The Warrumbungles – Out of the Ashes

Grand High Tops - Warrumbungles

Sometimes I am my worst enemy. Instead of living in the moment, I wasted some of my precious trip at Warrumbungle National Park berating myself for not allocating more time for exploration, and then wasted even more energy berating myself for berating myself. There may have also been some energy expended berating myself, for berating myself, for berating myself.  Ah yes, it’s time for a brief glimpse into the terrifying misfirings of the Jane brain. You’ve been warned!

Warrumbungles

If you’ve followed my blog from the beginning, you may have guessed that I struggle with depression and anxiety.  While I would rather keep this information to myself, it’s sometimes necessary to inform people so misunderstandings about my social absences are averted.

Warrumbungle flower

However, an onslaught of unsolicited advice can be a negative outcome of this disclosure.  “You should try positive thinking, yoga, meditation, religion, mindfulness, special diets, exercise, therapy, magnets, colonic irrigation, this drug or that drug…” The list is endless. While I certainly understand that people are only trying to be kind and helpful, when you’ve lived with these conditions for over 40 years, you’ve already obtained a PhD in knowing what works and what doesn’t in your individual situation.

Warrumbungle flower

My conditions have a strong genetic component and are also exacerbated by chronic childhood trauma, situational factors, and other health conditions. Over the years I have learned that in my case it is something to be managed, not cured. Searching for a magic elixir just led to bitter disappointment and frustration. Like in the case of other ailments, sometimes acceptance is the key to management of symptoms.

Warrumbungle flower

One major aim of my Warrumbungle adventure was relaxation. It was also to be a reconnaissance trip to check out the facilities at the Warrumbungles before committing to a full week in the area. I would drive 800 kilometres on day 1, spend a full day casually exploring short walking tracks on day 2, and return home on day 3 so I could be back in time for other commitments. I gave myself firm instructions not to regret this decision.

yellow flower

However, thrilled to be back in western New South Wales again, I began to dread returning home almost as soon as I arrived. Why didn’t I arrive one day earlier? Why drive so far only to stay one day? The “what ifs” and “whys” came fast and furious. If you’ve read my blog post, The Pilliga – All the Light We Cannot See, you’ll understand my attachment.

In fact, the phrase, “All the light we cannot see,” has relevance to a very special feature of Warrumbungle National Park. In 2016, it was declared Australia’s first International Dark Sky Park due to its extremely low light pollution, effectively awarding it a “million star” camping accommodation rating. Nearby Siding Spring Observatory provides astronomical thrills rarely seen.

In 2013, a catastrophic wildfire burnt over 90% of Warrumbungle National Park.  Not only was I planning to enjoy a spectacular starry night sky,  I was also curious to see what had risen from the ashes.

Warrumbungles fires

Over the years, I’ve observed that despite the ravages of weather events and human activity, the natural world is surprisingly resilient.  I wanted to be uplifted by the resilience of the Warrumbungles. I hoped that I, too, could rise from my latest pile of ashes. Is the Warrumbungle National Park recovering? Did it lift my spirits?

The name “Warrumbungle” is a Gamilaroi  (Gamilaraay) word meaning “crooked mountain” and the area has been a spiritual place for Gamilaroi, Wiradjuru and Weilwan people for thousands of years.

Warrumbungles Split Rock

Located near Coonabarabran in New South Wales, the Park is a startling vista. Originally a massive volcano, thousands of years of erosion have left only the internal workings. Domes, dykes and spires form a dramatic landscape. Surrounding these projections is thick Pilliga sandstone, a product of ancient inland lakes.

Warrumbungles

The jagged Warrumbungle Range divides the vast expanse of the dry western plains from the rolling hills and mountains towards the coastline in the east.  Vegetation more suited to moist, cool areas borders arid species. For this reason it has often been referred to as “where east meets west.”

Warrumbungles

After setting up my tent at Camp Blackman, I was anxious to grab my camera and head off exploring, mindful that I had an 800 km drive home the following day.

campsite

As I followed the trails of the Wambelong Track, Burbie Canyon Circuit and a little of the more challenging Belougery Split Rock Trail, I found evidence that the Warrumbungles is healing. Due to the intensity of the wildfires, some of the more vulnerable species have gone forever, but others are gradually recovering.

