All posts tagged: preparation

Leader of the Pack

“Hey, little dudes! How’s it goin’?” My magpie welcoming party always assembles the same way: one sharp-eyed individual — The same one each time? Who can say? — leaves its fellows, takes to the air, and swoops low over the grass to bank and land with breathtaking pizzaz just in front of me: By the time its relatives have spied my approach and joined the party, the first arrival has usually burst into that ecstatic warble that is such a familiar presence in the Australian landscape, rural and urban, beginning before dawn and continuing at irregular intervals till the sun goes down or even later: The tribe takes up position. There are always at least a dozen, usually several more, and several of these will herald my return with an infectious and oft-repeated eruption of glorious song, puffing out their chests till they seem set to explode, tilting back their heads, pointing their formidable beaks at the sky as they sing. It’s the largest group I’ve ever observed — “our” magpies at home form a tight family …

Waiting for the Sun

It took more than the usual fortitude to head out the door into the pre-dawn blackness yesterday. For days the weather reports had forecast our first dose of indubitably “wintry” weather: a “polar [or Antarctic] vortex” was bulldozing its way north, with rumours of rare snow in far-southeastern Queensland and (for Queenslanders) a daunting maximum temperature of 15C (59F). It wasn’t the cold that I dreaded, but the accompanying severe winds. Although I hoped they’d whip up some photogenically frothy waves on the high tide coinciding with sunrise, their immediate effect was to dust my eyeballs with swirling grit, and I had to wear sunglasses in the dark till I left my street and cut across the park towards Cabbage Tree Creek. The creek mouth was a disappointment. Although the conditions had left the area agreeably deserted, there was no more froth on the waves than atop your standard morning latte, and I decided to climb the road to the crest of Shorncliffe. I’d been meaning to photograph the pier reconstruction project from above with the …

A Place in the Sun/Footprints in the Snow

Somewhere over the mid-Pacific I swapped my camo hunting cap (found dangling on a tree in Pennsylvania while hiking the A.T.) for a beanie, arranged my flimsy, handkerchief-sized blankie and folded myself into an approximation of sleep. I always book a window seat when I can to avoid contact with fellow passengers, and refrain from bathroom trips if possible, a challenge that passes the time while building self-control and Olympic-standard bladder endurance. I managed 12 hours on this trip, I’m proud to say. Just limit your free drinks to a single gin and tonic and try not to look at the ocean.

Enter the Dragon

Happy Seollal — Korean Lunar New Year — readers! Not only is this the Year of the Dragon, which happens to be my Chinese sign, but this post is also, by some sweet cosmic synchronicity, my 100th on TGTW. My first post was published on January 29 last year. I’m proud to have kept this leaky little rowboat afloat so long in these turbulent times (the turbulence seems to follow me around) and hope you’ve been enjoying the journey.

Go West, Young-ish Man

GREAT OCEAN WALK: Day 1 I have seldom seen a more fearful section of coastline ~ explorer Matthew Flinders, on the Shipwreck Coast I settled back in my window seat and felt the tension float free as we shrieked free of the tarmac and began our journey south. Weeks of planning, one final late night frantically trying to get everything in order before a few hours’ dubious sleep…

The Shorncliffe Shuffle: Countdown to the Great Ocean Walk

It’s cold. For Brisbane, anyway. In fact, a couple of days ago was the city’s coldest in 11 years, with a maximum of 12 and a half degrees Celsius. It was also, apparently, the coldest June day here since 1916, when an 11.3C maximum was recorded. Probably a good time to head somewhere tropical and sunny. Not this idiot. Tomorrow morning at 6:55am I get on a plane south, to freezing, windy, coastal Victoria, for a hundred kilometres of solo trudging along the coast south-west of Melbourne. Wonder why I can’t get people to come hiking with me.

Jesus Walked Everywhere

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.