Second Chances – Going Solo at Ship’s Stern Circuit, Lamington National Park

Second chances can be rare. My last post, The Tarcoola Track, showcased a very short city walk. The 21km Ship’s Stern Circuit at Lamington National Park is at the other end of the extreme and for me was a celebration of being given a second chance.In my mid 30s, a doctor bluntly told me it was impossible to reverse the severe deterioration in my joints and bones. He gave me no clear reason for the degeneration and deformity other than possible overuse and malnutrition in my youth. He told me to accept the fact that I had the body of someone 30 years older and would just have to live with the constant pain. I left the surgery numb and defeated.

In 2010, I made a birthday trip with my teenagers to the O’Reilly’s section of Lamington National Park. It was a place I dearly wanted to see before I got much worse. I spent most of that day with a crimson face, sweat pouring off me and holding back tears from searing neck, back, hip, knee, and feet pain. The frustration was a turning point though. For my children’s sake I sought a second medical opinion.  After receiving a diagnosis of coeliac disease and lactose intolerance I changed my diet. This helped me absorb more essential nutrients from my food.  For the first time, I invested money in very expensive footwear and with the encouragement of my daughter, embarked on a gentle exercise program to regain my fitness. I also received a positive result for Ross River Virus which doctors suspected had triggered an auto-immune condition.  There were answers after all.

spider web and leaf

Two years later I was cycling over 200km/week and here I am now in 2016 back at Lamington National Park able to do 20km walks with a backpack. I’m still red faced and sweating, but constant pain has gone. I’m incredibly thankful to be given a second chance. Many people don’t receive one.  It’s partly why I include short gentle walks in my posts. I want my blog to share experiences that are inclusive of people who are physically impaired.

water foam pattern

I was told recently that the adventure world can be quite ableist in the way it often rewards those with superior physical and mental abilities and may focus on achievement being solely due to a person’s toughness. There can be a tendency to glorify those who conquer superior challenges and to regard others as weak or lacking in motivation, but we are not all born physically and mentally equal.

Sometimes I read discussions about definitions of a true hike and comparisons are common. What’s a true hiker? What’s a real adventure? It’s all relative. My relative’s child was born with only a few stubs instead of fingers and toes. Another was born with a rare metabolic condition which left her confined to a wheelchair after a few years. My brother had serious congenital heart problems which limited his physical activities, and my son had an intra-spinal tumour at the age of six which left him unable to compete in contact sports. We can waste a lot of time being critical or we can promote adventure as something that comes in many forms and make it more accessible to everyone.

A few years ago I watched this short video about David Stratton, an Australian man confined to a wheelchair from MS who through the use of a Trail Rider and helpers was able to experience mountain views again. He has worked hard to promote the use of this mobility device and training courses for helpers in Australia, to give wheelchair bound kids and adults access to wild places. You can also read about his trip to the Grampians, in Victoria in this article.

I completed the Ship’s Stern walk close to the 20th anniversary of my younger brother’s death. It was another reason to be thankful.  Matt’s reply to my last question, “Is there anything I can do for you?” was “Janey, I just want you to be happy.”  It was with a reflective mind that I ventured up to the mountain by myself that day.

The class 4, Ship’s Stern Circuit is around 21km, depending on whether you take short side tracks to view lower Ballanjui Falls and extra lookouts. While it’s a long walk, for most of the way the gradient is gentle to moderate. However, some paths were in poor condition when I did it.  National Park rangers and volunteers are kept extremely busy clearing paths due to regular tree falls and the activities of storms and heavy rain (as well as picking up rubbish from irresponsible visitors.) They do a wonderful job with limited resources. As you can imagine, keeping a 20km less popular track clear is a huge job. I enjoyed all the obstacles though as it made the walk feel a little more wild. Obstacles on cliff paths may have been more problematic for my tall friends though. On this occasion my midget build was an advantage.

overgrown path

Vines-binna-burra

Fallen trees at Binna Burra

Vines over path

Ledge over path at Binna Burra

Branch obstacles at binna-burra

Paths overgrown with ferns, shrubs and grass made me nervous about paralysis ticks and glad I’d brought my snake bite kit.

grassy path

Fern covered path

Overgrown path at Binna Burra

Without phone reception for parts of it I took fewer risks than usual, keenly aware that falling off a cliff edge or being bitten by a snake would create a whole lot of inconvenience for many people and could even be slightly painful for me.

cliff-edge

Cliff path

Lookout Binna Burra

The best part of this walk for me was the variation in terrain. It included rainforest, piccabeen palm groves, open eucalypt, native wildflowers, waterfalls, creeks and lookouts. And the change could be dramatic. One minute you’re enclosed in cool, dark green rainforest, the next you’re on an exposed rocky ledge surrounded by amazing views.

Lookout view

exposed-side-4

exposed-side-2

ships-stern

Lookout Views

Mossy logs

rainforest trees

Creek and aerial roots

rainforest-3

Unfortunately, because I was keeping a fast pace (well, fast for me) so I could finish before nightfall, I kept forgetting to adjust my camera settings. I ended up taking landscape pictures on macro settings and macro shots on landscapes settings. Light conditions changed constantly and I just couldn’t keep up with the ISO settings. The AUTO option couldn’t cope either with the dark and dappled light conditions of the rainforest or the glaring sunshine of a cloudless Queensland sky. I hope the album still gives you an idea of what it has to offer though.

slanted trees

Open forest

lookout

tall-trees

Fungi was in abundance as usual. What a shame I took such poor shots of them.

large-fungi

Flowering banksias were attracting the birds and the bees.

banksias

eastern-spinebill

banksia

Giant scribbly gums, she-oaks and grass trees  grew on the more exposed eastern side.

Grass trees

Lower Ballanjui Falls was worth the extra 1.2km side trip on what turned into a hot day.

Ballanjui Falls

Ballanjui Falls

Unusually for me, there were no mishaps, well apart from thinking I was half-way when I wasn’t. I had reception at what I thought was a lookout, gleefully took a picture with my phone and sent it off to a friend who lives south. He was experiencing a 12C day while it was a typically warm 30C winter day in QLD.

fake-lookout

Feeling relieved that I was ahead of schedule, I relaxed at the ledge and enjoyed a leisurely lunch. Several kilometres later I came across the real mid-point and had to pick up the pace.

