Roadtripin’ the East Coast

Day breaks over the ocean in a golden wash of light. Waves end softly below as you welcome another day on the coast, with a cuppa in hand, hidden in the sand dunes. Typical Tassie.

You’ve been up for halfa, awoken by maggies, cockies, and a myriad of other birds calling you up for sunrise. No Tassie adventure is complete without trekking through the hardy coastal vegetation to arrive at a sweeping beach of gorgeous white sand and the cleanest, clearest waster in the country that makes for the most invigorating morning swim.

Once sun’s up, it’s not long ’til you feel the burn, the summer sun of Tassie. Despite its reputation of short, cold days of aurora australis and snow capped mountains, the state’s east coast summers are sharp and the UV burns through classic blues skies.

This is a starting guide to your East-Coast Tassie Roadtrip – it works best over 4-5 days, taken slowly to achieve maximum relaxation. Don’t let Tassie’s (relative) small size fool you – its a massive place, and one not built for rushing, hurrying, or cramming too much into a day.

After you’ve had a read, check the ‘Making Tracks: What you’ll need to bring’ download and give us a follow on Instagram – its a starting point for the basic gear/clothing you’ll need to consider before hitting the road and camping.

The trip – From North to South..

1
Binnalong Bay

Kick things off from St.Helens. This is a top hub to start from – there’s fuel, food, a pharmacy – you name it! Given the sometimes scarce nature of services down the east coast, we find it best to stock up here, especially if you have a fridge with you.

Binnalong Bay, the southern point of the Bay of Fires, is only a short drive out of St.Helens. This is a collection of bays that stretches up the coast, filled with beautiful white sandy beaches in stunning contrast to the red lichen-painted rocks. Back over Georges Bay is the turnoff to St. Helens point, which is equally as impressive! These are both great spots for swimming, snorkelling, or simply catching some sun.

From here, make your way down to the south part of the Douglas Apsley National Park, only a minute or so north of Bicheno. Here you can pull up stumps for the night. Take the coastal route, it’s far less windy, and there’s beaches for everyone and plenty of views to take in. There’s a short walk in to the top little campsite.

Once you’re set up, check out the Apsley Waterhole in summer for an evening dip. Classic. With a bit more time, hike the great half day walk around the Apsley Gorge Circuit.

Note: You’ll need Parks Passes in any of the national parks you visit. When visiting over a few days, pick up a holiday pass. Heaps cheaper.

2
St. Helens Point

Start day two right in Bicheno, at the east coast renowned Bicheno Bakery! Then it’s only a short drive and you’re pulling into Friendly Beaches, in Freycinet National Park, and it’s just the beginning. Amble up magnificent empty beaches, or set up for a morning of waves. Eventually head into the heart of the park, and if camping, find your campsite and free up your afternoon. Sites are super popular here, so you’ll most likely have to book in peak periods. You’re not going to want to miss the sunset from here either, it’s always a stunner! Top spot to check it out is the balcony at the lodge bar with a cool beverage, or chilled out on rolled out towels at Honeymoon Bay or Richardsons Beach.

Get a good kip, tomorrow’s world famous Wineglass Bay!

3
Friendly Beaches, Freycinet National Park

My tip is to get up early and greet the suns rays as you’re gazing out over the perfect waters of Wineglass Bay. The Wineglass Bay-Hazards walk is an awesome day trek, usually walked in clockwise direction. Be sure to pack plenty of water and time so you’re not rushing it and keeping those hydration levels up. If it’s hot, the western portion packs a punch in the arvo!

A side trek with a bit of elevation is up the gnarly granite bulge that is Mt. Amos. It’s tough (and near impossible to hike if raining/wet, given the slippery nature of the rock), but hands down the best view in the park. If your hiking shoes are going to pay for themselves, this is the hike they’ll do it. Grip=Stability=Good times on the slopes!

Enjoy another sunset from Freycinet or roll down the coast to Swansea or Mayfield Bay campground, and dig the spectacular Freycinet silhouette from another angle.

Note: **Don’t drive at night! It’s stupid!!** By now you’ll have noticed the high amount of wildlife and higher amount of road kill. You might on the mainland, but not in Tassie. The place is lucky to still have an abundance of wildlife – kanga’s, wombats, quolls, and of course devils –  but driving at night is a sure way to contribute to the populations demise. So don’t be stupid – get to where you’ve got to be before the sun goes down!

4
Wineglass Bay, from Mt. Amos

An island national park – what could be better?! Maria Island National Park (confusingly pronounced Mar-eye-a) is a half hour ferry ride from Triabunna. Timing and bookings are made here.

You can day trip or stay longer in hostel accomodation in the old goal, or camping at various spots. There’s no cars or food on the island, so pack smart if you’re camping (remember this list as a guide). Plenty of parking at the ferry terminal in town to leave your car too.