For those who have known the Warrumbungles before the fires, the current state will obviously still be a sharp contrast to what they remember, however, compared to predictions made in the immediate aftermath of the fire, the recovery is surprising, especially considering significant drought conditions in recent years.

Warrumbungles trees

Black skeletons and charred fallen trunks are evidence of the fire’s ferocity, but below them the regrowth is encouraging.

Warrumbungles burnt trees

Signs warn of the continued danger of falling trees post-fire.

warning sign

Many hillsides are no longer barren, but have reasonable coverage.

Warrumbungles

Kangaroos and wallabies were in abundance.

Warrumbungle kangaroo

Warrumbungles kangaroo

And bright green moss has also made a vibrant return.

Moss

Ever resilient fungi can be found adding colour to the dull undergrowth.

Warrumbungles fungi

Warrumbungles fungi

Warrumbungles fungi

Some trees and shrubs are thriving, but are intermingled with dead species.

Warrumbungles

Warrumbungles regrowth

Winter rain has encouraged green patches along creek beds and in rock depressions.

Warrumbungles growth

Warrumbungles growth

Warrumbungles

Currawongs, kookaburras, robins, tree creepers,  magpies, butcherbirds, pigeons, wrens and parrots made an appearance.

Warrumbungles cockatoos

Crested pigeon

yellow eastern robin

At one point I managed to break up my ruminations by performing, “I’m a little teapot, short and stout…”

Warrumbungle shadow

If you’re a lover of rocks, the Warrumbungles is the place to be…

Split Rock

Warrumbungles

Warrumbungles walk

Warrumbungles

I don’t think I’ve ever been in a national park with as many warning signs as the Warrumbungles. You know you’ve left the city when you see notices such as these.

Warning snakes

I’m not terrified of snakes but once inside the toilet, a rapid escape is made tricky by the heavy door.

Toilet

To make up for raising your heart rate, national parks employees kindly provided an unusually luxurious surprise – soft toilet paper!  I pondered this amazing discovery for a full ten minutes and even took a photograph because I didn’t think you’d believe me!  Ah, simple pleasures.

Toilet paper

Fly sign

However, when I turned on the tap to wash my hands, the tank was dry.  Those pesky giant bees must have been very thirsty.

warning bees

After a very late lunch back at my tent, I grabbed my camera again and headed off on the 5 km Belougery Flats Circuit, hoping to catch the changing colours of the magnificent rocky outcrops in the sun’s dying rays.

Warrumbungle trees

The scenery on the Belougery Flats trail contrasted with the previous walks. I imagine some long exposed sections would be baking hot in summer.

Belougery flats walk

Warrumbungles walk

Warrumbungles

Warrumbungles

As the sun disappeared a little too quickly below the horizon, I realised I’d been careless not to bring my backpack with headlamp, phone, personal locator beacon, and emergency foil blanket.

Warrumbungles

It seemed like I had walked for kilometres, but was still heading away from where I imagined the campsite to be. Had I taken a wrong turn? Being dressed only in light hiking trousers and a long-sleeved shirt, it probably wouldn’t be ideal to spend a night in below zero temperatures. New South Wales had been hit by a cold blast that week, with snow flurries and heavy frosts on my way to the Warrumbungles.

A little panicked, I broke into a fast jog (normal walking speed for most people), and was relieved to see a solitary campfire in the distance. I was on the right path after all, but my poor directional sense made me doubt myself.

I made a quick fire of my own to heat dinner, boil water for my thermos,  and gain a little warmth, before tucking myself into my tent for the night.

camp fire

After a few restless hours, I transferred my frozen body to my little car where it was marginally warmer. I spent the rest of the night mildly uncomfortable, but  was compensated by a dazzling million-star sky through my window.

It seems I chose an overly ventilated tent for this trip and a sleeping bag not rated for the freezing conditions.  I eventually nodded off for a couple of hours and was woken by a sunrise over the observatory.  Being cold and uncomfortable is surprisingly good for motivating oneself to get up and leave early. The thought of a deliciously warm car heater was highly enticing.

Cold fumbling fingers led to breakfast spillage which attracted an onslaught of hungry eyed currawongs. I’ve only seen two currawongs at a time before, so the appearance of this group was a unique experience.

Currawongs

Their bright yellow eyes and strong sharp beaks are a little intimidating in such high numbers.