I finished the walk in about 7 hours which is less than the  8 hours recommended by Queensland National Parks. I think this is a first for me but I was rushing most of the way to avoid driving home in the dark. If you want to really appreciate the views, take high quality photographs and spot wildlife, plan to take more time. You’ll notice a lack of wildlife pictures which is in contrast to my last post, the Tarcoola Track in suburban Brisbane. It’s a reminder that you don’t have to travel all the way to Lamington National Park to encounter wildlife. In fact, if you’re an inexperienced photographer like me it can be a frustrating endeavour to film wildlife in rainforest. You hear creatures, but they’re often invisible in the canopy or hiding behind vines and branches which makes focusing difficult. I spent a long time unsuccessfully “hunting” catbirds on this walk. When I finally returned to the carpark, there was one right out in the open. I sometimes wonder if they enjoy playing jokes on me. Update: Thanks to my blogger friend, Ashley, for correcting me. Once again I got confused with my bird identification. This is actually a Bassian Thrush rainforest bird. Thanks, Ashley! 🙂

catbird

For more detailed information about the Binna Burra section of Lamington National Park, read my posts, Caves Circuit and Ballanjui Falls, Lycra Man’s Attachment Issues and Coomera Circuit or check the excellent national parks site. Comments from others who’ve completed this walk may also be found at the Aussie Bushwalking site.

Amanda from Walks and Wines also did the Ships Stern Circuit this year if you want to read about her impressions. Amanda had a health scare some years ago and is making the best of her “second chance.”

Thank you for reading.  May second chances come your way also. If you’re mentally or physically ill, or exhausted from being a carer of others and it’s an achievement just to get through each day, you’re my hero.

95 thoughts on “Second Chances – Going Solo at Ship’s Stern Circuit, Lamington National Park

    • Thanks very much, Peggy. I still have to be careful and I do have off days but in many ways I feel so much younger than I did 10 years ago. I’m very fortunate. I’m a good example of why it’s important to get more than one opinion. Best wishes. 🙂

  1. Many thank you for sharing your story and thoughts – and the most amazing and inspiring photos.
    And thank you reminding everyone to make the most of our chance or second chance.
    (Can relate to that, at 20 I was told just before back surgery “there is a good chance you end up in a wheelchair” … however I got ‘repaired’, got up and did/do fitness exercise regularly and many years later am still fit and hence sometimes forget how important it is to enjoy life fully every single day).

    • Hi Marina,
      Your story reminds me of my son’s experience. We were warned he may be paralysed after the surgery, but as the tumour was growing and compressing the spinal cord anyway there was no choice but to go ahead with it. It must have been a frightening experience for you to be told that. I’m so pleased it was successful. It’s hard to believe you came so close to such a bad outcome when I see your inspiring physical fitness activities now. Your experience is more dramatic than mine I think! Thank you for sharing your own story with me and for your kind words about my blog. Best wishes. 🙂

  2. Wonderful post again Jane! I loved the movie of the family taking the man with them on adventure, how caring and loving they are. This walk certainly looked a wild one, and you did it so well, considering your condition. I deal with aspects of auto immune pathology as part of my every day work, and understand something of the difficulty it would have posed for you. I have experienced multiple immune sensitivities to food s and other substances years ago until completely and miraculously God healed me, thats another story. Just one thing though, your ‘catbird’ is actually a Bassian Thrush rainforest bird. I actually have one in my blog post for this week which I will release tomorrow. Check out and compare. Both these rainforest birds are shy and difficult to photograph, but occasionally Bassian’s are seen walking around forest car parks. These are ground dwellers and seldom fly, unlike the catbird, but wull stand perfectly still to blend in with their surrounds. Have a great week, and well done my friend, as we pray for full recovery, and give thanks for the improvements your family and your self have gained through wise effort and God’s goodness to you:-)

    • Hi Ashley,
      Thanks very much for correcting me on the bird. I’d never heard of that one. I’ve been walking there in the past with friends who told me it was a catbird and I didn’t think to even check. It’s a good thing I have you to give me the correct information. I usually trust others as bird identification doesn’t seem to be my forte, even though I have field guides. I will have to catch up on your blog (and everyone else’s) as I have been away from it for about a month now. Life is just very full of family responsibilities which are a priority.
      Auto immune diseases run in my family but they seem to be more prevalent with each generation. I suspect it may be environmental triggers. Ross River Fever seemed to trigger the intestinal issues, rheumatoid arthritis and thyroid problems. Thankfully these seem under control now. Mental and physical stress can trigger their return though. Apparently living through childhood trauma for many years can impact on the body’s immune system in the future. There are all sorts of triggers, aren’t there. It can be complicated to sort it out. I’m pleased you received healing for your problems.
      Thanks very much for your continued support and encouragement. Best wishes to you and your family. 🙂

      • Yes, prolonged stress is a trigger, and genetic susceptibility with this can have our bodies immune system on overdrive. You have suffered much, and you are doing an amazing effort to get your health back, I will keep you in prayer my friend, and pray for healing and better days ahead😊

  3. Hey Jane, Great to see you back posting…I thought I might get in quick enough to be the first comment but you’ve already got more than I get in a year 🙂 I’d be happy to claim any of those fungi shots, but what I really liked was the banksia backlit by the sun, it’s a great shot. You’re spot on in relation to it ‘all being relative’ in relation to what constitutes a true hike. I don’t mind posting easy walks as well, normally mentioning in ‘the dirt’ if its suitable for strollers or wheelchairs, after all there are a lot more punters out there that are interested and capable of doing the easier strolls than the hardcore epics I think. Having said all that though I’m impressed with your Ship’s Stern walk, it ‘s definitely not easy, it looks like the track is a little more overgrown than when I did it last…I could feel my old back groaning when I saw the shots of the trees down over the track.
    Cheers Kevin

    • Hi Kevin,
      I am happy to share comments with your blog. 🙂 I hope some of my readers notice your comment and head on over to your blog to give you some support as you are just churning out those posts. I think I am only writing about one a month these days. I really loved seeing the banksias on this trip. I don’t think I’ve seen so many on a walk before. The eastern spine bills were having a great time with them. Sadly, they were too quick for me to get a good shot. I also liked how the sunlight was shining through the flowers. I’d like to do the walk again but never in summer as I’m sure the snakes and ticks would be bad then. I had to wade through a lot of grass, ferns and shrubs that day. I couldn’t see where I was putting my feet down and kept expecting to feel a bite. I was thinking about how you and Greg would have handled the fallen trees as I was doing the walk. They are too tall to walk over, but too short for it to be comfortable for you to easily duck under. There’s got to be one advantage to me being a short person at some stage in life!
      Yes, short or long walks can be a grand adventure depending on skill level and physical ability can’t they. Just getting out there for any length of time is a bonus in this world where so many of us are glued to technology for work and play. Thanks for your enthusiastic comments, as usual. Best wishes. 🙂