Lots of classic Tassie hikes, vistas, and guaranteed wombat sightings here! Stroll on a clifftop overflowing with fossils, walk under the amazing swirling painted cliffs, or climb/scramble the peaks of Mt. Maria or the Bishop and Clerk. For multi-day adventure, walk down to the remote bottom end of the island and have the park to yourself..

Note: There’s a population of Tasmanian devils on Maria Island and you might be lucky to spot them. The numbers of devils have declined dramatically due to the Facial Tumour Disease wrecking havoc on the population. Maria Island was chosen as a site for captive breeding, and 15 disease-free Tasmanian Devils were introduced to the Island in 2012.

5
Maria Island, fossil cliffs on the Bishop & Clerk trail

Back on the mainland, still bearing south. Depending on what car you have, there’s a few ways to get to the Tasman Peninsula National Park, be it to Eaglehawk Neck or on to Fortescue Bay for camping. FYI You’ll need to drive on gravel road out to Fortescue.

D’you dive? Eaglehawk neck is amazing diving, largest cave system in Australia in waterfall bay! Give Eaglehawk Dive Centre a call and go check them out, the caves are mind-blowing!

Tessellated Pavement is a little cheesy, but make the drive out to the Blowhole and Waterfall Bay and you won’t be disappointed! Towering cliffs sheering off into the ocean, pillars of volcanic rock and layers of ancient ocean sediments laid down millions of years ago create one of the grandest cliff lines in the country.

When you’re done with cliffs and hikes, settle in to Fortescue Bay campground, and reflect on your journey so far!

6
Tasman Peninsula National Park

You’re probably rolling into day six by now, and it’s time to cruise back to Hobart. In Tassie you’re spoilt for good quality local produce – cherries, apples, whiskey, cheeses – keep an eye out for roadside stops along the way and don’t shy off from treating yourself to quality food!

Good luck on your Tassie adventure! This East Coast Roadtrip could easily be longer, wider, quicker, or include more stop offs. There’s boat trips and multi-day hikes, conservation centres, wineries, and so much more.

But in Tassie we roll with quality – remember, it’s not not built for rushing, hurrying, or cramming too much into a day. Take your time, reacquaint yourself with the little things, and be blown away by the island state..


 

 

Grampians NP – December ’17

It’s my first outdoor climb, ever – and it was bloody amazing! After a few months spent in the excessive tropical heat and losing a couple of kilos from continually sweating, this was a kick start the southern summer by climbing in Summerday Valley, in the Grampians National Park. It was great to be back on the vertical and in a cooler climate, exploring a new patch of my backyard with mates in Victoria!

The Scene.

Wind blasted, ancient honeycomb coloured sandstone sits at the top of the rope, whilst sheer rockfaces like the Wall of Fools are a backdrop and echo our voices and laughter around the valley we have all to ourselves. Weathered orange and sun blasted grey rock surrounded us, reminding me of the Arnhem range and spots in Kakadu big time.

The fire damage from recent years has left the place scarred, and yet it’s been long enough that the new growth has thickened up and begun to consume the remnant scorched skeletons of deceased eucalypts.

With our temporary camp at the base of Back Wall, a whole new world was opened up to me, providing previously unimaginable and alternative views after a few moments of scramble upwards.

The Trip.

For over a decade I’ve been venturing around this country – across each state and territory, coastal, tropical and inland. Yet even here in the Grampians – a place I know relatively well, where I’ve spent many days and nights camping and hiking – my perspective of my surroundings undertook a massive change!

I’ve worked on my climbing skills indoors throughout the year, fitting in around three climbs each week at an indoor centre in Brissy. I was hooked on climbing pretty much instantly. After a free trial week, I signed up seven days later. Yet none of that has ever compared to going outdoors for the real thing!

The Scope.

Climbing is another awesome way to explore the great outdoors, giving you a new and different perspective to experience our great backyard – from above!

It’s a solid way to make new tracks with mates, keep fit, and to be challenged by the mental demand of hanging on with your hands and thinking of the next step. And keep pushing those boundaries of what you can make your body do.

For the first time in my life, I’m looking at rock faces and cliffs in a different light. They’re larger, higher, grander. Areas, like the Grampians (Gariwerd) National Park, are begging to be visited again with rope, harness and carabiner in tow.

Perspective.

This experience has reinforced how much I love the great outdoors, and how powerful and important a different perspective (such as climbing) can be to an individual or to a community.

Each activity incorporates a different approach and a different set of appreciations for an area. When considering the conservation and preservation of an area, any area, these new experiences offer us a chance to appreciate from a different point of view, reminding us that there is always another angle – another way of interpreting something that one hasn’t experienced or yet considered.

