Where are the Crocodiles? Purling Brook Falls, Springbrook National Park

Had I known there might be crocodiles on my walk I would have taken precautions. In a scene from a famous UK “reality” TV show, celebrity contestants swam through a crocodile invested swamp with marksmen ready to shoot any creatures that attacked. However, the location used for that episode was in Springbrook, inland from the Gold Coast, about 100km south of Brisbane, and a guaranteed crocodile free habitat. It also happens to be the topic of this post. Continue reading

Beware of the Crab Armies: A Sandgate Escape

Sandgate corella

“If you hurt them, the crab army will come and tear your eyeballs out with their sharp claws!”

I opened my eyes wide in mock horror and thanked the young lad for his sagely advice. It’s not often I drag my hermit-like self out to mingle with the crowds that flock to the coast on the weekend, but on this occasion I was being thoroughly entertained by a pair of young wildlife enthusiasts. Continue reading

Feathers, Flowers and Tomfoolery at Toohey’s Forest and Mt Gravatt Reserve

I am writing this post in a slightly sleep deprived state due to the antics of my furry friends, the nocturnal brushtail possums, Trichosurus vulpecula, which have been thundering across my roof more than usual lately.  I’m not sure what has caused this increase in activity but I’m hoping they take a possum chill-pill soon and allow me a little more uninterrupted sleep.   One of them likes to snooze on top of my open garage tilt-a-door, but during a gusty day recently, when the door started to flap, it was in danger of  becoming a possum pancake  so I had to encourage it out onto a tree. Continue reading

Deception and Delight: Brisbane Winter Wonders

“People trust their eyes above all else – but most people see what they wish to see, or what they believe they should see; not what is really there” – Zoe Marriot, Shadows on the Moon

I’ve discovered a rare species and as you can imagine, I’m thrilled! Here in the heart of Brisbane city I spotted the rarely seen Penguinadae deceptor-dartus, so named because of its amazing ability to transform from a roly-poly penguin… Continue reading

The Unplanned Hike : Spontaneous Sauerkraut, Spiders and a Green Addiction at Mt French

“It was tragic how life had sucked her down to the bones, all her spontaneity, her laughter and freedom had vanished. I knew then that I didn’t ever want to be like that. Whatever happened, life was something too precious to give up on so easily.”

– Belinda Jeffrey, One Long Thread

I must acknowledge the role of cheese and potatoes in the writing of this post. What do these foods have to do with a hike? Well, as soon as the chilly nights arrive my body which was naturally reed-like in my 20s suddenly craves potatoes and cheese in vast quantities. If I waited until I could find a walking partner available to fit in with my odd schedule, by springtime I’d have to be lifted out of my house with a crane. Death by lack of exercise is riskier than death by murder in my case. Having now defended solo hiking let’s get down to what actually happened on what I have dubbed The Unplanned Hike. Continue reading

Castle Hill and the Dragon’s Revenge – Hiking at Blackstone

Have you ever wished you could foresee the future? I’ve decided I don’t want to know what lies ahead. Fear can be a powerful force and even if I knew about the happy events, perhaps the over-riding desire to avoid pain from other happenings would leave me mentally paralysed – unable to act? I wonder if the young Welshman, Lewis Thomas, would still have ventured to Australia if he’d known what the future would bring. Continue reading

Great Expectations – The Mount Maroon Version

Mt Maroon and Stinking Roger

Whenever my hikes don’t run to plan, I’m reminded of the words, “The best-laid schemes of mice and men,” from a Robert Burns’ poem. This in turn brings to mind a couple of grim scenes from John Steinbeck’s novella, Of Mice and Men. I doubt that the English teacher who chose this book for my class envisaged that 30 years later one of her students would still be having flashbacks. My recent hike at Mt Maroon involved another visit from the now controversial Steinbeck classic.  Continue reading

Insect Whispering and Sour Plums – A Celebration of Native Species

“Every individual matters. Every individual has a role to play. Every individual makes a difference.”    Jane Goodall

I’ve recently returned from an attempt at hiking to the summit of Mt Maroon in Mt Barney National Park, south- southwest of Brisbane, but haven’t had time to write up a report. The attempt was “interesting.” It didn’t quite go to plan, but none of my long hikes ever seem to!  My hiking partner and I are alive which is the most important thing. Here are a couple of pictures of what is to come at a later date. Continue reading

Nerima Calling: A Partnership of Peace

 komorebi (Japanese) :  sunshine filtering through the leaves of a tree or trees.

I had a very different kind of story planned to share with you this week – a story about an Australian castle. A castle not inherited from royalty or a long line of wealthy ancestors but one built for the wife and child of a man who started his working life in a wool factory in Wales at the grand old age of nine years old. It’s the quintessential rags to riches story and like a good fairy tale, involves love, a long separation and an element of tragedy.

But since I haven’t yet received the copyright permission to share some of the pictures, I’ve pulled together a small collection of nature photographs from my weekend visit to Nerima Gardens in Ipswich, near Brisbane. Continue reading

A Platypus Quest: Six Mile Creek Discoveries

I have yet to see a platypus in the wild. I wonder how many Australians have. When I was told recently that a dead platypus had been found near Six Mile Creek in my local area, I had mixed feelings – excitement and surprise that they lived so close to me, and a little frustration and disappointment that a new supermarket complex and residential development being built right next to the creek may be responsible for their demise.