  4. Thank you for sharing the wonderful shots from your hike. 😆 I love the rainbow along with all the fungi. There sure was a lot of different terrain to explore there.
    I’m not experiencing anything as debilitating as you, however I have autoimmune issues that no doctor ever pinpointed, I had to figure it out for myself, change my diet and habits, along with educating my Dr. 😝
    I think everyone should be their own advocate in their health. The 20 minutes you spend with your Dr doesn’t constitute ‘care’. It took me many hours of searching to figure out my skin issue. Sadly, most dermatologists want to inject botox instead of deal with true diseases.
    You are an inspiration to me and many others! Thank you 😃

    • Thanks very much for your comments and for sharing your own experience. I totally agree that we need to advocate for our own health. When you are sick and exhausted it can be difficult to be pushy. I think we are lucky to have the Internet these days to research health conditions. In the past the local doctor’s words were treated like god, and often people felt too intimidated to question their judgement. This is still the case in some ways. People are still frightened to be labelled as a hypochondriac because they want further testing. With my son’s tumour, it took a while for it to be diagnosed as I was seen as a neurotic mother by some. I knew something was wrong but it took a lot of tests and different specialists to find the cause. My children and I all had skin problems that were fixed up once we eliminated certain foods and overhauled our personal care products. We are very sensitive to some ingredients in most shampoos and soaps. Dermatologists sometimes just want to give you medication like cortisone or antibiotics that can make it even worse eventually. I’m so pleased you were able to get to the heart of your own health problems. It can be a long and frustrating process at times and as you say, sometimes you need to educate your own doctor. Best wishes. 🙂

  5. Here’s to second chances! Again we are parallel~I too was in so much pain from every single tiny joint that early this spring I took what I thought would be my very last walk into nature. I took a lot of pictures! Then, like you, I did research and changed my diet and bought better shoes. The pain is still there, but it is dialed way back. I just walked that trail yesterday, with minimum discomfort! However the experience sobered me and made me aware of the things you mention, of the attitude about what “real” hikers” can do. You are right. We need to get right over that attitude and celebrate achievements, period.

    Thank you for sharing this post about limitations and second chances, and about the amazing places you take us to 🙂

    • Hi Melissa,
      Sometimes I think we may have been twins…;-) Isn’t it amazing how a simple change in diet can sometimes make a huge impact on our health and comfort levels. Also, with shoes, I was brought up to believe that “fancy” shoes were just a gimmick. This led to a lot of problems for my joints in the end. I had terrible feet and knees and a slightly deformed lower spine which meant I should have had good supports. Just getting the right shoes and orthotics can make a huge difference to walking. I feel bad for people who cannot afford this help. A lot of people can’t afford $200 shoes!
      Yes, I think when people are well and fully mobile, it can be easy to forget how difficult it can be for others. It’s often only when we experience it ourselves that we realise how quickly life can change and how challenging daily tasks can be for many people. Just getting out of bed in the morning and brushing teeth can be an achievement for people with severe conditions. I do get a little frustrated by some of the attitudes in the adventure/outdoor world when I know so many people who struggle just to do the basics. It would be great if more people who are physically capable could volunteer to help the less able experience the outdoors. How rewarding that would be. If we could also just make more playgrounds, paths, workplaces and shops more accessible that would reduce the isolation of people with disabilities. Even things like having quiet spaces and lowering the music levels in shopping centres would help those with hearing impairments and parents with autistic or hyperactive children. In many ways, we live in an ableist society.
      It’s always lovely to hear from you. I’m sorry I’ve missed your blog posts in the last month. If it’s any consolation, I seem to have missed everyone’s! Best wishes for continued improvement in your health and pain levels. 🙂

      • Thank you Jane and may I wish the same for you. It sounds like you’ve licked your pain issues. That is such good news! It really is amazing what a difference diet makes.
        You have great ideas for ways we can make life nicer for people. The next time I am in the store, I think I’ll talk to the manager about turning down the music. And I think there is a school for the blind around here. I wonder if they could use a guide on the trails…that is something I could do. 🙂

        • Being a guide for blind people sounds like a wonderful idea, Melissa! I should look into that myself. Thanks for the suggestion.There used to be a sensory trail at Lamington National Park (Binna Burra section) but the last time I was there I noticed the rope was down. It was a short walk through rainforest that had a guide rope for people to hold onto. It also gave sighted people a chance to experience the walk with their eyes closed.

  6. You are an inspiration to us all having overcome such difficulties. The pictures you took on this walk were fascinating and, as always, I really loved the views. Thank you for taking me on such a walk.

    • Thanks very much, Susan, for those kind comments. I wasn’t going to post until I had caught up on all the lovely blogs I follow, including yours and Tom’s, but I am just too far behind again. I thought it best just to share another walk before a second month flies by, otherwise I might never do it. I hope you are well and I appreciate your continued interest in my walks. It makes it worthwhile when people enjoy it. Best wishes. 🙂

  7. You always know, Jane, that you have me at “red faced and sweating” because I love how you describe “real hikers”. And of course, you make me laugh hysterically with accounting of the faux pas of your hiking experiences! I always think of myself walking right beside you… your descriptions of everything and photographs take me along with you. My hikes are short walks to the river with no incline or decline, just looking out for cow pies and wild animal scat, walking the animal paths through the grasses and trees! Your photographs here show the narrow pathways and possible danger of snakes. I would be in a panic!

    I love how you wrote about second chances and overcoming limitations. Mine have not been physical so much as mental. Hiking, finding interest in the little things that our immediate areas have to offer, and partaking in a little adventure from time to time, living in the woodlands here, experiencing nature and venturing out with my camera has been life-changing for me. I think we will always be seekers and adventurists, seeking the path less traveled.

