The New Publishing Sensation…

My favourite young adventurer – aka my daughter – has made her first mark on the publishing world.

OT journey

Tasmania’s Parks and Wildlife Service has just produced a walking guide for children on the Overland Track, titled ‘My Overland Track Journey! For Young Adventurers’. It’s filled with track facts (poo and paw type stuff), field-guide material, challenges, diary pages and quizzes. It’s designed for kids to carry on the track, filling it out as the days roll out through the Tasmanian mountains.

Part of the research for the booklet was done by my then-nine-year-old daughter when we hiked the Overland Track together last year. At the end of each walking day, she’d pull her notebook from her backpack – like father, like daughter – and jot down ideas and thoughts for the booklet. She’d sit quietly in the huts or in our tent – stopping only to count the number of leeches crawling over the tent fly – and scribble suggestions she thought might appeal to other young walkers.

Her favourite moment...

Her favourite moment…

She proudly now has her own copy of the booklet, her ideas solidified in print, and is part-horrified, part-chuffed that it’s filled with photos of her along the track. In her own way, she’s left her indelible mark on the outdoors experience along Tasmania’s most famous walking trail.

And in a neat twist, one of the first kids who’ll get to sample her work is her younger brother, when he and I hike the Overland Track together this coming summer. This booklet, and her work, may just have made my life easier for a week.

Top 10 MountainTreks: (#4) Larapinta Trail

My amble through the world’s great mountain treks continues, and finally I come close to home. Cross the Great Dividing Range along Australia’s east coast and the continent flattens into a vast and empty plain. But it’s not universally flat. There are mountain ranges dispersed through the deserts, and few are more spectacular than the West MacDonnell Ranges. It took a long time before somebody realised the West Macs were almost custom designed for a multi-day hiking route, but eventually the Larapinta Trail was born. It was worth the wait. Continue reading

Travel Writing Awards

Last weekend the Australian Society of Travel Writers held its annual awards, and I was honoured to pick up two gongs: one for the best story about Australia (over 1000 words), and the other for the best international story (under 1000 words). I was also a finalist in two other categories, including travel photographer of the year. 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

Friday Foto: Eliot Falls, Cape York

Eliot Falls

A few years ago I cycled with five friends from Cairns to Cape York, the northern tip of Australia, a three-week journey of around 1200 kilometres across some of the roughest roads in the country. There were days we pushed our bikes as much as we pedalled them, grinding through sand and over corrugations that had ambitions to one day become the Grand Canyon. Continue reading

Crocs, Yaks and Camels: The Joy of the Open Air

In a recent study, researchers at the University of Colorado found that camping has the ability to reset our body clocks. In dragging us away from the electric lights that so disrupt the natural order and cycle of daily life, camping isn’t just good for the soul, it also apparently recalibrates our sleep patterns. Continue reading

Friday Foto: Mt Oakleigh, Tasmania

View over snowy treetops on the slopes of Mount Oakleigh

Last winter, I spent a week in Tasmania’s mountains, hiking the Overland Track. Setting out at almost the exact moment of midwinter, it was a journey to experience Australia’s most popular long-distance walking trail at its least popular time. It was a week in which a whole lot of rainy days bracketed this one perfect day of snow. 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