Return to Mt Barney – A Message from Beyond

In The Power and the Passion, I wrote about my disappointing first encounter with the Lower Portals section of Mt Barney. Knowing how changeable a region can be depending on season and weather, and also how my mood and health can affect first impressions, I returned on multiple occasions in 2019 and early 2020. I even camped for a few chilly nights in winter.

My return trips were also inspired by two women. Terri was a wild child. She was also creative, caring, passionate, and adventurous. I hadn’t seen or spoken to her since I was ten years old, when my family abruptly left the region. In 2019, vivid memories of my time with her sent me searching online for an update. I was shocked to discover she had died unexpectedly of a heart attack just a few months before, at the age of 50. I was also surprised and saddened to learn she’d never been able to leave the tiny rural town and that her later years had been extremely troubled. The Terri I remembered had been a talented creative writer and artist, eager to explore the world.

Young Terri would have loved the views of the wild and challenging peaks of Mt Barney National Park, so I decided to take one of my rare pieces of childhood memorabilia associated with her up to Yellow Pinch Lookout.  It was Terri who had been able to somehow persuade my parents to let me join Brownies – a club for children too young to join Girl Guides. If you knew the complexities of my family situation at the time, you’d appreciate this was quite a feat. In fact, Brownies was the only official organisation I was involved in during my entire youth.

Yellow Pinch Lookout

It amuses me that the only badge I earned during my very brief “glory” days in Brownies was for swimming – an activity I usually avoided due to an extreme lack of interest and ability. I’m a paddler, not a swimmer. I’d much rather explore rock pools for creatures or search the shoreline for interesting shells, and flotsam and jetsam than submerge my sun-sensitive pallid limbs in the domain of sharks and jellyfish. My swimming badge is a reminder though of my friend Terri’s persuasiveness and enthusiasm for a challenge. I only wish her adult life had matched her childhood dreams.

As the date of my Mt Barney trip drew near, my motivation and confidence flagged and I was at the point of cancelling my plans until I discovered something floating in my backyard bird bath – a Scout’s Explorer badge. It seemed a strange coincidence. Was it a sign perhaps that Terri was with me in spirit? Had she left me this message via one of the local avian kleptomaniacs? She was always a master at enthusiastically persuading me and others to do anything. I decided to take what may have been Terri’s “message from beyond” up to the lookout as well. 

The other woman who inspired me to make a further trip to Mt Barney was someone I met at Yellow Pinch Lookout while I was honouring Terri.  She was checking for phone messages as there was no signal in the camping grounds and I asked her what the facilities were like. She began describing a night encounter which sent my heart racing, not from terror, but because I’m an obsessed wildlife enthusiast.  The young woman had been sleeping inside a swag tent and during the night her bread bag attracted the attention of a range of wildlife. It had been a freezing night and she didn’t want to get out of her warm cocoon to put food back inside her vehicle, so spent many sleepless hours fending off hungry nocturnal beasts from her swag tent. Eager to replicate her experience, I rang Mt Barney lodge that very afternoon and booked a camping trip.

The Mt Barney Lodge campgrounds are huge and border a flowing creek. Instead of choosing a campsite close to the amenities block like a woman with a middle-aged bladder should do in winter, I picked a site as far away as I could. This was to maximise my chances of thrilling wildlife encounters. Yes, this was the main goal of my camping trip – to have my sleep interrupted by wildlife. I had absolutely no desire to scale the terrifying heights of the Mt Barney peaks or even to complete any other walking trails.

A chill descended as I prepared my campsite during the sun’s dying rays. Fire pits are available but you need to bring your own firewood or buy a bag for $10. I had no need for a whole bag of firewood and wanted to reduce my environmental footprint so I figured I could just tuck myself into my sleeping bag early. 

Just as I’d finished setting up for the evening, a school bus pulled up nearby. Despite my attempts to find the most secluded spot in the camping ground to increase my chances of nocturnal wildlife encounters, I’d been foiled by the arrival of teenagers on a school camping trip.  I abandoned all hopes of creature contacts that night, but was far too amused by the whole situation to be disappointed or annoyed. 

