Back Home.. An Expected Connection

Longer Form (Est. Reading Time 6.5 Minutes)

Something grand, right out your back door.

Gonna be bold and start with a few hypotheticals: Imagine every mountain peak has a bitumen pathway to the top and helicopter access. Every valley has a bitumen road carved into it to the waterfall at the top of the valley. Every river has a bridge over it, and better yet each river is channeled into concrete canals. At the top of every peak is a cafe. And a hotel. And from each peak you can look around to all the others from the comfort of your car, every other high point covered in roadways and hotels and cars. At night, the stars are out competed by high beams.

Imagine this at your favourite piece of scenery – or to the top of Uluru, Cradle Mountain, or Wollumbin.

It’s a totally gross hypothetical. Most can imagine it easy enough, as most people in the world are surrounded by some/all of these elements in the urban environment. It’s straight up unacceptable that where we spend most of our time we can’t drink from creeks or rivers and don’t breath the cleanest air, and to do so have to travel to areas to ‘refresh’ and seek respite from the hectic nature of our urban life.

One of the beautiful elements of wilderness is the opportunity we are each granted to reflect, experiencing the sheer contrast urban areas have with the wilder ones. What elements of the wilderness would you like to see at home? Clean water? Clean soil? Strong biodiversity? Quiet, or the near silence of wind caught in the tree tops?

To complement the wilder places, I’ve been reminding myself to see the bush closer to home. Or the greener grass on this side of the range, I guess.


It’s mid-morning and a wallaby is startled out of the shade of a she-oak, hopping off through the sedges, taking pause to look back in my direction and check out what disturbed it now its intimidation levels have dropped. Day long on this aspect of the hill the bush is gorgeous when the sun’s out; it gets a real rich yellow colour from the ageing sedges that merges with the scattered crisp green canopies and shade of the eucalypts. Staring up the hill the curve meets the open blue skies, uninterrupted. The gulls down on the shoreline are always making a racket. Or when coming back here in the evening, you’ll have a couple yellow-thoated honeyeaters chasing every bird away, or a heap of swallows feasting on the wing.

I really dig my local patch of bushland, it’s delightful. During winter and spring I was out amongst it most days of the week, walking through the sedge and sitting in the shade of the Amigdalina gums. Studying or working away at home, I’d break up my lectures and readings with time in the bush, in some ways reinforcing what I’d just been learning but in other ways just pacing or running around, resting my mind. These days, after work I get home, drop my bags and keys inside, don my runners and go for a run through the same area.

From a purely human-focused perspective, this area ticks all the boxes, even though it’s entirely surrounded by houses. It’s close to home, can host walking/running recreation, I don’t need a heavy pack, native species and solid bird watching are on offer, and my mates are close by to join. It’s an all round winner!


These days words like pristine are essentially hollow, given the global changes to climate. Our species fingerprints are all over the scene. And much like our surroundings, the depth of our understanding of nature evolves over time.

I’ve just wrapped up reading two fantastic books that I highly recommend picking up/borrowing – the first is ‘Rambunctious Garden’ by Emma Marris. Through a swathe of angles Emma pulls apart some of the history of environmental and wilderness conservation, and casts her thinking into the future, into the myriad of ways we could protect and reimagine our backyards with wild values at heart. The second is Second Nature by Michael Pollan. He explores nature through the eyes of a budding gardener, and how the attitude of growing vegetables and establishing a garden have changed over time, and whilst complicated and nuanced, are an important interpretation of nature.

Emma, and most folk with an interest/obsession with land ethics or deep ecology, frequently refer to Aldo Leopold. An amazing writer, he brilliantly wrote about his interactions with his local patch of nature – open grasslands in central northern America – and helped redefine how many people thought about their surroundings.

Aldo wrote that ‘One of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds‘. I agree in that once you see an issue of any kind you’re destined to forever see it (that’s confirmation bias for you). Although what’s more pressing than the frequency of observation, is being reminded that we are not alone. Knowing that there’s an ever growing number of people concerned with the health of their surroundings.

I do feel that if we’re able to see an issue, then we must do whatever we can to help it. People know and want to see the state of the environment improve for themselves and following generations of life, and rightly deserve to be able to live in homes surrounded by clean air, water and soil.


Given that we spend most of our times at home, one flow on from wilderness inspiration is, as Marris puts it, knowing that ‘there is nature in more humble settings’. Wilderness is just one element. We can’t be in the wilder places all the time. I dwell on wilderness much but I’ve relished in seeing the benefits and values of nature closer to home over the years. Because of the local bushland, I know our air is clearer, the hum of the city dulled, animals closer, and the water that runs into our backyard filtered. Without this patch of quiet and access to others like it, our baseline of expectations for ‘home’ would be different.

Our local patches of bush close to home are incredibly important to us. They need care and smart management given the close proximity to high densities of people. If we’re spending most of our lives in urban environments, these areas just have to be healthy, strong, and enjoyable places that don’t sacrifice clean water, air and biodiversity.

A favourite line from Rambunctious Garden is: ‘We’ve forever altered the earth, and so now we cannot abandon it to a random fate. It is our duty to mange it. Luckily it can be a pleasant, even joyful task if we embrace it in the right spirit.

I’m inspired by the wilderness but wilderness alone will not save us.

We need to protect our local patches too.


This piece (finally) wraps up my ‘Back Home..‘ series. I spent the summer months delving into what wilderness means to me. I wrote about being on the top of Frenchman’s Cap, on some of the challenges of being out bush, about lengthy multi-month hikes, and about the need to chip in with a changed attitude to protection for our backyards.

If wilderness is ‘out there’, then what’s here at home? What does our future of wilderness look like? How do we protect wilderness areas at threat from human activity? Does a true wilderness include people, or not? There’s so many questions, and given the number of trails there’s always plenty of time to mull over the topic in more refined nature.

Heading into winter I’m working on a physical print book, and excited to hopefully release it in coming months. Follow me on Instagram here for updates and where/how to pick up a copy.

I always want to hear what you think – what does wilderness mean to you?? Comment below!

Happy trails my friends,

Jimmy Nails

During the week I study wilderness at University of Tasmania, I campaign with the Wilderness Society, and on days off I hike in the Tassie Wilderness World Heritage Area. You could say I’m a wilderness tragic. Outside of wilderness I’m a sucker for melody, cook a mean pasta, and need a third dot point.


The inspiration for this piece is right outside my backdoor in nipaluna/Hobart, on the traditional lands of the muwinina people. I respectfully acknowledge the Traditional Owners of these lands and waters on which I was able to traverse, learn, and appreciate – and pay respect to the First Nations Peoples and their elders, past, present and future.


Bibliography / Suggested reads:

  • Emma Marris ‘Rambunctious Garden
  • Aldo Leopold ‘Sand Country Alminac’
  • Micheal Pollan ‘Second Nature

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..