Currawong

I survived their ravenous attentions and drove off at the breakneck speed of 30 km per hour on the kangaroo-clad winding road to Coonabarabran, glad to be warm at last in my heated car, but tearful to be leaving such a special place.

Despite the lack of sleep, I was buzzing from my experience, particularly the incredible clear night sky studded with stars. I’d temporarily overcome paralysing anxiety and energy-sapping depression to finally make it to the Warrumbungles.  One day I hope to return to complete the Breadknife-Grand High Tops and Mt Exmouth walks and view a spectacular sunrise from White Gum  Lookout.

The Warrumbungle National Park is rising slowly but surely from the ashes, as am I.

Split Rock

62 thoughts on “The Warrumbungles – Out of the Ashes

    • Thank you for your kind support as always, John. I’m thankful to have made a connection with you via the magic of the Internet all those years ago. Wishing you happiness and health as well. 🙂

    • Thank you, Susan. You are too kind. The Warrumbungles is a very special place and I really enjoyed sharing it with you. I know you have fond memories of your time spent in Australia many years ago. I hope you are well. Best wishes. 🙂

    • Thank you, Tiffany. I’m glad you enjoyed the Warrumbungles post. It’s a great place to escape the stresses of modern life and the night sky is incredible. 🙂

  1. With Susan I say, ‘how brave you are!’ Probably braver to decide to plan this trip and actually get in your car than to take the walks and cope with the overnight camp. I have no advice to give concerning your health problems but you have my sympathy and love and my partial understanding of your difficulties; as you know, both my daughters have mental health issues.
    I am so pleased you visited the Warrumbungles and have shared your photos and memories. I am very impressed by the soft toilet paper in the campsite toilet! I must also show my ignorance and ask what that yellow thing is on the rock. I love the photos of the birds and the kangaroo with those long baby legs sticking out of her pouch!
    Take care, my dear Jane and enjoy the cooler winter temperatures. We are currently ‘enjoying’ cooler summer temperatures at the moment. 12 degrees C today!

    • Hi Clare, I’m so glad you enjoyed my trip to the Warrumbungles. I’ve been wanting to visit the area for a long time and had the feeling that if I didn’t go that week, I never would. I hope to be back again in winter/spring as the cool days are perfect for walking. The kangaroo mum’s overflowing pouch amused me too. Surely she can’t move very far with that huge joey! Finding such high quality loo paper was a surprise, indeed. I am thankful for small comforts these days! Haha. Thank you for your love and understanding regarding my mental health issues. I already knew you would be supportive in that regard though, given your experience with your daughters. I do hope you are looking after your own health as well and have some time to relax amongst your responsibilities. It can be so difficult to find the time to focus on your own needs when you are so busy. All my best. x

    • Oh, Clare. I forgot to explain what the yellow thing on the rock is. Sorry! It’s a reflective marker used to guide walkers along the path. I’d never seen ones like that before. I assume it would be very useful if you are walking at night.

  2. Great place and good writing as usual. By writing about dark skies and areas designated to protect them, you help raise awareness of the blight of light pollution. Thanks for that!

    • Thanks very much, Hernán. The negative effects of light pollution are not so well-known in the general population. I admit to being a little ignorant of the topic until preparing for my trip to the Warrumbungles. The effect on many species is significant, in some cases dramatically decreasing numbers and in others, increasing it. I remember reading how newly hatched baby turtles may be attracted towards inland lights instead of towards the moonlight over the sea. Shearwaters and penguins on Phillip Island are more examples. It also affects human well-being. Interestingly, my paternal grandparents had a very strict sleep regime. They always went to bed at 8pm each night. My grandfather lived to be 104 and my grandmother has surpassed him. They had good health until their late 90s. Their own parents and children have not fared so well and did not value sleep as much. I often wondered if sleep regime played a major role in their longevity! 🙂

  3. Hi Jane
    A great post (as usual). You have a wonderful way with words. And you are a great photographer too.
    It is decades since I was last in the warrumbungles, and would love to revisit. I love that sort of country and was blown away by the Flinders Ranges a couple of years ago.. I think that tiny blue flower is what goes by the strange name of Fuzzweed (vittadinia sp)
    Barrie

