donnellys castle, pozieres

During our long weekend drive last weekend we had a picnic stop at Donnellys Castle
in Pozieres. This recreational area is North-West of Applethorpe and a short detour from the main highway.

The granite boulders in the park are particularly stunning – you can climb above them and in the caves under them.

Our kids had so much fun running around – even if they were a bit scared of yowies!

bright yellow september brisbane trees

Each September in Brisbane you’ll start to see bright yellow flowering trees – these are known as ‘trees of gold’ or tabebuia aurea.

As these trees are deciduous and lose their leaves over winter, they gain the blossoms before their new spring leaves so this makes them visually stunning, this year because we had a very dry winter they are even more stunning with abundant blossom.

As soon as these stop blooming along come my favourite flowering trees: purple jacarandas.

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busy brains

“Our brains are busier than ever before. We’re assaulted with facts, pseudo facts, jibber-jabber, and rumour, all posing as information. Trying to figure out what you need to know and what you can ignore is exhausting. At the same time, we are all doing more. Thirty years ago, travel agents made our airline and rail reservations, salespeople helped us find what we were looking for in shops, and professional typists or secretaries helped busy people with their correspondence. Now we do most of those things ourselves. We are doing the jobs of 10 different people while still trying to keep up with our lives, our children and parents, our friends, our careers, our hobbies, and our favourite TV shows.”

Why the modern world is bad for your brain

My father was suprised when I told him I am responsible to planning, booking and arranging all my own work travel: domestically and internationally. “Isn’t there a team of  people who do that for you?” he asked. No there isn’t.

One of the best things about my weekend time is nature is forgetting about all that noise and just focusing on the present with my only concern being that I don’t fall straight off a cliff 🙀

 

bally mountain

Rise early morning on Saturday – feeling over work – feeling like a nature fix and some headspace – drive 60 mins from home before the motorway to the Gold Coast gets busy – park the car and head up Mount Bally via Little Mount Bally. Familiar scenery but haven’t been here before. Razorback Ridges are a reminder of how close death is. Eat an early packed lunch full of love at the summit with stunning 360 degree views. Not another soul in sight. The winter sun humbly recharges and reinvigorates. Head down to the car feeling refreshed. Love time in nature. Head home for some family time; a better person.

 

ballina to byron bay

Today I walked my longest ever single day walk – 37km from Ballina to Byron Bay on the beautiful north coast of New South Wales, Australia.

I did this walk in 2016 but in reverse and a slightly shorter 35km version of it.

Even though I walked fast, finishing in less than five and a half hours, I still managed to take in the impressive scenery – I love this bit of coastline – nothing comes close.

a different side of flinders peak

I’ll always have fond memories of Flinders Peak in that it was my first tough mountain that I tackled by myself on my nature/fitness journey. I’ve got this week off work so I did a solo trip up mid-morning yesterday. I thought I’d check out the southern side of the mountain and discovered some great views south and back towards the peak that I hadn’t seen before. Refreshing.

 

mahon pool, sydney

During our road trip to Sydney last week we had a swim in the Mahon Pool – an ocean pool in the Eastern suburbs. I love swimming in ocean pools: as refreshing as the ocean without the sand or waves. I wish South East Queensland had some of these pools.

sunset at lennox head

Living on the East Coast of Australia we see beautiful sunrises over the ocean, but occasionally there’ll be such a dramatic sunset it’s able to light up the whole ocean as well. In December last year we stayed for a few nights in Lennox Head on the glorious Northern NSW Coast and had a few nights in a row of lovely sunsets.

This was my favourite:

lennox head sunset - 1
Lennox Head, NSW, Australia

Part of the rise/set photo challenge.

bigger isn’t always better…

It’s easy for someone becoming increasingly interested in hiking to mountain peaks, not unlike a heroin addict, to desire a bigger and bigger ‘hit’. A few weeks ago it was Mount Tibrogargan at 364m, then Mount Beerwah at 556m, but over the weekend it quickly escalated (literrally) to Mount Barney at 1359m! The hike was 17.5km and over 1200m up!