During that first freezing night, I was kept company on my frequent toilet visits by small groups of female students also needing the facilities. I wondered if the school trip organisers had considered the needs of young women when they chose that distant site. I assume they wanted to minimise disturbing other campers. At least we had the light of a full moon to guide our shivering steps across the frosty grass.

I did have one quiet visitor to my tent that first night – a red necked wallaby, who also greeted me for breakfast and stole one of my very expensive rock-hard, gluten-free health biscuits.

After a quick nibble, he abandoned it though, obviously of the same opinion as the majority of the human population that they are not really biscuits but glorified chunks of cardboard. I think that was the first time a macropod has ever given me such a look of disgust as if to say, “You’ve got to be kidding me? You call that food?”

Hungry-eyed currawongs also gathered nearby but must have had prior knowledge of the fake food as they didn’t bother to move closer. Meanwhile, the group of school campers tortured me with their raging fire and aromas of hot egg, sausage, and bacon breakfasts.

Morning rays striking Mt Barney made me forget the cold and my less than desirable breakfast.

I need not have worried about missing wildlife as during the day, massive goannas prowl the campground. Their impressive powerful claws could easily tear open a tent or bag in search of food.

I spent many hours that day (and on subsequent trips) exploring the creek along the road to the Yellow Pinch section of Mt Barney National Park. 

From a distant hiding spot I marvelled at the hunting skills of an azure kingfisher.

The next morning I headed out early to explore the 12 kilometre Cronan Creek Falls Trail. It follows part of the Mt Barney summit walks and then branches off into thick forest.  As you can see below, the vegetation varies greatly and includes cleared grazing land, grass tree dotted eucalypt forest, sheoak, vine scrub, and patches of thick rainforest.

When ominous dark clouds gathered over the mountain, I was thankful I’d had no motivation (or ability) to attempt the more challenging summit walks. A burst of small hailstones pelted the exposed rocky sections of the mountain, catching the more intrepid hikers by surprise.  Within the forest I was more sheltered.  Rapidly changing weather conditions add extra risk to the steep rocky terrain of Mt Barney summit walks.

On my last evening in the campground, I managed to scavenge a half-burnt chunk of wood from an empty camp site and stared blissfully into the hypnotic flames before crawling into my icy tent. Terri also enjoyed a good fire in her youth and I remembered the day she boiled up a huge pot of bright pink prickly pear fruit over a bonfire in her friend’s backyard without parental supervision or permission.

This was not to be my last Mt Barney adventure though. In March, 2020, before Covid-19 began affecting travel, I channelled Terri’s persuasiveness and managed to drag the now famous Lycra Man along to the Yellow Pinch section and Cronan Creek Falls track. A buffet lunch kept cool in an Esky helped with the enticement as well as a promise that since I’d already taken hundreds of photographs of Mt Barney, he wouldn’t be dragged down by my usual drunken snail pace. Luckily it was a cool, cloudy day, perfect for hitting the partially exposed trails. As in past walks, Lycra Man bounded along while I plodded painfully behind.

And, as usual, he stood right on the edge of cliff faces, inviting permanent injury or death. In his youth, Lycra Man would jump off his house roof to practise his landing rolls to emulate movie stunt people, sending his mother prematurely grey in the process. I think he would have appreciated Terri. She also loved heights. 

Lycra Man is also a fan of flooded creeks.

And log crossings.

While Lycra Man attempted to add himself to the death statistics of Mt Barney, I managed to sneak away and photograph flowers and critters.

Lycra Man then presented me with a problem. The tread on his old walking shoes was falling off so we’d have to return prematurely and eat lunch. Now perhaps I am a suspicious soul but they looked perfectly fine to me when we started the walk. The damage only seemed to occur after he discovered me lying on the ground photographing an ant.

I suggested his new nickname in the blog could now be Mr Floppy due to his loose tread making a flopping sound as he walked. He seemed strangely averse to that idea. With all the cliff hugging, splashing, and log balancing, he’d had a more adventurous time than usual with me though and is even willing to return. I like to imagine an invisible Terri may have been accompanying us that day, egging him on.