    • Hi Barrie,
      Thanks for those encouraging words. Despite the chilly night conditions and the long drive, I loved being at the Warrumbungles and hope to return in the near future to explore more walks. I love the ocean, mountain forests, and the outback areas and I will visit each depending on my mood. I tend to avoid crowds so finding a quiet spot on the beach or even in rainforest walks these days is not so easy. After speaking to a ranger at the Warrumbungles by phone, I found out that the National Park is usually very quiet in chilly weather, so I jumped at the chance for solitude. There was only one other tent in the grounds I chose and they were set up so far away that I never heard them. Once the sun set, all was silent. Thanks for identifying Fuzzweed for me. I bought a booklet called “Flowers of the Warrumbungles” but none of my finds were in there, so I suspect most may be regarded as weeds! The Flinders Ranges do look beautiful in pics. I hope to see them one day. 🙂

  4. It is always a pleasure to see one of your posts in the reader. This one was a cracker. You chose a good spot for your brief visit and I am glad you got back to your tent in time even if it was too thin.

    • Thanks, Tom! It’s a pleasure to share such a special place with you. I’m pleased you enjoyed my recount and if you describe it as “a cracker” then I am happy, indeed. Yes, I’m glad I made it back to my tent as well! Sometimes when focusing on taking shots I lose track of time and direction and I must admit to feeling a few minutes of panic that I might not find the campsite again. I was never in any real danger, but it did make me think of stories of lost hikers found dead from hypothermia just a short distance from their destination. My cautious nature is a bit of a family joke usually, so this was very uncharacteristic. It reminded me of my childhood when we’d leave the house barefoot, without food or water, and disappear for hours. We didn’t carry emergency backpacks then. 🙂

  5. Great to hear from you again Jane, I wondered how you were going. Thanks for sharing more of your story, as it is difficult dealing with our past pain, and you described the situation well, we may not heal but we maintain ourselves to press on. You are the most intrepid woman ever. Loved your blog and photos, amazing to travel so far for so short a time. Loved the bungles, my son-in-law’s parents live at Coona. Will keep you in prayer dear Jane, though I can never know your pain, I can empathize to some degree. Enjoy your week and rest. Maybe a read of my ‘Birder Sanctuary’ page of my website may or may not be of some encouragement to you.

    • Hi Ashley. Thanks for your words of understanding, support and encouragement. I had to laugh at your description of me being intrepid though. I’m a scaredy-cat in many ways and often known for avoiding risks! Whenever I read in a walk description that “some scrambling” may be required I shudder! I appreciate the sentiment though and it did put a smile on my face. My middle child is currently adventuring with a group of friends in New Zealand. He decided not to give me his itinerary as he doesn’t want to worry me unnecessarily about his activities. He’s the one who told me at the age of 5 that he wanted to bungee jump out of a helicopter so goodness knows what he is doing at the moment! Haha. He did ring me from a llama farm last night which doesn’t sound too extreme, but I believe there’s some white-water rafting and glacier activity on the cards. Being a parent never ends… 🙂

  6. Hi Jane I only recently discovered your fantastic blog, amazing photos. Just want to say I relate to what you were saying, thank you for sharing. The Warrumbungles were a recent escape for me to, feeling especially burnt out by work, which acerbates my depression, my other half thought a few days in the Warrumbungles might help, it did. Amazing park, great walks. The tyranny of distance is a problem and that eight hour drive is a killer, but so worth it. Loved the photos, especially the yellow robin. And the currawongs, my work place seems to have a large flock, they often congregate on a building opposite mine and herald my exit from work in the afternoon and are often familiar companions on a lunch time walk in the Japanese Gardens which are part of my campus, always thought the collective noun for rooks; a parliament, seemed apt for the currawongs.