    • Hi Lori! It’s great to hear from you How are you? I’ve been away from the blogging world for over a month now. I was going to try and catch up on everyone’s blogs first but I felt overwhelmed and thought I’d never get around to posting for another month. I could even see myself giving up on it completely if I didn’t share something soon. So I just did and hoped everyone would forgive me again for my absence. I know I don’t have to worry about that with you though. 🙂
      Red faced and sweating…isn’t that how everyone walks? Haha. I’m pleased you enjoy my silly mistakes and “attractive” appearance while walking. I do so wish you could join me on my wanders. I promise I won’t take you on this one though. It is rather snakey! Amanda, who I mentioned walked over one when she did the walk. Sharing your farm walks sounds just perfect to me. You may not do epic hikes, but you work so very hard on your farm. You don’t ever seem to stop. There seems always something that needs doing. The animals keep you very busy. I think you have much more stamina than me!
      I must admit that mental limitations have been a big factor in my life as well. Walking and photography help in that department in a huge way. When I couldn’t get out because of physical problems, it compounded the mental problems. That’s why I think it’s so important to make the outdoors more accessible. It helps relieve the isolation that people with mental and physical difficulties may have. Being stuck inside for days on end is very depressing. Like you I feel the restlessness that requires me to seek nature and adventure. It is my therapy. It’s where I feel most able to be the real Jane. Thanks as always for your wonderful support. I used to enjoy plenty of walks which involved avoiding cow pies and sheep, goat and kangaroo pellets on the farm. Fun times, that’s for sure! Best wishes, my friend. 🙂

      • Ha ha!! See, even your comments keep me in stitches! You always create a fantastic visual that has me laughing! Seriously though, I think most people understand absence for long periods. There are all sorts of reasons, and most of us are compassionate about that. Be well, Jane. That’s the most important thing. I’m just happy to see a post from you whenever you have time. Your narration and photographs are outstanding! 🙂

  8. I’m glad that you have overcome the obstacles to your outdoor excursions! Congratulations to you for your perseverance!

    Through your photos I greatly enjoyed your trek, although I kept wishing that I could have seen it personally too.

    • Hi Terry,
      Thanks for those kind words. It’s nice to receive encouragement and lovely to hear from you as always. I hope those wild fires have died down. I’ve been out of the blogging world for about a month and have not caught up yet.
      Yes, I’m sure you would have really enjoyed this walk. The variation in terrain is such a treat. It’s nice to be surprised at every turn. Lamington National Park is certainly a very special place and I’m thankful it was saved from the timber cutters all those years ago. It is hard to believe that surrounding farmland once looked like this! Best wishes. 🙂

  9. What a beautiful post and how fortunate you are to have had the foresight to delve more deeply into the causes of your problems and the stamina and courage to pursue and address them. Yours is a really inspiring story. I have had quite a few “interesting” medical experiences as well, though none so frightening as yours. I’ve been unable to hike much or wade my favorite little trout stream for a couple of years now, but thanks to new knees I was able to do just that again just a couple of weeks ago. I too am very, very grateful for second chances–and for doctors who will really listen to us! And, through it all, I think that maintaining a sense of humor is absolutely essential. In fact, I’ve written a song about what has happened to me as I age, and I’m thinking of posting it soon…

    • Hello and thank you kindly for your encouraging words. It’s lovely to feel that people enjoy my blog in some way. I’m so glad you can now return to some of your favourite spots with new knees! I expect there was a lot of pain and rehabilitation involved in the process. I will probably need replacements one day and I hope I am brave enough to go through the process. Yes, a sense of humour does seem to ease the path somewhat. I need more of that I think! Sometimes I get too serious about things. 🙂 I really do hope you post the song you’ve written soon. I am way behind in all the blogs I follow. Extra family and work responsibilities have taken priority in the past month. Thank you very much for reading and adding your thoughts and experiences. I hope your mobility continues to improve and so glad you were able to also experience a second chance! Best wishes. 🙂

  10. Thank you, Jane, for yet another inspirational and descriptive post. We have 3 daughters + 3 partners + us = 8, and all are adventurous outdoor-types who love bushwalking & riding like you. One of our daughters is a diagnosed coeliac and all aware and careful in dietary matters. I was at the Brisbane Writers Festival on the weekend and heard/met Joshua Yeldham, a well-known Aussie artist and author (http://joshuayeldham.com.au/). I had not heard of him previously but as the promo said he was enamoured with nature and adventure I went along. Turns out he has published a memoir written for his 12 yo daughter, Indigo, in which he wraps text around photos and paintings from and about his life. It and his observations are so inspirational that I bought it – something I do not often do. You may also like it. It is called “SURRENDER – A journal for my daughter” by Joshua Yeldham (http://joshuayeldham.com.au/surrender_book/). It may be in the UQ or a city library.

    • Hi Anthony,
      Thank you for your encouraging words and also for sharing your own experiences and recommending the book link. I will certainly check it out! I love inspirational stories like that. It looks like a wonderful read. I planned to go to some of the Brisbane Writers Festival this year but once again forgot all about booking events.
      I’m pleased that your family enjoy riding and bushwalking too. It’s great when you can share a love of the outdoors with people you care about. Yes, coeliac disease is not just a made up thing is it? I’ve been noticing that now that gluten free diets are becoming trendy, that I am not treated as seriously by some people who think it is just a gimmick. As you know, coeliac disease is a serious condition. My need for gluten free food is not just a hipster fad. It’s medical. On the other hand, the popularity of gluten free food has made it much easier for me to find alternatives now and in general there is more awareness.
      Thanks again for taking the time to comment and share the link with me. I look forward to investigating this author and his book! Best wishes and may you continue to enjoy your outdoor pursuits. 🙂

  11. I loved the photos, Jane, even the fungii 🙂
    It sounded like being out of mobile reception made you a bit more cautious than usual. Have you thought of getting a Spot GPS Messenger? It broadcasts your position every 10 minutes via satellite, and has several different pre-programmed messages it can send via SMS even when you’re out of mobile range, and includes a message to emergency services.
    Also, a lazy way to get good exposure automatically on a camera is to put it on “Auto” and also enable “Auto Exposure Bracketing” (AEB). The downside is each shot then generates 3 photos (1 under exposed, one over exposed, one “just right”). In tricky environments you might find the over or underexposed one ends up being “just right”. Also, you can merge AEB photos in Adobe Lightroom so the enhanced low-lights from one frame are combined with the more reasonable highlights from another frame. That might make the difference on some shots which might not have otherwise worked. (Sadly my little camera doesn’t do AEB or I would use it).
    Great news about the second opinion. I wonder how many of us are restricted by an incorrect diagnosis?