For me the attractions of Mt Barney are not the physical challenges, but the wildlife, the diverse vegetation, the magnificent views, and the silence. Walking there reminds me of adventures with Terri when life was far simpler and our minds buzzed with dreams and schemes.

52 thoughts on “Return to Mt Barney – A Message from Beyond

  1. You’re younger than I but we’ve both gotten to an age when we’re conscious that increasingly many friends and relatives are no longer around. It’s a shame you missed making contact with your old friend by only several months.

    • Thanks, Steve. Yes, it’s a strange transition when you start to use obituaries on a regular basis to search for information about loved ones and past acquaintances. I’ve lost people in my school cohort much earlier than I expected, while at the same time many of my elderly relatives are still thriving in their 80s and 90s. I’m finding too many friends not making it to half that age. Of course with the current world Pandemic, people are losing many loved ones within a very short space of time of time and there is loss on a global scale. I often wake up and wonder if it is all a bad dream. Take good care of yourself, Steve, and I hope you have many more years of excellent photography to come!

        • That’s good news about your vaccine! My daughter is a student doctor in a busy hospital. She was spending shifts in an emergency department wearing full PPE but had to really push to receive her first AstraZeneca dose. She won’t receive her second until June. Fortunately Covid hasn’t ravaged Australia like other countries though so she is fairly safe at present. I’m just relieved she has some protection from a severe case now. Ah, I’m so pleased you and Eve are still so active. Eight hours is quite a long time to be hunting for wildflowers! Not unexpected for you though of course. 🙂

  2. “The limits of my language means the limits of my world.” Ludwig Wittgenstein, philosopher.
    I guess that means, that to the above writing hermit there is no-limits access to the World.
    Thank you for your touching tale with phenomenal photos to match.

    • Thanks very much, Marina. You are kind to say that. I must admit I’m not well versed on Wittgenstein so your quote had me looking up his work and it looks very interesting. I studied some linguistics and language development in children and have done some coursework in teaching English as a second language. The ability to be able to think in a specific language and express oneself in words is important for many people. Knowing multiple languages opens up our world even further. Over the last couple of years, I’ve lost some cognitive functioning and given writing was always an important outlet for me, that’s been somewhat of a challenge. I’m finding alternative avenues for expression though that give me joy. All my best to you and thanks again. Stay well!

  3. That Azure Kingfisher is a stunner! What a beautiful landscape this is. Gotta love our Aussie bush land! Thanks for sharing this story with us. X

    • Thanks very much, Anna. I love the gorgeous colours of azure kingfishers and their impressive fishing skills. I can spend hours observing them. Sunrises and sunsets were definitely my favourite times at the campground. Crepuscular rays give such a spiritual or magical aspect to the mountain and I found it extremely soothing. Yes, the Australian bush is a pretty special place to be! I hope the cyclone weather over in WA doesn’t affect you there. Stay safe. All the best. x

      • Thanks Jane. I think we here down in Perth are going to cop a drenching tomorrow from the cyclone, but that’s all. Would be more scary living up north that’s for sure!

  4. Jane, your post and pictures are wonderful as usual which is no surprise. The bittersweet tone knocked me for a loop. I’m sure Terri is smiling. What a lovely tribute to your friend Thank you for sharing it with us.

    • Thank you, John. As usual, you are always kind and supportive and I appreciate your comments about Terri. I like to think she remembered our friendship as a happy time. She certainly made me smile and laugh back then and that helped take my mind away from some very dark things going on at home. Such a passionate soul. I’m pleased as always to hear your thoughts. Take care and all my best.

  5. I bet you know the part of your story I relished the most was the discarded “fake” food biscuit by the wallaby and currawongs! I’m always ready for a good laugh! It was great to see Lycra man again, and I loved all of your photos from the outing. I believe there is a connection with and a special prompting by Terri. That badge found floating in the bird bath was a clear prompting to go forth with your plans. Oddly, I found a badge in a parking lot one time too, that clearly spoke to me about myself. That badge sits on my kitchen window sill to remind me that we’re all special, just being who we are. Thank you for reminding us all to remember those who have helped us along in this grand journey!