It’s another reason to keep watch over our protected areas, and ensure we help these places stand the test of time and remain resilient long beyond these brief years we spend on earth..


Location: Summerday Valley, Hollow Mountain, Grampians, Victoria
Route Name: on the Backwall (unsure of route name)
Grade: 7


 

Kakadu NP – November ’17

Kakadu National Park – what an ancient patch of the world. The land demands your respect, from its rich cultural indigenous heritage to the ever relentless scorching heat. The place is massive – a quarter the size of Tasmania – and the countries largest national park. This size, you feel it – you sense it’s grandeur as the endless kilometres of Top End woodland draws your attention for hours on end. And of course, lurking mostly hidden in every drop of muddy water, there’s the living fossils – the Estuarine Crocodile Crocodylus porosus.

Heading into Kakadu – it’s an adventure definitely worth making the trip north for!

(You can click on the images to get a proper look at them).

For a wider selection of images, there’s another batch of photos from other areas in the park you can check out here.

World turned upside down??

There/here you stand, face to face with one of the deadliest animals to have ever existed. You’re captivated by its colour, its movements, its curiosity as it explores your shared surroundings.

You stand silenced, and wait for it to strike…

***

The landscape at your already sunburnt feet was a seascape over a metre below the surface not too long ago. A spectacle that has to be seen to be believed has since swept across the sea.

Before your very eyes, almost like the plug of the ocean was dislodged when the tide ticked over from ebb to flow, the ocean to the horizon nearly disappears, leaving seabed behind. You sink with the water, locked into a natural swimming pool separated and bordered by coral, sand, rock, and a bustling horizontal wash out.

Endless expanses of lush mangroves around you take a breath, whilst a plethora of coral spews out organic sunscreen to prevent themselves being scorched in the relentless tropical sun. The drying exposed earth, crackling with minute activity, is a roaring chorus when the whole landscape chimes in together as it’s once again uncovered through the daily pull of the orbiting moon.

***

Darting from a vantage point, inspecting its Territory and then darting back to cover. From liquid to air, through plant and rock, its actions are precise, aware, and focused.

Getting closer still, you’re stunned, glued to position, captivated by its fantastic contortions and charismatic flesh.

****

Imagine travelling to a place for over a generation and rarely seeing another person besides those in your company? That’s decades of memories and exploration of an entire land/seascape. A region brimming with tropical life – pods of dolphins, splashes of turtles, the continual unknown whereabouts of crocs, countless birds, and thick schools of fish.

This patch of the world you visit is special in that what is, is pretty much what has always been. The harsh and yet abundant nature of the scene demands all of your sensory attention – the sound of gushing water; the scent of baking aquatic life stuck to the breeze; the taste of salt on everything; the touch of your skin firming up, red from the suns rays; the sight of…

***

Now, imagine something else..

That this site, this place, this magnificent slice of earth now tells a different story.

People have planned a new future behind closed doors and haven’t told you.

In it rolls. The lives you’ve shared the space with are gone overnight. The larger creatures were possibly lucky, able to have evacuated their home to head out of range, yet the smaller others are chewed up, crushed, squashed, and yanked from the water and left to gasp for death in a slag pile of waste. Massive remnant stands of the coastal savour – the mangrove – are ripped up and torn down, snapped and burned in piles larger than some buildings. The ancient seafloor and coral beds are carved up to the horizon. The once deliciously clean water is contaminated; tainted. Noise, slicks, plumes, and fire foul your senses and replace what it was you once lived along side.

***

People destroy these places.

What if this was your own backyard, would you want this to happen anywhere in the world? Would you allow it to happen??

But this IS your backyard. This IS your land and water.

There are no map lines and boundaries in the real world. There is no isolation of damage, despite the maliciously biased impact statements that say otherwise. Because you’ve spent a generation mingling with the region you’ve noticed the coming and going with the seasons, the changes and alteration of species interactions that vary month to month, year to year, even decade to decade.

The impact of destroying an area to the horizon cannot be justified and cannot be undone.

The threats to this very real-life place are very real.

***

The moment’s over – the small, palm sized creature has found a place to rest, shifting shades of colour from near-orange to sand-grey to blend in to the backdrop of coral and seaweed. To think, one bite from the beautiful octopus will have your body shutting down to die in minutes, as the toxin so potent your diaphragm is struck with paralysis and you’re caught short, unable to breathe.

The moment’s over – so you shuffle back to the waters edge, chuck on your mask and snorkel, and make for the boat, just before the tide swings around and flips the world back over..

***

With a tail wind back to the ramp, towards a halted storm cloud penetrating deep into the atmosphere. Behind, the sun’s giving up for the day in the most wonderful of ways.