    • Hi Neil,
      Thanks very much for reading, commenting and giving me handy information about the Spot GPS messenger and photography tips. It’s much appreciated. I’ve been meaning to do something about an emergency device/tracker since I started blogging, particularly now that I am doing more long walks by myself. Even if I have phone reception, if I have an accident and become unconscious, I won’t be able to call for help. As you say with the Spot GPS Messenger it tracks regularly so it would be much easier for people to locate me if I passed out. It’s something I need to really do something about.
      I have a Canon Powershot SX60. I’m terrible with technical things and still haven’t ventured into all the features it has. I saw the bracketing options and didn’t really understand what it meant. I will give it a go. I don’t have Lightroom software to merge them. Currently I just crop and sometimes adjust the contrast and brightness in the Gimp program. That’s as far as I’ve got really. It takes me ages to learn how to use a new phone or camera! I’m not sure I have the patience. I think the AEB would be really handy in rainforest conditions.
      Yes, I also wonder how many people are given the wrong diagnosis! From my experience with other relatives and friends it seems important to get plenty of opinions and do some of your own research. That’s not so easy for people who are lacking in energy though.
      I’ll be writing about Ravensbourne National Park next I think. I hope you enjoy my appreciation of a location that you’ve been to. I love the GB lookout. It just has a wonderful atmosphere. It’s silent but there is still a powerful presence of something. Best wishes! 🙂

  12. I was just wondering how you were this afternoon and as soon as I looked at my inbox this evening, here you are! This is a wonderful uplifting post Jane! I love the video and can sympathise with your descriptions of chronic pain and auto-immune problems. I felt like cheering while I read your suggestion that we promote adventure in its many forms and we should try to make it accessible to all.
    Your photos are wonderful as ever – I loved the views, the waterfall, the forest … well all of it actually! You must have been going some to complete the hike two hours faster than the nine hours recommended time! Crazy woman!

    • Hi dear Clare,
      Thanks very much for thinking about me. I’ve been so busy this last month and have missed checking in on my blogging friends. I feel like it’s been much longer. I don’t have much of a social life and reading about my online friend’s activities makes me feel part of their lives. It’s almost like a big family. I do hope that my UK friends don’t think I’ve forgotten about them. I’ve just had to prioritise family and work for a little while. I’ve still not caught up after my relative’s stroke in many ways.
      Thanks very much for your kind words about my post. I found David’s video really inspiring and every now and then I watch it again to lift my spirits and remind me to appreciate what I have. I just checked the National Park site and found I had made an error with my time estimates. They suggest 8 hours not 9, so I was only one hour shorter. I was still very pleased with it. You are right, I was really rushing compared to usual. Being winter the sun was down very early so I was trying to beat it. If you check the Aussie Bushwalkers site there are quite a few people who did it in under 6 hours! My short legs may have been going as fast as they could but compared to other people it’s still snail pace!
      I do hope you and your family are well and I look forward to catching up on your activities again soon. xx

      • I think you did marvellously especially when I realise how ill you were ten years ago. I try to avoid walking in the dark and I dislike driving in the dark if I am unsure of my route. We don’t bother going too far on our winter walks as at mid-winter there is only 6 or 7 hours of light. We have to get used to driving in the dark then 😦 I love mid-summer with only 6 hours of dark! I have short legs too and when I walk with my husband who is a foot taller than me I do two paces for one of his!
        We are all very well, thank-you Jane – I hope you are okay and not tiring yourself too much.
        Best wishes Clare xx

  13. Oh my gosh I need to print out this BRILLIANT post… and probably more than half of the conversations in the comments. So many of us being shoved aside when there are alternatives to a half-life of constant pain!!
    That’s it, I have to look again for second (or tenth) opinions. Have just had another lupus flare up and I’m in so much pain and bloody sick of doctors shrugging their shoulders and telling me I just have to take Nurofen and put up. Thank you. Love love love.

    • Hi! Thanks very much for your enthusiastic response. I’ve been thinking about you these last couple of weeks, especially while writing this post as I know how much you suffer from your lupus flare ups. I will email you soon! There has been some illness again last week in the family and I didn’t want to risk giving it to you and the girls. I’ve been hoping things are going smoothly with “everything”. Nurofen really doesn’t seem to be much of an answer to your terrible pain. You may not be aware but Ross River Fever has increased significantly in Brisbane. You may want to get a blood test to see if you’ve had it since your move. That would exacerbate your condition too (as well as all the stress you’ve been under!) I know of a woman in Brisbane who had terrible lupus problems. Her name is Gail Chasley. She has a Facebook page for a lupus support group. Since changing her diet radically she’s had big improvements but she’s also been on pretty strong drugs to help control it. I would suggest you google her as I’m sure you’d find something to help from her sites/group. Even if they just give moral support. Importantly, you can compare notes about medications/treatments. She seems to be a really lovely, proactive, helpful person. I don’t know her personally. Just through a friend. I really hope you can find help to alleviate your terrible pain. Will contact you soon. xx

  14. There is nothing like getting better after you have thought that there was no chance of it happening to make you appreciate life and to try to use what you have wisely. I appreciate your problems in getting the settings right when you are concentrating hard on the walking but the pictures turned out very well. I also know what you mean about hidden birds taunting you with loud cries.

    • Thanks very much, Tom. I imagine getting your new knee made a huge difference to your daily life. Knee pain is very debilitating. Your arthritis and asthma are frustrating as well. I’m inspired by your impressive cycling mileage. I hope I’m able to be as active when I reach your age. Thank you for the kind compliments about the photographs. I guess I wish I could share the walk in its full glory, but it seems people enjoy the pictures anyway. I do hope you and Mrs T are well. As I wrote in my reply to Susan I am very behind in blog reading. Family and work have kept me extra busy in recent months. Best wishes. 🙂

  15. That looks like a fantastic walk, Jane, albeit with some difficulties when the terrain is a little more rainforest-like. I do so envy you the ability to take on these Nature trips, photos or not. And your fungi images were marvellous by the way.

    I especially like this post as it recognises that many of us have physical challenges, but there’s always something to see if one makes the effort to look around and observe nature.

