For a long time, I never really understood why people went bush walking.
It just seemed like a long, slow way to suffer.
As a kid, I would sit in the back of our family car, as we drove down roads surrounded by dry scrub or lush rainforest. My parents would comment on how beautiful the countryside was.
My nose would pop up from between the pages of whatever book I was reading in the back seat. I would peer out the window and watch all the green whizz by and I would think… it’s just a boring road through boring bush.
I discovered rock climbing while I was at university. This crazy addiction triggered my love affair for all things outdoors. Climbing took me to high perches with big views over big valleys.
I had to do a little bit of hiking to get from my car to my favourite climbing areas. The ‘walk in’ was a neccessary evil to be endured before the fun could begin. I’d put my head down and stomp along at top speed. I always wanted to get the approach over and done with. Hiking to a climbing area made sense – you had to get from A to B. Walking in big circles through the bush struck me as a pretty pointless exercise.
During that time, anyone hoping to lure me out on a hike had to promise me that there would be plenty of big views along the way. Not just one good view at the end. I wanted postcard worthy panoramas at least 75% of the time.
What a brat!
Earlier this year, I signed up for an online natural history illustration course. During the course I had to pay close attention to small things. I observed the repeating patterns in spiral shells, the lines drawn by veins in leafs, the way petals were arranged around the stem of a flower. I looked closely and curiously and then tried to recreate the things I saw in the pages of my sketchbook.
This new found curiousity changed the way that I walked.
Even when I walked around the city to get to work, I noticed little flowers popping up through cracks in the pavement. I noticed crazy-shaped bugs and birds flying between buildings. My nose wasn’t in my phone anymore. The world was more interesting now.
After the course ended, Dirtbagjens and I hiked the Corker Trail in the Barrington Tops National Park.
This steep trail promises spectacular views from the top of Carey’s Peak. A postcard worthy panorama would be waiting for me.
But there was about 10 kilometres of ‘boring’ fire trails between me and that view. My teenage self would have been thoroughly unimpressed.
But something crazy happened on that walk.
I was curious.
That made every step of that walk that little bit more exciting. It wasn’t a boring track through boring bush anymore. The trail changed from a long slog, into a fascinating exploration.
I noticed the vegetation change as we gained elevation. Some sections of the track smelled strongly of honey, because there were so many blossoms flowering above our heads.
There were crazy patterns drawn into the trunks of trees. Brightly coloured moss carpeted sections of the trail. Funky fungi grew in unlikely places.
I wasn’t desperately rushing to the end point. I didn’t drop my head down and suffer onwards to the summit.
Every now and then the trees fell away and we were treated to the big views that I love. Instead of snapping a quick photo and charging onwards and upwards, we sat down in the grass and soaked in the view.
We watched the way that clouds moved up and over the mountain ranges on the horizon. Those clouds flowed down into the valleys and were slowly dissolved by the sun. I watched it all with the kind of awe that toddlers have when they find something squishy or stinky on the beach.
I wasn’t thinking about work. Or how many kilometres we had left. Or how heavy my pack was. Or whether my life was going in the direction I wanted it to go.
I just watched the fog swirl around and exchanged big goofy smiles with Dirtbagjens.
We dragged ourselves away from the swirling fog and continued on to Wombat Creek camping area. We set our tent up in the magical fairy tale forest and filled our water bottles up from the clear little stream.
We set up camp and watched the fire for a long time. We settled in to a much slower rhythm than we usually find ourselves in.
The next day, we made a big breakfast on top of Carey’s Peak. We sipped our coffee and looked out over the huge expanse of the National Park.
After brekky, we retraced our steps, all the way back down to the car.
Now, I can’t wait to go back and do it all again, in a different season, in different weather, in a different head space and see what new things I can discover.
Name: Corker Trail
Distance: 20km return
Park: Barrington Tops National Park
Access: Park at the Lagoon Pinch picnic area
- Take Chichester Dam Road from Dungog for approximately 10km
- Turn left into Salisbury Road
- Continue on for approximately 40km, taking Williams Top Road, and follow the signs to the picnic area.
Williams Top Road is not paved the whole way. Take care if there has been a lot of rain.
Water: There is usually clean, fresh water in Wombat Creek. It might be worth carrying your water in if it hasn’t rained in a while though
More info here