You’re outwardly smiling and stoked to hold the fresh salty-memory of the open water once again…

…and inside, you hope that there really is such thing as ‘forever’ for the worlds remaining beautiful places.


If you’re in the Territory, you can help this incredible place. Seek out the team at Keep Top End Coasts Healthy – topendcoasts.org.au.

Is home where the heart is

Does home change on a regular basis, or is it the town you grew up in? Or is it the city, the region, or state you’ve spent most of your life? Is it where your parents settled? Or is it simply where your bed is located?

The definition of home, it’s so contextual, that I’m sure we all have a different definition of what it means to be home.

Over the past nine days I’ve spent the most time ‘home’ in almost a year. It was bloody amazing, even refreshingly inspirational. Now I’m dangling once again 20,000 feet over the sea and here is my reflection on time well spent.

Victoria is gorgeous. Right now, after a lacklustre summer, we haven’t seen any (major) fires and there’s even a hint of green hanging in there around the place. the sun beats down hot still but people generally aren’t over it. The past week has continuously been blue skies and close to thirty degrees, and super comfortable (a welcome change from the sticky humidity of Queensland). Stunning, and very conclusive to exploring the outdoors – Victoria’s mountains, valleys, heathland, cliffs, beaches, and rivers.

Despite much of Vicoria being cleared for farming, residential, commercial, and industrial purposes (as seen quite extensively from the sky), there’s still a few (small) patches of gems out there.

The natural places I sojourned to – outlined above – albeit a (significant?) importance to me in that I have made (and continue to make) extremely important memories with people surrounded bob them. Exploring their beauty and ecological uniqueness of the land and water around me, prompting me to share this with many others. This week I’ve ventured out with some of those same people, to create new memories in the Victorian countryside.

Alpine offloading with my family, taking time to freeze my legs in the beginnings of a mountain stream polluted by Coke bottles (even this remote there’s rubbish!!), then teaching the next generation the negative impacts of pollution. Then, further down the road we turn a bend into a logging coupe once home to towering Mountain Ash trees only found in the Victorian highlands and Tasmania. Even at seven years old he deplores the destruction of these giants.

I tiptoed through the Great Otway heath dodging basking tiger snakes and staying amazed at the biodiversity of a simple ground layer. The coastal fog burnt off on cue, blue skies put on a show. Returning to last summers patch made me realise how much I’d missed and fallen for the west coast that faces south east over Bass Strait.

Then for a swim in the cool temperate ocean waters by iconic yellow sandstone cliffs. Low tide and no breeze; my favourite beach to date on the coast. I notice the little changes, both human and natural, and whilst thousands of feet have walked the path down to the ocean since I last took a dip at Addiscot, it’s dominating cliffs and welcoming blue to me it was like I only left a week ago. We might complain about cold water and inaccessible beaches, but when I left to warmer waters I begun to truely appreciate the invigorating nature of ice cool Southern Ocean water.

Finally an unnamed waterfall or cascade in the states central reaches. Simple and hemmed in by paddocks – a common scenario out here for areas unfit for agricultural practices (where solid immovable rock trumps ploughing). It’s out of the way and a perfect year round swimming hole.

Making Tracks this week rapidly brought together and reaffirmed the reasons I’m writing this and will continue to for many years to come.

Because I understand these areas ecologically and have learnt to read their importance and acknowledge their changes. Walking (or swimming) through them is both a confirmation of what I know and an excuse for adventure to experience something new and exciting. The changing of the seasons and the typical variability of them means species numbers rise and fall, plants grow and die off or even drop limbs to save themselves. Cliffs erode and creeks clog up. Sand moves, exposing/covering rocks to create/eliminate habitat for marine life. Change keeps everything guessing what’s going to happen next and provides us with continual exploration.

However, I can’t read my new home of South East Queensland just yet. Maybe in the dry eucalyptus forests I have a slight grasp of things given the similarities with Victoria, but stepping foot into a sub-tropical rainforest is like experiencing a new country or planet, whilst lukewarm sandy beaches stretching beyond the horizon without sign of a cliff still throws me!

Despite her obvious beauty, it”s still like being on a second date with SE Queensland – I’m attracted, dig her vibe, but have no intimate idea of what she is. And yes, I do want to know more.

I’m experiencing what I’m calling an ‘expansion of home’. I have no reason to pull a Paul Kelly and write my version of ‘Adelaide’ – one day I’ll happily return to the Victorian coast and once again live within a stones throw of the water. I just can’t say when.

This is a glimpse into how and why one becomes attached to country, to the land and water and everything in between. Without ever setting out for it to happen, it just happens. The landscape becomes intertwined with memories shared with people you love.

We’re all the one landmass after all, so home is the whole patch, plus I don’t think I’ll stop until I’ve lived in each state and territory, and spent my fare share of time making a home amongst the gum trees, whatever species they might be..