    As an aside, for the 4th or 5th time I am attempting 100% dairy/grain free, but with a weird flu-type virus for 2 1/2 months now, I seem to have lost my sense of taste which is not helping matters. It’s almost as though my body is doing a deep cleanse and commercial vegetables just taste ‘dirty’ and ‘metallic.” My GP referred me for some of the newer auto-immune blood tests last Friday, just in case there is some auto-immune disease we’re missing. The more grain/dairy free I go, the less my Fibromyalgia pain and IBS symptoms. I find it really hard to relate to healthy people. They can’t understand my limitations and that the more I attempt, the worse my PEM (post exertion malaise) the next day. The more I walk, the worse my worn-out feet (from over-walking 10 yrs ago) and bursitis flare up. The more I carry, the worse my (severe) HCM makes me huff & puff up even gentle slopes.

    But, there has been the odd time I have been symptom free (except for sore right foot & ankle after a walk). I can never work that one out.

    Grey, cold and rain, rain & more rain down south in Melbourne.

    • Hi Vicki,
      I’m so sorry to read of your recent illness. You have enough to deal with as it is! I’m very glad you are getting extra tests. I hope you get some answers that help. While I am not in constant pain anymore, I still get temporary flare ups of rheumatoid arthritis and intestinal symptoms when under stress. It’s a good reminder to me of what others have to deal with and I appreciate my good health. Yes, it can be so hard to explain to healthy people what your life is like and have them truly understand. I think one aspect that is difficult is the unpredictability. Accepting invitations is tricky as more often than not you have to cancel. Planning anything can be very difficult. I really wish people could be more understanding of these chronic conditions. They can make life very isolating/lonely for people. Be assured that if we ever meet, I won’t be expecting you to go on a hike! I haven’t checked your blog for about a month. I’m behind with everyone’s. I’m hoping to visit Melbourne in the next 6 months and would love to meet you if you are feeling well enough.
      One thing I found out when having to go off gluten was that I also had problems digesting soy which is in many gluten free foods. I’m lucky I can still have dairy, just the lactose-free version. A friend of mine has problems with fructose and high starch foods. It’s such an individual thing sometimes. More and more, viruses are being suspected of triggering auto immune diseases. Even conditions such as diabetes may be associated with them.
      I actually went through a period this year where vegetables tasted metallic – as though I was biting on alfoil. I lost my appetite for a few months. Foods I usually enjoyed repulsed me. The smell of coffee brewing made me sick. I’m fine now fortunately. I’m glad you are getting your symptoms checked out further as there are many causes for such symptoms.
      Oh dear, that weather sounds a bit dismal, although I prefer it to horrible heat. Cold is not great for the joints though and endless grey skies can be depressing.
      I do hope you get some more answers that bring treatment that gives you some relief. Take care. x

      • Thanks Jane.
        I wouldn’t might betting the tests bear no interesting results. Tests with me are often off (low white cell count), but not enough to indicate any specific disease, only that I have some sort of chronic inflammatory problem, poor liver (probably the analgesics I occasionally use building up) and high norepinephrine and so on. Not coeliac, but grains knock me out and cause weird heart & BP symptoms.

        I am moving over the next 2 weeks to the western side of Melbourne…..right next to Frogs Hollow Wetlands and the Nature Reserves in Maribyrnong. Would love to meet if you get down this way…..even if I’ve got an apartment full of boxes. We just step behind my apartment block, walk down about 120 metres across a green field and we are in the Nature Reserve. Can’t wait to explore (If I can get rid of this constant cough and intermittent sore throat). I haven’t had the flu since 2004 and more specifically no real colds or coughs, since I had to quit working in 2010, and now rarely mix with people or in crowded spaces. I lead such a solitary life and just take care of me (which is a full time job 🙂 )

        • Good luck with your move, Vicki. It can be an exhausting process. It sounds like your new place is in a great position though. I’d love to explore with you if you are feeling better. I wouldn’t be down that way for a few months though.
          Yes, test results can be frustrating. No definitive answers often, just evidence that something is not right! I hope the constant cough and sore throat disappears soon. 🙂

  16. What a very inspirational post! I love the motivation behind this walk and it’s amazing you managed to take back your life in hands, to started cycling and be active again, you can be proud of you. The pictures are fabulous as always and I’m glad to finally have time to read it 🙂 Enjoyed every minute of it 🙂

    • Thank you for the encouraging words. 🙂 I’m glad you enjoyed it so much. This was a walk which I’ve wanted to do for a long time. I was meant to do it with visiting hikers from the south but there wasn’t really time. It has such beautiful views and the diversity of vegetation means that the 21 km never really got boring. I’d like to do it again one day but only in cool weather. I sweated enough in winter! I hope you are well and thanks again for taking the time to read my words and comment. Best wishes! 🙂

  17. A wonderful post, Jane, and it fits very well with the Para Olympics in Rio where we see so many people refusing to set limits on their abilities. I would love places of all kinds to be more accessible for as many people as possible. Recently my parents have had to use wheelchairs when outside the house. The streets and pavements in their area are not at all suitable for wheelchairs which means they are very limited in where they go. I am glad you are feeling much better. I once had 4 months of debilitating back pain; it was horrendous. I have nothing but admiration for those who cope with, manage, or overcome pain.

    • Thanks very much for your positive feedback. It’s much appreciated. Yes, people can feel isolated by the poor design or deteriorating conditions of pavements and streets. I can certainly understand how limited your parents now are. Back when I was a social work student many, many years ago, I took on a project about access for disability students. I borrowed a wheelchair for a day and tried to negotiate the paths, streets and buildings around the university. What may seem to be a gentle slope or a small bump/ridge to able-bodied people becomes a major challenge for those in a wheelchair. It certainly opened up my eyes! Yes, I find the Para Olympics very inspiring. It’s truly amazing what people in difficult circumstances can still achieve, given the right support and encouragement. Thanks again. Best wishes! 🙂

        • Mobility scooters are becoming increasingly common in the United States. I recently took an elderly friend to a couple of stores so she could try out a few models, one of which I took her back to buy the following week.

