A lazy Saturday today strolling with a fully loaded Monkey (all my packs have been nicknamed Monkey plus a number — I think this one is Monkey VII, but I’m losing count) around Sandgate. With most of my kit for the Great Ocean Walk stuffed inside, including five days’ food and four litres of water — more than I hope to carry — the thing weighs in at about 14 kg/31 lb. Not too bad, I suppose.
My trip to Victoria’s Great Ocean Walk in a few weeks is in the works: plane tickets bought, campsites reserved, a week’s leave from work okayed. It’s going to be cold, and windy, and possibly wet — well, my masochistic streak is well documented.
On Thursday I was finishing my coffee in my usual place on the concrete wall near the water, a few hours of aimless pre-work bliss stretching out ahead of me, when this very un-Sandgate-like commotion distracted me from my book.
These hills lie but a little way inland, and not far from each other, they are remarkable for the singular form of their elevation, which very much resembles a glasshouse for this reason I called them the Glass Houses… ~ Extract from Cook’s journal, May 17, 1770 The Glass House Mountains towering above pineapple and macadamia plantations are an iconic vista here in South-East Queensland. A dozen or so imposing humps and spires and cones, remnant plugs of eroded volcanoes, jut from an otherwise level plain inland from the surf and sand and chai-latte-flavoured holiday strip of the Sunshine Coast. Although only an hour’s drive north of Brisbane, you feel the very atmosphere change as these weathered hulks with their marvellous Aboriginal names — Beerwah, Beerburrum, Coonowrin, Tibrogargan — start to fill your windscreen. I always find myself transported back 20-odd million years to when this wondrous landscape was alive with gas and smoke and bubbling lava, valleys of fantastic fronds below quivering with the passage of resident megafauna… I was born 20 million years …
I’m a creature of habit, but I’ve had to do some tinkering of late with the daily pre-work routine. I’m now teaching evening classes, and find myself with the luxury of long mornings to squander on strolls to the waterfront, coffee, books, music and unbridled daydreaming — well, let’s call it “planning”.
LATE NOVEMBER, 2010 Contemplating the purchase of an idiot-proof GPS, I stride ever further away from Altdorf station. My error costs me an hour, but I’m walking at a caffeinated clip and if I must get lost, at least I’m doing it at an awe-inspiring pace.
The legendary pact sowing the seeds of the Swiss Federation was signed, so the story goes, in 1291 at Rütli Meadow on the shores of Lake Uri — the Urnersee — a bay of Lake Lucerne. The significance of Rütli in the Swiss psyche was further enhanced in the dark days of WWII, when, surrounded by German (two million troops in occupied France alone!) and Italian forces, General Guisan mobilised the Swiss Army, summoning his officers to the site to outline his Reduit (“redoubt”) plan. Rütli is also the start of the 35km Weg der Schweiz (Swiss Path), opened in 1991, commemorating the 700th anniversary of the Rütli pact.
Monday and Tuesday of my trip to Sundown National Park in the granite-gully wilds of the Queensland-New South Wales border.