Back Home… Challenging Elements

Longer Form (Est. Reading Time 8 Minutes)

Fourteen Remote Days Out Bush

The sun is setting behind the coastal mountains, each brimmed with a line of clouds waiting for the days final event, a last hurrah of sunburst. Sooty oystercatchers call from across the bay, tiny fish leap out of the ankle high deep water as it recedes. A seagull forages for food rather than beg me for hot chips. Currawongs clanker, honeyeaters hustle. The breeze shifts. I hear it first from the north, pushing through the tea-tree forest.

Unhurriedly taking in the changing surroundings and slow lap of water against the shoreline is one of the principle pleasures of remote hiking. It’s cheesy, but it’s one of those occasions you don’t want to pass by. It’s so peaceful. Totally chockers with peace! Like the mountains in the distance, the quiet reflects my calm, my content. I haven’t felt this solo peacefulness in a while. I have with others, somewhat, but not on my own. And not this remote, well into the Tassie wilderness.

For the first eighteen days of the year I hiked, incorporating the Port Davey, South West Cape, and South Coast Tracks. Here is a selection of diary entries from the trail that capture the wild and remote vibes of this beautiful slice of earth.


The southwest region is spectacular and the hiking world-class. And it’s challenging. The vegetation can wall up to impenetrable scrub in an instant. It’s renowned for its fast moving and unpredictable weather, of relentless rain and punishing winds. You’re seriously remote, days and days from any human structure or transport. The paths, where they exist, are slow going – including river crossings, mud, and more scrub.

Walking on my own on trail, for day one I found myself overthinking and planning. Then on day two my thoughts fizzled to straight out head-in-the-clouds daydreaming. Day three and my mind ticked over restlessly, taking in my surrounds details as I moved further south. Come day four, despite my running thoughts on trail, I forgave my thinking. It’s hard to sometimes, to cut myself some slack.


Steering away from Scott’s Peak Road, the dust of my ride settling as they headed back to Hobart, I caught my last glimpse of motorised transport for four days. The last car I’d see for two weeks. With the exception of the time tested path and the well rusted star pickets that line it, the landscape before me is shaped by time only. Crossing the Lost World Plateau, I follow narrow benched tracks with my eyes as they contour away into the distance. Mountains capped in white quartz, locked in the mist for morning tea, now appear clearly to the east north south and west. A coastal breeze pushes up the valley, the thicker, enthusiastic air pumping its way off the coast as far as it can. It fills my ears as I round another twist in the path.

Apparently people have a love/hate relationship with the Port Davey trail. I loved it – the huge sweeping views of the Spring Valley, ace tracks surrounded by wicked peaks, and crossing the Bathurst Narrows by boat. Conditions were fortunate for me, and in crappy/sodden weather the mud, exposure and patches of confronting vege could definitely have potential to test ones resolve.


The relentless crashing against the Wilson Bay rocks pumps over the dunes and into the forest. It’s calming us, reminding us to rest after yesterday’s epic 11+ hour traverse of the South West Cape Range. This range juts 600+ metres straight out of the ocean, a spectacular zig zag of peaks, saddles and misleading gullyies mostly above the tree line. It’s an area battered by wind and weather for eternity. From all angles – northerlies push across from the mainland, easterlies across from the Pacific, west and southerlies straight off the 40’s and Antarctica.


Nearing the end of the beach we were treated to five minutes of blue sky, and the split in the clouds let in enough sunlight to create a stunner rainbow. One so low and squashed the New Harbour Range loomed up behind it. Between the highs and lows of being out bush on trail – part of the trick is hanging onto these moments through the mud, rain and pain. The same way your body forgets it all when you’re deep into a fantastic yarn with your hiking mates. But really the rain is just as beautiful as the sunlight. The cold just as special as the warmth. The expanses of button grass just as grand as the towering mountain peaks beyond.

There’s a few more distractions for us when at home, but when out bush we’re clearly surrounded by the best opportunity to be reminded of the importance of a healthy backyard. One that it’s simultaneously resilient and fragile. That we’re part of this intensely interconnected world, in such wonderful ways far beyond our wildest understandings.


Last night a thunderstorm hit the coast above our camp. My tent lit up brighter than day with each strike of lightning, and I’ve never heard a noise so loud in my life. It was exhilarating.