          • Yes, they are getting more popular here too. The problem here is that concrete footpaths are still not a compulsory feature of our suburbs. My street for example just has a grassy verge which is on a slope. For this reason I often see people with mobility scooters try to brave sharing the busy roads with cars. They look so vulnerable out there. It’s also the case that mobility scooters and electric wheelchairs are quite costly. My cousin’s daughter was lucky that she was donated a special one by a fundraising charity. It would have cost them thousands to buy it and her weekly infusions to help reduce her deteriorating further cost around $250 000 per year as her condition is quite rare. I see quite a few people in manual wheelchairs still in shopping malls, being pushed by carers. 🙂

    • Hi John,
      Thank you very much. I feel privileged to have you read and comment on my blog. You were there right at the start and I’ll always remember your kind encouragement. I hope you are well and happiness is coming your way too. Best wishes. 🙂

    • Thanks very much for those words, Caro. I’m pleased you found something inspiring in the post. The David Stratton video always makes me shed a few tears. I know that your life has changed quite a lot in recent years as well. Your hiking days are relatively recent. I’m sure your own story is inspiring too. Best wishes! 🙂

  18. Jane, your “mid 30s” experience is a reminder that doctors are practicing in a field which is as much art as science. Even the best of them don’t know everything, and if they’re not humble enough to admit it, the supposed finality of their opinion can leave a patient who accepts it in despair. I’m happy you ‘got to a better place’….and I love this post! 🙂

    • Thank you, Mistermuse! I’m pleased you enjoyed the post so much. How right you are about the practice of medicine. It was really not very long ago that many doctors scoffed at Ignaz Semmelweis, who washed his hands in between examining women who were in labour or had given birth.He believed that something unseen was causing infection between the women via his hands. We used to do many things in the name of medical science that we now regard as ridiculous or barbaric. So much changes over time. And doctors are human like the rest of us. They make subjective judgements, they can make mistakes and they don’t know everything. I’ve had many wonderful doctors, but also a few who need reporting. Thanks very much for your encouragement. 🙂

    • I love scribbly gums and never tire of their markings. I probably should have given a link to the cause of these scribbles, which is a moth larvae tunnelling under the surface. The scribbles become thicker when the larva moults as it increases in size. The tree produces scar tissue in response. There are quite a few species of scribbly gum moth. Here’s an interesting link https://theconversation.com/unravelling-the-mystery-of-eucalypt-scribbles-11023
      They were a source of fascination to me as a child and an Australian children’s author featured them in her books, Snugglepot and Cuddlepie (gumnut babies). I can’t remember ever seeing graffiti that took advantage of the scribbles although perhaps they were too clever for me to notice. 🙂

  19. A wonderful blogpost as usual Jane – really amazingly diverse landscapes and terrain. We did a walk up Mt Barney a few years ago and it hard that same quality – from rainforest to heathland. I’d really like to get back to this area and explore more in the Lamington Mountains. And I’d like to see a Bassian Thrush! You lucky thing. And gorgeous photos as always. We must all count our blessings to be able to see and enjoy such a beautiful world.

    • Thank you very much, Nicola. I’ve seen a little of the Mt Barney area and really want to go back. Apparently it’s more wild than many other national parks in my area. I hope you get to return and explore more of Lamington National Park. My favourite short walk is Dave’s Creek Circuit which I will write about soon. It’s only about 12km but has plenty of diversity. The clay paths along the cliff edge can be slippery when wet so may be a bit dangerous for kids. There are so many great walks there to choose from though. Haha…to think I thought I was hunting a catbird all that time and it was a Bassian Thrush. I love birds but I am terrible at identifying them really! Thanks again for your supportive comments and have a fantastic trip north! Best wishes. 🙂

  20. The banksia and scribbly gums would have made the hike worth it for me. And hitting those huge vistas after the dense forest must have been exhilarating. It’s amazing how much medicine has progressed in the past decades to focus more on the body as a complex system of interactions carrying a unique microbiome. I suspect we remain woefully ignorant but at least we are beginning to understand that body parts can’t be addressed in a vacuum. I’m so happy for you that you are pain free and able to hike after your dire diagnoses years ago. You are taking good advantage of your second chance. And good shoes are a must!

    • Hi Brenda,
      Thank you very much for reading and sharing your wise thoughts. I certainly agree with you about the improvement in medicine in now focusing more on the whole body rather than individual parts/illnesses in isolation. In some Indigenous cultures it was always important to treat illnesses with this holistic approach. Yes, there is so much that we still don’t know about the human body and also about the environment. I remember when pesticides and herbicides were first produced and regarded as safe because they supposedly only targeted certain plants and insects and now we know that not to be true.
      Despite having lived in Australia all my life, I never tire of banksia flowers or the marks on scribbly gums. They still give me plenty of delight.
      I still get some pain problems and bad days due to other conditions but it is not like the debilitating constant pain I had in the past. Temporary pain I can deal with, but constant pain and immobility is very wearing. I’m so thankful to have such improvements. I never had good shoes as a child. We were brought up to believe that expensive shoes were just a gimmick. Even so, I bought very good shoes for my children. When I finally spent the money on the shoes I needed for my terribly flat feet and bad ankles the difference to the rest of my body was amazing really.
      Thank you very much for your encouraging words and I do apologise for being woefully neglectful of your blog and others lately. I do hope you are keeping well in your part of the world. Best wishes! 🙂

  21. Hi Jane, Thank you for visiting my blog recently given your busy schedule.
    I would not like to be driving home from O’Reillys in the dark – that narrow one lane road would be quite a challenge. Completing the 20 kilometre walk seemed to mark a life milestone for you.
    David Stratton is a local resident in nearby Newstead. He is very active in his community and a man on a mission.

    • Hi Margaret,
      My blog reading is rather sporadic these days. I used to spend some time each night relaxing by reading blogs. Now it is saved usually up for the weekends so people might get a rush of comments and then nothing for a few weeks. 🙂
      Thanks very much for reading and commenting. It’s lovely to hear from you. Fortunately on this occasion it was the Binna Burra section of Lamington National Park which is not as bad as the O’Reillys section of road. In fact, I’ve been too nervous to deal with the O’Reillys section again just yet. I will do it soon. Last time I was on it I couldn’t help wondering what what happen if a big bus came the other way. Would we be stuck on the road forever? 🙂 I don’t fancy having to reverse down the winding roads to a slightly wider spot! Perhaps the road has been widened now though.
      So you know David Stratton. Yes, “a man on a mission” is certainly how I would describe him. I will have to look into the availability of trail riders and sherpa training here. I’m not strong enough to be able to help push/carry one myself but perhaps I could find people here who would be interested in helping out. I hope you are well, Margaret. I am seeing a lot of rain happening south. It’s been a wet spring up here too. Best wishes! 🙂

    • Thanks very much. The most danger I was in was from my clumsiness really, although it was warm enough for snakes that day. Fortunately I am a very small person so it was easy for me to get under a lot of fallen logs and branches. My tall friends would have had more difficulty though. Best wishes! 🙂

  22. What a wonderful story. Isn’t it odd how the medical world can tell us what our problem is but never seem to have the answers to help us. I’m slowly working my way back to fitness after knee surgery and being told they look like I’m 20 years older then I am. I’m a local Brisbane girl and have camped and walked around that national park many times. I’m hoping to get more fitness up so I can get back into those walks again. Your photographs were great to look at. Keep walking!