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Interstate

This morning I woke up and jumped straight into my (now routine) morning run around the block and along the edge of the Brisbane river. Pretty typical start to the day in this part of the world. All the while I was basking in the classic Brissy summer warmth sweating away, and I get to thinking – how good would a nice cool oceanic body of water be right now?! Each step I kept thinking of going for a dip at the end of the road..

Truth be told I do long for the crisp southern ocean waters that have beaten Victoria into the unique shape it is. Working closely to and with it, teaching about it, advocating protection and respect of it – all brought me closer to really knowing and even feeling the place. Nowhere does the coast make such a noise against resilient rocky cliffs like the southern coast of my home.

It can be harsh and rough, or on the right wind (or lack thereof), as flat as a tack.

Some days I’d rock on down to Pickering Point in Warrnambool and be caught completely off guard. Other times I’d race home in Anglesea and out to the cliffs to stare down the easterly gale and waves berating the weak sandy base of those towering cliffs. Then the next day inspect the damage and litterally watch huge swathes of ancient cliff be swept back into the big blue.

Or, at the Prom, we could race to the top of invading sand dunes and in the glow of another stunning sunset cast shadows towards a placid Corner Inlet and our eyes to a confused Cape Paterson jutting out into Bass Strait.

Living and not necessarily travelling away from my roots has made going home something ultra special, more so than ever. When you’re making and carving a home out of a new scenario and location – for me, Brisbane and south east Queensland – the differences in climate, culture, terrain and what every else that I’m adjusting to make returning highlight the subtle (and massive) variations in the same land mass so much more obvious.

The same way when sojourning overseas you’ll notice how much better or worse (mostly better) we have it, I’ve felt it without crossing any body of marine water (sorry Tassie, it’s been a while I know!). Given those areas down south are what I know ultra well and are the basis for so many killer adventures and memories, I radiate towards them – even long for them, like I did this morning.

***

Like never before we can move around comparing and experiencing new terrain, and that’s pretty awesome!

***

Photos from our last trip down the incredibly beautiful south eastern coast can still be viewed here.

From Little Things..

Darkness. I’m consumed by sand. In every direction I hear the sound of beating hearts. This multiplies as time ticks on by slowly. I know where I am, somehow. I have no memory otherwise and don’t know if I’ll even remember this. For some indescribable reason, I’m possessed to wait. Something is coming today and when it does I’ll just know what to do and how to do it. I’ll be awesome and I’ll just know how.

For now though, i wait..

Surrounded..

Who knows how much time passes, but the beating hearts are anticipating movement. All of a sudden, there’s a scramble upwards. Digging digging digging – together. I’m gaining strength by the second, and just as quickly as it began the moment ceases. More waiting.

Here I notice a power reducing, causing our dark sandy space to reduce in temperature. Since the darkness began, and the journey upwards, I’ve been anticipating things cooling down so I can continue safely.

Click!

Like piercing through a weakened dam, the heartbeats thrash into an erratic scramble ever upwards. I push, many times the length of my body and BANG! No time to waste I’m into the night and completely exposed. The heartbeats are popping out of the sand in every direction, their bodies shaped just like mine – four curved appendages made for swimming in water (yet surprisingly capable for the job of scrambling) and a top casing circular in shape with a symmetrical pattern through it and to the edge.

My destination – it awaits.

I scramble. I’m moving towards the dim horizon light before me away from the deeper darkness of towering, swaying silhouette figures. I know that my purpose is towards the light and towards the crashing noise, waves of never ending energy pounding the coast and guarding my destination.

Each movement I make with my body the swaying of appendages propels me forward. I make ground on the sound, hurrying intensely stopping only briefly to catch my breath.

Forward. Forward. Forward. We’re spread out now in a rough line, all intent. The sand below me becomes damp and compact and I sped across this fresher surface with relative ease. The sound has become a roar. Whatever it is is crashing and getting closer and looming larger. I arrive, and in in a moment, I’m gone.

The current takes me. My fins, designed and powered to propel me  through the water, do so effortlessly.

From sand pit to ocean in a matter of minutes.

***

The first few moments of a turtles life are well known to many. These moments are incredible. It is a joy to experience the presence of such small beings being thrown straight into the deep end of life without a grain of parental guidance to send them on their way. It’s almost humbling.

Humans are fascinated in animals void of parental nurture. We struggle to comprehend the ‘how??’. ‘How does it do that, without going to school!?

It blows our minds.

There are places you can go to witness fresh turtles leaving the nest and making their hurried way to the shore and the big blue. I did this recently, and here’s what I learnt about the endangered Loggerhead turtle, and what you and I can do to help them.