    • Thanks, Lori! Whenever I recall amusing incidents from my walks and attempt to write about them, I think of you and hope you might find the humour in them too. I’m pleased the creature’s disgust with my inedible cardboard biscuits gave you a laugh. Haha. The biscuits are actually quite good when softened in a hot drink but of course the poor critters don’t often sit down for a cuppa with their meals! 😀 How fascinating that you found a badge that spoke to you as well and that you keep it in a special spot. I’ve been taking mine with me in my backpack pocket and enjoy smoothing them with my fingers sometimes to conjure up warm feelings from my childhood. They may need some repair work soon! I was talking to a relative who felt they were not doing enough that helped others in this world. I think we forget sometimes how often the little every day things like a smile and a word of encouragement can leave lasting positive effects. Sometimes it’s such a simple thing that can help others to carry on. I know that Terri’s treatment towards me had a lasting effect. I hope she knows that it did. Take good care of yourself, dear lady. All my best. x

    • Thank you so much as always, dear Susan. Your enthusiasm for my adventures helps me to come back to my blog even after I think there is nothing possibly left to share. Mt Barney is a very special place to me now and I hope one day to return. I apologise for the huge gaps in between posts. I’ve been struggling much more with the written word the past couple of years due to some health issues. My cognitive functioning is not what it used to be. Fortunately, I have rekindled my love for a few other ways to express myself and doing lots of jigsaw puzzles with the encouragement of another puzzling fan is helping keep my brain healthy. I hope the mass vaccinations in the UK helps bring down the massive toll of Covid. I’m so pleased to hear from you. I do hope you are well. Best wishes.

    • Thanks so much, Tiffany. I’m pleased you enjoyed my adventures at Mt Barney. My first visit there which I wrote about in an earlier blog post was rather disappointing but I think it was partly to do with my mood and expectations. My subsequent visits gave me much joy. I know my friend, Terri, would have loved exploring the area in her youth. Best wishes.

    • Great to hear from you again, Curt, and thanks very much for your encouraging support, as usual. I’m sure you would have loved exploring Mt Barney. It’s a unique spot and a favourite for those seeking a challenge or an escape from the chaos of modern life. My favourite times were sunrise and sunset when the crepuscular rays turned the mountain peaks and sky beautiful shades. I know Terri would have had a fantastic time camping and walking in the region. I would have liked to have been able to tell her how much our childhood friendship meant to me but perhaps she already knows. I hope so. I hope you are well there and mass covid vaccinations mean you will be safer soon. All the best.

      • I’m sure I would enjoy the area. Early morning and evening are always my favorite times in the wilderness as well, Jane. But then, any time I spend outdoors is time well spent. 🙂
        A reminder of how important it is to share. Thanks. –Curt

        • Yes, any time spent out in the natural world is pretty special, isn’t it? I’ll endeavour to share more of my old hiking albums. There are quite a few lost in my disorganised hard drive. Haha. Thanks again, Curt. 🙂

    • Heel erg bedankt, MaryLou. Ik stel uw vriendelijke feedback altijd op prijs. Het heeft me veel ontwerpen gekost om dit verhaal te schrijven over mijn reizen naar Mt Barney en mijn herinneringen aan mijn vriend Terri. Ik ben blij dat je genoten hebt van mijn foto’s en woorden. Ik hoop op een dag weer terug te keren naar Mt Barney en de wilde bloemen te zien. Ik ben er nog nooit geweest tijdens het meest productieve bloeiseizoen. Ik hoop dat je veilig en wel in je land bent. De covid-pandemie veroorzaakt bij velen nog steeds veel leed. Beste wensen.
      Thank you very much, MaryLou. I always appreciate your kind feedback. It has taken me many drafts to write this story about my trips to Mt Barney and my memories of my friend, Terri. I’m pleased you enjoyed my photos and words. I hope to return to Mt Barney again one day and see the wildflowers. I’ve never been there during the most prolific flowering season. I hope you are safe and well in your country. The covid pandemic is still causing great suffering for many. Best wishes.