On the South Coast Track, again, and it’s raining, again. It feels so familiar, this 80 odd kilometre stretch traveling lutruwita’s wild and remote southern coast. I’m recognising things constantly. Even non-view related things, like certain broken boardwalk planks or piles of timber stacked neatly off to the side of the trail. I’m recognising the terrain. I sense a growing familiarity with the area. Each experience hiking is naturally shaped by company and the weather. This feels like a layering of experience – sometimes shock and awe, and a week of rain. Others comfort and familiarity, and a week of rain. Did I mention the rain?

I wonder what it’s going to look like next year?

I like to believe that this trail and terrain will be here relatively unchanged into the future. That the wild and cultural elements of the place are retained and nurtured, so that each layer of experience we lay down is comparable to the quality of past experiences – not a reflection on what’s no longer here.


Now I’m at camp, nestled into the eastern pocket of Surprise Bay, perched on a limb of our campsite banksia. If you’ve been here, it’s the gnarled specimen in the lower level of camping pads, that’s warped into a verticle standing spiral, creating a perfect seat in the diffused setting sun. I’m treating myself to a little music, subtle tunes as I type whilst my hiking pal reads and stirs dinner into action. Today was a wet, wet day. Solid rain from the west smashing into our backs as we plodded towards Prion Beach and the testing three boat crossings of New River Lagoon.

It was also our penultimate full day of hiking. I know it’s a daydream, but I still wish it would go on forever. That the trail didn’t wrap up in forty k’s and turn into a bitumen road back to nipaluna/Hobart. That it journeyed through the southern ranges and forests, linked through to kunanyi, and wound its way back north – to the east coast, to the Bens and wukalina/Mount William. Maybe one day it will – a continual hiking loop around the state. Months of traversing the many and varied landscapes of this special, much loved island almost swallowed by the southern ocean.

My tent broke last night as well, after a challenging crossing and with tired body. Today, my body is tired but oddly I feel I could go on hiking for hours. ‘It’s not that I don’t feel the pain, it’s that I’m not afraid of hurting anymore’.


After twelve straight days of hiking over two hundred kilometres, heading over the South Cape Range was unreal. A mental brick wall to be overcome. We decided against a rest day, and I’m glad to have done so. On the other side I felt revitalised, pumping with excitement and new energy.  To be in the weather all day every day. To watch it pulling towards the coast, at a rate much faster than you can walk, all the while you’re mentally adding up the ks to decipher where you might be once the weather hits, and how drenched you’ll be come camp.

The challenges the remoteness of the southwest throws at us (or we throw ourselves at) are intangible, and are the thoughts needed to overcome a storm, a muddy path and flooded river, or overwhelming chill/heat. I, like many, are drawn to the element of challenge that the wilder places on earth provide. The weather, the terrain, and the physical and mental levels one reaches through the journey.

I was so impressed with my fitness today. Powering up hills like they were flats and setting some serious pace. Breathing is solid and fitness clearly pumping after so many days hauling 15+ kilos over the summer terrain. It’s been a long time, years, and many hurdles since I’ve had this level of up hill fitness. But I’m over the heavy boots! This landscape is divine, totally humbling under the giant gums, dense south facing beech and horizontal, and the continual tea tree heath. And mud. And hard water ferns for entirety or forested areas. I love it so much!

Reflecting with people who I met on trail – some for who the SCT was their first ever multi-day hike (quite the achievement): I feel that our take on the nature of our experiences is how the hiker adapts to the trail. We can revel in the depth of wilderness, grow our skills and ability to conceptualise the challenge effectively, or even up things to pack in heavier weights and live a comfier trail life with tarps, snorkels, and changes of clothes. Or we could be shitty. Either way, the challenges of the trail are a reminder of the importance of allowing ourselves and future hikers the chance to gain and grow from these experiences.


Though ‘Back Home..‘ I’m going to delve into what wilderness is a little more.

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 and making up for lost time we’re teeing up for 2021, plenty of time to mull over the topic in more refined nature.

So, here’s to turning a bit of home thinking time into home writing time, and looking forward to sharing this over the coming summer with you all.

And I want to hear what you think. Comment below or join me on Instagram!

Happy summer 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 Port Davey, South West Cape, and South Coast Track traverses, and the Southwest National Park – the inspiration for this piece and where these photos were taken – is the traditional lands of the Toogee. 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.


Back Home… Te Araroa (SoBo) Reflections

Longer Form (Est. Reading Time 6 Minutes)

Be back in a couple months.

Lost in a network of coves on the far north-eastern point of Aotearoa’s Te Waipounamu/South Island. The island here has being consumed by ocean over millennia, valleys filling with water and creating a myriad of jutting points and hidden bays. Loosing my bearings a little, my neck cranes left to right searching for what I think could be Meretoto/Ship Cove, the starting point for the southern leg of the countries national trail, the Te Araroa (the ‘TA’).

