bush walking

weekend walks: manly dam

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This weekend’s walk comes with more than just photos but also a story:

Our tally for the day was one red-bellied black snake, one brown snake and one goanna. A record considering we have seen NONE before in the wild. The two snakes is on the list for Australia’s deadliest snakes so you can imagine our reaction when we came across two in the span of about 20 minutes!

We panicked and our adrenaline kicked in – for those few seconds, we couldn’t think and pretty much froze. Kind of wish now that we had thought to take a photo. The red-bellied snake just slithered right across our path – possibly sun-baking until interrupted by the vibration of us approaching. As we watched it exit, it seemed to be moving in slow motion, with its bright red belly pressed against the ground. On the other hand, the brown snake seemed petrified of us when we crunched innocently through some dried leaves as we approached a billabong. The brown snake took off alongside a log and honestly, to witness its speed as it propelled its body was sensational. More sensational that it was heading AWAY from us. We had never seen anything like it other than on TV.

The goanna also had us stopped in our tracks. He paused on the path for about 2-3 minutes, long enough for us to take a photo from a distance, before scurrying off into the bushes!

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What a surreal day! And as you would have it, we had forgotten to pack our first-aid kit. So there we were, hoping we could get to the end of the walk without any snake attacks!

Hope you enjoy the photos from this weekend’s walk.

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Manly Dam circuit walk is about 7.3 km which took us about 3 hours as the terrain varies quite significantly. Manly is approximately 17 km north of Sydney. There are plenty of picnic areas, areas for swimming, bike and walking tracks. 

how not to go hiking!

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Cradle Mountain
Cradle Mountain

We flew back home to Sydney two days ago! Our biggest adventure and highlight in Tasmania would be our hike in Cradle Mountain National Park. At the time, it felt like a misadventure though! So let’s set the scene a little: There were 12 of us ranging from 20 months through to 64 years old. And we went to see Cradle Mountain. One cannot come to Tasmania and NOT see Cradle Mountain. The original plan was to walk Dove Lake Circuit because it was flat and therefore would be manageable with kids, a pram and a wheelie esky (a.k.a cooler bag).

Nice and flat around Dove Lake Circuit for the pram and esky. But instead, we choose the uneven track with steps and loose wet rocks
Nice and flat around Dove Lake Circuit for the pram and esky. But instead, we choose the uneven track with steps and loose wet rocks

In the group we had: – a 64 year old with gout in his left foot – a 30-something male who had pulled a hamstring during a spontaneous beach race on our first day in Tasmania – a 7 year old who had only just recovered from a 24 hour tummy bug the day before – a 20 month old asleep in a pram What was meant to be an easy walk turned into something extremely ambitious! Instead of walking the Dove Lake circuit which was a 2 hours walk around the lake (we all deemed it would take “too long”). We decided that we would walk the Lake Lilla Track to get to Ronny Creek so we could jump on the shuttle bus back to the Visitor Centre. How hard could it be, right? The map showed that it was mostly boardwalk so off we trot. Lake Lilla Track turned out NOT FLAT nor EASY nor QUICK especially if you were hiking with the four candidates listed above. We hadn’t prepared for this walk and this is when things started to get interesting!

Off we trot towards Lake Lilla
Off we trot towards Lake Lilla

Up and down the rocky pathway through the wilderness we walked with an infant asleep in the pram. Two of the men in our entourage carried the pram so Little Miss could continue to sleep, in hope that we would reach boardwalk soon. The path was narrow, and there were loose wet rocks as we hiked in single file. On and on we went, stopping occasionally to let passer-bys overtake us. We are sure they all thought we were mad! There were moments where we stopped to discuss whether to continue or to turn back as boardwalk was simply not in sight.

Narrow path where we walked carrying the pram with the sleeping infant and the esky.
Narrow path where we walked carrying the pram with the sleeping infant and the esky.
One of our "spots" wide enough for us to have a family meeting
One of our “spots” wide enough for us to have a family meeting

And always timely, we would see other hikers coming in the direction we were headed… Let’s ask them! So we did and the responses were similar: “You guys should turn back especially with the pram!” “The boardwalk is only at the very start of the hike, the rest will be rocks and water.” “There is a lot more rocks before you get to boardwalk.” “It’s pretty rough up ahead for you guys.” But did we heed their advice? Hmm… no! We pushed on because we had come so far already! There were times when we felt prematurely excited because there was boardwalk. We would celebrate and cheer, only to find that the boardwalk lasted 50 metres and we were back to gravel, uneven paths again! Were we EVER going to find civilisation?

Thinking we had hit the jackpot and that this was the boardwalk we had been searching for
Thinking we had hit the jackpot and that this was the boardwalk we had been searching for
We found the boardwalk... finally!
We found the boardwalk… finally!

Finally 2 and a half hours later, we arrived at boardwalk! Normally, it probably wouldn’t take hikers that long but with the entourage we had and our unpreparedness, it DID take us that long. Our reward for finishing was not only boardwalk but seeing wombats at the finish line! We had one wombat climb onto the boardwalk and walk right across our path.  We also saw a baby wombat and its mum.

Wombat 1 of 7
Wombat 1 of 7
Mum and Baby Wombat
Mum and Baby Wombat

Regardless of our reward at the end – let us finish by clearly stating: THIS IS NOT HOW TO HIKE! It is so crucial to be prepared, to plan your hike to know where you are going and to notify a responsible person that you are hiking in case you don’t return. It was only after we arrived back at our motel, that we realised that we hadn’t done ANY of those things. We had one 600mL bottle of water each (if that) – we were not dressed for abrupt change in weather. We didn’t really know where we were going. We hadn’t told anyone what we were doing. We had changed our original walk plans and turned it into a hike. What was meant to be only an hour or two at Cradle Mountain National Park became a 3 hour visit. We can laugh about it now, safe and sunburnt but wouldn’t have been laughing if something dire had happened out there. Call us crazy or foolish, we learnt our lesson, we won’t be going unprepared again for bush walks or hikes!