“I beg your pardon, I never promised you a rose garden.” When I first sat down to write about the Yaddamun Trail, an exposed, hot, dry, hilly, 19 kilometre walk at White Rock Conservation Estate near Ipswich, I recalled my mother singing these words many years ago. The Lynn Anderson hit continues, “Along with the sunshine, there’s gotta be a little rain some time.” In the case of the Yaddamun Trail, more rain and far less sunshine would have been a relief. It would also have been better for you visually if I’d used my Canon to take pictures instead of my cheap $40 emergency phone.
I grew up in rural Australia and like most residents my parents were country music fans. I may have missed out on Mozart and Beethoven, but I’ve got the lyrics of Johnny Cash, Neil Diamond and Tammy Wynette forever branded on my tiny brain whether I like it or not. Sometimes I still exhibit side effects of a country music upbringing when I break out in uncontrollable bursts of Harper Valley PTA. While some younger family members have described this in a less flattering way, I prefer to call it my very minor super power. How many people can remember all the intricate lyrics to such classics as “I Don’t Wanna Play House” ? You’ve never heard of it? Don’t you feel deprived?
That’s enough boasting about my superior musical background. Let’s get down to the details of the actual walk. Well, perhaps not just yet. I need to explain how the Pollyanna Principle is derived. I was first exposed to a much shortened version of the children’s novel, Pollyanna, in the Little Golden Book series when I was 4 years old. Pollyanna used to play the Glad Game in which she would always try to find something to be glad about even in the darkest hour. For example, instead of getting a much desired doll in a charity bin at Christmas, there was only a pair of crutches left, so Pollyanna’s response was to be glad she didn’t need to use crutches. Yes, Pollyanna was an extraordinarily optimistic, thankful child. The Pollyanna Principle refers to the subconscious bias towards the positive.
Sometimes I wonder if our much maligned real estate agents and car sales people are just unappreciated proponents of the Pollyanna Principle. In saying a termite ridden, crumbling house is a renovator’s delight surely they are just being optimistic and pointing out its potential?
Lately I think I’ve been a little too negative in my description of some walking destinations and in an attempt to rectify this I’m going to employ the Pollyanna Principle to the somewhat challenging 19 kilometre Yaddamun Trail. This is the longest marked trail at White Rock-Spring Mountain Conservation Estate in Ipswich, Queensland. Most locals prefer the more scenic 6.5 kilometre White Rock Multi-user Trail and other shorter trails which I have shared multiple posts about.
Last year I began to appreciate the solitude and training opportunities of the lesser known Yaddamun Trail as a way to prepare for my fantasy multi-day walks: the Great Ocean Walk, the Overland Track and the Larapinta Trail. Looking back, it’s possible I may have been in the mood for some hiking self-flagellation or was experiencing temporary insanity as during one hot week I did this walk 3 times. Now, let’s apply the Pollyanna Principle.
The Yaddamun Trail promises an invigorating escape from the modern, claustrophobic climate-controlled working office. The predominantly unshaded 19 kilometre return walk guarantees many hours to obtain bone strengthening vitamin D from the Queensland sun.
This trail is also a veritable time travel machine, taking you back to those more exciting days before mobile phone reception, when we had to drag our broken, bleeding or snake bitten limbs back to civilisation by ourselves because we were unable to phone emergency services. Yes, there is some phone reception but it is unreliable so for those desiring an escape from tiresome work messages the Yaddamun Trail is designed for you.
With wide fire trails there is no annoying scrub to battle through, and by following the high voltage electricity towers, even a directionally-challenged hiking hermit like me is unlikely to get lost.
The abstract beauty of these modern steel architectural forms is best appreciated on a clear day when their surfaces reflect sunlight for kilometres, resembling giant shimmering futuristic scarecrows. As you walk under them, the constant crackling of electromagnetic radiation adds a certain ambience. If you close your eyes you can almost imagine yourself lying in front of a raging fire in a romantic alpine cabin.
The undulating hills ensure a healthy cardiac workout, and who needs an expensive sauna when this trail promises bucket-loads of detoxifying perspiration.
Why pay to attend a retreat when the monotonous rhythmic plodding of the Yaddamun Trail sends you into a meditative zone envied by Zen masters the world over. With no pesky awe-inspiring views and much less wildlife than other White Rock walks you won’t be distracted from your meditative state.
Anaemic, pale-skinned walkers like me will finish with a free Bahamian tan, as red dust clings to every sweaty surface and fills every crevice.
Now if you’ve ever contemplated an army training run or what it feels like to parent a baby who is an atrocious sleeper, the Yaddamun Trail can satisfy those urges. It goes on and on and on and on.
This walk also helps heighten your snake-like senses. Feeling the vibrations of approaching mountain bikers through your hiking boots is useful in avoiding around the bend collisions.
Now here comes the icing on the cake. When you reach the end of the first half of the walk where you need to turn back, there is no jaw-dropping view. There is nothing to tell you that you have reached the “climax” except for a sign that states 9.5 km. In fact, there is nothing to tell you that you now need to turn around, so this is where you get to practise those long dormant maths skills by multiplying 9.5 km by 2 and (hopefully) obtaining 19 km.
If you want to keep going instead of turning back, I have no idea how far you can continue before the road stops or where it even leads to. Why is this lack of rewarding endpoint a positive aspect, I hear you ask? I think that the hiking blogger, Suzie, who I strongly suspect to be a Pollyanna fan also, explains this best. As she says, if you believe that life’s about the journey and not the destination then this is definitely the walk for you.
You will also have that inner sense of comfort that results from the predictability of knowing that you get to cover exactly the same territory on the way back. No nasty surprises like you may find on circuit walks! By now, the glorious Queensland sun has moved across the sky, doubling your total day’s Vitamin D producing exposure to your retinas as you face it on your return.
When you finally arrive at your car, you’ll have the intense satisfaction of knowing you’ve survived one of the hottest walks in the district. What better way to rediscover your gratitude for cold running water, shade and a comfortable tick and midge-free environment? Oh and I almost forgot, if you’ve neglected to carry enough water you may experience the cheap delights of drug-free hallucinations brought on by heat exhaustion.
I hope in Children’s Fiction Land, little Pollyanna is proud of my efforts to play the Glad Game. I’m feeling so much more positive about this walk now that I may even do it again in 5 years when the memory loss kicks in.
Seriously though, I feel privileged to live so close to such a long walk which offers hours of solitude and a litter free environment. It’s hard to believe such an opportunity exists only 10 minutes drive from a major shopping centre and schools.
If you’re interested in the White Rock-Spring Mountain Conservation Estate you’ll find more information in previous posts, Lured by the Big Dog, The Art of Hiking and Seeking Solitude at White Rock . More details can also be found on the Ipswich City Council website or you can print out this pdf guide to the walking trails.
Thank you kindly for reading, and thanks to Pollyanna for the positive inspiration.