***

For every female that makes her way up out of the water to the sand dunes, she will lay on average 120 eggs. The females, extremely exposed on land (being quite sizeable, weighty, and mostly aquatic beings), will not begin to dig the nest and lay if there’s any activity or disturbance, such as the presence of humans nearby. If the coast is clear, she’ll take around an hour to see the job through. Each female can lay up to five times (maybe six!) per season that stretches from October to March. Once the season is over, it’ll be another two to three years before she’ll return, the time needed to build up her fat reserves to be able to withstand the whole ordeal once again.

At the largest rookery of Loggerhead turtles in the southern hemisphere, 350 or 400 females can come in each season to lay. This means tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of turtles hatch each season.

The eggs incubate under the sand for a few months, with the sex of the turtle being determined by the temperature of the sand. The warmer the sand, the more likely the egg will produce a female hatchling. Too warm, and the egg will cook (occasionally the mother turtles lay their eggs too close to the surface, and, to help alleviate the already mounting pressure on the species, rangers shift the clutch to ‘cooler’ and safer sand).

After hatching they make their way across the sand at night – without any guidance. It’s amazing. The crossing of the beach to the water is like the GPS positioning of a new satellite navigation device, with the hurried scamper to the ocean programs them to know exactly which beach they came from, and allows them to return to the exact same place to lay in thirty or so years. Without this shuffle to the shore (for example, if someone saw a baby turtle and ‘helped’ it across the sand and straight into the water), it would essentially be lost forever, with no bearings to its beginnings.

For every 1000 eggs, only 1 survives to sexual maturity. Naturally, the sheer size of offspring numbers accounts for their difficult and highly predated life ahead of them.

1 in 1000 – crazy odds!

What’s more, is they now have the increased (and ever increasing) presence of humans in their lifecycle. Plastic pollution, boat strikes, increased visitation of beaches, coastal development and industrialisation – it’s intense, the human turtle relationship..

***

I’ll explore things further, next time..

Into the New Year

I don’t have to try and write or attempt to be creative, it just flows. No writers block, it just means it’s time to experience something somewhere that will drive my motivation again, like fuel to the flame of inspiration driving me to scrawl across a page void of any friction. A trip away or chasing a quality thought can do this.

But like all sources of fuel you can run low if you aren’t careful to replenish – no bushfire can burn forever (that I know of anyhow)! I’ve learnt the hard way these past six months when it comes to keeping mental stimulation constant and independently creative, and have learnt that as my life shifts and changes so to must my focuses on the pages I carry around with me everywhere. I cannot go searching for motivation from the past continually without refreshing the experiences in the present.

I must explore more of my motivation – the great outdoors.

Last year, weeks turned into months at the blink of the eye as I ran around the country fighting for marine environmental protection. My focus on activism was unrelenting and utterly intense, dedicating huge swathes of my time and life to it. I was creative, but on the clock and for an organisation. The personalised words of my own dried up, and come December I was hanging for a wet spell to beat off the creative drought I was in.

I can now appreciate how people loose their craft, and opt to pack it in rather than beat there head against the machine they’re tied to. It’s a difficult scenario to find yourself in, void of those creative priorities and flat out otherwise, your instruments gathering dust, desks and benches strewn with unimportant mess, sent to the back of rooms, cupboards and garages.

And still, this could be me one day.

It’s the New Year. I’ve travelled for three weeks through coastal scrub, forest and gutted agricultural land along the Newell Highway, refuelling constantly along the way. On the road I’d wake up without an alarm, and say to myself “let’s do this – todays hanging to be explored”.

Now I’m refuelled and hanging to continue to write on a future worth living in – one filled with experiences, void of boredom, charged by motivation, and of course, one with our fair share of time in the great outdoors!

When you’re faced on a daily basis with the end of the world – with the continued destruction of dwindling reefs, forests, grasslands, and ecosystems – it’s imperative you remember and recall the good things in life. Those things that are unspoilt and still standing, the intact beautiful things. Because without them and without the good memories, we are nothing.

And when we’re nothing, we’re….

It’s great to be back, let’s see where 2017 takes us!

A Sunday Ocean Road

I’ve drank years worth of alcohol. I’ve watched streams of pornography. I’ve sped along back roads around the country well over the speed limit. I’ve eaten copious amounts of fast food junk. I’ve driven to work when it was only four hundred metres away..

Each of these scenarios presents a potential addiction for anyone, and here I’m reduced to a mere shadow with an addiction to something unanimously adopted and utterly commonplace in society – yet the cessation of my use of such an object has had me fighting the urge against just picking it up and turning it on..

The thought and consideration of this object keeps screaming out to me – like a hungry ten month old hanging for a feed. And ignoring the urge is painfully proving to me how far into the clutches of modern day technology I am. Like all habits in life some become imbalanced, and like all well-intentioned humans I wish to negate this imbalance in my life..