    • Hi Sharon. Yes, I noticed you followed my blog recently and had been reading my posts. Thank you very much for showing so much interest and for taking the time to give such an enthusiastic comment. That’s very kind of you. Whenever I tried to click on your icon I couldn’t access your blog though. Perhaps it is private and I need to request to follow you? I’m not savvy about these things, I’m afraid! I wonder if you were at the Warrumbungles at the same time as me? I was there last week. I’m so glad that your trip helped you also. As you said, even though it’s a long drive out there, the landscape, night sky and peace make it worth it. It’s certainly a great escape from work. I’m not sure where you are located, but if your partner is unable to go with you on another escape, perhaps send me an email and we may be able to co-ordinate something? I often hike solo but sometimes it’s relaxing to walk with like-minded people and share a few laughs. As for the currawongs, I had no idea that this might not be unusual behaviour for them. I’d never seen more than two adults before until the Warrumbungles. There is a pair who breed in my yard regularly and I watch them raise their chicks. That’s very interesting that there is a large flock near your workplace. Thanks for sharing that observation. Yes, a parliament of currawongs sounds most apt! Although, given some of the parliamentarians these days, it might be an insult to the currawongs… 😉

    • Thank you, Tracy! Yes, the Pilliga…happy sigh. There is something about that whole region that draws me back again and again. I feel most at home there I think – like all the pieces fall into place. Like hopping into a hot shower when you are cold. I can’t explain why really. I hope life is going well for you. 🙂

    • Oh Marina, thanks for that poetic response to my blog post! Loved it! You’ve got me smiling now. Perhaps I will insert it as a quote in the blog post. Happy hiking to you, too! 😀

  7. It was a very pleasant surprise to see your email pop up in my in box this morning Jane. It sounds like you had a nice little adventure. The country looks like it’s coming back well, although you’re right I think a little rain would help. That’s a fair road trip too! I’m hoping for a few more Mildly Extreme posts to help me get through the cold miserable winter down here. Stay safe:)

    • Thanks, Kevin. Yes, it was certainly “a nice little adventure”. I especially enjoyed the changing light on the rock formations and the brilliant starry night. I also appreciated the scenery on the drive there and back which helps reduce the boredom. I have fond memories of visiting my aunt and uncle’s sheep property near Armidale as a child. I remember it being freezing then as well. I also have a soft spot for Guyra and Glenn Innes too, having seen my first snowfall there with my daughter. Heheh…yes, it’s a little chilly down your way! I believe it was around 27C up here today. I’ll see how I go with blogging. I do have a few 1/2 finished drafts that have been lying about for months. We’ll see how much mental energy I have. 🙂

    • Thanks, Brian! Makes me happy to know it may have brought back some good memories for you. I’d love to hear more about your own experiences there. Have you got any old photos of what it looked like pre-wildfire days? I love the place and can’t wait to explore a little more. Next time I need to allocate more time. I had thought about camping at Washpool National Park instead and then driving through Grafton on the way home but the weather was pretty brutal there that week. I hope your dams are full. 🙂

      • You’re welcome Jane. My old photos are prints that’s how long ago I was there. Had a couple of treks but dont know any track names. I have some panoramas (held together with sticky tape) looking towards Siding Springs and the other looking back from there to the Warrumbungles. Wet camping at Washpool isn’t nice lol. Dams not full as the rain wasn’t enough for run-off 😦

        • Yeah, I didn’t start using a digital camera until about 12 years ago so I have boxes and boxes of old pictures. I should really get a scanner to put them on CDs before the silverfish eat them all! What a shame about your dams. I do hope you get some decent rain over the winter months before the hot weather returns. It’s looking very dry up here and out west. A lot of towns have run or will run out of water. 😦

  8. Jane, if driving 800km, trekking for a day, sleeping in the open on a cold winter’s night in snake (and bees)-infested-lands and then driving 800km again is relaxation for you… I officially declare you a member of Paul Hogan’s Order of Badasses!
    Honestly, it’s impressive. Well done and thanks for your posts. It’s nice to know you’re out there, taking pictures of weird (for me) nature and of tiny birds with day-glo yellow feathers like hi-viz jackets.
    Fabrizio

    • Hello Fabrizio! I nearly choked on my breakfast reading your description of my trip. Thank you for the laughs! I think you should be writing my blog posts. You make my adventures sound far more exciting than they really are. 🙂 I usually enjoy driving in country areas (unless I’m very tired.) I can find it quite meditative (apart from the Kamikaze emus and kangaroos at sunrise and sunset.) Now if you want to see me really challenged, force me to drive into the central business district of a major city. I’m having a panic attack just thinking about it! The city can be a terrifying jungle in some ways. I love those eastern yellow robins and see them on many of my walks. They are very inquisitive birds and will fly down to check me out and even follow me for a little while which makes them easy to photograph. I wish I’d thought to describe them as having “day-glo yellow feathers like hi-viz jackets.” As I said, you’d do a much more entertaining job of writing about my trips! Despite seeing kangaroos on a regular basis I never tire of them. I’m Australian and yet I still marvel at how strange they look with their upright stance, long tails and leaping about. Joeys in pouches still retain a high cuteness factor for me. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. Always a pleasure to hear from you. 🙂