I was pumping with energy, excited and hanging to get hiking. The boat pulled up to the jetty, and so did I, grabbing my loaded pack from the legend of a captain as I did so. A quick smile, thanks, and beginning the 1500 kilometre stretch down to the southern tip! The cool weather rainforest here is gorgeous, the sun shining through the dense, brilliant green canopy and a path lined by tree ferns and nikau palms. Following the contour over a spur, I caught a glimpse of the ocean below, stunning blue and gently washing against an undisturbed shoreline below me.

Another TA hiker and I strolled into camp together an hour or so from the jetty, meeting a third TA hiker in the process. At this stage, our earliest of expectations were totally fresh, and I truely had no idea what the terrain and challenge ahead was going to be. I knew there’d be heavy packs, and lengthy week long stretches between towns. But these were just shallow, inexperienced expectations of a thru-hike. Over a dehydrated meal and spoons of peanut butter, we delved into the details of the trail ahead and what food we had packed in. The other hiker had hiked the Te Ika-a-Māui/North Island too, and I begun to learn a bit of the lingo (‘most people walk SoBo’ that is, ‘South Bound’), hear of other people ahead/behind us (we’d started between two ‘pulses’ of hikers, about three days apart), and what else I could expect from walking for months on end (podcasts, podcasts, podcasts).


From fresh faced beginnings the distance unraveled underneath my feet as the scale of the undertaking hit me. I can tell you the exact location it began. For those playing at home it was in the Richmond Ranges, on the ridge line between Slaty and Old Man huts, staring south west to Mount Rintoul. After a lunch in the shade I stood there, staring at peaks innumerable in every direction, snow capped in the direction I was heading. Here’s an excerpt from my diary that day: ‘[the view] was humbling.. I felt alone for the first time in a while.. The scale was just huge, and my mind started to put it all together and went into shut down mode.

Here it hit that I was only on day eight of an expected seventy, and the vastness of the challenge sunk in. The sensation reminds me heavily of my time on Frenchman’s Cap, staring out over the Tassie Wilderness World Heritage Area, overwhelmed as I yet again reassessed my interpretation of the grandness of the outdoors.

Throughout the TA on the Te Waipounamu/South Island, you pass from one area to the next mostly surrounded by spectacular mountains on the eastern flank of the Kā Tiritiri o te Moana/Southern Alps. Mt Rintol in the Richmonds, Wiauo Pass in Nelson Lakes, Avalanche Peak in Arthurs Pass, the Two Thumb range and more. In evenings the sun sets behind the mountains, striking brilliant silhouettes and casting crisp shadows, even in February.

The shock of distance and the remote nature of my time on trail meant I had to reprogram my attitude to the hike. I realised that I was undertaking a mental marathon, not a sprint. The wild and remote backcountry of Aotearoa is what drew me here, and it provided the challenge I was seeking.


Feeling this remoteness is a crucial element to the wilderness experience. Some of the challenging moments of a lengthy, backcountry hike are tied to remoteness – the challenge of trails exposed to the elements with lengthy distances without water, of traversing free flowing rivers, or interactions with wildlife. In A Life on Our Planet, our favourite, David Attenborough, shares his changing experience with nature whilst the wild places of the earth have dwindled rapidly over the past sixty years.

Hiking through the remote places on the TA shines a light on how motorised transport can impact the nature of wild-ness. When your choice is purely by foot, the size and scale is almost incomprehensible; the challenge totally different. Yet you can drive the length of the south island in a day, or fly it in under three hours. Doing so the surroundings might ‘look’ wild (and well worth seeing none-the-less), but they really ‘feel’ and ‘act’ as wild by traversing them powered by your own energy. If a place retains a disconnection from transportation intrusion, the more remote and wild it can remain, and the richer the experience for those on trail.

We felt the tainting of the challenge when, after a serious and difficult day of hiking, a helicopter flew in people to the valley. Not only did the helicopter shatter the quiet completely, but it reduced our remoteness completely. The pilot even offered to take our rubbish out – a nice offer, but dropping 50 grams of scraps from my pack will never be worth it. Another element to this example is that we were hiking with speed to avoid the cyclonic weather pushing from the north east over the alps – whilst those in the chopper had a lift out with the chopper regardless. The extended consequences of introducing motorised access are broad and permanent – and I’ll delve in to some of the elements of this in future parts of Back Home..


