Bush walking

Yesterday  morning, at Binna Burra Rainforest Retreat, I walked down to the Bellbird Track. I decided not to accompany the guided tour, as I noticed the leisurely pace of the walkers, and the tour guide stopping often to talk. I wanted to walk. So I struck off on my own, ill prepared. No hat, a bottle of water, but no socks (i had forgotten to bring any) and open walking sandals, rather than closed ones with ankle support. Truth is, because of my back injury, I hadn’t expected to walk far at all, so didn’t bother to bring the right equipment.

I soon got into the white noise of the forest, punctuated by whip birds and other calls I couldn’t identify. The smells, the sounds, were ancient and earthy, and I felt calmed and held by the rhythm of the bush and my footfall on the path. I saw several pademelons, small wallaby-like marsupials, grazing on and around the track. Sometimes they would bounce off into the bush as I approached; sometimes they would pause at a safe distance, knowing I was not a threat.

I came to a fork in the path; one led to the Bellbird Lookout, one said Lower Bellbird Circuit. That sounds nice, I thought, not noticing the ‘lower’. So I kept on, and was very aware of the lack of human noise, and my entry into a world where I was a stranger, and would not survive if I took a wrong step, tripped and hurt my back or my ankle, or fell over the cliff. No-one would know where I was, or what had happened to me. The tension of that added to my pleasure, up to a point. It was an easy path, but I couldn’t help noticing that it was descending, gently, ever lower, and that it would be a long climb back, if indeed it was a circuit. So after about 40 minutes, I decided to turn back. The walk back was easy too, though a little puffy for me, as I am very unfit normally, and with my back injury, even more so. I felt a bit light-headed, and allowed myself to imagine how it might have all gone wrong. But as I neared the human sounds again, I felt a strong regret, at leaving this lovely, intimate yet  alien world.

Next day, when I studied the map, I saw that the circuit trail was 12 kms, and would have brought me out of the forest at a point several kilometres below where I was staying. I would have had to climb the steep, winding road back to the Lodge … it would have taken me all day, and I would have been very tired, sore, hungry and rather afraid.

A small adventure, that could have been a big one, if I had been sillier than I already am.

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9 Comments

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9 responses to “Bush walking

  1. What a wonderful writer you are, Christina! I felt I was with you in that bush, on that adventure. I love the idea that we are never too old to do the things we love. As well as that, I am reminded of some lovely walks with you when you lived in the Perth hills. Thank you for this minute of unexpected pleasure on Boxing Day.

    • Thank you, Maureen! It was a wonderful experience to re-enter the forest world, similar to the Perth hills, but different, as a lot of the forest here is rainforest, not dry, more open vegetation as you have over there. I did a second walk the next day, the Caves Circuit, or part of, and it was more open. There were some spectacular trees, brush box, which have scaly rough bark down low, and smooth pink main trunks, with high branching glossy dark green leaves.
      And yes, I loved walking with you. It is better with a companion.

  2. Agree Maureen, I did too. The walks there are lovely. We did one to O’Reilly’s which was about 21km as I recollect – that was a guided walk and was organised with a lift back. On our last day, the BB kitchen prepared us a packed lunch and we did a 22km walk on our own, though I can’t recollect its name. It was lovely.

    But, very glad you made a good decision. We once decided to walk a little on the track down into the Grand Canyon. It was later winter and so muddy under foot. We had limited time. The instructions at the top said to allow double the time to come back as it had taken to go down so, looking at the time, we decided to turn back at a certain point so we’d be back before dark. It took us the same time to come up as go down so we felt very cheated. We could have done more! But, we have never forgotten that advice and use it as a rule of thumb when walking now – and, as we get older the advice seems to be more correct!

  3. Wow, you are a more seasoned walker than me. I’m sure I could be, it’s just hard to motivate myself to do it on my own. Especially as much of the rainforest is only accessible by 4 wheel drive, and I don’t have one. So places like BB are good because they are in the centre of all the walks. I met a man there who advised me to get a PLB (personal locator beacon) if I do more walks, and I think that is good advice, especially if your are on your own.
    Thanks for your story sharing!

    • We are semi-seasoned walkers. We walk every January (heading off soon in fact) in the Snowy Mountains, but these days our longest walks tend to be 10-13 kms, with other days of 5-6 kms. We stay in Thredbo for four nights – walk in the day, eat somewhere nice at night. Perfect! Most walks we can do from there, but occasionally we drive to Perisher or Charlotte’s Pass or another site in the Park, and do walks from there. None of these require 4WD fortunately. We have an AWD but that’s only good for slightly rougher than usual roads. However, I must say, I would find it much harder to do on my own. Yes a PLB would be good I reckon of you are on your own, particularly if you are not on well-trod paths.

      • That sounds lovely; I imagine it is cooler up there. I love mountains. I’m fortunate here, to be surrounded by them, though none as high as the Snowy. happy walking!

      • Yes, it is usually lovely to be there as the real summer hits here – it can be quite a few degrees cooler, with usually lovely walking day weather particularly if we get out promptly in the morning. The higher walks are above the tree line and so you can be quite exposed.

  4. Well done Christina, and I also enjoyed reading about your bushwalking journey! The rainforests around BB are so beautiful and peaceful, but definitely also an unknown, alien place for most humans. They often inspire a sense of awe and reverence in me. I am glad you seemed to have enjoyed your BB experience.

    • Hi Rob
      As a seasoned bushwalker, you would have smiled at my amateurish experience. Yes, I am very aware of being an alien in the forest. There are many-layered lives there I have little knowledge of, many of them unseen.
      A man I met at BB advised me to get a PLB (positional location beacon) if I do more bushwalking. I wondered if you’ve considered getting one?

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