  9. Always a treat to have a new blog post from the intrepid ‘just a short drive’ traveller.

    There’s always such restorative opportunities in our amazing national parks, but challenges too. On the one hand the walking, space and wonderful nature all around allows the chance to reflect on the big picture and reflect on where we are at, the positive things and personal victories in the face of what may seem like insurmountable odds over the years. Not to mention, as you point out, the resilience of nature after catastrophe. But then, how easily do we doubt ourselves when we think we might be lost, and suddenly the place is all a bit threatening. It’s happened to me many times. However, its a good thing really – knowing your experience, if you were lost out there overnight, i am certain you would draw on inner reserves and get through it, maybe with a bit of frostbite! I think these places remind us that while life is fragile and unpredictable, we, like nature, can be resilient and emerge from crises stronger and wiser. You, like this wonderful bit of wildness, are a survivor.

    Great writing as always Jane, and thanks again for sharing this with us.

    Cheers, stay strong and take care, Rob.

    • Ah, Rob, you’ve said exactly what I wanted to say about the experience but couldn’t find the right words. That would have made a perfect concluding paragraph in my blog post! That’s what I was grasping to articulate. Thank you for those wise words. Yes, it’s amazing how one can feel so inspired, so energised and so at peace and then how quickly one can swing the other way through sudden doubts. Those few moments of panic were also a reminder of how the natural world can be a dangerous place if we don’t respect it. A sanctuary can suddenly feel very threatening. It was also a reminder of how easy it is for me to doubt my abilities and start blaming myself. I was on the right track and very close to the campsite but fear started to invade my thoughts. It was also a good experience because at that moment I gained an understanding of how even experienced hikers may get into trouble. I’d always been so careful to take a backpack until that day. Sometimes it only takes just one lapse. Thanks for your support, as always, Rob, and reminding me that I am a survivor. Very much appreciated, mate! 🙂

    • Hello Mary Lou. Bedankt voor de leuke reacties. Ik heb echt genoten van het Warrumbungle National Park en ik hoop er snel weer heen te gaan. Beste wensen!

  10. I saved reading this so that I could have my morning coffee and enjoy your adventure at the Warrumbungles. You didn’t disappoint with a bit of humor either (always my favorite part) with the intimidating currawongs and at one point thinking you might be lost and ill prepared for the night. Isn’t it funny how our minds/ego take us to the craziest places of doubt and worry, when our guts seem to assure us all will be well? I think it is the same with our mental health sometimes too. We let the doubt, worry and anxiety take over which can be paralyzing. I’m glad you tapped into your inner adventure girl, and got those hiking legs kicked into gear! Nature is my healing place too – even with the pesky and biting mosquito population that is bombarding us with all of the rain recently. A day in nature (with bugs) is better than any day I’m stuck in the house.

    I truly enjoyed this post, Jane. You are one resilient woman. Keep on hiking and climbing your mountain!!

    • Thanks very much, Lori. You always manage to uplift me with your thoughtful feedback. I’m hoping that my next blog post may contain a little more humour. I’ve done a few silly Jane things on walks of late that may tickle your fancy. They certainly make me laugh at myself! 🙂 I wanted to share some of my mental struggles this time around because I didn’t want people to think I was perfect and to explain my long absence again. It was rather cathartic in a way. I find it difficult to present a smiling facade to the world when I am sometimes on the edge. I hoped that others who feel a similar way would be less harsh on themselves if I opened up more. I am much luckier than my mother who has had an extremely serious mental illness that stops her functioning in many ways since my early childhood. I can go bushwalking, write emails, maintain relationships, go grocery shopping etc. She cannot do these things and has essentially been confined to a chair for years. Haha…yes, I know what you mean about nature and all its bugs being better than being stuck in the house all day! I’d rather be dirty and sweating and tired on a walk with flies buzzing around my face than stuck at home. Thank you very much, dear woman for your continued generous support. When I think of strong and resilient women in my life, I think of you! 🙂