The extent of wilderness – remote, challenging, and typically iconic areas – has a unique ability to humble. As we hiked/tramped on the TA, I relished sharing this experience with others. Our skill levels were different, so too our expectations of ourselves. But rolling into camp with pals and sharing a yarn from the trail – totally enriched the value of a wilder experience. I reflect on these moments a lot. Not a day passes where I don’t think about the TA and trail, and no week passes by where my pals from the TA don’t reflect on the experience with me.


Returning home was a whirl wind of adrenaline. Crossing the Te Waipounamu/South Island from north to south on foot was an emotional stretch. The pain and changes of twenty-nineteen being trampled into the path, or more poetically, set to rest in my mind in exchange for burning through kilojoules like they’re going out of style. Come a week into trail a was able to power through multiple burgers, pizzas, litres of milk, and keep operating, still retaining room for more food!

We were drawn together for a variety of reasons, but most common was the allure of the scenery and interaction with the islands wild and remote landscapes. How we share, care for and nurture these landscapes into the future will determine the quality of experience for those that follow in our footsteps.


Though ‘Back Home..‘ I’m going to delve into what wilderness is a little more.

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 and making up for lost time we’re teeing up for 2021, plenty of time to mull over the topic in more refined nature.

So, here’s to turning a bit of home thinking time into home writing time, and looking forward to sharing this over the coming summer with you all.

What does wilderness mean to you?? Comment below and join me on Instagram here!

Happy trails my friends,

Jimmy Nails


During the week I study wilderness at University of Tasmania, I campaign on wilderness protection 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 this I’m a sucker for melody, cook a mean pasta, and need a third dot point.


Hiking, tramping, trekking – whatever you call making your way across the land by foot – is an ancient activity. The original inhabitants of Aotearoa/New Zealand, the Maori, have travelled across the land by foot for aeons. Pathways have been trodden into song-lines and stories that are, in some cases, millennia’s old. Many modern-day paths, including portions of long distance trails such as the Te Araroa, incorporate these routes as part of the journey.

I pay my respects to the many and varied iwi and hapū whose land I was able to traverse and appreciate on my journey across Te Waipounamu/South Island. The land was my inspiration for this piece and where these photos were taken.


Back Home… Exploring for Protection

Longer Form (Est. Reading Time 5 Minutes)

A takayna/Tarkine Wilderness BioBlitz

NOTE: On March 20th, 2021, I’m running the the takayna trail run – 25km half marathon through the wilderness. I’m dedicated to raising donations for the Bob Brown Foundation that works tirelessly to protect this area of the world. You can help protect this special place by donating to my running effort here.

It’s nine o’clock on a Friday night. I’m prone in my tent, where the mix of last nights and this mornings rain has left the floor and lower ceiling sodden, absorbing and sharing the moisture of the rainforest floor wonderfully. My sleeping bag is twisted, and damp. My pulse beats loudly in my ears. It beats against my makeshift pillow, a trusty down jacket stuffed into a thermal shirt. Beyond the beat drifts in the finest mist of rain, struggling through the dense, ancient rainforest canopy and finally settling on my cheap, portable, thin walled home. It’s a soothing rain, almost dreamy.


The day wraps up and my eyes droop heavily to this pitta-patta, a few currawongs touch base with each other across an otherwise quiet canopy. They call a few rapid ‘good nights’ and one of ‘surprise’, a different call separate from their usual chatter. A call I hadn’t heard before. Today we put in a solid, lengthy days hiking. Pushing through and across a land dense and scarred by forestry, by fire, and by wind. The vegetation became thicker and thicker with confused regrowth. The ground undulating and torn by machinery. Further we pushed, deeper into takayna.

We established our camp on the slopes of a ridgeline that’s wonderfully remote. It’s one of the few, if only, times I would get close to using the word pristine. With a human-changed climate, pristine no longer exists. But a slip, trip, fall or bite – and our only option out is emergency helicopter. That, or being hauled for hours through the density, which is not ideal. We scattered our tents through the forest, beneath ginormous trees that allow such little light in that hardly a plant can grow beneath them. This is old forest. Very, very old. 

From above, the ridge line is an array of different greens. Some glossy, some matte. A total canopy carpet. Survival of the fittest is always at play. Here, every species around us is competing within a crammed forest. Those that can survive the longest – damp, dark loving species like the myrtle beech – grow slowly and gnarly, twisting through time for hundreds of years.


