity and what are your tips for successful engagement? As I said earlier, we are the lucky country. I thought that, if I was fortunate enough to be able to take the time to do something I was passionate about, it would be totally self-indulgent if I didn’t try to help other people at the same time. So, I went online and thought about the kind of charity that would sit well with, or complement, what I was doing. Also, I had to be able to convince the charity that I was credible enough so that if we were linked in some way, I wouldn’t compromise their ‘brand’. For any organisation, including a charity, this is a very important aspect - so you must think about the best way, to put it bluntly, to ‘sell yourself’. Ask, “what’s in it for them?” and “why would they join with me?” If you can answer these questions you’re well on the way to developing a partnership. In the end, I partnered with the Fred Hollows Foundation and
assisted in raising over $1 million, largely due to a donation from Dick Smith who was kind enough to be the Patron of the expedition. After all of the planning, and the 236 days of trekking, is there a special moment you revere more than others on a quiet night? There were many, including the birth of Dalhousie to Chloe the camel just short of Dalhousie Springs and meeting Jimmy, an Aboriginal elder, west of Uluru. But can I describe two? One was when a dingo danced for me. I describe what happened in the book I wrote about my walk. Even now, nearly two decades later, I think of those eyes watching me from across the campfire. Next morning as our little camel train moved off west she paralleled the camels and me. I felt she was escorting me out of the Simpson Desert, making sure I was safe. Then, just as the country changed from desert red sand to flatter, less red and more open views, she stopped a few meters in front of me, stood up on her hind legs and did a pirouette. Then she sauntered away. The second moment is when I saw the Indian Ocean for the first time. I was leading the three and a half camels west (Dalhousie was still a calf) when we came to a rise and we all saw the sea. I stopped in my tracks and collapsed to the ground. Sure, I had lost
Talk to other people who are passionate like you and who may have experience that could be useful to you
There’s no fuel in Purnululu National Park, so if you Makingplan it to your destination on exploring for a few is onlydays part ofathe journey spare jerry of diesel doesn’t hurt.
more than 20 kilos but that was not the reason. The reason was that I had been completely and utterly fixated on completing my journey and here I was, much to my surprise, in reach of my goal. To do something that so many people told me was impossible, to realise and make tangible a dream that I created and planned is an extraordinary thing. And I felt it then. I was only roused by Kabul, my lead camel, and even now I can almost feel his whiskers on my tear-stained face. In hindsight, what would you have done differently? Not much. It took me four years to raise the money, catch the camels, get camel training, meet with sponsors and partner charity, secure the insurance and approvals the expedition required. I had the time I needed to plan well. What words of advice would you offer to other budding adventurers? Believe in yourself. Believe in your ideas and your passion. Talk to other people who are passionate like you and who may have experience that could be useful to you. Listen to them and take from them what is useful and pragmatic. Write to potential backers and ask for their support. I did – and I was fortunate enough to be sponsored. Any application you make will focus your thinking and planning.
FOR THE RECORDS While David’s primary inspiration to walk was personal, his achievements in walking across Australia – combined with the donations he generated in support of the Fred Hollows Foundation – saw him recognised as Australian Geographic Adventurer of the Year in 1999. Now, that’s a title we’d all be happy to hang our hat on. Walk Across Australia: The First Solo Crossing records David’s personal experiences of his journey and is his second memoir. His ﬁrst memoir, Marching with the Devil, details his time with the French Foreign Legion ... but that’s another story.
BLUE POOL TRACK, WANAKA, NEW ZEALAND
A relaxed 30 minute walk through silver beech forest opens up to a charming swing bridge, which crosses the Makarora River. Look down and you’ll see some of the bluest water you’re likely to encounter in a lifetime. Take a pair of polarised sunglasses and you might be lucky enough to spot resident brown and rainbow trout cruising the crystal clear waters in search of hapless bugs and flies. The aptly named Blue Pool Track is 1.5km long and a must-stop if you’re travelling to Mount Aspiring National Park (one hour away from Wanaka) in New Zealand’s stunning South Island. WORDS: Jack Murphy PIC: Millicent Middis-Engelaer
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Your hiking and 4WD adventure with APT includes: • Hiking in 17 locations covering up to 60km of remote trails • All accommodation, including 5 nights at APT’s exclusive network of unmatched Kimberley Wilderness Lodges • Small group travel with a maximum of 20 guests • Expert Driver-Guide and additional guides on selected hikes • Travel in a custom-designed 4WD vehicle • All meals, sightseeing, national park fees and airport transfers
Quench your thirst for adventure with a challenging small group hiking and 4WD journey with APT. Offering a true challenge on some of the most remote and rugged hiking trails that Australia has to offer, APT’s Kimberley Active tour is not for the faint of heart.
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