Friday Foto: Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) National Park

Lawn Hill

There are places that sit larger in the mind than they do in reality. For me, Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) National Park is one such spot.

When I cycled around Australia, seemingly several lifetimes ago, I always had the intention of detouring into this remote north Queensland national park – it was only 280 kilometres off the road, after all – but after the toughest stretch of the journey – 10 days and 1000 kilometres of gale-force headwinds across the Barkly Tableland – I could barely muster the energy to turn the corner. Instead, I holed up in a Mt Isa motel for three days, barely stepping out the door.

A few weeks ago, I finally made it to Boodjamulla and the gorge I’ve so long admired from afar. So much time had passed that, in my mind, it had come to be the size of the Grand Canyon. But it’s really quite a small gorge, its cliffs suddenly rising like an overbite above the river and then gone again a few kilometres later. And yet there’s great beauty in this compact, scale-model version of the place I imagined: calm mornings where you have to blow on the water to ruffle it, freshwater crocodiles sailing about, archerfish shooting down insects with gobs of water, and one of the outback’s best swimming holes at Indarri Falls.

To kayak to Indarri, I imagined spending a day on the water. Instead I was at the base of the falls within about 40 minutes. Portage through and the navigable river pretty much peters out after another kilometre. So I kept portaging, towing the kayak through blockages, over pebble beds and through calf-high rapids, until finally I realised I could probably do with that swim at Indarri, after all.

Turning back, I made the same portages until I spied a small run of rapids running off to one side. I climbed onto the kayak and bobbled through. What I hadn’t counted on was that nobody had been through here before me and an army of golden orb spiders had strung their webs low across the narrow channel. I popped out the other end covered in spiders. Perhaps I should have just contented myself with the swim.

* Adventure before Avarice travelled courtesy of Tourism and Events Queensland.

Video Killed the Adventure Star

Now that half the world is strolling about with GoPros strapped to their heads, the internet is awash in adventure videos. Over recent months on my Facebook page (hint, hint…) I’ve been running a string of adventure clips, ranging from the inspiring to the absurd.

Here are the seven adventure-related videos I’ve most enjoyed. It’s not a comprehensive list – there’d be umpteen clips and movies I haven’t yet seen – but it is entertaining. If you’ve come across any other great adventure videos, let me know. I enjoy procrastinating over somebody else’s adventure as much as the next person. Continue reading

Friday Foto: Wallaby Bay, Tasmania

Wallaby Bay

I spent most of last week hidden from the world, kayaking on the waters of Bathurst Harbour and Port Davey in Tasmania’s World Heritage-listed Southwest wilderness. It wasn’t the first time I’d paddled here, but familiarity did nothing to blunt the impact of this utterly wild area. A second time here is effectively twice as good. Continue reading

Friday Foto: Bathurst Harbour, Tasmania

Forest Lagoon

In Lonely Planet’s newly published 1000 Ultimate Adventures, Tasmania’s Bathurst Harbour has been named among the world’s 10 ‘epic sea-kayak paddles’. It’s not difficult to see why, in this place that belies numbers. Deep inside the state’s World Heritage-listed Southwest wilderness, it’s little more than 100km from Hobart and yet you feel centuries away. When I kayaked here two summers ago, we paddled for a week and didn’t see another person or boat until the final day – and then it was a barge carrying in a bulldozer to grade the remote airstrip at Melaleuca. Continue reading

The Wild Side of Home

In his elegant book The Wild Places, Cambridge fellow Robert Macfarlane set out to explore the notion of wilderness by travelling to remote remnants of the British Isles. After wandering through the likes of Coruisk and Rannoch Moor, he came to the conclusion that wilderness could be as near as it is far – that a remote mountain range could be wild, but so too could a hedgerow. The wild world is not just some grand and craggy other, existing far from our everyday lives. Continue reading

The Power of a Photo: Saving Tasmania’s Franklin River

Thirty years ago, big business tried to change Tasmania’s natural landscape, promising to dam the wild Franklin River and hand back electricity in its place. Instead, the Franklin River changed the Australian political landscape, helping overturn a government and giving the nascent Green movement legitimacy and support. Continue reading