In the morning, the sun fights through cloud and wins but for a moment. We’re setting ourselves up for another day in the forest with a cold musli and lukewarm cuppa. Today we’ll be surveying and documenting whatever species we find – animal, plant or fungi. I’m balancing tea on one knee and book on the other, getting my eye in by scouring through pages of identification books, flipping from tree to shrub to orchid.

Traversing the Bertha ridgeline from north to south, we hug the eastern flank to avoid the dense fire instigated wall of life dense with batwing ferns and stink bush. The vegetation, although consistently rainforest, changes frequently, as the plants adjust to the lay of the ridgeline. We bio blitzed the whole ridge.

In one moment I’m photographing ferns cloaking a tree whose crown towers forty metres above. Next moment, I’ve discovered two tiny jet black beetles under the leaf litter. Moments later, a minute mantis fly (scientific name Calomantispa venusta for those taking notes) with wicked black and yellow forearms and antennae. Then, calling out to a mate, having found another special shaped fungi breaking down a fallen giant log. Find. Document. Repeat.

After a while, the groups rate of discovering new species drops off. Naturally, considering we’re bound to one form of vegetation. Everything has its limits. It’s at this stage I get to concentrate on my presence in this fantastic forest. A place where not many – if any – humans have traversed given it’s remoteness, and the preferable travel routes at lower altitudes where river and creek flow. I’m thinking about the future, and what it holds for this place…


One way I like to connect with new places is by finding commonalities – through similar species, shared climates, and familiar communities of plants, animals, and fungi. Here, a fern grows on the drier flanks of the ridgeline, and also grows at my favourite beach two hundred kilometres away as the cockie flies. How are they surviving in two totally different regions? What role in their surroundings are they creating that makes them the species best suited to grow there? Likewise is by finding new (to me) species, and trying to ID them and interpret where they sit in the ecosystem; again, all about what role do they play in the whole.

Another way is through experience, principally through hiking. My emotions and behaviours within a place are altered, or adjusted by, my surrounds. How this goes down solo is different from with a group. Not better or worse, just different. There’s plenty of laughs and reflection time either way, and I prefer both. In takayna, I felt extremely comfortable with my surroundings, owing much to our capable team. I felt calm. As opposed to other hikes, there was a defined task to locate and document species – to continue to build our case that this region deserves protection.

This region deserves world heritage listing, to join the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. The fact that areas as internationally significant as this are being clear felled, bulldozed and burnt for wood chips is disgusting. Utterly disgusting. A truely outdated and unacceptable way of interacting with our surroundings. The darker, hidden side to wilderness protection is the actions that destroy it. That’s for another piece.

For now, you can enjoy a selection of photos from the BioBlitz here, or find out how you can be involved in future BioBlitz and help protect it through the Bob Brown Foundation, here.


Though ‘Back Home..‘ I’m going to delve into what wilderness is a little more.

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 and making up for lost time we’re teeing up for 2021, plenty of time to mull over the topic in more refined nature.

So, here’s to turning a bit of home thinking time into home writing time, and looking forward to sharing this over the coming summer with you all.

And I want to hear what you think. What does wilderness mean to you?? Let’s chat below!

Happy summer trails my friends,

Jimmy Nails


During the week I study wilderness at University of Tasmania, I campaign for wilderness protection 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 this I’m a sucker for melody, cook a mean pasta, and need a third dot point. You can follow my more erratic self on Instagram.


The takanya/Tarkine region of lutruwita/Tasmania – the inspiration for this piece and where these photos were taken – is the traditional lands of the tarkiner 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.


Back Home… Fresh from Frenchman’s Cap

Longer Form (Est. Reading Time 6 Minutes)

Re-wilding my thinking

This piece was brewed from the kilometres and sweat of being out on the Frenchman’s Cap trail, where the wilderness put me in a mind primed for writing after the time on trail was done. I opened the piece with ‘Back Home:…‘, as it’s not only written in the comfort of my home and shelter from the relentless summer heat, but home is my favourite flip side to wilderness. It’s where our experiences and memories of being out bush are allowed the time to solidify and take on meaning of their own. And I’m not going to pretend I don’t prefer my bed, clean clothes and fridge full of food.

After being on the west side of the island, I was hanging to share some post-hike thoughts with you. But first step was to figure out what it was I was feeling perched up on that quartz peak deep in the Tassie Wilderness World Heritage Area. At the time I was overwhelmed. Physically not so much. Mentally, wiped out. Staring out for hours over a horizon filled with ridge lines and valleys. Every moment spent in the vast, vast, vast outdoors – especially these places void of almost any physical alteration or addition to the landscape by humans – adds to the complexity and scale of the area. I feel increasingly small, with a growing desire to hike further and deeper into the place.


