I have been off the beaten track quite a few times in my life, but rarely have I experienced being so far ‘off’ that there is scarcely a track at all. What an adventure!
The Pipeline Track is a rather uninspiring name for a walk. Don’t be fooled. This path delivers breath-taking views of soaring sandstone cliffs plunging down into hidden valleys and breath-taking climbs to match.
After thinking, dreaming and planning for so long, it was exciting to step out on our first real adventure for 2022. The wind buffeted us as we walked away from the protection of Apollo Bay township and the sand, whipped up off the beach, stinging our legs and arms. Loving the early morning views over the beach, the wind gusts hit out fully loaded (overloaded?) backpacks and we stepped sideways grappling with our hiking poles to remain upright.
By now you may be well aware that I don’t mind a walk when the opportunity presents itself. Even better if the walk is through the Aussie bush and it is a path I have been meaning to explore for years.
When I was a kid, our family were keen waterskiers and we would regularly make the weekend pilgrimage to Burrendong Dam near Wellington in Central West NSW. The road would take us through Wellington, past Mt Arthur and its surrounding hills. Yes, I could have spent the journey admiring the scenery, but more likely I was jumping out of my skin with the thoughts of the day ahead filled with skiing and generally frolicking in the water.
Much time has passed since those days and now it’s high time we make Mt Arthur our destination, exploring the rough beauty of the Aussie bush.
The life of the swagman in Australia has long been romanticised through the famous ballad, Waltzing Matilda. Almost our unofficial anthem, Waltzing Matilda, celebrates the life of a man down on his luck (the swagman or swaggy), who decides to steal a sheep (jumbuck) from a rich farmer (squatter). The underdog has always been popular in Aus.
For the uninitiated, a swaggy was a man who had left home, predominantly in search of work. Often living a true hand-to-mouth existence, these men walked huge distances throughout rural Australia, knocking on farm doors, seeking food, work or both.
The term ‘swaggy’ referred to the swag that they carried strapped to their backs. The swag may have included an old blanket, wrapped in a strip of canvas that was then wrapped around any bare necessities they were carrying.
Rather than Waltzing Matilda, in reality the life of a swaggy was often cold, hard and hungry.
To continue my Year of Adventure theme, I am delighted to share with you a little-known walk that delivers an amazing blend of city hustle, harbour views, and a dose of suburbia, before it launches off into wild and pristine Australian bush, past hidden rivers, then lurching back into suburbia and swamping you with glorious ocean views.
Phew! What is this walk that includes a bit of everything?
It has been way too long between adventures AND blog posts. Covid19 clipped my wings so severely last year that I simply had to stay home in lockdown and I completely lost my blogging mojo.
I have now decided that 2022 is going to be a year of domestic adventures and my Year of ‘Yes’. There has been far too much ‘No’ over the past two years (‘No, you can’t do that – No, you can’t leave home – No, your plan has been cancelled’) and that has to change.
So, it is Yes to adventure, Yes to positivity and Yes to new challenges.
Both large and mini-adventures are in the wind, and in the short-term one of the mini ones is a stroll, or more like a clamber, along the Great Ocean Walk trail.
Grab your backpack and your tent, we are off again AT LAST!
Australia seems to excel at coming up with place names that are both unattractive and pretty unimaginative e.g. Dunn’s Swamp and The Drip. I suspect this is done on purpose to discourage hoards of visitors and to keep these slices of paradise for the use of only those in the know.
Don’t tell anyone about this, but I am about to take you on a glorious walk at The Drip.
Give me the wide open spaces and country air any day. However, I know my biases make me blinkered and sometimes I need to ‘get over’ myself, and be open to what metro-areas have to offer. When I finally pause and do that, I am very often rewarded with some real gems.
The short hike up to Barrenjoey Lighthouse is just one of those special experiences revealing the hidden beauty tucked away in Sydney’s suburbia.
Book Title: From Snow to Ash – Solitude, soul-searching and survival on Australia’s toughest hiking trail
Author: Anthony Sharwood
Promotional Blurb: The incredible, inspiring story of a solo journey through Australia’s toughest and most beautiful hiking trail – the Australian Alps Walking Track – for fans of Into The Wild by Jon Krakauer or Cheryl Strayed’s Wild and anyone who dreams of iconic wilderness walks.
At the start of the hellish, fiery Australian summer of 2019/20, Walkley Award-winning journalist and suburban dad Anthony Sharwood set off on a journey. Abandoning his post on a busy news website to clear his mind, he solo-trekked the Australian Alps Walking Track, Australia’s most gruelling and breathtakingly beautiful mainland hiking trail, which traverses the entirety of the legendary High Country from Gippsland in Victoria to the outskirts of Canberra.
The journey started in a blizzard and ended in a blaze. Along the way, this lifelong lover of the mountains came to realise that nothing would ever be the same – either for him or for the imperilled Australian Alps, a landscape as fragile and sensitive to the changing climate as the Great Barrier Reef. Source