    • Hi Annette,
      Thanks very much for reading and commenting. I hope your recovery from knee surgery is swift. I may need to have an operation myself one day. I do hope you’re able to return to your national park walks again. Yes, it’s a bit disheartening when doctors tell you something is bad but offer no suggestions for a way forward. I just checked out your blog and enjoyed seeing the Boondall Wetlands which I have been meaning to visit for some time now. Your site looks lovely. I like the simplicity and beauty of your title header and philosophy. By the way, I am always looking for walking partners who can tolerate my dreamy slow walking style. Let me know if you’re in the area and perhaps we can meet up. Best wishes. 🙂

  23. Hi Jane,
    I really enjoyed this post and am so glad you finally got to do Ships Stern. Your write up and photos are fantastic. Thanks again to the shout out about my blog. I have been having a bit of a rough time of late and hence my tardy reply to your post. You really are an inspirational person Jane. I really admire how you keep on getting back on the horse so to speak, and keep overcoming the challenges that life throws at you. I know personally how sometimes it can feel easier to just hide and hope it all goes away, but what I love about you and other awesome nature and hiking bloggers out there, is how we go through our tough times, then tie up the shoe laces on our boots and get right back out their again. Keep up the great posts Jane, I really look forward to seeing them arrive in my inbox. 🙂 xx

    • Hi Amanda,
      It was a pleasure to share your blog. You’ve had some tough challenges to face in your life, Amanda. I know you’ve had difficult struggles. I’m so sorry to read that you’ve had a particularly rough time lately. I really hope whatever it is settles down or is relieved soon. No need to apologise for lateness or even to reply at all. Life happens and I certainly haven’t kept up with the blogging world these past few months. I always look forward to your posts as well. I’m so glad you were able to do Larapinta. It’s a great achievement. I love how people experience walks in different ways and so it’s always fun to read your posts of walks that I have done too. I was very concerned about snakes on this walk. Reading that you had a close encounter made me think I was either lucky or perhaps my blind old eyes just didn’t notice them much! Some of those overgrown paths were a little nerve-wracking! It was also interesting to read how your grandparents had a rougher track to deal with. I’m glad it has improved as I found it challenging enough on a hottish day. Anyway, thanks for the nice words and I really hope life improves for you soon. I am sure many people find your own blog inspiring, Amanda. I do. 🙂 Best wishes. xx

  24. A beautiful celebration of the spirit of adventure and the possibility for things to change. Thanks Jane. You embrace these so clearly and I’m really grateful for your second chance. Best wishes Gail 🙂

    • Thanks very much, Gail, for your lovely comments. I’m sorry I took so long to reply. This was in my spam box for some reason. I must remember to check it for legitimate comments regularly. I hope I can be as positive about life when my body starts to fall apart again. I’m sure there will be a bit of complaining… 😉 Have a beautiful weekend. 🙂

    • Hi Steve,
      It’s wonderful to hear from you. 🙂 Thanks for thinking of me during your trip. The Valley of Fire State Park will have to go on my list of places to see if I ever make it to Nevada. I do get a thrill out of rock patterns! I’ve not had much chance to explore lately. Life has been extra busy and now my 20 year old car has decided it wants to die. I expect you took lots of interesting abstracts of the rock patterns so I look forward to viewing those when I return to your blog. Please forgive me for my absence. Best wishes! 🙂

      • Not to worry about blog absence. To worry about a car becoming recalcitrant after 20 years; sorry to hear about it.

        We’ve been away from Austin for 11 days already and will probably be out for at least that much longer. Photographs from the trip will follow some time after we return. I would have taken many more pictures at Valley of Fire but we had overcast skies and several episodes of rain, mostly brief but one rather heavy and lasting half an hour or so. This is a place we’d love to return to when skies are bright blue, as they usually are in the desert. I do hope you make it there one day. Forget the glitz of Las Vegas (which we used as a base) and head for the colorful hills.

        • Ah, yes, gloomy skies are not signature Steve pics! I hope you’re able to return for some dazzling blue. It does make for beautiful contrasts in photographs, especially when it comes to desert shots. I can’t say I’ve ever wanted to visit Las Vegas, but colourful hills – they’re my kind of thing, for sure. I hope you continue to enjoy your travels and I look forward to enjoying your superb offerings when you share them. Safe travels. 🙂

  25. Your blog posts are a treat -, always thoughtful, always funny, always a great read, and so many beautiful images (just love the spinebill and the thrush). I had a lovely day on that walk years ago with some great colleagues taking photos for the Gold Coast Great walk topo map and website, and the photos brought back some good memories of times spent in green light.

    “Many people don’t dare to approach Nature any more. To them the world they were born to enjoy is all threat; to them security is a steel river thundering on a concrete road. And much of their thinking takes place while waiting for the traffic light to turn green.

    I say that the green of forests is the mind’s best light. And none but the man on foot can evaluate what is basic and everlasting.”

    [http://www.da5u.com/ (Quoted in http://www.wettropics.gov.au/fromtheheart/4-the-mossman-falls.html)%5D

    • Wow! Thanks for sharing the beautiful excerpt and the link, Rob. I’m also pleased that my post brought back good memories for you. Out of all my fond memories, those experienced sharing special times in nature with close friends and family stand out more clearly, possibly because my senses were heightened by being away from artificial surroundings. In Melbourne, a friend took me to Hanging Rock, another memory to hold close. You really are most kind in your praise of my posts, Rob. All I can say is thank you for being such a positive, supportive human being. When I am feeling down and insecure it picks me up no end to read such comments from my friends in the blogging world. I hope you get a chance in your busy schedule for more blogging soon. Your photographs are superb! Best wishes! 🙂

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