Since then I have headed down to the creek on a few occasions, hoping to catch sight of this unusual monotreme. I did come across some brown woolly animals and another rather hairy creature. The second species elicited a  screech  from me that was loud enough to bring the cricketers from the practice nets down to investigate. I was left a little red-faced by their concern. Not an uncommon occurrence for me, I can assure you. Continue reading

James Bond, a Dead Peacock and a Giant Bear: Life and Death at Tallegalla

Recently, I went searching for a railway museum but all I found was a dead peacock. On the same day I visited a cemetery to photograph one plaque and ended up spending an hour fascinated by lichen-decorated headstones. Yesterday, I hoped to catch sight of an elusive platypus. Instead, I came face to face with the biggest spider I’ve ever seen. I often head out searching for one thing only to discover something entirely different. I’m a planner by nature but over the years I have come to accept that life is often unpredictable. I think I am finally starting to embrace these surprises – well, at least some of the time!

This week I’m taking you on a little journey involving life and death. The main setting will be Tallegalla cemetery near Rosewood in Queensland. My first visit to this location involved quite a few surprises. Continue reading

Fabulous Fungi and Other Treats at Denmark Hill, Ipswich

If we collect moments rather than things, these are ours to keep. ”

– Ann Brasco

While pondering this blog post the word “change” sprang to mind. Change can happen gradually, rapidly or not seem to happen at all.

Denmark Hill in Ipswich, near Brisbane has an interesting history. For thousands of years Indigenous people inhabited and cared for the area and the local landscape remained relatively unchanged. Continue reading

Pleasure and Pain – Mt Edwards, Moogerah Peaks

“Perhaps there’s no better act of simplification than climbing a mountain. For an afternoon, a day, or a week, it’s a way of reducing a complicated life into a simple goal. All you have to do is take one step at a time, place one foot in front of the other, and refuse to turn back until you’ve given everything you have.” -Ken Ilgunas

In my last post I was disappointed to miss out on attempting the Mt Maroon summit. What a difference a week can make to one’s mood. I’ve had the opportunity to de-stress with a mountain walk, make some nature discoveries on an old mining site and enjoy a sunrise walk at a new beach. I also had the pleasure of meeting  a Brisbane blogger I follow, who also enjoys photography and walking. So this week I am in the joyful position of having something fresh to write about… Continue reading

University Daze and Riverside Ramblings

Jacaranda skies

Well, it’s been an interesting couple of weeks here. A few highs and lows which are a natural part of life. Since surfing these emotional waves is not my forte, I planned to climb a mountain for some nature therapy.

I was hoping to regale you with sweaty tales of danger and delight as I scaled the summit of Mt Maroon, a class 5 walk requiring high fitness, navigational skills, and some rock scrambling with a 360 degree view as a reward. However, my dreams were short-lived as the heavens erupted the night before and I woke up to a warm, humid day with even more showers  and storms predicted.

Storms and rock scrambling do not mix. The weather probably saved my daughter from having to write an obituary post anyway. Disappointed but not defeated, I rang my son and asked him if he’d like a walk in Toohey Forest Park on the weekend. I woke  before my alarm went off as I do every time I’m going to a new hiking destination. While dunking my sugar and fat filled gingernut biscuits  into a mug of organic, ethically grown healthy green tea (they balance each other out) I was anticipating being able to write a riveting blog post about venomous snake encounters and fluffy koalas. A twinge in the abdomen as I left the house was ignored. Continue reading

The Geese Have Gone and I Am Cheering: Sherwood Arboretum and Wetlands

Sherwood Arboretum Wetlands

Sherwood Arboretum Wetlands

Well, there has been some drama of late. A family member was struck by a car recently while cycling home from work. He was fortunate to survive the incident but now has injuries which will take about six months to heal.   The driver of the car was  at fault according to the police report and unfortunately this is not uncommon where I live. I’m quite disheartened by the car-centric culture in my country although there have been some improvements.

As Michael Reilly recently wrote in an article explaining 18 Reasons Why Registering Bicycles  is a Bad Idea, “Even among people who don’t ride for transport, a survey showed 60% would like to do so – but many say they are too scared.”  Yes, here in the Lucky Country, many of us are too scared to ride a bicycle. After a few close calls I have even curtailed my own cycling activity.

Now  let’s move onto something more cheerful… Continue reading

A Jungle Update: The Land of the Minibeasts

An exploration of the northern beaches of New South Wales with my daughter was the planned blog post this week but as I’ve had a busy few days I’m giving a quick mini update on the wild goings on in my backyard instead. The horror story involving deceptively innocent seagulls will come as promised, although it’s unlikely to live up to the hype I’ve created!

After reading The Shortest Hike in the World a few readers have asked for updates on the critters I share my life with. I aim to please whenever possible so armed with only an ancient camera for protection, I ventured forth bravely into the scary jungle that is my overgrown suburban garden. A machete would have been more useful. I’m sure the neighbours would be constantly on my doorstep complaining about my wilderness if they weren’t afraid of what beast they may encounter on the way. Continue reading

A Tale of Two Tortoises: Greenes Falls Rainforest Track – Mt Glorious

rainforest-trees

I contemplated calling this post, “The Slowest Hike in the World” as it took 4 ½ hours to cover a mere 4.3 km. New readers might be thinking it must have been an arduous hike involving rugged terrain, steep climbs or waist-deep mud. Older followers know me better than that. There’s a  reason why I am called mildly extreme rather than plain  extreme. Continue reading

Hiking to Heal – The Beginning

Childhood-memories-1979

A rare photo of me with my brothers as children. 1979

As it says on my header, this blog is about “Survival stories of a directionally-challenged hiking hermit.” Although it comes rather late in the piece, this is actually my very first tale of survival. It is the one that began my life-long passion for the outdoors.

There are many reasons why I enjoy hiking. I often write about it being my escape from city living. This is not the complete picture though. The natural world is like an addiction for me. It’s been that way since I was a young child. Continue reading