“Should we hit up sunset up top?!”
“Yeah, I reckon!”

Not a cloud in the mid-December sky. Southern sun beating down on our dusty hats and patchy shirts, my exposed upper knee, between gaiters and shorts, holds an experienced and sturdy tan from previous weeks. My neck, freshly exposed from a haircut the same day, not so much. From the trailhead we yarned about how we’d approach the peak, and we decided on trying sunset. Pretty easy decision given the weather, and its unique calmness on offer up top.

I won’t bore you with a break down of the peaks, but from up on ‘Frenchies’ you’re over 1400 meters above sea level, and in the right conditions it’s a three-sixty delight of geological activity stretching as far as your eye can see. Shards, crescents and walls carved into rock by glaciers in previous ice ages compose your skyline. In the shadows below, rivers like the Franklin flow free from its headwaters through to the harbour, this river famously protected thanks to tireless campaigning by those before us. People that loved wilderness and natural areas shaped the conservation movement in Australia forever. Folk who’s footsteps I’ve literally followed, right up to working with the Wilderness Society.

Strolling into camp on night one, we’d left town later and arrived with headlights and star filled skies lighting our path, after negotiating our way over tree roots and muddy segments after sunset. In the quiet of the night we muffled our enthusiasm and excitement a little easier given our tiredness, to the benefit of our fellow hikers already well asleep. Satellites and shooting stars kept eyes focused above, and after a few failed late-night exposures (photographs), I bunked down on my newly acquired sleeping mat and sleeping bag liner, vaguely listening to resident frogs. My little tent is home. My sleeping system and pack all have their place, the pack contents too – exploding over the floor, food sealed and away from the tent walls, save a repeat of the possums breaking in. It’s extremely rare that I don’t fall asleep within five minutes. The combination of relaxation and exhaustion guarantee a solid nights sleep. Beside me as I sleep, my morning musli soaks in a red, trail beaten, metallic cup.

As the sun dimmed on night two, three of us walked around the massive bulge in the earth, laughing or stuck for words with how amazing our backyard is. A truely special place, that we’re fortunate to be able to climb and experience. The mountain highs saturate your thoughts and senses. In the past few days I’ve drifted through the hours, chipping away at work, at planning the next four weeks of hikes, and snagging the last few xmas presents for the festive break on the coast – but always returning to this moment up top.

For day three, we powered out to the trailhead through the first real heat of the summer, and cut a path back to Hobart and a burger and chips. Being on trail and returning home with mates is a totally different experience to hiking solo. Yarns, laughs, advice, support – all you’d expect from sharing a memory. Be it in the morning over breakie and a tea-leaf filled cuppa (or for the prepared, a pressed coffee!), spreading out a map beside our gear, or pointing to landmarks and sharing our gathered intel as the day progresses. We all gravitate towards sharing, and making memories together. It’s one thing humans can do really well.


Now in the settled, post-hike respite, I’m preparing for next weeks trip, and building a stockpile of food for two weeks wilderness hiking in the new year. My thoughts have settled and they’ve settled as this: Sharing wilderness is really important to me. Sharing the quiet. The remoteness. The quality of the experience on hand. I’m fascinated with these places and what it means to people. How it inspires them. How we all have our different interpretations of it. I love hearing these different takes on the special landscape around us.

And every time I return home from a sojourn out bush, the experience shapes my relationship between home and wilderness, it changes and continues to take on new, exciting, and even challenging forms.


Though ‘Back Home..‘ I’m going to delve into what wilderness is a little more.

If wilderness is ‘out there’, then what’s that mean for our home? What does our future of wilderness look like? How do we protect wilderness areas under threat? Does a true wilderness include people, or not? There’s so many questions, and given the number of trails and making up for lost time we’re teeing up for next year, plenty of time to mull over the topic in more refined ways.

So, here’s to turning a bit of home thinking time into home writing time. I’m looking forward to sharing this over the coming summer with you all.

And I want to hear what you think and what does wilderness mean to you! Comment below!!

Happy summer trails my friends,

Jimmy Nails


During the week I study wilderness at University of Tasmania, I campaign for wilderness protection 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 Frenchman’s Cap Trail, and the Wild Rivers National Park – the inspiration for this piece and where these photos were taken – is the traditional lands of the Toogee nation. 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.


Previous photos from Frenchman’s Cap, here.