    • Thanks Terry! The Warrumbungles are certainly a contrast to Montana. Apparently the area has some lovely wildflowers in spring and summer. I’d love to return and take shots of them to share with you. I hope you are well. Best wishes. 🙂

  11. Such a pleasure to find your tale of adventure once again! You never cease to amaze me. You claim to be a scaredy-cat, but your travels suggest otherwise. The environment and wildlife are certainly quite different, but there are some striking similarities to seeing the earth reviving after some serious wildfires. We have the same thing going on up in the hills beyond our house. Luckily we don’t have to drive so many miles to see them. I’m having difficulty putting a post together about our explorations. Seems we’re spending too much time in the hills with flowers busting out everywhere and simply enjoying nature somewhat wild. We’ve had two sightings of a black bear, but they happened SO FAST that there was no chance of taking even the wildest of shots. I was far luckier to catch a beaver calmly floating in the creek while chewing on a small branch. Hoping to post that one of these days… if I can figure out how to add a video. I seem to be getting to an age where the mind isn’t quite as sharp as I’ve been used to. That and the fading eyesight makes things a bit difficult. But I’m still having fun and that’s what counts.

    I must add that I’m always very happy to see one of your posts. Keep ’em coming and stay safe… 😀

    • Thanks very much, Gunta. It’s great to hear from you again! I thought you (and everyone else) may have understandably given up on me. 🙂 I hardly ever blog these days. I’ve actually been doing a lot of walking and picture taking but writing has become a real struggle. I used to find it so easy to do, but I’ve almost developed a phobia to sitting at the computer screen and typing now. I have so much I could share if only I could concentrate for long enough and remember enough details to compose a draft! I’m hoping it’s just temporary, but I AM getting older… My last adult child left home this year, a close elderly relative is unwell, and I had a few physical health issues that occurred so I guess I’ve been going through some transitional changes which take up mental energy. Anyway, enough complaining! I’ve loved getting back into walking again and have spotted quite a few new birds and plants. I think it’s wonderful that you are spending so much time exploring the hills. Enjoy your beautiful surroundings while you can, I say. It sounds magical. Black bears? How exciting! And beavers too! It’s lovely to be able to share photos and accounts, but if you are happy doing what you are doing and your eyes are not so great these days, then don’t feel pushed to blog. I often feel guilty about not having blogged but I really shouldn’t worry. Your comment has reminded me to stress less about not sharing all my walks. You sound very content! I’m so glad. Happy hill-walking. 🙂

      • Oh no, we your fans, just hang around and wait for the next episode… when ever that might be!  Honestly, I’m having problems doing much blogging myself. Seems as though life just takes over sometimes. Lucky me, it happens to be taking over in a good way, thus the writing part is a struggle. The same can happen of course if it isn’t in such a good way. Sometimes it just takes time to smooth out the kinks. 😀 But I can’t hardly put the camera down and then there’s so many shots to sort through. Mind you, I’m not complaining. There’s really no rule or law that regulates when or how much we blog. Is there? Regardless, it’s just fun going back through the scenes to help me remember them. Aren’t we all getting older? At 75, the details tend to get a bit fuzzy, so it makes the visual reminders all the more precious.

        • Thanks again, Gunta. I think you are doing marvelously well for 75. I’ll be happy if I am half as active as you when I reach my 70s! Yes, I love my camera too. There is so much to record out there. Like you, I enjoy going back through my albums and reliving the experiences. I find myself smiling as I’m being transported back to these beautiful spots through pictures. Happy wanders! 🙂

    • Bedankt MaryLou! Ik heb altijd je blog gevolgd, maar om de een of andere reden moet WordPress een fout hebben gemaakt en je niet meer volgen. Ik heb dat nu opgelost door je blog opnieuw te volgen. Je blog heeft prachtige foto’s en informatie waar iedereen van kan genieten. Beste wensen. 🙂

  12. I loved your post and was encouraged to read that the Warrumbungles are reviving. It is always sad to see such devastation after a burn of this magnitude, and yet, nature survives it and grows back amazingly fast. Doesn’t it? I am curious: After a burn do your woods and forests break out in wild flowers like the foothills and mountains in California do? In that locale the wildflower seeds need charring and heat to crack the seedcase and grow! It is always amazing and beautiful to see and takes some of the sting out of all the devastation.