  6. I am glad that you were able to be philosophical regarding the intrusion of the schoolchildren into your peace and quiet.

    I enjoyed both the story and images in this post as usual.

    • Thanks very much for kind support of my blog, Tom. I don’t deserve it when I’ve not been giving feedback on the blogs of others though. I’m pleased you enjoyed my report of Mt Barney. I’ve been trying to write something about it for a long while but have struggled with my cognitive functioning the last couple of years. I’ve temporarily swapped the written word for other forms of expression. Jigsaws and artwork have been a fun way to try to keep my brain active. I find that forming sentences doesn’t come so easily these days. I hope to still write the occasional blog post though. I was actually surprised by how philosophical I was regarding the busload of schoolchildren. I think I must be mellowing these days!

      I saw that the recent UK lockdown may be slowly coming to an end. I really hope the mass vaccination program reduces the risk to you and your loved ones. The roll out is quite slow here and my daughter who is a student doctor in a busy hospital had to plead her case to receive her first AstraZeneca vaccination recently but we can be extremely grateful that Covid hasn’t ravaged our country. We certainly don’t have the same fear that others live with! I hope you stay safe and well, Tom. All my best.

      • Thank you for this comprehensive reply whihc must have been a hard work for you. I am very sympathetic about your cognitive difficulties. You could always fall back on photo only reports of your outings as your photographs are always worth looking at in their own right.
        Mind you, I would miss your running (or walking) commentary as it is always interesting too.

        We are both very well all things considered and looking forward to seeing our family in person again. We have both been vaccinated twice so that does give us some peace of mind.

        We send you our best wishes.

        • Thank you, Tom. I’m so pleased to read that you’ve both had your 2 Covid vaccines, and I hope that you’re able to enjoy a family reunion soon. I will take your advice and share a photo report soon if I continue to find writing stories challenging. I certainly have an abundance of albums sitting on my computer. Best wishes.

  7. Another one of your wonderful and inspiring posts.

    I always read them with a mixture of love and guilt. Love of the natural environment and great Australian outdoors and guilt as I don’t even try to get outdoors these days (a mixture of right hip replacement pain, still, after 4 months, severe lumbar spine nerve pain and now……4 severe heart conditions are my current excuse). I did try 2 weeks ago and found the $%#!! lift in my apartment building was out of action. Stairs are beyond me when I carry my camera gear in a wire shopping trolley outdoors.

    Your exceptional storytelling skill and superb nature photography are a joy to any of us armchair travellers.

    Today, below normal temperatures from an icy Antarctic cold front and rain will keep me indoors (and for the next few days).

    • You are too kind, Vicki. Thank you as always for your ongoing support and encouragement of my blog. I really appreciate your words. I’m pleased you enjoy my adventure stories but please don’t feel any guilt! With all the serious physical conditions you have to deal with I think you are the inspiring one here. Challenge is relative isn’t it? I haven’t actually been on a long walk since my Mt Barney trip with Lycra Man back in early 2020. I’ve developed a condition which among other things gives me flares of parathesia and pain in my hands and feet and also affects my cognitive functioning and eyes. I’m still able to go on gentle walks when I’m feeling well though. In fact, my next blog post will probably be about these nature jaunts close to home and the photographs of little treasures that I see. I still have some albums of older challenging walks I can share so I do hope you’ll enjoy those too if I ever get my brain in gear enough to write them! Haha. Once again, thanks for your lovely comments. Take good care of yourself, and remember…no guilt! All the best. x

    • Thanks very much, Sharon. Mt Barney is a great place to feel like you’ve escaped civilisation, hey? Except on busy weekends and school holidays that is. Heheh. I like that the Barney Lodge camping grounds doesn’t have mobile phone reception and I had to walk to Yellow Pinch Lookout to check for messages. It was one of those rare trips where I felt disconnected enough from social media to truly relax and switch off. I’d like to go back one day when it’s wildflower season. I expect after all this rain the creeks should be flowing well and the vegetation should be much improved. All the best with your adventures and book discoveries!

