A Trio of New Australian Walking Trails

Like a gift to the person who’s walked everywhere, Australia is on the cusp of launching three new long-distance hiking trails. Before the end of next year, bushwalkers will be able to hike not just the old faithfuls – the Overland Track, the Larapinta Trail, the Prom – but also the following new trails in Tasmania, Victoria and South Australia. Continue reading

The Caped Crusaders

South Cape2 You know a hike is going well when a nine-year-old boy turns to you in camp in the evening and announces, “I just realised, I haven’t complained once today.” Last weekend I took my two children for an overnight hike to South Cape Rivulet on Tasmania’s south coast. Near to the southernmost tip of Tasmania – and thus Australia – it’s part of the famed South Coast Track, though we were only walking the equivalent of the first or last day of that track. The longer version – a challenging 86-kilometre mud and beach slog – is something I’ve told them they might be ready for when they’re about 15 years of age. For now, we were just getting a taster. It was to be our first overnight hike together – the three of us – which is my way of saying, the first time I was prepared to carry two tents, and food for three, on my back. We drove to the southernmost road end in the country – Cockle Creek – and continued south on foot. Continue reading

Long Walk, Little Legs

Andrew Bain with daughter Kiri on the Overland Track

For all the dozens of hiking trails and thousands of kilometres I’ve hiked, one experience stands high above all others. It was the week I spent walking Tasmania’s Overland Track in the company of my then nine-year-old daughter. It was probably the heaviest pack I’ve ever carried, and the slowest I’ve ever walked, but there was something entirely refreshing and revealing about seeing the world through young eyes again. Over the course of 65 kilometres and one week, I watched a child absorb the wilderness and come to feel at one with it. Continue reading

Friday Foto: Three Hummock Island

Three Hummock

Every adventure deserves a cosy cave in which to recuperate at the end, and few places stand more enticingly off the modern grid than Three Hummock Island.

Pinched between King Island and the northwest tip of Tasmania, in the wild waters of Bass Strait, it plays to the notion of the deserted island that sits deep in the travel psyche. Only its two managers, John and Beverley O’Brien, live on the 70-square-kilometre island, surrounded by dense mobs of kangaroos and squadrons of Cape Barren geese. One night I bumped – literally – into a little penguin wandering past my room. Planes land in a propeller-churned flurry of feathers and roo poo in a former paddock, and 30 empty beaches ring its edge, all lined with bouldery headlands.

It’s a place that inspired a rather famous Italian named Guiseppe Garibaldi to quixotically write: ‘O desert island of the Hunter Group – how many times have you pleasantly excited my imagination. When tired of this civilized society, so full of tyrants and gendarmes, I have often transported myself in my imagination into your gracious bosom.’

Last week I spent a few days on the island and, to me, you can keep the likes of Bermuda, Boracay or the Maldives. I’ll take the wildlife, vast night skies and utter solitude of Three Hummock Island any time.

Friday Foto: Mt Anne, a great Abel

Anne2

Far-reaching mountain quests – aka peak bagging – are universal. Scotland famously has its Munros (mountains above 3000 metres in height), Colorado has its 14ers (peaks above 14,000 feet) and Japan has its 100 Famous Mountains. Even tiny Tasmania has a stake in this world of mountain missions, with its own list of chart-topping peaks known as the Abels. Continue reading

How Children Walk Differently to Adults

Those who’ve been following this blog until now will know the importance I place on introducing children to the outdoors, hopefully generating a love for the natural world and confidence in their own self-sufficiency.

Last week I spent four days hiking with my 10-year-old daughter, climbing to the summit of Frenchmans Cap, one of the most prominent mountains in Tasmania. I then took my eight-year-old son for a three-day hike around Freycinet Peninsula, circuiting its beaches and crossing the summit of Mt Graham. Continue reading

Friday Foto: Mt Roland

View along the summit plateau of Mt Roland, Tasmania

Think of great mountains across northern Tasmania and most people think only of Cradle Mountain. But to reach Cradle Mountain, you invariably drive past another imposing and isolated line of rock that is the breastplate of Mt Roland, a mountain that’s arguably the equal of its more famous neighbour.

To most who drive through here, Mt Roland is just windscreen scenery, a moment of ‘I wonder what that mountain is called’, before it’s forgotten in the quest to reach Dove Lake and Cradle Mountain. Continue reading

Friday Foto: The Wombat that Crashed

Wombat

Narawntapu National Park is rather fancifully known as the ‘Serengeti of Tasmania’ for the profusion of its wildlife. The critters in this park on Tasmania’s north coast, once known less romantically as Asbestos Range National Park, aren’t lions or elephants, but most commonly wallabies and wombats that browse each dawn and dusk through its open, grassy plains.

A few days ago, approaching dusk, I lay in the grass and flowers observing this wombat, one of around half-a-dozen that were in sight. I lay still for so long that the wombat eventually forgot I was there. As it grazed, it moved to within a metre of where I lay, the sound of the tearing grass growing louder as it came. Something happened, something outside of the wombat and me – a twitch in the wind? the distant movement of a wallaby? – and the wombat bolted. It did so without looking up and, before I had a chance to move, it ran headlong into my camera and my shoulder.

I’d been attacked (of sorts) in the Serengeti and I lived to tell the tale…

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