***

It’s a Saturday morning on the Surf Coast and whilst the overcast clouds hang around I’m going to sit here and write, with paper and pen, and explore the effects of a logged on life, on myself and on the environment around us..

As I summarised quite clearly to a few last night, those folk presenting talks in front of us (at an environmental film festival) had all ‘done’ something. Some explored the local environment, some spent years (and dollars) on an education, some simply travelled the world and observed. I too, have travelled, and in a short time built on the ever expanding map in my head and overlaid it with a myriad of observations, so I can confidently comment on contemporary issues of social, political, and environmental inequity, and of our human potential..

And I remain an optimist..

One such issue is the extent of pollution effecting our world, in particular the simple, single-use pieces of plastic that people drop somewhere that end up causing massive problems in all of the worlds food chains. Little tiny fragments of plastic broken down in the waves of the ocean wash up on every beach you can go to – I’m yet to visit a beach in Australia that doesn’t have a collection of plastic washed up in the littoral zone (between high and low tides). Look up the work by Dr. Jennifer Lavers, it’s inspirationally eye-opening!

Prior to exploring such issues any deeper than a rudimentary observation, it’s important to understand that knowledge itself can be acquired by anyone with access to a specific resource of information, or gathered through actions and experiences where your observations are tuned in towards occurrences that will compile, over a lifetime, substantial knowledge about a topic (or issue). This means that anyone with the urge to explore anything can become an expert in their time! So too, can anyone with access to extensive resources, such as those on the internet – that larger than life resource where the world of potential knowledge is right there at your e-fingertips..

The internet is fucking incredible – anything we want we can get it. What power! If we’re after new music – done. if we want news – done. If we want friends – done. It’s the single greatest resource that was ever complied. If I’m at writing on a topic, I can research the origins and discussions on whatever I need to compile a convincing argument – immediately!

Anything!

Likewise, the mobile phone itself is an incredible social tool, in which having one means we become almost immediately contactable from anywhere in the world (the world is pretty massive, by the way). And if not now, not this hour, then probably before lunch, or definitely by tomorrow. beats the wait of sending a letter to the other side of the globe, or across melbourne for that matter..

I don’t believe there is a problem in the world with wanting to be social, or desiring to interact with another human being – that’s what we do best and that’s why our social structures and times have culminated in the past century to bring us to today. Through our desire to interact with others, we have shared an eon of conversations, of thoughts, and progressed beyond the light of a cave fire to the comfortability of impressive structures with glass windows and bathrooms..

In fact, we’re so social that we don’t want to not socialise, because we desire to maintain those friendships with those that we love and care for. If a mate wants to do something, of course you’ll answer that call. If someone’s in trouble, of course you’re there to help! so we make ourselves continually contactable – and why not?!?!

The same applies to social media; it is an online extension of our lives on a much larger scale, spreading across the world to each device with internet connection!

You may think this is a shallow argument, or even an appraisal of the aforementioned technologies – but I wonder: when was the last time that you turned your phone or internet off for a day?

Why? Why am I painfully fighting the urge to turn on my mobile phone and check if there are messages and emails awaiting me overflowing with information? Shouldn’t I be eager to expand my knowledge and maintain my social networks so as to perpetuate the positive growth of my own individual potential?? Simply put – I’m addicted to the machine that is a mobile phone, and the internet (an extension of the smart phone), and I need to break this addiction..

***

These technologies present a major distraction – a tasty, social, useful, and otherwise brilliant creation with sadly negative implications. We’re just so caught up in the technological age that we’re simply forgetting the outside (and real) world. Simple as that..

***

Ultimately I am concerned with the environmental issues of this world – plastic pollution, habitat destruction, species extinction and endangerment, over fishing, destructive agricultural processes, climate change, etc, etc..

If I take someone to the cliffs near my home, they don’t jump of the edge in a fit of euphoric escape, they appreciate the beauty and colour of the fragile rock I point out, the cliff top ecosystems, and the amazing colour of bass strait and its vast, rolling blue. Humans remain hard-wired optimists; it is easy for everyone to point out the sometimes overwhelming negatives in life, a la there is plastic on every beach in the world (which fish and other animals eat, by the way, which over time they become choked with and die). But we don’t give up. We keep day after day striving for the best, most optimal world we know of and can create for ourselves..

That is what makes us optimists..

However, this means, without an environmental understanding and appreciation, our worlds we create wont incorporate a healthy natural surrounding. If you don’t know and haven’t felt the sensation of standing at the base of a four-hundred year old giant tree, you can’t incorporate that into your future. If you haven’t seen the precious fragility of the sea life hiding in Port Phillip, or brilliant wildflowers appearing in grasslands around Melbourne in October, then you can’t contemplate them and incorporate their future wholly into yours. If you haven’t seen what remains of a forest after it’s been bulldozed, and realise that the same ancient trees you were walking under a month ago don’t exist anymore, then you can’t contemplate them and incorporate their (now non-existent) future wholly into yours either..