I must admit I didn’t enjoy it, it was too rough on my body and reaching the highest peak for it to be fully covered in clouds was a major let down. But not enough of a let down to return and do it all again. It didn’t help I was recovering from a rather-nasty sinus infection which made me feel even lousier when I’d finished. I’ve learned from the experience that bigger isn’t always better, and that I should re-visit and appreciate some of the smaller mountains I have access to without constantly seeking a bigger and riskier hit.

nature as an antidepressant

“I have to say”, Professor Howard Frumkin—one of the leading experts on this subject in the world—told me later, “that if we had medication for which preliminary results showed such efficacy, we would be all over researching that medication… Here is a treatment that has very few side effects, is not expensive, doesn’t require a trained or licensed professional to prescribe it, and has pretty good evidence of efficacy so far”. But the research is very hard to find funding for, he said, because “a lot of the shape of modern biomedical research has been defined by the pharmaceutical industry,” and they’re not interested because “it’s very hard to commercialise nature contact.” You can’t sell it so they don’t want to know.

From Lost Connections by Johann Hari

When I hear ‘antidepressant’ I immediately think of a pill. One of those many pills I’ve taken over many, many years.

But one of the best antidepressants I’ve found isn’t chemical, it’s simply spending time in nature. Part of this I believe is that nature makes me feel like my problems are pretty trivial when you put them into a larger perspective: I’m a small thing in a large, complex world part of an even larger universe.

That, and oh, the fresh air.

Update: just saw this on my desk calendar:

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mount beerwah

I hiked up Mount Beerwah on the weekend. It was definitely the most challenging hike I’ve done but I was with good company who helped me complete it safely. The views of the surrounding Glasshouse Mountains were fantastic.

mt beerwah - 1

from this I’m absolutely astounded, really

After six decades in the business, can nature still blow Attenborough’s mind? “Yes, from minute one,” he says. “From this I’m absolutely astounded, really. There were so many new things. I couldn’t believe what I saw. It takes a bit of time to get your mind around that sort of thing. How can there be a lake at the bottom of the sea? And then it explodes like a volcano!”

“The amazing thing is how every film has found new things,” says Attenborough. One new discovery was seeing an Anchor tuskfish from the Great Barrier Reef, using coral tools to open clams. “You suddenly saw this fish that was more intelligent than you imagined. It was extraordinary.”

An extract from an interview with Sir David Attenborough in The Big Issue #553

I can’t stop thinking about this.

If a ninety one year old with 32 honorary degrees who has authored dozens of books and had some 15 species named after him, “the greatest broadcaster of our time”, can still have his mind blown by nature, there is zero excuse for you and I to not live in a total state of awe and be astounded every time we step outside 🤩

bald rock national park

On the second day of my two day trip to the granite belt I visited Bald Rock National Park. The park is home to bald rock which is Australia’s largest granite monolith. It’s hard to describe just how huge this thing is, and how small it made me feel. Even after visiting the Giraween pyramids the previous day which I thought were huge in themselves, climbing up Bald Rock was breathtaking. There’s two routes to the summit: a longer winding gradual track through forest or straight up the slab: I just went straight up.

Hanging around the top and having the rock all to myself made me feel like I was on top of the world. An amazing piece of nature and history.

 

 

giraween 2017

I spent yesterday exploring Giraween National Park which sits on the Queensland side of the New South Wales border about 3 hours south west of Brisbane.

The area is known for its large granite formations of around 220 million years ago.

Giraween offers some amazing hiking: I managed to do 29km in a day which included climbing to the top of The Pyramid and Castle Rock, as well as exploring some creeks and seeing some rock formations like the Granite Arch.

The weather was rather spectacular with temperatures around 28 degrees Celsius and clear sunny skies.

I’d like to head back at some point and try to climb the second pyramid, but I need some company to do that safely.