  8. Hi Jane it’s good to hear from you again, and sad you did not get to catch up with your friend before she passed. Your intrepid spirit can be seen through your heart felt sharing of these inspiring women in your life. I have people who likewise inspired me, and contributed to my pursuits, and some do not even know that they were. Love your narrative as always and great shots. I remember my Cub days, similar to Brownies but in the boys, and then Scouts. We did some adventurous treks in our teens. Your intrepid spirit is an inspiration to us all, and especially to all women who follow this blog.:-)

    • It’s good to hear from you too, Ashley, and thank you for your continued kind support and encouragement. Yes, it’s interesting to think about all the people who have made a difference in our lives. They can range from the strangers whose kind words lifted our spirits on a bad day to those loved ones who have been present for many years. And then there are the people we’ve never interacted with who have comforted and motivated us through their work such as authors, artists, scientists, historical figures, spiritual teachers and so on. My time in Brownies was extremely brief but fun. I certainly wouldn’t have joined if Tracey hadn’t persuaded my parents. She was a real character. I hope you and your loved ones are well and you still have time for your birding trips. Thanks again and all the best!

    • Great to hear from you again, Jolandi! Thank you very much for your continued interest in my blog and for those encouraging words. To be honest, I probably would have cancelled my plans and not returned to Yellow Pinch Lookout if I hadn’t found the explorer badge floating in the birdbath at the last moment. Even though it was probably just coincidence, it reminded me of the way Terri wouldn’t easily let me give up. It made me smile to imagine her encouraging me to head back via a feathered messenger. I do hope that wherever you are now, that you are safe and well. The global pandemic has changed so many things for people all over the world. Once again, thanks for your support. It’s always appreciated. All the best. 🙂

      • I am a great believer in signs, Jane. And I don’t really care if there is any scientific base to them. They help us so often to take risks we otherwise may not have taken, and as such they are so valuable. So coincidence or Terri’s voice from another world, that badge gave you the courage to return to Yellow Pinch Lookout, and it was clearly worth doing so.
        I’m well. Made the move to Portugal, although my husband is still working in Abu Dhabi. The pandemic has added to the challenges, and although some days I find it emotionally difficult to find my feet, I blunder ahead trusting everything will be okay in the end.
        I always enjoy reading about your hiking adventures, especially as you write with such sensitivity and honesty.
        Take care.

        • Totally agree about signs, Jolandi. 🙂 I feel like I’ve received important ones in my life just at the right time that helped me carry on during adversity, or have helped me make a particular choice. I’m so sorry to hear about the challenges and struggles that have been exacerbated by the pandemic. Blundering along, trusting everything will work out, is pretty much my method too. I’ll try not to wait so long to write another blog post if it helps give you a few moments of escape. I do hope there are some positive signs in your life soon of easier times ahead. Uncertainty can be so draining and stressful. All my best. x

          • That is so true, Jane. Uncertainty is very draining indeed. Michael is coming for a three week visit in a couple of days time, and I trust it will help a lot to put some of the struggles into perspective. But such is life – some days are good, some not so much, and it is perhaps the striving towards having more of the good ones that help us to get through adversity. Take care. X

            • I do hope the visit from Michael is a lovely reunion for you and it helps live your spirits, even if it’s only temprorary. Thinking of you and hoping your situation does reach a higher level of certainty. All my best. x

  9. It’s always so good to read your blog posts, Jane — you are a marvelous story-teller. With sensitivity and honesty, as Jolandi said so well. This post is such a fine tribute to the memory of your friend. It’s a reflection of the calibre of your writing and photography that you have such a terrific comment section!

    Memories of trips past are such wonderful and powerful things, the inner landscape of experience and reflection that we carry within us after each journey out. I love that quote from Robert Macfarlane – “We are fallen mostly into pieces but the wild returns us to ourselves.” It’s a bit trickier than that though, isn’t it? ‘Ourselves’ are fragile things, and the voices from the past, and the realisation of the transience of time and place intrudes upon our attempted calm. The wilder places help us put the pieces in place a bit better somehow, or something, so perhaps the ‘returning’ is about coming to a better understanding of all the things that make us ‘ourselves’ — the good, the bad, the myriad things we struggle to comprehend about ourselves as we seek a way forward.