This is how we construct our ‘world views’ – we take what we learn, and over time we create our future, which we dedicate ourselves to throughout our lives. How we ‘view’ the world is how we treat the world, and how we treat the world is how we end up ‘creating’ our world. The less you know about what’s around you, the less you incorporate into your future – simple..

Recall the simple hydrologic, or water cycle we learnt of in primary school – where water falls from the sky, makes its way across the land, into creeks, into rives, into bays, and into oceans, and somewhere along the line it evaporates (turns to gas), raises to the higher altitudes, solidifies, and falls under the power of gravity, beginning the process once again. Everything in the world, as per these cycles, is interconnected..

***

To feel the importance of a healthy, connected, pristine environment is a crucial element in protecting what’s left of the environment..

And this will not ever be replicated through your electronic screen..

Mt Buffalo NP – July ’15

I guess that’s what it’s like after living on the road..

Think of the variety of your own life. Consider the sheer abundance of everything surrounding you – you’re reading this on an LCD screen either stored in your pocket permanently or fixed to your desk at home, your desk at work, or your coffee table. Your home is adorned with a myriad of collectables, some you use frequently whilst others get dusted off every now-and-again..

Much of what you possess is beyond luxury to most of the human population of earth. Some countries of people struggle to eat, let alone sit down on a frosty sunday morning in a cafe nestled at the foot of the great dividing range to consider how lucky they are. Most of us understand this, yet struggle to maintain a strong appreciation for how fortunate we were to be brought up in the lucky country..

It isn’t something to be ashamed of – I believe it’s a simple human trait that anyone blessed with even minimal luxuries will eventually take them for granted within a generation or two. Think of your grandparents, and how they would use every skerrick of food in the cupboard, never wasting a scrap. Now, each of us own fridges stocked to overflowing and we choose ‘convenient’ eat-out options rather than figure a meal out for ourselves. Our grandparents would kept the lights off unless being in that particular room, to save on electricity and money. Now, we’ll design our houses around permanently alight fixtures – sometimes even on the outside when we’re not even home! Or, consider house sizes – my dad was brought up with five other brothers and sisters, and they shifted around the inner city with their folks from richmond to collingwood, from carlton to fitzroy. that’s eight to a (small inner city) house, and also probably the reason i chose to take up residency in the same areas myself. And, funnily enough, i never ventured further west than north melbourne, nor further south than the yarra river, just like dad. And now these days, homes are built two, three, four times the size as the nuclear family shrinks to four or five to a house..

It may be obvious but it remains important to explore – we live in a permanent state of sheer abundance, and the trend is demanding more on a daily basis. and we take it all for granted..

I’ve come to appreciate the simpler aspects of the world, and most importantly, my own backyard of victoria, by taking to the road and living a simpler, less-materialistic life (if you’d call it such). Take the past weekend – I lived out of the boot of my car, cooking meals on a gas-camp stove in picnic grounds in the ovens valley, sleeping on the back seat (it only takes a night to adjust), and putting off shaving until this evening..

Now, in the aforementioned cafe at the base of the great dividing range, I can sit in complete warmth (still with wet socks I’ll add) and enjoy the first warm drink I’ve had in three days now. Admittedly, this route of life isn’t prime for my dietary choices, but I’m happy as the positives much outweigh the negatives. Come the forty-eight hour mark I’m struck with a revitalised perspective on what it means to be lucky..

This leads me to contemplate the importance of a preserved natural world by first ignoring the biological and ecological significance, which surpasses human needs and instead focuses on the needs of all other living (and non-living) things on earth. Anyway, we know the icons of the australian landscape – the kangaroos, the emus, the echindas, the platypus, the burrunan dolphin – all each depend on a healthy world around them. it’s important to us because our culture depends wholly on a healthy world..

If we all offered ourselves a chance to experience something different that wasn’t a new television show. If instead of waking up in the same bed we do every day of the week we instead opened a tent fly to behold a land cloaked in fog or a river in winter flood. If we could all escape our lives a little more often, and appreciate the beauty (and absolute freedom) offered by the entirety of the great outdoors, then maybe we’d be beyond satisfied with the abundance that we are blessed with..

A cultural revival, as we return to the bush, to the sea, and to the mountains..

Our landscapes don’t teach us anything new, but instead remind us of what we’ve forgotten – that a simple life is such a quality life..


Photos from this trip over the incredibly beautiful plateau of Mt Buffalo can still be viewed here.