Friday Foto: Hidden Tongariro Valley

Tong valley

Walking on a trail can be like threading a line between words in a book – you only see part of the story. Move off the line – read the entire page – and a place expands and changes, developing new shapes, angles and experiences as you step through untracked land.

In a forest or in heavily mountainous country, you quickly sense the possibility of this change if you were to step away from the trail. On my recent visit to New Zealand, however, I discovered there can be just as much shift in an open, barren landscape such as that around the volcanoes of Tongariro National Park. Continue reading

Friday Foto: Mt Anne, a great Abel

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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

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

Friday Foto: Tunnel Bay

Tunnel Bay

Often the finest discoveries you make in the outdoors are the ones close to home that you didn’t know existed. Two days ago I ventured to the Tasman Peninsula in Tasmania’s southeast, a filament of land best known for its convict history, though among the climbing and surfing fraternity it’s also an undisputed adventure icon. Continue reading

Friday Foto: Polynesian Strength

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The human spirit is so much stronger than even the toughest body. This photo is of Thomas Wynne, one of the crew members on the Marumaru Atua vaka – a traditional Cook Islands canoe – on which I sailed last week. A giant of a man, he’s also one of the nicest blokes you’d meet. A counsellor at a Rarotonga school with that uniquely Polynesian ability to make tattoos look natural and right, he was struck by the sailing and vaka life after a fleet of seven vakas sailed around the Pacific Ocean in 2011 and 2012. Quickly after, he signed on to crew on local voyages. Continue reading

Friday Foto: Zugspitze, A Child’s View

Zugspitze

So much of my adventure focus in recent years has been about children. As my own two kids grow and form, I’ve tried to spark and encourage their inherent adventurous spirits. It’s a primary reason that I live where I live, in easy touch of mountains and water. Continue reading

Friday Foto: Mt Amos

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As I write, I’m on Tasmania’s Freycinet Peninsula, researching my umpteenth feature on one of the island’s most famous locations. Wineglass Bay overshadows everything here, with its perfect white curve having become one of the signature scenes not just for Tasmania but also for Australia. Continue reading