    I suffer with similar afflictions to yours and I am in your camp. I don’t want nasty meds that make you dead emotionally. I’d rather just wait it out. Best to find something I like doing, gardening and quilting in my case, and go after it when I am feeling up to it. 🙂 We all benefit from the fact that hiking and photography seem to be your best remedy! ❤

    • Thanks, Lynda! I often find beauty in the after-effects of bushfires. The flush of green shoots against the blackened earth and the germination of native seeds that need the heat of fires are aspects I really look forward to. There is something very comforting and uplifting about the cycle of life and death. Death eventually brings forth new life. Having said that, some bushfires are extremely devastating in Australia and the one at the Warrumbungles was a very serious one, indeed. Certain species (such as black pines) are completely killed by excessive heat. From reading articles about the fires there, it seems likely that the area will be changed forever. There was no escape for the koalas and many rock wallabies as over 90% of the park was burnt by a high intensity fire. Aboriginal people would often “care for the land” by regular burns which meant uncontrolled high intensity wildfires were less likely. When “fuel” underneath forest trees becomes high, the fires can roar through the treetops causing extreme danger. I’m not an expert, but I’ve read that the regenerative effects of Australian forests post-fire depends on the intensity of the flames and how long the area continues to burn for and what rain follows. I’m assuming that like your Californian foothills and mountains, some places in Australia might erupt in wildflowers after fires. Many of our native shrubs and plants such as grass trees certainly do need fires to help germinate seeds. I’m hoping to visit Western Australia this spring and the Grampians in Victoria as the wildflowers are meant to be spectacular after winter rains. I don’t often see large areas of native ground wildflowers where I am currently based. It’s more flowering shrubs and trees like wattle and eucalypts where I walk.
      I’m just trying to put together a blog post about a spot I’ve been revisiting a great deal over the past month. It’s not a new walk but I love how I am still surprised by what creatures may turn up. The weather, the season and the crowd level certainly make a difference! Walking in nature and taking photographs really help my anxiety and depression. Like you, I also enjoy spending time in my garden. I used to enjoy handcrafts but my fingers aren’t so great these days. On one of the sheep properties, I spun raw sheep’s wool using a wheel which was quite meditative. Thanks for your support and encouragement, Lynda. Your kind words are much appreciated. 🙂 x

  13. So good to hear from you Jane.

    The magnificence of a really clear night sky is something few people get to experience any more. It’s good for putting things in perspective–we are such incredibly insignificant specks. A realization that can be depressing or liberating, depending on how you look at it, I guess.

    As for your depression and anxiety, I think many of us struggle with both to some degree. If it’s any comfort, you are at a time of life that smacks you in the face with anxiety-producing changes–children leaving home, care for elderly relatives, increasing health issues–and on and on. Some of those changes will settle down and even out as you get older, making for a little more serenity. That’s been my experience, any way. Keep walking on and enjoying all the beauty that you can.

    • It’s good to hear from you, too, Brenda. Thank you very much for your thoughtful comments. Yes, you’re right about my life circumstances being a bit topsy-turvy in the last couple of years. Aging relatives, children leaving home, and my own body going through some changes do have an impact. Some things are already starting to settle a little, thankfully.
      I find a beautiful night sky uplifting. Starlight, sunlight, and moonlight are probably healthier for our minds than artificial screens and houselighting. I always feel deeply emotional in a positive way when I stare at a clear outback night sky. The vastness of it – the countless glittering stars – give me such a buzz. I think we need to look at the stars more often than we do. It can be difficult with all the light pollution around these days though. I’m looking forward to visiting the Warrumbungles again (with a warmer sleeping bag!) Best wishes. 🙂

    • Yes, I’ve seen shots of similar terrain from the US. In fact, I think you could probably find scenes in Australia similar to many different regions overseas. I’ve heard tourists tell me that parts of Australia remind them of England, South Africa, Florida, the South of France, Canada etc. It’s such a diverse continent. I’ve barely seen any of it. I’m hoping to finally make it to the other states in the next year or so.
      Seeing the falling tree sign at the beginning of my walk was a little unsettling. Luckily my skull is still intact. Thanks for reading my story and commenting, Steve. 🙂

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