    Loved your Azure Kingfisher photos – are those not the most magical birds? Your stunning blue butterfly is a Blue Argus (Junonia orithya), a special creature — well spotted!

    I scrambled up Mt Barney a few different ways when I was young, and even did a training trip up there with the Federated Mountain Rescue group many decades ago. I recall the sense of ‘exposure’, the smell and feel of the rock, and the immense excitement of standing up top. I must have had some caution in my chaotic youth, as on my last trip to the top, with a friend on his first trek there, I turned us around not far from the top of Logan’s Ridge, as the gale-force winds made me think we’d soon be actually blown off that narrow bit of rock and down that enormous south-eastern cliff. I do regret not taking my now 20-year-old son up there, but you can’t do everything, lol. However, on a recent, more sedate walk with him at Main Range I experienced enough quiet joy to be reminded forever that it is, cliched as it sounds, not about getting there but about being present on the trip.

    Please keep writing and taking photos!

    All the best, Rob.

    • Thanks very much, Rob, not only for your encouraging and thoughtful comments, but also for your supportive friendship (and mentorship) during my blogging years. Despite your busy schedule, you’ve always been exceedingly patient with my nature/photography/national park questions.  You are an extremely generous person and your photography and passion for all things wild is inspiring to many others. 

      I agree wholeheartedly about memories of trips holding such importance in our lives. I’ve rarely travelled interstate and never overseas, but many local trips I have taken on my own or with loved ones have provided enduring memories, and as I grow older, have grown in significance and allow for much reflection. Over time, I sometimes learn new things from a past experience because I have changed and can think about it from a different perspective. Cherished memories of trips with one’s children can certainly elicit mixed feelings of joy, regret, and sadness. Time passes so quickly. Ironically one of the few things that we can predict is change itself. Thank you for sharing the Robert McFarlane quote. It’s one I love as well. I’ve read a number of his books. And I also agree with you that it’s a bit trickier than that as well sometimes. I often find that going alone into nature helps me not necessarily become what I once was, but a newer version of myself. The peace of the natural world helps me sort out the jumble in my mind created by the chaos of the modern human world. Problems can whirl around in my head, seemingly unsolvable. Going out into the natural world can help one untangle the mess of knots and see a way forward, or if there is nothing to be done, one can feel calmer and more accepting of what is out of one’s control. A temporary peace and courage can be attained to face what lies ahead. Sometimes the natural world allows us to process that which is too painful in our normal lives to open up. I don’t feel judged by the critters, the trees, and the rocks. I can take my fears, regrets, guilt, and confusion out into the bush and return more accepting of myself and others. In that way, perhaps, the wilderness helps restore us to a form of equilibrium – a balance.
       
      Haha. You sound braver in your youth than me! Terri would have been thrilled to join you up on Mt Barney! I would love to experience the buzz of getting to the top and the views must be spectacular. If only my legs were a little longer, my body not so weak, and heights didn’t terrify me so much. Seeing your photographs of such climbs is a thrill for me though. I am content to enjoy those ascents (and descents!) vicariously. From what I know of your past trips with your son, I think you’ve done a marvelous job leaving him with wonderful memories of trips with his father and I’m sure there will be more, even though they may not involve death defying adventures. It sounds like your recent Goomburra trip may have been equally as special as other more challenging past trips. Yes, while it may sound cliched, life is so often more about moments along the way and not about about the result or conclusion.

      Thanks for taking the time to share your special memories and reflections, Rob. I do hope that book (or books) get written one day. Your writing is beautiful. 
      All the best,
      Jane.

    • Hi Jenni! Thank you for reading and commenting. I’m pleased you enjoyed it. I really hope all is well with you these days? Covid has impacted people in so many ways. Many are struggling. Take good care of yourself. All the best. 🙂

  10. I enjoyed reading your account of your trips to Mt Barney very much, Jane. The photos are gorgeous, as always, and add greatly to the pleasure of your posts. I was sorry to read that you were too late to get back in touch with an old friend and that you discovered she had had such a hard life. I was fortunate to be contacted by an old friend last year who had been searching for me for a few years. The last time we saw and spoke with each other was in either 1981 or 82, certainly before my first marriage in September 1982. We have had a lot of catching up to do, though speaking to her again brought back a lot of memories that were painful and difficult to deal with. I was also sorry to read you have been having cognitive problems. That must have been so worrying when you first suspected it. For a few years now, I have had memory problems – mainly trying to remember nouns and names. I am hoping it is because I am so anxious all the time and my poor brain can’t cope with too much stress! I have read that proton pump inhibitors can cause memory problems so I have gradually weaned myself off them and am experimenting with natural remedies. I have also found that lockdown and being confined to home is having a bad effect on my memory as well. Is there any hope for me!? Haha!
    I was so pleased to see your post in my reader and apologise for being so late in responding. I hope you keep safe and well as you head towards winter.
    Love and best wishes,
    Clare 🙂

    • Hello, dear Clare. I’m so sorry to have taken so long to reply. I missed seeing your message in the notifications. It is always lovely to hear from you. I’m pleased you were able to catch up with an old friend, but yes I agree, talking about old times can trigger past pain and leave one feeling quite sad. We were different people back then – young and vulnerable and very self-conscious. We were still working out who we were and what direction to go in life and working out the whole business of love too. Broken hearts, mistakes made – all sorts of memories and emotions rise to the surface again when we meet people from our youth. Last week I discovered another old school friend had died early – at 46 years. The circumstances of her death were very sad. She’d already had a really tough life at home and school. I regret not being able to help her more. As for cognitive and memory problems, it can be really frustrating can’t it? Writing used to be one of the few things which came easily for me – it felt so natural. Now it takes great effort. I used to be known for my epic emails but now I’m lucky to send a couple of sentences. My word problems also include struggling with nouns so that I end up describing the object I want instead. Eg. The TV remote is “the thing that changes channels.” I also use the wrong nouns, but they are related in some way. Eg. I might say “spoon” instead of “plate.” Another concerning aspect is that I mix up pronouns constantly like referring to something a woman does as “he does.” Hopefully as you said it is partly a result of stress and age rather than something more concerning. Covid certainly has complicated the world in many ways. Do take good care of yourself, Clare, and let’s hope the world is able to manage Covid sooner than later. All my best. x

      • Thank you, Jane. My problem with nouns is exactly the same as yours. I also end up trying to describe what it does and really come unstuck if I need another noun to help explain what I mean!
        Take care my friend, and try not to worry about your memory. I am sure the more we worry the worse it gets. 🙂 ❤ xx

  11. Seems my cognitive ‘disfunction’ has slowed my blogging down quite a bit, too, but I wouldn’t want to have missed your post. Better late than never. Losing my sweet love (the poodle in my avatar) was a serious blow, but the sorrow is slowly turning to sweet memories of the great adventures we shared.

    I thoroughly enjoyed your outings at Mt Barney! That last photo was stunning! Besides the brain fog that seems to be getting worse, my eyes are struggling more and more with the computer screen… but we soldier on! 😏

    • I’m so sorry to hear about you losing your sweet furry companion. They really do become a huge part of our lives and leave a big gap when they are gone. When the two dogs we’d had since puppies passed on, I kept “seeing” them at the door or flashing by me because I was so used to them being there. So many memories are linked to their presence and the daily routines we have of caring for them are suddenly changed when they die. I have had many human friends come and go over the years but my pets have always been there for me. Their unconditional love and companionship and the humour they provided throughout that time helped sustain me. They aren’t really just pets are they? Thinking of you and hoping the sweet memories of your great adventures with your poodle help to ease the pain. Thank you for sharing your news and also for your very kind support of my blog over the years. Not sure how long I’ll keep writing posts, but I’ll always treasure the friendships such as yours made through blogging. All my best. x

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